Friday, May 8, 2009

Guide Dogs for Dummies יסודות אימוץ כלבי נחייה

I’m posting this even though it deviates from my usual content. Last night my retired guide dog Labrador, in an attempt to get at the wax vestiges on a borrowed aromatic oil burner, knocked it over and broke it. That did it: The time has come to expose to the world the paucity of information on adopting retired guide dogs.

Although this isn’t an issue that touches most people, if this reaches even one person who’s considering adopting a retired guide dog, it’s worth it. For the sake of fairness, this is not an Israel-specific problem: I’ve looked high and low all over the Web, fully expecting to find an e-group, forum, or site aimed at guide dog retiree owners. Not only could I find nothing, but the school through which I adopted (twice ― this is my second guide dog) not only gave me little guidance, but neither did the former owners.

The lack of guidance is no one’s fault: The circumstances of “retirement” render nearly all information applicable to the dog’s working life irrelevant, which is why retired guide dog adopters need each other. Through a friend, I finally did find another retired guide dog adopter who was helpful; but having now owned two retired Labradors, I have a wealth of information to share.

So hopefully the engines’ll pick this up, but in the meantime, please fire this off to anyone you know who might benefit. Anyone considering adoption of, or who has already adopted a retired guide dog is encouraged to contact me for advice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shop 'til you're deaf קנו עד שתתחרשו

I wish to publicly confess that my favorite days to shop are Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, and Holocaust Remembrance Day. Now that you’ve picked your jaws up from off the floor, I’ll explain why in one word: noise. Unlike the other 362 days a year when malls and stores play music at an ear-splitting level, on the two aforementioned days, one can browse at a leisurely pace to the strains of *musika shketah* which literally means “quiet music” but in this context might also be translated as “respectful music”.

One of the most annoying phenomena in this country is that of music played by retail and other businesses, I’m assuming because the proprietors are under the hallucinatory impression that we consumers like it that way. Sure, I love it when:

  • I’m relaxing by a hotel pool and the aerobics music assaults me.

  • I’m in an outdoor bazaar where every merchant has his music turned on, oblivious to the others, supposedly to lure me into his special and unique shop to purchase his special and unique cheap merchandise.

  • I’m vacationing with my extended family at the Dan Eilat, and at 11 p.m., boom-boom music reaches us on the upper floors. I call down to the desk and they tell me, “It’s not on the premises. It’s coming from the *tayelet* [boardwalk].” Well then get your butts out there and find out where it’s coming from and tell them it’s disturbing your guests, who are presumably also their livelihood!

  • I’m in line at the cashier purchasing some clothing at Fox, and I ask the teenage sales clerk to lower the volume. She refuses, citing as a reason that she “can’t be turning it up and down constantly, according to whoever walks in the door”. Uh, like you’re going to have customers complaining that the music’s not loud enough?

  • We’re shopping for sneakers at MegaSport, where not only are they playing FM 102 over the PA system, but the wall-mounted TV is also playing MTV. I don’t even bother looking for the sales help. I simply go over to the wall where the TV is plugged into an outlet, and pull the plug. No one even notices.

  • I’m waiting for the Eilat Mall to open on a morning during Chanuka. The adjacent pub, Hof Tziyon, is blasting music to an empty beach. I make my way down and ask Tziyon to lower the volume, or at least turn his column speakers inward and not toward the Saudi Peninsula. The proprietor tells me, “Why? People want to hear it.” I look around. What people, pray?

    Change will come only when we, we guests / shoppers / consumers demand it. I therefore propose a grassroots campaign consisting of the following:
  1. Next time you’re in Eilat, before you go to the mall, take a few meters’ detour and ask Tziyon to lower the volume. Tell him you’d love to stay and buy a drink but his music’s too loud. Ditto for Papaya Nights, whose shift manager, when I asked him to lower the volume, asked me, "Are you sitting on my beach?" to which I replied, "No, that's the point. If I can hear your music all the way to Cafe Optimi, it's too loud. And I can promise you that as long as it's this loud, I will never patronize your establishment".
  2. As you meander down the *tayelet*, tell every merchant playing music that you’d love to stay and browse, but his or her music’s too loud.

  3. Call the reception desk at your hotel and / or random others to complain about the music from the *tayelet* ― and don’t wait ‘til dark. Call 24 / 7!
Seems to me that instead of evicting the merchants for operating illegally עברית, which is never gonna happen, the state should fine ‘em up the wazoo for disturbing the peace. Let ‘em have it, and don’t stop ‘til it’s quiet!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yiddishe Kop, Where'd You Go? לאן הלך היידישע קופ

Couldn’t find the English online: “Protest, counter-protest planned over gender-segregated buses” by Yair Ettinger p. 4, Thursday April 24, 2009 Haaretz English tells of a protest in the Shmuel haNavi neighborhood of Jerusalem and a counter-protest by the Orthodox women’s group Kolech*, which is demanding that gender-separate buses be eliminated.

Not only has the establishment of the Jewish state granted the ultra-Orthodox inordinate power, as explained here, ironically, precisely here in the Jewish state, Jewish ingenuity and entrepreneurship among the ultra-Orthodox is atrophying.

By way of explanation, let’s imagine a hypothetical ultra-Orthodox Jew in New York City who decides that he’s fed up with the existing public transportation options because he’s uncomfortable with being in close proximity to women. Obviously, he does not have the option of demanding that the city provide him with “kosher” transportation options. What’s the obvious next step? Start his own!

He gets his commercial driver’s license, takes out a loan, obtains the necessary permits for routes, buys a couple of vans, hires a couple of drivers, and voila ― a parnassah! He can even expand into the Muslim neighborhoods and eventually his business will support his own family and perhaps even others: Everybody wins.

Meanwhile, here in the Holy Land, sadly, everybody’s losing. How much psychic energy has been expended on both sides of this confrontation? Isn’t it about time we found a “third way”, instead of “My Way / Your Way”? My suggestion to the women of Kolech and if they’re smart, all relevant authorities (the Industry & Trade and Transportation Ministries, for starters): Propose to the ultra-Orthodox demonstrators that they start their own transportation company, and outline the steps needed to get there. There it is again―that coaching thing: Figure out where you want to go and take positive steps to get there: Everyone wins.

*I have to take a moment here and award this group the Yam Erez Clever Business and NPO Names award for not calling themselves Re’ut; Ofek / Ofakim; Keshet; Gvanim; Zchut [or some form thereof]; or Yad [or some form thereof]. Good going, gals!