Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
During winter nothing new seems to happen, nature hibernates. Even ideas. This was my impression from the theater play we saw last week. I love theater, especially when after the play I am left with food for thought, in addition to the aesthetic experience itself. But the new Israeli play "French Movie" by Reshef and Regev Levy had no message, other than reaffirming known truisms, such as couples need love and communication. The play is about two couples: one bonded by common possessions and children but no love, while the love of the other couple is being challenged by the inability to communicate after their child's death.
Winter also means Hanukkah, which in addition to its traditional symbolics brings such culinary disaters as doughnuts and pancakes. Consuming one doughnut made me sick of guilt. Also spent a huge deal of time in traffic jams in rain, as people were taking their children to traditional Hanukkah musicals.
Today the sun came out. Next week will definitely be better.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The Dead Sea lays a few hundred meters below sea level in the Great Rift Valley, a geological depression in southwest Asia and eastern Africa that stretches from northern Syria along the valley of the Jordan River to Mozambique. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. More than a third of its water is salt. That's why you stay afloat.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The fine, however, is about half the price of a GPS.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
When I came to Israel, I was busy learning Hebrew, earning a living, raising my children and getting higher education, so music was not part of my life for too many years.
Coworker-friend-Enghlish teacher-playwright-musician Jeff Meshel advised me to join a choir. A good way to find something is tell everybody you know you are looking. So I spread the word and another friend, Sandy Noymer, forwarded me an ad from Alex Eshed, the conductor of Barberina. I joined Barberina about two and a half years ago as a lead singer. This is where I learned about the barbershop genre. You can see and listen to what we sing here.
So what's next? Lately, I've been having thoughts about taking piano lessons again.
Monday, October 13, 2008
This is my own secular perspective and I have very little religious training and knowledge. However, I appreciate tradition and its importance in binding together for 2000 years the Jews dispersed all over the world. Preserving a common identity without sharing a geographical territory (before globalization and virtual communities) while making many important contributions to humanity in different fields of science and arts, and building a modern state on the biblical lands (i.e. sand) after loosing 6 million souls during WWII is no small achievement. Tradition shapes our identity, help us belong.
The things we take for granted are usually the needs situated on the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We can try weighing each option and input the probabilities into formulas, apply the scientific method. Will our choice be better? Yes, if we have to make the same choice many times. Then, the averages of the scientific method will work out. But in real life, every decision might be different, unique. How many times we need to decide what to study (for a future career), whom to marry, which work offer to accept, which house to buy? Even if we change many partners, workplaces and houses, it is still not enough for meaningful averages.
Are we doomed to the uncertainty of not having the EXACT knowledge? Yes, and we should accept uncertainties to attain peace of mind. We can minimze them, though. Planning ahead is one possibility. Should we plan everything ahead? Probably not, beacuse it makes us blind to opportunities. Should we plan at all? Yes, we need a general direction, even if we don't follow it religiously. Changing directions is mostly possible, but usually comes with a price tag attached.
Some believe in fate or providence. If life took us there, we are meant to be there. There is an underlying purpose, which we cannot understand. This theory is not my cup of tea, but I realize it helps some people live in peace with what's happenning in their lives. Can we affect fate? To some extent, we do. We continuously transmit messages to our environment about our preferences and abilities, which in turn affect the way it relates to us, the opportunities it offers. It's up to us to take or reject them.
In the early stage of our lives, before we have formed a general direction, we should take the opportunities that seem to reflect our preferences or abilities. In later stages, we should take the opportunities that are in sync with our general direction or those that are not, but we'd regret if we'd reject, and are ready to pay the direction change fee.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I started blogging to tell the story of my recent trip to Romania, but apparently I fell in love with blogging (I never knew I can write this genre) and the pictures from the trip are still waiting for the continuation posts.
So how does it feel blogging? Like singing on the stage of a huge but mostly empty concert hall. Despite of what you may think, it doesn't feel frustrating at all.
