Archive | November 2013

One incredibly smart blind cat

For more than a year now, twice a day I open a tin of wet food and shut Little Mouse and the food in the toilet room together as the wild, jealous herd of other cats crouch outside the door. They mill, cry plaintively, and scratch at the door. After about 15 minutes, I grab Mischa and wade through the crowd of cats to open the door a crack and stuff him through so that he can eat the approximately half can that Mousie always leaves behind. He only needs about 2 minutes of private time with the food before he’s scarfed it all down. When Little Mouse’s gums get really bad between his steroid shots, I do this 3 and sometimes 4 times a day, depending on how much he can tolerate getting down and usually he only eats the juice around the food itself at that point.

In the last 2 weeks or so, however, the door has popped open after only 5 or so minutes of Mousie being shut in there. I’ll look up to see Mousie strolling across the living room floor and groan, knowing that Batya, Muffin, and Flossie at least are in there scarfing the food meant for Mischa and thinking they’d also chased the little blind Mouse away from his food. One of my cats clearly discovered how to jump up and hit the door handle to get the door open. From the outside, hitting the handle and with the press of the cats clustered outside the door would make it open quite easily.

I’ve just finished putting Mousie in with the fifth can of food today because the door was opened so quickly after getting him in there each time. This time I played goalie on the outside to keep whichever of my clever cats had learned this trick at bay. Pop, paw emerged, door opened a crack and out came Little Mouse. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine it was the blind cat who figured this out. Never did I think it was not only the blind cat but the blind cat opening it from inside the room –a much trickier trick to be sure.

Mousie may be blind as a bat but he clearly has Batcat skills. My little kitty superhero is too smart by half!


Remembering Arik Einstein

We’ve lost the greatest Israeli singer and musician ever (I don’t think there’d be much disagreement with that statement): Arik Einstein. His music spanned many genres but he was also a major pioneer of Israeli rock music. He is really the voice of the nation, the voice of Israeli musical history and Israeli society over decades. His music can’t be put into any one genre — he has songs that fall into and excels in literally every musical genre except opera over his musical career.

Probably my favourite of his songs (from 1980):

Another one of my most favourite of his songs is Ani v’ Ata (Me and You):

Here’s the English version he did of Time After Time (1970, from the very first Israeli rock music album):
I love this fun one (jump up and dance!) from 1974, Cafe Turkey:

Here’s the music video for She Kshe Navo (awesome) of Einstein’s, highlighting yet another genre:

And, of course, anyone who has ever been to a Yitzhak Rabin memorial knows this 1997 song Shalom Chaver:

My list of songs of his that are amazing and that I love could go on and on and ON.
Do you have a favourite Arik Einstein song?

My awesome purchase

I bought a tablet. Two months ago the really sweet and helpful girl who works at the school’s small bookstore told me that they’d be getting in a tablet that runs windows 8 and comes with a keyboard. I can’t afford a tablet but I really need one, especially one that runs microsoft office and has a hebrew-english keyboard. The laptop I had to buy last year had both the internal speakers and the switch to hebrew function go out the first week after I bought it. Not having the hebrew typing ability has been brutal — for instance, I’ve not been able to fill in the (many) electronic forms that would have seen me get approximately 6,000 sheks of my salary from last year. So, every week I’ve been checking by to see if they’d gotten it in, just to window-shop and admire it. I’d hoped to earn enough with tutoring to be able to semi-afford it but having that fall put paid to that idea.

When I checked in yesterday, there it was: A thing of beauty –an Asus Transformer. The tablet is 10.1 inches and is so light I couldn’t believe it. It is much lighter than a paperback book! Even with the mini keyboard you can attach to the tablet to so it becomes like a tiny laptop, it is feather light compared to my heavy and bulky laptop.

How much is it? I asked as I admired it. 2010 shekels — a 500 shek discount from a regular store. It is only 84 shekels a month if you buy it on the 24-month payment plan, the shop girl burbled and there is absolutely no interest on the payments. Really? Plus, it comes with Microsoft Office for students fully loaded and functional and that is an additional 530 shekel savings. Ok, I said, before I’d even had time to think it through. But nu, I can manage to find 84 sheks that can be shaved off my budget each month, especially when the spring garden starts to produce. The baby lettuce is just a few days from the first harvest and that should save me 5 sheks a week already. I’ve got loads of green onions growing and harvestable (they cost 10 sheks a bunch at the store). The collards will be ready in another 3-4 weeks. The aubergine are still blooming and it is just possible a couple more unexpected fruit will set and there are 5 unexpected sweet peppers already growing…yep, with the help of the garden I can certainly manage to shave off 84 sheks a month.

I’m waiting until tonight to set it up as my Changiving gift to myself. How exciting!

Happy Changiving!!!

