Saturday, February 27, 2021

Voice and Weight


Pavarotti had a unique voice. I've listened to  many of the other famous opera male singers, and I have no doubt about that. His face was also rather special: expressive and  full of charm. He was a ...huge person with a corresponding huge personality.


Pavarotti in Nessum Dorma (Turandot)

In an interview with Mike Wallace  for the '60 minutes' program, he was asked about his...obesity. Why was he fat?

People were furious, and rightly so. It was rude, very rude of the journalist to focus on Luciano's physical appearance, rather than on his talent and career.  What is it with people that they get so low!

Anyway, there's this belief about opera singers, that the fatter you are, the better the voice. According to experts, there's no medical, physical, or musical reason for singers to be fat.

The thing is, these  singers know they are loved and popular mainly for their voices , so, they allow themselves to worry less about their bodies.  Most of them, both males and females are overweight. After all, opera singing is a tough,  high-stress , lonely  profession, and so, eating becomes a form of compensation.

Diets might ruin the voice. Doctors don't quite agree to this. If done carefully , diet might help with both, losing weight and preserving the voice. And yet, Maria Callas, the famous greek opera singer, lost weight , lost her voice, and died prematurely (at 53). Such a  tragic loss to opera lovers!

                          spanish opera singer Monserrat Caballe

Nowadays, the world worships 'thin' even on the opera stage. Opera singers are politely requested to deal with their weight if they want a job and good roles. I remember reading about the soprano Deborah Voigt of the London Opera. She was sacked because she couldn't fit in the dress. She then underwent bypass surgery, and things changed for her. 

Opera singers, especially the women among them, get quite a lot of 'fat shaming' from critics. Expressions such as " chubby bundle of puppy fat", "unsightful, unappealing" are an example of such shaming.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Now You're Talking...


According to the Media, scientists will be working on getting One vaccine covering all the corona  viruses (flu, sars, mers, covid-19 ).  Sounds good!

Perhaps,  they'll also try to reach the goal of One dose instead of two; One bottle for one dose (not 6 doses out of one little bottle); Vaccination - Once in five years , not once a year or twice a year (the present vaccine for covid-19, is valid for half a year only, and then what? There's talk about a third dose in summer...) 

Now the storage issue, Pfeizer has just announced  -15 degreeC freezing temperature will be enough, no need for -70 degree. Wow! What happened, that's a huge gap! Difficulty with logistics, I presume, fear of losing customers to Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and others...

"Something is rotten in the land of  Science" (  to paraphrase Hamlet's saying on Denmark).

Scientists are only secondary players; they are in the hands of those who fund the research - usually the pharmacy companies -  and play by their rules.  In fact,  they are called  'pharmaceutical scientists'. They spend most of the time in a laboratory, performing tasks related to the research, development, and testing of pharmaceutical drugs.

The pharma companies are good at manipulating and making us dependent on them. The flu vaccine, for example, does not prevent one from getting the flu; it just makes the flu milder, if, and  when one gets it. That's what they promise.  So, we live on promises, and we obediently go for the yearly jab.

Worth mentioning - the mask that we are supposed to wear now for covid-19 is quite effective against the flu virus; almost no cases of flu this year!  Unbelievable!   I probably won't give up the mask ( at least during winter) even if we'll be allowed to do so.

As for covid-19, they tell us the same story : the vaccine causes the illness to be  lighter, and easier to handle.  However, this time - urgency times - in order to encourage people to come and get the vaccine (vaccination open here to all ages), they've  added something of which they are not entirely sure about, namely, that it also prevents spreading of the virus , helps achieving herd immunity, and puts an end to the pandemic.

We're having general elections next month, and , sadly, corona's part of the campaign of all politicians. It looks rather ugly with lots of fake news and disinformation.  Doctors and top Health Ministry officials, are also IN;  after they get the budgets they want for their hospitals, they'll say whatever one wishes them to say. 

Restrictions are being lifted , and there's worry about the outcome. A rise in the number of corona cases is expected by the end of the month.  May God help us!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Regards from Nessie


Sometimes, I  remember a place not because of its beauty,  history,  importance, but because of some triviality which at that particular time  of visit, wasn't much of a triviality to me.   
Austria's now in the news with a covid-19  serious outbreak in Tirol (region of many ski resorts), and a strict lockdown. It has reminded me of such a triviality.

