Friday, September 15, 2017

Weather It Is (Nice Weather!)

After high heat, the weather is certainly more pleasant with temperatures forecast to be this coming days in the upper 20s, near 30 C.  This will bring us to Erev Rosh HaShannah, which looks to be quite pleasant.  It's not fall weather, but more of a transition weather.

This Friday morning actually shows a chance of light showers over the northern part of the country, and some showers off the southwest coast.  Weak low pressure to our east will move east, while weak pressure develops over the Mediterranean.  The counterclockwise flow around the Mediterranean low will be sure to keep our winds from the west, which keep temperatures lower, but humidities a bit higher.

All in all, a good weather way to head into the new year!

I'd like to follow up, briefly, on my recent post concerning health care in Israel. Perhaps -- some would call it ironic -- I developed the worst pain I can remember about two weeks after my surgery. After a visit to my family doctor, I was off to Terem. Terem, for those who don't know, is a way station on the way to the emergency room.  For the most part, those who go there are well enough to be healed without a visit or stay in the hospital, with basic, but not major intervention.  Anyone can come, but for a small payment, and receive quick and efficient care.

After a series of tests, I was quickly referred to the public emergency room.  We decided to go to Hadassah Ein Karem, instead of Sharei Tzedek. There is a new road to Hadassah, so getting to one hospital compared to another is not that much more difficult, and parking is easier at Hadassah.

Moreover, it turns out that Hadassah has an obvious physical separation and treatment plan for those who come on their own compared to those (unfortunate) who do not (who are wheeled in and left with the "mob."). This is a great idea, and I was much appreciate of it, and in the end I received the care I required.

Yet, I arrived at about 11:30 in the morning and was discharged about 9 PM.  All the while, my wife was running back and forth reminding the staff that I needed treatment (for those who come by themselves, this can present a problem).  While I sat in a chair waiting, I noticed a sign that said: "tell us about your treatment?"  The more I waited -- while the doctors I needed to see flitted in and out of the treatment center -- the more this sign grated on my nerves.  Had I felt any better, I would have been more than angry. Moreover, the nurses confirmed that my "wait time" was typical!

There are those who might respond to what I've written with: "don't complain -- what do you expect from a public service?"  This would be my point exactly.  Timeliness and the dignity of the patient should be paramount, and this is a failing -- for those who support public health service (I do) -- that must be corrected by hiring more staff. Must our standards be low?

After a difficult two weeks, I would like to end this blog on a happier note. The foods of the Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) present us with both challenges to be like the head, instead of the tail of a fish, for example.  Another food we eat are carrots or in Hebrew Gezer (my favorite); by doing so we wish that negative decrees against us will be annulled.

For those who like to bake, one of those challenges is making Challah.  Hence, I present my recipe for holiday Challah, which I think I've finally got right.

Weather It Is (Just the -> Perfect Chalah Recipe

This makes two large challahs (round or oblong) and 4 small Challah rolls). For half a recipe, add 1/2 TB of salt, instead of 2 1/4 tsps (as below).  You can add raisins to the dough before you roll it up after the first rising (you should put the raisins along the middle of the dough and then fold it over, so the raisins don't cook on the outside of the dough).

You can preheat the oven to 190 Celsius (about 375 F).  If you do, you probably only need 25 minutes of cook time.  Turning the oven on, though, when you put the dough in allows the dough to quickly rise a bit more.

Set aside 6 cups bread flour (and 2 cups whole wheat flour) and then sift to remove any bugs.

In a mixing bowl.

1) Add 2 cups warm water.
2) Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar.
3) Add 1/4 cup honey.
4) Add 3 TB instant yeast.

--> Mix with an egg beater or fork.

5) Add one cup flour -- let rest until bubbles form (yeast needs to "warm-up").

--> Mix with an egg beater.

6) Add 1/2 cup gluten.
7) Add 1/4 cup oil.
8) Add two eggs.
9) Add one cup flour.

--> Mix with an egg beater.

10) Add 2 1/4 tsp of salt.  Don't forget the salt!

--> Attach bread kneading device (or use your hands).

11) Knead bread and add enough flour (about 5 cups) until bread is dry enough to handle with your hands (and a bit elastic). I usually let this go on about 5  (over beating can break down the gluten).
12) Remove from mixing bowl and knead a few minutes with your hands, adding enough flour to keep bread from being sticky (but don't add too much flour to make the dough dry).
13) Return to bowl.
14) Spray with canola oil. Cover with wax paper, and a light wet towel.  Put in a warm oven (60 C).
15) About 45 minutes later, the dough should have doubled in size.
16) Punch it down, and then use 2/3 of the dough for making two loafs, and the rest for making rolls. You can add a little bit of flour to keep it from being sticky.
17) Grease pans.
18) Spray dough with Canola oil.
19) About 45 minutes later, the dough should have doubled in size again.
20) Cook for 28 minutes on 190 C, until outside is hard to the touch.
21) Remove from oven, cool on racks until warm and then remove from baking pans.  **Enjoy**

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weather It Is (Hot, Hot...)

Good Evening:

It's a warm evening here in Efrat -- and it's humid too.

Persistent counterclockwise flow around low pressure to our east combined with stable air and a short trajectory from the sea is making for an uncomfortable situation. The heat and humidity will probably continue until the end of the week, with temperatures in the mountains in the mid 30s (mid 90s F).   On Thursday and Friday, low pressure should develop over the Mediterranean and our heat will become a sweltering memory.

It is interesting to note that the weather maps are showing low pressure developing  to our south and moving up the spine of the Jordanian mountains on Friday as well.  These types of the systems are indicators that the tropical weather of fall (with heavy convective showers) may be on our near-term horizon.

With such heat right now, the best we can do is dream of fall.  However, if your a dog (like our dog), you might dream of having a good bark at your neighbor's dog.  While heading off to bed, this seemed to be just the case, as our dog made small barking noises while snoozing outside our door.  This is the kind of conversation that leads to marriage "intimacy.'' So, my wife says that she dreamed all night about being at the beach. Much to my embarrassment, I had to admit that I dreamed about being in a giant snowstorm that never ended.

Given these obvious differences between us (very typical of married couples), a husband has to be on his best behavior.  That's why I strive to be the "ideal" husband.  If it wasn't for the fact that I'm on the short side ("can you get that down for me dear"), a bit self-absorbed ("honey, time to help with the homework"), and often in the way, I'm pretty much perfect.

You see, I grew up in a feminist household, which means that I help out with the laundry, wash the floors, and spend some of my time in the kitchen.  However, while good in theory, a kitchen husband is really something the mother-in-law inflicts on the  daughter-in-law.

Keeping the last bit in mind, my wife faced one of those existential choices that could have influenced our marriage for years to come (God willing).  Having tired from a bit of Challah making, I was lying on the couch.  I called for help -- as sitting up on my own after my surgery is still difficult.  I was ready to go back to the kitchen. This was her chance!  Had she simply shrugged her shoulders, pretended not to hear, or simply run from the house, I would still be on the couch and the kitchen would have been returned to her tender ministrations.

Anyway, after spending hours in the kitchen on Friday, she said: "don't you need to rest?"  I said, "don't worry, I'm going to 'hit the wall,' and does it matter how hard?"

There are somethings that one spouse says and the other hears that are better left unanswered -- no matter how wise or not.

That wall really hurts!

Barry Lynn

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weather It Is (Swings)

Good Afternoon:

This week is one of swings in temperature and humidity.  There's a bit of a breeze, but the high humidity is making for even higher Heat Indices.

This is a time of transition, but it is also a time when there is a chance of precipitation (not much), and there are -- on average -- about half as many extremely hot days as August.  This information was taken from "the Climate of Israel: Observation, Research, and Application."  However, it is a bit dated: summers now seem to last longer, and October is no longer really the start of the rainy season.

Last week was hard for me.  I spent most of the week cooped up in a room with no access to the outside. When you starve a weatherman of the weather, then what becomes of him?

I was in a hospital room at "Asuta" Ramat Chayil, Tel Aviv.  I had the good fortune to be there because I was able to buy private insurance when I came to Israel years ago (and we've had outside help: the joke "how do you make a small fortune in Israel? Start with a large fortune" really refers to those who family members who live outside Israel).

Everyone says you must choose your doctor and the best technology, but the key to good health care is the recovery, and this requires timeliness (responsive nursing care), cleanliness (to reduce post-operative infections), and privacy (the ability to rest/sleep in a quiet setting).

Unfortunately, our previous health Minster from Yesh Atid (Yael German) enacted statutes and/or legislation making it much more expensive for Israeli citizens to buy private insurance.  So, it is much more difficult for Israelis to obtain the services I recently received at Asuta. She claimed that the changes would "turn back the clock:" reducing spending on private insurance while increasing spending on public spending."

Her idea to improve public services at the expense of private services by spending more on public services makes simple sense.  But, in health care, nothing is simple!  Israelis were/are buying private insurance because public service (while very good at primary care) is not very good at secondary care (it's a miracle that Israelis have such a long life span despite this care!).  Why wasn't/isn't very good -- because there is no incentive to be better, and our representatives don't want to spend the money to make it so.

But even more important: when she writes to turn the "clock back" it ignores the technological advances first introduced in the private hospitals.  It is these technological advances that made an make possible better outcomes, and it is the private health care system in Israel that sets the "yard sticks" for the public hospitals.  We can all have equally bad care, or most of us can (hopefully) have good care -- but it won't happen unless private care is encouraged for Israelis, and not just for tourists.

Barry Lynn

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weather It Is (It's Nice Here)

Good Afternoon:

The weather is simply nice.  There's a light breeze, and temperatures are in the mid-twenties (upper 70s F).   The nice weather should continue throughout the week as low pressure over the Mediterranean combines with higher pressure over Africa to maintain a west (or northwesterly) wind.

Of course, we are moving closer to our rainy season.  For this to happen, the monsoon over India needs to weaken and recede eastward, allowing temperatures aloft to fall.  The falling temperatures will allow clouds to build in height, which is necessary for droplets to turn into rain drops large enough to reach the ground.

One place where there has been no problem making rain is Texas.  The amounts that have fallen there in a day or two are about the same amounts we would normally receive here in the Jerusaelem area during our entire winter. There have been winter storms that bring about 100 mm or so of rain (and occasionally in fall there is even heavier rain in coastal areas), but this isn't close to the widespread amounts that are falling and will fall over there.  Such heavy rain requires a good supply of moisture, which the Gulf of Mexico is amply providing.  It  was also warm enough to combine with favorable conditions aloft to create the category 4 hurricane ("Harvey") that devastated Rockport Texas (and now torments the state with heavy rain as a tropical storm).

Theses types of storm, and these types of heavy rain are what scientists fear will become more prevalent if the world continues to warm.  The likelihood of such storms will depend on atmospheric conditions aloft, which could either change to favor or disfavor such storms.  Hopefully, the global warming naysayers are correct, and elevated CO2 levels will not lead to much global warming.  But, should we take the chance?

Barry Lynn

Monday, August 21, 2017

Weather It Is (Nice Weather, For Now)

Good Evening:

It's 23 C (low 70s F), with 77% humidity, and northwesterly breezes.  As my son said: it's nice outside!

I didn't argue with him.

Unfortunately, low pressure will build from the south and winds will switch from the west to east, which means that the heat will return, especially at the end of week (and Shabbat).   Temperatures should be quite hot in the mountain areas (mid 30s; low to mid 90s F) and reach 40 C (104 F) or above in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valleys.  Down south temperatures will also reach above 40 C.

Along the coast, temperatures will be cooler than inland areas, but the humidity will be higher.

In summary, while Tuesday and Wednesday will still stay cool, the heat will rise significantly on Thursday and Friday, before fading early next week.

One person who seems to have also lost his cool (more than once) is the President of the United States (POTUS).  I've been following what happened and it seems that POTUS spends his time either defending the indefensible or criticizing those who disagree with him.  Moreover, he tweets incessantly, but he doesn't sing like a bird.

After watching POTUS's second press conference, I have to agree with him -- in part: the "alt-left" can also be violent (and it, and at least some of the regular "left" is antisemitic).  Yet, it is interesting to note that various disparate groups (including mobsters) banded together to (literally) fight the Nazi parties that grew in the United States prior to WWII.  When making decisions and in understanding history, context is everything.  Mr. Trump's tweets are off-key, and so are his judgements.

Barry Lynn

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Weather It Is (Hotter, But Then Cooler)

Good Evening:

The winds are switching to the southwest, and with the wind shift should come hotter (mid 30s C), more humid, and even dustier weather.  The southwest winds are developing between high pressure over Africa and weak low pressure over the eastern Mediterranean.

However, after a hot Shabbat, low pressure over the Mediterranean should strengthen and the winds should shift back to the northwest.  This will bring a few degrees of temperature relief, as well as clearing skies.

People are asking me if I've received a number of complaints about the weather.  I can tell you that I have been asked that question far more often than having received actual complaints.  Perhaps, I need to count some of those questions as complaints -- as not many people have the gumption to complain about the weather.  After all, wouldn't you be a bit embarrassed to let anyone know that you think that your local weatherman (or women) can do something about the weather?

So, you ask the question, and I think: "good thing they don't know."

Barry Lynn

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weather It Is (So Goes The Cool Weather)

Good Evening:

Folks are still complaining about the heat -- and I don't blame them.  True, it has been a bit cooler but temperatures are still uncomfortably hot

To make things worse, high pressure will develop over Africa and the clockwise flow around it will combine with weak low pressure over the Mediterranean to bring back the heat again as the week moves towards its end (Shabbat).   The heat will arrive on southwest winds, and it will probably turn dusty as well.

My wife, who is from Venus, is even complaining about the heat.  She doesn't remember a time where the windows were closed so often, and the air conditioner worked so many daylight hours.

Even though I am from Mars -- and I look forward to winter cold (and hopefully snow) -- I grew up in the "it's not the heat, but the humidity" eastern United States -- so I able to tough it out (after all, I am a man).

Still, being from the cold of Mars never prepared me for marriage.   As you all know, men and women first meet on the moon, where its neutral ground allows for a synthesis of bliss to overtake the young couple as they stride happily to the marriage canopy (the "Chupa").

But, they have to live somewhere, and when they do they soon realize that they are quite different, and it is usually the men who have the hardest time adjusting. For instance, did you know that the garbage is full?  If it is (and if you didn't know), this means: "take it out." Of course, you'll never hear these words, but husbands being smarter than their animals do eventually learn.

There are plenty of other examples.

This evening the Wife said that we should meet at the Mall ("Canyon") for dinner with the kids. It wasn't too long ago when "The Canyon" meant the mall in Malcha, Jerusalem. But now, The Canyon means the mall in Gush Etzion (Just so you know, until our neighbors the Palestinians started knifing and running people over, the mall and adjacent big supermarkets were a paradigm of coexistence).  Of course, I assumed that she meant the "original" mall, and had to settle for eating my sushi in the house.

So, yes, we have a mall here in Gush Etzion, as well as schools, farms and vineyards, two or three pools, soccer (and softball) fields, as well as a performance hall.  Gush Etzion is not one big "settlement," but a place where many Israelis live in different cities -- just like they lived and still do within the old borders of Israel (before the Arab countries tried to destroy the State of Israel in 1967). There is also one more husband who has been reminded its better to ask than think for himself.

Barry Lynn
P.S Gush Etzion is located to the southwest of Jerusalem, and was populated by Jewish people prior to the first war (of 1948), when Israel won its independence).