Friday, December 14, 2012

Reply to The Toronto Star: Why Do People Hate Him (Justin Bieber) So Much?

In its article dated December 13, 2012, the Toronto Star was asking why do people hate Justin Bieber. That came following the revelation of a plot to murder (!) Bieber.

Finally an interesting question to ponder with.

I’ll start by saying that the plot to murder Mr. Bieber is insane, backward, unacceptable and is a terrible thing to read about. While I certainly am not Justin Bieber’s fan – not even in the slightest – it doesn’t matter what you think about the person and/or the music he is performing, plotting to murder the youngster is just plain wrong. I hope the people who were charged with this will be brought to trial, and if found guilty, will receive the maximum punishment allowed by Ontario’s law.

As I wrote above, I am not a fan of Justin Bieber’s music. With regards to Bieber’s person, I can’t say I hate him (or love him) for the mere fact that I don’t know him. As a matter of fact, I consider prying into strangers’ personal lives – whether they are celebrities or not – as an excellent exercise in wasting precious time.

Still, I have my own opinion as to why Bieber is so disliked. My opinion is that there are a few reasons for this, most of which have nothing to do with Bieber’s personality.

Reason 1: The Person

No, driving a $100,000 car through the streets of Los Angeles doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) render Bieber a subject of hate. Jealousy? maybe. Hate? definitely not.

People who hate Bieber because of his wealth are living in denial. Luck has it upon our society and we live in a capitalist one. Bieber rides his vehicle and treats it exactly the same way that I treat my 1998 Honda Accord, or the way that you treat your 2008 Ford Focus. $100,000 for Bieber is what $50 are to you and me. It’d be safe enough to assume that, of those who hate Bieber because of his wealth, I could find close to zero who would refuse being as rich as Bieber is.

So yes, it is OK to be jealous. Most people in the world would have liked the idea of not having to work 9 to 5 jobs for the sake of survival; but it is what it is. Whoever you are, there’s someone else who’s richer than you are, and if not – then there’s some else who aspires to be as rich as you are. But to actually hate the guy for his wealth? give me a break.

That being said, disrespect may be in order. On that front, I can’t help but reminiscing over Viktor Frankl’s immortal “Man’s Search for Meaning”, where he claims that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. People would respect Bieber much more, had he put his immense financial & influential resources towards good use. And no, replying over Twitter to someone about supporting organ donations is not enough; neither is supporting all sorts of charities.

We’d prefer to see Bieber to more than just saying “OK” to his PR folks when they ask him whether he’s interested in donating to a certain charity. We’d prefer to see some active, personal involvement for good cause. Bieber is 18 years old, with his entire life in front of him; now is the time to be personally involved in something good for humanity’s sake, in a way that risks a bit more than his chequebook.

Other people claim they “hate” Justin Bieber because he has a negative impact on culture. This I’m not sure I agree with. Many decades ago, The Beatles weren’t welcome in the USA for this very same reason. What seems like “negative impact” today, may as well be perceived as “positive impact” years from now. It is too early, in my opinion, to judge Bieber’s case at the moment.

Reason 2: The Music Industry & Dehumanization

This one has little to do with Bieber’s personality, and has everything to do with the music industry.

Something terrible is going on with the music industry as a whole, which can be explained by the very existence of this very term, “music industry”. Music became an industry. Not that it wasn’t an industry before, of course; but still, you have to be living under a really heavy rock in order to not realize that the race towards money and fame seems to drive more artists nowadays than it did 50 years ago.

Can you seriously compare today’s Justin Bieber; or the various sorts of gangster-wannabe rappers; or the forcibly-provocative figures such as Nicki Minaj; or the forcibly-extravagant of… well, too many names I could place here and I prefer to insult them all equally so I’ll avoid naming names – can you compare those to Bob Dylan? John Lennon? Mark Knopfler (well, you saw this one coming, didn’t you)? Robert Plant? Freddie Mercury? Eddie Vedder? Pink Floyd?

You can’t. It’s not that the latter group isn’t (or wasn’t) popular. It’s simply that the latter group is a group of musicians, and the former group (Bieber et al) are a group of PR machines.

