Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Be the Love Generation!

I don't know how popular this song is in the US, but it was on the radio here a lot a few months back. I heard it again this morning and found the video on youtube. Enjoy!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Jerusalem Has to Pay Up

From Haaretz: (check out the lovely Talkback comments on the link!)

Court Orders J'lem Municipality to Fund Gay Pride Parade (and all the other community services that the JOH provides in addition to the parade - my edit)

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday ordered the Jerusalem Municipality to fund the Gay Pride Parade held by The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.

Judge Judith Tsur accepted a petition submitted by the Open House and ordered the municipality to pay NIS 350,000 as part of the funding for the cultural and social activities held by the establishment in the years 2003-2005.

The Open House's petition demanded that the municipality include the gay rights establishment on the list of non-profit organizations to which the municipality allocates funding.

According to the Open House, which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Jerusalem the municipality discriminates against it, and does not follow set criteria for financial administration.

The Open House has filed several lawsuits against the municipality, run by ultra-Orthodox mayor Uri Lupolianski. The lawsuits protest the city's refusal to fund the establishment's ongoing activities and its attempts to prevent the Gay Pride Parade from taking place.

The Open House has been acting as a non-profit organization since 1997 for the promotion and encouragement of social pluralism and tolerance in Jerusalem. It also works for the integration of the gay-lesbian community into the city's social fabric.

Here's the Ynet Article: (The differences are interesting!):
Court: J'lem discriminated against gays

Capital's district court says city municipality guilty of 'discriminatory criteria for granting budget,' says 'gay community is part of city's embroidery'

The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance has once again defeated the Jerusalem Municipality: The capital's District Court instructed the municipality to transfer a fund of NIS 375,000 to the organization, which represents the gay community in the city. The ruling comes after a petition submitted by the organization over discrimination. The Open House will also receive NIS 25,000 to cover legal costs.

The petition was submitted following the refusal of the Jerusalem Municipality to allocate funds out of its culture budget for the organization, for years. In the last three years, payments were stopped to the Open House altogether.

Judge Yehudit Tzur ruled that the criteria set by the municipality are discriminatory.

"The way the municipality conducted itself in relation to the Open House's request creates reasonable suspicion for discrimination," Judge Tzur wrote. "Even if clerks in the municipality have a hard time accepting the gay community, and believe this is an unwanted phenomenon, the municipality cannot swerve from fundamental principles and ignore this community. It must treat this community with equality, out of recognition of the supreme value of equality, and out of respect for the values of tolerance and pluralism, which exist in the heart of democratic society," the judge wrote in the ruling.

Fireworks

When I was growing up, like many children, I had this love hate relationship with fireworks. I loved the colors and the dazzling explosions that lit up the sky. At the same time the booms were terrifying and made me want to hide. In my experience, the Fourth of July was the major fireworks holiday. We'd celebrate our country's independence with barbecued chicken, watermelon and pound cake. When we were full, we'’d head out to see a fireworks display. Back then a little show was held at a local mall and a big production coordinated with symphonic accompaniment took place 45 minutes away in Charlotte. I remember sitting on the warm hood of our car in the mall parking lot vacillating between peeing in my pants and applauding at the show. I remember my dad parking on the side of the interstate in Charlotte and watching the fireworks shower down over the Charlotte skyline - the explosions reflected in the glass towers and the booms echoing in their canyons.

Israelis love fireworks. There are fireworks on all kinds of holidays. Sometimes when people get married here, part of the wedding ceremony includes a fireworks display. The first time I heard fireworks here, I was positive it was a pigua or suicide bomber. I couldn't see the display from the windows in my apartment. When I heard the explosions continuing, I just knew that we were under attack from someone - you pick the country or region...Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Palestine. When I didn'’t hear ambulances or sirens, I figured that it was ok.

People that have been in Israel longer than I have say that they get used to these things. Maybe I am more highly strung. When I hear fireworks here, my mind immediately goes to a dark place.– I imagine the worst even when I know it's a holiday. The joy of the holiday or occasion is tainted by this reaction. When will fireworks be happy sounds again?

You see, yesterday people IN THIS COUNTRY were directed by officials to go into their bomb shelters. (All apartments and buildings have concrete safe rooms for just these occasions. Municipalities have community bomb shelters in parks in neighborhoods throughout our cities.) Rockets landed across northern Israel and gunfire from Lebanon threatened Israeli border communities. Rockets landed in southern Israel and threatened Israeli communities.

