Archive for Personal

Liebster Award, time for a drink!


Tagging is apparently still a thing! Thanks to the lovely hosts at the Bildungstrinken podcast, I’ve been nominated for something called a “Liebster Award” and get to tell you about my relationship with alcohol.

1. What is your favorite drink?

This tends to change seasonally. A nice glass of red wine always sits well with me, but right now my absolute favorite is the Smoky Chocolate. Last Season it was the Bramble.

2. When did you drink alcohol for the first time?

I first tried alcohol at an extended family dinner. Both my uncle and my grandfather (z”l) had the obscene habit of mixing themselves Jack Daniels & Coke at every family dinner, several glasses a meal. It didn’t taste very good to a ten year-old and I don’t like Jack n’ Coke any better now that I’m in my 30s.

3. Which drink do you regret the most?

Tequila and milk. I was 16. Please don’t judge.

4. Bar or pub?

Depends on the company. I’ll choose the bar 99% of the time. For the 1% of my excursions which involve British people, it’ll be a pub.

5. Champagne or sparkling wine?

I’m not fussed. Champagne, Sekt, Cremont, Prosecco, Cava… preferably with gin, lemon and honey.

6. Who would you like to drink with?

If given the choice, I’d love to have a drink or two with Professor Brian Cox, particle physicist. First of all – physicists know how to party (as is evident by the Halloween gigs I attended at the DESY canteen). Second, I find his work as both a physicist and science explainer fascinating and I would love to pick his brain for a few hours. I promise to not mention D:Ream.

7. Where (or at who’s) would you like to drink?

Someday, I’d love to spend a day at the Binyamina Winery. At this very moment I’d like a drink at La Banca in Berlin (Formerly Bebel Bar).

8. What does your home bar look like?

My home bar is comprised of about 15 bottles of gin, two bottles of vodka, three bottles of rum, five bottles of whisky and a few odd liquors and spirits. It all belongs to moeffju, I get to mooch off of it at my discretion. I also have a rather nice collection of red wines.

9. Describe your ice cube

I really like round ice for its aesthetic and technical aspects, but making these at home can be a bit finicky, even with the right type of mold. My second choice is the square ice cube, which is about twice the size of a standard home freezer ice cube.

10. What is your Gin and Tonic recommendation?

Hendrick’s + Thomas Henry or Monkey 47 Beef Cut (if you can get it) + 1724. If you’re feeling flirty, try a Sloe Gin with Fever Tree.

11. How would you fight a hangover?

I really dislike getting drunk, so I often manage to avoid a hangover in the first place. If I end up with one too many drinks and a headache the next day, I make sure to get enough water in and take an ibuprofen. I’m really quite good at knowing my limits and staying away from drinking too much alcohol.

Paying it forward:

I nominate these bloggers:
Susan
Jenna
Henning
Matthias
Matthias

To follow these rules:

  • Answer the below 11 questions
  • Nominate 5-11 bloggers for the Liebster Award
  • Create a new list of 11 questions for these bloggers
  • Let them know of the nomination

…and answer these 11 questions:

  1. If you were born in Europe of the middle ages, what kind of profession would you adopt?
  2. If you would be offered a new life on a deserted island with 20 people of your choosing and no way to contact the rest of civilisation, would you accept?
  3. What does your daily rhythm look like when you perform and feel your best?
  4. What is your favorite dish or type of dish to cook, and why?
  5. Which historical figure would you have liked to have met, and why?
  6. Do you collect anything? If so, what?
  7. What do you think is the single biggest obstacle to the cultural, social an technological development of humankind in the current age?
  8. How do you think people will be consuming media (news, entertainment) in 20 years?
  9. What is more important to you in social situations – to be liked, or to be respected?
  10. What is the biggest fear you have conquered as an adult?
  11. Chocolate, vanilla or cookie dough?

Remember?


Another Holocaust Remembrance Day in Germany. Nothing on the streets. No mentions in my Facebook feed, no-one says anything on Twitter. A footnote in the German media. What good is a remembrance day if no-one remembers?

I do.

In memory of the dozens of my family members murdered by the Nazis.

In memory of all the German Jews handed over by their neighbors to the Gestapo.

In memory of the millions of European Jews and minorities brutally murdered by the Nazis, while their country-folk stood by.

I most certainly will not forget.

Thymian is looking for a new, loving home


Timmy

Thymian (Timmy) is a beautiful European Shorthair who joined our household in July of this year. He’s friendly, loving and very sweet. Unfortunately, we cannot take care of him any longer – his relationship with our other cat, Salbei, ist very strained. Neither cats are happy with the current situation, it is likely that Thymian would do far better as a single cat in a household.

We’re looking for someone with a big heart and a (yet) cat-less house to take Thymian in. He is around 10 years old and has a chronic kidney condition; with the right diet he will live several more years. He is neutered, de-wormed and is chipped.

If you are patient, have a big heart, love cats and can give Thymian care and attention as an only cat in your household, please consider adopting him. We fear that if we cannot find him a home and will have to return him to the shelter, they will not be able to support his kidney condition.

We would like to find him a new home as soon as possible. We can give him to you with paperwork from the Tierheim Süderstraße and a modest supply of food suitable for cats with kidney conditions.

Please come visit us in the Schanze to meet Thymian. Contact me (Liron) any time at liron@liron.de to arrange a meeting. I can also be contacted on Twitter.

Winds of change, new horizons await: I’m looking for a new job


It’s official – I’m looking for a new full time job. The winds of change are taking me from my current position as Creative Lead at intosite to new horizons, and hopefully exciting new challenges. I will be available for full time employment from the beginning of 2015 and would be happy to accept invitations for meetings effective immediately.