Can you compare any of Justin Bieber’s lyrics to, say, this?

The captain, barely breathing, kneeling at the wheel
Above him and beneath him fifty thousand tons of steel
He looked over at his compass, and he gazed into its face
Needle pointing downward, he knew he lost the race

In the dark illumination he remembered bygone years
He read the Book of Revelation, and he filled his cup with tears
When the Reaper's task had ended, sixteen hundred had gone to rest
The good, the bad, the rich, the poor, the loveliest and the best

(from Bob Dylan’s “Tempest”, 2012)

The above is not even an old song. It’s brand new, 2012, from Dylan’s last album “Tempest”, telling in an extraordinarily beautiful words the story of the Titanic sinking.

I think you see my point already. The popularity of musicians today – much of which is controlled by the media – is very loosely correlated to those musician’s actual contribution to the music world. Neither Bieber, nor Minaj, nor Lady Gaga, nor… well, nor pretty much any “current” PR machine could never, ever, exhibit even a tad of Dylan’s songwriting skills.

So what’s happening here? there’s a group of people – who, personality-wise, might otherwise be really great, who knows – who are being nicely wrapped by money-making PR businesses who dehumanize them and provide them to us, the music consumers, as products. We’re having the product shoved into our faces (and our ears), touting the product’s worthiness based on criteria that has nothing to do with music (for example: being handsome; being sexy; being sensational; being rich) – and that’s when the Halo Effect and Attribute Substitution kick in.

The Halo effect and Attribute Substitution are two psychological phenomena that are so profoundly common that I can hardly imagine any PR machine not basing itself upon them. Read about them and you should be able to figure things out.

I guess that what I’m saying is, that the mass disrespect towards Bieber might actually have something to do with the fact that the amount of PR attention that he receives is completely and utterly disproportional to his contribution to culture in general, and music in particular.

Reason 3: Reward for Hard Work?

Most people still associate “reward” with “hard work”. Be honest with yourselves: who amongst us hasn’t been told repeatedly during their childhood years, that good things come to those who work hard? that reward and hard work are intertwined and inseparable?

It can be understood, then, why most people exhibit a fair bit of frustration when they witness that there are exceptions to this rule. In that respect, there isn’t much difference between the disrespect people feel towards Bieber and the disrespect certain people feel towards the Royal Family, for example. I admit to belong to that group: while I am not in the position where I struggle for my existence, I still find it frustrating, at times, to witness people getting rewarded for doing very little.

We encounter such frustration whenever we identify a gap between someone’s perceived intrinsic value and their reflected value. In other words, we tend to exhibit negative feelings towards people who we perceive as having put very little effort into being successful, and at the same time being extraordinarily rewarded for it.

That, however, isn’t Bieber’s problem. The world is ever-changing; values that used to hold true before, aren’t necessarily holding true nowadays. In today’s day and age, reward and hard work aren’t tightly correlated as before. You really don’t need much intrinsic value to become rewarded, especially when you correlate “reward” with “money”. To become rich, you don’t necessarily have to work hard – at least not as hard as you’d have to work 30 or 40 years ago.

Signing off this post while Bob Dylan’s “Tempest” still rings in my ears.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

War, 2012

I am writing this while sitting in my apartment’s solarium. The view from the 27th floor (well, it’s actually the 23rd floor, considering the fact that there are no floors numbered 4, 13, 14 and 24. The number “4”, in Chinese, rhymes with the word “death”) is spectacular. Mostly cloudy; it rained for a very short while, and the sun is now making an appearance somewhere, casting some light over the city.

It looks something like this:


It has been a very rough week. My entire family, and most of my friends, live in Israel. Unless you have been living under a rock over the last week or so (and if you did – I envy you), you are most likely aware of the fact that last week, after 12 years during which rockets have been fired by the Islamo-fascist regime called Hamas (along with its partners, carrying names such as Islamic Jihad and so on) onto towns in southern Israel, the government of Israel decided (finally) that the situation doesn’t make any sense and started Operation Pillar of Cloud.

