Thursday, June 30, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Growing Up

After sleeping in my bed for most of her life, DD finally slept in her own bed for two nights this week. It happened after a particularly restless night when I got very little sleep and ended up on the sofa because her bed was covered in lego. The next day I cleared up her room and put my foot down. There were some protests at first but we both got a great night's sleep. The next night there were no arguments.

I kind of missed her though so when she asked if she could sleep in my bed last night I said yes. I am probably my own worst enemy.

Today is the last day of school! Hooray! We have 3 weeks of summer school, till 1pm and only 5 days a week, ahead of us but at least no homework is involved. Well none that's not set by me and that I don't understand.

End of year report card. I won't know until DD comes home from school but I feel that we've made great strides this year. I can see the difference in self-confidence and independence from last September. For one thing, we've gone from me having to walk DD into the classroom every morning to just taking her across the road and waving her off as she joins the throng of children walking down the street to the school gates.

In the national tests in Hebrew and Maths she read the questions, answered them and finished the papers within the time. That could not have happened even back in January when I was called in to discuss how weak her language skills were (in Hebrew). The teacher told me then that DD wouldn't read one question or write one word without putting her hand up to check she was getting it right. And her maths which is good, was being dragged down by the word problems and not being able to read and understand the questions. It was heartbreaking.

However, with amazing help from the school, a "big sister" from the Big Brother/Sister programme, and some effort at home, we succeeded in breaking through the language barrier. I don't know yet if we caught up to end of 2nd Grade level as I've not seen the report card yet, but she's happy to go to school and she proudly shows me the ticks and smiley faces she gets in her notebooks. More and more she manages to finish her homework at school by working independently rather than wasting time so she can do it at home where I can help her. Night and day from where I'm standing, whatever the report says.

I wrote a controversial post about the EU Referendum. Huge backlash on facebook. Comments on the blog by some rather important figures in the blog world. I pulled up my big girl knickers and faced it all like a writer. Controversy is good (see, I've learned something from the Mail Online). Almost 1,000 unique views in 4 days. My Klout score went up to 51 - it's gone up by 8 points in the past 2 months. Now I'm just waiting to see if all this effort has got me back into the TOTS100 top 500. I can hardly bare the suspense.

I'm linking up with R2BC on Lakes Single Mum.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

EU Referendum - The Aftermath And Why The 52% Might Not Be So Stupid After All

Totally unrelated  photo from an Around The World event at DD's school
Whilst, as an expat, I felt that didn't have any right to persuade people (if I even have that talent) living in Britain how to vote in the EU referendum, I feel very strongly about how the results are being swallowed by those who lost.

I admit that most of my facebook friends (and my real friends, and indeed myself) are educated, elitist, snobs. We make enormous efforts not to be racist, sexist, ageist or discriminate against the disabled but when it comes to the ordinary working class citizen we are, apparently, not shy to call them ignorant (stupid even) and not deserving of a vote on important matters such as this that they can't possible have understood.

Never mind that we need people to do all the manual work that we hope our children won't be doing to earn a living. Never mind that the 52% are still people and still British citizens. Never mind that maybe, just maybe, you didn't bother to campaign in a way that relates to them at all (whereas Brexit did)?

Living in Israel I saw first hand how different sectors of the population can be voting in the same election on entirely different issues. And here the scathing aftermath and howls of depression were similar. We had the security-hardliner Netanyahu running against the social-justice reformer Herzog. Those in the centre of the country were caught up in the enormous social injustice issues that we desperately need to reform. Those in Jerusalem and near the borders (not everyone obviously) are not oblivious to social injustice or against social reform nor are they uncaring about the poor and the enormous income gaps, minimum wage, the ridiculous property prices, supermarket monopolies and other mafioso controlled industries that push prices here through the roof. But they felt they had to vote for security. You can't fight for social justice if you're dead. Same election, different concerns.

In the EU referendum the broadsheet newspapers published in-depth economic and political arguments for Remain. However more than half the country don't read those papers. Instead they were listening to the PM saying "relevant" things that they could understand like students will find it harder to go Euro-railing and property values will fall. Seriously? If I were someone working my guts off with no hope of ever buying property in this market and still holidaying in a caravan in Wales because that's all I could afford, that would speak to me. But not in the way the PM intended.

