Have you ever asked someone for directions in Israel, or given directions yourself?
Giving directions in Israel is an art and almost a religion. While there are those who will misguide you, many will take five minutes to tell you exactly where to go, and if you ask someone who is in their car, they will often tell you just to follow them.
And streets in Israel aren’t like in Toronto (where I grew up) – there, everything is north, south, east and west. Giving directions there is easy since it’s all about the number of blocks until you turn right or left. In Israel, parallel roads are never exactly parallel, and they can end up meeting each other at some point. All the one-way streets, dead ends, and horses (ok, that special feature isn’t common in most parts of Israel) can make for some tricky driving.
Here is an excellent video of a woman who takes her direction-giving very seriously. For those of you who don’t understand Hebrew, the guy asks her for directions and she jogs the whole way with him, telling him where to go and how to drive. I think it’s hilarious!
According to the entrepreneur experts, it is important that business owners create a carefully structured work/life schedule, because if they don’t, work and life can blend and this can be bad etc. When I first started out, I did manage to define my work hours. But that was at the beginning, when I had way fewer projects, and they were nicely spaced out so that in between each one I had a kind of vacation.
Now the work is non-stop, which is a good thing but also makes life very hectic. Plus, running a business means spending time on many activities that don’t bring in actual income. I estimate that paying-work, i.e. work that I can charge a client for, is actually only a small percentage of my business activities. The rest is taken up by administration; business development activities like meetings, phone calls, and blogging; and learning. All of these are important and cannot be neglected.
These activities take up a huge amount of time. Add to that the fact that I have a whole bunch of kids, and believe me when I say that I don’t have a lot of free time in my life.
Despite all this, after my last kid was born, I decided that no matter what happens, I will start to exercise on a regular basis. I remember from my leisurely days of singlehood how great exercise made me feel, plus many bloggers keep talking about how important exercise is to your career. Penelope Trunk says that regular exercise is no longer optional, since it boosts our IQ, increases our resilience to difficult times, and generally improves your quality of life.
So last Sunday I decided that was it. I got everyone out to school, fed the baby and took her to the daycare, strapped on my dusty sneakers, and headed to the car. Which wouldn’t start. I coaxed and begged. It arrogantly refused. I pleaded and explained that I was finally going to start exercising, and I needed its help. Not a sputter. I spent the rest of the morning taking it to the garage.
Monday I had tons of work to finish. Tuesday I had a major deadline and I made one of my daughters a birthday party which demanded preparation. Wednesday and Thursday are a blur. Evening exercise was not an option because my husband couldn’t be home with the kids because he was out at meetings and conferences. Friday was spent preparing for Shabbat.
Now it’s Sunday again. I really have no idea how I can fit exercise into my crazy schedule. Is there any way? Or do I have to wait until my kids grow up and move out before I can add fitness to my life?
[Go to the end of this post to see the original ad]
If any of us thought that the West was going to work to stop Iran from developing nuclear capabilities, at least economically if not militarily, then think again. The following pretty much indicates that profit, even the smallish profit derived from newspaper advertising, is way more important then the lives of little ol’ you and me.
Ad: Looking for ethically-challenged people to build Iran’s nuclear reactor
Let’s say you’re a despot trying to build up your nuclear powers. You’ve got one nuclear reactor in the making that will hopefully soon be able to blow whole cities into oblivion. So far so good. But let’s say you want to be able to blow whole countries into oblivion. You’ve maxed out on your own country’s nuclear-development capabilities (your citizens are too busy to get an education, since you’re spending all your money on weapons of mass destruction and they are all poverty-stricken) and need to turn elsewhere. Hmmm, who can such a despot turn to in this time of need?
Of course – the West via The International Herald Tribune!
Yes, it’s true – Iran has published tenders for the construction of two spanking new nuclear reactors in last Wednesday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune. Now, it is understandable that Iran wants to recruit the best nuclear-reactor-builders for this endeavor (only the finest for Uncle Ahmadinejad’s genocidal projects), but it is harder to swallow IHT’s compliance with the advertisement of such a project, especially since this paper is sold in local newsstands across Israel – Iran’s prime target!
