Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Magnets




Magnets have become very popular in healing therapy (relief of low back pain). I have no experience with that sort of magnets. I like to buy  magnets as decorations for my fridge door and as small gifts for others. These items have full or partial magnetic back adhesive.

fridge door (upper part)

I buy them as mementos on almost every trip. They don't take up much place in the suitcase and are quite affordable. Besides, they can last forever on the fridge door.

Needless to say, these souvenirs remind me of some lovely places, and give me much pleasure.

The only thing against them is that it might cause clutter on the fridge door; that's mainly true, Imaho, with household chore 'reminders' which we sometimes forget to take  off. 
(Well for reminders and calendar, I have a separate spot, a cork plate on the wall of my computer corner). 

Here are some of my favorite fridge magnets: 

                              babushkas (Moscow)                                  

the Kremlin (Moscow)

amber heart (Moscow)

boat (Heraklion - Crete)

ceramic coaster (Romania)

insignia (Vaduz-Lichtenstein)

Victor statue (Belgrade- Beograd)

face (indian booth - Expo fair)

landmarks (Prague - Praha)

sheep

laminated birthday card

landmarks; matchbox (Sofia)

Remarks:

'Face' and 'Heart' can be worn as pendants. Face pendant ( metal), is more suitable for men. The Belgrade item (featuring the Victor monument facing the confluence of two rivers) can be turned into a brooch.

Amber made items are very popular on Russia markets.  I own a beautiful russian amber necklace given to me as a birthday gift many years ago; time doesn't rob it of its beauty.

I've recently seen magnets in the form of the corona virus. I won't buy that one.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Teeth


This is a sad post.

I'll start with corona update: things seem to be out of control as far as 'corona crisis' is concerned. So far, we have over 30 thousand infected, over 12 thousand actively ill, 340 deaths (r.i.p) - thousands of tests being performed almost daily.

There was a beautiful face in the news last month, that of a young man (26) who had  died of corona complications (He belonged to the recovery group;  something went wrong, and he had to be re-hospitalized and put on ventilator. Sadly, they couldn't save him).

In the 'news'  picture, he had a broad smile revealing his perfect white teeth.
The sight of his teeth brought back to me the memory of another tragedy.

Some twenty  years ago, I visited a  neighbor at the hospital. She was dying of liver cancer. When she saw me she greeted me with a faint smile, but big enough to display her perfect ,white, pearly teeth. 

I was quite in shock at the discrepancy between her terminal medical condition and her pretty, 'lively' teeth.  We're constantly told that bad teeth and gums have a bad impact on our body's health. Isn't the opposite also true? Namely, if the body is  ill, doesn't it affect our teeth and gums?

Well, the answer is yes, of course, and there's a long list of diseases (diabetes at the top) that are said to affect oral health. 
Perhaps her case was special. She was in her early forties, no smoker, and I knew of no other disease she could have had.  Genetics was probably involved as well. 

May they both rest in peace! 


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Sponge Fingers


Sponge fingers were the main  treat for all ages. in my childhood. It accompanied coffee and tea for adults, milk and cocoa for children.
It is a flour-egg-water based baked goodie with the addition to the dough of vanilla extract, lemon juice (resembles the italian 'savoiardi' biscuits). The result - finger shaped cookies, spongy inside, crispy outside, coated with sugar.


sponge fingers (web picture)

We had a relative and neighbor (aunt Elki) that was famous in our little town for her 'swollen', delicious,  sponge fingers.  It was believed she used a certain ingredient which she refused to disclose. The sponge fingers were her 'specialty', her pride. She kept the secret to herself, probably took it with her to the grave, as her daughter and daughter- in- law who lived in other towns, were unaware  of her fame and didn't know what it was all about.

My mom  made some attempts to find out the secret by adding, and/ or eliminating ingredients. No many options in those days, but the 'usual  suspects' were there: soda water, baking powder, baking soda, yeast. Nothing conclusive, as far as I could remember). 

(Come to think of it, maybe it was potato starch. Perhaps, it wasn't an ingredient that did the job, but the method, the quantities). 

