Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Modern World: Tech Updates for Old Fogies

The other day my smartphone got very stubbornly dumb on me. Suddenly Chrome didn't work. Instead of going into all of the programs, weather reports etc. it had a "snap" message. My mail was still working, as was whatsapp plus the camera, but that was about it. I couldn't even check the weather.

I tried restarting the phone, but it didn't help at all. Of course, I began to panic. I was also embarrassed, considering that I'm considered an "expert" and even teach my peers how to use their phones and computers. So for me to be stymied was really bad.

Of course, I read and reread and read yet again all of the suggestions the phone gave me for fixing this problem. And I tried to follow instructions.

The few hours I was without internet on the phone felt like months, especially since I wasn't home and had no wifi as backup. Why do these things always happen when in transit?

Finally I tried something which seemed a bit "risky," since the instructions said that I may lose information/connections/whatever if I do it. I figured I had no choice. I started trying to uninstall Chrome. Now, that ended up a lot more complicated than I had expected. Apparently, Chrome is not your ordinary app. But I reached a stage in my quest that offered me a way of updating it, so I went for it. And then like magic, Chrome functioned. Whew.

And then... the very next day, my phone sent me a message that "it" was going to perform a major update. And it offered me some options as to when the "procedure" would happen. I opted for "sleep time," from 2-4am if I remember the numbers correctly. In the middle of the night, I woke to see that my phone was all lit up. I grabbed it to check if there had been some sort of emergency, but instead, even sans glasses, I could make out a message that it was updating.

In the morning, I found all sorts of changes. There are messages about some new options, and some icons have changed. Also the camera works differently. It's almost like having a new phone. But at least it was free.

I really don't mind learning new ways and things. Gd willing, the challenges will keep senility away...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Super Easy Yummy Rice Pudding

The very first thing I did was to make a batch of rice. I must admit that it was plain white rice. I then decided to use some of it for Rice Pudding. When the rice was ready I added some brown sugar into a pot, and then milk, vanilla and cinnamon.

I heated the sweet, flavored milk. And then I added rice, covered it and lowered the flame. As soon as it reached a boil, I turned it off and left it covered.  The sweet flavored milk was quickly absorbed by the rice.

It got very good reviews from my husband. And it made the house smell so good!

Sorry, I can't give exact ingredients. I didn't measure.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Precooking for Shabbat During a Busy Week

For those of us who are Jewish Sabbath Observers, winter Fridays before dusk aren't very long, and during weeks when we're not home at all on Thursday, we must get "creative." This is especially difficult for me, since my kitchen is pretty limited, one of the reasons I need to renovate it. I only have two electric burners for cooking.

I knew that last week would be difficult for Shabbat preparation, since not only was Friday short, but I had plans for Friday morning. So, I cooked the chicken on Monday, as soon as I had bought it.

Thursday, I not only took out the cooked chicken from the freezer, but also what had been left over from the stuffed peppers I had made a few weeks earlier. I also took out the liquid from the cooked chicken, which I used to flavor the rice for Shabbat.

The remaining cooking was just vegetables, rice, plus boiling water and then using the rice that had been cooked parve in two new recipes. I'll have to tell you about them later.

Everything can get done, with planning.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Some Things I Should Never Buy...

The other day I walked into the health food store in Sha'ar Binyamin. I'm not quite sure why I went there. I didn't really need anything, but I bought a bit of nuts and then... I saw my weakness, what's called in Hebrew, the yetzer haraa. Evil inclination, temptation or chocolate covered mints. This health food store sells them by the weight.

I was able to resist all the dried fruit -yay- but not the mints. I love mint sweets, especially Hagan Daz mint ice cream. At least I can only get that in the states, and I doubt if I'll ever be there again. Sigh... Good news bad news...

I stored the mints in the freezer, with the nuts. And for the first few days I barely nibbled. But then on Friday I was so very tired, super-tired. And you know what they say about diets and not getting enough sleep. When your body craves sleep, it tries to overcompensate with sugar.

So, suddenly the mints got all eaten up by yours truly. Then I began telling myself that it was good that I ate them all at once. Now I won't have any to eat. No more temptation...  Does that make sense? Insufficient sleep plays with the brain and makes it a bit wacky.

May this be a much better and lower calorie week...

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Second Win for Jerusalem Big Blue Lions

It was cold at the new Kraft Stadium outside of Ramot, Jerusalem, so I took almost no pictures last night.

