Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Housewives on dope - Fabric softener sniffers

Eco products in Spain that are better for Chemical Sensitivity sufferers like myself

Dear citizens of the world,

I started to write this post last year while suffering from pneumonia. It was a bad experience, but I actually suffer more when I have an allergic reaction to chemical products. Unfortunately, I am very sensitive to chemicals in cleaning products, air fresheners, perfumes, paints, etc. Some doctors label it "Chemical sensitivity".

My "allergy" is not fully recognised and the only treatment seems to be to avoid chemicals as much as humanly possible.

As long as I avoid chemicals I can lead a normal life. It is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you are travelling or living abroad as an expat which is my case.

The picture above of products is thanks to years of searching throughout Spain for products that would not affect me as much as popular brands. They are actually cheaper than the more "chemical" brands. Now, after moving to Israel, I have to start the search all over again. There is a brand of cleaning products, Ecover, for cleaning that I have found (not so cheap). However, I am still looking for something to replace the Sanex Zero shower gel...

You may ask: What's the deal with chemical sensitivity?...Does an allergy to chemicals/perfumes really exist?

I can tell you, Yes it does exist!

Are you hooked on chemicals? Do you huff?

Just say no!

Many people (mostly housewives because they are in charge of most cleaning and house maintenance) have been duped and pressured into perfuming their homes with dozens of toxic products. These toxic chemicals are not regulated by anyone and are pushed by many multinational companies.

These products are actually addictive and dangerous!
"A recent report indicates that fabric softeners found in most homes are highly toxic. According to reports, fabric softeners are among the most toxic products to be manufactured for home use. Chemicals like chloroform, pentance and benzyl acetate are all known to cause damage to lungs, nerves and the brain; some chemicals found in fabric softeners are even known carcinogens."

I don't believe it! you say. How about this quote I took from a popular fabric softener website:

"When I first smelled the original scent years ago I was hooked The smell really does stay in the clothes about a week after the wash is done, I use all products with the original scent and the dryer sheets not only helps in the dryer, but in my car, the underwear drawers, as a liner in garbage pails, inside pillow cases. The list can go on and on, I am so in love with Gain. Sniff sniff hooray."

I'm your pusher!

The addiction to perfumes (like those used in fabric softeners and many other products) is the same thing as the glue-huffing street children. One is accepted, the other is considered to be sad.

For the record, I am not anti-multinational companies! So, "what do you want?", you may ask.

Ahhh! Thank you for asking. Here are my wishes:

1.) All chemical products (perfumes, cleaning products, industrial chemicals, etc.) should be regulated.

2.) Long-term testing should be done to find out the real affects of the chemicals on peoples lives.

3.) Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) should become a recognized health problem.

4.) Public venues such as schools, hotels, offices, etc should not be allowed to use chemical cleaning products that use perfumes. Hypoallergenic cleaning products?

The first step will be for people to learn the difference between:
Clean = not dirty, no smell
Perfumed = an additive (possibly toxic) smell that often times masks the lack of cleanliness

So far, my experience in Tel Aviv has been good, but it is a daily battle to avoid the barrage of "chemical attacks" and to find safe zones where I can let my guard down. Thank God there are lots of outdoor cafes!

-The United Statesian

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hangin' in Granada - Goin' to the Boda

Jammin' on the Hang in Granada

Dear Citizens of the world!

June 18th was a special day. I flew home to Madrid... from my new home in Tel Aviv... to make it back to Andalucia (a past home) for the wedding of the year between my good friends Daniel and Vero --Will and Kate who?

Since the wedding did not start until 6:00pm, I decided to take advantage of the free time and the 40º C (100ºF) temperatures to stroll around Granada.

During my stroll I saw the typical touristy things: the Alhambra (already been there about ten times), the mosque, narrow winding streets and endless souvenir shops. However, I came across something different, something note worthy...Brunoise.

Nicolas Pirillo (pictured above) was sitting in an alley, jamming on his hang (wiki info on the hang). It was something so cool and different that I stopped to listen and find out more about the instrument. I even bought a CD to support the guy. The music is trance-like and it simultaneously reminds me of the Cambodian 9-gong Gamalan and the Brazilian steel drums.

Check out some of his music (with other musicians) at these websites:

One of the great things about traveling and living in different countries is that you can always find new things...even when you are going back home.

The wedding went off without a hitch -- they got hitched -- and I took one or two photos.

Congrats guys!

-The United Statesian

PS A parting shot...

A more typical shot of Granada's Alhambra and the 3500m Sierra Nevada

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Night views from the hotel in Tel Aviv

View at night from the 14th floor of the Leonardo City Tower Hotel In Tel Aviv, Israel

Dear Citizens of the world!

First impressions are important when moving to a foreign country. This is the view from our hotel room.

The highway, train line, and luxury apartment towers can not compete with the Mediterranean sea views that are typical of the posh hotels that are only 3kms away...but it could be worse.

Last-one-out turns off the lights!

Later that same evening...

This poor guy was the last one left in the office building. Late on a Sunday evening (Israel's Monday), I could feel for him because were were still working as well.

The United Statesian

Recycled Ethics - Tel Aviv

Ethics book on top of a recycle irony?

Dear Citizens of the World!

While walking through Tel Aviv on my hunt for a new home, I saw this garbage bag sitting on top of the recycling container.

