1.5.16

Gotta b. kiddn'


The infinitely complex undertaking that threadless is taking - to provide a platform of engagement for a massive audience - fascinates me. They started with attracting people through competitions and now we have the Artist Shop to try out.
Yes, this is Hebrew
Stumbling upon a t-shirt prints shop in Tel Aviv, in the later years of the twentieth century started my journey of turning threads of inspiration into wearables. The English version of the one on the left is shown at the top, the image in the center comes from a book by Halbritter; the shirt on the right is my expression of frustration over the introduction of caps to Tetra Pak cartons ("Return the cap to the bottle!").

At the time when printed t-shirts became a prominent item in the American culture, I was a bit dismissive of people making billboards of themselves. Then, in the early nineteen nineties my brother's designs for transfer technology exposed me to the broader side of this engagement. After moving to Canada in 2002 I walked into a place that made prints on t-shirts. I was appalled to realize how expensive making one would be, maybe three times the amount it cost me in Israel. However, the idea of finding ways and venues to continue my habit of turning ideas into objects stayed.

Not available on threadless as a t-shirt anymore

Then, in 2010 my sister sent me an orange shirt with a lovely design of a fox. This was the first time I became aware of the company named threadless. Still, the price seemed appalling to me. But why worry, here is a venue where my ideas can join a stream of like-minded people, and possibly even be purchased around the world. My first submission was kindly rejected, making me feel like, why bother…

My first submission on threadless
OK, I appreciate the way things are handled here. The concept of putting your stuff out and gathering feedback, directly and indirectly, is at the core of the design process. Moving ideas from concept to reality on the threadless platform is fun and friendly. The Artist Shop is a welcome addition to the package. I'm happy to have been able to witness its initial stages of development. It's exciting to follow a process like this (the development of an interactive, functional mechanism) and also participate in its making. Occasionally I send feedback to the threadless team. They are open to ideas and have even implemented successfully some of mine.
Some of my submissions this year, 2016
Sharing insights with unknown people for unguaranteed prospects is not easy for me. Every day requires a set of choices to be made: "Do I post a design? Should I send this feedback or keep it to myself? Is this going to be a t-shirt or a tote bag? How much more garbage does the world need?" An intangible sense of worth is constantly challenged. I solve this by trusting myself, trusting my own intentions. Whatever inspires me I try my best to keep alive and kicking.

11.1.16

Pendulum


In fact, maybe we are, after a phase of adjustment, situated in a new reality. Packs of commuters, pedestrians and community at large are holding a device of some sort in their hand. With it one speaks, another is messaging; one device is used to read books and on the other, articles are composed.
Like many innovations that capture our initial reservations, the electronic communications device too, in its many incarnations, attracts a variety of calls of dismissal and reproach. Whether I am among the users of the most cutting edge device or one of the many onlookers, our inclination to mock a new phenomenon feels natural. However, without much delay I become one of the many first users of a technology. I might still have a tinge of unease by succumbing to the trend but embrace the wonders of the novelty or even its limits.
Once more I am on the bus, thinking of the typical grievances that used to be or still are directed towards "the addicted" to technology. As time passes by, those who spend their time device-less look increasingly idle, like bums: "like, don't they have anything more important to do than just sit there, without doing anything? Ha! Riding a bus!"

Pendulum (Hebrew)


בעצם, אולי אנחנו מצויים אחרי תקופה של הסתגלות, במציאות חדשה. קבוצות רצופות של נוסעי תחבורה ציבורית, הולכי רגל ושאר חברי קהילה, מחזיקים בידם מכשיר כלשהו. עם המכשיר הזה אחד מדבר, אחרת מתכתבת; מכשיר אחד משמש לקריאת ספרים ובמכשיר אחר מחברים מאמרים.
כמו הרבה חידושים שתופסים אותנו מגיבים אליהם בהסתייגות ראשונית, גם אביזר התקשורת האלקטרוני על תצורותיו השונות זוכה למגוון קריאות ביטול ותוכחה. בין אם אני ממשתמשי המכשיר התורן או מאלה המבחינים בו מהצד, הנטייה לפתוח במסרים ביקורתיים על ההשלכות השליליות של התופעה מרגישה טבעית. לא עובר זמן רב בדרך כלל וגם אני בין המשתמשים הטריים בטכנולוגיה. אולי אני ממשיך לחוש באי הנחת מהכניעה לסחף אבל מגלה את נפלאות החידוש או אפילו את מגבלותיו.
ושוב אני נוסע באוטובוס וחושב על הטרוניות הראשוניות שהופנו, או עדיין מופנות כלפי "המכורים" לטכנולוגיה. ככל שהזמן עובר, המעבירים את זמנם ללא מכשיר ביד נראים יותר ויותר כמו חסרי מעש, בטלנים: "מה, אין להם משהו חשוב יותר מלשבת כך סתם, מבלי לעשות כלום? נוסעים באוטובוס!"