Anyway, I didn't mind the secret as long as I got my treat, and I got it often, There were times when her husband was mostly on the road (sales agent), and she wanted me to sleep at their house. Well, no child likes to leave his bed , but she was also a close relative and I didn't want to upset my mother.  So, the sponge fingers and sometimes little gifts, sweetened my bitterness.

Me - at the back, left side, with braids , boy with cap behind

My real prize was many years later in a conversation I had with her daughter in law (Aunt Elki lived her last decade with her son and his wife in a remote town). The conversation brought me to tears, as it appeared she had mentioned me often and thought well of me.  It made me feel guilty, as I always pictured  her as the wicked woman who wouldn't reveal the secret of the sponge fingers. May her soul rest in peace!




Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Omegas


As sometimes happens, one thing reminds me of another.
The coronas (yes, plural, as there are several corona viruses: common cold virus, Sars, Mers, Covid-19..),
remind me, by way of contrast, of the omegas - omega essential fatty acids : omega 3 (linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid). 
The first group, the coronas, seeks to destroy immunity, the second, the omegas, helps strenghtening it.

Omega 3  (found in oily fish, nuts and seeds) has brain, vision, and heart benefits. Omega 6 (found in meat, dairy, vegetable oils) along with its 'cousin' omega 3, also plays a crucial role in brain and body functions.

The thing is, that Omega 6 has 'invaded' Western diet violating the balance between the two omegas, and practically pushing  Omega 3 out- thus causing some harmful effect on health  ( blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, water retention etc..).


bottle of omega 3 capsules

I know of a successful chess player who's also a doctor. Someone has told me that he's heavily on omega 3 as this helps him plan and perform his brilliant chess moves and win the game. Good for him! There's a lot of money and honour involved in these games.

And after all, omega 3 is not 'ritalin'  (used in ADHD), or some other drug, known as enhancing  performance.
It's just...fish oil which happens to improve brain activity and stabilize mood - recommended to all or most of us.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Here We Go Again


After lifting of restrictions (probably too soon) we're, sadly, back to a rise in the number of covid-19 virus infected people.

I don't know where all this will lead to. In the meantime, I'm looking at some situations, in light of the corona crisis.

1.  Schools are in a rather chaotic phase; after reopening,many got shut again because of individual pupils or teachers who tested positive to the virus. 

2.  People have been told for years  that humans are  "social creatures".   True, people seek interaction with other people. 
Self-isolation is tough on them,  but many have  come to realize now that it has some benefits too.

'The time to have time' - is  a major benefit:  time to do things in the house and around it, to read books, to practice a hobby,  to have a dialogue with one's own self, to enjoy...silence.

3. Lately, I happen to come upon the slogan  'a trade is better than a degree'.  It seems to imply that people with a trade (mainly requiring manual skills) have done better than those with a profession (requiring more education, and an academic degree).  

I think that nowadays, the difference between trade and profession is both  subtle and  dynamic. One can acquire more education and move between the two worlds according to circumstances. ;there are lots of nurses, for instance, with an academic degree.

I've recently read about two israeli sociology professors, man and wife, who are about to publish a book  about  what they call  'the futility of academic degrees'. It sounds provocative and it should be  an  interesting read.

Anyway, degree or not, many have lost their jobs because of the corona crisis, and are getting financial assistance from the government.



Thursday, June 4, 2020

Evil Plants


We are more or less aware of toxic plants, that are poisonous to cats and dogs (see picture below: lilies, crocuses, daffodils, oleanders, cyclamen..).

toxic plants (web picture)

We know little about carnivorous plants, also named insectivorous
(I prefer the term 'carnivorous' as these plants might also harm organisms bigger than insects and beetles, like mice , frogs, even us, humans).

The carnivorous plants have  three means of attracting the prey: 1. trap-shaped leaves/ flowers / fruit; 2.  a stiky secretion; and  3. a sweet aroma. The trap is usually closed, and opens up when the intended victim is near. Here are the names of some of these plants: Venus flytrap, Drosera, Sarracenia, Neptenthes, Pinguicula .


venus flytrap opening up its 'jaws' (web picture)

I was once attacked by a  carnivorous plant at the cemetery; the flower or fruit was full with needles and they landed on my lower part of the body. I was completely shocked  and felt helpless. There was no living soul around at that hour.