From the very minutes of the game, Jerusalem Big Blue Lions were ahead, and as hard as Haifa Underdogs tried, they just couldn't score. That is except for when their player, stubbornly still holding the ball, was pushed over the Lions' line and the touchdown went to Jerusalem.

The final score was 37-0, but the game was closer than the score shows.

Gd willing this season will continue well for the Lions, and there will be another championship!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Craving Cashews, Why?

I used to nosh on almonds very happily and even walnuts, but the past few weeks I only want cashew nuts. Now, what's the difference between almonds, cashews and walnuts?
AlmondsOne serving (28 grams or a small handful) contains roughly:
  • Calories: 161
  • Total fat: 14 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 19% of the RDI
Almonds may improve cholesterol levels. A number of small studies have found that eating an almond-rich diet can reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is particularly harmful to heart health (141516).
WalnutsA one-ounce serving of walnuts (28 grams) contains roughly:
  • Calories: 182
  • Total Fat: 18 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
Walnuts appear to improve a number of risk factors for heart disease. This may be due to their high content of ALA and other nutrients.
A number of large studies have found that eating walnuts significantly reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol (313233).
Walnuts may also improve other factors related to heart health, including blood pressure and the normal flow of blood through the circulatory system (3435).
In addition, walnuts may help reduce inflammation, which can contribute to many chronic diseases (36).
Interestingly, a study in college students found that eating walnuts increased a measure of cognition called "inferential reasoning," suggesting that walnuts may have beneficial effects on the brain (37).
CashewsOne ounce of cashews contains roughly:
  • Calories: 155
  • Total Fat: 12 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Carbs: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 1 grams
  • Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
A number of studies have examined whether diets high in cashews can improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
One study found that a diet containing 20% of calories from cashews improved blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome (39).
Another study found cashews increased the antioxidant potential of the diet (40).
Interestingly, a couple of studies have shown that eating diets high in cashews may increase blood sugar in people with metabolic syndrome. However, more studies are needed to confirm this effect (3941).
Which nut do you think is better?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Case of The Missing Bleach Stain*

*spoiler alert due to title, but I still  need your input

I know that stranger things may have happened, but this is a true story, and I can't figure it out.

The other day, in order to get some chronic dirt out of a pot I added bleach, along with the dish detergent and water and let it soak. My husband sometimes helps in washing dishes, and he davka did that pot.

Suddenly I heard a yell. Some of the bleach laced water splashed onto his black cotton blend slacks and he saw the spot turn white.
"My pants are ruined because of the bleach you put in the water." He shouted at me.
I tried to calmly tell him to rinse the area well with soap and water, and that I'd buy some black fabric paint to paint over the lightened section.

I laundered the slacks, letting them dry indoors, and a few days later I went off to buy fabric paint. There's a nice craft/toy store in Sha'ar Binyamin, Dusha, and that's where I finally found some black fabric paint, in an easy to apply marker.

As soon as I got home I proudly showed my purchase to my husband and asked him to bring out the cleaned black slacks. I was ready and raring to go in my quest to repair/repaint the slacks. We searched every inch of them. No bleach stain. Not a white or even light grey spot.

How could that be? Do you have any idea?

We welcome your comments, thanks.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Historical Novel, "The Quality of Mercy"

I borrowed an old Faye Kellerman book, "The Quality of Mercy," and found it very long and overstuffed with plot and history. Some people may consider it strange that I'm reviewing a book that's over twenty years old, but it's still for sale new, used and audial.

The copy I read had been bought by someone in a 2nd hand bookstore very recently. Print is small, and there are just under six hundred, yes 600, pages. If you have good eyes and lighting, that can keep you busy on a very long flight or two. This copy followed me around for about two months, during which I also read a couple of other books.

The Quality of Mercy is a historical novel that tries to give answers to a few questions. Literary historians for centuries have been trying to discover more about William Shakespeare:

  • Was Shakespeare a real person?
  • Was Shakespeare Jewish?
  • Was Shakespeare a homosexual?
  • About which people and events did Shakespeare write his great plays and sonnets?
Kellerman's novel tries to answer many of these questions. Actually, she does answer the first three in The Quality of Mercy and poses some interesting possibilities concerning the fourth. She does this by expanding on a Jew/converso who did live at the same time as Shakespeare, Doctor Roderigo Lopez, and his family. The book revolves the supposed relationship between Shakespeare and a daughter of Lopez. Kellerman embroiders an amazing and complex tapestry of love, intrigue and adventure. 