10.1.16

The age of Surface

Following the purchase of a new tablet that enables the use of and writing with a stylus, I woke up at four in the morning and decided to play with it a bit. The screenshot below provides a preliminary summary of the experience. 

Now, when I tried to switch to the keyboard, I realized that I can  attach the physical one to the device. This is a translation from my piece in Hebrew. I still can't type in Hebrew conveniently on the attached keyboard. So here is another stupidity that I'd be happy to share with someone else: Anat is still asleep and has already expressed her appreciation in the occasions when I've waited till the morning to talk with her; Sharon is in a different place, a different situation and if there is anything relevant to share with her, whatever it was that I had interest in sharing - is something else.

My initial understanding, the one that takes me back to my early life insight, is that the person most relevant to share my three O'clock in the morning swirling outbursts of musings, is me. Later it trickles its way to my communications with others. Occasionally it happens on the same day and the rest of it reaches other people some other time. Even the thought that this new device is responsible for my current joy is gently pushed aside by another one. It reminds me that in the past there have been enough occasions where I have encouraged myself to action this way or the other.


In short, I am very satisfied by the purchase of this new device, I am very satisfied with completing the mosaic I am making with Bruce, I continue to look at my employment at Paul Sangha's in a positive anticipation of our next move. And this is just the start.

The age of Surface (Hebrew)

בעקבות קניית טאבלט, המאפשר כתיבה עם מטה הפעלה אלקטרוני (סטילוס), התעוררתי בארבע בבוקר והחלטתי לשחק איתו קצת על המסך. צילום המסך שכאן מסכם את החוויה באופן ראשוני.
עכשיו עסקתי בניסיון לעבור לכתיבה במקלדת אבל קלטתי שזו הממשית, עדיין לא מציגה אותיות בעברית, אז ניתקתי אותה והמכשיר עובר אוטומטית למוד הקלדה על המסך דרך המקלדת הווירטואלית. אז הנה, עוד שטות שהייתי שמח לשתף בה מישהו אחר: ענת ישנה ומביעה הערכה להזדמנויות בהן אני מחכה לבוקר כדי לדבר איתה, שרון במקום אחר במצב אחר ואם יש משהו שיכול להיות רלוונטי לשתף אותה בו, הדבר שבמקור רציתי לשתף אותה בו הוא משהו אחר.
ההבנה הראשונית, שמחזירה אותי כל פעם לתובנת החיים המוקדמת, היא שהבנאדם הרלוונטי ביותר לשתף אותו באיבחות מחשבה מסתחררות כמו אלה שאני חווה בדרך כלל בשלוש בלילה, הוא אני. אחר כך זה מטפטף לתקשורת שלי עם אחרים. מדי פעם זה קורה עוד באותו יום ושאר הזמן זה מגיע איכשהו לאנשים שונים, בדרגות שונות, במקטעים כאלה או אחרים. אפילו המחשבה שהמכשיר החדש מהווה חלק מההנאה, מוצאת את עצמה נהדפת קלות ע"י זו שאומרת שבכל הזדמנות בעבר מצאתי את עצמי מדרבן את דחפי הפעולה של עצמי בדרכים מדרכים שונות.
בקיצור, אני מאד מרוצה מהקנייה של הטאבלט. אני מאוד מרוצה מהשלמת הפסיפס שאני יוצר עם ברוס, אני ממשיך להסתכל על ההעסקה שלי אצל פול סנגה בציפייה חיוביות לבאות. וזו רק ההתחלה.