I 've described the sudden, nightmarish experience in a post entitled: 'Live Danger In a Dead Place' (pse. use the search box to get at it).
That's my opening paragraph of that post:

"Several months ago I got attacked by ...a plant. It happened while I was on my way out of the cemetery. My skirt touched a shrub near one of the graves and all of a sudden its fruit opened up sending tens of needles into the lower part of my body. I won't go into details; I'll just say that it was pure Hell".

I must admit I don't recall seeing anywhere a sign or poster warning against toxic or carnivorous plants. There should be strict published regulations regarding these types of plants. That's definitely a matter of life and death.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Bread and Butter


Butter (web picture)

I  was rather surprised to learn about the butter crisis. I thought people have given up or reduced this fatty goodness, for dietary reasons.

Well, I was wrong. This item is as popular as ever, and greatly sought after. The public is furious about the shortage which seems to have been going on since last year.
When the shortage spreads, the consumers resort to hoarding which is not a desirable phenomenon. 


Both production and Import are regulated by the state. The two ministries: Finance and Agriculture blame each other for the butter shortage. The solution - some kind of custom free temporary import.

For the last few years, scientists claim that butter is not linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They don't claim that butter is a health food, but that it is not as harmful as first thought.
Anyway, butter improves and upgrades any cooking and baking. For some people, butter is everything, all things.

Butter brings back to me good memories. During winter, my parents used to eat fresh black bread topped with butter (sometimes with a piece of herring), and followed by a cup of tea. It was the greatest delicacy for them.

"Good bread is the most fundamental of all foods and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts" (James Beard in the Soup and Bread cookbook). So  very true!


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Climate Change is Back in Town


Actually, it has never left; the corona virus put it aside for a while.
The thing is, both have to be tackled with the same urgency.  They are both a threat to human survival, and both have the potential of destroying economies. 

The latest on the topic of climate change is that we're already in a crisis that was thought to take decades to happen - namely, part of the world is now on the brink of intolerable heat and humidity.

In my country, the summers are hot; the temperatures usually reach  an average of 30-35 degrees Celsius. This week they got to over 40. There's talk of 50 degrees Celsius in many parts of the world during the upcoming months. It's an anomaly when it occurs in a populated area (in the desert, it's probably common). That's scary, very scary!

In the last few years, heat waves of this sort were spotted in India, Irak, Australia, South Arabia.
Intolerable heat  might bring about , among other things, increased migration from hot places to cooler ones, and thus a change in world geography and demography.



Baghdad - Irak.

I often think about islands. There's a constant threat hanging over them - their getting 'swallowed'  by waters through the melting ice in Antarctica,  and wonder if it's too late, if there's nothing to be done to prevent this upcoming disaster.




Thursday, May 7, 2020

Untitled


The USA has accused Russia of interfering  with the last american general elections. Now she's accusing China of withholding vital information regarding the corona virus.


Even if both accusations are well-founded , they put the accuser (USA) in an inferior position, that of the 'whining' victim. One asks oneself, how could that happen to the great american  nation, a nation with the most powerful secret service in the world. Not pleasant at all.

The young couple Meghan and Harry.are chased by the Press and by all  kinds of other circles, but one feels that it's actually Meghan that draws fire from all sides.  Not fair.

Harry is not just another young man who falls in love; he's a member of the royal british family. He should have married , in my opinion, a british girl, but he didn't.  He's chosen  Meghan, who's american and divorced. 
History repeats itself.:Edward (king Edward VIII)  and Wallis Simpson (an american socialite divorcee).

True, Harry is not king and won't have to abdicate the throne. He probably won't even  have to find a job to earn money like any commoner. He's still Prince, and has even retained the title of Royal Highness.

However, he should have learnt his lesson from his ancestor  - when the chances are your choice isn't fully accepted by family, or society or both - there isn't much happiness waiting  around the corner for you.



Sunday, May 3, 2020

Now, Children...


'Escapism' is not my strong point. I usually tend to look at reality 'straight in the eyes'  and confront it.

The more I try to understand  the corona pandemic, the more bewildered I am. The virus is not exactly new;  the first of this type has been spotted in 1964 (according to BBC news), so how come there are so many unknowns about its activity?