The entire worldwide attention suddenly shifted around in an amazing pace. As soon as the operation started (by obliterating Hamas’ chief of staff, Ahmed Jabari, who, in 1998, ordered his soldiers to open fire at an Israeli school bus), the 30,000+ casualties in Syria – murdered by Syria’s own administration – didn’t matter anymore; world hunger, other worldwide conflicts, the limping worldwide economy – all of these simply vanished off the radar, and the entire world turned its attention to Israel, the Neighbourhood Bully, who has decided to take on the indescribably-unacceptable act of protecting its own citizens.

One day after the operation started, rockets – fired by Hamas – hit central Israel for the first time (just for providing the unaware reader with some proportions, “central Israel” is located 80km away from Gaza. That’s about 50 miles. Here, this might help).

Even though the governments of Israel over the years have made it a norm for its southern residents to live under rocket fire for 12 years – yes, there’s no typo here; 12 years. That’s how twisted Israeli politics can get – still, a mental barrier shattered to pieces once rockets started hitting Tel-Aviv. That, considering the fact that the current Israeli government is the most right-winged government in Israel’s 64 years of existence.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich”
   - Napoleon Bonaparte

The social media, of course, wasn’t left behind. I have spent hours doing my best to defend Israel’s position in various forums and threads, with very mixed results.

Here is what I have learned:

  • Individuals who base their opinion solely on what they hear in the media are very unlikely to have any sort of perspective. That is true regardless of how developed is the economy where such individuals live; this seems to be some sort of a global truth.
  • It is virtually impossible to have Islamo-fascists (and their supporters) take any sort of responsibility over the repercussions of terrorism acts. That, again, has very little to do with where these people live. As a matter of fact, one of the most twisted-minded individuals I had the misfortune to discuss with happened to be a Canadian, living right across the bridge in North Vancouver.
  • The interpretation people provide to religion – any religion – has always been, and is most likely bound to always be, the number one reason for warfare. This is especially true for monotheistic religions, where “my God is true, yours is garbage” is not an uncommon value.
  • I don’t have enough brainpower to cope, conversationally, with people who lack the sense of personal, and communal, responsibility. Such people I am simply allergic to.

And finally, to my Israeli friends, this one is for you:

There is, unfortunately, very little point in trying to use social media to convince others that you are correct when it comes to Islamo-fascism. Even if there is a point, the methods in which you’re trying to convince others are rather pointless:

  • Those who already understand the dangers of Islamo-fascism don’t require convincing in the first place.
  • Those who already bought into Islamo-fascism, didn’t buy into it based on proper research and independent, critical thinking. They bought into it as a result of being brainwashed – either by mass media, family, friends, you name it – and your arguments are very unlikely to change that.
  • A true Islamo-fascist will never admit any wrongdoings of Islamo-fascist regimes.
  • (This one is important) Those who are undecided, but haven’t yet bought into Islamo-fascism, have already demonstrated their ability to withstand the pressures of mass media and superficial allegations. They aren’t impressed by all sorts of pointless images and tables, showing graphs of rockets being fired by each side. Just as they didn’t buy into graphs, tables and images spread by Islamo-fascism, they aren’t going to react to graphs, tables and images spread by Israel’s supporters.

    That is not the way to do it.

    So how this should be done? Here:
    • Class up. Don’t bring yourselves down to the level of those whose wrongdoings you want highlighted. Control your temper.
    • ALWAYS present facts.
    • DON’T confuse facts with fiction.
    • AVOID, to the greatest extent possible, presenting opinions. This is the key issue here: people who have the ability for critical thinking simply don’t buy into attempts of others to influence their thinking. Present the facts to them, and have them reach the conclusions themselves.
    • Read the last bullet again loudly. Sip, rinse, spit.

It’s 4:40pm now. Starting to get a little dark. The BC Place, located right in front of my apartment, is starting to show some colors:


It’s a pretty sight.