In the early enthusiastic stage, I much enjoyed planning new posts (still do). The subject comes to me naturally and I plan the posts in my head. After I sort out about 75% of what I want to say in my head, I start writing and let the rest fall into pieces during the process. I also enjoy matching the picture to the text. I write, change, delete, rewrite until I am happy with the output.
As a side effect, I came up with two ideas for articles for our internal company newsletter, which recently changed its format and now includes a feature article. Just provide the right stage, and the performers will arrive. And the Internet is the largest stage of all! For some reason I hear "Sittin' on top of the world" playing in my head.
Since I'm writing, I also understand and appreciate writers more than I did before. Putting text to paper (or PC) is much more difficult than I've imagined. I've also discovered Sharon's writing spot and fell in love with her witty "I’ve graduated from widowhood 101, 2, 3, and 4. [...] I change my own light-bulbs, kill my own cockroaches and do my own garbage". Sharon just joined my Barbershop choir a short while ago. Contrary to Sharon, when I see a cockroach, I shout until one of the men of the house comes running armed with a spray or shoe to rescue me. Venus, our cute housecat and family love magnet runs there as well to snatch the juicy protein treat. One cat's meat is another catowner's nightmare.
Many friends have called and emailed me to say how much they enjoy reading my blog and encouraged me to continue. Thanks and hope to live up to your expectations. To make it easier, I bought myself a new laptop as a birthday gift and this post is its debut. For now, it sits next to my husband's work laptop. For him, laptop symbolizes slavery (work any time anywhere), while for me it's pleasure. One man's meat is another man's poison.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
- Identifying initial gaps for selecting the right partner
- Preventing new gaps from being born
- Filling newly formed narrow gaps to stop their development into large gaps [that are more difficult to handle].
Like any theory, the gap theory is not perfect. In real life, there probably are many exceptions that work, too.
Choosing a Suitable PartnerI like to watch romantic Hollywood comedies, even though I disagree with the underlying message that there is only one person in the entire world who is meant to be your partner for life. The truth is that we can partner with many people, especially when we are young and flexible. But there should be some common ground. In a movie I recently saw, a young Swiss woman marries a muscular Masai tribeman. Did they have a real chance for a lasting relationship? Yes, a tiny one. Here comes the first gap to avoid: large differences [of any kind]. Love cannot possibly bridge all differences, even though it may seem so in the beginning.
How do you know your new relationship is on the right track for the long term? Although 'it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future', as Yogi Berra pointed out, a good sign is the positive tendency of your relationship: the more you konw your partner, the more you like and love him/her. Your initial blindness turns into heart-and-mind love. The heart part is what you see in movies, the mind one is more difficult. It makes you respect and appreciate your partner, potentially longer lasting features.
With the initial blindness dissipating, you will be able to see your partner in a more realistic light, with [all] his/her flaws. If you can't accept your partner's flaws, move on. Don't expect to change him/her. Issues that annoy you now tend to accentuate over time. It's amazing how many people ignore these early warnings. I know women who got slapped by their boyfriend, followed by apologies, married the guy and became beated women.
Minding New Gaps
Preventive maintenance of relationships lies in communication and sharing. Don't outsource your communication. I got a beautiful greeting card from my husband for our 28th anniversary. He spent hours looking for the right one, with the perfectly worded text. So what's my problem? I prefer a less perfect text that comes from his own heart rather than from a [talented] copywriter. Unlike house cleaning, communication is way too important to outsource to a paid service provider. Keeping it genuine takes the same amount of time and effort, but yields a completely different result.
Spend quality time together and take short breaks to add color spots to your gray routine. Discuss your experience at work, activities and friends over a cup of coffee, keep your partner up to date with your life and thoughts. Sparing negative or worrisome details will result in a widening gap. This happened to a friend of mine and surprisingly [or not] for the 'right' reason. His wife became ill and he wanted to spare her the daily worries to prevent deteriorating her health. With time she stopped being his partner and their long marriage ended up with a divorce.
Once a new gap popped up its ugly little head, don't ignore or drag it. Resolve differences the same day, adviced my aunt Rozsi before my marriage. Gaps became too large to cope with? If you seek improvement, take professional advice.