1.1.16

Bus Ride Reading (Ignorance is bliss - The Hebrew Version)

ב 2009 כשהורי ביקרו אותנו כאן בוונקובר, יצא לי להבין בהפתעה קלה משהו, שהטריד את יוחנן בתור אבא לילדים שגדלו בבית דובר עברית. באחד מטיולי הבוקר הוא ציין את תחושת היתרון שיש לנו בהשוואה אליו, שגדל אצל הורים דוברי שפות זרות. בשיתוף הזה מצידו, היה משהו מעורר מחשבה. זו אמירה שמכילה רבדים של תחושות כמו תסכול, קנאה והערכה. לפעמים אנחנו עיוורים למכלול המציאות בה אנחנו חלק, עד שמי שאיתנו חולק מה שאצלו. את יכולת ההבעה והכתיבה אני ממילא מנסה לשפר ולזקק בלי קשר. אבל היכולת הזו מיועדת גם לקהל, שבלעדיו אין לה הרבה תכלית.
אולי פרט אירוני במחשבות העולות תוך כתיבת הדברים שכאן, הוא שאף פעם לא הבחנתי אצל אבא במגבלה ביכולת ההבעה. אבל השיחה שבה הוא הצליח להביע את ההכרה שלו באותה מגבלה, ממשיכה להעסיק אותי במפגשים עם אנשים אחרים. אלה שאני מעריך את יכולת ההבעה שלהם כטובה משלי, מהם אני מנסה ללמוד. אלה שיכולת ההבעה שלהם אולי פחותה, איתם אני מנסה להקפיד, מצד אחד על סבלנות ומצד שני על תמיכה. סבלנות בהקשבה ותמיכה במאמץ לנסות.
לקראת יום השלושים לפטירת יוחנן שטרן, הייתי עסוק בכתיבת החיבור בהמשך תוך נסיעה בתחבורה ציבורית. הקשר לפתיחה שלמעלה אולי לא מיידי אם כי טבעי עבורי במכלול החוויות העוברות עלי.
קריאה בתחבורה ציבורית (בורות היא אושר)
במה אנחנו מחפשים תעסוקה? אני קורא ספר בשם 'קריאת רשות' ('קריאה בלתי נחוצה' בתרגום לאנגלית) שאת שם המחברת אולי יום אחד אצליח לזכור ולהגות. השאלה שלמעלה מעסיקה אותי בזמן הקריאה ואחריה. אני תוהה מה מוצא חן בעיני בשורות אותן אני קורא ומה גורם לי להירתע.
בהמשך אני קורא פיסות מידע על ויסלבה שימבורסקה. הבירור הזריז הזה מחזיר אותי ל'קאמפר' הראשונות שקניתי.
ברחובות מילנו 1999, עברתי ליד חלון ראווה שבו הוצג זוג נעלים שגרם לי לעצור. כאילו מצאתי משהו שכל החיים חיפשתי. הן היו יפות באופן לא מובחן כמעט. היופי שלהן הכיל שלוה, נינוחות, ביטחון עצמי. אפשר היה לעבור לידן מבלי להרגיש בכלל. ובכל זאת הן כאילו חיכו לי. כשמדדתי, הנוחות שלהן הפתיעה רק על רקע נסיון העבר, בו מה שנראה נוח מסתבר בדרך כלל כפחות אם בכלל.
הכתיבה של שימבורסקה, המתורגמת לאנגלית, מרגישה מוכרת, בכל זאת זרה, אולי בגלל התרגום, אולי בגלל התחביר. היא "נשמעת" קצת כמו עולה חדש מרוסיה שנמצא בישראל כבר הרבה שנים. השפה רהוטה וקולחת עם מהמורה קלה פה ושם בנגינה. כשאני מדבר אנגלית, מדי פעם חסרות לי מלים. אני ממציא ביטויים שמסבירים את מה שאני מתכוון בצירופים שחדשים לחברה מסביבי. מעמדת הקורא, אני מתרשם שהשפה של שימבורסקה מעוררת בי התרשמות דומה אולי לזו של השומעים אותי במקום בו אני נמצא. מהמקום בו אני נמצא, אני מתחבר חזרה לויסלבה.
כשחזרתי מאיטליה עם הקאמפר החדשות, הסתבר לי שזה מותג ספרדי חם בשוק האפנה האירופאי, כולל ישראל. תהיתי איך הייתי מתייחס לנעליים בחלון אם הייתי יודע על כך מראש. לא מפריע לי להסתובב עם מותג. מפריע לי לקנות אותו רק בגלל שהוא זה. עודד, שקרא לי בעברית חיבור אחד מתוך הספר, חסך ממני את הפרט הלא רלוונטי של פרס הנובל בו זכתה שימבורסקה. כשפניתי לקנות את הספר חשבתי לעצמי, האם אני קונה אותו בגלל שאני מושפע מהמפגש עם עודד או כיוון שמשהו בטקסט היה באמת חזק מספיק עבורי.
אחת השאלות ששאלו את ויסלבה, משוררת פולנית ידועה, שנפטרה בת 89 ב 2012, היתה למה לא פרסמה יותר שירים. התשובה שלה מחזירה אותי לקרוא את החיבורים שלה, "הבלתי נחוצים": "יש כבר סל מיחזור אצלי בחדר".



28.12.15

Bus Ride Reading (Ignorance is bliss)

In 2009, my parents visited us here in Vancouver. Somewhat unexpectedly I realized an issue that had bothered Yohanan, my dad, for years. In one of our morning walks he mentioned the advantage we’d had over him. Being Israeli born to immigrant parents, he always felt that his exposure to language was compromised. He expressed awareness to the fact that we, his children, grew up in a Hebrew speaking household. That confession provoked layers of thought in me. I could sense the frustration in him, the envy as well as appreciation and respect. We are sometimes blind to the complex reality we live in until the person with us shares their own. My drive to improve and distil my own process of expression and writing is already established. However, my skills are deemed futile without an audience.
As I am writing these words, the irony in my dad’s state of mind has not escaped me. I have never considered his level of expression as missing much. But our chat in which he managed to express his awareness to that perceived fault, keeps me alert in my encounters with other people. From those I appreciate the level of expression as superior to mine I try to learn. With the ones whose level might be lower I try to be careful, on the one hand with patience and on the other - support; being patient in listening and supportive of the effort to try.
This memory came back to me as the thirty days from my dad's passing away (on 21 November 2015) approached. I was just about to complete a piece of commentary following a few days of commuting on bus to work. The link between the opening above and my commentary seems natural to me if not immediately obvious.
Bus Ride Reading (Ignorance is bliss)
What do we occupy ourselves with? I am reading a book, named ‘Non-required Reading’ (initially introduced to me in Hebrew as ‘Optional Reading’). One day I might remember its author’s name and manage to pronounce it. The question above rolls in my head as I am reading and beyond. I wonder what it is that attracts me to it and what turns me off.
Later I read snippets of information about Wislawa Szymborska. This quick exploration throws me back to the first ‘Campers’ I have purchased.
In the streets of Milan, 1999, I passed by a window where a pair of shoes made me stop. It was as if I found something I had been looking for my whole life. They were beautiful in an almost unnoticeable way. And yet they were waiting for me. When I tried them on, their comfort was only surprising in light of past experiences, where what looks comfortable turns out to be less so or even not at all.
Szymborska’s writing, translated into English, feels familiar yet still foreign. Maybe because of the translation, maybe due to its syntax. She “sounds” a bit like a new comer from Russia who’s already been away from homeland for many years. The language is fluent and flawless with a screech here and there in its music. When I speak English, occasionally my vocabulary fails me. I invent expressions that explain my ideas in combinations that are new to my listeners. From the reader’s point of view, my impression of Szymborska’s language is probably similar to that of my audience, in the place where I am. From where I am, I re-connect with Wislawa.
When I returned from Italy to Israel with my new Campers, I realized that they had been a hot Spanish brand in the European fashion world including that of Israel. I was wondering how I would have treated the shoes had I known about that in advance. Not that I am worried about being dressed in a brand name. I am simply averse to buying a brand name just because of it. Oded, my friend who introduced ‘optional reading’ to me, read one of the book’s pieces in Hebrew. He had spared me the irrelevant knowledge of Scymborska’s being a Nobel prize for literature winner. Still, when I considered buying the book I asked myself whether I was buying it just because of my meeting with Oded or thanks truly to the strength of the book’s text.
Wislawa, who died at 89 in 2012, was a well known Polish poet. She was asked once how come she hadn’t published more poems. Her response draws me back to her “non-required” essays: “My room already has a recycling bin.”

