Leopard vs Mosquito

June 3, 2007 - 10:40 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Israeliness, Life 

Nice to see the Leopard story getting print mileage around the world.

Here’s a nice take on the story from www.kentucky.com, the Lexington Herald-leader:

Leopard breaks into house, gets neutralized

In Israel, a man clad only in underwear and a T-shirt wrestled a wild leopard to the floor and pinned it for 20 minutes after the cat leaped through a window and hopped into bed with his sleeping family.

“This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day,” said Arthur Du Mosch, 49, a nature guide.

Raviv Shapira of the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority said leopards living near humans usually are too old to hunt in the wild and resort to chasing down domestic dogs and cats for food. Du Mosch’s pet cat was in the bed with him at the time, along with his young daughter, who had been frightened by a mosquito in her own room.

Next time my children complain about a mosquito in their room, I’ll tell them: “At least it isn’t a leopard.”

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Incy wincy spider

May 18, 2007 - 8:01 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: General, Life 

Found a huge spider in the garden yesterday. People always say they’ve seen enormous spiders, but this one was big. With it’s legs and body, it was almost the size of my fist.
It had made its web in amongst my rose geranium bush, and sat there in the middle looking dangerous. It had a sleek yellow body with black stripes running across it, and stripy brown and black legs. I’d never anything like that in Israel before.
There was something about the way it sat there that worried me. So still and confident. So poised. So… deadly. And it was just outside the window of the children’s bedroom.

My son’s metapelit came out into the garden.
“Ooh,” she said, peering at it from a safe distance. “You’ve got to get rid of that. That’s poisonous. That’s definitely not a good spider.”

She came to me a little bit later in the day.
“I went to kill that spider,” she said. “But when I got there I saw how beautifully he’d made his web and I just couldn’t do it. It was such a lovely web.”

When my husband came home I told him about the spider. “He’s huge,” I said.
He eyed me dubiously.
We went out to the garden, and since it was late and dark I took a torch and shone it at the web.
“Yoh!” said my husband, taking a step back. “He is big.”
He went to the shed to look for tools and came out brandishing anti-cockroach spray.
“That’s not going to kill him, he’ll just mutate into something worse,” I said.
“I haven’t finished yet,” he answered and went to the house for a lighter.
“There!” said my husband as he aimed the spray at the spider and lit the lighter. A huge plume of flame hit the web and the spider disappeared.
“He’s gone,” he said with satisfaction. “I saw that in a movie.”

This morning I went back to check if I could find the spider’s body. As I rounded the corner I saw it. Right back in the centre of it’s ruined web. Horribly alive. And it looks angry.
Anyone know what kind of spider this is?

Packed in at Rabin Square

May 4, 2007 - 5:46 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Life, Politics, War 

When my son Daniel got home from school yesterday, I told him we were going to take him to last night’s demonstration against Olmert in Tel Aviv.
I’d prepared a little speech about Olmert, the Lebanon War, and the various corruption scandals. He’s only nine. I wasn’t sure he even knew who Olmert was.
“Oh mummy I know all that,” he said.
“How do you know?”
“All my friends have been talking about it since the start.”
“Okay,” I said, impressed anew by the political awareness of children in Israel.
“Didn’t he also do something bad with a woman who wasn’t his wife?” Daniel then asked.
“Eh. No. It wasn’t him. But close. It was the president, Moshe Katzav -  someone else who refused to quit despite everyone asking him to.”
So we went to the rally. We were late, and I was worried we’d miss the main part of it. I was wrong, however. Even some distance away the streets were full of people walking to the demonstration in Rabin Square.
The taxi driver complained the whole way, clearly put out that the streets around the square had been closed off. “So many queues, we’ll never get there. It’ll take us half an hour just to get down Alozorov.” He grumbled the whole way through the city, even though it only took about 15 minutes in the end.
The large square was full to bursting, crammed tight with people who had come out, like us, despite the oppressive heat – 30 degrees – and occasional showers of hot, dirty rain.
People were carrying placards, and had stickers plastered across every conceivable surface of their bodies.
What impressed me most was how mixed the crowd was. We squeezed our way towards the middle, to a spot that was slightly less packed, and watched the rally. Behind us were two orthodox families with their children, to our right a man with long dreadlocks, to the left a party of conservative pensioners fanning themselves with leaflets calling for politics without politicians, and in front a young couple with a dog.  I think it was the first time I’ve ever been to a rally attended by such a varied crowd.
We stayed for awhile, listened to the speeches and singing, clapped at the slogans, and when it got too hot retired to a nearby café for a cold coffee. Others had the same idea. The pavement café’s were packed with people attending the rally in comfort.
When Daniel started yawning, we called it a day. Even as we left, more people were coming. Students arriving from Tel Aviv University decked out in red T-shirts, and singing and dancing.
“I’m glad I made the effort to come,” said my friend, Revital, who had decided to come with us at the last moment. “I couldn’t sit back and let this go on anymore. I would have been ashamed of myself. There’s been so much corruption, so much appalling behavior by our politicians. They think they aren’t accountable. I’ve just had enough.”
It was clearly a thought that had motivated many of the others at the rally.
As for Daniel? “I’m tired mummy, can we go home.”