A few Ethical questions came to mind:
  • Isn't it ironic that this student decided to photocopy the Ethics course book instead of buying the original? Would you fail the course because of this?
  • Is it Ethical to recycle it...wouldn't it be better to reuse a few times before recycling it? --It honestly does not look like it has been read.
  • Would it be Ethical to reuse an Ethics book without paying royalties? Would the environmental ethics outway the economical, property-rights ethics?
  • The bag of recyclable materials was deposited on top of the effort was made to put it inside--even though there was plenty of space. How ethical is this half-ass recycling?
Just some food for thought.

What do you think?

The United Statesian

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Israeli fashion - Cool Hats and Scary Mannequins!

Cool styles on Tel Aviv's trendy Rothschild BLVD

Dear Citizens of the World!

When visiting a country like Israel your first thought would be of fashion being dictated by the religions.

It is common to see religious attire, but most people in Tel Aviv wear European style clothes and they dress quite informally most of the time. Note: The two pictured above are the more snazzy/stylish types I have seen. Most wear jeans and short-sleave shirts.

On the same day, I walked by some fashion outlets on a trendy street and found these people:

A chorus of Zombie Mannequins!

The oddest thing I have seen so far are these Zombie Mannequins. The freak me out!

The armless-zombie mannequin boy with a damaged face!

Ohhh look! An armless zombie mannequin boy with his face bashed in! Oh..and it looks like he is levitating! I'm sold in this. It's the perfect outfit for my son. Yikes!

At least these two are smiling!..

After living and working in many different countries I still have not found my own style. Maybe I should try the three-foot wide hat and all black clothes... what do you think?

The United Statesian

PS...parting shot...
Better view of those great hats!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Streets of Tel Aviv - Shiny Side Part I

The Diamond Exchange Building...the shape resembles the cut of a diamond. The West-facing, almost-windowless facade glimmers in the afternoon sun.

Dear Citizens of the World!

As promised, here is a look at the shiny side of Tel Aviv.

The shiny side is a stark contrast to the gritty element of TA. However, they are not seperated by areas...they actually co-exist.

The Azreily Towers...gorgeous!...more pics later.

Very shiny office building...

A small part of an apartment block in the centre of TA. Reminds me of a Beehive.

Our hotel and a shiny, rounded office building. The hotel's reflection makes it look
like the windows are missing in part of the office building.

The big question is... Will our new apartment be shiny or gritty?

The United Statesian

Tel Aviv Pigeons go on strike - head for beach

Pigeons in Tel Aviv go on strike!

Dear Citizens of the World!

I will have to admit that I do not understand why...but the pigeons in Tel Aviv have decided to go on strike. Any ideas?

After taking the picture above, I walked down to the beach and found this guy:

Hanging out on Tel Aviv's Beach soft-sand beach

He obviously stopped off at the hair-dresser to get the puffy-hair look. Then he decided to spend his "strike" sinking his feet in the super-fine sand. His blood-red, beady little eyes make him look quite scary -- despite the hairdo.

Note: The sand on the beach in Tel Aviv is the finest, softest sand I have ever seen. It is actually quite nice. I have only walked by part of the beach...still haven't had time to chill out on the beach day maybe...when I get a job...then go on strike to join the pigeons in their fight.

The United Statesian

Streets of Tel Aviv - Gritty Side Part I

Chicken man! Don't know what your selling...but you've got my attention.

Dear Citizens of the World!

My last post might have given a lopsided view of TA. The city has two very distinct facets that live side by side: the gritty and the shiny.

Today I will start with some images of the gritty side. Later some shiny ones for contrast.

"Decoration" outside a part of an eclectic mix.

Cool graffiti door painting next to a Tattoo parlour.

More traditional graffiti near the beach.

A home-made graffiti which is done on recycled paper and glued up. Better quality, but less time on the street. This artists has quite a few glued up around town. they are about four feet tall.

More photos in future posts...

The United Statesian

Monday, June 06, 2011

House hunt in the "off-white" city of Tel-Aviv

Flowers in the garbage can in Tel Aviv

Dear Citizens of the World!

Today marks the end of my first week here in Tel Aviv. The focus of my days has been on looking for an apartment to call home the next two or three years.

The search has not been easy. It is hard to look for an apartment when you don't know the city and it is double hard when the prices a very high.

Tel Aviv is a relatively new city where most buildings came about over the past 50 years, but the first impression is mixed. Most of the buildings are four-story, off-white and very dusty buildings.

Old apartment being remodelled...are they paying for those colours?

However, many of these older buildings are being renovated inside. Therefore, you never know what you will find on the inside -- much like the flowers in the garbage can in the picture at the top.

Reflection of our hotel in a shiny office building

There are also lots of nice shiny, new buildings mixed in with the rest. Maybe - if we are lucky -we will end up in one of those shiny buildings that are beautiful on both the outside and inside.

The United Statesian

Friday, June 03, 2011

Elevators that don't stop!

Sabbath just keeps going and going and going...

Dear Citizens of the World,

One of the great wonders of traveling is to see first-hand how people live. Something that seems logical to one person would be odd for another.

Case in point: Sabbath elevators.

Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening) has some basic rules to live by. One rule has to do with not using machines. But wait...what if you live on the 14th floor of a highrise building?...ahhh, Sabbath Elevators solve this problem through an ingenious loophole.

The trick consists in not touching anything; therefore, the elevator goes up and down for 24 hours while stopping and opening on every floor. Thus you can get on, touch nothing and wait for the elevator to stop on every floor until you get to your destination.

Saturday we plan to rest a bit and continue looking for an apartment in the city, have lunch downtown and then see the sunset on the beach. We will have to go down 14 floors to get out of the hotel, but we will take one of the two non-shabbat elevators.

Shabbat Shalom!

The United Statesian

A Tel-Aviv beach on a weekday...what will it look like on Saturday?