Yesterday the Israeli Air Force bombed targets in Southern Lebanon.

When will fireworks be happy sounds again?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Investors Wanted

or



I think that something like these vehicles might be part of my plan to take over Tel Aviv this fall. I am going to call it רגלית or"Regel-eet" which is a combination of the Hebrew words for foot and taxi. It's a translation from Pedicab here's another site. I'm open to advice and suggestions...already considering advertizing options.

Nothing like looking at a cute guy's butt (i.e. mine) as you zip around the Big Orange.

Another Reason (or two) to Live in Israel



This is from HaShir Shelanu (Our Song), a popular Israeli soap opera.

Now I Can Sleep at Night

Chicken and egg debate unscrambled
Egg came first, 'eggsperts' agree

Friday, May 26, 2006

Little Miracles

Well, you can tell from the frequency of my posts that my job at the Antiquities Authority has kept me busy for the past two weeks. It's been fun to be in the Israeli workforce. I like my co-workers. I like the management. My Hebrew is stretching and growing. My only complaint is that I work in Bet Shemesh and I live in Jerusalem - just short of an hour commute by car (Gas is about $5 a gallon here.) or a complicated multi-hour commute by and assortment of cabs, busses, or train.

This past week I prepared a presentation of exhibit ideas to the donor that is funding the whole shebang. He came to the office in Bet Shemesh this morning at 8:30 AM to see what we've been working on and to see the artifacts first-hand. So, to get in my morning run and make it to the office, I had to get up by 6:45.

Yesterday we had a brief power outage and before I went to bed, I had to re-set the alarm clock. I was EXHAUSTED after a long week and collapsed into bed.

This morning - I woke up without the alarm clock at about 5:20. It's a good thing too because in my exhaustion-induced delirium, I hadn't set the clock correctly. It was programmed 12 hours off. Since today was an important day, it was a little blessing that I got up on my own.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Damn Bird

The other day I came home to find a small blue glass bowl smashed to pieces on the kitchen counter. It didn't take a lot of sleuthing to figure out what had happened. A bird (stupid pigeon) landed on the sill of the window above the kitchen sink (evidence: bird poop). It either came in the window a bit or flapped its wings enough to topple the small blue glass bowl that sat on the inside sill.

If this were a regular blue glass bowl, I wouldn't be too upset. However, this bowl was special. I bought this bowl on a field trip to the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC when I was in the 4th or 5th grade - some time between 1985-87. I'm too lazy to do the math. The Mint Museum was hosting the Ramses the Great exhibit from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. I remember that the field trip was a big deal for our class. We prepared for weeks. Learning about Egypt. Making sarcophagi from cardboard and such. Writing our names in hieroglyphics. I was in heaven.

I remember not appreciating the exhibit. I mean, as a snobby American kid, I really didn't understand the miracles of craftspersonship that it took to create the objects that we saw - from the huge statues, to the gold pieces, to the ancient glass... huph - no biggie. I have a much different understanding now.

At the museum gift shop, I bought two small blue glass bowls with money my mother had given me that morning. I kept those bowls on the bookshelf in my room as I grew up. I took them with me when I bought my first house. One was either broken or lost at some point. So, when I moved to Israel I brought the remaining one with me here. I didn't bring many things from my life in America when I came here. I sold or gave away tons of belongings. Somehow that cleaning and purging made the items that I brought here more important.

I'm sad that the blue bowl is gone. Yet it seems that its departure comes at the right time. Working at the Israel Antiquities Authority is a full-circle experience for me. The interest and curiosity for old stuff that I felt in elementary school is still there - which makes my job fun. I thought that I was moving to Israeli to be with someone else but it turns out that I was moving here to be more me.

The blue glass bowl. R.I.P.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More and More Israeli

I am SO Israeli!

Last Friday I bought a set of six cheap glass mugs at the shuk in Jerusalem. The shopkeeper gave them to me in a box and stupidly I accepted them without inspecting them first. Realizing my mistake, I opened the box of mugs in the open part of the shuk and gave them a look-see. They all seemed ok and I went home.

When I got home, I washed them and discovered that one had a small crack. I was sure that the crack would spread with use. I decided to take it back.

