Thursday, July 29, 2021

People

 

Being part of the human race, it's only natural that we, people.  want and seek the company of other people.

Yet,  when I look back at my life, I find out that it is people that have weakened me most - more than work, more than bad habits, more than the...flu.  What can I do with this awareness? Not much. I can try to ignore  bad manners, stay away from some "toxic" individuals, keep to myself for protection (avoiding isolation). 

Barbara Streisand opens her famous song 'People' with a line claiming that "people that need people are the luckiest people in the world".   Well, let's not exaggerate. We all need people,  but needing them  might also make us dependent, and dependence  of any sort is rather undesirable, even within the family.

Another singer,  Jonathan McReynolds, has also a song named   'People' . He says about them that  "they are the best and the worst you've created / loving and hating and opinionated / loners in basements, and those congregated / ".  That's  closer to what we know of people.

People with talent find a long escape in art, others bestow hours of  attention on critters . I've got none of these tendencies (except feeding pigeons and growing the  'lucky bamboo' plant). So, no escapism for me, only the bare reality of trying to cope with people.

That's not as bad as it sounds ; it gives me considerable insight into human nature, and often saves me from falling into the traps laid by the combined efforts of populism and stupidity.These traps are becoming more numerous as the outer conditions (virus, climate) are getting worse.

 






 

 




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Back to Nomadic Style?

 

I've been following the news about the recent floods in western Europe ( Germany, Belgium, Holland).  Total surprise, although  these countries are said to have  excellent warning systems. It appears science cannot predict the flooding with exactitude. People in Germany describe their cities and villages, as being now like battlefields.

We all know, of course, about climate change and global warmingׂ (Siberia's forests are burning - 38 C degree!), but precious time is wasted on theory, and not on practical issues. I believe we cannot prevent natural disasters , that's God's domain;  but we can perhaps learn ways to save our life.  

Education is vital here. First of all, people should be well aware of the fact that weather can be deadly; not only  a topic for  daily small talk.  Secondly, if possible, don't choose to live near a river or any other body of water. Thirdly, we'll probably have to adjust in the near future to a nomadic sort of life, as climate change will make us be on the move - albeit not with horses, but with vans, ,cars, cycles.

Covid -19  might also put us on the move as people who lose jobs due to restrictions are looking for all sorts of possibilities to earn a living.

By the way, in Israel, we're  facing a fourth virus Wave which will  possibly lead in a few weeks to  a fourth lockdown! It is the travelers to and from abroad that are being blamed.The airport is considered  'the gate to corona'

Without traveling abroad, israelis are dead people; the country is  a sort of ghetto surrounded by hostile neighbors. So, they'll keep on traveling abroad, and Covid-19 along with them. Sad.

 


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Looking For The Desert

 


Territory is important. History is full of bloody battles over  land, regardless the size, value and quality of that land.

The vaster the better. A tiny, crowded country with hardly any solid borders like the one  I live in, is a recipe for disaster. It might get swallowed up by its neighbors. Peace can help, but genuine, lasting peace in this region is hard to imagine, as the dispute is...over land. We're being accused of having robbed others of their land.

A country with a pluralistic population definitely needs a vast territory ; this will help give people the right space and distancing, and so prevent ethnical and religious conflicts between the various groups. Togetherness can sometimes  be a recipe for disaster too.    Luckily, most pluralistic nations do have the adequate space.

And from the general to the individual.

I once had a neighbor whose 'hobby' was to demolish parts in his apartment (and even beyond that) seeking to enlarge it; that was weird and annoying. 

I discussed the matter with another neighbor  and she said:  'oh, well, he's looking for the desert , he'll never have enough space compared to the vastness of the desert'.  

 

- What do you mean? 

- His ancestors lived in a place close to the Sahara desert in Morocco.

- So ?! He's second or third generation in Israel, and hasn't even seen that desert.


At this point, she threw me the famous line: 'you can take a man out of the desert, you cannot take the desert out of a man, for many generations'.  'As long as he lives, wherever he  lives, he'll always try to demolish something to make way for more living space'. 

That's the desert syndrome, according to her.

It sounded like a joke,  but she wasn't joking.

