This and That

Random bits of my life

Hutzot Hayotzer 2014: Flamenco Natural

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 14, 2014

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Flamenco Natural, led by Sharon Saguy, appeared on the small stage of Hutzot Hayotzer (Jerusalem International Arts & Crafts Festival), May 11, 2014. Flamenco is quite popular in Israel. If I were tall, skinny, and blessed with excellent coordination, I’d sign up for classes immediately. <sigh!> Flamenco is beautiful to watch and tricky to photograph without a tripod.

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A Dear Friend’s Loss

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 10, 2014

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I don’t know how many of you know Pam Harris, who has been like a mother to so many craft bloggers around the world. She was tireless in her encouragement and support of novice bloggers. She was my first photography mentor and gave me so much advice and encouragement over the years.

Her dear husband of 25 years, Kirby Harris, died suddenly of a heart attack. Kirby was a very special guy, a great photographer with a wonderful sense of humour. Sadly, he had no life insurance, so Pam has been left with a lot of expenses. Her daughter Diane (of CraftyPod) has set up a fund to help defray costs. So if you knew Pam and have lost touch with her, I’m sure she’d appreciate a note or a donation.

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Life Goes On

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 10, 2014

Iron Dome, Jerusalem

This is a photo of one of the Iron Dome systems, taken from a window at work. It’s on a hillside in the valley near Ramot. I’ve never seen it in action, but I’ve heard it on the one occasion when I was at work during a missile attack.

Life goes on–ceasefire, rockets, ceasefire, rockets….

I’m slowly recovering from the whooping cough. I can do most things (including running) but occasionally I have a few nights of disrupted sleep and that wreaks havoc with my system, so it’s a long process of ups and downs. The coughing is still there but not as bad as three weeks ago.

The good news is that it looks like Hutzot haYotzer (Jerusalem International Arts & Crafts Fair) will be starting tomorrow as planned. (You should be very happy, Debbie!) I checked the Jerusalem Municipality site for the prices. Adult admission, including the concert, is 65 NIS. For the crafts fair alone, it’s 50 NIS. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a separate price, but they only started enforcing crowd control of the concert venue last year.

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Ten Things You May Not Know about Whooping Cough

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 23, 2014

I’ve learned some interesting things about whooping cough (pertussis):

1.   Childhood immunization does not continue into adulthood.

So now you folks can stop asking me, “Weren’t you immunized as a child?” A CDC study suggests that immunity only lasts for 3-6 years. Adults can get the Tdap (pertussis and tetanus) vaccine.

2.   Pertussis is highly contagious.

When an infected person coughs, tiny bacteria-carrying droplets are sprayed into the air and inhaled by people nearby. Mom was right: cover your mouth when you cough.

3.   The contagious state is estimated to be 3 weeks from infection by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria (although that is difficult to pinpoint because pertussis can be preceded by a respiratory infection and has an incubation period of 7-10 days) or 5 days after start of antibiotic treatment.

4.   Antibiotics do not shorten the duration of the illness, unless administered very early, but they do stop its spread.

If you are infected, it’s a good idea for other family members to receive prophylactic antibiotics.

5.   Over-the-counter medications aren’t very effective.

I found thyme tea to be helpful in suppressing the cough and expectorants, for getting rid of the, er, gunk. Antihistamines, codeine, and commercial cough remedies did not help me.

6.   Pertussis declined in the US in the 1940s, when the vaccine was introduced, but has been increasing since the ’80s (reasons unknown).

7.   Pertussis is also called  the 100-day cough. It can stop after three weeks but it can last for months.

8.   Pertussis is very difficult to diagnose.

During the initial catarrhal stage, it is often mistaken for cold, bronchitis, flu, allergies, and asthma. The second stage, paroxysmal coughing, is when the characteristic “whoop” (gasp for breath between coughs) may appear in 50% of adults who are infected. Pertussis is very difficult to culture in a lab, so the most common test is a seriological test for pertussis antibodies, which isn’t very accurate (only shows that you were exposed).