Soon, I will head over to a nearby coffee place and continue working on the music score for something I have been working on, for a while. If it wasn’t for rockets flying over the heads of so many people I care for, I would have said that life is just about perfect at the moment.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

80km from Anywhere (Almost)

Some of my friends might be listening to the news in their home countries and hear that Israel, “once again”, “overreacts”.


To help my friends get some perspective, I went through my Facebook friends list and, using, created some links to help understand what 80km means.

Why 80km? 80km is the range of missiles fired from Gaza into Israel.

How to use this table: find a city near you, and click the link beside you. Imagine you live in that city, and rockets are fired at you from any point within the green circle. Conversely, imagine that rockets are fired from the center of the green circle, and your house is anywhere within that circle.

Overreacting, huh?

(I have close to 300 friends, from many places around the world; naturally, I didn’t cover everything. But this should give you some idea)




Delft, The Netherlands
Norwich, UK
Dagenham, UK
Lyon, France
Dalfsen, The Netherlands
Paris, France
Prague, Czech Republic
Sofia, Bulgaria
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Dublin, Ireland
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Antwerp, Belgium
London, UK
Valencia, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

North America



Guelph, ON, Canada
Waterloo, ON, Canada
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Toronto, ON, Canada
Nashville, TN, USA
Flagstaff, AZ, USA
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Los-Angeles, CA, USA
Clearwater, FL, USA
Salem, OR, USA
Rogers, AR, USA
Long Valley, NJ, USA
Arlington, TX, USA
Jasper, AB, Canada

(oh well. You have the Rocky Mountains to protect you, but anyway.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Headlines; Israel; Knopfler/Dylan Tour 2012 (Part 1)

Last time I wrote in here was on August 25. I was going to write a series of posts about what makes for a good software professional. I had many ideas to write about – actually, I still have – however life seems to have had different plans for my free time.

Other than being caught up with a lot of work, I also went for a short visit in Israel to spend some time with my beloved family and friends. It was the first time in ten years (!) since I spent the Jewish holidays’ time in Israel. I’m not religious by any means, but there’s something about the atmosphere in Israel during the High Holidays that makes it very special. And it was.

And just as it was special, it was hot. I arrived to Israel on a Saturday, noon time. Temperature outside was around 28℃ and I felt as if I’m going to have to peel my own skin off, in order to stay cool. From the airport, I headed straight to my sister’s house, where some extended family members were seated having cold drinks and snacks on the patio.

I looked at them.

– “How on earth can you withstand this heat?”

One of them looked at me as if I have just arrived from outer space.

– “Heat? It’s nice outside! Can’t you feel the breeze?”

It’s been ten years since I last felt the full force of Israeli summer. However, as it turns out, what I thought to be unbearable heat was actually considered mild weather in Israel nowadays. I was later told that, during the month of July, there was a period of about two weeks during which you couldn’t possibly be exposed to the sun for more than a few seconds without desiring to curse the entire world and its sister.

I have no idea how people there stand the heat. Humidity at around 3,000%. You take a shower, wipe yourself dry, and on your way back to your room to get dressed – you’re already sweating again. Insane.

Two weeks earlier, at one pleasant Saturday evening, I spoke to my father on the phone. He was telling me – as he usually does – how unbearable life in Israel has become. I won’t get into the details (now) but suffice to say, “security” is not the only problem Israel is facing. The country has been led by a few incompetent governments that pretty much wiped out the entire so-called “middle class”.

So, I decided to write something. Israel’s Prime Minister happens to have a Facebook page, where he posts populist propaganda in Hebrew as well as English. Fifteen minutes later, a post – in both Hebrew and English – written by yours truly, made its way there (see here).

I don’t know what it was that prompted me to do so, but I also contacted Y-Net, which only happens to be the most popular online Israeli newspaper, and asked them if they would like to publish my article. I got an email back within 5 minutes: apparently, someone there got the impression that my writing could be of interest to others.

The next day, I went for a hike in the Stawamus Chief, north of Vancouver. Just to give you a taste as to why this hike is so popular, consider these:


As I was struggling to make my way up, I suddenly got an email: my posting has made it to Y-Net’s front page, in both the Hebrew and English sites.