Anyway, if you happen to be angry at someone or something (and I used to be very angry at that demolish-er), you might 'buy' even a rather strange explanation  such as 'looking for the desert'.

 

 


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Matter of Health

 

I believe we could do much to help ourselves with health issues, if only we pay more attention to what happens to and around our body. Most of us, however, are deep down into what I call  "happy escapism" : reading, watching TV, hobbies - leaving health symptoms to doctor appointments mainly.

There was a time, some ten years ago, when I often experienced palpitations. Scary! What usually stopped them was vigorous coughing and trying to sit or lie down in a certain position if there was a suitable place nearby.

After a while, I noticed a very crucial fact - that it never happened at home, only outside or in a shop. That puzzled me, and I started thinking hard until I solved the enigma. It was the rather heavy backpack that caused the palpitations . Carrying it, triggered some tissue that interfered with my heart electrical system (cardiologists will usually recommend ablation of that tissue if things do not improve with meds or otherwise).

 *

After eliminating the backpack from my life, no palpitations  occurred to me ever again, thank God. Since then, I don't even carry a bag in my hands or on my shoulder. I put it in the little shopping cart or in the wheeled duffel bag I take with me when I leave home.

Whenever I gain a few pounds (usually in winter), my knees immediately make me notice them. So, if I don't want this to affect my walking  and I wish to avoid injections and surgery, the only plausible solution is to get rid of the weight surplus. No big deal after all, and, so far, it works, thank God again. (People who do a lot of walking should consider protecting knees with some sort of brace; there's a variety of them on the market).

The soles of my feet get treated more or less regularly by placing them on a roller massage manual device .
It does good to the whole body, not only to the feet.

*

Sometimes, pain comes and goes without apparently any cause or interference . If it persists, I'll try to locate it and understand its nature before I do something about it. I'll usually apply ice if I suspect swelling, or wear a compression sock if there's pain in the leg indicating possible, dangerous presence of a clot.


For a sore throat, I squeeze a lemon and drink the undiluted juice slowly. It has an immediate  beneficial effect. 

*

Once, I cut my finger  in a bad place ; nothing I did could stop the blood flow , and I started to panick. Suddenly, I saw a clothes peg. I grabbed it and clamped my finger with it for a minute or two. It did the job, and saved me perhaps  a trip to the ER.

 *

The flu is a very nasty condition to an elderly person: fever, headaches, overall weakness.  The annual flu vaccine was of no help to me. Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, I've discovered the mask. No flu so far, and that makes me happy and grateful to the little health device. I feel sorry for myself for all those winters of suffering when no mask was recommended, only the annual useless jab.

 

*

 

* web pictures

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Indian Appeal

 
I sometimes think  maybe I was born in India in my former life, as I'm very fond of India-made
,products such as fabrics, kitchenware, household stuff, soaps, herbs, handwork etc...  I even don't have to check the label to know whether an item is made in India or not. That says a great deal.

The import from India is quite limited , but I've got items accumulated over the years, so I'm "well-equipped", so to speak, especially in the textile department. I love their fluffy skirts in summer, and their cotton tops during the whole year. Such delicacy of design, color and shape! Their cotton, silk, and rayon fabrics are natural and of finest quality.


I used to wash my hands and face with 'medimix' bar of soap,
(Ayurveda based with 18 herbs among its ingredients), but since I can't get hold of the mini version, I turned to other options. I do take some interest in the old India Ayurvedic medicine system as it has many benefits, advocating good natural health  practices such as meditation, yoga, herb extracts.


I'm not familiar though with people of indian descent. I suppose they are good-natured, and I know they are very gifted. Zubin Mehta, for example, is one of the leading orchestral conductors in the world. He was appointed musical advisor to the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969, and in 1981 became its Music Director for life.

Strange, but the almost daily mention of the covid -19 indian variant seems to affect me personally. It interferes with my good opinion on things originating from India. (by the way, the virus is 'back in town', probably never left). 

The indian variant Delta is said to help  antibodies evade and bond more easily to the lung cells. Great efforts are made at the Ben Gurion airport to prevent 'import" of the variant by tourists.  May God help!  We can help as well by working on strengthening our immunity, and wearing masks.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Gem

 

 I usually lose things, rarely find things. That's why I remember well the only time when I found something beautiful.