First, it was presented to us as causing a sort of flu, a respiratory, lung disease; then, as an all mighty virus capable of attacking any tissue of any organ (heart, brain, kidneys, toes..). 

We've been told that there are relatively few cases of children getting the virus , and that the disease they develop is usually much milder than in adults.

Schools are about to re-open in my country starting with this week.
Well, surprise, surprise. The medical authority, in an attempt to make it a gradual affair, has come up now with  a report showing ... high  numbers of children infected by the virus.

I fear disaster  by mid-June, unless the promise of warm-hot weather killing the virus has  more than  a grain of truth in it.




Sunday, April 26, 2020

Seniors, Volunteers, and what's between them


The socially isolated senior citizens get a lot of help from volunteers these days: food boxes, meals, books, games, gym devices etc...It sure helps cope with the situation, and stay optimistic.

I've particularly enjoyed a pack of 21 tiny cards with printed flowers growing in the holy land. It is a good opportunity  to  learn or recall the names (scientific and common ) of each flower, and the major facts about it (origin, shape, color, growing conditions).   



I find it important to know which plants and flowers are poisonous, medicinal, edible, invasive, protected, spicy. I use spices in my kitchen and take herb supplements for medical wellness. So, 'playing' with these cards is definitely time well spent.

The delivered food boxes contain mostly dry and canned food - not ideal for elderly people's daily menu. It's more sort of  food reserve to be stored for the days of food shortage that might come.
On the other hand, frozen meals to be warmed up, are a hit; gourmet quality, well planned, decent quantity and variety.





They say the corona virus attacks animals and crops as well. I sincerely hope that's not true, but then, I read in the news that it has been discovered  back in 1964 by a brilliant scottish female lab worker. So, it had plenty of time  to become The Virus of all times, to emerge as the accomplished  micro-organism ready to face and destroy the vanity of mankind.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Herd Immunity


Actually, we should call it  'population immunity'  as we're not livestock, but the term 'herd'  keeps popping up  in  articles or interviews on  covid-19, whether in hebrew or in english.

The theory behind  'herd immunity' is that the virus won't disappear by itself,  and we don't know when there will be a vaccine against it .   So, currently, there are two options to prevent spreading of the infection:

1. isolation, social distancing, quarantine
2.  herd immunity.

The first option usually has good results in a community/region/country where people are disciplined and willing to make  temporary or long-term sacrifices on the economic and social levels. 

The second option ,  that of  'herd immunity' occurs , according to specialists on the matter, when at least 60% of the population (the herd), gets exposed to the virus, contracts the disease, develops anti-bodies, recovers , becomes immune to it, and in this way slows down and eventually stops  spreading of the virus.

The above mentioned exposure is not done as an attempt to get intentionally infected in order to build immunity. 

It is done through  trying to return,  even partially, to the routine of work, shopping, sports, and other life activities which, sadly, carry the risk of infection.

I must confess, it all seems to me rather complicated and risky. 
I don't envy those that have to take and implement decisions regarding easement on coronavirus restrictions,  
It's a terrible responsability.

Anyway ,in my country, we need a miracle, and fast, before things get chaotic.



Friday, April 10, 2020

Behind The Shelves





There's been a lot of talk lately about empty shelves and spaces, shortage of products - all related to the coronavirus crisis.

That reminds me of things about shelves,  going on all the time, not only during a crisis: let's call them War and Science.

1. "War" among manufacturers regarding shelf space,  as there's a multitude of products versus limited shelfing space.

It seems to me the supermarkets favor the big companies; their products stake up the front.. That's not fair for competition. The shopper has a lot to lose this way; competition is of utmost importance, as it influences prices and quality.


When looking for the products I'm used to buy,  I sometimes notice how the bigger companies just 'swallow' the smaller ones and this process starts on the shelf.    Small manufacturers's merchandise gradually disappears ; l
ater on, I find out that the small company has gone out of business or 'persuaded' to merge with the bigger one.


2. "Science" - planogramming - space planning.

A 'planogram' is a diagram showing how and where a product should be placed on shelves in order to increase customer purchase.