I don’t think that I have to elaborate on the absurdity, immorality, and farcicality of this whole thing. So without further ado, here are some of the details of the tender as published in IHT. Feel free to do with this information as you please (some suggestions: giving Mr. Esmaeili a piece of your mind; pointing out to Austria Bank Creditanstalt that their involvement in plans for another Holocaust seems to indicate that they haven’t really learned anything):
Tender No. IRI-NPP-07-1001
The nuclear power production and development company of Iran (NPPD), an affiliate company of the atomic energy corporation of Iran (the owner) invites field bids from contractors, companies for the design, supply of equipment, construction and commissioning, of two large scale units 1000-1600 MWe each with 3rd generation nuclear power pressurized light water reactor in the Bushehr province of Iran. Qualified bidders who have sufficient experiences in the construction and commissioning of such plants are requested to obtain the respective bid inquiry specification (BIS) documents upon payment of a non-refundable fee of 15,000 euros transferred to the following account.
Account number: 01754283800
Name of Bank: Austria Bank Creditanstalt
Code of Bank: 12000
SWIFT or BIC: BKAUATWW
Within 15 days from 25 April 2007 through AEOI’s representative office presents at the permanent mission of the IR of Iran of the IAEA at Heinestr. 19/1/1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria or company’s headquarters office at #7 Tandis Street., Africa Avenue, Tehran, IR of Iran.
They go on to note that any bids must be accompanied by a bid bond of 20 million Euro. So mark your calendars: bidding begins on May 8, 2007 at 10 am.
If you have any questions, they may be contacted as follows:
Telephone: +431-2140971 or +431-2140972
Mr. Esmaeili at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Karin Kloosterman for the scoop!
Postscript: Karin scanned the original ad, so here it is. It appeared in the International Herald Tribune on April 25, 2007 on page 14.
Moreover, I advise that the genocide in Darfur must be stopped.
Last year my dad took a classic photo of a guy on his way to his Yom Haatzmaut barbecue. I made a short video all about Yom Haatzmaut and barbecueing in honor of this guy who is the most serious mangaler/barbecuer I have ever seen.
Aner Ravon at De Gardener writes about an initiative of his friend Shahar to sign off every post with the sentence “Moreover, I advise that the genocide in Darfur must be stopped.” Shahar explains this sentence in Hebrew, and Aner explains it in English: “This is a paraphrase on Cato the Elder, who used to sign off every speech with a pledge to destroy Carthage (â€Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esseâ€).”
I admit that I don’t know much about what is going on in Darfur except that hundreds of thousands have been killed. One of the outrages of the Holocaust was that the world stood by while millions of Jews were slaughtered. When we learned about this in school, we wondered how that could be; how could people go on with everyday life while others huddled in attics and sewers, knowing that their families had been turned to ashes?
If I was a better person, I’d be out on the streets protesting the inaction of the world while a genocide (and NOT the Newspeak “acts of genocide” term used to shirk responsibility) takes place. But I’m not, so instead I’ll use this blogging platform to try to remind all of us that while we eat, shop, and listen to music, a genocide is yet again taking place. This may make us squirm and disrupt our fun, but I guess that’s just too bad.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The brave new post-Holocaust world of United Nations, peace, prosperity and Never Again is reverting back to the same indifferent, prejudiced and jaundiced world that always was.
Moreover, I advise that the genocide in Darfur must be stopped.
Today I came across three surprisingly prominent uses of Hebrew and Yiddish words on the web:
- WordPress.org â€“ the official WordPress site allows you to complain about their popular blogging platform on their “KVETCH!” page. Where you can enter your Kvetch, the word “kvetch” links to its definition on Answers.com. The fact that they felt the need to link to a definition means that the word is still not mainstream. But what I want to know is who the yid is on the WordPress team, and how did he/she manage to convince everyone to call a page a Kvetch?
- Lorelle on WordPress â€“ Lorelle quoted Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests who talks about what he calls the blue collar bloggers. Now you might think that’s an interesting topic, but being a nationocentric (can I say that?) person, I loved Tony’s reference to these bloggers as people trying “to make a few sheckels for themselves and their families.” Shekels? I can’t believe that people even know what a shekel is! I figured that to the rest of the world, the shekel is as well-known as the Peseta (that’s the Andorran currency, for all you ignoramuses out there.) Anyways, I commented on Lorelle’s post, and she responded. Guess what â€“ she just moved from Israel recently! One of the tribe?