It was about 15 years ago. I left a place with my eyes in tears. (that's  another story). While walking on the pavement, I saw through the tears a glitter. It looked like a  zirconia (white, colorless gem) fallen from a ring. It was evening, there was nobody around, the street seemed deserted, so  I picked it up and brought it home.

I opened my jewelry box and fitted the found squarely shaped gem in a  gold setting, and there it stayed; never wore it until recently. Why? I wouldn't have felt comfortable to wear something that had belonged to someone else who unfortunately lost it.


Recently I've decided to put the ring on my finger. A friend suggested that I have the gem checked at a jeweler; 'maybe it's a diamond', he said. I don't think so;  the area where I found it was not one where people wear and lose diamonds.  Besides, I'm pleased with it as it is. I don't care about its market value, and I don't intend to spend money to have it checked by a professional. 

I  like to recall this story.  It was as if God wished to wipe away my tears by making me find the gem. And then, at home to find the perfect setting for it was unbelievable! as if the setting was just waiting  for it. (The gold of the setting is not the usual yellow, but more like the silver color - it's called white gold, methinks, and is perfect match).

Last week the world was informed that the third largest diamond (over 1000 carat) was found in Botswana. Good for Botswana, good for the world! That's good news if we consider the other news that make up our daily life: violence, climate change, covid variants, economy decline.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Geniuses Among Us

  

A young Intel. officer, a software genius,  was recently found dead in his prison cell. The details were banned from publication.  According to the media  he was a phenomenon in the field of computer from an  early age. 

 
One of the speculations is that his abilities have aroused the envy / anger of his superiors, his activity got suppressed. As a result, he  planned revenge that would
  have harmed  them, and the country. Perhaps he has even managed to carry out some of these plans.  Anyway, he was arrested and jailed. Now he's dead (rip).

Besides the obvious tragedy of the loss of a young bright man,  and the mystery (yet to be uncovered) וmposed on the case ׂׂ -  the event brings to mind the  concept of  'genius' (a person of extraordinary talent) and the list of geniuses among us - past and present.

There is a nice, little  poem  with the name 'The geniuses among us'  by Marilyn L Taylor, Wisconsin poet laureate. She calls them 'high perennials above all the rest of us',  'bright testimonials to the scale of human possibility.' These people, according to her poem - 'take us by surprise every generation , with unprecedented notions and visions'.

So far, the  great minds of  the past ( like Einstein) and present  (like Bill Gates) - have submitted the fruits of their genius, to the country, to the world, for the benefit of mankind. (As a matter of fact, not every invention was for the benefit of the world - the atomic bomb, for instance. R. Oppenheimer was "the father" of the Nuke.).

But times are changing. Perhaps these geniuses are beginning  to feel underappreciated,  even bullied. There's danger in this as the next stage could be something like: "either I rule or I destroy."  Words like 'majority', 'democracy' might mean nothing to these bright people as the above notions already mean quite  little to the average individual.


 

 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Politics of Food

 
Much has been said and written about pharmaceutical companies and their tendency to fund  only research  that could fill their pockets, and make people totally dependent on their products ."The Pharmaceutical industry does not create cures, they create customers" (seen on FB). 


Food companies are not far behind. Moreover, the food industry exerts its influence to prevent publication of research that could directly affect its profits, such as serious scientific finds on ultra processed food (junk food, fast food).

I've recently read  about a biochemist at the Agriculture Faculty in Jerusalem, prof. Ephrat Oren, who tried to publish the results of a long- term research based  on rats and humans,  dealing with the effect of junk food on children's growth  (obesity and bone disorder mainly). 

It got rejected by all relevant publications. She suspected it had to do with 'politics of food', so she arranged a meeting with another scientist, prof. Robert Lustig of California university in USA,  known as an expert in 'food politics'. 

After checking her work for several weeks, he said to her - 'that's explosive material you have here'. (He was probably referring, among other things, to  her suggestions on the need to lay heavy taxes on ultra processed food, and put restrictions on ads. regarding that kind of food).

He advised her to try and rewrite the article, giving it some sort of  dry- facts 'facelift' .  She followed his advice;  the article  was accepted  and published at the end of 2020, in the prestigious 'Nature' medical journal under the subject of Bone Research.