Many supermarkets and pharma stores employ experienced people for this specific job.

Planogramming sounds like a nice job to me. I know there's a lot of software products that help building and reading a planogram. I suppose there's also the possibility of formal training somewhere. It's worth it for those already in the retail business or wishing to join this sort of business.



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(web picture)






Friday, April 3, 2020

The Over 70s


A popular female astrologer in our country says the coronavirus attack will slow down at the end of this month (25 April, to be exact), and in September scientists will come up with a vaccine and  some efficient anti-viral drug.

On the other hand,  a well-known researcher, Dr. Sharon Moalem (israeli born, lived and worked in Canada  and USA) says in an interview that the corona virus is here to stay with us, and that's good, in his opinion.

 There are two key things that help  lowering numbers of  infected people: testing and lockdown .   
To stop a pandemic there's need to know who's infected, and take drastic measures. 

It seems there are not enough testing kits, testing facilities, testing personnel, so the statistics in most countries is rather inaccurate, and disaster might well be on its way.

As for lockdown- it works where there's discipline only.  So far, we've got over seven (7)thousand cases in Israel. Not surprising, as there is no discipline here.

The over 70s do follow the instructions (I'm in this age group too). They know that it is for their own good. Most of them are frail, vulnerable, with underlying conditions and a weak immune system; thus they are more likely to get seriously ill and spread the virus among family, friends and others.

However, there are many voices out there now stating loud and clear that the beds, ventilators, oxygen, medications and medical staff in the hospitals,  as well as the volunteering activities  are needed for the younger ones who have to work hard  and keep economy going.

I dislike these voices. They sound dangerous and inhumane to me. They present the over 70s as standing in the way of the Health Care System to win the battle against the virus, and of the government to bring about economic recovery.









Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Suspect


Never heard of  pangolin, until the outbreak of the corona virus. They say it is responsible for the transmission of the virus to humans in Wuhan, China where it all started several months ago.


pangolin (web picture)

This ant/ termite - eating mammal is popular in east and south-east Asia for its meat and scales (used in medicines and jewelery).
It is not clear yet whether pangolin is the source of the virus or just  'the intermediate host', its transmitter from bats to humans.

 At any rate, it is believed that the pangolin is the 'chief suspect', and that the wildlife market in Wuhan is "the scene of the crime" .



pangolin (web picture)

The Chinese authorities have already closed the market down and taken drastic measures to increase penalties, strenghten enforcement, improving education against wild meat consumption.

The pangolin is considered the most trafficked mammal in the world.   Sadly, Nigeria (Africa) hasn't taken any measures against the trade of pangolin, even after the corona virus outbreak.

chinese pangolin  (web picture)



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Untitled


I can't say I'm totally surprised of what's going on in the world right now: climate change and the corona virus.

I've mentioned before that I believe in God ( the Superpower) and his  Creation of the world. 
I think we humans have constantly violated the order and rules of this creation by wars, colonialism, slavery, migration, globality - and now, we're probably going to pay for it.

I remember my visit to South Africa.   Apartheid was already in its last stages,  and what really puzzled me was the mere presence of the white, european people there. I kept asking myself why are they here? this continent was given by God to the black people, and it belongs to them. The europeans should be here only as tourists not as settlers.  Europe is their God- given continent for.better or for worse.


Climate Change and the Corona Virus clearly indicate that God is fed up with us and is considering a Reset whatever that may mean.


I guess that even if we survive the corona, we might face a totally different reality with scarcity of food, no pensions, violence reaching its highest,  at least for a while.

It is at times like this, that one learns the true meaning of terms constantly misused and misunderstood by us such as: nation. territory, race, sustainability, superpower, climate, and many others.




Wednesday, March 11, 2020

CORONAVIRUS


It's rather hard to concentrate on blogging when every day brings with it some bad news about coronavirus.

Our warning example is the outbreak in Italy. The italians haven't taken it seriously from the beginning,  and now Italy is completely paralyzed.
We, in Israel have taken it more seriously, and yet we are probably at the stage were contamination cannot be prevented any further, despite on going drastic measures. This is panicking, because our Health Care System will not be able to deal with hundreds  of corona patients simultaneously.