So this morning while preparing for our weekly shuk trip, I got my mug ready. Y thought that I was crazy for trying to exchange a mug at the shuk. We went today with a new-to-Israel friend to show her the ropes. We discussed my plans and both our friend and Y wanted to see what would happen when I tried to exchange the mug. I was rehearsing the Hebrew during the trip - in all of my options - being friendly, being forceful...yelling at him, "Take your trash! Take your stupid mug!" Y and our friend got a real kick out of my acting out!

Well, in the end I sneaked off and went to the shop by myself. If it didn't work out, I didn't want there to be an audience. In Hebrew, I asked the guy if he remembered me and showed him the problem mug. Without saying a word, he found a good mug and put my mug back on the sale pile! Then he said, "Shabbat Shalom!"

I did it! I returned something to the shuk! Yeah me!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Decider



I don't know how I missed this...

"I hear the voices...I'm the decider!"

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day Mom!...and to all of my mothers...and to all the mothers reading that read this blog!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Plate Hate

The image above is of a plate created by the same cool people that thought up the Forecast wifi umbrella. Look at the plate closely. Yep, that's nutritional information printed around the edge of the plate. There are plates with caloric information from all kinds of foods and others that share about how many calories you use during a particular kind of exercise. They say that the idea is to help fight the war on obesity through education.

I am all for a little string tied on my finger as a reminder, but I think that this is just going a little over the top.

I like the design of the plates though. I would just replace all of those food and exercise facts with beautiful quotes about enjoying the fullness of life...and tasting a little bit of everything.

A Personal Request: Blogging for Alaa

Yesterday I was hanging out with Savtadotty and some other friends - always fun! Yael was with us too and kindly asked me to blog for Alaa. I am going to say that I really haven't read up about this whole situation and if both Lisa and Yael are saying it's a good thing to too...well, I'll just be a blog lemming here.

So follow these links to find out what's going on in Egypt and how you can help to Free Alaa.

By the way, this is post 501 for Shalom Israel! Yeah me!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Skype Me

Now you can Skype me too! Wahoo!

Google Talk To Me

So, I use Google Talk. It's a chat program from your friends at Google. Download it and we can talk to each other for FREE! (Email me from the profile page info and I'll send you my real email if you don't have it already.)

I'm going to check out Skype too and will let you know if I sign up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yummy Archeology

I've just started a new gig with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) at their offices in Bet Shemesh. We had our "let's get this project started" meeting yesterday. After two hours of meeting in Hebrew, my head hurt - like your legs do after a long run...you know it's good for you but it still hurts.

I had been to the offices there before but I entered the industrial park where they're located a different way yesterday. Right across from the IAA is something wonderful...a Max Brenner Manufacturing Plant! OMG! The air smells like chocolate and the whole factory is painted this chic chocolaty color. It's like working across the street from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

I am SO hoping that they have a little factory store...or will at least give me a tour on my coffee break(s). I want to see the Hebrew speaking Oompa Loompas!

How Low Can He Go?

From Haaretz.com:
Bush approval rating slides to new low of 31 percent

A New York Times / CBS News poll released on Wednesday showed a further slide in George Bush's overall job approval rating, at 31 percent the lowest figure of his presidency.

The poll also showed a decline in support for the Iraq war. Only 39 percent of respondents said that going to war had been the correct decision, down from 47 percent in January.

Two-thirds of respondents said the country was in worse shape than it was when Bush took office six years ago. A similar percentage said they had "little or no confidence that Mr. Bush could successfully end the war," the Times said.

It noted that the overall job approval figure ties that of the low point of his father in July, 1992, four months before the elder Bush lost to Bill Clinton.

"Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades," the Times wrote, noting that Bush's specific approval ratings for his management of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy are all at the lowest levels of his presidency. Only 13 percent said they approved of Bush's handling of the key issue of rising gasoline prices.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Orc Umbrella

This umbrella is called Forecast and uses wifi to get up-to-date weather information. Then it glows blue if it is going to rain. Just like that sword on LOTR would glow if Orcs were near!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Travels in Georgia: Day 8 (Last Day)

Well, did you think that the Georgian picture parade was over?! No! There's more. Here are some shots from the last day. We went to the market again and then to the airport. Enjoy!

The Tbilisi rail station


Apartments near the market. Looks like a grungy Tel Aviv.

