Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Facebook lemming phenomenon.

Today I've had it and I need to log out of Facebook for a day or two. There are things that have bothered me since the Paris massacre such as why is Paris getting no -stop coverage when Beirut had two suicide bombers detonate in a crowd killing 47 and injuring many others (also by IS) and a month ago on October 19 100 people were killed in Ankara at a Pewce rally for crying out load by a suicide bomber by there is nothing. No news. No social media outpouring of affection and solidarity to either one of those countries. 

Now I'm seeing people posting news articles from April 2015 about a horrid massacre at Garissa University College in Kenya where 147 people were killed by Al-Shabaab anther extremist Islam faction. The thing that's getting to me is that people are posting this like it happened right after Paris. It didn't. Please know your timelines of horrific events. If you knew nothing about this until now you should be angry about that as much as the fact that it happened. People need to seek out news and not wait for it to be tied up in a nice package and delivered to you by CNN or BBC. Go search it out, don't look at only the news sections that apply to you like the US or Europe. Expand your god damned mind and look at the whole world and stop relying on others to tell you what is going on in it. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Outside looking in.

Today I was approached online by someone whom I do not know who seemed quite taken with the fact that we can move every few years for Carl's job. 

We get this often, and I sometimes think people romanticize what our life is like.  Yes we get to move and that means packing up all your crap and deciding what stays and goes and what's important to you or not every 3-5 years. Yes that leaves you with a slightly pared down life, but you don't have the ability to keep heirlooms and items that may be important to you as easily as you think. 

Yes we get to travel to new places and make new friendships, but we also have to leave those friendships behind and be away from our families for long periods of time too not to mention we need to start all over again when we get somewhere new. 

We're currently on holidays and in Canada visiting Carl's family. Last night we went to dinner at my sister and brother-in-laws house. As we sat at the table talking I noticed a lush, big, beautiful fig tree in their dining room and all I could think was; "wow that is beautiful, but I can't have one because I'd eventually just have to give it away or throw it out." 

I think I'm getting weary of thinking in those terms and I'm really looking forward to being able to come home to Canada in a couple of years. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A trip to Jerusalem

On Saturday Carl and I took a trip to Jerusalem to explore the Old City and see some sites.

We were able to see the Western Wall, though no pictures down near it as it was Shabbat. We also went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is where tradition states is "Calvary" or Golgotha where Jesus was nailed to the cross, as well as where his tomb was. For an interesting account of the church, go to the Wikipidia entry for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Here are some photos from that trip.

Outside Jaffa Gate
A view over the Old City

The Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque Minaret and the Dome of the Rock.

The Edicule which houses the Tomb

The Golgotha (Calvary) Altar, the traditional site of the Crucifixion. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Not good, not bad, just different. VERY different

One of the "joys" of constantly moving from place to place is learning how things operate in your new country. For instance; when we were in Sweden you could do almost anything via the internet, or using email or text. I could book a doctors appointment online and receive a text moments later confirming it. If I sent an email asking for directions or assistance the conversation would continue via email until information was given or received or a resolution occurred. Basically you could do a lot of stuff without have to actually talk to or see anyone.

Here in Israel if you send an inquiry what you get in response is them asking for your phone number so they can call you. Everything here is done over the phone. Quotes for purchases, reservations, making appointments.... everything. My phone has never rung so much and I hate it, as it usually happens when I am driving. My friends in Sweden will know full well that I despise having to actually use my mobile phone as a phone. I like doing things by email so I have a record of it that I can refer to later. Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger and oftentimes I forget things or remember them incorrectly. By having to have a phone conversation I have to take notes. Those notes when I go to look at them later are generally out of context and I think I need an Enigma machine to decipher what the hell I was talking about.

Another big change is how grocery shopping here works. Back in Sweden and I know at home you have the ability to shop and check yourself out either by scanning the items as you shop and paying as you leave at a self-serve kiosk, or self check-out in almost any grocery store. Here you have to wait in line for a cashier to ring you up. Even though here all the items are scanned by barcode just like at home, every item still has the sale price stuck to it by a pricing gun. I have not seen a pricing gun in 15 years until I moved here.

Also along the lines of a grocery store, both in Canada and in Sweden you can shop the for cuts of meat that have already been butchered in various ways and packaged for your convenience, and has a label with the weight, and the sale price affixed to it. I can get ground beef, ground pork, steaks, chops, beef for stews, sliced beef for stir fry and a myriad of other options. Here you have to go to the meat counter and ask the butcher for each item. Sure they will have pre-packaged ground meat and chicken breasts and the like, but behind the counter and you still have to speak to someone and ask for it. If you want a cut of meat a certain way you have to know what you want, and what is is called here as the cuts can be named differently, and hope that the butcher speaks English as chances are my Hebrew is worse than their English.

