Wednesday, 29 November 2006

What Would You Take?

Blogging may be a bit sporadic over the next couple of days, why you ask?? The answer is simple... take a look and you will understand. It is kind of hard to concerntrate on blogging when the smoke is so thick it is making you choke and your eyes hurt.

It has made me think though. This fire is pretty close, too close for comfort. The winds here whip up so quickly and can then die down just as suddenly as they arrived. Going into worry mode, I was mentally deciding what I would like to have handy incase we have to leave rather quickly. I have all the family photos in shoe boxes and albums in a cupboard next to the front door. I have now added all our birth certificates to that cupboard.

I have so many things that I am attached to but couldn't possibly take all of them if the house was at risk of burning down. We have a house full of antique furniture which could never really be replaced, but stating the obvious, we couldn't take it. It is a hard decision and if this fire keeps going I will pack a few bags of things... just incase.

What would you take? If you had to leave your house not knowing if it would still be standing when you returned, what would you take with you?

.... Just another day ....

Friday, 24 November 2006

Palestinian Granny Suicide Bomber - Photos

I think everyone has read the stories in newspapers and in blogs over the past day about the Palestinian granny suicide bomber in Gaza, so I won't go into to much detail here again, but I thought I would post these few photos of Fatma Omar An-Najar from before the bombing.

Below: In this photo released by Hamas, Thursday, Nov. 23, Palestinian Fatma Omar An-Najar is seen before carrying out a suicide bombing next to Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near Israeli troops in northern Gaza yesterday.

Above: An undated photo shows 57-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber, Fatima al-Nejar. The mother of nine blew herself up near soldiers. (Reuters and AP have between them reported her to be 57, 64 and 68 years old... so take your pick)
An army spokeswoman said soldiers spotted bomber al-Nejar near the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza and threw a stun grenade at her, detonating the device. She was killed and three soldiers were lightly wounded.

Above: Relatives of Fatma Omar An-Najar, grieve at the family house in Jebaliya Thursday, Nov. 23. Hamas claimed responsibility.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Iranian Man Burns Neighbours Car For Having Parties

An Iranian man reportedly set a neighbor's luxury car ablaze to stop him from throwing parties and entertaining poorly-veiled women.

"Every night, my neighbor had parties and invited badly-veiled women... I burned his car to teach him a lesson," said the 24-year-old arsonist identified only as Soheil, according to the Etemad-Melli newspaper.

"I had warned him several times but he did not listen," he said after his arrest for torching the 40,000-dollar Japanese Nissan sedan - one of the most coveted cars in Iran.

The man could face six months to three years in jail, the report said. Under Iranian law, people are banned from holding parties with unrelated men and women socializing without respecting the Islamic dress code, which requires women to cover their hair and body.

Police often raid parties and offenders can face lashes and hefty fines.

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.... Just another day ....

Ian Thorpe Quits Swimming

Ian Thorpe has today announced he has retired from swimming. To me, this is a shock because he is still so young, but at the same time, it seems like it has been so long since he has swam due to illness and injuries.

Thorpe has done a fantastic job representing Australia in the sport of swimming and Australia is very proud of him!

Well done Thorpie on an incredible career!

Australia's greatest Olympian Ian Thorpe has announced his retirement from competitive swimming.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist, and multiple world record holder, has told a press conference in Sydney he is quitting the pool at the age of 24.

He told today of the dizzying heights and setbacks that marked his career as he announced that he is stopping his professional swimming career.

He said swimming was no longer at the top of his priority list, saying there were things that were important in his life.

Thorpe said he made the decision on Sunday shortly after deciding he would not compete at next year's world championships in Melbourne.

"As of 2.53 on Sunday afternoon I decided I would not be swimming the world championships,'' Thorpe said.

"I also made a very difficult decision that day that I am actually going to discontinue my professional swimming career.

"I'd been working towards this decision for quite some time. I'm a 24-year-old, and I'm only just 24 as well.