Tomorrow night here in Israel we will celebrate the first night of Chanukah (I’ll be lighting candles with the little family next door and stuffing my face with latkes and sufganiot –homemade sufganiot, mind you, by my neighbour and that beat the pants off the ones you can get at the best bakery here if last year was anything to go by). The first actual day of Chanukah falls on Thursday, which is also the American holiday Thanksgiving. Folks in the U.S. are thus celebrating what they are calling Thanksgivvukah. Here, we have our priorities straight, rallying round the table for potato pancakes and jelly donuts (sufganiot) rather than a deceased bird, and so I’m calling the holiday this year Changiving. It definitely deserves a special name because Chanukah and Thanksgiving will not both fall on the same day for another 70,000 years. Yeah, this isn’t just a once in a lifetime experience but a once in tens of thousands of generations experiences. So enjoy your Turkey or Tofurkey and dude, definitely enjoy your jelly donuts, and consider that celebrating the miracle of Chanukah is something of a special miracle this year.

(I’ve got tons to blog about tomorrow: my new and exciting purchase that I totally can’t afford but really do need, my exciting bus ride home, politics, kvetches, and cats)

Canada vows to keep up sanctions against Iran “full force”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, said he was “deeply skeptical” of the newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran, adding that Canada’s sanctions will remain in “full force” against the country.

“We will evaluate the deal reached not just on the merits of its words but more importantly, on its verifiable implementation,” Baird said at a news conference in Ottawa on Sunday, according to CBC.

He said that because previous Iranian leaders had made hostile comments toward Israel, “we’re deeply skeptical of the deal and the work that’s brought us to this stage.”

Baird declared that Canada will maintain sanctions against Iran, including restrictions on financial transactions, a ban on bilateral trade (worth about $135 million) and no Iranian diplomatic representation in Canada. Read more

just me

While the world goes to hell in a handcart with Obamacare and Iran is our Friend advertisements on its sides, my day kinda went to …not hell… but stupor. I got up really early this morning with a list of stuff to get done as long as my arm. I rocked out in the early morning hours, slicing the list off up to the wrist.

I fed the outside kitties (I’ve got to catch the two garden babies in the next two weeks, get them spayed, and bring them inside), mopped and cleaned Tovi’s room and changed out her litter, and changed out 8 of the 9 litterboxes for the rest of the cats. I got the floor rug washed and two loads of laundry done. I recycled. I washed, sorted, and donated half of my tupperware containers, and mopped the kitchen, living room, bathroom and toilet room. I changed the sheets on the bed and changed the sofa coverings. Yesterday I’d sorted tons of papers and recycled two big (lawn leaf size) bags and today I managed to sort a bit more, recycling a small grocery bag worth, and organizing the keepers to get more organized later. Ahem.

Then the kiddo I was set to tutor late this afternoon called and cancelled. I was happy because that would give me more time to get stuff on my list done. I was extremely happy when I was able to sit cross-legged on my sofa for almost two straight hours without pain and get some grading done. This was actually pretty huge. The doctor had told me that what I needed to do was essentially no-sit, lay down rest for a month and perhaps more and not to sit for more than 15 minutes at a time if I really have to sit, not to push things and let pain be my guide. Obviously, with working, that whole lay down all the time thing hasn’t been possible but I have been laying down or standing/crouching/kneeling but not sitting as much as humanly possible. Last Monday-Wednesday were pretty brutal, both because work required that I needed to sit, and sit in a non-ok position, for way more time than I should have and needed to be on my feet standing or walking for more then 12 hours each day. I went almost 100% prone Thursday-yesterday (Thursday was non optional because I was so exhausted) and today the benefits of having done so were like a hallelujah moment.

Then, at 3:30 I paused my get stuff done mode and fixed two small baked potatoes with butter, salt, and levanah (kinda like sour cream) and…that was that. I don’t know if it was the potatoes that I ate in a reclining pose (Pesach in November!) or the Carl Sagan audiobook I put on to both entertain myself and try to learn something while I ate but I went out like a light. I slept for 6 hours straight and woke up convinced it was morning. I’ve got another load of laundry going, I’m hungry again, and after I eat something I’m going to go back to bed because I’ve got the Monday-Wednesday marathon coming up again.

Saudi Arabia Warns “We will not sit idly by” as Iran Develops Nukes

From ISN:

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK has declared the kingdom would not “sit idly by” if world powers fail to halt Iran’s nuclear program, reports Al Arabiya.

Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, who was speaking to the British Times, called the Obama administration’s “rush” to embrace Tehran as “incomprehensible.”

“We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region,” Prince Mohammed, who is Saudi King Abdullah’s nephew, said.

“Let’s just leave it there, all options are available,” he added, referring to possible defense plans made in response to Iran developing its nuclear capability.

Read more

Let’s just leave it there, all options are available…Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to get their own nukes. Saudi Arabia is in talks with Israel on a coordinated strike. Saudi Arabia has had some talks with Russia, China and some of the other Middle Eastern countries under Iran threat and wheels are turning. What is Israel doing? Well, let’s just leave it there, all options are available.