29 December, 2007

You see, dear, the giants are playing Dominoes

As I've mentioned in the past, we are lucky enough to live in the very top of a building on the very top of a hill, with a breathtaking view of the Judean mountains in quite a few directions. The hills are gorgeous, although the buildings themselves leave a bit to be desired on the outside - rows of seven story apartment buildings probably wouldn't have won the approval of Frank Lloyd Wright. But we enjoy our neighbors and our views, so it all works out for the best.

Now, the sun rises more or less in the East, so when choosing which bus stop our kids would wait at in the morning, we soon switched from the one on the West side of our building to the one on the East. It hadn't occurred to us, but the buildings create a huge shadow on the West side, making it a chilly morning over there. I happened to be out on the balcony one morning not long ago, and I suddenly realized that not only was this shadow quite visible, it was a bit humorous as well.

No? I could totally see images like this inspiring anything from
Greek myths to Just So stories. Where did the elephant get his long nose? And why do we hear big explosions when it rains? And what the heck are those lumps that we see on the hillside every morning?

20 December, 2007

Mmmm... vinyl...

A lot of the things you find in stores here in Israel are imported from faraway countries, not all of them as first-world (or even second-world) as some might be accustomed. I'm talking about all kinds of things: clothing, toys, household goods and more. The labels on some of these things are a wellspring of humor just waiting to be enjoyed as you shop - it's really great fun.

We purchased some birthday gifts for my niece this week (happy birthday,
Chana!) and I do hope that she enjoys them all. While wrapping one of them, I happened to notice some interesting notations on the back. I must say, she may not enjoy this gift for all the tempting reasons that the manufacturer thinks she will, but who knows? Kids these days are a lot more advanced than when I was younger - maybe it's just me who thinks this list isn't attractive.

First, the product: a doll.

She's cute enough, pink hair and all, how can you go wrong? But check out the back of the package:

Movable arms and legs - that's a good one. A sure sign of quality playtime. Perhaps the rooted hair is just a goofy translation - the information is still helpful. This hair is soft and brushable, not just painted on. I suppose the painted eyes might be impressive, it seems she's had her makeup done.

But kids choosing one doll over another because of its vinyl head? We truly live in a brave new world.

14 December, 2007

Standing room only

Here's an easy photo to post - it speaks for itself. This is a shot of my husband the rebel, apparently breaking a few laws with one simple stance. Ah, the beauty of simplicity.

Have a good weekend all!

08 December, 2007

Apparently, not even one of us can do it right

Here's a picture that I've wanted to put up for some time now. It's another one of those that strikes me as hilarious every time I see it, and yet I have the feeling that many of you out there may not see the humor. Well, I suppose it can't hurt to try.

This is a sign (i.e. photocopy of a newspaper article) that is
taped to a closet that was originally in my coworker's office. The closet has since moved much closer to where I sit, and so I have the fun daily opportunity to notice and chuckle. Here you go - see if you can figure out where the chuckle-factor lies:

It's an article listing tips (tipim, in Hebrew) for ways that those (like me) who work in front of a computer all day can keep healthy. It's full of good information: take regular breaks, angle your monitor properly, make sure that your chair is at the right height, and so on. And they visually demonstrate so well just how to sit, and how absolutely not to sit.

And therein lies the fun. Because they didn't seem to have any tr
ouble finding a picture of a real live person sitting uncomfortably and looking frustrated as anything in front of a computer. Just look at her, it's downright sad. (I do apologize for the photo quality - remember, it's a photo of a photocopy of a newspaper article...)

However, when looking for the perfectly positioned (and smiling!) specimen, there seemed to be no choice but to use an artist's rendition. Because, my friends, that specimen is apparently fictitious. So, the next time your back is aching after a long stretch of whatever you do at a desk, don't give yourself too hard a time - for better or for worse, you're one of us.

03 December, 2007

I'm not sure there's much they could have done about this one

I remember the days when navigating the streets of Jerusalem was a real challenge - back to back crowded side streets that always seemed to go in circles. Driving in Israel anywhere can be a challenge, although I've said for years that my transition from Chicago driving to Israel driving was made much easier by living in Boston for three years in between. Those Boston drivers are nuts (and of course we love them for it), and they make the famed Israeli crazy driver look like a pussycat. I was once witness to a Boston driver crossing in front of three lanes of traffic, turning right from the far left turn lane. But let's not get off the subject.

