Monday, September 8, 2014

Dunkin' Donuts Craze Continues

Dunkin' Donuts Craze Continues

Dunkin' Donuts Craze Continues

Posted: 07 Sep 2014 12:39 PM PDT

Dunkin' Donuts an east coast based company came to Santa Monica Tuesday September 2 with a bang. Many waited 20 or more hours for their favorite flavors. After five days open there doesn't seem to be a slowing in enthusiasm.

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Ship Wreck

Posted: 06 Sep 2014 10:26 PM PDT

25 year ago a ship ran aground. As the story goes a Russian fishing vessel was looking for a place to anchor when the captain and helmsman got into an auguement. You can see what happened.

Just another interesting sight to see on our expedition in Kamchatka, Russia.

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Be Like Mike

Posted: 05 Sep 2014 11:43 AM PDT

This was part of a photography challenge between myself and some old friends. We each picked a theme for each challenge. This week was sports.

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Remembering Them

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 12:22 AM PDT

I have lived on Kibbutz Nirim on the border with Gaza since 1975 when I was 21 years old. Back then it was a quiet, peaceful community. Our relations with our neighbors in Gaza were peaceful and reciprocal. Hamas did not exist. There were no suicide bombings or rockets.

After years of struggling to build the kibbutz in the 1940s and 50s, by the time I got here in the 70s the norm was to hop in a car and drive to a beach in Gaza, a coffee house in Gaza City or shop in the open-air market on a Saturday. Gazans were allowed into Israel to work and a Gazan was the custodian in the local school for years. We even had plans to collaborate with teachers from Gaza to build cooperative programs and a maternity hospital to serve women from Gaza and Israel that was going to be built at nearby Kibbutz Kissufim

We were neighbors. We were planning for peace.

Today, what I have written until now seems like a fairy tale.

Last Tuesday (Aug 26), my paradise was a bloody battlefield. We lost two good neighbors and we are still in mourning. A third is fighting for his life in the intensive care ward with both legs amputated. I have known all three since 1975.

Gadi Yarkoni: Fighting for his life

Gadi was a child when I came to the kibbutz. I watched him grow into a father of three and the managing director of the financial side of the communal cooperatives of Nirim and neighboring Kissufim. He amazingly overcame an extreme visual impairment, graduated college, became a successful professional and raised a family. Once he is out of danger he will have the new challenge to learn to use artificial legs. Two days ago his wife hugged me and said how lucky they were - they still have Gadi. She promised that he was strong enough to overcome these obstacles, as well. She is the person who knows him best in this world. I believe her.


Shahar Melamed: Kind-hearted, always ready to lend a hand


I watched Shahar grow from a child and develop his professionalism of being the only mechanic I trusted. I wouldn't buy a car without him. He grew, wooed his sweetheart and built an unbelievably tight family. As the assistant head of security his was the only family that remained throughout almost all 50 days. His wife refused to be separated.

A Hamas rocket from Gaza knocked out the electricity in the morning before the final ceasefire (iReport "The Second Worst Day of my Life") he took his wife and children to the specially reinforced day care building with the only generator and thus with electricity to escape the oppressive heat. The damaged electricity tower was only yards away.

When repairs started Shahar joined them, his wife and children merely seconds away and saw the fatal attacks through the window that divided them in the reinforced day care oasis, and the lawn outside that had turned into a bloody battlefield.

Zeevik: My friend and "go-to" guy


Zeevik was a strapping teen, just a few years younger than me. I watched him mature and grow, get married and bring five lovely children into this world. In addition to being in charge of security, Zeevik was a volunteer ambulance driver, plumber and had worked in almost every agricultural job of the kibbutz. He was the guy in charge of the microphones and sound controls at all kibbutz celebrations. He was a central beloved figure with an easy laugh and an ever-growing beer-belly.

Zeevik was my "go to" guy when I needed help. As a widow, when my sons were not around to help, Zeevik never said "no". He was always ready to lend a hand; always with a big smile. When he was near, I was not afraid.

During the ground war when most families had temporarily moved to safer locations, those of us who remained on Nirim ate dinner together, each of us bringing something. When Zeevik was too busy with security issues we always saved him dinner. When performers came to our shelter to try to bring some brightness to our lives, whenever possible we made sure Zeevik was there. When volunteers came to give massages (good hearted professionals braved the treacherous roads twice to give us some comfort) his friends saw to it that Zeevik didn't miss out on a session.

One evening, I had him to myself for dinner at my house. Our friends had all gone for the evening to different places. I called him up to ask where he would be eating. He said he had no plans. I ordered him to appear at 19:30 at my house. Easy-peasy: he lived in the house just behind.


Every time a rocket fell he was on on its trail. He hunted them down. When my house got hit he and a helper were first on the scene to check if I was ok. I had been in my safe room during the barrage and had had no idea my bedroom had been penetrated by deadly shards of shrapnel.

With my house damaged and the electricity off I decided to exit for a few days and thus missed the hell that followed just a few hours later.

This region is super hot in summer and it's grueling to be closed inside a reinforced saferoom with its heavy metal doors and no A.C. Towards evening a line crew arrived to repair the damaged electricity lines.

It is well known that the Hamas shoot a huge rocket barrage in the last few minutes before any ceasefire to try and get in a last kill. They aim for civilians, not Israeli army bases, since we're an easy target. They hope to hit groups of people outside before they can make it to safety.

Anyone who lives here knows the last hour before a ceasefire you don't want to be caught outside. But the hard working repairmen hadn't been notified of the impending ceasefire. Otherwise, none of them would have been there. They would have waited for the time to pass, put up with the sweltering heat, and then a bit more, before going to fix what needed to be fixed.

But they had no idea.

As the electricians were on the tower, suspended between heaven and earth, a new barrage began. The men in the air remained there. You have only 10 seconds (or less) to take cover. That is not enough time to get down from a high-voltage tower (how they didn't drop dead from fright, I will never understand).

One "Code Red" alert, warning of incoming rockets was sounded. The men on the ground ran. A few minutes later, believing it was over, they went back out again.

And another "Code Red". Another scramble for safety.

The third "Code Red" was their downfall. There was simply not enough time between the alarm, until they could reach the "safe haven" of a concrete wall. Gadi was closest. He took it in his legs. Then Shahar and Zeevik, a little farther away were hit. Within minutes the emergency response teams were there and working on the wounded men.

Zeevik was killed on the spot, although the paramedics tried their best to resuscitate him. They treated Shahar and Gadi, putting on tourniquets to staunch the bleeding and as they were working to save their lives, the alarms blared three more times, warning of three additional incoming rockets. Each time, with only seconds to react, there was no way the first aid workers could get the wounded to a safe spot quickly enough without causing further damage. So they threw flack-jackets over them to protect them as much as possible and ran. Despite valiant efforts, Shahar died later that night, in hospital.

All this time from reports of all the people I spoke to who were there, there was no IDF return fire. It was less than an hour before the ceasefire was supposed to begin and no Israeli planes, no tanks, no helicopters were shooting back. Silence from the guns on our side. The only sounds were more Code Red alerts, the whistles of the incoming rockets from Gaza, the deafening explosions.

An hour before the end of 50 days of fighting, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad knew the ceasefire was about to begin, they fired anyway. Gadi lost his legs and is still fighting for his life. We all lost our friends Shahar and Zeevik. Now, the families, the community, their friends, have an awful lot of healing to do.

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