Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HTML advice

February I'll be hosting JPix.

In December I hosted my first carnival and it was pretty straightforward with the linking. For the most part, the blog carnival notification came with the HTML code and I just had to copy paste.

With a photo post it's trickier. I want a thumbnail posted in the carnival post and the thumbnail to also be a link to the original post in the original blog. AND I want to be able to resize all the photos to a uniform thumbnail size.

And I can't seem to find the right combination of code.

When I use this (obviously without the various spaces and the [ is a < or >): [a href=""> [img src="http://1.bp.blogspot. com/_AjqvE-2F28o/SzRyyqB052I/AAAAAAAAAns/ rUNRTJMLxH0/s1600-h/DSCF6183A.jpg" width="200" alt="soup" /[ I don't get the image posted. If I use the URL from Photobucket it's fine, but that's not the link I have posted in the post. And I really don't want to have to download and then upload all the photos submitted for the carnival for the linkage.

Anyone have advice?
Of course the irony of the following article is the world vilifies Israel for the security measures she takes in protecting her borders yet it seems Israel should be taken as a positive example on her success in airport security.

'Israelification': High security, little bother

December 30, 2009

Cathal Kelly

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Ducheneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."

More sneaky food

I'm in the mood for meatballs and spaghetti so I'll be making that for Friday night dinner.

NS's version will have pureed cauliflower and zucchini in the meatballs (and I'm considering making 'porcupine meatballs' with brown rice) and making a sauce that's mostly pureed baked sweet potato with some tomato sauce to make it redder.

Tonight's dinner I think will be veggie soup with barley and I may take a stick blender to it and let NS drink it. Also give him a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it.

Tomorrow night's dinner will be home made pizza. The sauce will be sneaky sauce.But shhhh... don't tell Zach.

And tomorrow is black and white cookie baking!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wonderfully said

After reading this guest post by Rabbi Yossi Ginzberg, I almost stood up and applauded.

Kol Hakavod for saying what needed to be said and saying it so eloquently.

Hat tip: The Wolf

Monday, December 28, 2009


Anti-Semitism czar's first target is Israel

I'm not sure where to even begin with this one... Oh I know... how about the irony of calling the head of Obama's anti-semitism somethingorother a 'czar'... although technically she's a czarina...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hot and Sour Soup

6 cups chicken stock
1/4 lb chicken breast, julienned
2 cups carrots, julienned
2 tablespoons garlic and red chili paste (Pereg makes a great paste I use)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon white pepper, ground
3-4 eggs beaten
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup each bamboo shoots, julienned and sliced water chestnuts (I leave this out since I can't find it)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced and stems removed
1 cup straw mushrooms
1 (12 oz) package cake tofu, 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup dried black fungus, soaked for 1 hour (I leave this out)
scallions, finely chopped for garnish

Bring stock to a simmer
Add soy sauce, chicken, carrots, mushrooms and chili paste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add pepper, vinegar, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, fungus and tofu.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with 5 tablespoons water and add.
Bring back to a simmer and pour the eggs in a very thin stream over the surface. Let stand 10 seconds before stirring in the sesame oil.
Serve with a garnish of chopped scallions.

NOTE: the pepper, chili paste and vinegar can be varied for taste.
NOTE 2: I will also add either shredded cabbage (Napa or regular is fine) or shredded beet leaves to add body and flavor to the soup (since bok choy isn't readily available here and when it is, it's a fortune). I'll also add mung bean sprouts just before adding the egg.

Chanukah, Day 8

Aftermath. (FTR, this was NOT taken on Shabbat)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Obama and the rest can just kiss my settler tuches.

JPIX is now up!

Wonderful job, Leora! Thanks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moroccan Eggplant Salad

I came into liking eggplant very late. I found this recipe when I worked in the kitchen at the Ulpana in Maale Levona. I basically washed the dishes and chopped veggies and this was one of the salads I chopped veggies for. It's a fairly easy recipe, the only time consuming part is frying the cubed eggplant.*

My apologies for not having amounts but it's a salad - do things according to your own taste.

Eggplant, cubed
flour seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder and paprika (that's what I usually use, Feel free to make adjustments)
red pepper, diced
parsley, chopped
garlic, minced
olive oil, splash
lemon juice, splash
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Dredge the eggplant in the flour, shake off excess flour and fry the pieces until golden brown, turning at least once. Drain on a towel then place into a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and chill.

* I have since dispensed with frying and only bake the eggplant. After dredging in the seasoned flour, place on a cookie sheet, toss with some oil, and bake until golden brown.

Seventh Day of Chanukah, 5770

Different flavored sufganiyot... about 2345345980 calories each... and I actually resisted the temptation and didn't buy any.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Public School

My brother Fred* and his wife Wilma* have decided to do 'the unthinkable' and send their daughter Pebbles* to public school starting next school year. They live in Silver Spring, MD and simply cannot afford Yeshiva tuition in their double income household. According to my brother, there are others in his community who are considering doing the same.

And I have to say, Kol haKavod to them for taking the responsible road. For having the courage to fly in the face of today's Orthodox convention and chose financial responsibility over 'Jewish education above all else'.

When I posted my support of their choice on my Facebook status, several people asked why they didn't make Aliyah. My own decision to make Aliyah over 12 years ago was mostly financially motivated and I'm sure I'm not alone.

The problem is Aliyah isn't for everyone. It also doesn't solve the Tuition Crisis in the United States.

In addition, what's really so terrible about getting a public education (provided the PS has a good curriculum) with supplemental religious studies?

I don't know about you, but in my family, my siblings, cousins and I are first generation 'Yeshiva goers'. My parents, aunts** and my grandparents all received a public school education with Hebrew school on the side and guess what? They all married Orthodox people and passed on a strong grounding in Orthodoxy to all their children. And all of us married grandkids married Orthodox.

Did going to Yeshiva have something to do with this? Of course. But so did the foundation we had from our publicly educated parents and grandparents.

* Not their real names. No, really!
** I think my mother's youngest sister went to Prospect Park a million years ago, either for her entire education or for some part of it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sixth Light with Soldiers

Chanukah, Day 5

Looking down at the diners and trays of 'suffies' (sufganiyot) at the cafe in the mall.

Fourth Light

This Chanukiyah was about 2 feet tall and I think it was made of brass.

Third light

Third light of Chanukah is also my Hebrew birthday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Traffic Circle

Traffic circle on Bar Kochba Street in Petach Tikvah.

The View

Inside the criminal court building in Petach Tikvah. Every other window on the wall has passages from the Old Testament regarding judges and judgment.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


What is it about Israeli 'culture' that this woman

who is obviously pregnant (she looks about 8 months pregnant) and sitting at the playground watching her 3 and 2 year old daughters, feels no shame or worry or regret about lighting up a cigarette?


Not to mention what it can do to a fetus.

I saw her light up and I had this visceral need to smack her around. Or shove the cigarette up her... nose...