Thursday, September 12, 2019

Leave or Remain, That's the Question

map of Great Britain*

I'm not enthusiastic about  countries joining unions and federations, and I'm well aware of the fact that once - In - , it's very tricky to get - Out -.  Having said that, let's have a very brief look at 'Brexit'.

Great Britain wants out of the European Union.
So far, things don't look good for her; Let's hope the efforts invested in the above direction (Brexit) won't turn GB (or is it UK?) "into the best show in town".  

GB has a North  Ireland  problem, a Scotland problem, a monarchy problem, but the real problem lies elsewhere, and is common to all countries, not only to GB. It's called leadership problem.

Countries hold elections in order to enable their people to choose someone capable of forming a government that will decide things for them,  not  call for referendums (as the former british PM, Cameron, did). Referendum is the tool of the non-leader, a way of letting the "mob" rule even after the elections.
But before we blame him or any other leader/non-leader, we have to examine the whole picture, and it's  a rather gloomy one.

It seems, the old  western political map of  parties, elections, parliament, coalition,  opposition - doesn't work any longer (See USA where almost half of the population refused to accept the results of the last  elections).

In my humble opinion (and upon examining things in my own country), the above situation is, partly, because of the constantly growing diversity within a country's population, which brings about a great diversity of interests, and ultimately diviseveness.

Diversity makes life look more exotic but it comes at a huge price. 
It  makes democracy or the so-called democracy, a big Burden. and not at all an efficient system.  Unless there's some new, up-to-date efficient political/social system on the way, divisiveness and corruption within nations, and even extinction, yes, extinction of nations (with or without  Mother Nature's help),  are likely to occur in a fairly accelarated mode - and no leader, elections or referendums, could do anything to stop it. 

It's a pesimistic view of things, I know that, but then reality (inclusive, the reality in my own country) is not an optimistic one at all.

As for Great Britain, I wish her Good Luck whatever she chooses: leave or remain. She can always turn to Shakespeare and count on him for Honor and Fame,(the last paragtaph rhymes: remain/fame/ I like that :)

* internet map

Friday, September 6, 2019

The (In)Famous Grandpa

Discount stores (the one dollar shop, the five dollar shop, etc..) and fast food eateries (the local ones, as well as the foreign names of McDonald's, Burger Ranch, and  others) are an  all-family fun experience involving parents, grandparents, kids, siblings .
(I rather pity the staff  for the noisy atmosphere under which they work, especially during school-holidays. The place is not a museum where children and adults alike silently contemplate works of art).

MAX chain of discount stores - main branch, Nethanya, near Ikea

Our most popular discount stores are 'Max 20' of the 'Max' chain (Max - the name of the owner, 20 israeli shekel - about $5- maximum price of most items ). 
The most popular fast food places, being the local falafel/shuwarma/kebab/schnitzel/shakshouka/
veggie omelettes eateries, and , of course,.. McDonald's branches.

entrance and main street window of a 'Max 20' store

inside a 'Max 20' store

Mc Donald's branch

poster attached to the  window with  food names

 same poster attached to the inside counter of the eatery

Anyway, it so happened to me once, that after buying some household items at one of the discount stores, I entered a near by fast food eatery to get myself a bite to eat. While sitting at the table I noticed a small group of four (previously seen at the discount shop) that looked like grandparents and their two grandkids

people sitting at tables at Mc.Donald's

girls enjoying  shuarma at a popular local eatery

The man's face seemed familiar. It was. It belonged to a chief pathologist at the Forensic Institute -  involved, at that time, in a terrible public scandal regarding mishandling  of removed organs and tissues from corpses.

( He was found guilty and released from  his post. He managed to escape jail as he had answers, and not many people had the professional capacity to contradict him. There was also the desire to close the case and not prolong suffering of the involved families, among them families of two late TV figures and an army general).

I couldn't take my eyes off of  the four. Grandpa was very gentle with his grandies (a boy and a girl about 9-10 years old), helping them with cutting  (no pun intended) their food portions .
I kept thinking and asking myself whether the two kids knew and understood the line of work of their grandfather, whether they read about him in the media,  asked him questions about the scandal. 

My curiosity remained, of course,  unanswered.  It ended up though, with me feeling angry at myself for totally failing to see the bad guy that was - perhaps - deeply hidden in that frail, gentle grandpa.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rain - Water - Fencing

When I was a little girl ׂ(ages ago), my mother used to wash my hair with rainwater, as it was considered beneficial to both scalp and hair. I suppose nowadays, mothers wouldn't do this to their girls as rainwater is full of all kinds of pollution particles  that cause damage to soil, to humans, to our flora and fauna. 

And yet, in spite of its contaminants, we badly need rain, want rain, dream of rain, pray for rain, expect rain, feel miserable without rain.  Rain cools the air, and makes the heat of summer more bearable. It prevents famine and thirst .

fountains - as a "cooling" sight.