Who hasn't heard of Lock Ness, the lake and the monster  of Scotland ? The story is been going on for decades. In April 2009 (some 20 years after my visit there), I  wrote a post  on it including the theories about  the monster (fondly referred to as Nessie) and my humble opinion about the whole thing. (Yes, would you believe it, I had an opinion on something explored by some great minds. Cheeky me!).


                                                               lake  Lock Ness

After spending some time at the lake, visiting the old Urquhart castle  on its bank, and watching a Scotsman playing bagpipe, I headed  to the bus station for Inverness (the town capital of the area, located at about 8 miles from the lake). 

At the station, I met an  Austrian couple that told me  they had  missed the last bus and were about to try and get a lift. We exchanged a few pleasantries (me trying to use on them my  german 'for beginners'), and then I said I would join them in the effort to stop a car.  I positioned myself a few steps away from them and raised my hand. 


Urquhart castle

After a minute or two, I thought there was  something behind me. I turned  to see what it was (nothing, apparently); when I  turned my head back, I couldn't believe my eyes. No austrian couple. Vanished. A car had probably stopped, they got in quickly without thinking of me or calling me. I was left alone, and felt rather humiliated.

                                Scotsman playing bagpipe

When I got back to my hotel room in Inverness, I said to myself,  "Oh,well, Austria, the birthplace of Hitler. What can you expect of these people. Bad, antisemitic stuff,  no manners, no kindness ." I knew deep inside me that it was an unfair, untrue generalization, but at that time I needed a bit of consolation, and I got it.

Anyway, since then, whenever Lock Ness or Inverness are mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is my 'desertion' by the  Austrians, not the beauty and mystery of the area.

 Nessie - humoristic card bought at Inverness

Saturday, February 6, 2021

South Africa


The daily mention in the media of the south-African variant of covid-19, sent me back to my one and only visit to South-Africa in the eighties.

It was not  a planned trip. It so happened that I took upon myself to accompany an old lady acquaintance to her daughter and family, temporarily stationed there in a small town. I stayed with them  about a week , and then decided to see a few places on my own.

At that time,  Apartheid was in its  last stages, but still present. It's one thing to read and hear about it, and another thing to see it with your eyes and feel it on your body. The climax was one day, in Johannesburg, when   I turned to a black passerby to ask her how to get to a certain place. Suddenly, we were surrounded by several young white men shouting at us, and spitting....on me. I was  shocked. The black lady suggested that we part and go separate ways as I was in danger because of my talking to her. 

The above incident has shattered me, and ruined my visit.  I believe in God and in His Creation . God gave the african continent to the black people. That's a fact. All  the others may visit ,even settle there if they so wish, but not behave like they own the place, certainly not practicing apartheid.

Anyway, I managed to visit  a few places and experience some specific events: Capetown with its two main landmarks:  Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, Port Elizabeth with  its Dolphinarium and Horse Memorial,  Durban's indian market, the Golden mine museum with a mining underground tour near Johannesburg, a 'safari' bus  tour which enabled us to watch wild animals through the bus window only, tribal dances.

Here are some of the photos: 

                                  horse memorial (Port Elizabeth) -  my favorite photo
                                                  dolphinarium (Port Elizabeth)

                                                    dolphin show (Port Elizabeth)

                                 with participants  at a bowling tournament (Port El.)

                                  Cape Town - near the terminal

                                   Table Mountain Nature Reserve

                                 Table Mountain - view of the ocean

                                  the ocean (my better side - I look taller lol)

Cape of Good Hope ; it was windy up there.

                                                       baby lion

                                  wild animals seen through the bus window

                                                              tribal dance

                                                                Zulu beauty

Saturday, January 30, 2021



Our winters are relatively short and mild, yet I wish we had no winter at all. Me and cold are not good friends.

I'm no fan of summer's heat either; it can be scorching and debilitating. It's just that one likes the freedom that this season offers: no thick fabrics, no layers of clothes, no  boots; no flu episodes, ease of moving and walking.  And of course, Nature is present in all its splendor providing endless delight.