25.11.15

Embracing death as a joy of life

On my recent visit to Israel I had the honor of escorting my dad through some of his last days in life. I’d shared my thoughts and insights with my family, as part of our daily updates. The first one below was written early one morning following a few days of traveling and social encounters. About a week after my return to Canada my dad embraced the hold of death and passed away seven days later, Saturday, November 21 2015. My eulogy below was written in response to our last conversation.
I am grateful to have family and friends supporting us in this process of growth.
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Each of us carries an invisible load of baggage. This includes what I think of the other and what I think people think of me. My conversation with Gali, my niece, raises the notion that some issues might not require discussion. Tamar, my sister in-law, knows in advance what would offend her. We face a daily effort of dismantling this baggage of landmines and firebombs.

In one early moment of the Sterns’ visit to Vancouver last year, I waived a threatening finger in front of Yohanan. His response made me wonder what exactly happened there. My parents’ stay with us, transformed into a realization, that we can all enjoy it. With my raised finger I’ve exclaimed “If you don’t trust my good intentions and Yardena’s good intentions, we have no communication.” Yohanan jumped from his spot at the other side of the table. He then charged into the bedroom. A few seconds later we could hear him screaming at the tenant in Israel to pay his rent.

I am fascinated by our use of the comic in relating to life. Laughter relieves our breath and introduces a healthy dose of oxygen to our brain. In embarrassment and hardships it seems like laughter gives me a break. Instead of sliding into depression, laughter allows me to remove the tough issue from its threatening context. It doesn't always succeed. But a small story from my acquaintance with Gerstman, one of Yeheskely Clothing's suppliers, keeps inspiring me to employ laughter and insist on it.

Yoav, the designer I used to work with, was Gerstman's tenant for a few years. He's told me that they'd always had pleasant conversations. Some of them even included stories from the landlord's past as a Holocaust survivor. The man, bearing a smile on his face, was always happy to share amusing anecdotes. In one of Yoav's encounters with Gerstman the gentleman had confided: "So, in the concentration camps have I stopped laughing? Of course I had laughed." This was enough for me.

Yohanan Stern has been collecting clown figurines for years in a variety of forms: paintings, dolls and other creations. Some of them are sad, some are smiling. They all, in my view celebrate the light hearted side of our personality; the part that helps a healthy perspective of life. The sad clown might be mumbling "What's the point in being pessimistic; life's hard enough." The happy one is saying "Every situation entails a glimmer of bliss; the joy of life stems from that." You can notice the two clowns manifested in my dad. Occasionally I cringe embarrassedly from his fooling around. In the rest of time I tell myself that I am the same.

So where is Yardena in all of this? Let's not talk about Yardena. Taking care of Yohanan is currently top priority. She chunks a couple of pain killers in the morning and the day is settled. Never mind that their influence is receding. Just make sure they are Extra Strength. My effort in finding out how I might be the same gives me a headache. There you are, I made it! Now I can relax. We agreed that with all the difficulties we have a history and present of cooperation. In all of us, the good intentions overcome our frustrations. True, I know how to be turned off by Yohanan. And the point is that I am the one who is turned off. The other side in the story is not guilty of my being turned off but, alas, he is part of it.

So here is an idea for a scientific research in sociology: our life is built upon reducing our amount of turn off from people, especially those closest to us. Once I have already told mom that my success in life results "thanks to you as well as in spite of you." And then, doesn't Meni turn me off? Sharon? Erez? Ah,… Erez doesn't turn me off. And Yardena understands immediately. At the same time she is dead wrong. Erez doesn't turn me off because we hardly speak to each other. Yardena counts the ‘hardly’. YarOn counts the ‘speak’. Sharon comforts us in saying "that's OK." And Meni? He stopped reading in the first paragraph. And that too is OK.

