This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for May, 2013

Herod’s Tomb at the Israel Museum

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 29, 2013


The exhibit, “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Resting Place,” at the Israel Museum is splendid. It finishes on January 4, so you  still have time to see it. The reconstructed sarcophagus (above), of reddish stone and delicately carved with rosettes, is believed to have been the coffin of Herod the Great (grandfather of Herod Agrippa, the Herod mentioned in the New Testament.)  The zealots who took over the Herodion fortress during the rebellion against the Romans (AD 66-73) had done such a thorough job of destroying the site that reconstruction was like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer spent 35 years searching for the tomb and announced its discovery in 2007. Netzer died after a fall at the site in 2010, a couple years after he approached the Israel Museum about the exhibit. The museum went ahead with the exhibit and removed dozens of half-ton stone pillars and fragments with a crane (they will be returned to the site when the exhibit is finished). For more information about this amazing site, see the articles in Smithsonian and National Geographic.


Bathtub and mosaic floor. The bathtub has no drainage system, so it would have been filled and emptied by hand.


Very colourful fresco fragments:


Elaborate stone carvings on lintels and capitals:


The photo angles are a bit wonky because I was shooting from the hip.


Large basin with winged women and handles with men’s heads, in the hellenic style:


Several video presentations superimposed 3D computer-generated graphics over aerial video footage of the site. Very impressive!


Model of the Herodion. The tomb was halfway down the hill, on the other. If you look at the video in the photo, imagine that you’re viewing the hill from the other side. The small round structure is the tomb, while the big hill in the background is the Herodion.



Reconstructed tomb. The red coffin is inside and you can walk around it.


Reconstructed banquet room with frescoes and plaster decorations:


Posted in Israel, Judaism, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oh the Signs, They Are A-Changing….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 28, 2013

NDS becomes Cisco

The end of an era…. The NDS sign came down and the Cisco sign went up. The full photoset is on Flickr.

The process took a lot longer than I expected. The guy who was directing the crew said it would take about an hour. In reality, it took most of the day, starting at 10:30 and finishing around 5:30.

NDS becomes Cisco

NDS becomes Cisco

The man standing on the van in the background is one of the workmen. The one in front works in maintenance and phoned me during the day to let me know when new things were being done on the sign.

NDS becomes Cisco

The old logo looks rather sad and weatherbeaten!

NDS becomes Cisco

NDS becomes Cisco

The sign is being installed just below the 6th floor balcony.

NDS becomes Cisco

I held my camera over the railing to get this shot.

NDS becomes Cisco

NDS becomes Cisco

Three hands are better than two. (I never ceased to be amazed by the quality of digital cameras these days. This photo was taken six floors below and cropped.)

NDS becomes Cisco

Connecting the electrical wires:

NDS becomes Cisco

NDS becomes Cisco

At the end of the day:

NDS becomes Cisco


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

Dance of the Planets

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 26, 2013

Dance of the planets

Tonight, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury formed a tight triangle over the horizon. If you have a clear view of the western horizon, you will be able to see this phenomenon until May 29. The last time this occurred was May 9, 2011. If you miss it this year, the next time will be Oct. 17, 2015, but you still have a couple nights!

It was surprisingly cold and windy on my balcony. I bundled up with a hat that covered my ears and kept my hair out of the way and a windbreaker. My camera was set up my sturdy tripod on the balcony, and I kept one hand on it at all times. The photo has not been cropped or altered.


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Recipe: Fresh Fava Beans

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 20, 2013

Fava beans out of pod

It’s that time of year again, the oh-so-brief period when fresh fava beans are plentiful in the shuk. They have to be shelled twice — first to remove the outer pod and then to remove the tough inner skin. You don’t get many beans to the kilo but they’re worth the effort. In the photo above, you can see the tough, pale green skin surrounding the shelled beans.

Below is about half a kilo of unshelled beans sitting in my sink. I only remembered to grab my camera when I had already started shelling the kilo.

Fava beans in pod

Although some people recommend piercing the tough skin with a knife, I find it much easier to use my thumb nail.

Here’s the method:

  1. Hold the bean in your right hand and use your left thumb nail to dig the short black “seam” out of the skin.
  2. Slide your left thumb and first finger over the bean, and under the skin, to separate the bean from the skin.
  3. Grab the bean firmly under the skin with your left thumb and first finger and use your right hand to slip the skin off the bean.

The reason you want to grab the bean at the end with the seam is because that’s where the bean is naturally joined together. You don’t want to break the join because the beans look prettier when they’re whole (breaking them into halves is unavoidable if the beans are very small, but it’s easy to keep them intact when they’re older and larger).

That kilo of unshelled beans yielded 350 grams of beans, enough for bean salad for the two of us for a couple meals. So delicious!

The photo below shows the beans before I made them into a salad. The salad is less photogenic because the beans have been cooked with spices.