Spring and Autumn, transitional periods, are shorter in length than winter and summer.

Spring, the season of awakening and renewal, is  supposed to come in March, but is usually late, and makes its appearance  in early April. In my country, it also brings with it what's called 'hamsin' - desert heat waves, a dry and quite unpleasant phenomenon.

Autumn is OK considering the spectacular change of colors that characterizes it, except,  that it is autumn that reminds me that each season in my life is linked to the loss of a beloved one, and that fact in itself fills me with sadness. (Autumn is also known as Fall, so probably it is expected that not only  leaves fall, but also one's  mood does).

I've even written  once a few lines on the matter. It goes like this (translation from Hebrew):

"In spring, my Mom got ill and fragile / It sure looked to me a bad sign.  In summer, when everything around was bright  / Alas! She and my brother, both died.

In autumn, with the sky above, cloudy and grey / My father and  nephew passed away. In winter, in the cold, gloomy weather / we had to part from my  uncle forever".


The weather  of each of the four seasons is mentioned quite often in people's blogs; no wonder about that. Climate has a great impact on one's quality of life. 

I've noticed , though, that people who plan relocation, place climate at the bottom of their agenda or ignore it completely.  Only when they get to their new location they understand the meaning of it, but then it might be  too late .

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Keeping It Cool

Almost daily, we're informed about  new age groups that are to be vaccinated next. We're assured there's plenty of vaccine for the whole population. including children. Just make the appointment, and come .

I feel some urgency in the air about it, and that makes me think of the existence of possible vaccine storage/handling issues. I suspect the bottles have to be used quickly to avoid decreased potency and loss of patient's confidence.

                                                              bottles of vaccine (web picture)

After all, it's a tremendous logistical challenge. The vaccine units make a long journey from the centers of distribution -  to clinics - to patients. The journey involves planes, trains, trucks and special delivery containers adequately refrigerated (by dry ice). 

Pfizer's vaccine has to be kept at -70 degree Celsius. Moderna's vaccine is said to be stable at regular freezer temperatures. Both require two doses for full effect, which might complicate things.

Pfizer's 'freezing farm' in Kalamazoo, Mich  (web picture)

Hopefully, a significant drop in the bad numbers of covid-19 victims is to be expected by the end of the month, due to the vaccines and the lockdown. In the meantime, people are strongly advised by the medical experts to keep to masks and distancing, as the british mutation is hitting hard; it especially likes the young ones, and pregnant women in their advanced stage of pregnancy.

Here's a 'talk back' seen online: ' Of course, the british version of the virus is more efficient than the chinese one; wait till  the german or swiss version comes along - what precision, what perfection'...

Monday, January 18, 2021

Schools - Where To?


Despite progress and technology , many things stay more or less the same over  the years. Schools for instance. The same physical bricks-and-mortar structure with classrooms for plus / minus 30 pupils, courtyard, teachers doing their frontal teaching job etc.

               entering school  (web picture)

We've all gone through this kind of school; it has been there for decades offering a sort of constant stability to children, teachers and parents. Now, it would appear that schools (learning, education) are one of the major casualties of the covid-19 virus.

So far, the medical authorities are not in favor of keeping schools open during the pandemic. Yet learning has not stopped , as technology helped quite a lot with suggesting remote and flexible ways of learning and teaching .

distancing  (web picture)

However, there are schools which are meant first of all to keep the kids off the street.  What will become of these schools and of these kids in case things won't go back to normal , that is, to the physical, organized, and supervised system?

wearing masks  (web picture)

Well, there will probably be all kinds of changes we'll have to deal with, once we get rid (if we get rid) of the virus.  I have the feeling, though, that schools are going to remain  forever a 'constant' in our life.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Lockdown and Attractions


Third lockdown . Alarming numbers; the virus with its south- african, british,  indian , brazilian mutations,  seems to be mocking  the experts.

One has to  learn to read between the lines if one wishes to know things. They ( the politicians) play with the numbers, with the info on vaccine mutations,  in fact with any kind of info regarding the pandemic. 

We should keep in mind that the vaccines are approved by the FDA on Emergency basis mainly, as regular vaccine takes several years to get developed. By end of January, we could know if things are going well, but I'm afraid we won't. There's no transparency in these matters - too much is involved here; politics, money, medical reputation .

The latest : by end of March our entire population , starting from age 16,
will  be vaccinated.  It  has even been suggested that vaccination starts at an earlier age as schools, when open, are great spreaders of  the virus.


At home,   as during the first two lockdowns, among other things, I 'm browsing through  old, analog photos, trying to improve them and  enjoying pleasant memories of various places. This time from Portugal and Spain.

One of Lisbon's (Portugal) main attraction is Estufa Fria (cold greenhouse) located in the big park Eduardo7, in the heart of the city. It is kind of a plant museum with species from all over the world. It also has statues, creeks, ponds, birds, all scattered around.

statue:  girl putting on a stocking

stork behind me

The statue and the stork are  spots of light in the darkness created by  the thick vegetation.


Another main attraction in the city is the 'Monument of the Discoveries' on the edge of the Tagus river , point of departure of ships to expeditions. The monument celebrates the period of explorations and discoveries during the 15th-16th centuries.

Its top gives a panoramic view of the river Tagus,, of the Belem area, and of the monastery of Jeronimo which dated from that period .  

                                                      monument of the Discoveries

Belem Tower
Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca) - not to be missed  when visiting Portugal! It's the westernmost point of Europe, "where the land ends and the sea begins".
Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca)


This rugged cliff standing out of the Atlantic Ocean, has a lighthouse; there's also a coffee shop at the top, where I even got a nice certificate marking my visit on the rock.

The Genera-life Gardens in Granada (Spain) have a well-deserved reputation for their beauty and symmetry of shapes.
Generalife gardens (Granada, Spain)
The above gardens with their flower beds, bushes, pastures, orchards and a clever water running system, have served as the retreat for the Moorish Kings of Granada.

And to Cordoba (Spain) to see landmarks of two religions:
The Alcazar, fortress-castle of Christian kings - with three towers and delightful gardens - and the monument of Maimonides in the courtyard of a modest, little synagogue, in the jewish quarter of the city.
the Alcazar fortress

monument of Maimonides

Maimonides (Harambam, in Hebrew) was a prominent rabbi, physician, philosopher who lived in the 12th century.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The French - Armenian Trubadur

The  recent Armenia- Azerbaijan war over the long disputed Ngorno - Karabak region, has reminded me of the legendary french singer, composer, and actor of armenian descent, Charles Aznavour (Aznavourian).

Aznavour, who passed away in 2018, at the age of 94, was considered a national hero in Armenia, the country of his ancestors. He received there all the possible honors and rewards for his activities in favor of the Armenian people. The PM of Armenia participated at his funeral along with Macron, the PM of France.

                                statue of Aznavour in Yerevan, Armenia (Wikipedia)

I'm always moved when I  read about his commitment to Armenia as I know of some people who have become rich and famous and never ever look back at their country of origin.

I cannot mention Aznavour, without revealing that I'm heavily addicted to a You Tube video with the brilliant performance of his famous song 'Hier Encore', translated in English as 'Yesterday when I was young' (see my post entitled '20 years old' from May 3, 2009).

In this video, the 84 year old Aznavour, accompanied by two beautiful, young female singers (probably symbolizing the age of 20), mourns his lost youth. "Only yesterday/I was twenty years old/I wasted the time/Thinking I could make it stop" - moans the elderly man.

Many of us could relate to this song in which the lyricist reaches the sad conclusion that he has wasted his life on follies, on dreams, soaring hopes, and  futile loves.. 

I like the frankness in this song; in real life, too many people claim they have no regrets about their past doings. Hard to believe them.

I do have regrets.


  Hier  Encore

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Happy New Year 2021

I had to take a break from blogging and other activities in mid-December as my home was in need of some repairs.

Moreover, my  PC has to be replaced ( haven't done that yet) as its old operation system XP gets no technical support any more. I definitely have to have Windows 10.

Now, we've entered third Lockdown for a period of at  least two weeks . 

