Thursday, July 29, 2010


I've copied (with permission) the below funny piece from In my Humble Opinion (Nice Guy Eddie's political blog). Eddie's a liberal blogger and he got this stuff in an email sent to him by a conservative.

John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock
for 6 am. While his coffeepot
was perking, he shaved with his electric razor
He put on a dress shirt
designer jeans
and tennis shoes
After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet
he sat down with his calculator
to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch
to the radio
he got in his car
filled it with GAS
(from Saudi Arabia )
and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his Computer
(made in MALAYSIA ),
John decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals
poured himself a glass of wine
and turned on his TV
and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA



The more I read about outsourcing the more I think of it as complete madness. Lots of people in the USA and in those countries that imitate everything coming from the USA - are unemployed. The lust of corporations for cheap labor, transferes every possible job overseas, and the government in charge of the national interests does nothing to prevent that.

Well, to my mind, this outsourcing thing undermines the economic independence of the country and is a clear sign of disintegration .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tears in the Park

He was sobbing quietly repeating between the sobs the question of 'why did he have to marry her' . His crying seemed to scare the birds that were chatting cheerfully nearby . It scared me too although I was familiar with the man's trauma as he was an aquaintance of mine , one whose advice in various matters I greatly valued.

The 'explosion' of his traumatic problem that he carried with him from childhood, usually happened upon the return from one of his visits to his father's widow; he used to get off at the bus station near the park with the red benches , and sit down on one of them to feed the birds and clear his thoughts before heading home to his wife and kids. He had promised his father on his deathbed that he would visit his widow regularly and help her out with whatever she needed. He kept his promise faithfully; moreover, he also helped his half brother who sometimes got in trouble with the law.

I met him in the park and listened , not for the first time, to the story of his life.

He (Marc) was born in a small town in Poland. His mother died at a relatively young age leaving a husband and two children: Marc and his sister. Not long after her death, his father remarried with the housemaid , a young woman who had come to town from one of the nearby villages to look for work and found her place with the small jewish family.

According to Marc's story, after his father's remarriage, the two children became the laughingstock of their colleagues in school and object to pity of the adult world of neighbors and relatives. The school mates used to mock them for their new Mom, calling her illiterate and peasant. The adults constantly uttered in their presence questions such as: why couldn't he just live with her like man and woman, why did he have to marry her, give her his family name, etc..? All this -not to mention the jewish community's boycotting of the father for taking a Gentile for a wife - was hard on Marc and his sister, and left deep scars on their young souls.

The story appealed very much to the romantic side in me . Here was a man (Marc's father) willing to sacrifice quite a lot to marry the woman he wanted. I saw in my imagination a relationship between two very different persons willing to accept each other 'as is' without any conditions and expectations, and I liked that. Of course, I never disclosed these thoughts to Marc as it would mean to sprinkle salt on his wounds. He liked to think that his father was not too bright ,to say the least, and that's why he had fallen into the hands of the maid. It never occured to him that his father could have possibly felt respect , affection, and even love for the peasant woman. After all, a child was born to them and the relationship was strong and lasted despite the hostile environment.

The widow has recently passed away. I think , may be with her death, Marc will finally get his well deserved inner peace . Who knows, it's hard to tell.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The fatal Bridge and Fungus

Bridges over bodies of water usually fascinate me with their variety of shapes, and of materials of which they are made. Yesterday, I was reminded of one bridge, a pedestrian temporary bridge that could certainly not be categorized as 'fascinating'. That bridge had collapsed on July 14, 1997 (yesterday was the 13th anniversary) causing the death of four people and serious injuries to sixty more. It happened at the 15th Maccabiah Games (a sort of Jewish Olympics held every four year in Israel) in the area of the sports stadium of the city of Ramat-Gan.

The temporary bridge placed over the nearby Yarkon river to allow athlethes and officials to enter the Ramat-Gan stadium for the opening ceremony march, collapsed as the second team of athletes, the australian team , was crossing it ( the first team was that of the austrians). The australians fell into the polluted water; other athletes and by standers jumped into the water to rescue the fallen. What was expected to be a big, exciting event was being spoiled by unneccessary deaths and injuries. The first day of the Maccabiah was one of deep mourning.

