Saturday, November 27, 2010

Basic training

The pretty girl peeping behind the tree is my eldest daughter. And the tree is a palm. It's a burnt palm tree that we stumbled upon while wondering around the area of Ein-Mata. There we found the curious sight not typical at all to this area: a palm plantation. Actually the palm trees were only slightly scorched because the fire didn't harm them just singed their bark. So a curious pattern emerged of orange bark with black scorching marks, an opportunity for some "artistic" photos.  

Ein Mata is a small fountain in the Judean Hills not far from Beit-Shemesh. It is an area of the country that we consider our back yard and go hiking there quite a bit (check out, so in one of those hot and sunny November Saturdays we went hiking to that little fountain. I liked the spot because it enabled us to take my youngest son, not yet 3 years old for a training hike. Finally he got down from the baby carrier. We are attempting to turn him into a trekker with his own tiny back pack and walking boots. Since hiking is one of our favorite activities I'd want my boy to like it as much as I do.
This specific track suited us perfectly, because it's just a short walk down a slope and then up again. A huge eucalyptus tree bent over the fountain was a great playground and there were even water running that made my son very happy because he could throw stones at them.

Usually the area in this time of year should be lush and green but because there was hardly any rain and the weather keeps being dry, a lot of the trees were consumed by fires. But here and there we could encounter flowers, overwhelmed by the strange weather but still holding on. The little hike ended with a lavish picnic in a nearby forest with a panoramic view of the Judean Hills.
I wish next Saturday we won't be able to step out of the house because there would be a raging rain storm.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kangaroos, Koalas and Good Food

It is the middle of November and the temperature didn't go down below 25c since August. Personally I find this fact more than a little depressing but there is nothing to do against the forces of Nature. So if you can't make it rain, have fun. Last Saturday was a warm, sunny day with no hint of it ever raining in our area. We decided to take advantage of yet another beautiful day and take the kids to Gan-Guru. It is a zoo near the Kibbutz of Nir-David in the north/east of Israel. It is a very special zoo where only Australian originated animals are presented and one can pet and feed kangaroos and very lovely parakeets.  It turned out to be both fun and educational way to spend the Shabbat.  Of course kangaroo petting was the the kids' favorite. The koalas were sleepy and looked like a stuffed animal stuck on a tree, they didn't get a high score form the kids.

Sleeping koala

A very sleepy kangaroo

The park is not very big but it's spacious and even though the place was packed with people it wasn't bothersome.  We fed the parrots with apples and my youngest was almost bitten by a very eager cockatoo. It just made him laugh.

Have an apple

Modelling for the camera

Feeding all those animals made us very hungry. We continued to a lovely place in the Jordan Valley just off road 90, called Rutenberg. it is a tiny bistro in the historical site of Gesher Hayeshana (old Gesher). The bistro is named after Pinhas Rutenberg, the pioneer of electricity production in Israel. 

Rotenberg restaurant: lovely bistro on the border with Jordan

We had a very good meal that included crab bisque and lamb burgers among other very tasty dishes. The place and service were very pleasant and the view of the moon rising above the Jordan Valley was enchanting.
We even met a couple from Germany who informed us that the rain just doesn't stop where they live. 
No justice on the world is there? 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Biofilms on the Kinneret shores.

The research poster

In my short scientific career I've only presented my research in small conferences most of them here in Israel. I've recently presented my research just last week, when I participated in a small scientific conference in Genosar, on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The main subject of the meeting was biofilms. Biofilms are a complex aggregation of micro-organisms growing on a solid substrate for instance water pipes.
I researched biofilm that accumulates on pipes transferring freshwater. To make a long story short my aim was to determine the bacterial communities that compose the biofilm. The research was partly funded by the Israeli Ministry of Trade. It is a part of a larger scientific effort to find ways to prevent development of biofilm interfering with pipe and water transfer maintenance.
My research was performed on environmental biofilm that was sampled from the pumping site in Genosar.  There are many biofilm types though and some were presented in the conference. Including the biofilm that resides on our teeth and causes cavities.
The conference was very short (only one overnight) and very intense (many lectures and very short breaks) but I rather enjoyed it.  I even got to discuss and present my poster to some people. I went to sleep early and slept a whole night through which for me was a real treat, (my youngest son still wakes up at least once a night).  But still sitting more than 2 straight hours listen is very tasking so I went for a walk to soak my feet in the water of the Kinneret.
My main impression from the whole conference was actually the poor state of the lake that is the main water source of Israel. Years of draught pushed the coast line more than 200 meters. I was very saddened by the site and it only left me more hoping for rain.

Legs in the water
Where the shore used to be.....