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.

Monday, June 24, 2019

No Mezuzah at McDonald's

I was quite surprised when I first learnt that the franchise owner of McDonald's chain in Israel was Omri Padan. The guy was known as an extreme anti-religious, left-oriented political activist. That could theoretically mean that some 25%-30% of potential customers would not go to McDonald's eateries.

the very first McD  , opened at Ayalon Mall ,Ramat-Gan in 1993

 McD's in my hometown -on  ground floor of  building 

But what do I know? The triangle of business, religion, politics is indeed a very tricky one, and yet it seems Padan (now Dr Padan) has successfully played his cards. McDonald's Israel is an empire.

Anyway, I like the McDonald's concept (all of it - food, system, social experience).
What I do not like when I happen to be there, is the fact that there's no 'mezuzah' sitting on the entrance doorpost . Almost every house and shop in this country has a 'mezuzah' affixed to its doorpost. It's a tradition, a nice  one, if you ask me.

copper made mezuzah on the local Supermarkets's doorpost

A 'mezuzah' is a case, a holder (usually decorative) containing a piece of parchment with  hand-written biblical verses on it. It's supposed to protect and bless  the house and its people. 

case and scroll 

The case comes in various materials:  plastic, wood, metal, ceramics, silver, porcelain - the two last mentioned being more expensive. Everything goes.

ceramics and metal cases

metal cases (aluminium, bronze, copper)

The most important part, though, is the scroll to be placed within the case. 
It must be hand-calligraphed with verses from Deuteronomy that start with "Hear o Israel, the Lord our God,  the Lord is One".

A genuine scroll is usually not sold at a souvenir shop but at a judaica one, and could be quite expensive.
After a while (several years) it has to be checked for faded or deleted letters, spot or crease;if this is found,  the scroll will be considered faulty and will have to be replaced.

scrolls of different sizes

Sometimes, a 'mezuzah' gets stolen; the thieves are looking for authentic, high quality scrolls. Because of that, there are buildings where the 'mezuzah' is placed on the inner side of the entrance door.(In a house or office there's a 'mezuzah' on every door - except bathroom and toilets).

ceramics - inner room

metal- utility room

wood - balcony

As someone has remarked:"if it can't even protect itself from thieves, it can't protect the house either"   Food for thought. Perhaps it was a faulty mezuzah.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Cork ( city, tree, material)

Cork, the city in Ireland, is on my bucket list. They say it sits on an island in the middle of a river (Dee River). It's the second largest city of Ireland and it is highly cosmopolitan. Moreover, it is the starting point of a trip to the port of call for the famous Titanic ship before it left for its tragic end.  
How cool is that?!

Cork - the irish colorful city  (Web picture)

The cork tree (oak tree Queros Suber) is a predominant tree species in Portugal. (There are some fascinating pictures of these trees on the Web worth viewing!).
When I visited Portugal, many years ago, I  knew almost nothing about the tree and its end product. I don't even recall touristic information on cork as important income source for this country.

cork tree (web picture)

Cork, the layer of bark harvested from the cork oak, is a natural, sustainable  material with lots of good uses.
I've got some small cork items at home (coasters, stoppers, pot bottom plates, lids, and even shoes- the inner sole). I want some more, but... there are only few shops that deal with cork in my area, and they are not nearby. Looking on their online sites, I've got put off by the prices. Cork , both the material and the finished items are imported, and thus, not cheap.

cork plant pot

cork magnet with pencil on the fridge door

cork  bulletin board

cork asian figurine with straw hat and necklace

set of ceramics for tea/coffee/sugar with cork lids

cork coasters

the tin side of the above coasters

three cork trivets 

two cork lids and two cork wine bottle stoppers

tiny former honey jar and its cork lid

Cork reminds me of another  natural,  echo-friendly material with practical uses, but... expensive -  bamboo. Bamboo furniture, for instance, is solid, yet easy to handle and  take care of. It is ideal for young couples who move often, and perfect for people of the third age for whom wood is too heavy.
We succomb to plastic in the end .
One should do something about that, so that we choose the right options for both us and the planet.

Anyway, if and when I go to Portugal again, I know what I'll fill my suitcase with.