The point was meant to be: not too many years ago the Jerusalem municipality decided to plop down a lovely, spacious highway, right in the middle of the highest traffic areas. Crazy though it seemed at the time, it has made gettin
g around a lot easier, and a lot less time consuming. The highway of course needed a name, and so it was decided to pay tribute to the recently deceased former Prime Minister, Menachem Begin. Of course, to use his full name would be a bit of a mouthful, and so these signs can be seen all over the city:

This seemed pretty normal, until my brother (hi, Benjy!) came for the year, and started asking questions. "What, is it a race? Why are they telling us to begin?"

And I just haven't been able to look at it the same ever since.

26 November, 2007

So sad, I barely notice them anymore...

I have to say, living here in Israel is fantastic. I can't see myself wanting to live anywhere else in the world.

That said, any native English speaker who has been here can attest to the horrendous English spelling here on, well, anything that has English p
rinted on it. It's so awful that it almost seems not worth reporting - it's not a mistake or a typo, it's just a joke. I once heard that this is not an issue with signs in Russian, simply because Israelis are aware that they don't speak Russian. Therefore, when they need a sign made, they go and consult someone who does. This doesn't happen with English, because all Israelis know that their English is perfect, so why bother checking?

Here is the first sign I remember taking a picture of, back in 1992. That was in the days of film, so the colors here are a bit psychedelic - my apologies.

Of course at the time I had seen my share of Israeli spelling mistakes, but I remember this one shocking me more than usual. Why? Because it was a sign for a library, of all things, a home of knowledge and intelligence. It seemed a disgrace that they couldn't manage to get it right. Thinking now, I realize that not only that, the guy ordering the sign could have just walked into the library and checked a dictionary...

Here are a couple of other examples of things you see here every day, just to get the point across. Like I said, I don't think that one of these alone qualifies as
its own post, but maybe when I have a few more photographed, I'll publish them together as a group.


23 November, 2007

Don't say you weren't warned

This summer, my husband and I spent a 14 hour (7:00-21:00) layover in Amsterdam. We had never been there, and although the local aroma was a bit overwhelming, we found it a lovely place to spend the day.

Walking around, we saw lots of interesting sights and signs, including open air markets, great fruit stores, the Anne Frank House, and even the "Toby Falafel and Shoarma Restaurant and Steakhouse." (!) Toward the end of the day, we passed by an unassuming storefront with a tiny sign in the window.

I'm not sure what pulled us in closer to see what the sign said, but something did, and here it is:

We decided not to go in and see for ourselves, but we're assuming it's a haircut place. That's seems possibly logical, right? If anyone is in, or has been in Amsterdam and would like to provide extra information, please don't hesitate to update us all...

18 November, 2007

Beyond the power of even a donut

Here's another picture from our summer trip to the States. (Yes, these will run out pretty soon, and we'll be limited to local humor, but I'm not too worried about a shortage.) Somehow, when I saw this one, I felt that it summed up a lot of the reasons that I'm so happy to live outside America, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. And of course, when I asked others if they found it at all disturbing, no one had a clue as to what I was talking about, so I suppose it's just another example of me living in a parallel universe.

Does it bother me because they're trying to sell anti-healthy junk food under the guise of popularity? Does it bother me because popularity is the convincing commodity? Do I feel betrayed, because I really enjoyed Dunkin' Donuts as a kid, and somehow didn't benefit from the popularity clause?

I obviously am taking this box of donuts a bit too seriously, but I think that maybe it was the nonchalance of the thing that hit me the hardest. Those poor Americans, always obviously striving for the outer appearances, always looking to be the cool ones. And here I sit on my hilltop, probably uncool, and yet happy with my lot, living the real life.

Now all I need is something to dunk in my coffee.

12 November, 2007

Elevator Entertainment

As some of you may or may not know, my dear son was hospitalized for a few days last week, after a youth group accident. Thank God he is fine, stitched and home, and we are grateful and relieved. Needless to say, I wasn't in a terribly picture-taking mood while he was hospitalized, but the morning that we got his release order from the doctor, I relaxed a bit, and asked him if he'd seen any funny signs around the hospital. He aimed me for the elevator, and asked me to take a picture of this:

The writing came out pretty small in the photo, and anyway I'll translate for those less fluent in Hebrew. The yellow one says "Elevator for Passengers Only" and the dark red one says "For Transporting Patients and Loads Only." I asked my son why he thought this was funny, and his answer was twofold: first, why aren't patients passengers? And second, he seemed quite certain that transporting the patients with the heavy loads would cause severe damage to the patients.