Where were the adverts on television explaining to those without university degrees why they and their children will be better off staying in Europe? I saw adverts like this for the Scottish referendum. One particularly aimed at housewives just went to cast doubt and catch the undecided, with no real reasons to stay. But at least it spoke to the housewives and mothers rather than just ignoring them. In this referendum they didn't even speak to the ordinary person in the street, let alone explain anything relevant to them.

Papers like the Daily Mail, on the other hand, were actively campaigning for Brexit. Amongst all the hysteria about the millions of immigrants marching across Europe intent on reaching Britain where we have to provide all of them them with instant financial help, housing and health care, there was not one article addressing these fears in DM language and without just dismissing people's real fears (albeit fears encouraged by the media and the DM in particular) as ignorant and racist.

With all the publicity media available today, I did not see one infomercial, one advert, one open letter to the workers of Britian. Not one You Tube video that those who know how to do these things could have made viral, not one good reason to remain if you are a lorry driver or a school secretary in Carlisle.

Some of my fb friends (all with university degrees and mostly professionals living in London) exclaimed: Who are these people who voted Out? I don't know any of them! Well precisely. We all assume that the 52% were all voting against immigration and for a fascist state. Because they couldn't possible have any other concerns. Except for those over 70 of course, who are obviously expecting us to go back to the late 1950s when we never had it so good. They're stupid too. Or maybe not - who knows?

Has anyone even considered other reasons for leaving? An academic posted on fb that she looked deeply in to the workings of the EU and found them to be corrupt and self-serving, which made her very reluctantly not put her x in the remain box. Farmers and business owners caught up in EU bureaucracy and red tape might have had their own motives too.

But let's not ignore the elephant in the room. I agree that most Brexit voters are those worried about the immigration situation. Parents who have no school place guaranteed for their 5yo at a local school, schools where the level of education is tempered by language issues, families waiting for council assisted housing who see recent immigrants jump the queue. It is a racist issue but it is an issue and you can't blame people for putting their own family first.

These people just want a job, a place to live, a decent wage, and an education for their children. They're not interested in trade treaties or the international exchange rate because they don't have stocks, shares, or investments. They don't have international business contracts and they don't travel abroad that much. What they do have is the skill and will to mend your burst pipes, drive articulated lorries to deliver your commodities, look after your children and the elderly while you're at work, keep your schools and hospitals clean, mend your roads, schlep your furniture when you want to move house, make your garden grow and build your extension.

So while you all wail about how your children will not be able to work abroad easily. How we have lost our advantage as the English speaking gateway to Europe. How your property and investment values will fall. How immigration is a positive thing, as long as they are not sending their children to your schools for the first generation at least. How England is heading towards extreme right wing fascism and dangerous isolation. Remember that you will still need plumbers, lorry drivers, cleaners, nurses, carers, movers, builders and gardeners. And that's why the 52% aren't as stupid as you think. Same referendum different issues.

Note to selves: Next time you need to speak to the people, include all the people.

And now, pick yourselves up, heads down, stiff upper lip, best foot forward, pull together, keep calm and carry on. Business as usual on Monday and for the next two years at least. All those who shouted about not being quitters - now is the time to not be a quitter.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Midsummer Madness

IKEA is coming to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem branch will be open within two years according to the news report. Apparently they already have a site but they're not saying where it is because people like me might start queuing now to be the first one in.

This takes a whole lot of pressure off me. All my old sheets and towels, my mattress, other items big and small that I want to buy or replace, can definitely wait two more years.

And here are two stories I heard today which put everything in perspective....

A friend recently returned to live in America after 15 years in the Middle East. Her children are aged 7 to 14. One day whilst driving though lush and verdant countryside on the north-east coast, the kids started complaining. "I'm so fed up with all this green!" "Yeah, its all just green and more green!" etc...

I spend my life yearning for green but good to know that it's only a cultural thing and not an absolute.

Another American friend lives in Chicago. Someone asked her if her family are all in Chicago. "No," she replied. "but they're all close, only about 6 hours away."