Hopefully, new mutations won't make covid -19  vaccine a joke, as in the case of the flu- vaccine. The later has to be administered to people every year according to the virus mutation of that year. There are still many deaths in the world following flu complications with or without the vaccine, and yet pharma companies get richer and richer with their product.

Anyway, right now the covid-19 vaccines seem to be the only ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel, at least on the medical front. (So far, two  mutations of the virus have been spotted: in Britain, and in India).

No idea what's going to happen on the other major fronts: economic, social, educational. Not good things, I'm afraid.  Coronavirus has revealed to us the true face of so-called democracy: utter lack of discipline on one hand  (citizens) versus total incompetence on the other hand (governments).

Not a matter of human rights here, but of human greed and stupidity.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Two Women


No, it's not about the famous italian movie 'Two Women' with Sophia Loren (widow), and her daughter, who had to leave Rome during the war.

My post is about two former neighbors of mine (rip), mother (widow) and daughter who had both Alzheimer.

What I've learned from their sad case is that genetics, even though it is inescapable,  can nevertheless  be delayed  -  provided the other two  factors on the pyramid, stress and nutrition, are kept under control. Nutrition is the easy part. We definitely can control it. Stress, is another matter; it  is not entirely in our hands. Sometimes, people have to leave home and/or work, , in order to survive, as stress in these places is too much for them; it kills.

The mother , a widow, lived alone in a small flat. Was of a calm nature and led a quiet, uneventful life. She got diagnosed with Alzheimer in her mid-seventies.When the disease progressed, she was placed in an adequate facility, where she was taken good care of. She was well over 90 when she passed.

The daughter lived with her husband and two teenage girls in an adjacent building. She had a stressful life, especially because of conflicts with her husband. Unfortunately for her, he retired early from work, and was constantly at home, doing nothing but criticizing her.

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer in her mid sixties, some ten years earlier than her mother. After getting diagnosed, she was given a live-in home carer.

Sometimes, I used to see her  with the carer outside , and it broke my heart. I 'd known her as a tall, talkative, active person - and there she was - her head down, not recognizing anyone, not talking, a fragment of the original person. With her, the disease progressed rapidly.

It seemed her two daughters (who'd left home but not the town) gave up on her. If they would have been there  to hug her, cuddle her, talk to her, maybe she would have felt something, reacted to love and attention, retained some form of humanity.


We come into the world alone and we leave it alone, even though there are people around us, at birth and at funerals. Those with Alzheimer not only come and leave alone, but also live alone, in a world completely their own.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Discipline and Slogans


Discipline is the name of the game; nothing important  can be achieved without discipline -  self - discipline, as well as national discipline.

 There are countries in the far East  that have managed to keep the covid-19  virus under control: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Thailand, Vietnam..... 

Discipline in these countries is instilled from childhood. People there have respect for  rules and for authority. Above all, they respect themselves and those around them. 

The western countries on the other hand,  rely on slogans,  and seek what seems to be the easy way out  - vaccine.  Slogans can lack clarity , and  even be confusing. Protests and pressure of  citizens against restrictions, don't make things better.

'Stay Home'  - the most memorable slogan during this pandemic , means what it says : stay home. You may leave the house for basic necessities only, and for a short time.

At first it worked well, but then people lost patience and started giving their own interpretation to the slogan. According to this interpretation, the problem lies merely in confined spaces with no adequate distancing among people. 

Well, I'm not so sure about that. I don't dare yet going for a long walk in the park or sitting and eating in the outdoor spaces of restaurants and cafes. The virus, in my humble opinion, is in the air waiting to strike both indoors and outdoors. Masks and distancing may prevent that, but not hermetically.

Anyway, we shall have to wait and see the impact of the vaccine on the virus and its victims.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Genealogical Quest


My grandfather's mother was a 50 year old widow when she decided to leave the small home town in north-east Romania and try her luck in America . Her  children followed her (except my grandfather whose wife objected to emigration).

 Over the years, I got intrigued by her figure (knew about her only from family stories), and so when I retired,  I embarked on a genealogical quest to find out about her american saga. I had very little to begin with.