- Problogger â€“ Darren Rowse refers to a post from Joshua Porter from Bokardo on “9 Lessons for Would-be Bloggers.” It’s actually a useful post for anyone considering becoming a blogger, but what caught my eye was tip number 6: “Have a schtick.” Apparently, schtick now refers to “the thing that defines what your blog is about.” Blogging=schtick, schtick=blogging â€“ it’s a freilichen velt!
So there you have it. Our words and concepts are popping up everywhere. The obvious conclusion: if Hebrew and Yiddish terminology are being used by A-list bloggers, it is clear that if you want to become an A-list blogger yourself you should outdo them and use as much Yiddish as possible on your blog. Let me know how it goes. If you find your readership is dropping, it’s only because they don’t appreciate your cleverness – it’s them not you. Nisht kefairlach. Zei gezunt. Lehitraot.
Still there? Hello?
P.S. Click on the image at the top of this post to start appreciating the beauty of the Yiddish language!
In Part 1 of my series on Self Employment and Maternity Leave, I discussed the technical aspects of getting compensation from social security for maternity leave. In Part 2, I discussed whether it is realistic for a business owner to disappear for three months and hope that the business will still be there when she gets back from her maternity leave. My conclusion is that it is not.
Having said that, I promised that I would explain how it is possible to get any work done while on maternity leave. There are two main “environmental” supports that I found play a significant role in my ability to get work done with baby in tow:
- Home office: make sure that you have a complete a home office, since you will need to work whenever you find time available. Also, getting to an outside office is pretty difficult during maternity leave. Computer, Internet, phone, email, fax, and software should all be available to you in your home.
- Baby sling: babies like to be held. A lot. If you are holding them with your hands, you can’t get much else done. But we women are all about multi-tasking, and that’s where the sling comes into play. Place baby in sling and voila! – two hands available for typing, juggling, knitting, and even archery.
Severe time constraints
Aside from the above support systems, it is important to realize that the time available to you for work with a baby at home is severely limited. In order to handle the diminished amount of time, there are two things you can do:
- Improve your efficiency, and adopt a better system for completing tasks. Many people are avid followers of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” time management system. Not only is there a book on the subject, there are blogs, wikis, and free online software dedicated to helping people become more productive. I personally am still trying to figure out what this whole movement is about, but it seems worth checking into.
- Make a conscious effort to shrink your workload. Understand that the current reality of a new baby means that you can’t work 24 hours a day, even if you wanted to. Baby cries, needs to eat, wants to be held, etc., and this can eat up significant parts of your day. Some ways to lower your workload is to avoid actively seeking out new work, to stop any marketing programs you may be running, and take a lower profile.
Don’t feed the computer
Here’s an amusing anecdote (at least I think it’s amusing). A colleague called to see how I was progressing on a project. I told him I was working on it, and that it wasn’t easy since I had the baby on one side, and the computer on the other.
He said “Just make sure you don’t start typing on the baby and feeding the computer.”
P.S. It is very hard to find information on how to plan your business for the arrival of a new baby. Well, there’s actually someone out there who helps businesswomen prepare their businesses for their maternity leave. See the comment on this blog by Bill Dueease, who describes some things that women can do in advance to reduce the conflict of choices that faces mothers, including putting together what he calls a “baby plan.” Take a look at his informative comment, and then visit his site!
Thank You for Smoking is the first good movie I’ve seen in a long time. The characters are great, the script is brilliant, and it addresses interesting issues like moral relativism, political correctness, and our responsibility to our children. All of this takes place around a man who defends the tobacco industry to the world.
We all know that cigarettes are bad for us. They have been linked to diseases, diminished quality of life, and death. The general consensus is that smoking is bad, and therefore someone who spends their life defending cigarette producers is obviously morally questionable.
But cigarettes are a clear cut case. How about other products that aren’t directly related to death, but harm those who use them or are part of a lifestyle that leads to death? For example, studies have shown that foods high in fat and sugar are addictive, and are the leading causes of obesity. Being overweight has been linked to higher risks for heart disease, diabetes, strokes and cancer. Obesity has been identified as an epidemic by the World Health Organization. So are the manufacturers of potato chips and ice cream as morally questionable as the tobacco people?