LOL, my family are also 6 hours away from me in Jerusalem. I never realized London was so close. It sure feels good to be living so close to my folks again after all these years. :~)

Linking up with my friend and neighbour, Becky in the Lake District.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

But Is It Chutzpah?

One loose screw and you begin to doubt everything you believed in. 
Google the word 'chutzpah' and it tells you it means, 'shameless audacity'. Yup, that just about sums it up.

A recent example in my life was when a student asked to start the online summer course early because she has three weeks off in June but will be working through July. As the course is not available yet online, I have to send her batches of assignments and instructions by email - a task I agreed to out of the goodness of my heart (and because the Head of Dept. asked me to). She sent me her latest submissions the day before a four-day national holiday and four days later, before I'd even got back to the office, she emailed the Head of Dept. that I wasn't answering her emails. That is chutzpah.

A more well known and used example is the person convicted of murdering his parents who asks the judge for leniency on account of being an orphan.

So now we're on the same page, I have a question. I wrote yesterday about how long it took me to screw 20 screws into my new IKEA table with nothing but my trusty old screwdriver. I wrote how it took me all day to do it in increments as it was tough going and I was getting blisters on my hands. An electric drill/screwdriver would have done the job in about two minutes.

I happen to know that my upstairs neighbour has an electric drill/screwdriver and normally I'd have no problem asking a neighbour for a small favour like this. However, my upstairs neighbour is a handyman by profession. And therein lies the problem.

He charges a reasonable amount of money for an hour's work and then slightly less for subsequent hours when needed, plus the cost of materials used. Last month I asked him to come and help me shift big furniture - beds that had to be dismantled to be moved into different rooms and a large bulky and heavy piece of furniture to be taken down three flights of stairs to the rubbish. It all took about an hour, I paid the money, everyone was happy.

But now I had a two-minute job that you would ask a neighbour to help you with but you wouldn't ask your handyman to come and do for free. I could probably get away with it once but he'd be thinking, is this going to become a habit? He told me last time that I should wait until I have a list of things to be done so that the first hour's payment is comfortable for both of us.

The trouble is that most people don't need a handyman to screw in a few screws.

I tried to think what would happen if the tables were turned. What if he asked me to teach his daughter. If she wanted a few lessons to bring her up to scratch for an English exam I would expect him to pay for it. But if she knocked on my door one day (she's only 3 btw but for argument's sake) and asked, "please can you help me, I have to do this homework on the 3rd conditional and I don't understand it." There is no doubt that I would tell her to come in and I'd spend the 10 or 20 minutes it would take to explain it to her. No doubt whatsoever. And I'd not for one second think of this as a chutzpah.

Likewise if any of my former students were to call with the same problem and ask if they could pop round for the same explanation. No problem at all. Maybe the difference is whether they pop round to me or if I have to go to them? Who knows? All I know is, one loose screw and everything you believed in about neigbourliness and helping others falls apart.

Am I lacking in confidence or just too nice? I regularly countersign passport photos for friends who are renewing their British passports as I'm a UK qualified teacher. But when I needed my request to have my degrees accredited by the Israel Ministry of Education signed by lawyer, the lawyer's secretary signed on his behalf and used his stamp, and charged me 50 shekels!

Otoh, another lawyer friend wrote a number of letters to another neighbour for me, when there was a problem with a leak that they wouldn't resolve, and she didn't charge me anything.

It's a minefield of professional etiquette versus chutzpah out there. I'm covered for the next IKEA episode as my lovely friend Yael offered to bring her electric drill round next time for the price of a cup of coffee and a chinwag. Meanwhile I'm nursing my blistered hands and wondering what others would have done.

What would you have done?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Reclaiming The Spudy

I wrote a few days ago how the time has come to stop having paying guests in our spare room. We enjoyed it while it lasted but we need our space and our privacy now. We also want the flexibility of friends and family to be able to stay over. And .... I was so fed up of working all over the salon and dining table.

