Monday, July 23, 2007

The Omni Alps

Over the weekend I had the fab fab fab experience of touring the Swiss Alps compliments of an OmniMax Theatre.

There were breathtaking views of impossibly cozy villages & the Swiss countryside, heart stopping pans over peaks and faces of 13,000 foot high elevations and sudden camera drops into miles long vastness ending in jagged snow covered rock.

But the story behind the documentary The Alps was awe instilling.

It was about John Harlin III's ascent up the North Face of the Eiger in 2005. Editor of American Alpine Journal, Harlin was nine-years-old when his father John Harlin II fell to his death climbing the same path in 1966.

The Eiger's North Face is treacherous because of its crumbly, limestone face & unpredictable rockfall. More than fifty climbers have died attempting to climb it and accordingly, the Germans have nicknamed it Murder Face.

In any event, no spoilers. The North Face no longer translates to retail for me and I clearly walked away with enthusiasm. If you live near an IMAX theater showing this film, get ye to the cinema!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Professional Life

Thanks, Noorster, for this humorous take on not toiling unnecessarily...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Future

This is my nephew's view of my future senior citizen life. I'm flattered.

Fun with Science

This fab cartoon thanks to xkcd web comics...
And this funny/condescending/still very funny map thanks to my teenage nephew...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Romeo & Juliet

A few days ago the southern Israel town of Kiryat Gat held an emergency city conference urging young Israeli girls NOT to date Bedouin boys living in nearby villages.

Reason being, according to the original story gleaned here, that girls have the habit of falling in love with the boys and then they leave home to co-habitate with their new beaus in their villages. No problem until the relationship goes south and then the boys won't let go. LITERALLY "until death do we part".
"One of the reasons for the conference was the 2006 murder of 16-year-old Mika Dabab, whose body was found burned near the Bedouin community of Rahat. An investigation revealed that Dabab was romantically involved with a young Rahat resident, and tried to break up with him several days before she was murdered. The young man refused, kidnapped her from a discotheque and murdered her."
Conference organizers showed attendees a film titled Sleeping with the Enemy and presented quotes they say appear in the Koran. Like: "a woman can be beaten as long as her bones are not broken and no blood is spilled."

The Bedouin response...
"'We in the Bedouin sector do not encourage romantic relations between Bedouins and Jews as well. It hurts our families just like it hurts the Jews. It causes a lot of difficult problems and internal conflicts which often end in violence,'" Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi said in response to the Kiryat Gat conference."
I don't know what to think of the story or that conference. On the one hand, the conference smacks of blatant racism or prejudice or whatever you'd call it.

On the other, if this is a phenomenon, as the information disseminated at the conference suggests, how do you go about spreading the word and 'protecting' children?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Literary Corner and Stuff

While recently on holiday in the U.S., I made certain to stop by the local library and check out a book I had put on reserve from afar thanks to the handy dandy world wide web..

It was Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone, and it's currently #5 on The NY Times' Nonfiction Bestseller list; Next up I'll be reading Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great, #2 on "The List", but that's for another entry.

I won't give too much away about Beah's book save to say that it's the 26-year-old's memoirs of serving as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. Revelatory, painful and a window into northwest African warfare, culture and the world of recruiting children to fight battles while robbing them of their youth. Difficult to read. More difficult to put down.

LATER: Here's a clip from The Hour - an interview with the book's author Ishmael Beah...

Speaking of youth or ...well I don't know exactly what category this next bit falls into.. this type family conversation is straight up Emily from SNL:

Do you remember years ago in Chicago when the eggheads were causing a lot of trouble? They were desecrating Jewish landmarks and creating a public nuisance? Well there was this one boy--

Ma. Ma. Are you sure you don't mean 'skinheads'?

Right. Skinheads. Anyway, there was this one boy....


Friday, July 13, 2007

High Tide Heels

This image snapped "somewhere in Europe"....


Monday, July 09, 2007

The Race Card

I'm currently spending time in the U.S. Midwest and as is always the case when traveling between two diverse societies - like Israel and Ohio - cultural differences are initially glaring.

There are the obvious ones like the abundance of "stuff" in America - stores, products, restaurants, houses, space, libraries. People are pleasant and in good moods and why not? The economy's good and the war is "over there".

There's the convenience of shopping and just plain simple convenience. A phone call solves most problems and gets most everything taken care of. Or a mouse click. No schlepping to 5 different government bureaucracies lugging a file the size of Manhattan to tend to this or that.

And of course, it wouldn't be the U.S. if things weren't sized so very grandly. A "small" soda is massive. Ditto "small" anything. Take my advice if traveling to this region: Order the kid meal or be prepared to bag it.

Because, as was the case in Starbuck's yesterday with the well-intentioned fellow who upgraded my small frozen coffee to medium - "I needed to finish up that container," he winked - your dinner plans may go south. Mine did and my dinner companions sat insulted as a full-stomached me refrained at the restaurant they had been touting all week long. "The coffee was too much for me" I claimed in my defense. They were unimpressed.

Other differences are more subtle. They're like undercurrents. The lack of social contact on a routine basis. The lack of underlying stress. And notes of racial tension.

I hear it in comments, see it in the looks when I'm in culturally diverse neighborhoods and notice it because in the "burbs" where my parents live, people of color seem for the most part to have gone missing. I actually noticed that I noticed an Asian guy this morning.

The racial thing occurred to me also this morning after reading Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.'s editorial on Isaiah Washington's troubles with Grey's Anatomy execs. Apparently Washington has now pulled out the race card.

What grabbed my attention was Pitts Jr.'s statement: There is epidemic racism in this country.

I know it's here and I know there's been tension in this city for years leading up to and following the 2001 race riots. It's still palpable.

Merely an observation: CLEARLY, the Mid-East doesn't have the corner on the unresolved conflict market.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Life as Cliche

I've been through a few rough weeks...Stuff that's private and personal in a very dirty laundry kind of way. Eventually I'll write it, blog it, etc. because it's the kind of stuff that other people can benefit from. My mistakes for the greater good of others. Schoingemacht. Mother Theresa.

The bottom line:
Call me cynical but we North Americans grow up with messages of fairy tale couplings, love at first sight, romantic partnerships formed in an instant based upon "chemistry" and "fate" and a whole lot of other stuff we see in movies and read in books, starting with Cinderella, you girls out there.

None of that is a stand-in for the basics of knowing how to choose a partner and doing a good job of it. Knowing what qualities characterize healthy versus unhealthy partnerships. Recognizing a harmful or wholly unwholesome liaison and bowing out. Bowing out before lasting damage has been done.

There are intelligent and very responsible people out there who know how to build careers, create lasting friendships, make homes, raise children and live life fully but who at the same time are utterly clueless when it comes to choosing intimate partners. And they pay for those mistakes dearly.
I'm one of them.

My message for the moment: If it doesn't feel good, it isn't. When you FIRST know it isn't right, pay attention. Ignore advice of "well wishers" suggesting you stay in and make it work. Trust your instincts the same way you would in other endeavors. If you notice an unhealthy pattern in the types of couplings you habitually find yourself in, get educated on choosing healthy alternatives...

As my cousin reminds: Sometimes it doesn't matter what you know or learn or who advises you. You have to make the mistake/s. She's right. But if my advice helps someone out there then I've done a good deed.

Amen. Pass the collection plate.