Door Perceptions

Those who follow my blog know that I like elegant but simple solutions to difficult problems.  I also love to do things myself, I am a diy addict.  But I also know that my abilities are limited and I sometimes need to obtain help.

Case in point, I had a screen door installed in our new house some months ago.  The one that had been there before opened the wrong way (!), so I had to scrap that and have a new one fitted.  The person who installed the new one was an expert and did a good job, but charged a lot.  However, after he left I realized that he had not installed a spring to close the door automatically.  I called him to come back and do it but he wanted an extra NIS 100 for the job, and I thought it should be included in the price.  Anyway, for one reason or another he never came back.  So I had to find a solution myself.  My daughter has a long horizontal spring on her screen door, so I went to the hardware store and asked for such a spring.

The salesman there gave me an alternative solution, a vertical metal cylinder with a spring inside it (cost NIS 40).  You attach the cylinder to the door frame and then attach an arm to the central part of the cylinder that turns.  It must be turned against the spring, so that when released the spring pushes the arm against the door and closes it.  I figured out how to do it, but I could not drill the holes in the door frame because it is metal.   I asked my friendly carpenter Geraldo if he could drill these holes. He suggested using special screws that drill the holes themselves in metal with an electric drill.  This worked well and then all I had to do was turn the arm against the screw (adjustable) so that it would spring back and then it closed the door.  I added small soft patches to the door frame to avoid banging.  It works very well.

Actually Geraldo came to our house to fix the doors on the walk-in closet that he built for us.  We are very pleased with it, but the two doors never closed properly and then often sprang back and left a gap.  I called him because I bought two magnetic connectors that are supposed to close the doors, but I could not see how to fit them without drastic surgery on the doors.  He agreed there was a problem and removed the plastic pieces that prevented the doors from closing tight.  Then he attached the magnets to the doors and they worked.  But it is unsightly, not an elegant solution, because he inserted wooden strips on the inside of the doors to attach the magnets and also large metal clips to bind with the magnets.  He agreed it was not satisfactory and he will return with the kind of magnetic strips that you find on shower doors that hold them together.  To be continued.


Life without wifi

I have discovered that my life is totally dependent on the internet and e-mail, which means I am dependent on wifi.  When the wifi started to fail a few days ago, as evidenced by the lights going off on my modem, I found myself marooned, shipwrecked on an island, alone in a sea, with nothing to occupy my time, unable to communicate. Life came to a stand-still.  I realized that wifi is as important as a wife. or maybe more so.

When it became obvious that turning the modem off and on again would not accomplish anything, I decided I had to call the internet company HOT.  I always experience withdrawal symptoms when I face this because my Hebrew is not good enough, I can hardly understand the many options that they give on the automatic messages.  Finally I screwed up enough courage and called, and then navigated the plethora of indecipherable responses and more or less randomly pressed, 1, 2, 3 or more (the only language choices were Hebrew or Russian).  Finally I got to talk to someone in the technical department, but she spoke Hebrew quite incomprehensible to me (either with an Arab or Ethiopian accent), so I asked her to have someone call me back who spoke English.

I was surprised when someone did actually call back fairly soon, and then I explained the situation and he checked and said there was a problem with the cable and he would send a technician – except that he could not do that until I paid my debt!  What debt, my payments to HOT are made automatically by bank draft every month, and indeed I had seen that I had paid them in October.  But, he said I owed them about NIS 200 for the telephone which had not been paid.  In order to take care of this I would have to call customer service in the morning because they were already closed, then I would have to call back to the technical department after I paid and tell someone else the story again.

I spent the night worrying about how I would explain this situation to the customer service department.  I must not start out by saying I had a problem with the modem or the wifi, because then they would transfer me to the technical department.  So when I finally called and waited ca. 20 mins I had my story ready, I needed to pay my account to date so that I could get a technician sent to take care of a problem in my cable.  I gave her my credit card number and this worked and the girl said “hakol be’seder” (everything is OK) and then transferred me to the technical department.  I explained my problem again and told them the cable had been checked and I need a technician, and they said OK we’ll send one, but not until Sunday.

I prepared myself mentally to face a whole weekend without wifi.  What a hardship!  Then someone called back and said he would be here that afternoon, and I got a confirmatory SMS message. Then someone called at noon and said he was on the way.  When he came he did not go to see the modem but he checked the cable outside my house and then told me it was not working properly.  But, then he ran through the house replacing cable connectors and miraculously the wifi began to work again.    He said it would probably go again, but then they would have to do something more extensive to the cable.  Then as  soon as he came he was gone.

Now I am able to communicate with you through my ailing cable/wifi system.  If you don’t hear from me, you know why, my wife has probably left me.


Switched on

Because my son-in-law Jeff is religious, and did such an excellent job helping to prepare our new house in Beer-Sheva, I believe everything he tells me.  When he told me that the red switch with a light inside, that was outside the bathroom in our bedroom, was the power for the water heater I naturally believed him.  There was also a similar switch in the corridor, but this one had a fancy timer attached to it, and he did not know what that was for.  So when the skies started to be cloudy and the temperature started to fall and the solar heater would not work so well, I turned on the switch for the water heater when I got up early (say 6 am) and then turned it off an hour later.  Fortunately the water was always hot.  But, I was warned not to leave it on for too long, say 2 hrs max, since it could blow the boiler.