*

Politics in its various forms, is the source of much evil. Most of us people, know that, but seem to be quite helpless about it.

Parents could do a lot about ultra processed food, but they are too weak and too busy to resist buying for their kids sweet corn flakes for breakfast, pizza, hamburger for the rest of the day. And so, this kind of food stays triumphant and might definitely harm children's growth in ways we are not even aware of, until later in life.


 * - web pictures.



 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

DNA and more

 

Ancestry com. (popular in North America) and My Heritage - with a smaller data (popular in Europe), started as small companies helping people build their family trees, and offering genealogy info on migration.

Next, they entered the DNA industry offering genetic testing kits and analysis. ( Ancestry uses saliva sample, My Heritage - cheek swab). That's quite a fascinating industry! They offer paternity tests, ethnicity tests, health screening tests, and more.

In Israel, My Heritage and its partner Billion Graves (collecting cemetery data) are the dominant genealogical companies. 

I have some experience with Ancestry com.  In 2006, I was trying to locate my grandfather's family descendants in the USA. I started with almost nothing,  but I managed to do a good job using data from various sources, mainly Ellis  Island  and Ancestry com. records.

I have no experience yet with My Heritage, but I often find myself asking questions about its partner , Billion Graves. I suspect the latter buys all the data regarding  cemeteries and graves from the relevant state offices, and  monopolizes the rights . Unlike in the past, when you could easily find  online info, now, you have to subscribe to them, if you wish to get it.

At first, I said to myself, oh, well, it seems  they offer work, employ ׂׂyoung people (probably students), and send them to  cemeteries to take pictures of the headstones. That's an easy, convenient job for them. 

Lately, I'm not quite sure about that. The company has remote control equipment,  and uses various gadgets; the people with the camera could well be volunteers, not paid workers (the fine weather here during most of the year, draws people outdoors, and even cemeteries are an option for volunteering or other sort of activity).

I'll have to do some research. Not that it will help me or others much.  We have to face it : we live in a capitalist society, in which the State gives away its resources placing them in private hands - cemeteries and their dead inhabitants included.  Sad.


'

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Mamad, Helmet, and the British Actress

 

You should never ever need one, but it's good to have one, just in case.  It could save lives .  

Mamad (acronym for the hebrew 'merchav mugan' - meaning  protective space)  is a fortified room with reinforced, cemented walls and ceilings, thick floor, airtight steel door and window. It is supposed to be impenetrable to rockets carrying bombs or chemical/biological stuff. In peace time, it can be used as a storage/study/play room, but not as a kitchen or bathroom.

The law that requires a newly built house/ building /apartment to have a 'mamad', is from year 1993, after the notorious "Gulf War".  There are certain regulations with which I am not familiar as I  myself don't own a 'mamad'.

The thing is, a five year old boy, was critically injured during one of the recent rocket attacks, ( he later died in hospital-rip), when a shrapnel punctured the window of the 'mamad'. It is considered a rare incident, and it is under investigation. 

There were also some people who got injured by falling on their way to the mamad.  A 73 year old woman, awaken by the alarm, got quickly off her bed, ran towards the mamad and fell on her head before reaching the mamad. She died a few days laterׂ - rip (perhaps, a light helmet should be considered for prevention of tragic cases like this one.)


Those who don't have that kind of room (like me) are advised to stay in the most inner spot of their home, away from windows and exterior walls.That's what I do upon hearing the siren, and, immediately start ...praying to God asking for protection.

By the way, I became aware of how deadly a fall on the head could be, while following the news about the tragedy of Natasha Richardson, british actress, daughter of the great Vanessa Redgrave, wife of actor Liam Neeson. She fell on her head while skiing in Quebec, Canada, and died in a matter of days in 2009 (rip). I think since then, a helmet has become mandatory on ski slopes.


 

 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Silence of Stone

 
We usually become aware of the above kind of silence  when  visiting cemeteries ׂ(headstones) and deserted places (stone of ruins and abandoned houses).