I turned around, and saw this one on top of the elevator across the way:

This is a sign for the Shabat elevator - an elevator (found commonly in Israel) that operates automatically, going from floor to floor on a timer, without anyone needing to push buttons. This Shabat elevator is apparently very special - it seems to have some serious Willy Wonka action going on.

And then, looking left, I found this fancy, new-fangled elevator that can accompany men, men and women!

I really don't get this one. Does this particular elevator run on a strict male/female ratio? Anyone out there care to take a guess what they're trying to convey?

Baruch Rofeh Cholim.

06 November, 2007

On some distant wavelength

This past summer, we fulfilled a long-standing dream of my husband, and took our kids to Disneyland. He's been planning it in his head for years; he wanted them to be old enough to remember the trip, and young enough to still be enchanted by the place. Truthfully, I'm not sure I really expected such a lofty dream to come to fruition, but I guess I underestimated the powers of high hopes and frequent flyer miles.

Anyway, we weren't in the park long before I saw this painted on a trash can:

Now, granted, I haven't lived in America for over eleven years, and so it's likely that culturally I'm just out of sync, but somehow this struck me as really silly. It seemed obvious that although perhaps it was trying to convey "give me your waste, please," it instead implied "don't eat that apple - waste, please, and put it in here." What a ridiculous typo - didn't they realize what they'd written? Until a minute later, when I saw another, and another, and realized that apparently that's just how you say "trash can" in American, or at least in Californian. Oops, silly, out of sync me.

But then, later in the day, I saw these two juxtaposed next to each other, and it was just too much:

So tell, me, please, is it just me? Does no one else see any potential irony here? Because I'm telling you, it was tearing me apart - what to do with our empty bottles? They're both asking so politely... but I suppose it's fitting for Disney to give us an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

02 November, 2007

Turns out, I'm not the only one

Although I work in mechanical engineering, it often seems that I spend just as much time (if not more) dealing with documentation and other tedious paperwork. Truthfully, I sometimes enjoy it - it's nice to relax your brain at the end of a project and wrap it up, all nice and neat, signed by everybody and photocopied to everyone who needs.

That said, everyone in my office has issues anytime we need to write documents in both Hebrew and English. Our computers don't have much trouble dealing with one at a time, but both in the same document can often f
razzle the program, making us work triple-time to make it look the way we'd like. It always makes me feel a bit inept when it happens to me - I like to think that I'm relatively computer savvy. However, my dear husband (thanks!) just found this on a game we purchased a couple of days ago, and somehow it makes me feel better. (If you can't see the picture well, double-click it to enlarge.)

27 October, 2007

A fancy new insult for anyone in need

I'm the first to admit that I'm just no good at identifying flowers and plants. Don't get me wrong - I'm a big lover of nature, and could easily spend hours outdoors, mesmerized by the beauty of anything growing, green or otherwise. It's just that my memory isn't very good, and so although I have indoor plants and outdoor plants, and I enjoy them all, I really don't remember the names of almost any.

That said, I wonder if the folks at the Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem have forgotten a few themselves, and are beginning to ad-lib. Anyone out there recognize this and can vouch for its name? If not, I'll assume it's what the sign-painting guy called the flower-expert guy when he discovered that the piece of paper with the real name had been misplaced...

21 October, 2007

A Sign from Above

I snapped this photo off of our balcony this past week. One of the things I enjoy most about our apartment is the unblocked view of the hills and sky. Generally summer here is pretty cloud-free, but when you see something like this, you know that winter is a-comin', and with it clouds, which help create breathtaking sunsets. Photos of those I'll post when they arrive, but this was breathtaking enough for me, for now...

17 October, 2007

They're prepared for anything!

I've noticed that a lot of the fences and gates around here have advertisements for the fencing/gate company on them. Apparently the companies take a lot of pride in their work, and assume that you'll want one for yourself just as soon as you see it. Some of the signs are simple, just a name and phone number. This one I found seems pretty advanced - it even has a website!

