This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for March 28th, 2012

Wildflowers on Mount Carmel

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2012

Thistle silhouette

The Etsba Ridge of Mount Carmel is covered with flowers at this time of year. We went for a 1.5 hour hike over the ridge. Identifing flowers is a very tedious process because I’m no expert. I have to thumb through books of flowers in Israel, check photos on the Web if the book photos aren’t clear enough, and sometimes confirm a guess with one of our experts at work. I’ve provided the English names in this posting. If you want the Latin name, click the photo to go to the Flickr page. I’ve provided Latin names in the flower descriptions.

Etsba Ridge, Carmel Mountain

The Carmel Forest has made a remarkable recovery from a devastating forest fire that was started accidentally in 2010. The fire claimed 44 lives, including 40 Prison Service cadets, who were on their way to a course when their bus was overtaken by flames, and three senior police officers, including Haifa’s Chief of Police. The fire burned for four days and was the deadliest in Israel’s history. The photo below shows a line of burned trees. Many of the larger trees have been cut down.

Burned trees, Carmel Forest

Sun’s Eye Tulip:

Sun's-Eye Tulip

Splendid Bindweed and Pimpernel: Bet you thought pimpernels were scarlet, like the book! In Israel they’re a dark bluish purple.

Splendid Bindweed and Pimpernel

Greek Sage:

Greek Sage

Barbary Nut Iris:

Barbary Nut Iris

Common Gladiolus:

Wild Gladiolus

Snake-Tongue Orchid:

Snake-Tongue Orchid

Broomrape (parasitical plant) on sedum:

Broomrape (parasitical plant) on sedum

Asher spots the first poppy of the season. Red anemones, red buttercups, and red poppies all look very similar and many visitors assume that every large red flower is a poppy. But they don’t bloom at the same time. The anemones bloom first, followed by the buttercups, and finally the poppies.

Asher spots the first poppy

Corn Poppy:

Corn Poppy

Garland Chrysanthemum:

Garland Chrysanthemum

Etsba Ridge photographed from a moving bus:

Etsba Ridge, Carmel

Golden Drop. Asher wasn’t sure which one because they don’t often have red tips, but he was sure it was a golden drop. It was a large, beautiful specimen:

Giant Golden Drop

Turban buttercups:

Turban buttercups

Syrian Cornflower Thistle:

Syrian Cornflower Thistle

Close-up of flowers. Most of these flowers are tiny, which means that you really have to keep your eyes open to spot them.

Flowers on the Carmel

Hairy Pink Flax:

Hairy Pink Flax

Very rare Carmel Bee Orchid. Chaim spotted this, but neither of us got a really sharp photo because it was in deep shadow. Asher missed it, so I had to describe where I’d found it.

Carmel Bee Orchid

Etsba Ridge with Wild Chrysanthemums in late afternoon:

Etsba Ridge with Wild Chrysanthemums


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

Video: Family with Tickets Fined NIS 933 on Jerusalem Light Rail

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2012

This video is in Hebrew.

This family came to Jerusalem and bought tickets for the Jerusalem Light Rail for the first time. They did not insert their tickets into the ticket reading machine on the train to validate them (the machine stamps a date and time on the back of the ticket). The paper tickets are stamped with the date of purchase, so it is obvious that the tickets were purchased and are valid. They were told by inspectors that they had violated the law and were asked to present their Israeli ID cards (teudot zehut).

Initially, they refused to show their ID cards to the inspectors. The inspectors called the police, who threatened to arrest them. They presented their ID cards and received five fines, one for each family member, for a total of NIS 933 ($250).

Note: Tourists are asked for their passports. I’m not sure what happens if someone claims to have no documents. Although Israelis are required by law to carry their ID cards, I do not know of a similar law for foreigners.

Posted in CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Who is CityPass? And Why Are We Stuck with Them for 30 Years?

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2012

CitiPass site in Hebrew

There has been some misunderstanding about who or what CityPass actually is. You need to know who they are because we are stuck with them for the next thirty years. Read on….