In summer 2015,  I visited the  leper colony (1903-1957) of Spinalonga (Crete, Greece). The silence of the stone there , was telling  us about the struggle of the  former inhabitants  to survive under terrible, unimaginable, conditions .

Their suffering  got through the stone and reached us, visitors.  Despite the midsummer scorching heat, I felt a shiver along my spine during the whole trip.  

Great sadness fell upon those walking on the islet and learning about  the people  with leprosy gathered  and brought to a place with no way of return.

In spite of it all - sickness, hardships, stigma - there was life going on there (people fell in love , married, had children; built houses, two little churches, an hospital , a cemetery). The place , once nicknamed 'the land of the living dead', is seen nowadays as a monument  to human pain and spirit.

                                                            the gate (tunnel) of no return

                                                   by the window of a  deserted stone house

                                 access to a little dock where supplies were brought in         

(more photos and details in my post of Oct. 2016).

 *

The message conveyed through the silence of stone is that suffering ultimately leads to death and decay, but the spirit stays on.  It is a comforting thought.

There's a dramatic song on YouTube named "The Spirit goes on" whose refrain says:

"If I die  tomorrow I'll be alright

Because I believe

That after we're gone

The spirit carries on"                                                         


                                                              


 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Ring of Fire

 

I'm tired, very tired. That's not because of work, but because of waiting for and  listening to alarms,   falling of rockets,   news about riots and lynching.

Like with the Mt. Meron tragedy,  I am not totally surprised. During the last decade I've been living with a distinct feeling that there is no one there , by the wheel.  Perhaps, it's not possible for any person to be there. Sometimes we have to accept the fact  that reality is stronger and we are helpless.


The reality is a tiny, crowded country ,with no real borders,  very divided inside: jews vs. arabs, secular jews and orthodox jews, oriental (sephardic) jews and european (askenazi) jews. There's no love among these groups to say the least.  Mutual dislike/hatred is constantly on a low fire and  can explode any time. It has now.

The last year of corona virus, revealing a weak, highly incompetent government and police , has sown deadly seeds of unrest all over the country. At this point, I have no idea where this could lead to.

Our immediate southern neighbor is Gaza Strip,  internally  ruled  by the terror group, Hamas. Gaza strip has always been a headache. Egypt was glad to give up control of it. The Sinai desert is the border between the two, so no big problem.     Israel couldn't  do that as the strip is close to its southern towns and settlements. and poses great menace.

Qatar, the oil wealthy emirate, has become sort of sponsor for Gaza. Under the pretext of funding the gas pipeline from Israel to Gaza , it sends  to Gaza thousands of dollars  monthly ( with the approval of Israel). With these dollars and Israel's stupidity, Gaza has established a grand rocket industry which she's now proudly displaying on our israeli backs.

I pray to God for Protection and Help.



 

 

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Alphabet

 

Whatever we learn, or at least some of it, goes with us; it never gets completely lost.  I've realized that when visiting Moscow, a few years ago.


In the higher grade of elementary school, in communist Romania,  we started  to learn russian  as a second language. It was  difficult for us, native speakers of a romance language (romanian) because of 
russian's Cyrillic script as opposed to the Latin script.   Besides, our teacher was young and inexperienced, so the teaching was not very productive.

teacher of russian holding bouquet of flowers (my head touching it).


Years later, I managed to remember only a few random russian words,  but I did remember well  the alphabet. The knowledge of the alphabet was of tremendous help to me in two places in Moscow: the stunning Metro (reading the names of the stations), and the famous Novodevichi cemetery where all the 'Who's Who' of Russia were buried (reading the names on the headstones).

T-shirt with the map of the metro stations. It's made of fine cotton,
 

(The signs  everywhere in the city were in russian only, which made it very difficult for a tourist without a guide or group to find his way around).

After visiting the tombstones of politicians (Khruschev, Yeltsin), of writers (Chechkov, Gogol), composers (Shostakovitch), ballet dancer (Galina Ulanova), wives of Stalin and Gurbachev (Nadhezda, Raisa), violonist (David Oistreich), opera singer (Shaleapin) and others, I approached a small group of tourists in a corner I was about to explore on my own.

