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Consumer Watch - 215

Debrah Marcus' comments in I look forward to an "A" rather than an "E" (We've Got Mail #213) were interesting and – best of all – thought provoking. So I looked up 'consumer' and 'consumerism' and found these definitions, among others:

"Consumer: One who consumes, destroys, wastes, or spends; that which consumes" (Wordnik), "Consumerism: The theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable." (Merriam-Webster).

Until very recently many of us were under the delusion that "consumerism" was beneficial, but between global warming, supply chain issues, energy shortages and economic constraints I doubt if many still believe that canard, and my 'take' on Consumer Watch reflected that. The items were about saving and conserving rather than squandering – for example, tasty time-and-money saving recipes, needing one hair towel rather than two, having a warmer bed to sleep in in winter – and meet those criteria. If 'calling cards' are passé, 'business cards' and magnets are not and can still be filed the same way. I can even make a case for the Barn Owl,but won't.

Lastly: ESRA Magazine is a remarkable VOLUNTEER achievement, and anyone who wants to add or improve it is welcome to contact the editors and give it a try!

All the Best!


Glasses need adjusting but hands are wet/dirty? Turn palms outward, facing either side, and use both backs of the hands together to lift, adjust or remove sun or reading glasses.


"Fairy" Night Light

I took home a solar powered garden light and removed the stickers; it took longer to un-twist the light unit and find the little 'on/off' switch underneath.

After charging in the sun a day or two I took it inside. What next? An 'Old-Fashioned' rocks cocktail glass filled with glass marbles held the little lamppost upright (minus the garden spike) on the corner of the kitchen counter. At lights out it became a 'fairy' night light that changes color: red-yellow-blue-green-orange... rated for 8 hours on a full day's sunlight, I turn it off and plant it outside each morning, bring it in and turn it on at night.
Tweaks: the lamp-base also fits into a candle holder, and a full charge may last longer.

{The mind is a curious thing. One night I forgot to turn it on. The first words that popped into my head next morning were: "Oh dear! It didn't get a wink all night!"}


National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) has an English website at homepage/

You can find out about eligibility and how to apply in Israel or from abroad.

An Israeli startup called TechMate* is offering free, 24/7 technical first aid for computer and smartphone problems at 052-9696362! Service is in Hebrew and English so far. Each call is limited to 10 minutes and repeat callers will get a different helper. There is also a pay option.

Hebrew website

(* There are commercial companies with the same name, but this is an org.)

CAVEAT: while researching the above, my computer maven warned of fraudulent 'technical services' out to steal data or hold computers to ransom; these 'services' operate from abroad and mostly in English. He relaxed somewhat on hearing this was a local, Israeli operation.


That Vanishing Aroma

A friend opened a new jar of granulated instant coffee and inhaled deeply. Then she poured some of it into a much smaller jar, closed both, put the small one in the cupboard for everyday use and the large one in the freezer! She explained that the coffee's aroma dissipates with each opening: this method preserved it a bit longer. (Also safer: some coffee jars are heavy and downright awkward to hold.)
In Loving Memory of Eliane "Souris" Jones: three tweaks to the above: (1) When opening the big jar, make a small, 1.5-2cm hole in the seal next to the edge, remove loose foil around it and leave the rest of the foil in place. The small hole becomes a funnel and reduces spills... especially at the end, when the last grains perch on the jar's inside shoulders and getting them out is messy. (2) Fill two small jars at once to save open/close time. (3) Leave a short measuring spoon (ex-cough syrup spoons: ideal!) in the little jars; easy to measure the desired amount and keep granules safe from wet spoons.


Half a Paper Towel works too

A hack to put a rubber band around the middle of a paper-towel roll, to tear off half-towels, proved messy – but the idea stuck.

Grab a towel in the middle: one hand tears off half to the perforation, the other holds the remaining half steady. Also, it's easy to tear off a half or a whole towel as needed with no rubber band; just put by any left-over halves.

I'm buying fewer paper towels lately, too. BTW don't tear a towel crosswise: it shreds.


Opening Obstreperous Cellophane Food Bags {that should tear easily, but don't}

This method opens nine bags out of ten without scissors, knives, coins, nails, etc, and without spills.

* Find which sealed end of the bag is narrower.