This update has no immediate concrete implications. It is an intermediate summary in my line of impressions from what's up in the family. I am trying to bring to light some thoughts in hope that they allow a small window into space and a breath of fresh air. In the tough and serious situation we are all experiencing, the suffocating feeling of hopelessness might sabotage the delightful effort we are all involved in. My aspiration is that these words manage to amuse the moment a bit, until the next day.
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Yohanan,

Indeed we ate the last of the humus on your last day. Like some kind of a Hanukah miracle where you were the sacrifice. And we will continue to make humus and bake pitot (pita bread) and think of Nablus Gate, the falafel that we had to bring from the adjacent stall and the coffee that the guy poured from the boil. Much of what I could know about you came to me indirectly. Like a side observation. Something I had said off hand turned out months later to be significant to you.

Your lust for life has always entailed a measure of frightened, somewhat childish concern. As my ability to express my impression in words improved, your desire to give and nurture overcame any insult. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn something out of this. Looking from within, our life feels almost boring. Why even my effort to extract family stories for your fiftieth anniversary confronted a variety of objections from its members.

But life goes on and the memory will play its part. Much of what I will hear about you will fill the void. “I am the strongest dad in the world,” I told the impressed boy one day. At the same breath I continued “and my dad is even stronger.” Every joke has a component of truth in it. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the joke.


3.8.15

Is the 'Grouse Grind' a reflection of Vancouver Culture?

If my first impression of the Grouse Grind was of a touristy experience, it still held a charm that allowed me to occasionally go back and enjoy it. The intensely corporate context of the site is still physically challenging and socially compelling.

In 2003 I took a photo that managed to capture the magic of that year's climb. The first time we took our daughter with us in 2006, she bravely slept most of the way up, sitting on my shoulders, her head resting firmly on mine.

In 2009 my parents visited us from Israel for the first time. Our relatives from Portland joined us to spend some family time with them. We all went out to enjoy the place, most of the pack taking the cable car. Phyllis, my relative's wife and I took what turned out to be the bonding experience of walking up the hill.

A few years later, my in-laws were seriously injured by a car on a visit to Germany. This happened just a month before we were scheduled to have a family vacation in Israel. The timing was such, that sticking to plan was the most helpful choice. They were helped back home by Anat's brothers. We kept on with preparing the now slightly changed context of our visit. Just two weeks before flying to Israel, we took Inbal for her first on-foot Grouse Grind. Inbal, then nine years old asked me after completing the course: "do you think grandpa would manage the climb?" "Sure." I responded. "Even grandma could." Inbal, in surprise: "You think so?" "Of course." I continued. "She might not want to, but she definitely could."

It is an atypical warm summer in Vancouver this year. Still, nothing compared with other regions in the world. Again, in a few months we are scheduled for a visit in Israel. Anat's parents are planning their vacation in Tanzania a few days from now. Inbal's second climb to the Grouse was an uneventful, enjoyable weekend experience.

However, my impression is that the place has become even more touristy; even more corporate. The socially compelling side of the physical challenge looks to me now a bit like an anthropological observation opportunity. I enjoyed walking along a family whose daughter, younger than Inbal, patiently waited for her parents, guiding her even younger sibling. The effort makes for talking to be minimal, but the occasional exchange with others gives a curious sense of community.

While my leisurely pace is still that of a fit person, the many competitive climbers make me think of the diversity of participants in this venue. In the past I was amused to think that although walking up the path is not for everyone, it could sometimes feel like you're in the middle of a downtown sidewalk. I was reminded of that thought while braving one of the narrower sections of stairs, close to the top.

Some people were a step or two in front of me, a few behind me. Not a lot of room for passing or letting others pass. You just wait patiently for the next widening of the path to make your move. If at any point someone lets you through, a quick thank you is all that is exchanged. Then the breath and steps of a quicker climber were getting closer until I hear from behind an impatient "excuse me". There isn't a lot of room to move sideways so I continue climbing. When she asks again and passes the pack I am with I'm not sure whether I'm amused or irritated. As a newly minted Canadian I probably should have said "Sorry". Being who I am I'm happy to have avoided a confrontational "Excuse me!"