Genealogy is a highly fascinating subject. It requires a lot of time, work, effort, patience;  there are many frustrations on the way, and yet the reward is immense. First of all, it gives one the chance to learn about oneself. I've found out I had skills unknown to me before, such as analyzing and evaluating evidence from various sources.

It may give one a sense of pride, even superiority.  It's Me with the initiative and curiosity,  not the others in the family, especially not those in America with  all the archives at their disposal. 

Through genealogy one gets to grasp the real meaning of what is known as ' blood connection'. I felt devastated several times, for people I'd never met and never exchanged a word or photo with.

Examples:  a young adopted boy slaughtered his whole adopting family: parents, little sister, grandma, grandpa. The grandma was my relative (G.grandmother's granddaughter). That happened in San Diego, California.

In Florida, a couple with two youngsters (a son and a daughter) got divorced. The father, my relative (G.grandmother's grandson), died  of a heart attack. The mother got murdered by her jealous boyfriend shortly after. The two youngsters became orphans.

Both cases have shattered me. I started my genealogy quest  for pleasure, and there I was soaking in tragedy. There were of course pleasant surprises too  Among the grandchildren of my G.grandmother   - a most valued Michigan senator , and his sister, owner of a big, famous radio station.  The senator died shortly before I started my quest. His eldest daughter and her family still live in the area. His two other daughters live in California.

I had moments that made me smile , For example, I managed to get my G. grandma's picture from the descendants of two of her daughters (she had three daughters and three sons with her). One daughter was working class - a  cook (she and her husband owned the restaurant though). the picture of my G.grandma in the cook's possession was that of a simple, coarse woman; whereas the picture kept by her more educated, younger sister looked  ..refined.There was even a husband's picture and he also looked rather  refined.

wih granddaughter in her arms

refined look 

widower of G.grandma

the two daughters S. and M.

 daughter S.(cook) and husband M. - restaurant owners


 younger daughter M.  and  husband B.

I could write an interesting book on my genealogical journey, but I  probably won't.

Thursday, November 12, 2020



Election campaigns resemble more and more a political circus, and regardless of the final result,  we feel relieved when it's all over.

Prior to the Election Day, candidates usually make heavy promises (jobs, money, control) to specific groups in the population, to increase the number of their voters.

In my country, for example, the lucky group that gets it all is the ultra orthodox ('haredi') community. These people provide lots of voters (each family with an average of 7-11 kids). 

Almost no political coalition is possible without the 'haredi' parties.   The participation in the coalition  gets them close to power and money. They are in fact a 'state within a state' with budgets, schools, privileges. 

Corona virus outbreak has revealed the extent of the above alarming situation. All  governments past and present are  blamed for it. The current PM is accused of 'selling' the country to the 'haredim', of bringing about complete disintegration of the already fragile, highly heterogeneous nation - and asked through weekly protests -  to resign.

In the USA there's a lot of talk now after the elections, about "healing the nation". How, exactly?

It's not only Trump , but all those millions of people who have voted for him in 2016 and now - almost half of the nation. If from the very beginning one shows nothing but contempt for their candidate and their voting, then what is to be expected of them now. They might try to do the same to Biden and his supporters - namely,  delegitimation. 

Oh, well,  God can make things work in the right direction. There's, however, need for praying.






Thursday, November 5, 2020

November 2020 - Week one


First rain - torrential but refreshing, and much needed.

I've received a nice present - a special winter blanket; love it, love at first sight.

I'm very fond of tahini (tahina) paste ; it's healthy, delicious, easy to prepare (sesame seeds' paste, water, lemon juice, garlic). It goes well with pita bread and other products. Home made is the best. I've bought the jars of sesame seeds' paste of which the tahini is made, for the whole month of November.

The elections in the USA make me think of the dollar. The  dollar is the reserve currency of the world; it's what helps americans print money like there's no tomorrow, live well, and even send aid to other countries. Will it retain its status as the global reserve currency? Time will tell.The elections and covid-19 are sure weakening it.

Coronavirus is still here, and I'm not optimistic. I'm afraid the upcoming vaccines are not the end of it. Masks and social distancing are a Must, and yet even people who abide by the rules might get the virus. Nothing is sure about it. May God protect us!

Hoping for the Best.