This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Lesson Learned: It’s a Good Idea to Train

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 10, 2017

Note to self: if you’re running a long race, it’s a good idea to train. I traveled a lot this summer, so my running fell by the wayside. Besides, I figured, the Arad to Masada half-marathon is mostly downhill, right? Er, almost. The beginning and end are downhill but in the middle, there are some tough hills. Also, 21 kilometers is a significant distance, not to be taken lightly unless you can run 15 kilometers without much effort. I was barely running 7 kilometers when I realised that the race date was only a week away. I got through it without hurting myself, only through experience and good form. The fact that they’d re-surfaced the old Arad road to the Roman ramp of Masada also helped.

Around the 10th kilometer I noticed that I was literally running in a guy’s shadow for several kilometers, so I got the courage to make a comment (in Hebrew) about the hills. Oleg, a big Russian guy, told me that he also hadn’t trained and was afraid he’d bitten off more than he could chew. We ran (sometimes walked) together for 12 kilometers, encouraging each other along the way. He told me that he’d run 8 full marathons. When I told him how much I wanted to do a marathon but didn’t think I ever would, he said, “Oh, it’s just like doing a half-marathon twice.” (It isn’t really, of course, but anything can make you laugh at 3:30 in the morning when you’re wondering when the hills are ever going to end.)

Here’s a shot of me and Oleg coming up to the last water station around the 18th kilometer. We look a bit wilted but are trying to put on a good show.

Me and Oleg at the last water station

We crossed the finish line together. Yes, that’s our time above the track (final time 2:36). Not brilliant but, hey, we finished! Oleg was high-fiving me and waving at me before the finish line, later at the finish party, inside the bus back to Arad, and even back at the Arad parking lot. I think I helped him as much as he helped me, because it was getting hard to keep my spirits up when I was so tired. The camaraderie of runners is one of the great things about running. Sometimes total strangers will team together and the sum is greater than the total of its parts.

Me and Oleg at the finish line

Exactly one week later, I ran as part of a 6-person (mixed) team in Tanach Tashach. We covered 200+ kilometers in 26 hours and I ran a total of 34.5 kilometers. Although I rested between the two events, I was not nearly up to speed and had to walk most of the hills.

Here I am coming in to Mesilat Zion. The first day was brutal. It was bloody hot (all around me, people were walking the hills; I wasn’t the only wimp) during the first leg, 8 kilometers. I was paired with someone who was a much stronger (and younger) runner, so she ran ahead of me on the legs where we ran together.

Me near Mesilat Zion

The second leg, a few hours later, was 13 kilometers in mid-afternoon. It got pushed later and later and we got caught running after dark without headlamps. I was alone, running along loose stones downhill, and eventually I turned on my phone flashlight app to light the path when it became too dangerous to continue in the dark. I can tell you that it’s not easy to run off-road with your phone for light. Your hand and arm start getting cramped from holding the light onto the path. During that first day, I ran the equivalent of a half marathon and was exhausted. I got a few hours of sleep (thank heavens we rented a zimmer with real beds and a shower!). I ran with Noa at 2 a.m. for the third leg. Fortunately, that was only 6.5 kilometers and Noa (of #forceofnoa fame) wasn’t a whole lot faster than me because she’d done chemo the previous Sunday.

We ran two teams, ForceOfNoa1 and 2. Noa, a former ultra-runner who is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer, is the team’s mascot. She was the coach and leader of their team a couple years ago (the unusually wet and muddy Tanach Tashach of 2015, which was probably my most uncomfortable and dangerous run ever). We were a mix of old and young, strong and weak, injured and uninjured runners. We did a switch-around of runners on the third leg of my runs so that an injured runner could rest, so Noa ran with me. I know it sounds cliched but she really is an inspiration. Running with her in the dark, losing the trail (#16 wasn’t well marked in the middle, something that the organizers should have foreseen because everyone runs that leg in the dark), finding it again, jogging with the bracelets back to the zimmer because the next pair of runners hadn’t show up on time–nothing fazed her. (Well, OK, the last thing did faze her. At 2 a.m., all you want to do is shower and collapse, not hang around waiting for your team-mates to show up. We were pretty pissed off.)