9.   Severe coughing can cause broken ribs, disrupted sleep, abdominal pain, fainting, vomiting, and incontinence.

No joke. You may think thyme tea sounds disgusting but if you have ever had a night disrupted by several bouts of coughing and gasping, you’d be willing to swallow anything just to get a good night’s sleep.

10.  Pregnant women are advised to get the Tdap vaccine to protect their infants.

The vaccine is safe during pregnancy. On the other hand, pertussis can be fatal to infants and many of the babies who contract pertussis were too young to vaccinate. So this piece of advice seems sound and is on the CDC site below.

For more information:

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War and Whooping Cough

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 20, 2014

Summer ... another war

I haven’t blogged lately because I’ve been too busy with the war in Gaza and the war with whooping cough. My husband caught pertussis first, gave it to me, so we’re both coughing. I’ve learned some interesting things: childhood vaccinations against pertussis do not continue into adulthood. Pertussis can be difficult to diagnose because it starts out with cold-like symptoms and is easily mistaken for flu, asthma, bronchitis, and allergies. It is highly contagious and can be fatal to infants, so if you suspect that you have it (bad cough that goes on for weeks), go to your doctor. A three-day course of azithromycin will greatly shorten its duration and limit the contagion. You’ll still be coughing but not for as much as you would if you did nothing.

Here’s a cough remedy that is all over the Web. I found it helpful. It’s not too unpleasant to drink (like drinking a spicy vinaigrette) and it’s easy to make with kitchen ingredients. I wouldn’t give it to children, though. It’s too strong-flavoured for young palates and unpasteurized honey should never be given to young infants.

Cough Remedy

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine the ingredients in a jar, close, and shake. take by the teaspoon.

I refrigerate mine, but I’ve heard that it’s fairly stable at room temperature. I will also be trying thyme tea, as soon as I can get my husband to pick some up at the healthfood store or the shuk.

We’re slowly getting used to the state of being at war again. August is usually filled with events that we look forward to all year, like the International Arts & Crafts Fair, the Wine Festival at the Israel Museum, various concerts. Almost everything has been cancelled and won’t be rescheduled in the foreseeable future. :-(

One missile fell close to home. I was at work, getting ready to leave for the day, when the alarm sounded in Jerusalem. I grabbed my backpack and went into one of the internal staircases. I waited until I heard a couple explosions (Iron Dome intercepted two of the rockets) and then went out to catch the minibus. At the grocery store I ran into a neighbour who said that the siren had sounded in Maale Adumim, she heard a loud bang, and the ground shook. The rocket landed about a kilometer or two down the road. We’re not protected by the Iron Dome system.

Our son is halfway through his military service. We don’t see much of him these days. He works 12-hour shifts and tries to find time to call us every few days. I’m such a Jewish mother–I live on the top floor of a building that is about as well-constructed as a cardboard box; the other day I called him and demanded to know what the army was doing to keep him (and the other soldiers) safe. He reassured me that most of the time he works underground. During an air raid they all go underground. So even if my knitting goes up in a puff of smoke, at least my little boy is safe! Just kidding, folks. We hope this ends with as little loss of life as possible.

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Summer of Missiles

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 10, 2014

Bomb Shelter at work

They posted new signs at work so that we can find the bomb shelters. However, the one on our floor doubles as a travel agent’s office and it was much to crowded to enter when the siren sounded at 6 p.m. I went into the stairwell, waited until I heard a few loud booms and then went outside to catch the minivan home.

Four missiles were fired at Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. Two were shot down by the Iron Dome antimissile system and two fell into open areas. My husband was in a nearby store, buying wine for Shabbat. Someone said, “Is that a siren?” Everyone agreed, and continued what they were doing. When he got outside, a small crowd of people were photographing the missile being shot down with their cellphones.

