Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"In The Begining" -- Nanny Frankie

Almost every woman on the planet dreams of finding her perfect partner in life and of course the family that follows. Let's not bother with all the exceptions that of course exist and concetrate on the mainstream. Having a baby is the most amazing highlight of our life as a woman. Did any of us realize what an emotional roller coaster bringing this little one into the world was all about?

Seeing the baby for the first time -- WOW !
In my day the pregnancy was just a fact. WOW! I'm pregnant! We visited a doctor every month and tried to eat right and take common sense care of ourselves. If all went well the baby arrived halthy and we began our journey as a mother.

The technology today is mind boggling! My grandchildren were born under the scruteny of timing and tests that kept me (savta) in a state of constant worry and anxiety. The mothers in today's world of "know it all" is of course a safe and informed way of tracking the nine months of pregnancy in every detail. Is it a better way? How can anyone disagree that knowledge is power? What about the element of surprise? It's a girl! It's a boy! Today's technology may tell us all. All the good - all the bad and even show us the difference. Any thoughts? See ya next time -- Nanny Frankie Read More...

Basketball in the City (Tel Aviv)

Israel has it's own basketball league of 12 teams. The league plays a high level of basketball and top team like Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem also play in European leagus. Both teams this year have made it to the sweet 16 of their respective leagues. Tel Aviv plays it's game at Nokia arena in Tel Aviv. The arena is a modern venue with 11,000 seats, it was just renovated this summer. Tel Aviv home games sell out most of the time. The fans in our city who can't get tickets watch the game live on Israel T.V. for free. The players are a mix of local Israelis, former American N.B.A. players, and some European players. The star forward in Tel Aviv is a Croatia, there are a couple of S. American players too: Batista and Garica. Sportman from around the world come together to play and work in peach in Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv fan site... but you got to come to a game and cheer!
On Thursday, February 7, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem met to play for the State Cup at Nokia to a sellout crowd. Sam-d-man watched the game on T.V. The game was a cracker. Hapoel fought back from a 22 point deficit to defeat it's hottest rival Maccabi -- 93-89!
Sports plays an important role in the life of Israelis. Our small country produces first class basketball players, tennis players, track and field athletes, and ice skaters. There are also great athletes in other sports that might surprise you. More sports stories to follow ~ from sam-d-man ~ following our sports ~ in-the-city -- Tel Aviv! Read More...

The Dollar is OUT! (the door) ~ should you panic now?

The use of the dollar is making a quiet exit in Tel Aviv. The main US and International accounting, management consulting, and law firms are dropping their use of the dollar for quoting and charging customers for services. They are shifting to the use of the new Israeli shekel (NIS). But there is a catch, they are re-pricing their services at the rate of 4.3 shekel to the dollar (today's rate is 3.65 NIS/$). Is this going to shake any one's trust in the "mighty dollar"? Not likely, not even in Israel. The reliance on using the dollar as a quoting and billing for services in Israel goes back to the hyper-inflation years. That was so long ago that most people will tell you stories about the Israeli economy by the light of a campfire somewhere in the woods. In other words, the weak Israeli shekel (now it's a 'new' shekel, it was a 'regular' shekel before and a lira before that) has been making a steady progress in strength and stability for over two decades now. Mostly because of the steady and wide range economy. The depency on a single market or a single sector is long gone. Also, the economic impact of the wars with Palestinians is also much less than ever before. In the second Lebanon war of 2006 the Israeli economy barely registered a blip. Stock market and NIS prices actually moved up rather than down. The strength of the NIS is simply a consequence of both trends.

KPMG Israel, moving rates of billing from dollars to shekels -- finally?

So Why do American and European companies move from billing in dollars to shekels? Simply because the dollar versus the shekel has declined by 20% in just a few months. Accountants and management consultants are not about to take 20% cut in pay, no matter where they work and who's company name they have on their business card. So the final result is a small discount if you signed a dollar contract in the last six months. The firms probably have price adjustment clause somewhere in their contracts anyway. But if they didn't, don't worry, they will make it up in the next billing cycle. Overall, the Israeli economy is on an upswing. It's about time, since the the second Lebanon war, second intifada, and the dot-com collapse before that. There are other good trends in terms of trade with new regions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The relative political stability in Africa is also helpful to Israeli companies. Finally, Israelis are much better off politically and militarily than ever before. There are less promises of "final peace" with the Palestinians, but the separation of Israel from the Palestinian territories seem to be holding. If you have any comments or insights into these trends, please drop us a line and we will address your comments. All the best, with a few more shekels in our pocket, AmiV from Tel Aviv ;8~)' Read More...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ask nanny Frankie: babies-and-the-city

Ask me anything about a baby and I will venture an educated guess based on 60 years' experience. Nanny Frankie has been dealing with infants and children for over 60 years. NO! I'm not that old. My experience began at age 7. These years can hold some amazing knowledge, complete with solutions. Every day we are confronted with choices. Which ones are right or would offer happier results?