Before. I had a small armchair and side table in the corner for guests. 
Step one was getting a light and white table to use as a desk. The perfect piece was in IKEA all along but when you live in a different town to the nearest branch and don't have a car it's a problem. I researched small tables and desks in local shops but even allowing for a delivery charge, the cheapest tat was double the price.

There's a guy from Jerusalem who goes to IKEA twice a week and takes orders for people with cars, or without the time to go themselves. I emailed him on Wednesday evening and my table was here ob Friday morning.

I could have paid a bit extra for him to bring up his electric drill and have the 20 screws sorted in about two minutes. I didn't because you're supposed to be able to do these things with allen keys aren't you? Big mistake.

Can you spot the screw that refused to be tightened? 
It took me all day to get those screws fully screwed. Luckily I have strong screw driver but it still took a lot of effort. I'd come back and do two or three rotations and then need to rest my aching hand. If you look carefully you'll see that one screw didn't make it all the way home - I really tried but it reached its limit and so did I.

There it is. Naughty.

So here is my reclaimed spudy. I'm loving it and still room for guests.

Probably need a proper desk chair
The bed was DD's and it came with a child's mattress - 5cm of foam and very uncomfortable - and a trundle bed and two drawers underneath. I got rid of the trundle and the drawers as the whole thing looked too heavy and it was a pain to clean underneath. Also the trundle bed mattress was only about 2cm of foam. Even DD's little friend refused to sleep on it.

Ready for friends and family
(There is space to open the cupboard doors btw)
I gave DD the small double (W1.5m) in her bigger bedroom so she can still have a friend to stay. I bought a proper mattress for the single bed which fits much better in the spudy. I kept the old mattress (you can see it at the side of the bed) for the odd occasion when we have a full house.

Still struggling with the thought of the money I've given up in order to do this but sometimes it's not about the money. Sometimes you have to put your own comfort and needs first.

P.S. The best thing is that due to the tiled floor and niche position, the office area is basically a concrete and ceramic box. Radio 2 on a Sunday morning, I'm singing along to all the old favourite love songs, and the acoustics are fantastic! I never knew I could sing so well.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Beyond Filofax (And A Warning For Israelis)

First some background. Choosing and buying a new diary for the year is a spiritual event for me. Around this time of year I start looking out for the new crop in the shops. The Jewish New Year is in September - not the 1st of September but sometime in that month according to the lunar calendar. So conveniently everything starts after the long summer break. Nice and neat. And my birthday is in September so, as a teacher, it's triple neat for me.

Last year I missed it. I was so busy getting DD ready for school and every time I went shopping she was with me so I couldn't browse in comfort. I ended up going to the mall on September 1st when she was back at school and the remaining selection was pitiful. In desperation I bought a week to a double page pocket diary but I never liked the landscape (sideways) layout. I like a book to read like a book. So a month later I bought another week to a double page pocket diary with portrait (upright) layout and its been ok. I mourned the velvety softback diaries in dusky lilac that I'd missed. A few weeks later this particular shop (Chanan in the Hadar Mall) gathered all the leftover diaries from a number of branches and my dream diary was back. But I couldn't bring myself to buy a third diary.

We went to London in December and I dragged DD round the shops looking at Filofaxes and other diaries for 2016. Luckily I saved myself the up to 80 pounds for the most all encompassing, beautifully finished, practically live-in Filofax when I realized that the weekly spread that I like starts on Monday in the UK whereas our weekends are Friday-Saturday and we go back to work on Sunday. The lack of Jewish holidays and National holidays was a minor irritation that I could have overcome easily but starting the new week at the end of each old week was not on. All that browsing for nothing. And you know how much I loved Filofax.

So with all that disappointment last year, I was so excited to see that the new September 2016 - September 2017 diaries are in the local shops already, and we're only halfway through June! This morning I made my pilgrimage to Chanan and with the full array of new diaries before me - I was disappointed.

Warning to all Israelis: Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) is late this year, falling on October 2nd. So some of the diaries don't start until October 1st. Others start on September 7th or 11th. WTF? How does that help when all the kids go back to school on September 1st and all activities and arrangements have to be made from that date?

There was a page a day diary where you write your own days and dates. The guy in the shop proudly showed me it and explained how it works. I might look stupid but wasn't too stupid to notice that the full year calendar on the front page was 2014 with two half pages for 2015 and 2016. The shop guy didn't think that was important. Idiot.