The other cause of obesity identified by the WHO is reduced physical activity. One of the causes of this is television. A long term study of children between the ages of 5 and 15 found that 41% of those who watched a lot of TV were overweight or obese, and their body mass indices were closely related to the amount of television they had watched as children. The Journal of Pediatrics reported similar findings.
Now your baby can watch TV too!
But instead of striving to limit television viewing among children, providers of television programming are doing the opposite: they are increasing their potential audience by generating programming for toddlers and even babies; and this despite other studies that show a link between toddler television viewing and increased risk of ADHD.
When I was in the hospital after giving birth about a month ago, the freebie woman came around distributing her package of goodies to the new mothers. The package included the usual diapers, wipes, and other baby and mother care products. But this time the package contained something new â€“ and very disturbing. A DVD introducing a new series of shows created just for your baby!
The Yes satellite company has launched a station for new parents and their babies. Part of the station provides advice to nervous new moms and dads, and the second part gives these newbies the opportunity to turn their babies into zombies from an earlier age. The package states that the shows are for six month old babies and will help mothers relax, i.e. get the kid to stop moving around so darn much!
At what price profit?
Yes obviously wanted to expand their subscriber base by offering shows geared towards a never-before targeted demographic â€“ babies. Based on the above quoted studies, and many others, Yes is leading these kids down a slippery slope to weight problems and its related health issues, and even attention disorders. But isn’t Yes only doing what so many other companies do today â€“ try to sell more of their unhealthy and even dangerous products?
One of the tobacco chiefs in Thank You for Smoking aptly describes the cigarette business: “They’re cool, they’re available, they’re addictive. The job is practically done for us!”
It is easy to sell people harmful things that make their lives more convenient or enjoyable, since many of these products tend to create addictions or dependencies. But just because we can technically and legally sell these products or services, it doesn’t mean that we should. Business isn’t just about profit â€“ it’s also about responsibility. The responsibility doesn’t just lie on the shoulders of the consumers, but businesses need to start to share the responsibility for the welfare of their customers.
Or else this may be what’s in storeâ€¦
This past Sunday I gave birth to Tifferet at 11:11 pm. She weighed 3.4 kg at birth, and got perfect results on her Apgar test.
Tifferet (which means beauty, glory, or splendor in Hebrew) was born with a heart condition called pulmonary stenosis. This condition affects the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary stenosis can appear at different levels of severity. Tifferet’s condition was defined as “severe/critical” and when not treated immediately results in death.
My doctor noticed a problem during a routine pregnancy ultrasound, and referred me to a fetal eco-cardiogram, where the problem was diagnosed. Thanks to this diagnosis, we could prepare as needed for the birth, and immediately after she was born, the doctors whisked her away to put her on a hormonal drip to keep her heart working as it did in the womb, and the next afternoon she underwent an angioplasty.
After a tense week of monitoring her oxygen levels in her blood and heart rate, Tifferet began to nurse and by Thursday we were told that everything was functioning as it should be, and she was released on Friday.
This journey has not yet ended; Tifferet needs to be monitored closely with more ECGs and perhaps even another angioplasty. But we are so thankful that we have her with us, and therefore I want to take this opportunity to thank the many wonderful people who helped us get through this difficult time:
- The medical professionals: Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital is an impressive and professional hospital. The care there is excellent, and the Israeli medical system really should be a source of pride to us all.
Everyone we were in contact with was professional, sympathetic and kind. Prof. Azaryah Rein, a leading pediatric cardiologist, sat with us and patiently explained what pulmonary stenosis is, how it’s treated, the risks involved, how it can affect the child’s life, and where to give birth. Once we had more information, we felt better informed and prepared to face the birth and operation.
Prof. Zev Perles expertly performed the angioplasty. It took two hours, and thanks to him Tifferet quickly recovered and was released.
Dr. Ofrah Peleg manages the premature baby ward and briefed us on Tifferet’s progress, was there to answer any questions we had, and even went above the call of duty by intervening when the hospital started acting too much like a bureaucratic institution and wanted to send me running around a few days after birth filling in papers.