    My mother says this.

        My friend insists on that.

           The 'net knows only these.
--     Experience is by far the best teacher. Sometimes the answers are not right or wrong. The child and the caretaker vary in every case. Everyone is different and special in their own way. If you put your heart and soul into the love of children you can be a terrific nanny. If you are only looking for a job, don't apply. It is the most important, difficult, and rewarding of all employment. The money varies but the job still must come from the love of babies and children.
When I was just a young child my parents would entertain guests. They would bring the kids along in most cases. If the infant was fussy or needed anything, my mommy would say: "just give this baby to Frankie, she has a way with babies, they love her!" Nanny Frankie was only 7 or 8 but she could always make them go to sleep or make them happy or smile or settle them easily. Even at an early age, the love of little ones was natural and came from a heart filled with love and concern for these "weak needy little humans".

"weak needy little humans"

I raised my own 3 daughters, several nieces and nephews, and now have 8 grandchildren. In all these years of working with and loving children, the novelty I gain only grows stronger. I have professional degrees in Secondary Education - Primary Education, special needs education, and managed a day care center for 5 years. I have lived in Israel for 17 years. Teaching here was not a good experience for me. So I became a nanny (metapelet). I would love to share this amazing journey with anyone who would like to learn how to be a happy and successful nanny.
in the next weeks nanny Frankie will share here experiences. Anything you would like to discuss, let me know. What it takes to be a good nanny or a great mommy or daddy or maybe a loving grand parent, aunt, uncle, or super friend to any baby is coming up soon... from the 'city' ~ Nanny Frankie Read More...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Life OUTSIDE the city - Modiin, hanging out

Looking for a place to get away from the family? Spend some time with your partner or friends? Grab a baby sitter, dress up, and hit the road. Modiin is not the center of action and entertainment, but you still have a few things to do without gassing up the old Peugeot and heading down 443. True, Modiin is a true to life bedroom community, in the style of any respectable American suburb. It is also very much a "planned" Israeli city, but with the social planning lagging a decade behind the roads and electric infrastructure. But slowly it is starting to take a life of it's own, which is what we like to see in any "good place to live". The Modiin town web site is a little bit of a disappointment in English. It is slightly better in Hebrew.

Modiin mall is soon to be the center of shopping in the center of town

I'll give you three nice spots to spend some time and have a 'heart-to-heart' which is almost impossible with the children around. Parent time is important to a good relationship so why not start a the sushi bar. A good shot of sake and some good sushi is a good way to start an evening. If you like you can wash that sushi down with some good plum wine. The sushi restaurant is located at ....

After your appetizer at the sushi bar, head for Angelos for some real Italian pasta. Enjoy a casual main course, salad and wash it down with some Italian red wine. You can't go wrong with one of the recommended pasta dish. So ask for a recommendation of the day from your waitress.

Now that your belly is full and will not utter strange noises, you can relax a little and get a good cup of coffee. Head over to Aroma, here you can have coffee and a nosh and wind down. Remember, you don't have to leave Modiin to have a good night out with your partner. Cut out the long ride home from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, when you get home, you are still relaxed and refreshed from enjoying each other.

Have fun in Modiin, with out the travel to "the-city" //sam-d-man //in-the-city Read More...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life in the City - Working in the City

Looking for a job in Israel, make sure you protect your rights. Every employee is protected under the National Labor Law. If your rights are violated or your employer doesn't pay you on time, the various labor courts located in most cities will step in at your request and enforce your rights. I suggest you hire a lawyer to go to court. The telephone company prints an English yellow pages, let your fingers "do the walking". Otherwise call information, get the phone of the local Bar Association and they will get you a lawyer. It would be smart if you check with a lawyer and find out all the benefits you are entitled. Just like in America, there are two methods. One is if your employer is covered by a collective bargaining agreement. If that is the case, this will cover your wages, hours, and conditions of employment.

Tech jobs listing in English on

If your employment is not covered by an agreement, it will be covered by a private contract between you and your employer. Negotiate your own contract with the aid of a lawyer. Get it in writing and take your employer to Labor Court. In Israel people's rights are protected legally. Remember Is classified as a first world country. Here you have rights, sam-d-man // life-and-the-city [sm]

Editor's note: This blog or article does not advocate or advise on legal matters. We do understand that employees sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation with regard to pay, working conditions, and other situations. Therefore, we strongly advocate standing up for your rights. Tel Aviv is a good place to enjoy strong labor laws and their enforcement. Best of luck in finding a job and contributing to the Israeli work force! Read More...

Foreign currency trading volume... and exporting COMPANIES?