The next day there was a brief rain that, instead of cooling us down, turned the forest into a tropical jungle. At least it wasn’t enough rain to cause serious mud, but the humidity was uncomfortable. We were worried that we would be disqualified because our times had slipped so much that we were in danger of the stations closing before our runners arrived. The station volunteers were very helpful. When it started raining again, they packed everything else first, leaving the sensor set up as late as possible. Our #3 runners managed to get to Kfar Uriah in time and the rest of the stations had generous closing times, so we finished without being disqualified. Actually, we weren’t the last in the 6-person teams, of which there were very few. I hadn’t realised that the vast majority of Tanach Tashach teams have 8 runners each. So yay for us!

#ForceOfNoa1 and 2

Me and Noa. I’m having a bad hair day from the awful humidity, but that’s small potatoes, as they say.

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More from the Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 11, 2017

“RGB3D” (Ido Scherf and Shai Shtarker, Israel) was a clever installation. At first glance it looked like a pretty but meaningless display of coloured lightbulbs behind a fence. In front of the fence were three steps, coloured red, blue, and green. When viewed from the top of each step, the lights spelled the name of the colour. I took this photo from the RED step.

|RGB3D, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Moon Haze” (Feng Jiacheng and Huang Yuanbei, PR China), or the far side of the moon, literally. I walked around it to the other side to photograph the inflated moon at a reasonable distance, away from the crowds. I included the guy with the phonecam to show scale. The moon is sitting on the 3,000-year-old Broad Wall, one of the ancient city walls of Jerusalem.

Moon Haze, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I’ve seen some weird things in the Muristan but “Oasis” (Gil Teichman, in collaboration with Nitzan Refaeli and Ronen Nadjar, Israel) tops them all. The installation “includes a special performance of favorite elephants from previous festivals.” Previous festivals? Does that mean previous Jerusalem Festivals of Light? Did anyone see the elephants performing? I saw inflated elephants with a soundtrack of elephants trumpeting. If someone managed to get elephants into the cramped streets of the Christian Quarter, that would have been quite a logistcal feat.

"Oasis," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Batei Mahsei has had some stunning video-mapping installations projected onto its distinctive arched facade in the past. This was not one of them. “Dream Machine,” by Liron Gavish, Shootzi, Tal Heuberger, and Ido Ramon, Israel. It was pleasant but not stunning.

Dream Machine, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Drawn in Light,” by Ralf Westerhof, The Netherlands, was simple but surprisingly effective. The three-dimensional wire house, trees, and other elements, suspended as a giant mobile, comprised a constantly changing landscape. The house’s rotation revealed new details and perspectives. It’s difficult to show scale in a photo. According to the description, the installation was 13 meters wide.

Drawn in Light, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Cathedral of Mirrors” (Mads Christensen, Denmark) was an interactive installation with motion sensors. The colours shifted and pulsated when people walked between the columns or touched them.

Cathedral of Mirrors, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Fly,” by Itzik Ilus, Israel. Clear plastic birds lit by coloured lights. This year the route was marked by orange arrow signs. They were much more difficult to locate and follow than the strings of LED lights usedat  past festivals. Please bring back the light strings! You have no idea how many people missed the sharp right turn down the stairs to Batei Mahsei, walking from the Cardo to the Hurva by accident.

"Fly," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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“Solaris,” Hurva Synagogue – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2017

“Solaris” is a video-mapping installation by Visualsupport, Poland, incorporating the Hurva Synagogue. The festival brochure describes it as the show’s “world premiere in Jerusalem.” It was pretty, but not amazing. Scroll down for the video.

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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Concert and Candles in Zedekiah’s Cave – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2017

Where else could you see a piano concert at the bottom of a 2000-year-old cave? “Interactive Shadows” (Studio Insight, Guy Romem, Israel) refers to the cameras set along the path to the bottom of the cave. The cameras project images of the viewers on the walls, with different effects (line drawings, coloured silhouettes, etc.).

The musicians are listed as Yoel Shemesh and Achiya Asher Cohen Alloro. I have no idea who was playing that evening. At one point there was a loud cracking sound. The pianist, without missing a beat, looked over his shoulder at a bench that had collapsed in the middle from the weight of the children.

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Selfies….

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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The Tribe – Fire Dancers at the Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 4, 2017

Fire and dance show called “The Tribe” (Lital Natanzon, Israel), in the open auditorium on Tsanchanim Road. I can’t say that I noticed any characters or encounters with figures from other worlds, but it was fun to watch. There are only two performances, at 8:30 and 9:15. I recommend you try to get there early, maybe first on your agenda, because it does get crowded.

Long exposures are not easy when handheld at a significant distance.

The Tribe, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I call this one Headless Nick. Strange effect!

The Tribe, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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Peacock and Greek Folk Music – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 4, 2017

It’s that time of year again! I love photographing the annual Festival of Light in the Old City. This is the festival’s ninth year. I think I’ve missed only one.

The Peacock (Tim Scofield Studios, USA), was one of my favourite installations. It’s located on Chabad Street, close to Zion Gate. Comprising more than 14,400 individually addressable LED lights, it measure more than 12 m. wide and 6.5 m. high.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I think I was playing with longer exposures when I took this photo.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Here’s a video of the Peacock:

Two Israeli musicians playing Greek instruments. The bowed instrument is a lyra creta and the other is an outi.

Greek Folk Music, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

In this video I shot, the guy on the right has bells attached to his bow. It’s very cool how he’s able to shake his hand to make them ring in time to the music.

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From Cisco to Red Hat

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 19, 2017

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Same satellite dish, as NDS and Cisco. I’m not sure whether this dish will be around next year, so I’m glad I got these photos. If you’re wondering how I did it without a helicopter, HR asked me to record the changeover of the signs and dishes. I spent two days taking photos on the roof and in front of the building.

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Just before Passover I was laid off by Cisco. It was hard, not having looked for a job, um, ever…. Seriously, my previous jobs all fell into my lap. Of course I had the usual worries about my age, my less-than-fluent Hebrew, and my hodgepodge training. I sometimes tell people I went to YouTube Uni to learn engineering. I decided to return to technical writing because (a) there are way too many good engineers looking for jobs and I can’t compete with eng. degrees and certs, (b) I stand out more as a tech writer with Integration&Testing and DevOps experience than I do as an engineer who can write well, and (c) bottom line: I can earn more as a senior technical writer than as a junior engineer.

I started interviewing at two companies, a well-known automotive tech company in Jerusalem and Red Hat in Raanana. I was concerned about the killer commute, living in Maale Adumim and not having a driver’s license, but Red Hat’s policy is to allow workers to work from home, especially if they live far from the office. They made me a very good offer and I’ve accepted.

I finish at Cisco on May 28 and start at Red Hat on June 5. Sometimes things really do work out for the best!

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Kite Festival, 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 20, 2016

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

The Israel Museum held its annual Kite Festival during Sukkot (Oct. 18, 2016). It was packed with families attending the kite workshop and watching the kite show later in the day.

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Homemade kites (the square ones with two tails) fly surprisingly well.

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

This enormous cobra kite was very impressive but wasn’t in the air for very long. Its tail kept getting caught on trees and electric poles.

Kite Festival, Israel Museum 2016

Kite design is amazing.

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Frog vs. Angry Bird.

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

Kite Festival, Israel Museum, 2016

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Opera Paradiso

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 24, 2016

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Opera Paradiso, a melange of cinema clips and opera performances, was performed last night (June 23, 2016) in Sultan’s Pool, Jerusalem, as part of the annual Israeli Opera Festival. Soloists from the Israel Opera Company performed with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. I am an opera lover and I was delighted to be offered a free ticket at the last minute. The photo above shows a very young Helen Bonham Carter looking at the Duomo in Florence in A Room with a View.

Some of the film clips were obvious choices, like this scene from Amadeus during the “Queen of the Night” aria.

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Others were more unusual, like Bend It Like Beckham, Quantum of Solace, or the Israeli comedy, The Policeman, below.

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Funny how Windows errors look funnier on a big screen. This was taken about half an hour before the performance. The venue was almost full, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know how popular opera is in this country.

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Festival of Light 2016: Purple Route

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 15, 2016

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This year the Festival of Light included a route into the center of Jerusalem. This is not the first time that there have been installations outside the Old City. The first Festival of Light included the City Hall (Iriya). In the photo above, the central Post Office is lit by colored lights that are activated by hitting the mailboxes across the street. This is shown in the video below.

Eiffel Tower, by Luminarie De Cagna, Italy.

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Love Jerusalem is an elaborate ad for the “Friends of Zion” museum, but it’s cleverly done. A video follows the photo.

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Balls of Light, by Siddhartha (Israel) didn’t knock my socks off but it was a brilliant piece of marketing–after hiking around the Old City for a couple hours, most people would welcome the opportunity to sit down at one of the restaurants or cafes in Nahalat Shiva.

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