One would think medical people know a lot about the virus, and the only thing now is to come up with a vaccine.
Well, the corona seems to be very elusive. People that infect others are in many cases  asymptomatic, the disease is described as a mild sort of flu, but those who recover from it might still.infect others .

They say it is dangerous  mainly for  elderly people with chronic disease history. There's, however, a 38 year old driver with no such history (albeit a smoker), hospitalized in serious condition.
Now we have a 9-year old too on the list although they say the virus seems to avoid children.

Besides blaming the chinese for eating snake meat and bat meat, additional blame is put on the airplane. Yes.the vehicle that connects countries also helps spread the virus.  So, flights get cancelled, airports closed.  Nobody knows what next.

We are reminded to wash our hands thoroughly. That's something most of us do regularly.  Pity we are not reminded to watch our immune system and make any effort to strenghten it. That would be very rewarding.

Where does all this lead to, total collapse? Only God knows.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Jeweler



Sometimes , when I look in the mirror and notice my earrings, I recall for a minute the smiling, kind face and  sweet french accent of the one who has  sold them to me - the jeweler from the Shopping Center passage.

At the end of that  year of the earrings' purchase, I returned to the jewelery shop . I had some buying plans for the new  upcoming year, and I thought that would be the best place to get quality at a decent price, and excellent customer service.

The shop was closed.  There was an obituary both on the window and on the entrance door.  I was shocked. The man was barely middle-aged, too young to die.

I entered the neighboring shop to get some information. Had he been ill? was it an accident?
"He was murdered", came the neighbor's answer."The police had arrested a suspect".
Murdered?!!  I was shocked again.

There were customers in the neighboring shop, so I couldn't go on with  my questions, but I promised myself to get the whole story. 
I supposed it was a robbery attempt that went  wrong. 

As I happened to know someone on the board of our local newspaper I asked to have a word with him on the matter.He informed me that the story won't be published  any time-  at the specific request of the deceased's family.

It appeared the jeweler  (married, with wife and kids) was sexually involved  with a young man, in charge of the cleaning of the shops in the passage. The young  lover was arrested by the police and charged with murder.

Whenever I'm in the vicinity, and enter the shopping passage, I see deterioration: empty, closed shops , frequent change of names and ownership, messy place with items displayed outside the shops, etc..
It occurs to me that perhaps it's some kind of punishment, having to do with the fact that a murder has been committed here, a soul has been taken away by force and it's crying above.



When buying or renting property people usually take interest in the price, physical condition, proximity to important places. Few are interested in the dark history of the asset such as past tragic events involving death. These few are usually people who believe in superstitions or have religious/mystical beliefs,  and they probably won't buy/rent the asset or part of it after all.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Living Among Us


I've got the strange feeling that Sars was a warning, Corona (officialy named covid-19) is the 'real thing'. The viral outbreak doesn't seem to be under control. Words like 'global', 'outsource', 'China', have become ominous. If the chinese stop working , the economies of the world might collapse.

In the meantime, people go on with their plans, especially touristic ones. During the second week of February we have the annual IMTM  fair (see my previous posts on the subject). Usually, it's a popular, colorful touristic event that lasts two days; half of the day dedicated to professionals , the other half open to the public.



Expo area in TA

Entrance

Pavilion 2 out of two main exhibit pavilions

This time, however, something in the air, perhaps fear of the virus,  got translated into fear of the crowds. Most visitors just grabbed maps and flyers without pausing to ask questions or discuss itineraries like in the past; some of the beautiful booths were partially or totally deserted.


Indian booth posters  - Incredible India

India booth posters- Human and Nature

Perhaps,  there's some other explanation ( I arrived late,  the business transactions among tourist operators once closed , the public was of little interest to them, the operators were tired from the 'after party' of the previous evening... ), but it's hard to ignore the virus rumors, these days.


Men's  chat

girls'  chat

deserted  booths

If I understand correctly, the covid-19 virus is part of the same virus family as the 'flu' (the corona family).
Not much is known about it, so hopes, at this stage,  are modest - mainly to bring it down, at least, to the level of the flu (influenza) virus.