The last post was about the decline of the dollar. Israel has been dependent on the mighty dollar for a long time. I started to notice that regardless of the decline of the dollar, or even due to it's decline, Israel is moving slowly and systematically away from too much dependence on the US economy and it's currency. One thing that would be interested to notice is what amounts of trade we are talking about. The Israel Bank (the government's) statistics show a total trade of 54 billion dollars was exchanged in all foreign currency last year (2007). For the year before (2006) the amount was 36.6 billion dollars and for the before that (2005) it was 28 billion dollars ($16B in 04). Well, this trend shows that Israel has increased it's trade by 48% the last year and by 193% over the last two years. Nice numbers, which would mean, that the dollar's decline is even more important to the economy and each Israeli citizen's pocket. But in the numbers there is a bigger trend, Israel is trading in a much larger rate than ever before. So while the dollar is declining, the amount is going up. Overall, the dollar's decline has an impact on individuals and companies, but the growth in total amount is more important. This is what you see in the offices and conference centers the last two years.

Ten shekels, worth 16% more the last six months... and going up!
The growth of business export in Israel is not only growing, it is also changing the way Israelis work. This trend of cooperation on a global basis is copied from American and European companies. But it also fits well with the international makeup of the Israeli work force. It is also a reflection of the pent-up desire to build a richer economy outside the limitation of a small country in the transition from 3rd world to a modern economy. The unique situation in Israel is based strictly on skills and creativity. Israel has developed a system of exporting companies, projects, management, and intellectual property. This is probably the most enviable position in the export world. While China needs to build factories and train workers, Saudi Arabia needs to pump and store crude oil, and Argentina needs to develop agriculture, Israel needs to put in networking infrastructure and build office complexes. The strategy of building companies and developing research and development organizations has been in the works in Israel for more than 30 years. Intel has come to build their first manufacturing plant out of the US in 1974. The office of the chief scientist (Israel government agency) have been supporting "technology incubators" since 1991. The office of Export and International Cooperation has resources, specially for small Israeli companies, to find experts for starting and growing international business.
Israel Export and International Cooperation Agency
These and other agencies all look for outside help, which means, strong push for companies from all over the world to work, invest, and cooperate with Israeli companies. It all adds up to what is going on here, exporting COMPANIES! It started with selling start-ups to American technology companies and now it has spread to Asian technology and international bio-med and pharma companies. So, if you have dollars and are worried about the value in New Israeli Shekels, don't worry so much, you can always buy an Israeli stock and see your worth go up. Or if you have a bit more to invest, get a few Israeli entrepreneurs together and sell your company to a Korean tech firm in a few years. Read More...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The all mighty DOLLAR ? does it need steroids ??

The dollar's value in New Israeli Shekels is going down. Not just a little, and not just this week. In the last six months (mid July '07) the value has gone down 16% (4.3NIS to 3.7NIS). With the dependence of Israeli economy on the US, you would think that people are rioting in the streets? But no such thing is happening. Well, people are certainly worried about the dollar here, probably next to the shekel it is the most used and respected denomination. But the reality is a little more complex. While Israelis always had respect to the US dollar and the American economy, there are bigger factors which drive the economy here. Today, no single element actually dominated the worries and headlines of the Israeli economy. The largest factor today which swamps the dependence on the US dollar is the shift of the Israeli economy from single market and single product focus to a more fractured and multifaceted structure. This shift together with higher emphasis on cooperation with foreign economies is easing the impact of the dollar's drop. The second largest factor by far is the drop in impact of Palestinian terrorism on the economy. Like the value of the US dollar, these are two uncontrollable factors, which to some extend bothers Stanley Fischer, the Israel bank chairman.

US dollar value in New Israeli Shekels, last 5 years, drop from ~5 to 3.6
Professor Fischer, a US import of sorts to the Israeli government attests the respect of 'locals' to the US economic strength. He is the first, and by far, the most prominent non-Israeli to hold a position of power in the Israeli government. To Israelis this is a "new" way of thinking, but Israelis are no longer too proud not to take advice from someone like Fischer. Actually, the appointment of a foreigner to such an important position is a reflection of Israel's ability to look outside and to use resources that are not available or developed internally. The attitude of doing what is most useful or practical in terms of resources is causing the shift from the dependence on the US economy and the dollar to greater use of other denominations and economies.
Value of Euro vs. NIS, set at 5.6 +/- 0.2
I notice that the shift to trade with other countries and develop business relations there is not simple or easy. Changes, specially on a large scale, are not quick to happen. Also, understanding and trusting new partners takes a certain amount of investment which to some extent is not recovered. For Israeli business this is a difficult step. Both the size of the economy and the history of how it was developed, has not trained business people to invest in long term relationships without seeing returns quickly. Some of this stems from the large amount of business based on early government investment and development. Some of the emotional hurdles to the changes come from simply the overall changes, the need to do something that will stretch the country's business position, preferences of the workers, and molding sectors to new habits. But, with today's global changes, Israel as a small country has done this a few times in the recent past. So, don't cry for the dollar Israel... and don't worry so much out there in the business world. We are moving, changing, and doing what it takes to have a better way of doing things. Read More...