Like in every good historical novel, it's all "possible." I think that it would be much more readable and successful if it had been better edited. We really don't need all of the subplots, backstories and details to get the main points of the book. Kellerman is a good writer and obviously invested a lot of time and energy (or staff) researching. 

If you enjoy long sagas based on real history, especially if you're well acquainted with the works of Shakespeare, this is the book for you. I must admit that at times it was tedious, but I'm glad that I persevered, because it was worth the effort. So if you spot the book second hand some place, and you have the time to invest, get it. Tell me what you think afterwards.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Blogging isn't Dead

This morning, while drinking my coffee, I decided to start my week with a blog carnival, a roundup of blog posts from all over the Jewish blogging world. OK, the vast majority are Israeli blogs and bloggers, but there's definitely a wide range of topics and even opinions, IMHO.

I've been blogging for well over a decade. My husband and I are among the most veteran of that genre. Blogging offers us a welcome and open forum to voice our opinions and not be dependent on the whims and agendas of others. I've mentored a number of bloggers, too. One great thing about blogging is:
It's free! The only cost is your time.
Today, there are so many free options for blogging, so that if the idea appeals to you, it won't cost you money, not a cent, not an agora, not a single pence etc.

Click :
What's New in The Blogging World
Please check out the various posts, and be sure to comment if you have something to say. And if you'd like to recommend other blogs, please give me the information in the comments, thanks.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Photography Fun

I'm a regular in three very different photography groups, sites, apps or whatever you want to call them. Actually, they are different and each may be one of the names I used.
  • 52Frames is a photography group that functions via facebook. Each week we're given a "challenge," some sort of "technique" we are to use within that week and send it in. Then an album is posted. It can be as simple as a black and white photo or something that sends me searching for instructions/explanations like Low Key.
  • Instagram is an unstructured photography "app," for sending photos and short videos to other members/followers via a smartphone. There's no frequency requirement. One can have a small personalized membership, of close friends and family, or it can be used as a marketing tool or anything inbetween.
  • 365project is a daily photo posting site with members all over the world. There are optional challenges, but I haven't participated in them much. I don't think there are too many Israelis in it, so I try to give an idea of my life via daily photos. 
If you're a member of these groups, say "hello;" follow me, too. 

Some photos are used for more than one of the groups/apps/sites. Here are some recent photos:


Overripe Olives

Fall from the tree...
I used two new techniques here. Negative color and a new application recomnended by a framer. Thanks

Location: Shiloh, Israel

Critique: SHRED AWAY! I feel no pain.
This photo qualifies for the "Extra Credit" challenge: "New Technique"
Most nights I take a picture as I kick off my shoes and "share" what the pedometer has counted.
12,167 #steps #go_binyamin #shilohisrael#publicdiet #tryingtoloseweight #fitness — ‎at שילה הקדומה Ancient Shiloh‎.‎  
Most nights I take a picture as I kick off my shoes and "share" what the pedometer has counted. I then combine the two with another app, layout, and then post the product on Instagram, plus facebook and twitter.
Each of these groups suit different needs and offers different sorts of challenges for me as a photographer and a person. One thing I found very amusing. During a session of the "intergenerational group" at the Senior Adult Education program I'm in when the students were asked what surprising thing they learned about "their senior citizen," my student said:
"Batya has an instagram account!"
I don't understand why she was surprised, but... now we follow each other.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fun Evening of 60s Music in Jerusalem

Last Tuesday night I had a wonderful time with old friends, some whom I've actually known since the 1960's. Yes, that dates us, but as the saying goes:
"The alternative would be worse."
At our age, when most of us are retired or super busy with post-retirement activities and even businesses, we try to live every second to its fullest. We all know that the more difficult time of old age can begin without warning any time at all, Gd forbid.

When I saw an event on my friend's facebook page, Back to the 60s - Cafe Night & Music in Jerusalem for last Tuesday night, I quickly checked if I could join her. And I'm glad I did. Not only did I get to spend an enjoyable evening with that friend, but lots of other friends from the 60s came over to say hello. I hope to attend more of their events, as long as the organizers don't mind.