"I'm young enough to still see the new challenges and be able to accept them within my life.

"I'm also old enough now that I realise all of these accomplishments that have got me to this place in my life.

"I also know there is a lot of people out there that want me to keep swimming.

"I only hoped that I wanted to swim half as much as other people want me to.''

Thorpe is regarded as one of the greatest swimmers of all time after winning 11 world titles, five Olympic gold medals and setting 13 individual long-course world records.

Worn down by the grind of training, he took a year off after winning the 200 metres and 400m freestyle titles at the 2004 Athens Olympics and his comeback plans were thwarted by illness, injury and waning motivation.

He had a three-month sojourn in Los Angeles this year in a bid to revitalise his swimming.

Thorpe said he had felt in peak physically fitness during his time in LA, but also began to question his future in the sport.

"One other thing happened in LA, as I got physically fit, my mind also got fit, I started asking a lot of questions.

"And I started to look at myself as a person. That begged another question: What would my life be without swimming?

"It's been a security net for me. But what it's meant is I haven't balanced out my life the way I should.

"So I realised I had to prove other things and let swimming take a back seat at this stage.

"I'm looking at a next phase, and that next phase means I am realigning the most important thing for me to do.

"Swimming falls somewhere short, which is never the way it used to be.''

On the possibility of a comeback in the future, Thorpe said: "I won't rule it out, I never rule anything out, but it's not going to happen.''

He did not want to reveal his future plans.

Of his decision, Thorpe said: "It's emotional because I see my entire swimming career flash before my eyes.

"I've had a great career. It isn't the best time to be walking away from the sport but it's my time.''

Ian Thorpe celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 200 metres freestyle at the Athens Olympic Games.

.... Just another day ....

Thursday, 16 November 2006

The Australian Drought - Photos

I can't believe I haven't posted for almost a week!
I have been rather busy with the girls. Amber started the kindy start program at the local school on Tuesday. She had a great time and can't wait until next Tuesday when she can go again!
Next Tuesday is also her Birthday, she will be 5 years old.

Yesterday I did the usual driving backwards and forwards, Mum's taxi routine with Amber at preschool and Jade at school. And today I have to take Amber to a friends Birthday party. I will probably do some shopping while Amber is at the party.

There has been alot of talk about food prices increasing in NSW beacause of the drought. I can't believe how expensive fruit and vegetables are already without them going up even more - inparticular, Bananas $12 a kilo and Grapes $17 a kilo. So, speaking of the drought, I thought I would post some photos of how rural Australia is suffering.

Above: Cattle scrounge for fodder on a drought stricken property near Toowoomba. Australia's worst drought in living memory is threatening the booming economy of the driest continent on earth, driving global warming and nuclear power to the forefront of political debate.

Above: Salt-infested dams can be seen in the drought-effected farming areas on the outskirts of the Western Australian capital city of Perth. Australia is already feeling the brunt of climate change with a five year drought devastating rural life and eating into economic growth, severe early season wildfires and record unseasonable temperatures.

Above: A farmer feeds his cattle on his property near the New South Wales town of Gunnedah, located 370 miles northwest of Sydney.

One Australian farmer commits suicide every four days, defeated by the country's worst drought in 100 years which has left them with dust-bowl paddocks and a mountain of debt, says a national mental health body.

Above: The Pejar Dam, in the heart of sheep grazing country and a water supply for the city of Goulburn, about 150 km (93 miles) southwest of Sydney, is seen almost empty.

Above: Sheep scratch for feed on a drought-affected farm near Cowra, about 260 kilometres (162 miles) west of Sydney.

Above: Grazing cattle raise a cloud of dust as they scratch for food on a drought-affected farm near Goulburn, about 170 km (105 miles) southwest of Sydney.

This drough is turning much of Australia's farmland to dust and is pushing the once-top grains exporting nation closer to importing wheat for only the second time in its history.