There are four options for week to a double page spread with upright layout (although not all of them starting on September 1st):
1. With a complete year chart.
2. With a page for each month with the days in a list.
3. With a month chart set out like a desk calendar with a square for each day.
4. With none of the above.
Is it too much to ask to have all of the above in one diary? Don't they know that people don't just have appointments anymore. We have goals and intentions, we have exercise schedules (well I don't) and food diaries, menu plans, scheduled blog posts, random ideas, lists.... They so don't have a clue.

Yes I know there's nothing in it
The only one that had everything was Filofax of course. But I realized that I've gone beyond Filofax. I don't need a zipped pocket, a place for credit cards, an address book, or those bulky ring binder centers. Sorry Filofax, it's not you it's me.

So I bit the bullet as it were. I bought a plain paper book to make my own bullet journal. For the uninitiated, a bullet journal is a personal diary that you create yourself, with space for all your aims, goals, and lists. Yes I know - far more opportunity to fail but that's half the fun in life, isn't it? For me the perfect diary is going to have a full year chart. Each month on one page with the days listed for planning the year. Before each new month there'll be a month chart and an empty page for shopping lists, menu plans, contact numbers, etc...

There was a dusky lilac softback book but it was a bit too big to fit in my bag and it didn't have enough pages. So I went with the turquoise. I can hardly wait to get my felt tip pens, ruler and pencils out and make a start.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #41 - Seven And A Half!

Selfie with selfie pose
DD: Mummy? I have a question. You get an egg from a chicken, But the chicken is born from an egg. So which came first the chicken or the egg?
Me: That's a very good question.

DD (excitedly): What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?
Me (entering into the spirit): I don't know, what time is it when an Elephant sits on your fence?
DD: (barely able to contain her laughter): Time to get a new fence!
Me: Oh Hahahahahahaha, how funny!
DD: Get it? Time to get a new fence.
Me: I got it.
DD; Yes because if an elephant sits on your fence you have to get a new one because he's so heavy he breaks your fence. Get it?
Me: I got it. It's very funny.
DD: Yes it is, isn't it? (Goes off muttering and giggling to herself...) Time to get a new fence, hahaha, it's time to get a new fence, hahaha.

Selfie with artwork
During reading practice I apparently became too impatient and was telling her too many words before she had time to work them out.
DD: Don't help me, I know these words! Stop helping me before I'm ready! I'll tell you when I need help, ok? Now be quiet unless I tell you!
Me: Ok, sorry.
DD: The ...... um ...... the ...... help.

Selfie with  more art work
Waking up one morning on the kibbutz.
DD: Wakey wakey!
Me (knowing it was futile to try to get some more sleep): Ok, I'm getting up. (3 minutes later when I'm halfway dressed) Are you getting up then?
DD: zzzz zzzz (soft snoring from beneath the duvet).

Last week I told DD it was her half birthday and now she's really 7 1/2. Since then she's been telling me at every opportunity.
Me: Stop when you get to the road.
DD: I know. You don't have to tell me these things. I'm 7 1/2 you know!
Me: Don't go near the stove that pan is spitting a bit.
DD: I am 7 1/2 you know. You don't have to tell me.
Me: Bedtime.
DD: I'm 7 1/2, I know myself  when I'm tired.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Allsorts

A hotchpotch this week as time is running away from me atm. But it gets better from next week. Read on for details....

I finished teaching in school for the summer. Even though school officially ends on June 31st, I am paid by a charity foundation that gives extra teaching hours to schools that take on difficult or innovative projects and they only pay according to university dates. So I'm free from next week. Less money of course, but it costs nothing to read a book and take a nap in the afternoon right?

My 5th grade girls made a goodbye party for us. They remembered that I once told them I was trying not to eat processed sugar so they made a fruit salad instead of a cake. (More about this next week.)

I bought a headboard for my bed. It was the cheapest one going, Basically it's just a wide plank of wood screwed onto the bedframe. But it make all the difference between having a teenage or student bed (albeit a double) and having a grown up bed.