I got a kick out of the fact that such young performers knew the songs I sang in my teens.  This was more of a "singalong," 60s "kumzitz," than a performance. The repertoire was a combination of folk music, Beatles and a bit of Rock 'n Roll, since Twist and Shout had us literally shouting along. And I doubt if I was the only once who had to force myself to stay seated. My body wanted to dance!

I got more information about the group from one of the organizers:
This is a volunteer effort to answer the needs of the active adult (50+ years old) English speaking community. As the neighborhoods of Armon Hanatziv, Arnona and Talpiot are far from the center of the city where there are programs, Shlomo Fisherowitz and Carol Silk decided to create an answer to the needs by developing Anglos of South Jerusalem at the area matnas. Contact for the group is by email at aosjerusalem@gmail and/or via the Facebook page.
My many friends who live in the area are excited about the activities, as I am. I thank the organizers and wish them good health and many more productive years.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On The Tracks, Jerusalem Wanderings

Jerusalem's most amazing park is the one still under progress, still being developed, built and landscaped. It's the one that follows the old train tracks.

Some sections are pretty narrow, having just two "tracks," One is for bicycle riders and the second for walkers, joggers and runners. And in other sections, there's lots of space adjoining with all sorts of playground equipment. Actually, the area across from Matan has parking and then lots of other things, including public toilets and a fenced area for dogs.

There's even a little "sit and read" library.

Yesterday I walked a bit further than before and discovered this painted area under a bridge. You never know what you'll find in Jerusalem. It's a great place for wandering.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Heater/Cooler Update

The other day I posted that I feared we bought "a lemon" concerning our new airconditioner/heater. Twice I've had to call for repairs within months. So the technician came yet again and said that the actual machine is great, but the crew that installed it made mistakes. Apparently there have been major leaks with the "gas."

So, the technician told me that he'd "reinstall it," whatever that meant. OK, I didn't have to do anything at all. He didn't even want to cup of coffee or glass of water. I didn't bother him. It's not one of my fields of interest. And as I've written before, we're probably one of the last people in Israel to buy one of these machines that both heat and cool. 

I just hope and pray that the two I bought will work without more than the routine care, cleaning the filter. That we did learn how to do. My husband climbs up to remove it, and I do the "cleaning."

Modernizing can be rather complicated, but our house is now so much more comfortable, thank Gd, bli eyin haraa-don't tempt the evil eye.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Losing The Diet Battle

People who see my almost nightly post about how many steps I've taken each day as I kick off my shoes must think I'm winning the battle. But the truth is that I'm making pretty much no progress in getting off the weight that snuck on the past couple of years.

A very important diet principle I stick to is to make/design an eating plan you can live with. That's because if you have a numerical weight goal, which requires a food and exercise regime that isn't really sustainable, you'll quickly go off of it and yo-yo. We all know what that means. It means that the weight will return "with interest."

Not only are we all different, but our bodies change with time. The medical experts say that even our metabolism gets sluggish, not just our minds with age...

So far, I like this pedometer application, and it's working well. The three numbers (you can set it to do miles and inches) I follow most carefully are:

  • steps
  • kilometers per hour
  • time exercised
I've really been trying to keep to two hours of being active each day. Now, being active also means the simple walking around the house while doing daily chores. You can also see on the graph, that I have periodic heavier active times. Now that it has been raining, thank Gd, I also walk quickly around my house to get the steps increased. 

Food is pretty easy to control, since most meals are home, but after about a decade of trying to diet/keep my weight down, it is harder to deny myself some foods. But the good thing is that smaller quantities of food like dates and cake etc now satisfy my sweet tooth.

I hope you're not bored by this, because my diet saga will continue for the rest of my life. And how is yours going?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Could It Be Real?

Last night I took a picture of the Shiloh Tabernacle Synagogue from the vantage of my neighborhood. It was all lit up and gorgeous. Suddenly I had idea. As soon as I got home I used the double exposure tool on Snapseed. Yes, I pasted/superimposed the synagogue over the location where it's believed that the Mishkan, Tabernacle had stood in Shiloh from the time of Joshua until Eli, the High Priest.

It's far from perfect, but...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Airconditioner Blues, Did We Get A "Lemon?"

It wasn't that long ago when I, in the voice of Baile Rochel, joyfully reported that we had gone modern and gotten those air-conditioner/heaters.