* Raise the seam fold that runs lengthwise and grab it with thumb and finger at the narrow edge, as close to the seam as possible.

* Grab the bag's narrow edge next to the seam with the other hand.

* Gently and slowly, pull the two edges apart at the seam until the bag opens.

Caveat: the tenth bag will not tear at the top because the seal is too strong. In that case gently work downwards along the seam, below the seal, until a weak spot gives way.

# A marketing ploy makes a bag harder to open,to increase customers' anticipation.


DST Blues

Changing back and forth for Daylight Saving Time can be disorienting and is stressful around the world {there is a statistical uptick in heart attacks following switches.}

To help re-calibrate my bio-clock I adjust one of my two (analog) wall clocks to the new time, leaving the other on the old time for a few days - a 'daylight' benchmark as it were - until I adjust. I don't even bother changing my analog watches any more: just check them against the 'new' time as I head out the door.



Putting a Dent in the Bottleneck

The supply-chain bottleneck is still in effect and Israel is no exception; in March 2022 80+ ships were anchored outside Israeli ports waiting to be unloaded; by April 29 the count was only down to 73. The problem: most of the waiting ships carry 'general cargo', i.e. merchandise packed in boxes, bales, crates, sacks, construction materials; even 'loose cargo' in holds (like wheat and corn) – items that require individual or bulk unloading.

So how did the count drop to around 50 ships in July?

Part of the answer is Engineer Ronit Kastro, Director of Business Development at the Haifa Gulf Port (aka Bay Port), built and operated by SIPG, Shanghai International Port Group. The Gulf Port is a state-of-the-art container facility where loading, unloading, storage and forwarding are all computer-run and overseen: no human operators or drivers are needed on the wharves.

Because the port is not yet operating to capacity Kastro saw an opportunity in two unused wharves – and pounced. Convincing her management that the plan was feasible and even beneficial, she coordinated with the Transport Ministry, Haifa Port Management, trucking companies and ships' owners. With stevedores hired through employment agencies, work began with one rental crane and a few forklifts. Kastro and her team also juggle off-site warehousing for empty containers and raw materials, import and export agents, customs agents and trucking concerns – all working to put a dent in Israel's supply-chain bottleneck.

And along the way Ronit Kastro has become the industry's first female Dock Manager.


"Other Accidents"?

In 2017 an Eilat port worker received head and chest injuries when part of the forklift he was on, used as a runabout, collided with a 'construct.' He recovered and returned to work, but National Insurance categorized the incident under "other accidents."

A court has now ruled that this was a 'road accident' by definition and has ordered National Insurance to pay NIS 170,000 compensation {about US $49,000}, plus legal fees and filing costs. Further, the insurance company holding the policy on the forklift may not contest the ruling because the forklift is defined as a "motorized vehicle"!


Look Ma: No Hands!

Harvesting orchards is a specialized job, labor intensive, hot and hard. But what can farmers do when there is neither manpower to do it nor resources to cover rising costs, when harvesting already amounts to 30% of growing costs?

Enter the 'Airborne Harvesting Robots for Orchards' developed by Tevel Aerobotics Technologies.

Using AI, the autonomous unit is comprised of up to four "airborne robots for picking, thinning, and pruning tasks in orchards" linked to an operations and collection wagon. The robots use cameras and suction cups to gently select and harvest the fruit to specification (size, color, weight), while also collecting and reporting back to growers accurate data on watering, possible diseases or infestations. The unit can operate autonomously day or night and pick some 500kg in a 24-hour period.

Still being tested in Israel, Airborne Harvesting Robots are already in use in Italy and the U.S.


The Only Rabbit Park in Israel

During the pandemic an Eilat resident let pet rabbits loose in a secluded nook of a municipal park. Others followed suit. The rabbits prospered. Now children come to feed, water and watch them play "in the wild." Adults too. Human bites, kicks or infections are highly unlikely because the rabbits run and hide if anyone gets too close, and the veterinary service is monitoring their condition.

At the same time the municipal vet would like to spay and neuter as many as possible before tunneling becomes a problem; rabbits have few natural predators in the Eilat area and almost none in an urban environment, and they breed... like rabbits.

The park's location is being kept secret to protect the 'wildlife.'

[Will they call it Watership Park?] 



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Saturday, 13 July 2024

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