DD made a water cooler (without the cooler part) in her Young Scientist Club. She took the photos herself. It might not be a cooler but it's very cool.

We are going to stay with our friends on their kibbutz for the festival of Pentecost (Shavuot - Weeks) which is a long weekend this year as it falls the day after Shabbat.

Linking up with R2BC over at Lakes Single Mum. Have a great weekend everyone. Chag Shavuot Sameah and Ramadan Kareem to those that do.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Doggy People Who Don't Get It

These are goats not dogs. I like goats. 
I'm often told that you have to be dog person or an animal person to understand.... whatever it is under discussion about dogs and other pets. I agree and I get it that some people love dogs in a way that I have no concept of. What I don't get is how some animal people have zero sensitivity to those who don't love animals or, and this is particularly offensive it seems, are scared of them in certain situations.

It all started when I left my apartment for a meeting at college and got as far as the second floor (I live on the third). There was an unaccompanied  golden labrador on the second floor landing. I quickly retreated back to my apartment and went into action. I have no problem with dogs in the street or those bounding round the park. I have no problem with dogs with their owners. But I'm scared of an unknown dog barring my way on the stairs in case they feel trapped and/or are angry or upset.

First I called the Police who told me to call the Municipality. The Municipality said they'd take 4 hours to get there. I tried a couple of neighbours but no one was in. So I turned to my trusty friend Facebook.

As a friend PMed me - Blimey, some people are mental.

A big thank you to those who offered to help and gave virtual support and there were many who did. Someone posted the number of the JSPCA (our RSPCA) and the lady there was going to send someone to get the dog. Then my 80yo neighbour left her apartment to go out. With no fear at all she walked right past the dog and out onto the street. The dog followed her out.

Meanwhile another neighbour saw the fb post and sent her husband round to rescue me. The dog had gone but he walked me out of the building just in case. I called the JSPCA lady back and she was quite upset that we'd let the dog go. And did I know where it was now? Seriously?

This all happened four hours ago and the thread on fb is still going strong. 80 comments, loads of replies to comments and over 20 reactions (likes, etc) so far. The original post was shared for others to have a good laugh over - I'm happy to provide entertainment. In fact I'm laughing even as my Klout score hits the roof but as I said before - Blimey, some people are mental. Here are a few of my favourite replies which are outstanding in their unnecessariness,

Help! I'm trapped in my house! There is a golden labrador with a collar sitting on the stairwell and I'm scared to leave the house. He doesn't belong to anyone in our building. He's not barking just sitting there. I called the Police and they said call the Iriya. The Iriya said it could take them 4 hours to send someone! If any doggy person is near Kibbutz Galuyot street, Baka and can help me leave the house please pm me.

First Prize: This is ridiculous and hysterical, I can't believe it! It's like being afraid of a mouse.
Like · Reply · 3 · 2 hrs

Rachel Selby Is there anything you're scared of? I hope not because others aren't scared of that thing so that makes you ridiculous.
Unlike · Reply · 6 · 2 hrs

I don't think I would call emergency numbers and cry for help because of a completely irrational fear.
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Yael Stekel Gabbai Sorry but most phobias are irrational it doesn't mean we have to belittle them
Unlike · Reply · 8 · 2 hrs

I know that, and I don't want to offend anyone. But this reaction is completely exaggerated. Sometimes it helps against phobias when other people put things into proportion.
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Ilana Trachtenberg it's exactly like being afraid of a mouse - haven't you ever seen someone who's terrified of mice?
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Rachel Selby Eliana,There was no hysteria or crying just frustration that I had a meeting to get to and I felt trapped. I called anyone who might be able to help. It's called being pragmatic. Nothing like hysteria. Two replies with the numbers of JSPCA and from my neighbour who came round would have sufficed. All the perceived hysteria was whipped up by you and others getting all hot under the collar about it. Relax, it's all over.

Second Prize: Rachel Selby Thanks everyone. My 80yo neighbour went out and the dog followed her into the street (it's not her dog). Then Michael Simons came to rescue me but the dog was gone. The Lady from the JSPCA was upset that we let it get away. David Ilan needs to get a hobby. People who said it was ridiculous to be scared of a dog are obviously not scared of anything themselves so have no idea what it feels like. And I am safely at work (although not actually working yet obviously). Big thank you to all who offered help and virtual support.