Turns out that my posting has hit a painful spot amongst readers. Comments were mixed, with some of them agreeing with my message and others being extremely harsh towards me – personally. Israelis absolutely hate it when outsiders criticize them, let alone when the outsider is someone who grew up there and decided to emigrate in search for a better life; needless to say, that hatred did find its way out in the form of extremely abusive comments.

Later on, a flurry of Facebook friends requests and private messages made its way to my inbox. The articles were also linked-to by a few online magazines that cater towards Israelis (and former Israelis) living abroad.

Regardless, I was happy for the opportunity I had to sound my voice; and just as I was happy for that, I was sad for the fact that Israel is being ruled by fascists and this is very unlikely to change soon.

Back to Canada on October 6. Four days later, a visitor who answers to the name Jeroen Gerrits made his appearance in Vancouver’s international airport, in preparation for our joint short attendance in this summer’s tour.

Oh, the tour. Yes, I completely forgot. Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan – having toured Europe last autumn – are doing this again, this time in the USA and Canada. For all sorts of reasons, a full tour attendance wasn’t on my plans this year; instead, I opted at following the tour from Vancouver to Los-Angeles. We’ll get into the reasons later. Or not.

Showed the Dutchman around the city for a couple of days, and then, on October 12, it started. Knopfler and Dylan’s tour made it to Vancouver, performing in the Rogers Arena on Friday evening.

Admittedly, it was strange – even very strange – to be able to leave my apartment and attend a Knopfler concert by merely walking a few blocks. As I live in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown, all major venues in the city are within walking distance and the Rogers Arena is one of them. Strange, really strange; usually, I fly to attend concerts; I drive; I sail; I’m being picked up by UPS trucks; but walk?! from my own apartment, into a Knopfler concert? that’s unheard of.

More about the tour – in the next post.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Makes for a Good Software Professional?

Sitting in Blenz, in Horseshoe Bay; it’s sunny outside but I figured I should finish this post before embarking on a pleasant stroll here (picture taken from within the cafe):


My software development career “officially” started when I was 18 years old (“officially”, as prior to that I was still doing software development, just not in a career capacity). Since then, I held two permanent positions.

The first one lasted six years in an establishment I am not in the liberty to elaborate on.

The second one was with the Santa Clara-based security firm McAfee (back then, it was still called Network Associates, until they acquired McAfee some time in 2004 or 2005 as far as I can recall).

That last one lasted slightly more than a year. Then, one day in May 2004, I decided that I am no longer going to be fully committing myself to one department; one cubicle; one company; one interest. I decided that my professional destiny is to become a freelancer – spend my career working with multiple establishments, over the long run, and help them grow.

In June 2004, my career as a freelancer kicked off and is still going to this day. I worked with many companies, across multiple industries, fulfilling various roles. Whether I am good or not at what I do – that is up to my clients to decide; however, I do have my own perception of what makes for a good software professional, and I am here to write about it. Whether you agree with it or not, is up to you.

Hands-on Experience & Responsibilities

Why is hands-on experience important?

Granted, the software industry is over-saturated with software professionals (often dubbed “consultants”) who visit clients, write documents, tell people what should be done and haul away to their next project with a different client.

I always had a problem with such an approach towards career development, for a couple of reasons.

The first reason has to do with actual skills development. I have worked with hundreds of peers over the years, and I can safely state that there is a strong correlation between one’s level of hands-on experience and one’s quality of deliverables. As far as I am concerned, a software professional who claims to be top-notch without having hands-on experience is not entirely different from an M.D. who claims to be an excellent surgeon based on just reading and studying material, without having much hands-on experience cutting through flesh.

This is not to say that “theoretical experience” is not important; it is. However, it is by no means enough (and I’ll elaborate on that in my next post).

The second reason has to do with responsibility. I happen to be a strong believer in “practice what you preach”. If I am to cast my opinion in the ears of an information technology director of a company, I want to take full responsibility over the opinion and advice I provide.