Picture was taken through a car window during a dust storm.

Above: Sheep stir up dust as they move across the dried-up water basin known as Lake George, located 20 kilometres (8 miles) north-east of Canberra November 10, 2006.

Living in the world's driest inhabited continent, Australians are used to wild schemes promising deliverance from drought and precious water. But with Government officials saying last week that the drought gripping Australia could be the worst in 1000 years, emergency plans are being drawn up to secure long-term water supplies to towns and cities.

Previously it was thought that the drought effecting more than half the country's farmlands was the worst in just 100 years, and with rivers disappearing and a searing spring, desperate farmers are being asked to pack up and open a 'new agricultural frontier' in the tropical north.

Influential lawmakers want farmers to abandon marginal irrigation lands such as the Murray-Darling river basin, which sprawls across three eastern states and covers an area the size of France and Spain combined.

Above: Drought ravaged Gayngaru wetlands of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

Australia's worst drought in recorded history will cut its wheat crop to its lowest level in 12 years and cut economic growth by around 0.7 percent.

Above: The knarled remains of a mangrove lies testament to the devastating effects of salination in the drought ravaged Northern Territory.

Above: Graphic on rainfall in Australia.

Australia, already the world's driest inhabited continent, is in the grip of its worst drought in 1,000 years, a leading expert told the country's political leaders at a crisis summit.

Above: A Sydney Catchment Authority employee stands on a sandbank at Warragamba Dam showing the water level in the lake west of Sydney, at 16 meters (52 feet) below where it should be.

Sydney's largest reservoir that provides water to Australia's largest city of 4 million residents, officially slipped below 40 per cent Thursday, Nov 2, 2006 as the effects of Australia's drought continue to diminish major cities water supplies.

Above: A sign shows the level of full capacity for Sydney's Warragamba Dam.

Above: A New South Wales fireman.

Firefighters in Australia's most populous state are bracing for more trouble as temperatures soar to near record highs, scorching the drought-ridden region further.

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.... Just another day ....

Friday, 10 November 2006

Amber's Pre-school Photos

Just thought I would upload a couple of photos. Amber's pre-school had a photographer visit a few weeks back. These are the photos he took of Amber. We were quite happy with how they turned out.

Have a great weekend.

Shabbat Shalom

.... Just another day ....

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

A Busy Time Ahead

As the day of Amber's open heart surgery draws near, I am starting to feel more and more nervous each day.

We received the paper work in the mail with all the hospital admission forms and other bits and pieces. Her operation is on Monday the 11th of December which we were told by the surgeon last month, but now we have been told that she has to go to their pre-admission clinic on the Friday before as well. Amongst all this paper work it mentioned that if you live more than four hours away, which we do, the pre-addmission clinic was optional.... unless your operation is on a Monday, which Amber's is.

Considering the trouble we had last time we went to Sydney with finding accommodation and having our 3 month booking cancelled where we normally stay only 3 days before we were due to arrive (because they didn't have any rooms avaliable), I am quite worried it will happen again this time. I have booked in for a 2 week stay, I do still have to ring them a few days before we arrive to confirm they have room for us.... fingers crossed!

What we have now come to realise is that Hannukah is right at the time Amber will be in ICU - bad timing, but there isn't anything we can really do about it. While on the topic of Hanukkah, I have placed an order with for approx 15 Jewish childrens books and 5 Jewish childrens CD's to add to the girls presents for Hanukkah. It ended up costing us about $400US.

I also received Amber's school enrolment forms in the mail this week. They have now all been filled out and handed in at the school. The school has a 'kindy start' program to try to help the kids get an idea of what goes on at school in preperation for the comming year. The program runs from 1pm - 3pm for 3 Tuesdays in a row and starts next Tuesday. I am not expecting any problems with her starting school, she has already spent the past year going to preschool 2 days a week and hasn't had any seperation problems or anything like that. In fact, I am usually lucky to even get a goodbye before she runs off to play with her friends!