The market is three levels of fun and food...and housewares, and clothes...and...

...flowers

Yaacov is shopping for a Georgian treat - "choorch-hela". Different kinds of nuts are strung together and repeatedly dipped in sweet fruit pectin-ish juice. It makes a sweet coating that's a healthy snack.


Mountains of freshly milled flour.

The three little pigs (well, their heads and parts at least)

There are two SUPER GROSS pictures (don't do it if you have a weak stomach) that you can view by clicking HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another Way

Have you posted a comment on a blogspot blog lately? If the blog has word verification, then you might have noticed the little accessibility icon beside the box. Click on it and you'll here an alternative code for the verification. This is because web-reading software used by people with visual impairments doesn't "read" the word verification code. So, the audio code is one way the folks at Blogger have made their interface more accessible.

Back in the US, I worked in museums. In one of my roles, I helped manage the creation of an exhibit from an idea to the fully built-out exhibit. It was lots of fun and LOTS of work. Part of the process included an ongoing review of our ideas by a panel of accessibility experts. This team would listen to our ideas and "play" with the prototypes and then give us incredible feedback on ways to make the exhibit more accessible. It really helped me more fully understand that I go through life one way but that other people may have a completely different experience. Check out this chart that highlights some important web design issues.

From http://ui4all.ics.forth.gr/UI4ALL-97/farhat.pdf
Currently the primary output for the WWW is highly visual: using text, pictures and graphic symbols, with a growing use of audio in sound files and motion pictures. "It rapidly became evident that the biggest problem was that of potential obstacles to access, inherent to multimedia type data; the most obvious obstacle was that of the presentation of graphic images to the blind user [P. Graziani, 1996] ". Because Internet is considered an international shop windows, graphics are widely used even in excessive quantities. In addition, other data formats are also used which can create problems for other user groups, such as the organisation of data in tables and the use of film which is used more and more frequently in hypertext document. Navigation is also difficult in Web pages that feature multicolumn displays. These are a nightmare for the blind.

That little icon on the blogger comment page really has me thinking about how accessible my blog is. How can I make it more so...

Read more about internet accessibility here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Being Israeli

I am becoming more and more Israeli. Here are some examples:

Last week we received a note that we had a piece of registered mail. I volunteered to go get it at the post office. When I got to the PO, the line was just about out the door. I waited in line for a minute and when I saw the manager of the post office walk behind the counter, I said in Hebrew, " Excuse me, but I just have this (waving my slip). Can you help me?" He then shouted to the rest of the people in line, "Anybody else have a package?!" and went to go find our things. He brought back the letter and since it was addressed to Y, I showed him Y's ID card. The PO guy asked, "Who is this?" I responded, "Meshutaf sheli." Translation: "my shared." What I needed to say was "Shutaf sheli" - my roomate! He got the idea anyway.

I need to get my NC drivers license "converted" to an Israeli drivers license. I put this off for a long time and now really NEED to do it. So I researched how to go about it (Check out the Cafe Oleh resources at the JPost. They can be helpful.) and headed out yesterday morning. I was halfway down my street when I realized that I had forgotten my current book. You need a book or something to do anytime you are facing Israeli bureaucracy. Oh well - I'll just send some SMSs or talk on the phone (how Israeli!) while I wait.

To make a LONG story short. Since yesterday I have been to the Drivers License place twice (both times were needed) and to get an eye exam and brief physical. This whole process involved a lot of number taking and waiting. But it's done.

At the eye exam place, I got the form that I needed and there was a whole list in Hebrew of health questions to check off yes or no. When I saw the form, my eyes just glazed over and I knew that I was in trouble. I read the first one - Do you suffer from #@&%$? Ok, I could either just check no to all of the questions and hope that I was saying that I was perfectly healthy or I could ask for help. I asked for help. The lady that helped me didn't know the English word for #@&%$ and we began this fun game of charades - You're tired?! No. You're blind? No. You're sleepy? No. OH! You're fainting!!! Yes! Epilepsy is about the same in Hebrew as it is in English, by the way.

And today - Memorial Day or Yom HaZikaron - I was standing on Emek Refaim, a busy street in Jerusalem, when the siren began. Allison wrote a wonderful post on how Memorial Day unites Israelis. I am glad to be a part of that.