I just hope that ours isn't a "lemon." A few months ago we had it serviced, since water was coming down onto the couch. And now I called the agent I had used to complain that it's not heating up.

Grrr... I'm not a happy camper. Bli eyin haraa, the smaller bedroom one is doing its job. I started turning it on for an hour or so before going to bed, so the room will heat up a bit. I hardly used it in the summer, since my bedroom is pretty cool and shaded, especially since the neighbors put up an industrial kitchen next door that blocks the sun.

Winter has arrived, thank Gd, and the rest of the house needs to be heated. So, I'm waiting to hear from the guy who has promised to "take care of it."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Super Extraordinary Life

I blogged about Rabbi Natan Gamedze on Shiloh Musings tonight, The Jewish African Prince Rabbi. Please read it, and tell me what you think. Thanks

When I was looking for something to do on Tuesday evening, I remembered the promotional article about the Telfed the South African Zionist Federation of Israel event in In Jerusalem. I'm glad I went. Apparently the organizers were surprised at the very large turnout. If they have other interesting events on Tuesdays, I many attend. I'm always looking for something special to do on Tuesdays in Jerusalem.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Back to Almond "Milk" for...

I decided to go back to my "no lactose" experiment for at least a few days. Last night when I bought milk for us, I saw that they had almond milk/drink in the dairy section/refrigerator of the local supermarket. Tnuva, the large veteran dairy company in Israel now produces a whole range of non-dairy "milks." They are marketed as משקה mashkeh, "drink," rather than "milk." I believe that is because milk must come from an animal, not some vegetarian recipe.

I've experimented with drinking a number of different "milks," including goats milk, the past few months, and I prefer this almond concoction. In terms of product purity and simplicity, nothing beats the old cow milk, even though I prefer it with some sugar. I haven't tried the rice milk, since it's based on a very starchy grain, rather than a protein.

They do have the no sugar almond milk here, which isn't fresh and refrigerated, but I didn't like it. I found myself adding sugar to it, so there wasn't much point in using it. Also, I don't drink milk as a drink and don't add it to anything other than my morning coffee, so there is no need for me to grind/blend almonds or cashews to make a homemade drink or milk substitute. I've checked out lots of labels and discovered that the fresh "milks" in the refrigerator section of the stores have much less additives than the ones you'll find on the shelf.

Tnuva markets this almond drink as:
  • rich in calcium
  • low in salts
  • low in fat
  • enriched with vitamins
  • no gluton
  • no colesteral
  • no preservatives
  • no lactose
Israel has a large and profitable food export industry, so they must adhere to international standards. The labeling is pretty reliable. Actually I consider Israeli dairy and other products to be healthier than the equivalent American ones.  

There are two factors that make it easier to find non-dairy, no lactose products here in Israel. One is the Laws of Kashrut, which mandates strict supervision and labeling of all dairy products. And the other is the fact that a relatively high proportion of the Israeli population has trouble digesting lactose. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Winter, Finally?

Here in Israel winter means rain. It only rains here from about October until March, rarely any other time. Those of us who live in the mountainous regions where it gets relatively cold, and occasionally snows, the lightweight raincoats I grew up with in New York, for spring and summer rains, aren't needed. By the time we get the succah stored away, early to mid-October, we're usually in waterproof winter coats and carrying umbrellas.

Unfortunately this year, it stayed warm and dry, with the exception of a day or two. This was fun for the kids and great for drying clothes outside, but my little vineyard was getting very confused. You can see that fresh new leaves began to grow months before spring. A neighbor of mine who works in agriculture told me a while ago, that without sufficient periods of cold, many fruits won't grow properly. And he also insists that the purified water which is touted by the government as the perfect solution to drought does not produce the same sweet fruit as rainwater does. No doubt that is the reason I'm not able to get myself to eat oranges yet. They taste awful.

Thank Gd, the last couple of days have been cold and rainy, although with enough sun to still get out a bit. A truly blessed winter would provide Gd given rain in great quantities every night and then mixed rain and sun during the day.

For that we need to obey Gd. Our rain is not due a scientific technique like seeding clouds.  This is the Holy Land where things work very differently from any place else.

The quantity, timing and location of rain are the barometer of the Jewish People's following of Gd's Mitzvot. This dry, unseasonably warm weather makes it very clear that we have a long way to go in improving ourselves.

Winter sky in Jerusalem yesterday