Tuesday, February 7, 2023

On Earthquakes and Buildings

On  Sunday, we were told a storm named Barbara was on its way  from Greece to Israel, and will hit us on Monday morning.   In the meantime, at middnight, a deadly earthquake occurred in Turkey and was felt in the whole region: Syria, Lebanon. Cyprus, Israel. 

On Monday, at about midday, a second quake struck. Thousands of casualties in Turkey and Syria. Countries are offering to send teams with humanitarian aid, but the wintry weather is not cooperating with the search and rescue efforts. Terrible  tragedy!

Turkey has had her share of earthquakes in the past, and has learned important lessons from them, yet every new quake is  surprising and devastating.

One thing is for sure, we israelis, are not prepared at all  should a major quake strike closer to us. There's a lot of talk about strenghtening existing buildings. Some of it has already been done here and there.  New buildings are checked, before approval,  for specially designed features that will make them earthquake proof  buildings. So they say. I don't know how seriously things are done, if at all.

There's ,of course, no complete immunity to these buildings, given the unpredictability of intensity and ocurrence of the earthquakes, but it's the best we can do to bring damage and loss of life to a bare minimum.

Anyway, things look quite scary.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Me and Influenza


I've always considered climate as an important factor that affects one's well-being and quality of life. ( long before the discussions on climate change).

I don't particularly like winter.  Although our winters are short and mild, nevertheless there are days I'll rather stay indoors because of the weather elements of wind, rain and cold. This fact annoys me. I feel my freedom of choice is threatened. It's the weather that actually decides for me if I'm indoors or outdoors and the proper activities that go with it.

I don't like summer heatwaves either, but they are mostly bearable and don't affect my health, whereas the cold and rain might do that. Winter brings with it the flu (influenza), and in elderly people various joint and muscle aches.

I'm glad to admit that during the last three years , probably because of mask wearing, no flu has hit me. That's a big relief as I used to get a very nasty form of flu (sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, fever), despite the annual flu shot. 

Thank God I can manage it with basic remedies: undiluted freshly squeezed lemon juice for the sore throat, saline nasal spray for the nose, ice for fever - and of course, hot soup and hot tea. Within a week, it's usually gone.

However, as I advance in age, the flu symptoms make me tired and vulnerable . If the mask is the solution - so be it. As long as it keeps the flu away from me,  I don't mind to be in the minority ; most people have already abandoned  mask wearing.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

My Kind Of Archeological Discovery

No bones, no skulls, no skeletons, no pottery, but silk and cotton. A few hundred pieces of exotic textile from 1300 years ago, has been found recently in a lovely place - in the israeli desert  (northern Negev) near Nahal Omer ('nahal' means river). The luxury fabrics were originally from China, India, and Sudan and meant to reach European places.

piece of fabric*

The first find in this area (considered part of the Silk road - a network of Eurasian trade routes) - came in 2018, but there was no money to start a serious excavation. Finally it became a joint project of israeli and german archeologists, and the funds were provided by the germans.

Earlier, in 2017 (during an excavation that was going on since 2013), 3000 years old purple wool fragments from king David's era,  dyed in royal purple (argaman, in hebrew), symbol of high social status , and probably first evidence of chemical dye in the area, was found in the valley of Timna, place in the desert known as an ancient copper mine.

The dry desert climate was probably the reason for the good preservation of textiles digged up in the above excavations. 

The findings have a great historical and archeological significance as they help understand the techniques of textile development in those times. Moreover, they add information regarding transfer of goods between East and West.

A bit of trivia - cotton is the most comfortable of fabrics (softness, breathability, weightlessness); silk is the strongest natural fabric in the world. Ahmadabad is considered Manchester of India for its being the center of textile industry.

* web picture

Monday, January 16, 2023

The Deserted Bench


One of the saddest things we witness in our third age is disappearance of familiar faces of friends, neighbors, acquaintences. Some die, some go for an assisted living facility, some move closer to their children.

 There's a certain bench which whenever I happen to pass near it, I feel a twinge. It reminds me of two women, neigbours and friends, that regularly used to sit on it talking, gossiping, laughing. Sometimes, I would join them as they were a good source of the latest news in the area.

One of them died a few years ago; after that, the other one was not seen again sitting on that bench .  She recently moved to an assisted living facility. She didn't want to. At her age (80) she was still in good condition and quite independent.