At first these differences are scary, then annoying but eventually you get used to them. Usually when you do it is time to pack up and leave again.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another year ends. My thoughts on 2014 and the New Year.

Here we are at the end of another year. In some ways the past 365 days have flown by, in other ways it seems to have crawled by as slow as molasses. It has been a year of fun, joy, sadness, frustration and loss. Pretty much as it should be I guess. It is rare to have the opportunity to have the "perfect year" though just once I would like to see what it is like

We did some fun things this past year like drove to the Arctic Circle, visited London, had some wonderful visitors in Stockholm and a trip back to Ottawa to catch up with friends there. It was also the year my Dad passed away and my family ceased to tolerate each other. We left Stockholm and said goodbye to our friends there for the what was then unknown life in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Israel thus far has not been without its challenges, but at the end of the day when I look at the complaints I have they pale in comparison to the problems of many others. Leela Alcorn, the transgender teen who took her own life this week by walking into traffic because of being rejected by her ultra-conservative religious parents, african-american teens who need instruction from parents on how to behave when, not if they are stopped by a police officer to ensure their safety and in some cases stay alive, the continued persecution of the LGBTQ community in countries all over the world for fighting to love who their biology deems correct, refugees of wars and conflicts all over the globe who are caught in the middle of of idealistic and religions zealotry.

For my friends and my family I wish you all comfort and peace in 2015. I hope that this year in the world more problems get solved than created. I wish that people could take a moment to look outside their own lives and comfort zones to look at what is happening around them and take action to make it better. Volunteer, make donations to charities and organizations that you believe in. Start seeing the homeless and the hungry on the street and stop looking through them. I know it is idealistic, but if we all took just a little bit better care of each other the world would be a much better place indeed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Starting to get settled, sorta

Here we are now a bit over three months in Israel. I have had some interesting experiences and I have had to greatly adjust my expectations on some things.

Things move at their own pace here, and you have to realize that in order to maintain your sanity. The best example is the fact that we have been trying to purchase a second vehicle from one of the other embassies here, who is selling some of their fleet. This has been going on for over a month because the guy who was working on it at the other embassy had to go on holiday for a week, Carl is busy with work and can't devote all his time to making this happen, and the car has to go in my name as we are only allowed one vehicle tax exemption per per person. We are buying this vehicle "passport to passport" as it is known here so it is going from one diplomat or diplomatic mission to another and we are exempt from taxes. Now this is great but we have to have the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and it has to be cleared with Customs too! All of that takes a bit of time, and being as we are unfamiliar with the process we keep finding that there are one or two mere things that need to be signed by both parties. Hopefully this will happen by next week.

As we get closer to the "holidays" as we know them it becomes very evident that we are in a different part of the world where Christianity is not the majority. Christmas is just another day here, so much in fact that our doctor tried to book an appointment for Carl on Christmas Day. I am looking forward however to traveling to Nazareth next week to go to one of the Christmas Markets there. It will be my second visit to Nazareth. I have not been to anywhere else yet really as I don't have wheels yet. As soon as I have a car there will be many opportunities for day trips as everything is a short drive away. That will allow me to ramp up some photography again too.

I won't lie, it's been a struggle for me to adjust to Israel. The people are lovely, and once they find out we are newly arrived it is always "welcome to Israel!" Language has been a bigger issue than we were let to believe. We were told by many, including those who worked on Carl's relocation in Ottawa that "everyone there speaks English" and we have found that is not the case, but we are working on learning some Hebrew soon. My main course of action is to focus on the things that I enjoy, find things that I like here and explore those and let the other stuff that annoys just fall by the wayside. I can't put so much energy into things that get to me. We've also joined a gym so I am hoping the endorphins will kick in too.

I will endeavor to update this thing a bit more often as well.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One month down, 35 more to go.

We've now been in Israel for one full month. In some ways it seems like longer, in others shorter. We're in the home that will be our SQ (Staff Quarters) that we will be in for the duration of our stay. It was rented just as we arrived so there are still a few things that require attention. As a result we've had workmen here a lot over the past couple of weeks. The dogs, especially Folsom are basically freaked out by the comings and goings. 

I'll be glad when our stuff arrives and we can combine it with the furniture provided by the Embassy and it will feel more like our place. Right now it's hollow and echoes like crazy and I have headaches from Folsom barking all the time. :/