Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book reading

A recent Pew research article on book reading in the USA showed that the more educated, wealthy, urban, white, and female you are, the more likely you are to have read a book in the last year.

Of current interest, and concern, is which US presidents do (or did) not read books. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.  All Republicans, go figure.

From the magazine Foreign Policy:

How does the Deep State intelligence community communicate with president Trump?  In language he understands, by sending him tweets, for example:

"Fat Kim Jong Un launches an ICBM.  Apologize!"
"India and Pakistan trade shots across the line of control.  Losers!"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Air Travel

There are about 7,400 million people in the world today and one million are in the air at any moment of time. That is about 5000 commercial planes.

See https://www.flightradar24.com

I live in a bubble and maybe spend 1% of my time in the air, 90 hours a year, way above average.

And 4% of my time in a vehicle, which is close to average for the USA. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Caesarea Maritima and Sebastos Harbor

Caesarea is on the Mediterranean coast midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Under the rule of Herald the Great, 73 CE - 4 BCE, the Roman city and harbor of Caesarea were built. This was a stretch of coastline with no natural harbors.

At that time the harbor ranked as the largest artificial harbor built in the open sea. Evidence of the harbor remains today, and the Hippodrome is still in use for racing.

See the mosaic picture so close to the sea.  How could this have survived 2000 years?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Safed - an artist colony

Safed is in the far north of Israel near the border with Lebanon

One of the many galleries
Street art 1
Street art 2
Hot cider and pomegranate 
Most people live in high rise apartments
Off season, not much going on
Weapons and Puppies was closed, but they have a website

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Beit She’an Roman Settlement

Just south of Tiberius is a well preserved Roman settlement.

The Roman road, the smooth clean stones are new, to show what remains of the original in its correct place

Mosaic detail

Earthquake damage left in place

Underground heating system

Tired of the pretty mosaics, they resurfaced the floor with marbleEither side of the road was a wide mosaic walkway 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shrine of the Book

Part of the Israeli Museum that houses some of the dead sea scrolls.

This building is designed to look like one of the lids from a jar that contained the dead sea scrolls. Strangely the scrolls survived 2,000 years due to the low humidity of the desert, but are housed today in a building continuous sprayed with water.

One descends down inside the building, and then further underground. The interior is dark, with displays of real samples of the dead sea scrolls, very large clay jars, and other artifacts.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mount Avital and Mount Bental Nature Reserve

The sign reads, "The reserve is situated on the ash cone whose western side was swept away by a lava flow. Unique woodland species of the Rose family grow here, including Syrian pear (Pyrus syriaca), bear's plum (Prunus ursine), Mediterranean hawthorn (Crataegus azarolus), spiny hawthorn (Crataegus aronia), and dog rose (Rosa canina), as well as sumach (Rhus coriaria), and various species of oak and terebinth.  The woodland and open area around it are a habitat for a variety of mammals and birds."

But this is the Golan Heights, land taken from Syria during the six-day war, and still manned by the UN.  It overlooks Syria.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center - Jerusalem

This is the best designed, purpose built museum I have ever visited. The building inside is a long triangular corridor, it slopes downhill, with exhibition halls off to each side, you cannot walk the length of the corridor, there are displays across it, which divert you into the next side room.

If you ever visit Jerusalem go see this, it is profound. Spend only an hour, you will be on emotional overload. If you can, go back later.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Good places to eat in Israel

Tel Aviv beach

Jerusalem - Falafel wrap

Jerusalem - Near the Western Wall - betweenthearches.co.il

Toronto Airport (well only 10 hours away from Israel) - They have nice areas to wait at the gate, iPad for ordering food and playing games, place to charge your toys and read the newspaper

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The strangeness of Shabbath

Israel is a secular country, but at the hotel on Saturday, the Jewish holy day, the push-button coffee machines were covered over and the milk machine unplugged. The carafes and milk pitcher are usable.

The hotel has two elevators, on Saturday the Shabbath Lift runs up and down automatically stopping at every floor.  Button pushing is forbidden on Saturday.  Seems the writers of the torah think button pushing is work.

In Texas we are down to one strangeness, one cannot buy alcohol on Sunday before noon, but we can push buttons.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trip to Bethlehem

It was raining, windy, and cold. The bus left our hotel and headed south the short distance into the West Bank. We passed through the wall and security in to the Palestinian territory, as we were a tour bus we did not need to show our passports.

Israel has graffiti, but the West Bank has litter too. One can recognize Israeli buildings, they have white water tanks on the roof, the Palestinians have black water tanks.

After a few minutes the bus parked inside a huge grim multi-story car park, and we had the walk downhill to the "Church of the Nativity" in the rain. The guide directed us to use a small opening in the church wall, we never did find out why we did not use the front door.

We were glad to be out of the weather, looked  up, and saw scaffolding!  They are short of money and the repairs have been ongoing since 2013.

Below ground level is the site where they believe Jesus was born, designated with a silver star. People sat by it and had their pictures taken. What I took to be the head priest appeared and he was angry with the noise and the crowds. What did he expect?

Meanwhile, the weather had deteriorated and outside it was hailing. The guide said he could not call the bus to collect us, so we trekked up the hill in driving rain past the smiling faces of Yasser Arafat and Mahmood Abbas.

An unforgettable trip.


The guide said he was the private guide for Mike Pence for a 5-hour visit last year.  Mike Pence was probably looking for his soul, he wanted to repurchase it.