The latter has practically been living for decades among us. We are familiar with it, have an annual vaccine, anti-viral drugs, understand its spreading  process, can foresee mutations etc..

May God protect us from  the Corona  family !



.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Beggar in Black


I remember from my childhood and early adolescence in a communist country, that begging was seen as public disturbance and  forbidden by law; beggars were treated cruelly if caught. 
Charity and fundraising were not allowed either. 
The rationale behind it was that the government took good care of its citizens , and the above activities implied the opposite, which was unacceptable.

Perhaps the communist approach was not so bad after all, considering the amount of fraud and corruption regarding benevolent, non- profit organizations in the western world.
People give away stuff and money without properly checking where it goes to and that doesn't help fix the situation.  Sometimes even the social services are involved  in the scam.

Well. to go back to what I started with - begging and beggars.
Over the years, I occasionally stumbled upon a certain beggar who for some reason or another, managed to capture my attention. His "territory" was the heart of  Tel Aviv city. 

He was not the standard beggar. He didn't have a 'fixed' place, but was rather on the move, stretching his hand to passersby and shop keepers, an imploring look on his face . He seemd ageless, with no visible physical disability. He made no use of kids or heart-breaking little posters to ellicit symphaty. He was casually dressed in a black t-shirt and  pants.


begging-   (Getty's images)

I happened to see him a few times in an adjacent town, probably his hometown as he was not begging there.  Last time, I saw him sitting in a posh restaurant checking the table menu. I stood outside for a while, not believing my eyes; my imagination ran wild. Was he leading a double life? Was the man at the table, perhaps,  a twin  brother?

I entered the restaurant and approached his table; looked him into the eyes, but... couldn't do it, couldn't ask him about the begging, couldn't tell him that people begging money, do so for very basic needs, not for luxuries.   
Just turned around and left.  
Were are the story investigative journalists when you need them?




Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sitting Shiva


'Sitting Shiva'  is a mourning custom in judaism. It starts immediately after the funeral and lasts seven days and nights ('shivah', literally means seven).

The 'shiva' is kept at the residence of the deceased or in the home of one of the principal mourners (relatives of first degree). The mourners usually sit on low beds and stools, express their grief, and discuss the loss of the loved one with visitors that come to offer their condolences and comfort .


web picture (from the Jewish Chronicle) -Sitting Shiva


Shortly before my  retiring from work, the secretary at our office lost her mother, a last year hospice patient. 

The 'shiva' was held at the home of the secretary's sister.  The latter, a TV writer and director, wife of  a well-known hospital doctor, lived in a beautiful house, located in a respectable neighborhood of a central city.

We were a bunch of four-five people from the office coming to extend our condolences to the bereaved family. 

The spacious living room was occupied by the sister and her family awaiting the visits of high society people from the TV and medical fields.. We were directed to an adjacent room where we found our secretaryׂ with HER visitors.

I  felt very badly about that, not to say shocked. The 'shiva' is meant to be a custom of togetherness not of separation, of human solidarity not of human polarization.

The thing is I've met the sister on a previous occasion and she had left a great impresion on me: good- looking, witty, polite, kind. And now this... perhaps,  her husband's idea. Who knows.
We (the office colleagues), were too embarassed to discuss the matter among us.




Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Silent Walls



People often blame  outer factors for their health issues: antennae, electric cables, screens, pesticides...the list is long. We seldom hear ,however, about the walls in our homes. 


indoor walls and ceiling  (Web picture)

The truth is that these walls emit toxicity at various levels. Silent, silent, but dangerous. Building materials, wall primers and paint , have improved over the years; and yet we're constantly advised, and rightly so, to keep windows slightly open during most of the year.

(Air conditioning, which requires closed windows and doors for its efficacity, has worsened things for many people, including me, causing various allergic reactions and dry skin). 

I don't trust any wall stuff. We don't really know what's in it despite regulations. The use of  lead in paint ( lead -  a metal that can be very toxic)  was banned in 1978, but  it still exists in walls of older homes.  Asbestos (silicate minerals)- based materials, are banned in most countries and yet they are not completely out of use.