Too often in this industry, I run into individuals who consider responsibility to be a liability; I just can’t get my head around that. When you avoid putting yourself in the position of being responsible for the consequences of your clients following your advice, you automatically give up one of the most important tools – if not the most important tool of them all – to help you become a better professional over time. Not only that, but you also lose credibility – and without credibility, there is very little for you to do in this field.

“Easier said than done” is the most understated value in the software industry today. Normally, the “easier said” part of the equation is done by salespeople, pundits and other non-hands-on-experienced individuals who are eager to make a point (or a sale). The “than done” part is obviously not “their problem” – that part is deferred to “later”. Someone else’s problem. “I’d just like to get paid for the ‘easier said’ part, thank you” kind of thing.

I choose to operate differently. I never have, and never will, sugar-coat bad news or make things appear easy while they’re not, just to make a point. A top software professional is not someone who sugar-coats inconvenient truths; instead, it is someone who knows how to deliver bad news in a constructive manner, and build a case (for example, for a project) based on merits rather than wishful thinking.

Next up, in a few days: theory vs. practice


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Software World & Me

As of writing these lines, I am 34 years and a half old. This means that, for more than a half of my life, I have been doing software (and systems) programming, development and architecture.

I remember, when I was a kid, a company named Commodore and another company named ATARI came up with gaming consoles. I don’t remember how old I was; can’t be more than 7-8 years old. My cousin (R.I.P) had one, and I just knew that I must obtain one for myself. Alas, there’s very little that a 7-8 years old megalomaniac kid can do to obtain technological wonders that, back then, were very, very expensive. My dear father, witnessing my immense desire for one of those toys, got me one.

A short while after entering the wonderful world of computing, I started thinking to myself – how are these things really done? I mean, what brings a small box-like metal object, lying on my floor, display moving objects on my television and respond to my commands?

I was determined to know what on earth is it that makes this metal box react. From there on, it didn’t take much time to understand what a computer program is.

I dragged my father to a nearby computers store (back then, they weren’t aplenty), and I got a wonderful book, explaining how to program in a programming language called BASIC. My first computer program wrote “Hello world” on the screen, an endless number of times.

10 years later, it became a profession (well, I did learn to program stuff slightly more useful than printing “Hello world” repeatedly). 17-18 years later, it still is.

Over the years, I learned (by myself; I’m not a huge fan of studying in courses, classes or other arranged mediums) to program using many programming languages: Assembler, PL/I, COBOL, REXX, C, C++, Python, ADA and – most recently (that is, 12 years ago) – Java.

Professionally, I fulfilled in a large variety of roles, ranging from system programming for mainframes (oh, those good old days) to functioning as a hands-on technical architect (“hands-on” meaning that my role usually involved more than just sitting on my ass writing documents and drawing diagrams).

I have worked in the public sector; the private sector; the financial sector; the telecommunications sector; the consumer products sector; the e-commerce sector; and others.

So, I did learn a thing or two over the years. Therefore, software development being such a prominent part of my life, I decided to, occasionally, share some of my knowledge & experience with others. Being a rather busy individual, I can’t predict how often I’ll be writing about software development here… but we’ll see.

For now, though…

View Isaac Shabtay's profile on LinkedIn
profile for Isaac at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Checkpoint, May 2012

Been quite a while since I wrote anything here. Well, I suppose that when life is so eventful, priorities kick in and things that are less urgent get stuck somewhere in the backburner of my mind.

So, lets see how things have been here since last October. The end of the last year were rather complicated as I was preparing for a visit in Israel in December. That, however, wasn’t supposed to be an ordinary visit. Instead of a 2-3 weeks visit, I had the idea of making that particular trip a long one.

In early December, I collaborated with Vancouver-locals Rivka Stein and Leora Israel to create this—my first attempt at playing anything on guitar in front of any sort of audience. Leora sang, Rivka edited the video and my friend Oren Steinitz from Calgary did the mixing for us—and the result was rather pleasant. Here, take a look.

The first and (most likely) the last time I ever attempt covering any Mark Knopfler song.

I will never sing again.

