A Black Day

As many of you know I am addicted to diy projects, particularly those that are trivial and require little effort.  But, every diy expert also knows that even the simplest project has within it the possibility of a major catastrophe.  Notwithstanding this knowledge I decided, after deep thought, to repair a cupboard that is standing in my front yard.  The color of this cupboard is black.

It was replaced by a walk-in closet in our bedroom and we had no use for it.  Also, the doors had been removed and the wood (chipboard) where the hinges had been was severely damaged.  I had a handyman who was doing some work for me refit the doors and I decided the cupboard could be used for storage in the front yard.  But, I noticed that there was a gap of about 2 cm between the doors when they closed and I had no desire to try to refit them.  In a dream I realized that I could put moulding 1 cm wide on each door and then they would be in contact when shut.  So today I went to the hardware store and bought two flat mouldings (1 x 2 x 240) and then cut them to length, and decided to spray paint them black before attaching them to the doors.

I had a spray can of black paint, but when I went to use it , of course it didn’t work.  So I took the top off and used a toothpick to clear the holes.  While doing this I thought, well maybe the hole into the can itself might be blocked, so I inserted the toothpick into the can itself.  Very bad idea, a volcano of black paint sprayed all over the place.  It sprayed on my hand and arm, and all over the nice white formica table as well as on a white chair and on the floor tiles.  Oh, what a disaster!

But, undeterred, after trying to clean the paint and realizing that I could not, I retreated to painting the two mouldings with black paint, and then drilled holes in them and glued them onto the edge of each door and also nailed them on with small brad nails.  That worked perfectly, and although the doors would not shut properly at first, I adjusted them via the hinges.  Then I attached a spring connector to the top of the left door but a latch to the top of the right door because it was twisted and would not shut properly.  But, the latch was right near the edge of the top of the cupboard where I drilled a hole, but had to remove the outside edge and put the metal latch hole in backwards (it’s too difficult to describe further).

Having finished this part of the project, I then had to find a way to clear up the mess of black paint sprayed all over the yard and furniture.  I quickly discovered that alcohol wipes would not do the job, neither would turpentine, that usually removes paint.  So I went to the pharmacy and bought acetone (nail polish remover) and this worked.  But, it took a lot of “elbow grease” too, in fact at least two hours of hard rubbing with acetone to return the white table and chair into pristine condition.  I could not get all the marks off the tiles, but they will probably wear out in time.  I still have black paint marks up my arm and a few spots on my T-shirt (but luckily it was an old one).

Then I finally finished the cupboard by putting a waterproof cover (contact plastic) on the top and making a small overhang with some left over formica.  So now the cupboard is useful for storage, but we’ll see if it survives the winter.  I should have learnt my lesson, but probably not.

Correction: The series “The Crown” is produced by Netflix and not BBC as I stated.


To stand or kneel?

Pres. Trump disturbed a hornet’s nest when he criticized NFL football players for failing to stand during the playing of the national anthem, but instead kneeling as a protest.  What are they protesting?  The shooting by white cops of black men and boys.  Certainly this is wrong, if the victim is innocent and it is purely a racial matter, as “The Black lives matter” organization claims.  But, is this the right way to protest?  Certainly not!  It brings into question the patriotism of the black players and is a snub to the flag and the anthem of the USA.  I and many others agree with Pres. Trump on this, there is a time and place to protest and this is not it.

It reminds me of the time that Black athletes gave a fist salute on winning medals in the Olympic Games.  If they didn’t like the USA then they should not have signed on and participated as a representative of the USA.  To do so and then protest was hypocritical.  The same applies to these athletes, let them use the normal procedures to demonstrate their concerns, not on the playing field.  I agree with Pres. Trump, they should apologize and promise not to do it again or be fired.  If there is not an actual clause in their contract then it should be written in that protesting during the playing of the national anthem is not allowed, period.

This whole issue comes to the core of what it means to be black in America.  Certainly there is racism, certainly there is institutional racism in some police forces, but the only country in the world that has changed so much to give all races in principle equal opportunity is the USA.  Black athletes, who themselves greatly benefit not only from the opportunities given them, but who also are a class apart in their financial remuneration cannot themselves complain of their treatment in the American system.  They must stand for their national anthem.

Harvey, how could you?

Let’s say they put me in a  room full of chocolates and said you’re not allowed to eat any, do you think I’d succumb?  Sure I would, I’m only human.  But, that doesn’t excuse Harvey Weinstein for his apparent serial sexual philandering and misconduct.  He should, of course, know better.  He was a sexual predator.

But, in Hollywood, where the emphasis is on sex, what do you expect?  There will always be the “casting couch” mentality.  However,. that does not excuse Harvey for taking advantage of it.  Its like Bernie Madoff with money.  I’ve always wondered if a girl with real acting talent doesn’t play ball what happens to her career?   Its a great shame that human nature being what it is that men take advantage of their power over young vulnerable women. Now that he has been found out, Harvey will have to pay the price for his proclivities.  And let that be a lesson to all the other Hollywood moguls who think they are invulnerable.

Harvey Weinstein is accused of committing rape, a very serious criminal offense, and is being investigated both in the US and UK for this crime.  He has been forced out of his company and it is likely in serious financial trouble.  He has been banned from the Board of the Academy of Motion Pictures.  Was it worth it Harvey?  We’ll have to wait for the docudrama to judge for ourselves.  Harvey Weinstein should get the justice he deserves.  But, in this whole issue there is a lot of hypocrisy and self-righteous breast-beating.  That’s Hollywood for you.


Palestinian Unity?

The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, have announced at a meeting in Cairo that they have overcome their differences and reconciled.  Hamas has in effect given up governing (or should I say mis-governing) Gaza and returned it over administratively to the Palestine Authority run by Fatah.  The fact that Hamas staged a coup against Fatah and murdered hundreds of their operatives cannot have been forgotten and forgiven.