Sacha Elterman, 15 year old, was the most critical of the injured australians; during the years to follow, she underwent more than 30 brain and lung operations - and survived. Only one of the four dead athletes died as a result of the fall, the other three died as a result of the toxicity of the water (it was found upon investigation that the water contained a fatal fungus).

It appeared that the temporary bridge was constructed out of rusty metal pieces bound together with wire. Criminal charges were brought against the people involved in the design and building of this bridge . In 2005, eight years after the disaster, a permanent structure over the Yarkon river was built, and it was called 'The Bridge of Remembrance".

(The above picture from Wikipedia shows the athletes in the water under the collapsed bridge).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yell and Shout at the Mall

In the Middle East, there's no such thing as soft, quiet speech. Everybody shouts at everybody , everywhere, at any time. It starts early in life. Children hear their parents shouting at them and at each other- and they absorb and process this kind of behavior. They then take it out in school and public places.

During vacations, and especially during the long summer vacation, Malls offer various entertainment programs for children. The other day, I happened to be at the Mall and I watched some of it. The most popular are those with prizes, such as machine Games and Trivia contests. In the Games section, there's a terrible noisy music background, so if the child/teenager wants to talk to his friend he must shout at him and ,of course, the latter shouts back at him.

Then there's this spot in the Mall arranged in the form of a mini amphitheater with a large cupole ceiling above, some artificial little waterfalls , and a stage set up for the presenter running the event and the sound system. It's nice inviting individual children on stage, ask them trivia questions and give prizes (posters, toys, etc...) to the winners. The problem is that the presenter in order to diversify the program, chooses also to turn to the whole audience of children (of various ages), asking them to answer his questions. They all yell the answers at him. "I don't hear anything" , he says, " louder, louder" he encourages them. That call for 'louder' is hardly educational or entertaining.

The 'Yell and Shout' thing abuses vocal cords, hurts listeners' ears, damages hearing. Ask any audio therapist and voice therapist; they've got lots of work.
Parents can and should learn to control their anger/frustrations and refrain from yelling at each other and at their children. In public places they don't have much control on what's being offered as entertainment, and yet even there, damage could be minimized with a little effort.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gone with the Smell

The recent complaints of fishermen and other Gulf of Mexico area residents about a heavy oil odor in the air which might be toxic, remind us of the other heavy, stubborn odor which presents no danger, only great unpleasantness - the odor of fish.

One could smell a fishing village before one could even see it. The fishing villages have a charm of their own if you could ignore the smell. Well, as a visitor , and only as a visitor, I could. After all, the smell is an integral part of the scenery and the daily life here. People have to utilize what nature offers them . In the areas near lakes, rivers, ponds, seas - the offer is Fish of all sorts and sizes and with... the smell of fish.

(At home, that's a different matter. I like to eat fish, but I dislike the smell and I cannot ignore it as it can stick around long after the 'mess' of cooking and eating is gone. I do my best to find ways to neutralize it. Natural acids like lemon and vinegar usually do the job. There are of course, commercial solutions ,such as enzymatic sprays, which could help if anything else fails).

All over the world the shores of water bodies are punctuated with traditional fishing villages, and the more modern ones, the recreational fishing villages that allow urban people to escape from the everyday rat race.

A half day trip from Amsterdam, Holland, brings you to the world famous historical fishing villages of Volendam and Marken on the coast of the former Zuidersee (now called Ljsselmeer). These villages have wooden little houses, old boats and traditional costumes that are still worn by the local people .

Marken costume and Volendam boats

Things change slowly but surely in the fishing industry: the methods of catching the fish, cleaning, weighing, salting, drying, marketing it, the quality of the boats - all undergo processes of improvement , but... the fish smell with its unpleasantness remains a constant factor which permeats the whole place.

Maybe scientists are able , or will be able in the future to grow in artificial ponds, fish without the specific odour, just as they nowadays grow sabra fruit without the outer thorns or water melons and grapes without the inner seeds. It wouldn't taste the same though.

* The painting on top - "A fishing village in Newfoundland" by Sterling Edwards (click to enlarge it.)