I had an electrician here doing some work for me, and I asked him what did he think the switch in the corridor with the timer was for, and he said that’s for the hot water heater.  So I asked him what was the other switch outside the bathroom inside our bedroom and he said that was for the bathroom heater (which he then set up).  So I felt foolish, here I was switching that switch on and off on the assumption that it was heating the water and actually it was doing nothing,

So now I decided to test the actual water heater switch. I turned it on and set the timer to the correct time, and set it to turn on for an hour 6-7 am.  The light was on in the switch but also a small light lit up on the side.  I showed the timer to our metapelet and she assured me that it was set up correctly.  But, just in case I took a photo of the set-up and sent it to Jeff, who I always believe.   Two hours later he called me back and said “do you know you’ve turned the water heater on,” I replied yes, but its on the timer.  “No” he said “its on all the time when the little light on the side is on.”  Oh I said, that means its been on for 2 hours.  He said you might want to turn it off now.  He explained that there was a switch in the timer (that I had seen but had no idea what it was for) that allowed you to turn it on all the time or off all the time, or if you set it to the tiny clock shown in the middle of the switch, that actuated the timer.

The first thing I did was turn the whole thing off.  Then I let the water run and it was scalding hot, obviously too hot.  I let it run to make sure that if it heated again the boiler would not burst.  Near catastrophe!  Then the next day when it had cooled down I reset the clock and put the little switch onto the timer setting and then turned it on.  I ran it thru 24 hrs by hand to check that it turned on and off (as indicated by the little light on the side) when it reached 6 and 7 am, and then satisfied, I set it to run continuously.

Now every morning we have hot water without the sunshine because the water is heated for one hour.  The moral of this story is don’t believe everything a religious person tells you.


Arnona Games

Arnona is the Hebrew for municipal or property taxes.  As an old retired couple (over 75) we are supposed to get a discount, and in fact we did get a discount in Netanya of 25% on our apartment.  But, that was due to Naomi’s condition, incapacitated due to Alzheimer’s Disease.  I could never get more, and they don’t allow any reduction on a second property (my studio, for which we paid more arnona than the apartment).

When we moved to Beersheva we asked about getting a reduction on our arnona here and we were told we must get a letter from Netanya City transferring the reduction here.  So Miriam wrote a nice letter (in Hebrew) to Netanya City Arnona Dept. asking for a form transferring the arnona reduction.  Since we received no reply we visited their offices in Netanya and eventually they did send the required transfer letter.

We made an appointment with the arnona city office here in Beersheva and were told what to bring with us.  When we arrived for the appointment they asked for my code number with Bituach Leumi (National Insurance).  I supposed this was to check that I was indeed registered with them.  But they had not asked us to bring this number and I did not have it with me nor did I remember it.  So we had to make another appointment to go back and bring that number.

When we went back for the second time to the arnona office, of course, they did not ask for my Bituach Leumi number.  But, after checking the files they came up with a  different problem.  Miriam is listed as a co-owner of my house, because Naomi cannot be as she is incompetent.  So they said I could only get half the usual reduction because of Miriam being normal.  I’ve learnt enough about these offices that will try to find any conceivable way not to give you what you are entitled to.  So I protested, I said “but Miriam does not live there and Naomi does, therefore we should get the full reduction.”

So they went back into the office of the supervisor and discussed it and then came out and said they had a solution, if Miriam would sign a statement that she does not live at our house but she does live at another address and pays arnona there, then they could give us the full reduction.  So Miriam wrote out and signed such a statement and they accepted it and we received – 70% reduction on our arnona.  Wow!  Finally the full reduction.  It shows that persistence pays off.


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.


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.


Bureaucratic battle

When I reached 75 years of age I was entitled to a free parking sticker for blue and white sections in Netanya.  So I went to the specific office in the old City Hall downtown and at first they gave me a temporary sticker to put on my car and then eventually I had to go back and collect my permanent sticker.  This had the year of 2015 clearly printed on it. Naturally I parked around Netanya and did not expect to receive parking tickets.

During 2016 and 2017 I started to receive parking tickets of 100 shekels each when I parked in various places.  Being particularly stupid, I assumed this was a mistake, that the parking police had ignored my “old person’s” sticker and that somehow this mistake would be rectified.  After all, why should I have to go to the dreaded parking police and deal with the terrible bureaucracy.  Over time the tickets began to mount up, until I received a registered letter from the City telling me that I owed them 1,500 shekels.  One of these tickets was for NIS 250 for parking on a red and white section, when I was in a frantic hurry and took a chance.

When my daughter found out about my negligence, she insisted that we must take care of this before I left Netanya.  She wrote an explanatory letter to the appropriate office, but we received no reply.  So we arranged to visit this office in the new City Hall on the outskirts of town to deal with the problem and she came as my translator.  When we got there she explained the situation to the clerk, who was very nice and explained that I should have renewed my old-person’s sticker every year, so I was not actually covered for the two years it was not valid.  But, I explained to her that I am an old man and misunderstood the Hebrew when they told me the sticker was “permanent.”  So she directed us to another office in the same building, and there the clerk was very helpful and said that if I renewed the “old person’s” sticker for 2017, they might be able to forgive some of my tickets.

She directed us back to the office in the old City Hall downtown where they deal with these stickers.  There we had to wait while the clerk played with her children who were on vacation.  Then she saw us and told us that she could give me a new sticker for 2017 if I came back with four pieces of paper, copies of my driving license, my car registration, my i.d. card (teudat zehut) that all Israeli citizens carry, and my municipal taxes (arnona) payment, to prove that I lived in Netanya.   I got three of these but I could not find my car registration.  However, upon further searching I found it still inside a blue plastic folder that the city kindly provided, and nearby was a shop that did copies.

So she immediately gave me a sticker for 2017.  The clerk in the previous office said that I could fax a note with a copy of this sticker to them, no need to go back.  A few weeks later I received a call from her and she told me that the case was now being sent to the lawyer who would render a verdict.  Yesterday I received the verdict in the mail, nearly all tickets cancelled (except one on red and white, which I knew were not covered).  Savings for this bureaucratic challenge ca. NIS 1,200.  Worth fighting City Hall!