Why did Hamas decide to give in now, after it has governed Gaza for ten years?  The reasons are that finally the PA under Pres. Abbas began to turn the screws on Hamas in Gaza, denying them funds for electricity and wages.  Although Hamas tried to deflect this situation by blaming Israel for the losses, the fact was that it was not Israel doing this but Palestinian Pres. Abbas.

This reunification, if it actually works, is a double-edged sword for Israel.  On the one hand it has only one entity to deal with, the PA, and hopefully this will be less extreme in its anti-Israel activities than Hamas.  On the other hand, by combining with Hamas, the PA becomes in effect more extreme itself and it has not been announced what will happen to the huge army that Hamas has assembled and trained in Gaza to wage permanent war on Israel, as well as the huge arsenal of missiles it has accumulated, mostly paid for by Iran.  We will have to wait and see whether the PA now tames Hamas or Hamas takes over the PA.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement

Pres. Trump announced on Saturday that he will not certify that Iran has complied with the nuclear agreement that the US signed with other western countries and Iran.  Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it was a center piece of Pres. Obama’s policy of trying to engage Iran.  By de-certifying it, Trump passes the buck back to Congress to consider and decide whether or not to cancel the deal.

Of course, there are other powers that are involved who don’t want to see the deal cancelled, including the UK, France, Germany. Russia and China.  Since the deal was originally signed the situation has changed, not only in the Middle East in general with Russia ensconced in Syria and fighting on the same side as Iran, but several states now have significant financial agreements with Iran allowed under the terms of the agreement.  They won’t be in a hurry to cancel them.

The main problem with the deal as far as Trump and Israel is concerned is that it allows Iran after 10 years to legally develop nuclear weapons, as well as putting no limits on their missile and conventional weapons development.   In addition there is no limit on their support for terrorism around the world.  Trump also has said he intends to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, which it truly is.

This reversal of US policy towards Iran is precisely what Netanyahu has been working for, and what he stated when he addressed Congress two years ago.  it is partially a credit to him that Trump has acted on this.  But, this is only the first step in the process and we will have to see how Congress reacts before we can say that Iran has been dealt a severe blow.

The Crown

I have been watching the BBC series “The Crown” on TV that is a docudrama of the ascension and life of Queen Elizabeth II of England.  It is an intriguing story that goes behind the scene to show us ordinary mortals how the royals behaved.  As such it is both very familiar and yet at the same time very foreign.

Having been born and brought up in England, I remember well the newsworthy antics of the royals and their upper class clipped accents.  But, I was an anti-monarchist from an early age, quite out of step with most Brits.  I was influenced by my Russian Jewish father who had only contempt for royalty, not surprising given the excesses and the fate of the Romanovs.  My attitude towards the royals was much the same as my attitude towards slavery.  Just as no man should be a slave to others, so no man or woman should be a King or Queen to rule over others.  I don’t believe in the divine right of Kings, who does nowadays, and I also don’t believe in the right of familial succession, such as they have in England and in North Korea.

The way the monarchy lords it over others and gives them something to look up to because of their flamboyant and excessive lives is so condescending and patronizing that it is nauseating.  Nothing I have learnt from seeing this series has changed my views, on the contrary, they only reinforce the pure banality of the whole idea of a royal family, a bunch of bloodless, blood-sucking parasites.   I found myself agreeing with the Duke of Windsor, who as Edward VIII was forced to abdicate from the throne.  But, he was a fascist and a supporter of Hitler and even worse than the rest of them because he wanted to be an active King who intervened in political affairs.  They had to get rid of him.

I was struck by the oath repeated by the monarch at her coronation, “I accept this anointment with oils as Zadok the Priest anointed King Solomon.”  What presumption, what cheek to try to relate their German and Anglo line of succession to that of the Jewish Kings in the Bible.   And how does the “holy” oil differ form ordinary oil?  I left the UK and was glad to become an American and then an Israeli, both democratic republics.  Eventually I feel sure there will be an English Republic, once Scotland, Ireland and Wales achieve their separation from the conquering English.

Space Odyssey

When we moved to Be’er-Sheva we faced the usual problem of too much stuff and not enough space.  We did ditch about 10-15% of our worldly goods, much to the benefit of WIZO and the Netanya AACI bazaar.  But, we still needed to find space for a lot of things.  For example, we retained hundreds of books, but had no space for bookcases in the spare rooms, so we put them in the corridor.  Problem solved.

I have about 100 paintings, where to store them?  The single small room set aside for my studio did not seem to be big enough to accommodate them.  I was intending to put them in the shed in our front yard, but that gets very hot in summer and probably wet in winter.  Not a good environment for paintings.   By putting about a third of them up on our walls that reduced the load.  Then I designed a holder, a space-saver, using the high ceilings in the studio to store the paintings.  I  drew a kind of high table with paintings underneath and above.  It could hold even the largest paintings and still have room.

Through our daughter and son-in-law we met two very useful gentlemen, Geraldo the carpenter and Hananiya the handyman.  Geraldo is an immigrant from Uruguay and does not speak English, but we can get by on my poor Hebrew.  Hananiya is an American who has been here for 9 years, and does all sorts of jobs.  Between them they have helped me a lot.  Geraldo made the walk-in closet in our bedroom and recovered the kitchen cabinets for us.  Hananiya has recently put up the pergola that covers our front yard and serves as a succah.

Today Hananiya came over and put up the shelves in my study that has given me lots of desk space, and Geraldo brought his wooden construction of my drawing to store my paintings.  It is excellent, very strongly made and can store all my paintings without problem.  Altogther a good day for space-saving.