Inner skin removed

Moroccan Fava Bean Salad

Serves 4

350 gm shelled, peeled fresh fava beans

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbs olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbs fresh lemon juice or to taste

2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Put the fava beans, garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper into a pot with about half a cup of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and pour  lemon juice over the beans. Serve with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.


Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dom Tower of Utrecht

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 19, 2013

Dom Tower of Utrecht

If you spend any length of time in Utrecht you will have ample opportunity to photograph its largest landmark, the Dom Tower (cathedral tower). At 368 meters, it is one of the largest European towers constructed during the 14th century. At one time it was part of the cathedral. However, the unfinished nave collapsed in 1674 and the tower has been free-standing ever since.

It has an impressive carillon of 52 bells. Warning: if you are a light sleeper, do not book a room close to the Dom. Those bells ring all night, playing melodies every hour. I was about a kilometer away, so the noise didn’t bother me, but one of my coworkers came to work looking haggard and mumbling, “The bells, the bells….”

Dom Tower of Utrecht

Dom Tower of Utrecht

Dom Tower of Utrecht

Dom Tower of Utrecht

The next shot was taken from the plaza, which would have originally been inside the nave.

Dom Tower of Utrecht

The remaining cathedral building still has the flat wall where the collapsed nave was closed off.

Cathedral, Utrecht

View of the cathedral from the plaza:

Cathedral, Utrecht

I was playing around with the angles to show the separation of the two buildings.

Dom Tower of Utrecht

dom Tower of Utrecht

Canal in Utrecht


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Utrecht Buildings

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 16, 2013

You didn’t seriously think I’d finished posting my Utrecht photos, did you? 🙂

Silhouette of church roof:

Roof, Utrecht

Rather baroque university building near the Domplatz:

University Building, Utrecht

Orange university building with nice brickwork:

University Building, Utrecht

Office section of a church:

Utrecht Building

Row of old white houses on Springweg:

Old white houses

Corner building wih iron ties on the side:

Utrecht Building

Corner building dated 1897:

Utrecht Building

Another building with fine ironwork ties:

Utrecht street

Old brick tower with very colourful shutters:

Utrecht Building


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Utrecht Whimsy

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 8, 2013

Painted arm

Knitted fish spotted in a kitchen window:

Knitted Fish

Wire bicycles with Jakarta travel brochures:

Wire Bicycles

The Pusher’s Apostrophe: I’ve given up trying to tell people how to punctuate  “hash joints”…

Hash and Weed Menues

Colourful metal necklaces

Metal Necklaces

Multi-tasking on the flight from Paris to Amsterdam. He wanted to make a change in the document on my laptop while he was doing his email.



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Karel V Hotel, Utrecht

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 7, 2013

Karel V hotel courtyard

The five-star Grand Hotel Karel V is in the center of Utrecht. The original building complex dates from the 14th century and was home to the Teutonic Knights for 450 years. Karel V (Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire) and his sister Maria of Hungary stayed there in 1546. In 1808, King Louis Napoleon forced the Teutonic order to surrender the building and it was turned into a military hospital in 1811. Between 1986 and 1999, the building was neglected. After 3.5 years of renovation, the building re-opened as a hotel (info from the folder holding my key card).

The photo above was taken in the courtyard, behind the main building. It’s quite a large complex with a spa (I didn’t have time to visit it), a couple restaurants, and a modern Roman wing.

The photo below shows the building from the front. It was a bit too wide for a wide angle (canal makes it difficult to get enough distance), so I photographed it at an angle. My room was in the former attic, at the right end of the building, just under the chimneys.

Karel V hotel

Same courtyard, from a different angle, with the Dom Tower in the background.

Karel V hotel courtyard

Hallway leading to my room. The porter said the beams are original, so I checked the joins and pegs. All hand-carved.

Karel V hotel hall

View inside the room, showing only half the room. It was quite large, with a high ceiling with beams and two triangular windows. It was too dark at night, but generally quite comfortable.

Karel V hotel

Photo in the corridor showing the original attic. My room stretches across the entire width of the building.

Karel V hotel

Room in the Roman wing. My coworker ended up in a deluxe two-level room. The bedroom (huge bed with a canopy thingie) and two marble bathrooms were downstairs.

Karel V hotel

Study upstairs, with desk, TV, couch, and a/c. Rough life!

Karel V hotel


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Utrecht Canals

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 6, 2013

Oudegracht canal with the ubiquitous Domtor (cathedral tower) in the background.

Canal in Utrecht

Small restaurant on the wharf. Many of these warehouses seem to have been converted into artists’ studios.

Restaurant, Canal

Canal in Utrecht

Water basin:

Sculpture, Canal

Sculpture, Canal

Sculpture, Canal

Canal in Utrecht

Canal in Utrecht

Canal in Utrecht

Sepia view on a rainy morning.

Canal in Utrecht


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