The bottom line - we should keep the windows open (not all the way, just a few inches)  for as long as  possible. Of course, not during the night or in very nasty weather.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Neighborly Hand



I tend to compare Climate Change with an experienced army general. The later knows he cannot successfully fight a war with the tactics and strategies of the last war. He has to surprise the enemy.

Fires were not new to australians, and yet they got surprised by the highly devastating nature of the last fires.They needed all the help they could get (The neighboring countries New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea were the first to offer help). 

In Israel, we don't have much rain . but 2-3 consecutive days of strong rain, some ten days ago, almost destroyed an entire city (Naharyia) in the north of the country.  The city was heavily hit by floods, and that came as a complete surprise.
The official explanation to the stunned citizens was that the severe flooding was perhaps due to the Gaaton river(crossing the town) being diverted to build a mall?!


Naharyia floods (web picture)

It would seem Climate Change is here to stay. So, there are two main urgent needs:
1.  lots of smart rescue plans to save lives (both human and animal).
2.  good neighboring country relations based on reciprocity and cooperation.  
Nations are more than willing to help other nations in distress, but sometimes because of distance, it takes precious time till the planes with the experts and equipment arrive at the scene of the disaster.  So, where possible, good neighbors are top priority.

Nine years ago we had a deadly fire on Mt Carmel (44 fatalities) We badly needed help and we got it from many countries. It was really heart warming.  Here's the list with the helping countries (it appeared on the internet):
Azerbaijan – 2 helicopters
Bulgaria – 1 plane and 92 firefighters
Croatia – 1 plane, 8 firefighters and fire repression materials
Cyprus – 1 plane and 1 helicopter
Egypt – fire repression materials
France – 5 planes and fire repression materials
Germany – 1 plane, 7 experts in firefighting and fire repression materials
Greece – 7 planes, 34 firefighters and fire repression materials
Holland – 5 experts in firefighting
Italy – 1 plane and fire repression materials
Jordan – 3 truckloads of firefighting equipment and materials
Palestinian Authority – 21 firefighters and 3 fire engines
Russia – 3 planes and 22 experts in firefighting
Spain – 5 planes
Switzerland – 1 plane, 3 helicopters and a team of 14
Turkey – 2 planes
UK – 2 helicopters
US – 5 planes, 11 experts in firefighting and fire repression materials
Among the countries that offered assistance which wasn't required: Australia (was ready to rapidly deploy a team of 5 incident management experts and 20 tons of fire retardant), Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Romania and Ukraine.

It's mutual. We always offer help to other nations in disaster cases. I especially remember the earthquakes in Azerbaijan and Turkey. Israel had  an important assisting presence there.




Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Pomelo Orchard



pomelos at the store

I'm very fond of the pomelo fruit; it's sweet, friendly to the digestive system, and has many health benefits. I do like to eat pomelos; I have, however, little knowledge about the cultivation and harvesting of this fruit.

There's a pomelo orchard by the tiny road leading to our local cemetery. On the way back from my annual visit at  the cemetery, I approach the place with the intention to either buy or get permission from someone in charge, to pick a few pomelos. Never saw/heard anyone there on that specific day;  it was rather spooky.


the little road leading to the cemetery

the pomelo orchard

 As far as I know, the orchard  is owned  by a citrus  company  whose latest  proprietor is a famous magnate. The rumor has it  he has bought the company only due to promises that the agricultural lands (orchards) that belong to it will be turned into residential/industrial property. 


 the orchard

Despite strong denials coming from the company, I tend to believe that rumor. This seems to be the trend nowadays. There's no big money in agriculture; water and labor are expensive .On the other hand, flat soil is  attractive to construction,  there's a lot of money involved, and that's the way the rich get richer.

However, converting agricultural soil to residential use, might have bad general consequences : food price increase, loss of open, green spaces and more. The government shouldn't allow that to happen. 

Yesterday, before posting on the subject I went back to the orchard to  refresh my memory. After two previous days of heavy rain, the soil was soft and muddy. The trees were full of fruit whose skin color was deep yellow. not green as four months ago when I last saw them. There were also  lots of pomelos on the ground.


trees full of fruit



pomelos on the ground


Do have a look please at the surprise in the video from  Elifaz (kibbutz in the south of the country which has one of the best pomelo orchards).