Before and after the operation Tifferet was cared for in the premature baby ward. The nurses there are professional, dedicated and sympathetic. From the minute they walk in the door until the minute they leave, they are constantly checking, changing, testing, monitoring, and feeding the babies in their care. They are amazing and I want to thank them too.
- My family: my parents cancelled a trip overseas so that they could be here to help us during this time, and have been helping non-stop since Tifferet was born. My sisters also jumped in the fray: Devora moved in the night we went to the hospital (with her own baby!), and cleaned and laundered for half a day so that we could return to an orderly home. My other sister Tsipora came in from Tel Aviv and babysat the kids and fed them (while watching her own baby and little kid as well!). My father-in-law jumped on a plane from Australia as soon as he heard the news, and has been a life saver as an extra pair of hands at home with my husband and the kids.
- We are very fortunate to live in a close-knit and warm community. As soon as my neighbors heard the news, we have not stopped receiving calls offering support and help with anything we need. One neighbor organized a cleaner for us, others offered to watch the kids, and the food â€“ home-cooked, delicious meals have been delivered to our door every day by so many neighbors, we could feed an army!
We have been very blessed in so many ways, and I want to thank God for giving us the strength to get through this, and for answering our prayers and helping Tifferet recover so quickly.
As you can imagine, this new situation will affect my blogging frequency. I aim to start blogging again as soon as I can, especially since, for me, writing is also a therapeutic activity. But in the meantime, I hope you have patience and hang in there until we get back into things. Thanks for your understanding.
May God bless Tifferet, and all of us, with long and healthy lives.
A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
You know the scene in Mary Poppins where Jane and Michael cause a run on the bank because Michael refuses to deposit his tuppence there? (If you don’t, please hang your head in shame for a few seconds and run to your nearest video store to rent the movie.) Well, sometimes I wish that we could have some kind of symbolic run on the banks here that would force them to get their act together.
We are all at the mercy of the banks. There may be a whole bunch of them to choose from, but they’re all the same. Their charges are exorbitant, seemingly because they don’t know how to make money by investing our money like banks outside of Israel. So they charge us for the privilege of leaving our hard-earned cash there. But we shouldn’t be too hard on them â€“ their excellent customer service is worth every penny. You look skeptical. Ok, but the executives who run the banks deserve to get a decent salary that is a zillion times the average Israeli salary for all their hard work, and who else will pay them if not us average Israelis?
Don’t get me wrong – I am not against people earning high salaries; it just irks me when I’m paying someone’s exorbitant salary and haven’t gotten much value in return. If a CEO leads his/her company to profits and success, the company is right to invest in compensating them for their efforts, and hopefully as a result motivate them to earn them more profits. Do our bank executives lead their companies to greater profits, thus justifying their bloated salaries? According to a new report published by the Bank Supervisor, the answer isâ€¦no.
This report shows that the salary level in Israel’s banks is higher than those in banks operating in markets that are similar to Israel’s, such as Belgium, Ireland and Poland. According to the report, the salary component as a percentage of the banks’ revenues is about 50% higher in Israel. Other salary inconsistencies:
- While Israeli salaries grew by 3% in 2005, bank salaries grew by almost 11%
- Bank expenses grew by 12%, but revenues only grew by 9.6%.
If these were real businesses with real shareholders and competition, someone would probably be protesting.
And now, an amazing but true story from a customer of one of our hallowed banks.
Dear Customer: You need a Foreign Currency Account for Every Country You Plan to Visit
An acquaintance received a letter from her bank, Bank Hapoalim, informing her that should she plan on taking any trips overseas, she must open an account for every currency of every country in which she plans to be.
She made a special trip to the bank to find out what exactly they were talking about, but when she got there the usual clerk who takes care of her account was not there. She went to speak to someone else, and was told that she had to talk to her clerk. She informed them that he wasn’t there. The clerk looked at the letter, looked at the woman’s account, and said yes, she needs to open foreign currency accounts for every currency she plans to use overseas.
This woman came back to the bank on a day when her usual clerk was present, and he told her that this letter was mistakenly sent to her. He said it was meant for clients with high levels of debt, but her bank account is fine and therefore it doesn’t apply. Understandably distraught, this woman informed her clerk that as a stable and long-time client, she believed she didn’t deserve this type of treatment. The clerk had no response, probably because no one at the bank ever told him anything about customer service.