Despite smart desalination and irrigation water systems, and the bombastic headlines style " Israel helps world fight water shortage" - the sad truth is that water is a never-ending problem in our country, because of rain, more precisely - lack of it.

It rains mainly in winter, and even then, not daily or weekly. Maybe 'Climate Change' will change that, and bring us some more rain, who knows. I wouldn't count on that, though. This Climate thing is quite unpredictable and very, very scary!  In the meantime, we have to keep an eye on our water supply and consumption, so that we don't get into deep trouble.

There are things that can be done to prevent water waste without affecting our life too much. Here's one tiny example - replace living (green) fencing with the various other options: wood, metal, stone,wall, bamboo. Living fences (shrubs) need  water (quantity depending on the requirement of the plants that make up that particular shrub).

living (green) fence, neatly trimmed

dry fence ; no water - no living (terrible sightֱֱֱֱֱ!)

Most house owners  prefer a green fence, it's a favorite, but this is gradually changing, as water is not the only one problem with this type of fence; there's also the regular cutting and trimming process which requires time/patience/money. In addition, there's the growing awareness that home and garden security might be better assured by the other options, especially stone and metal.

overgrown shrub - not trimmed, not nice fence

white wooden fence

wall-type fence

bamboo-type fence behind the bus stop.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Some Thoughts on Pictures

Life offers a lot of subjects to write about in our blogs. I like to accompany my writing with pictures which, as everyone knows, "are worth a thousand words." However, that's not always possible, and as I don't like to borrow from the internet, I let the subjects wait...

Sometimes, I browse through my picture archive, and come up with the conclusion that it's very true what they say about dogs and kids 'stealing the show'. I always take an additional look at this kind of pictures as they give me much fun and pleasure.

dog watching his owner eat; expecting to be treated with leftovers

kid and pigeons - heartwarming sight!

boy and girl curiously contemplating the chickens in the enclosure 

happy baby in Grandma's arms

I often ask myself what makes a more powerful photo: an individual or a group? The answer is: both. 
The indvidual kiosk owner, surrounded by colorful fruit and veggies, squeezing them to get juice for his thirsty customers; the solo arab woman making the pita bread to be sold with 'labane' - make very attractive, powerful photos.

kiosk owner squeezing fruit to get juice (pic.taken in the evening)

arab woman preparing the dough for the pita bread

So do groups. See below, the group of japanese ice-cream 'lickers' (Moscow Red Square) , and the group of musicians performing in the city square of Prague. Both groups got an 'audience':)

japanese tourists licking ice cream in Moscow

musical band performing in the main city square

I'm not surprised when beautiful setting gets overshadowed by people. It's always people that draw the most attention. Who cares about the lovely tree on the Mound with stairs leading to it, when nearby there's a chat going on between what seems like father and daughter dialogue.

The red painted military lookout on the strategical top of Mt Hermon at the border with Lebanon, makes no impression whatsoever without the young , lively soldiers that stay on it day and night.

father &daughter chatting outside the Habima theater building, TA

soldiers at the border Israel- Lebanon, up on the mountain

Anyway,  I like to have people of all ages in the pictures I shoot. Human presence adds interest and value to whatever else appears in those pictures: buildings,  landscape, food, critters.

Photography, even the simplest one like mine, from a 'point and shoot' little camera, can definitely enrich both the blog and my knowledge of things.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Breakthrough -yes, Cure - no

The endless talk about Climate brings me to another 'C'-word: Cure.
Medical Cure can be as frustrating as Climate Change.

Medicine has greatly advanced over the years, no doubt about that. People live longer, and the quality of their life is better. Still, many diseases are not curable. Sometimes they disappear, only to reappear later. In most cases, however, it's possible to manage and control disease (money, time, and patience required), but no Cure is promised.

There are quite a lot of health issues which aren't  life- threatening, yet can certainly turn one's life into absolute misery even with all treatment options available. The chronic skin disorder, Psoriasis, for example.

I  had a coworker -  a fine , handsome young person; he got psoriasis  after his devastating divorce from his wife, a career woman.
Following his doctor's advice, he used to go ,at least twice a year for three weeks each time,  to the Dead Sea , to get temporary relief from the beneficial combination of sun, mineral water, sulphur pools, and dry desert air. Not cheap (there were only expensive hotels there), and sometimes grossly interfering with work schedule.
(Come to think of it, he should have moved closer to the Dead Sea area, but like other people, he put his trust and hope mainly in Science and its offerings, less in Nature ).

at the Dead Sea

He was very much a family type of person, so he remarried after a while. He and his spouse came from very different backgrounds. Perhaps he wanted  the very opposite of his first wife (or as the bottom line of rather toxic gossip  pointed out: 'who else will have him with all those scales, patches, and itching'). Anyway, his psoriatic condition got worse  during  chapter B, and it practically destroyed him.