CityPass (not to be mistaken for CityPASS, the American company) is a consortium that was formed specifically to build and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail. Its membership is as follows (source: Calcalist):

Last Thursday the Ministry of Transportation granted full operating authority to CityPass. The contract is for 30 years. You can read the general details in this Globes article.

CityPass is not the Jerusalem Municipality and it doesn’t care about your rights as a passenger. CityPass is a conglomeration of businesses trying to a lot of money in as little time as possible. Your NIS 6.60 ticket doesn’t keep them running. Your NIS 186.60 fine does. The CityPass ticket inspectors, I’ve been told, are required to fulfil a quota of fines (“duchot” in Hebrew), so if you see a huge grin on an inspector’s face as he writes your fine, it’s not your imagination. CityPass has had a lot of financial problems because ticketing problems forced them to run the train for free during the first months of operation. Now they’re recouping their losses, at our expense — and they still have ticketing problems.

What are your chances of being fined? Very high if you are a tourist, a non-Hebrew speaker, elderly, Arab, or from out of town. If you live in Jerusalem and use the system regularly, your chances are lower because you know how to validate your ticket but you can still incur a fine if the ticket reader is broken or locked (a friend of mine was on a train last Saturday evening and discovered all four ticket readers in the car were locked; she was lucky an inspector did not board her car), if the ticket reading machine did not read your Rav Kav card properly, or if you boarded the train and then discovered that you did not have any rides left on your Rav Kav.

It is not possible to buy a ticket once you’ve boarded the train.

It is not possible to buy a ticket from an inspector.

It is not possible to explain to the inspector that you made a mistake or ran out of rides or that the ticket reader was not working. You will receive a fine (NIS 186.60 or $50) because that’s how the inspectors keep their jobs.

The system is designed so that a large number of new users will make mistakes. Paper tickets do not have terms or conditions printed on them, so you have no way of knowing that they are valid only for one day. The ticket selling machines do not tell you this condition and the only notice is in a verbose Hebrew poster (photo below). The notice does not appear in other languages. You might find it on their Web site if you’re fast enough with your iPhone! Rav Kav cards don’t tell you how many rides are left. The card reading machine on the train has a yellow display with light grey dots. When you validate your card or ticket, a message will flash on at lightning speed and then disappear. If you are standing too close or too far away or you’re not fast enough at reading the message, well, too bad. These machines do not provide receipts to indicate that your ticket validation was successful. There is a beep and a light but you may miss them if you’re distracted. I didn’t notice them the first two times I went on the train. The “success” and “failure” beeps are similar, but at slightly different pitches. If you’re boarding a quiet train you might hear the difference.

Update: Originally I had a section here on CityPass’s Web site. I’ve moved it to its own posting.

Unless you are adept at reading Hebrew and able to take in information very quickly, your chances of knowing the conditions of your tickets are not high. Here is the CityPass information. It is displayed four times at the Central Bus Station, with empty sign posts between. You’d think they would rent the space or add posters in other languages, but, no, that would probably reduce the incidence of fines.

If you are able to read Hebrew, I strongly recommend that you click on the photo below (on the Flickr site, right-click and choose “Original Size” ) and read it at your leisure, because you may not even get close to the poster at a crowded train stop.

CityPass poster

Note the empty sign posts between ticket machines (Jerusalem Central Bus Station):

Jerusalem Light Rail, Central Bus Station

While the train is operating it is difficult to get close enough to the posters to read them. The ticket machines (if they’re operating) have long lines and people are clustered by the benches, under the shelter. I had to wait for a train to pull out of the station in order to take this photo.

Jerusalem Light Rail, Central Bus Station

I apologize to readers who follow my blog for its photography content. I will post the Carmel wildflower photos soon!

As for the Jerusalem Light Rail situation, I plan to blog soon about your rights and what you can do if you are harassed or intimidated by a ticket inspector or receive an unwarranted fine.

Posted in CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »