Adding new dimensions to life

Water for Peace


Israel has more water than it needs!

“…  “Now, that’s a pump!” Edo Bar-Zeev shouts to me over the din of the motors, grinning with undisguised awe at the scene before us. The reservoirs beneath us contain several feet of sand through which the seawater filters before making its way to a vast metal hangar, where it is transformed into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people.

We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination.

Bar-Zeev, who recently joined Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research after completing his postdoc work at Yale University, is an expert on biofouling, which has always been an Achilles’ heel of desalination and one of the reasons it has been considered a last resort. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. Microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Bar-Zeev and colleaguesdeveloped a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It’s just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.

Driven by necessity, Israel is learning to squeeze more out of a drop of water than any country on Earth, and much of that learning is happening at the Zuckerberg Institute, where researchers have pioneered new techniques in drip irrigation, water treatment and desalination. They have developed resilient well systems for African villages and biological digesters than can halve the water usage of most homes.

Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause.The institute’s original mission was to improve life in Israel’s bone-dry Negev Desert, but the lessons look increasingly applicable to the entire Fertile Crescent. “The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.”

That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause.

Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge, through joint ventures,” he says. “And one of those ventures is desalination.”

Driven to Desperation

In 2008, Israel teetered on the edge of catastrophe. A decade-long drought had scorched the Fertile Crescent, and Israel’s largest source of freshwater, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped to within inches of the “black line” at which irreversible salt infiltration would flood the lake and ruin it forever. Water restrictions were imposed, and many farmers lost a year’s crops.

Their counterparts in Syria fared much worse. As the drought intensified and the water table plunged, Syria’s farmers chased it, drilling wells 100, 200, then 500 meters (300, 700, then 1,600 feet) down in a literal race to the bottom. Eventually, the wells ran dry and Syria’s farmland collapsed in an epic dust storm. More than a million farmers joined massive shantytowns on the outskirts of Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and other cities in a futile attempt to find work and purpose.

Water is driving the entire region to desperate acts.

Complete article here

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You can’t really excel if you’re not obsessed with what you do.

(Think about it…)


Embrace Failure

Cats don’t make mistakes. We are born perfect.

Most of us feel like beating ourselves up when we fail at something or make a mistake. Or get panic attacks like I used to. But hey, “Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience” (L. Shlesinger).

Failure, and even more important, accepting and analyzing failure, is an indispensable part of learning, being successful and achieving greatness. At the moment, failure can be discouraging, but only if you let it.

Doctors make mistakes. An inspiring TED talk by emergency-room physician Brian Goldmann.

Excerpt: “… let’s begin with a bit of baseball… I’m going to focus on one stat that I hope a lot of you have heard of. It’s called batting average. So we talk about a 300, a batter who bats 300. That means that ballplayer batted safely, hit safely three times out of 10 at bats. That means hit the ball into the outfield, it dropped, it didn’t get caught, and whoever tried to throw it to first base didn’t get there in time and the runner was safe.Three times out of 10. Do you know what they call a 300 hitter in Major League Baseball? Good, really good, maybe an all-star. Do you know what they call a 400 baseball hitter? That’s somebody who hit, by the way, four times safely out of every 10.Legendary — as in Ted Williams legendary — the last Major League Baseball player to hit over 400 during a regular season. Now let’s take this back into my world of medicine where I’m a lot more comfortable, or perhaps a bit less comfortable after what I’m going to talk to you about. Suppose you have appendicitis and you’re referred to a surgeon who’s batting 400 on appendectomies.(Laughter) Somehow this isn’t working out, is it?Now suppose you live in a certain part of a certain remote place and you have a loved one who has blockages in two coronary arteries and your family doctor refers that loved one to a cardiologist who’s batting 200 on angioplasties. But, but, you know what? She’s doing a lot better this year. She’s on the comeback trail. And she’s hitting a 257.Somehow this isn’t working. But I’m going to ask you a question. What do you think a batting average for a cardiac surgeon or a nurse practitioner or an orthopedic surgeon, an OBGYN, a paramedic is supposed to be?  …”

Heart to Heart

Thinking of a very dear blogger friend who is undergoing open heart surgery today.


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20160624_160828-1.jpgTime is a mystery. Hard to grasp or understand. When we think we have some it’s already gone. It glides through our fingers like the sand in an hourglass. Yet, it is omnipresent, always. In every corner of our globe there is the same amount of it. It was there yesterday, it is today, and it will be tomorrow. Time is nothing, but it affects everything.


Heila, you do not need this perfume.- (Not convincing enough.) I WANT it.

You do not have the money  for luxuries. – (Not convincing enough.) I can pay by installments.

The joy you will feel after you bought it will be very short-lived . – (Not convincing enough.)
It will make me feel great now. Who cares about tomorrow… 

Spending this kind of money will worsen your already grave financial situation, which in return will cause you mental and emotional stress. – Hmmm... (I can’t ignore this one.)

Your mom didn’t send you money AGAIN for buying stuff you don’t need but to SAVE you from drowning in debt and worry! Ok, that did it! I’m not buying the perfume (although it’s on sale…).


Are you familiar with those I-want-it-so-bad-but-I-know-I-shouldn’t struggles?

If you find yourself using every excuse in the book to buy more, follow these simple tips to stay on budget.

Lack of accountability is endemic among the financial, political, and academic elite trio.

I just had to share this very interesting article/discussion (don’t miss the reader comments!!) although the subject is not really in line with my blog content plan:

Credibility Loss in Climate Science is Part of a Wider Malaise in Science


Age is Only a Number



How many times have you heard people say “Age is only a number”? Probably lots. Individuals who spit up this phrase are most probably either very young or they want to sell you something. They say it to comfort you, or to reassure themselves, or you really do look acceptable “for your age” and that’s their way of telling you.

Well friends, I just turned 55, I feel great most of the time – physically, mentally, and emotionally. But let’s be honest, getting old sucks!

10 years ago (it seems like yesterday… okay, the day before yesterday) when I turned 45, one day on the beach this absolutely perfect specimen of a suntanned, muscular lifeguard hit on me. Of all the young hot beauties on the beach he picked me. I was excited and flattered, of course. We had a one-night fling which I will never forget.

Today, I don’t wear a bikini anymore and even in a one-piece bathing suit I don’t feel like showing myself on the beach. My body has changed. Although I am still told that I am attractive, I know what the years have done to me. I don’t look like this  anymore. Maybe I just shouldn’t care. But being aesthetic was always important to me, whether it concerned myself or others.

Growing old means: your hair loses its pigment and turns gray, on the whole body, wherever you [still] have hair; on the other hand, women suddenly have to pluck stubble from around their mouth and chin, a place where they never had visible hair before. The skin turns wrinkly, saggy and gets old-age spots. Your once youthly perfect nails morph to gross, protruding pieces of ugliness (I’m not there yet but I’ve seen it on old people). Your eyes lose their shine. Body functions aren’t what they used to be. Getting up in the morning takes longer and might be accompanied by back pain or stiff limbs. Still think getting old is just a number?

But there are also a few good things that come with age: Learning to focus on what makes us feel good and being consequent enough to get rid of whatever and whoever is bad for us. The ability to enjoy the moment and be genuinely thankful for every day on which we are able to see the sun rise and set. Being able to help others and to enjoy the rewarding feeling and the sense of meaning it gives us.

And here is the best: Falling in love is possible at any age! And it does happen. At all ages.

70% Humidity

70% relative humidity and temperatures of around 33°C/91°F, that’s our average weather in July-August-September in most of central and Northern Israel (at the Dead Sea and in southernmost Eilat summer temperatures rise above 40°C/104°F and humidity is very low).   

High humidity means sweating after you just took a shower, sweating when you meet a friend on the street and not wanting to hug or kiss them cause everything is just unbearably gluey and uncomfortable with sweat running down your face and your soaked t-shirt clinging to your suffering body; sweating when you go to the bus stop and melting away while you’re waiting for the bus… In short, you sweat, feel sticky, smelly, and untouchable as soon as you’re not in an air-conditioned place.

Besides the sticky, muggy part, high humidity also makes us feel as if it’s hotter than it actually ist. Why is that? 

To cool itself, our body sweats. The sweat evaporates into the surrounding air carrying away heat from the body, as a result we feel (a little bit) cooler. When there is high humidity and the air is already saturated with water, there is no room for more wet and thus our sweat cannot evaporate.The cooling mechanism is blocked, we are stuck with stickiness and feel hotter than it really is.

Tip: Always carry a handheld fan with you in your bag.

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