However, a divorced brother of hers who had to leave his apartment to wife and kids, came to live at her big house. She was not happy about that. After three years of having him around, she decided to sell the house. She gave him some money to find himself a place, and joined an assisted living facility.

She couldn't believe it. Leaving her house, turned out to be one of her most happy days. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Urban Renewal (Pinuy-Binuy)


Urban renewal is a widely discussed and controversial program. It is a process intended to improve specific areas of a city. There are several terms related to urban renewal, the most known being 'Clearing and Building' (Pinuy-Binuy in hebrew), 'Tama 38'.

It's usually a slow process (it may take years) that involves getting permission from the residents, from the local and regional authorities, proper planning and consulting. If all goes well, the result is one of economic, social and environmental area revival.

The buildings in my neighborhood are about 60 years old. The plan is to demolish the old structures and build new ones, more spacious and with a promise of increase in market value. I would have preferred renovation, not demolition, as the basic construction is of good quality. Moreover I've got 3 air exposures and it's street faced (quiet inner street).

 In Pinuy-Binuy the apartment has to be evacuated for two-three years, and the resident displaced until the new building is finished. Not convenient to my age. I think, however, that according to the law the contractor has to offer a person of my age the option of an immediate new apartment in one of his other buildings, if available.. We shall see.

Lately, I've noticed some action which means the process is approaching and I'm quite apprehensive. There is always local corruption, conflicting interests, poor planning, and above all, the need to start downsizing towards the evacuation of the apartment.  Just the thought of it gives me a headache.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Prima Donna

I started the new year with  listening to some of Maria Callas' opera performances.

Her voice was perhaps, not the greatest, but her stage appearance was majestic, dramatic, and her smile - fascinating!  Maria Callas, the famous american born, of greek descent, opera soprano , had a vast classical repertoire which included operas of Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Bellini etc.. brilliantly performed by her.

I often watch the youtube video with Callas in the Habanera aria from the opera Carmen by Bizet. It' s a treat; it gives me so much pleasure to see her and listen to her interpretation! ('habanera' is a cuban popular dance).

Her untimely death (at 53) was a big loss to the opera world. They said she died of a 'broken heart'. Her lover, Onassis, the shipping magnate, dumped her for Jackie Kennedy. 

According to letters found after her death, it would appear that she was abused by both, the ex- italian husband Giovani Meneghini , and by her greek lover Aristotle Onassis. It was believed that unlike on stage, in her private life she was a somewhat submissive person, and submissiveness usually attracts abusers.

The word has it that she was abused even by her parents! Who would have thought that about the greatest soprano of the 20th century!?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Man and Metal


My mother Bracha ('bracha'  means blessing in hebrew, and she was indeed a blessing to her family) used to say 'man is the hardest of metals', 'man is stronger than steel' and other such sayings.  She was referring, of course, to the tragedies individuals or families go through, and yet they find the strength to stand on their feet and  go on with their life.

I was reminded of that recently while reading in the news about president Biden. He lost his first wife and their girl in an accident, and later in life he lost one of his two sons to cancer. And yet, not only did he go on with his life, but entered the field of politics, a highly controversial field, which required particular strength of character.

Ruth Dayan, the first wife of general  Moshe Dayan, former  Minister of Defence of Israel, died  in 2021, one month before her 104 birthday. She died at home and at her own 'initiative' (stopped eating). 

Her life was  interesting but rather tragic. 

The husband had constant extra-marital affairs, so she divorced him and got a career of her own in fashion and social/peace  activities. She became quite an inspiration for women.

One of her two sons, a very talented actor, writer and movie director, got into drugs (as far as I  could remember ,it happened after his father, the general, died and left almost his entire estate  to his second wife, nothing to Ruth and their 3 children). Ruth, already at an advanced age, had to be strong not only for herself, but also to help her son control his depression, and prevent further deterioration.  She was always there for her children and grandchildren.

Her daughter (83), the eldest of the three children, a writer and active politician, yet a heavy smoker, had been struggling during the last decade with  lung disease. 

Ruth was predeceased by both her sons who died untimely. I guess  she was afraid she might have to bury her daughter too, and decided to put an end to life's playing a farce on her.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2023!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Weather of Together

 So far, the weather here is fine; so I get a little depressed when I read in your blogs about snow and freezing cold.

Luckily, the descriptions of decorations, ornaments , greeting cards, gifts, food, and other Christmas preparations are very, very heart-warming and eye- pleasing!

The December holidays: Christmas. and our jewish Hanukkah -  are family holidays, celebrations of togetherness, lights, gift-giving, good food. 