Your 80 year old neighbor must be very brave 😉
Like · Reply · 4 · 1 hr

Rachel Selby She is, she survived the Nazis, she fought in in the War of Independence, she brought up her kids during the years of austerity. I am not a fraction of her character.
Like · Reply · 3 · 1 hr · Edited

don't underrate yourself. And I like my hobby of posting cute pics of puppies just fine 😉
Like · Reply · 1 hr

dont be an ass david
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Third Prize: Glad that the problem has resolved itself. Hopefully the dog hasn't got run over
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Rachel Selby Hopefully. I don't keep animals in captivity so I have no idea what its chances are.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Fourth Prize: I think this was the experience that you needed...maybe now you can get some help with your fears. Good luck
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Rachel Selby I'm not scared of dogs outside or with their owners. But a strange dog scrabbling at my door - I'm not going to find out if it's safe or not.
Like · Reply · Just now · Edited

I understand this. But know that most dogs can smell fear...if you act scared..they know. You should still seek help in your ability to remain calm in simular situations.
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Fifth Prize: you're not stuck in your apartment. you're choosing to stay in your apartment. its a golden, not a T-rex.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr

Rachel Selby If you are scared of something you are stuck. It's a figure of speech. Obviously if the house was on fire I'd have run out and never mind the dog. Don't worry about it, it takes some sensitivity to understand.
Unlike · Reply · 2 · 39 mins · Edited

 I'm fresh out of that, but have you heard of therapy dogs? they are sensitive.
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Don't forget rescue dogs!!!
Last known surviving 9/11 search and rescue dog laid to rest

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Rachel Selby I'm not oblivious of sensitive dogs. It's insensitive people I don't understand.
Like · Reply · 1 · 38 mins

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vegan And Juicing, Information And Misinformation

Since starting this clean eating I've read a lot and learned a lot. I've also got a lot of questions and reactions from people who at the least know what I know but seem to assume that I've not read all the same popular articles as they have about the subject. Why is that? (Real scientists not included in this observation.) So here is what I've learned.

1. The most annoying question is: are you going vegan for health or ethical reasons? You have to know why you are doing it. However it's not just a case of picking one of the five stock answers: health, weight loss, ethical (grain going to cows instead of starving people in Africa), environmental (CO2 emissions from cows and water resources used), animal welfare. It's never either/or, it's a mixture of all of them and some more important than others according to your individual circumstances. I gave my reasons here.

2. Since then I've switched to juices rather than smoothies because it felt like I was liquidizing my salads for no good reason, juices are far more refreshing and they do also contain fibre (especially with my cheap juicer) just less. Also a 'fast' in this context doesn't mean nothing else, it means substituting some meals for juices.

3. Labels will do you in. In popular agreement vegan seems to mean a holistic approach to not using animal products for anything - no honey, no leather, no wool. Whereas a plant based diet is only eating plants without any judgements on wearing leather or wool. The purists are not interested in pesco vegan or flexi vegan. Apparently this gives them a bad name and makes it harder for them to argue their case. So unless you are 100% committed, don't even go there. Make up your own name. Personally I have no problem with honey or wool and I'm leaning towards eating fresh unprocessed fish rather than relying on foods fortified with artificial vitamin B12 or taking a supplement.

4. Environmental vegans have a problem most of them don't even know about. Crops grown on the scale we need to feed the world population need fertilising. The fertiliser used is either from animal waste or made from fossil fuels. Either way you're screwed. Otoh, show me a regular vegan (not an off-grid-living extreme vegan) who won't go on holiday by plane or even use the petrol it takes to run a car. So we're all making compromises just by living in the 21st Century. Get over it.