The kindy start program finishes just a week before we have to be in Sydney for Amber's surgery, then once we get home from that it will only be a couple of weeks before she starts school! Wow! How time flys - not long after that we will be moving to Sydney to start our conversion! Woo hoo!

.... Just another day ....

Monday, 6 November 2006

Haveil Havalim #92 At Jerusalem Games

Haveil Havalim #92 is over at Jerusalem Games this week, Yehuda has done a great job putting it all togeather. So if you haven't had a look already, click on the 'Jewopoly' picture (original pic courtesy of Bagel Blogger!) above and pop over to Jerusalem Games.

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Just Too Cute Not To Post!!

Aawww.... This was just too cute not to post it!

One-year old elephant Tarak enjoys his first birthday cake made of rice and cereal with his mother Khaing Hnin Hnin and his aunts Dunja and Manari at the zoo in Hanover last week.

Happy Birthday Tarak!

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Saturday, 4 November 2006

Minor Fast Day's Funky Jewish Tee's

Like many bloggers, there are blogs that I read on a daily basis. Everyday I learn something new about the people who write these blogs.

One of the blogs I read daily is Minor Fast Days which is written by Akira. Now, I knew a few things about Akira already from reading his blog - I know he's a Japanese convert, he lives in NY, he is married and he and his wife Ellie are expecting a baby very, very soon.... BUT, what I have just learnt is that not only do they feature in this months JVibe under 'Real Life', but they are actually the creative minds behind a VERY cool t-shirt company!

For all your hip Jewish t-shirt needs you must check out They have a large range of jewish t-shirts, hats, bags, mugs, badges, stickers and magnets!

There is something for everyone!

Check on the picture below to go to

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.... Just another day ....

Friday, 3 November 2006

I Am Glad There Is NO Jewish 'Festival' Like This! - Warning: Graphic Images

How glad am I that there is no Jewish festival like the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket last week!

The festival celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth month of the Chinese calendar will help them attain good health and peace of mind.

The participants also feel the gods take over their bodies during the festival, manifesting supernatural powers and then perform self torture in order to remove any evil brought upon themselves and to bring the community good luck.

Are these guys crazy??

Above and below: A devotee, his cheeks pierced with skewers, joins a
procession in celebration of the Vegetarian Festival...

Above: A Thai man, his cheeks pierced with a spear.

Above: A Thai-Chinese devotee cuts his forehead while marching in a rally.

OUCH! Looks pretty painful and just a tad NUTS to me!

.... Just another day ....

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Sculpture By The Sea - At Bondi

'Sculpture by The Sea'

Bondi, is an annual event held along the coastal walk from Bondi to Tunnamurara in Sydney. (For those who don't know: Bondi and its surrounding suburbs is where most of the Sydney Jewish community live.)

It is Australia's largest annual outdoor 'free to the public' exhibition of contemporary sculpture attracting over 400,000 visitors each year. For three weeks sculpture by the sea features sculpture designed by artists from around the world.

This year is the tenth annual exhibition, featuring 108 artists from 15 different countries and will run from tommorow 2nd - 19th November.

Here is a sneak preview of some of the sculptures and some of the artists adding their final touches.

Above: I think this one is my favourite: Catherine Higham's "Banksia Refusiphila"

Above: Bill Ogilvie's "Little miracle"

Above: Bjorn Godwin's "Pavillion/The Daily Double"

Above: Jarrod Taylo's "Structural Wind"

Above: Charmaine Grace's "Vortex"

Above: Chris Leaver & Emma Parker's "Amphitrite falls"

Above: Margarita Sampson's "Big Mamma & the kittens"

Above: Bronwyn Berman's "Wind spiral II"

Above: Professor Phillip King's "It's a swell day for stormy petrels"

Above: Peter Tilley's "Uncertainty of an idea"

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.... Just another day ....