 The Christmas tree with its colorful lights  and the Menora with its eight candle lights, illuminate our lives and uplift our spirit.


Christmas tree and gifts

Here are some nice rhymes to go with 'weather' and 'together':

'As long as we are together /who cares about the weather'?

'You can be as cold as the winter weatherbut I don't care as we are together' 

I will help you get better/ when you feel under the weather

* web pictures

Sunday, December 4, 2022

The 'Hashish' Mystery

On the 22 of November, dozens of packages containing many kilograms of drugs washed up on the beaches of the Mediterranean, from northern Israel (Naharia, Haifa, Tirat Hakarmel, Zichron Ya'akov) to its center (Tel-Aviv, Rishon- Lezion).

At first, there was panic ; fear of packages containing explosives. So, the police were called to inspect them and look for additional packages. Next, the dumped stuff was transferred to a police lab.

Could be it was a failed smuggling operation of packages tossed from a passing ship for locals to collect. The other possibility is that the israeli owner was trying, for some reason, to get rid of the illegal drugs and threw them into the sea.

So far, we haven't heard anything from the police, and that's frustrating.

I recall something similar in the past, but it was on a much smaller scale, and  long before the talks on cannabis'  legalization.

Anyway, this kind of happening causes security panic, and it might damage the marine fauna (the packages of marijuana were non water proof).

* web pictures :

                                       package on the beach

Friday, November 25, 2022



I believe in ice therapy. Ice reduces pain and swelling, prevents inflammation after a fall, and might cancel the need to go to the ER. I sometimes apply ice even when logic tells me warmth will be more effective. Logic tells one thing, experience tells another. In certain cases it's possible to have both, alternate cold and warm for the best result.

Of course, one has to be patient and careful about applying ice, in order to avoid frostbite (caused by ice applied directly on the skin),  allergies, or worsen existing pain. Icing session between intervals, should be limited to  10- 20 minutes to avoid tissue damage.

I keep several cold gel packs in the freezer, and that serves me well. I've seen on Amazon site ,though, some devices for knee and shoulder ice therapy, that might be worth buying, just in case.

My first major use of ice occured several years ago after I fell  on my arm, on the pavement. and got my right shoulder badly hurt.  I decided not to lose  time by going to get medical help, but reach home, and start immediately applying ice  to reduce the throbbing pain and prevent inflammation.

I went to the doctor  two weeks after the fall, pain free and able to use my right arm, though with some degree of restriction. The ultrasound revealed only a tiny fissure for which I was prescribed physiotherapy for four weeks, twice a week.

Back to the title of the post - two wise little words indicating  at-home treatment for injuries:

RICE = rest, ice, compression, elevation ;  PRICE = protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Named After

 Naming and renaming  of streets is quite a vast subject! I wasn't aware of that till recently when we were faced with a 'hot' controversy regarding the naming of a street after a living person.

Usually, streets are named in honor of distinguished people after their death. However, as it happens with everything else, pressure is present here too: pressure from politicians and from ethnical groups that wish to make sure they're not forgotten, ignored, or discriminated. So, naming after a living person is probably no longer a taboo, but not popular either. (I myself am against naming after a living person).

Streets/roads are often named after trees (especially in rural areas), vital occupations and professions,  famous institutions,  historical/archeological sites and events. Still, naming after human figures is the most popular. The emphasis used to be on heads of state, scientists, writers, explorers, war heroes.  Nowadays, there's a tendency to include more celebrities from the culturally entertaining world (singers, composers, actors etc...).

The city or district council is responsible for naming streets and placing adequate signage. I guess it's quite a 'headache': debates on the various proposals, decisions on the signs to be displayed, dealing with opposition  of residents or other factors of interest in the respective area etc.. Well, someone has to do it, and it's the local authorities' doing from start to finish.

Our standard sign is written in two languages: Hebrew and Arabic, and employ three scripts: hebrew, arabic, latin.

Here's an example: Bialik street sign.( Bialik was a famous israeli poet).

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Que Sera Sera

On the 1st of November we had general elections (five rounds of voting in three and a half years!!). Nothing to write home about. As expected (by me, at least), it went from bad to worse. (the results, I mean).
What happened? Well, Democracy got hijacked by demograpy and religiosity. The winners were the right wing party with its natural allies of extreme religious factions.
So, secular and traditional way of life are under threath. 