Some of the fences have logos, or some kind of picture to help you understand just how effective they are. This one seems to be trying to convey that with their fence, you can feel as secure as if you had your own personal lion guarding the premises. That's a nice idea.

Then there's this one. It's been entertaining my family for years, and I'm glad I finally have the opportunity to share it with you. I understand that the concept was "nothing's getting through this gate," and that may be true, but come on, who are they really expecting?

Maybe we're too easily entertained, my family and I. Well, I suppose that's not a bad thing...

10 October, 2007

Don't let hunger cloud your sense of direction

One evening in Chicago, my husband and I spontaneously decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream, and so we headed for a popular local place near my parents' house. On our way out, my brother asked me to check out what items were "chalav yisrael," meaning fully produced by Jews, or at least supervised by Jews from start to finish. As we were waiting in line, I was prepared to ask his question, when I was suddenly confronted with one of the most astonishing signs I've seen:

Where can I begin? Perhaps I should further explain that the ice cream "parlor" of point is relatively unique in its layout - the customers stand outside and place their orders through a tiny, low-set window, and sit at picnic tables around the parking lot. There really isn't any opportunity to see anything inside, and certainly not whether or not your ice cream is coming out of a particular spout. It would seem easier to just ask each time which Chalav Yisrael flavor is available...

But even if you could see what was going on, I find it funny that the cRc fully expects every customer to know which way is West! I know that Chicagoans pride themselves on the ease with which their streets can be navigated, all lined up in a lovely grid, and so it may be obvious to most of them, but some of us out-of-towners have a harder time.

Well, at least they showed their Zionist loyalties and chose the Western Wall - no way that could be coincidental, right?

05 October, 2007

A photo history of the Curwin Express

When we moved to Kibbutz Yavne, we didn't have a car of our own, but rather a small fleet of cars at our disposal (more or less at our disposal). When we left, we initially intended to try and make it in the big world without a car, a goal that we achieved for about two months. When we made the decision to move to a neighborhood without bus service, we realized that the no-car option was a thing of the past, and so invested in our first family car - a 1993 Subaru station wagon. It was an old car, but it tried hard, and with its help we spent almost seven years transporting ourselves and other large objects all over the country.

Surprising us all, our loyal, locked car was stolen early this summer, leaving us with a rental car from the insurance company. It was cute and spiffy, not at all what we were used to driving around.And then, when the we were scheduled to take a summer trip to the States, we turned in our yellow car. Upon our return, we received the same model in a more serious color. We never could decide what the color was - not quite red - in the end we called it burnt orange.

Just before Rosh HaShana, we bought our new family car - a 1999 Mazda Lantis 323. We can't quite tell what color this one is either, although it looks very blue in the picture. The registration has it listed as turquoise, but it goes from very greenish in the morning to deep blue in the evening. Obviously the color is irrelevant - we hope that it will drive happily for many long years.

25 September, 2007

Less subtle, perhaps

Okay, I'll try to present something more obviously amusing. Here's a picture I took in a museum in Chicago this summer. It's a sign for a concept that's apparently come into existence in America sometime after I moved to Israel: Family Bathrooms. I guess the idea is that small children shouldn't have to wait outside the bathrooms alone while their parents are using the bathroom, and that parents should be able to accompany their kids in the bathroom without needing to squeeze too much. I went inside one, and it was almost the size of my kitchen, with two toilets (one large and one small) and two sinks.

Anyway, it seems a nice idea, although it took me some getting used to, but then I saw this sign, which seemed totally unfair:

So the family bathrooms are nice, I'm sure, but why do only the men get to opt out? Any man who needs a toilet can have his choice of either a fun-filled family atmosphere, or some quiet time alone with a good book. But women have family options only. Hmm. I wonder why this one bothered me so much...

22 September, 2007

Hello, everybody

Well, here goes nothing. I'm not a very prolific writer (ask anybody I've managed to keep in touch with over the past 34 years), but I did recently purchase a new camera that I'm very fond of - I thought that perhaps any of you who wanted to see what's going through my mind could do so visually, as opposed to lingually. So, with that brave introduction, here's a picture that I finally managed to take of my favorite sign of all time. See if you can figure out what it means - it took me quite a while, before I became fluent in Hebrew...