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 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


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.


(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


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


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.