It's all man-made and local. No point in blaming God or foreign factors. It's not temporary either, as people would like to believe.The winners have obtained a solid majority of mandates which will enable them to set up a steady government.

At my age, I don't plan relocation.  Besides, things look pretty bad  everywhere in this divisive world.  So,  que sera, sera, as the song goes, whatever will be, will be.

Anyway, the concept of Democracy has to be reviewed and revised. It has sadly become  a big farce in many countries.

Our so called democracy is going to be controlled by the orthodox who actually form a state within a state contributing almost nothing  useful to the wellfare of the country; using all its resources but giving nothing in return.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Go Cognitive

The other day, I was reading  about a  new supplement  named 'StayIn' (stay in), introduced by the  israeli startup company Biomind and meant to boost cognitive function. It is made up of seven ingredients among them vitamin B6, vitamin B12, karnitin, rhodiola.

As a retired, third age person, in fear of cognitive decline associated with the aging process (memory loss, dementia), it caught my attention. 

So far, all I did was to look for mind stimulating activities.

I don't  mean all those 'word and mind games' (sudoku,  crosswords, puzzles, etc..). I personally prefer practicalities that help me in my every day  life - like learning to fix things in the house or with the computer. In this way, I also don't get dependent on others. 

Luckily, there are written guides as well as online videos that can teach us  things, and do wonders to our mental skills.

Among some of the more known ways of  improving cognitive ability are : learning a foreign language, learning to play a musical instrument,  memorizing texts/ poems, focusing on specific activities that are supposed to contribute to our health (meditation, yoga). 

(Reading fiction and watching TV  are activities that mostly entertain me and /or help me escape daily worries, but I feel they do little to 'sharpen' my mind).

Writing, as opposed to reading is a more efficient form of stimulating the brain, especially writing in a language that is not one's native language, and so requires more mental effort. I say this from personal experience as both Hebrew and English are not my first language. 

The blog helps me 'catch two birds with one hand': writing (exposing facts and views) , and preserving my knowledge of English which is an acquired language for me.

Saturday, October 29, 2022


                                                mineral water

I wrote  in the past about 'turkish delight' - food/beverage items produced and imported from our neigbour country Turkey.

This year I've become acquainted with a certain type of their mineral and soda water -  small bottles of mineral water (500 ml), and tiny glass bottles of soda water (200 ml).  It's good stuff and decently priced, but it's  sold only in a few places because of the objection of the local monopols.

                                mineral water, soda water

Lately, there was shortage of these bottles at my supermarket (they come in packages of 8 water bottles per package , 6 soda tiny bottles per package); so I complained to the guy in charge. He said some nonsense like: 'the bottles are on the way,  swimming  from Turkey to Israel..' He thought he was being funny. He wasn't. 

After several days, though, the bottles were in the store . Great performance!

He listens to the customer and takes immediate action (probably by contacting the warehouse, the other branches, or the import firm). I like that. It's not for the first time that I notice his efficiency.

 I've  heard from another employee in the store, that he makes it very hard for suppliers to raise prices. I like that too. He may seem strange sometimes, but does good work , and understands the importance of each and every customer.

At my age, I have a more or less fixed menu. If an item is missing at the store , it disrupts my nutrition routine, and might affect health.   Luckily, there's no shortage of local basic products (milk, eggs, cottage cheese, veggies, ...), but rather of some imported stuff (from east-central Europe, mainly). Anyway, I'm pleased the place has a reliable person to turn to in case some item is not available. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Saxophonist

Several years ago, I wrote a post about a  cafe in my hometown - a small place specializing in coffee brands and selling  a variety of pastries and snacks (rather expensive).

Sometimes, the cafe  would also offer its customers a mini musical show, performed by one or two music players.

Since Covid , things don't look too bright about this place. Anyway, they've come up with an attraction: a metal little statue of a jazz saxophonist. It is placed outside the coffee shop ,near the pavement. The sight of it is enjoyed by its customers, as well as by customers of the adjacent McDonalds eatery  and  passersby.

                                                              jazz saxophonist

I enjoy contemplating it too . Whenever I'm in the area I stop to have a look at it. It reminds me of some great music and musicians. Of course, it also reminds me of Bill Clinton, the USA president ( a saxophone player in his college days), who has contributed to the popularity of the sax.

(Examining closely the several photos I took of the figurine, made me angry.  It is not well-maintained; it seems to be covered with a thin layer of dust. It should be cleaned often as it is outside, close to traffic and subject to climate elements).