Back to Rabin Square

May 3, 2007 - 11:28 AM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Life, Politics, War 

My husband and I are off to the demonstration in Tel Aviv against Ehud Olmert tonight.  

I haven’t been to a rally since the night Rabin died. What a night that was. I was pregnant with my first son. When we got there the police were turning people back because the square was already so full. Some 300,000 people were crammed in, all of them demonstrating for peace. We climbed up to a roof overlooking the square and watched the rally from above. It was so inspiring, so exciting. There was a real genuine feeling that Israel could achieve peace and that this is what the people wanted. We came away exhilarated and drove round to see friends afterwards. The moment we walked in, they told us Rabin had been shot. We were watching the TV news when they announced he was dead. 

I will never forget that evening. It was as if a close relative had died. We sat with our friends long into the night discussing what might happen next to Israel without Rabin to lead us. The sad thing is that even when we discussed the worst-case scenarios, they didn’t come close to what has actually happened in Israel since Rabin died. The intifada, bombing campaigns, the fighting in Gaza, missiles in Sderot, and yes the Second Lebanon War. 

The Lebanon war was a shambles that dishonored us. As Ari Shavit writes in Ha’aretz: 

The Israeli public is the real hero of the past decade. It supported the bold peace process of 2000. It overcame the massive terrorist offensive of 2001-2004. It supported Ariel Sharon’s efforts to reduce the occupation in 2005. It withstood the Katyusha attacks of Hezbollah against the North in the summer of 2006.

 Over six years of difficult challenges, the Israeli public exhibited maturity and responsibility. It did not get carried away by extremism or defeatism, it did not become delusional or despondent. Lacking an inspiring leadership, it defended its home. It developed a vibrant economy under conditions of conflict, and a stable, normal day-to-day routine despite the constant threats. Even when the State of Israel failed, the Israeli public showed its mettle.

But this last year, the Israeli public failed: It did not manage to impose its views on its government.”

So tonight is the night. It’s time we all stood up and said “Enough!” We are decent, honorable people and we deserve a decent, honorable government. 

One that can achieve peace too preferably. 

Hope to see you there.  ???

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Of spiders, Viagra, and bending the truth

May 1, 2007 - 3:10 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General 

Why let the truth spoil a good story, right?
I read a fascinating piece recently in the mass selling Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Aharanot, about a doctor who is researching spider venom as a cure for male impotency. The story headlined ‘Spider venom to replace Viagra’ reported that the sexual health clinic of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa is conducting a study intended to determine whether toxins secreted by spiders can improve male sexual performance.
The study was launched, so the article reported, after researchers discovered that men bitten by spiders experienced unusually prolonged erections.
Hmm, I thought, this will make a great story.
So I rang up the doctor in charge of the study.
Dr. Ilan Gruenwald sounded bemused.
“Well there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that spider bites from three spiders can cause prolonged erection, but we aren’t involved in any studies on it,” he said.
“You aren’t carrying out research on patients at Rambam?”
“No. We aren’t doing work on it anywhere. I just mentioned it in passing at a conference. The information in the article was 95% fiction. I don’t know where the journalist came up with it.”
I looked back at the article, which also appeared in the newspaper’s web site http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3387228,00.html. “Senior urologist, Dr. lan Gruenwald… has recently approached several pharmaceutical companies and invited them to participate in studies on the subject. A few of the firms have already shown great interest in the new research,” it said authoritively.
“I’ve had calls from all over the world,” complained Dr. Gruenwald. “It’s an interesting theory and maybe we will study it as part of our work, but we aren’t doing anything now.”
Piece of fiction or not, this story has been doing the rounds worldwide, making headlines in newspapers as far afield as India, Germany, South Africa (Black widow spider rises to the occasion), Australia, Taiwan, Egypt (Impotent? Black widow to the rescue) and even the United Arab Emirates.
Like so many stories, no-one bothered to check if it was true.
“You’ve got to really think about what you’re reading in the press,” said Dr. Gruenwald. “It’s really shocking.
“Still one good thing came out of it,” he added. “You can’t find a single spider in Rambam hospital. The hospital is completely spider free.”
I suppose in the meantime anyone really desperate to try this remedy can go about it the old fashioned way – look for a Black Widow.

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