5. Plant based diets are all about health. There is very little scientific evidence (if any) that a 100% plant based diet is the key to good health. I firmly believe that a mainly plant based diet and cutting way down on (or even cutting out) processed sugar, dairy, added salt and chemically enhanced processed foods will vastly increase your chances of being healthy. I don't think a moderate amount of unprocessed meat, fish or eggs will harm you. I would also keep wheat down so not too much bread or pasta but ok to enjoy moderately. I'm basing this personal conclusion on a revisit to Forks Over Knives after being alerted to various ploys of mis-information used in the film. You can read a full critique here  but keep an open mind as this writer gets a little over enthusiastic in debunking everything that moves in the movie, some of which is legit.

6. Mis-information in Forks Over Knives. The original documentary is no longer available on You Tube but you can find the extended interviews which is all the 'science' without the cartoons. Here is the bottom line as I see it.

a. A western diet is not only a meat eating diet. The western diet is rightly (imo) blamed for bad health and specifically for conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, allergies, some auto-immune diseases, obesity, joint problems, some cancers, and much more. This is probably true and there is scientific research to back this up. However, they keep confusing meat eating with a western diet. Research that shows how a western diet that is detrimental to good health includes too much wheat (bread, pasta, and pastry), too much sugar, too much salt, and too much vegetable fat - all vegan and plant based. By interchanging the two terms they deliberately confuse and the conclusions make no sense.

b. The China Study. This study looked at the health of the population of China according to province. They found that the rural areas where a traditional rice based diet was eaten, resulted in the healthiest population. Where people had switched to eating a more western diet (although the doctors are being interviewed specifically about animal protein) they started to suffer from all the chronic illnesses and cancers that are prevalent in the west. What they left out was that the people in rural areas also eat some dairy, meat, and eggs in moderate amounts. Doesn't every farmer have a goat and some hens? They probably also eat less as they don't have access to fast food.They also forgot to mention that the western diet includes all the unhealthy stuff mentioned above. And that the industrial areas where the western diet has become more popular is also more polluted and the jobs tend to be more sedentary.

c. The doctor who saw the second and third generations of Filipinos in Hawai slide into ill health and obesity as their traditional Philippines diet was abandoned for a western diet didn't mention that they also ate a lot of fish in The Philippines and some meat. That the new western diet saw a switch from other grains to an enormous amount of bread, and an enormous jump in the amount sugar and salt being eaten. And the access to fast food as opposed to home cooked meals only which means they're eating far more. All crucial to the equation I would think.

d. The Norway Effect. There is a sensational graph showing how when the Nazis invaded Norway in 1939 they confiscated all animal livestock for themselves. Hardly any meat or dairy was available to the Norwegians from this time until the end of the war. The graph shows a drastic drop in death by heart attacks and stroke, and a dramatic rise once the war was over. The graph looks very dramatic but if you look at the actual numbers they have a scale of 20 - 30 on the y-axis and the actual number of deaths from these diseases fell by 6 or 7 deaths per 10,000 people. The article I linked to above made a big thing of only 6 people not dying from the change in diet which was annoying because there were 3,000,000 people in Norway at the time so the actual number was around 2,000 after five or six years of reduced meat and dairy diets. 2,000 people a year is not insignificant and worth further research. My point is - have you seen the amount of coastline in Norway? It is inconceivable that they did not continue to fish and eat animal protein from the sea. And again, the lack of food during those years means people just ate less of everything which has also been linked to better health.

So there you have it. This is what I've learned. I am very happy to discuss all the above in comments here or on fb but I bet (as is always the case) most of my answers will be - please read the blog post this point is covered. Serious discussion, observation, opinion, experience, and even correction, is welcome.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Jerusalem Day

DD on the right with the orange T-shirt

DD had her outing for Jerusalem Day which is traditionally a tour of part of Jerusalem and a different part each year. This year they ended up in Park Teddy for a splashing good time. 

College teaching finished for the summer. School (for me) finishes next Wednesday. There's still loads of work to do for college - admin, grading online courses, setting up the summer online course, meeting individually with students for their final grade. But it's all flexi-time work that I can do at my convenience. 

We are going to to stay with friends on their kibbutz for the long holiday weekend of Shavuot (Pentecost) next week. 

The splash fountains in Park Teddy, Jerusalem

I'm linking up with R2BC over at Lakes single Mum. Welcome back to hosting Becky!