After their two kids grew up , he divorced his spouse and disappeared.
The last I heard of him was that he had left the country for Austria where his mother and sister lived.
I have the strange feeling that, regardless of his location, he's ok if retired from work and  not remarried. For some people work and marriage are great stress generators , stress being the big killer of our era.  And who knows, maybe he's somewhere in the Dead Sea region after all...

Following intense scientific research, there are lots of medical 'breakthroughs' regarding a great variety of diseases, breakthroughs which  could, and do make a difference;  and yet, contrary to expectations, they lead to no final cure.  People continue to be slaves to doctors and treatments, and no cure in sight to free them.
In a way, medical Cure is like Climate change in that it belongs to the domain of a Power far beyond us. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Summer Street Fashion

Our summers are very hot, with high humidity in certain regions and extreme dryness in other; this calls for a sort of "loose"  street fashion style.

During summer days, the dominant sight has always been  one of half-naked people: bare shoulders, arms and legs. Favorite clothing items: shorts and sleeveless, strapless tops.

Nowadays , however, people are more aware of the sun's damage to the skin,   Besides, one has to walk only a short distance from the air conditioned car or bus to the airconditioned office or mall; so shorts are gradually been replaced by airy skirts or thin pants, and fewer backless tops are seen around.

Cotton is the best fabric for summer clothes; it's breathable, light, sweat absorbent ,and comfortable. There are various types of cotton ; a good cotton has a cooling effect on the body.

.My very favorite is the stuff manufactured in India. I've got an array of breezy indian- made cotton skirts, and some adequate t-shirts;   they make me feel each year that I'm more than ready to meet Summer. (For travel, I'll usually replace the skirt with thin pants made of cotton or rayon).  Here's a selection of my summer outfits:

thin rayon pants

As for accessories - not much is needed : a hat (made of cotton or natural straw), sunglasses, and sandals. 

In summer, we are usually lighter in  body weight ; so, coupled with the lightweight clothes upon us - we may sometimes feel we are at the top of the world.

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Trouble in Paradise"

On Wednesday night (July 10th) a sudden , out of nowhere, terrifying hail storm, hit Halkidiky peninsula , leaving seven dead people, dozens of others injured , and  huge damage.   According to the locals it was an "unprecedented phenomenon", "a weather bomb". Halkidiki (also spelt Chalkidiki), near the greek town of Thesaloniki - is popular for its beaches and hotels, so most of the casualties were tourists.

There were no specific warning signs which could enable alertness and preparedness (except, perhaps, a hint from the unusual heat waves Europe is going through now). 
That's the worst case scenario - bad things happening suddenly like with earthquakes. Is this the big news of Climate Change? Sudden, abrupt, deadly? 

The above piece of news reminds me of a conversation I once had with a farmer living under the Vesuvium volcano. The authorities, he believed, were keeping an eye on the volcano's activity and constantly planning  the safety of the local farmers. Well, nowadays, with all this climate change, the volcano might erupt suddenly and forcefully, 'forgetting' to give any signs of its intentions to the  monitoring authority...

on the edge of the Vesuvio crater

Anyway, we should pay attention to these  places: islands and peninsulas; this is where climate change is and will be seen at its worst.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

An Unsolved WW 2 Mystery

It wasn't there two years ago when I visited the spot. 
I  went nearer to contemplate it. No inscription. So, for a change, that was no memorial of some kind,  just an environmental exibit made of stone and marble. Beautiful. 
Behind it,  a bakery/ coffee shop with chairs and tables outside. There were no customers because of the heat. I couldn"t even take some decent pictures because of the strong sun.

face and back (identical) of the exhibit

sides (identical) of the exhibit

empty chairs at the coffee shop

At the far end of the street, however, there was the monument dedicated to the swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who had rescued thousands of people (mostly hungarian jews)  from the Holocaust. The street was named after him: a long, busy street in a respectable, high-tech tel avivian neighborhood called 'Atidim' ('Futures').

statue with face overlooking  Raoul Wallenberg street

Nearby, a beautiful park with a lot of facilities.  (There is a park on the opposite side of the street too).

park (toilets)

The monument (unveiled in June 2002)  looked rather gloomy. The diplomat's fate was also gloomy. 74 years after his disappearance in 1945, and nobody knows for sure what has happened to him.

jogger from the park approaching the back of the statue

monument seen from across the street

Many cities in the world (New York, Budapest, London, Buenos Aires,) have erected statues in his memory. However, little was done by the world to search for him. It was convenient for them all to  accept the theory  that he had died in a soviet prison.

Only two swedish women - his sister Nina and his niece Nane Annan (the wife of Kofi Annan , the african  from Ghana,  former UN general secretary) spared no effort to try and find the truth. Apparently with no success. ׂ(his half brother Guy van Dardel and   two US - based researchers should also be mentioned).
His disappearance in January 1945, remains one of the unsolved mysteries of World War 2.