Have I conducted my own life according to these guidelines? How could I? They just recently crystalized in my head.
Friday, August 22, 2008
After the drawer disclosed its secrets and before we immigrated to Israel, we sold both closets to my friend's parents. I am really happy they didn't go to strangers, but to the nice Vlaicu couple, the parents of Rely (my friend who lives in the UK) and her sister Dora (who made these pictures and some other beautiful ones to come).
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The city of Arad has nothing interesting to offer to tourists, but if you are already there, walk alongside the Mures and enter into one of the many restaurants located in the 'strand'. The park, close to the market, features a hystoric monument and a piazza.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Roads: Although I've been worned that the roads are bad, I was surprised to find out how bad they really are. Apart from a few major roads, most roads have one lane for each direction. Overtaking is dangerous and many times you find yourself behind a truck (of which there are many), driving at very low speeds, especially if the road goes uphill. Many roads are full of holes and you need to slalom between them to protect your car. Many roads are also under construction and you need to wait behind temporary traffic lights to pass through the only lane available. In urban localities, asphalt is scarce, many streets are not paved at all. When it rains, the dirt gets slippery and you need to take extra care where you park, to avoid digging in.
On the side of some roads, you can buy vegetables, fruits and dairy products, or local workmanship produces among a myriad of tastelss souvenirs. If you are interested in doilies and tablecloths, it's your heaven. They come in every shape, size and decoration. Unfortunately I have lots of these at home (I barely use 10% of what I have), so there was no point in indulging myself in browsing the endless selection.
Buildings: A new house painting fashion has developed lately, houses are painted in extremely bright, vivid colors. You can find electric pink houses next to orange houses, blue, green and yellow ones. At first this color overdose seems tastless, but my theory is that it's a communist era backlash, when buildings tended to be just gray. Perhaps the over-reaction will mild with time. Anyway, it's preferable to gray.
Villages: Roads pass through village (and city!) centers. Typically, the houses on the main street have 2 windows facing the road and tend to continue inwards, with the other windows facing the back or side. The impression is like they all croud up to get a precious place on the main road. There are no restaurants in villages, just basic food stores, sometimes with a few benches and tables in front of the store.
Cities: At the entrance of every city there is quarter of ugly, communist era blocks of flats and huge branches of chain stores and shopping malls. These stores are clean, western-level with a nice selection of products. The only problem I saw is that if you don't own a car, it's very complicated to reach them and take your goods home.
Service: Don't expect the somewhat phoney "have a nice day", but a lack of "thank you" and even a smile are evident.
Food: The most popular food you can find everywhere is ... pizza. I've been told that the reason for this is that the first wave of investors who came into Romania after the revolution were the Italians. There was one thing I didn't get about these pizzas though: what are you supposed to do with the extra sauce they offer on the menu?
Most restaurants have impressive menus, but they serve the same food all over. Same soupes, same main and side dishes, same deserts and same beverages. When we got tired of the selection, we were happy to find a chinese restaurant in Pitesti. The food wasn't really chinese, but when I pointed that out to the waitress (she asked me how it was), she was very upset. She claimed that both the chef and the owner were in China (not clear doing what). For some reason, Romanians believe that if you use local ingredients and methods, but drown the dish in an "ethnic" sauce, you have a genuine ethnic dish. Sorry do disappoint you guys, but Chinese food comes in bite sizes (not like the fried eggplant meetballs I got), since the Chinese use chopsticks to eat and no knives. In many restaurants, they charge you for items you don't order, such as bread. However, if you insist, they take it off the bill.
A great restuarant we found (it was in the guide) was Bella Musica in Brasov. It is very stylish, located in a nicely decorated basement. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was too early for dinner, so we just ordered coffee and desert. Needless to say, they were superb, and so was the service.
Museums and the like: There is an extra fee for taking stills and videos. However, once inside, they don't verify whether you have paid this fee, when you use your camera. And no, I haven't done that. Don't tell me it didn't cross you mind I did.