For people in Jerusalem, missiles are a bit of a novelty, although we are well within striking distance of Gaza. By, the way, 96 missiles were fired at Israel today. The total, since Operation Protective Edge began, is 442. The majority of Israel’s citizens live within range of Hamas missiles. This article shows the range of the M-302 missile, relative to large cities in the US, Canada, and UK (What if Terrorists Could Shoot This Rocket at Your Country?). In our area, we have 90 seconds to get to shelter, which is a lot more time than most people (15-45 seconds), but doesn’t seem like very much time if you have to deal with scared children or pets.

We are trying to lead normal lives, although it does make some activities more difficult (a friend’s daughter who is getting married tonight had to find a new wedding hall yesterday because the hall they booked cancelled all its functions). Our local buses are targeted by stone-throwers and no one wants to risk a trip to the hospital for a dinner in town. My husband’s bus was stoned on his way home the other day but no one was injured. I feel safer at work than at home, because our building is a massive block of concrete. Our soldier son won’t be home this Shabbat. We’re not too concerned about his safety because he works in air force intelligence and that building is probably as well protected as any. I hope we all have a peaceful Shabbat.

Posted in Israel | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: “Garden of Dreams” and “Tower of Light”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 26, 2014

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“Garden of Dreams” (Jaffa Gate Plaza) and “Tower of Light” (Tzahal Square) are both by Luminarie De Cagna (Italy). Interestingly, De Cagna is an Italian family-run business that was founded in 1930. In those days they illuminated buildings for festive occasions with gas and carbide lights. Since 2006 they have only used LEDs for their installations, which, they stress, greatly reduces the electricity consumption of their lavish constructions.

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: “Circus of Light”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 26, 2014

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“Jerusalem Circus of Light” (Nuno Maya and Carole Purnelle, OCUBO, Portugal) is a clever video-mapping of the old Rothschild building in Batei Mahsei Square, Jewish Quarter. The installation starts with the familiar skyline of Jerusalem at night and turns it into a circus. I love how the architectural elements and cypress trees  are incorporated into the video. The collages of people applauding reminded me of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations.

I recorded a short video (bottom of posting) with a handheld camera.

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: “Control No Control” and “Don’t Give Up on the Light”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 26, 2014

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“Control No Control” (Daniel Iregui, Canada) is an interactive installation that reacts to touch. I found the heavy bass techno sound track a bit monotonous but the lighting effects were interesting.

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The array of hands touching the surface caught my attention, like a strange, multi-dexterous octopus playing the piano.

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“Don’t Give Up on the Light” (Shelly Bin Nun, Israel) is a clever sculpture constructed of trash, casting a shadow of Jerusalem landmarks.

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The use of cut-outs to create the illusion of three dimensions is clever. For example, the highlight on the Dome of the Rock is created by cutting a piece out of a plastic disposable plate.

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: Cosmogole and Daisy

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 19, 2014

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“Cosmogole” (Philippe Morvan, France) in the foreground, left. “Daisy” (Franck Pelletier, Studio En Attendant, France) on the right. The first photo was not easy, because “Cosmogole” and “Daisy” have cycles of dark/light, because I wanted the bright spotlights to be lit for a starburst effect, and because too long an exposure would cause the bright “Gate of Dreams” (center, back) to be completely washed out. It would have been nice to catch “Cosmogole” at a slightly brighter moment in its cycle, but that might not have been possible.

From above, on the walkway by Old City wall:

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Now the center ball is well-lit, but the bright spotlights aren’t on. In this exposure, the “Gate of Dreams” is starting to look washed out. Combining installations in the same frame always requires compromises!

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“Daisy” was fun to photograph but you had to catch it at a good time in the cycle and fiddle with the shutter speed. This shot was taken with a tripod. If you want to know the technical details, click the photo to go to the Flickr page. The aperture was f/32 because I was trying to get a starburst effect while photographing “Cosmogole” and hadn’t changed it to something more normal. OTOH, it sure compresses the depth of field! The “Palace of Dreams” is quite far behind the “Daisy.”

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The last shot was actually hand-held (.5 second exposure), which I don’t recommend unless you have really steady hands and a way to brace your camera.

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