Yeltsin's  headstone; it catches the eye with its unusual shape and colors.


ballet dancer Galina Ulanova's tombstone

It turned out, the group I approached  was  israeli . While listening to the guide's explanations  (in hebrew),  I got the strange feeling he didn't know any russian. I was probably right, as he pointed to a headstone and said ;'here liesTupolev' (aircraft designer, the designer of the famous Tupolev  russian military bombers). 'No, I found myself intervening, Tupolev  lies next; have a look at the name on the stone'. There was silence in the air, and I felt badly about it.

Obviously, the guide could  not read russian.  I could....due to those rather boring russian lessons in elementary school. lol.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Disaster at Meron (29 .4.2021)

 

45 people crushed to death, over 150 injured , at an overcrowded  Lag ba Omer event at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, near the city of Safed (Tzfat).

The event is meant to commemorate the passing date of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (RASHBI, for short), an ancient scholar, author of the basic text of the Kabbalah. It is done in and around his tomb, with people asking for salvation, lighting bonfires and candles, and displaying a lot of joy through music and dances.

entrance to tomb
 

bonfire

I feel sad, very sad. I can't say, though, I"m very surprised. This festival of light and joy at the tomb of RASHBI  , takes place every year; it is a miracle that it ends ,relatively, without casualties, considering  all those thousands of  ultra-orthodox jews invading the narrow , underdeveloped , mountain area. 

This year there was no miracle. There were heartbreaking scenes of people slipping and falling on top of one another , of stampede , of hopeless rescue attempts.

I'm against this kind of mass events. First of all, I believe the deceased rabbi is entitled to sleep in peace his eternal sleep without  any disturbance from the outside world.

Secondly, I think those who've given permission and money ׂ('coalition' money, I presume) to this mass gathering, especially now, with the corona virus playing 'hide and seek' with us, should be heavily punished.

I'm very much afraid it's just the beginning of the disaster. Who knows if and how many of the thousands of surviving participants have contracted the virus . 

The day of tomorrow (Sunday) is declared national day of mourning.

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Inner Voice

 

Yes, there is such a thing as inner voice, I've discovered that after retiring from the workforce. It doesn't control me, but I listen to it.

Here are some examples of what it says:

quotes

Sometimes I wish to introduce in my posts a few well-known quotations as other bloggers do. Well, here's my inner voice's reaction to that: 'At your age, you should have your own pearls of wisdom, not use those of other people'.

flowers

I ocassionally get flowers, but rarely offer flowers to others. My inner voice says: 'Leave them in their natural bed, don't kill them. Flowers are not like fruit and edible plants. They are not needed in nutrition; they exist mainly to delight our eyes with their beauty, colors , and shape. Prolong their life by leaving them in their  growing place'.

climate

A lot of bloggers write about the weather. 'Don't,  says my inner voice. It's God's domain. You may write, if you wish about pollution - that's more like Man's domain. Complaining about the weather might make God angry'.

Warnings

I'm all for freedom of speech and thought. I don't mind differences of opinion; I can cope with that.

'Beware! says my inner voice, you are in the minority. You'd better keep your mouth shut if you don't want to lose friends and even family. They might  cut off relationship with you'.

Well, here my inner voice has a conflict with my self. I'm not willing to give up  the basic value of freedom. If the above, wish to leave me because I think differently, well, so be it.

Corruption


Corruption is everywhere, even at the most unexpected places 
 such as Help/Volunteering organizations. (I became suspicious after I noticed the huge number of such organizations. I found out they get significant funds from the government and from various philanthropic bodies with almost non existing supervision. Where there's big money, there's always corruption).

'You cannot and should not trust anyone but God , says  my inner voice, and I know from daily experience that this is so.

Health

'Try homemade remedies first, before rushing to the clinic / hospital ; don't make yourself dependent on doctors and medical procedures. Dependence is slow death' - says my inner voice.

'Keep it small and simple! Save your energy!  No  upstairs, downstairs house, no big garden.  Even hiring and employing people like a gardener or a cleaning lady - is Work, and at a certain age (usually after crossing 70), any work becomes hard to do'.

*

I tend to tell people that, in my opinion, Retirement,  which marks the beginning of the third and last phase in  life, is our only chance to have some kind of dialogue with our body and soul. This dialogue benefits us, and we wish we had done that earlier.