The next couple of months were beset by all sorts of emotional rollercoasters which, fortunately for you, aren’t going to be detailed here; and on December 14th, 2011, early morning, as my belongings were already stored in friends’ places, my ex landlord gave us (my father was visiting me at that time) a ride to the airport, where we took a flight to Israel.

Wonderful Time… Almost

The first two weeks in Israel were a lot of fun. Met with a few friends, spent time with family. Even took a trip to Jerusalem, which is one of the most astonishing cities I have ever been to.

Then—I believe it was around December 28—I went to meet my friend Omer and his wife Efrat, a lovely couple from Tel-Aviv. We were sitting in a restaurant called “Benedict”, which serves all-day breakfasts (good ones, though; not your typical America-style greasy spoon breakfasts). Chit chatting about all sorts, when suddenly I felt a pain so sharp and so sudden that, for about 10 seconds, I wasn’t able to focus my sight on anything.

“What the f**k was that”, I thought to myself; but the pain went away as quick as it arrived, so I really didn’t know what to think about it.

Walking back home, I started feeling a bit strange. I had no idea what was going on but I felt tired, sluggish, irritated. Something wasn’t quite alright but I couldn’t pinpoint it.

The next couple of days I spent hoping that this weird sensation around my groin area would go away already. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen. And then, at the new year’s eve, I was sitting down for coffee with an old-new friend, Sharon, who happens to have quite the background in paramedics.

Five seconds after I finished describing exactly what it was that I had been feeling, she told me that she is absolutely confident that this is a hernia. For obvious reasons, a more thorough diagnosis did not take place.

Hernia? me? no. What the hell, these things don’t happen to me. Where the hell did that come from?

Over the next couple of days, the pain increased to the point when it was no longer bearable. Something had to be done.

Surgery & Recovery

Once I found a surgeon that was available to consult me and operate on me—Professor Avraham Czerniak (and the story of how I got to him is extremely coincidental and amazing; respecting the privacy of the people involved, I will spare you from the details. I will just say that he is one of the best & most respected surgeons in the country)—indeed, it turned out that I was suffering from Inguinal Hernia. Due to the extreme pain involved, as well as other factors, the dear Professor advised that I should be operated on right away.

A few days later I was admitted to Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv. Surgery took about 45 minutes, and after a short night stay in the hospital, I was released home.

And then… then the pain started. Completely coincidentally, I caught a virus or something that made me cough a lot. Now, I should tell you, that when you have stitches in your stomach and in your groin, coughing becomes an activity that is not fun at all—no matter where you came from. Absolutely excruciating pain. It took about a week before I was capable enough to walk from the living room to the bathroom without taking any break.

Back to Canada

It was not fun at all, I tell you. I spent another month there, hardly ever leaving home; as the surgeon advised that I check back with my family doctor in Canada within a month, I had to reschedule my flight ticket, and then, at the beginning of February, I bid everyone adieu and boarded a flight back to Vancouver.

There was no chance in hell that I could have survived the long, 16 hours flight, tucked in an economy class seat. If there was ever the right time to upgrade to Business Class, that was it; $800 later, I was seated in Air Canada’s Business Class, offering champagne (which I couldn’t drink, as I was on medication) and a marvellous seat that reclines 180 degrees into a bed. I was therefore horizontal for the entire flight. I felt like absolute crap… and my only consolation was that it could have been much, much worse had I flown in Economy Class.

Recovery, still, took a while. Wasn’t at all easy, considering the fact that I entered a brand new apartment, which meant that I had to pay a few visits to IKEA to furnish it all (my previous apartment was rented fully furnished). It wasn’t about a month later when I could finally enjoy being back in Vancouver, looking at the city from a balcony 27 floors high.


Signing off this short post while I am again in Israel. Showed up here a few days ago to surprise my family… that went well.

Having said that, I am very concerned with this country. Every time I come here, I realize that yet something else is missing, or has gone awry. This time, it’s all about the situation with the immense influx of African refugees/infiltrators/jobseekers (depends on who you ask, you’d get different answers) into the country, and some government-run insanity that’s going on around here. More on that in my next post.