I’m looking for a team lead, Creative Lead or Creative Director (or similar) position in digital design – User Experience, User Interface Design and Concept Design. I am also interested in full-time consulting opportunities. I’m happiest working with teams on large, complex projects, especially those with lots of content, either editorial or user-generated.

I’m especially interested in working with others who believe in what they do, want to be a part of forming their own working processes, prefer loose hierarchies, open-door policies, care about agile and love their job.

What I do in one sentence:
I design digital user interfaces that allow people to connect with others.

I have been working in web design for almost 15 years and I love what I do. I’m based out of Hamburg, Germany – but am willing to consider opportunities elsewhere.

I’m good at:

- Understanding user behavior and building comprehensive user journeys and personas
- Helping project teams integrate User Experience into their daily work
- Working with developers on ideas, implementations and prototypes
- Working closely with clients and stakeholders on concepts and features
- Designing modern interfaces that function in a world of different devices and browsers

I have extensive experience with:

- Designing large websites with User-Generated Content
- Designing large websites with editorial content
- Design of Social Networks
- Design of multilingual websites
- Administrating small teams
- Designing/conceptualizing B2B interfaces and self-service customer journeys
- Agile product development (Scrum, Kanban)

Technical skills:

- Wireframing (Paper, Google Draw, Balsamiq)
- Prototyping (Paper!, Axure, Keynote)
- Visual Design (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator)
- Basic Frontend skills (HTML, CSS)

I speak:

- German (fluently)
- English (Mother tongue)
- Hebrew (Mother tongue)

I like:

- The internet (a lot!)
- Cats
- Comics
- Science Fiction
- Fine dining and a Gin Basil Smash

If you have a position which you think I might be interested in, please feel free to get in touch via email, LinkedIN or XING. If you’re interested in seeing some of my interface designs, check out my portfolio on Behance.

Download my full CV here

Berlin, Berlin: Leaving Israel for greater pastures


I’ve never really taken the time to post about moving from Israel to Germany in 2006, it’s always been a bit of a can of worms. The truth is, I moved to Germany for love and career opportunities, but I decided to stay in Germany after the financial, social and security situation in Israel deteriorated significantly in the last part of the previous decade. Living outside of Israel for an extended period of time, after spending most of my life in Israel, helped me build perspective: I didn’t have to live in constant stress and fear of war in a country with low wages, high cost of living and an inexcusable tolerance towards organized religion.

I’m not alone – over 7 million (!) Israelis live outside of Israel, that’s almost the entire population of Israel itself. Moving away from Israel suffers from a very nasty stigma – emigrants are often labeled “traitors” and, as most famously quoted by Israel’s former Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin, “fall-outs of weaklings“.

Without opening this can of worms more than it needs to be, the reason for this post is to put this music video out there, by Israeli band Shmemel. The song, called “Berlin”, deals with the reality of emigrating from Israel and serves as a reminder that wanting to seek out an a better quality of life is nothing to be ashamed of. the video includes clips of young Israelis and their families holding signs with the names of the countries they have emigrated to.

Israelis abroad: you are not alone. There is no shame in your decision.

Fire in a Bottle (A review of Gorilla Perfume’s Hellstone)


Gorilla Perfume Hellstone
Image by Anatomique

I usually don’t do product reviews, but once in a while, someone creates a thing that is so superbly different from other things, that I need to tell the world. Hellstone by Gorilla Perfume is a thing like this. Like a vibrant shade of orange, the texture of leather or a well-composed song, I am delighted by complex scents which take me somewhere else, if only in my head. A bakery on the Champs-Élysées, a campfire on the beach of Herzliya, midnight at a rave in Berlin or barefoot through the black sands of Lanzarote.

To say I dislike 99.99999% of mass-market perfumes wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Hight-street perfumes smell like toilet cleaner to me (apologies the friend who had me along for an opinion and watched me gag, mortified, after taking a sniff of Davidoff’s “Cool Water”). Drakkar Noir called, they want their 90’s back. Or was it the other way around?

I want to be surrounded by scents that are heady, heavy and slap you in the face (in the good way). Smells of dirt, sandalwood and trampled grass. Stuff on fire with vanilla on top. Jasmine and something from the depths of the earth. Amber, firewood, cupcakes and peppermint. 100% Cocoa. Musk. Death. You know, those sorts of things.

I ordered Hellstone online after reading the description, which said something along the lines of “The scent of newly turned earth and roots ripped from deep burial into fiery air”. Anatomique reviewed the perfume in her blog post:

The smell of earth, roots and oldest oak tree in the deepest woods, moss and dry rot leaves. Smells almost occult, like the melted candle wax, edged dagger and a drop of blood. Like a deep mud, fog and rain drops that penetrate through the tall trees. Like silence. In his forest there are no animal nor sounds.

This is clearly my kind of perfume.

I was not prepared for how intense the scent would be coming out of the bottle. This isn’t your baby daddy’s body splash, it is perfume oil and it is intense. It was so intense, that I had immediately figured I was holding a bottle which had gone off. It was weird and I wasn’t sure of my investment. I gritted my teeth and applied the oil to my wrists and waited a few (heart-wrenching) minutes to smell the dry down. I sniffed. And sniffed. And eventually realized I was probably looking like a drug addict while walking down the street. Then I decided I didn’t care and sniff, sniff, sniffed some more. It’s been five hours and I still cannot get over the complexity of the fragrance or the fantastically musky, heavy smokiness.

I thought Byredo’s Gypsy Water, another favorite of mine, was the the darkest and smokiest it could go, but Hellstone is far darker. The scent seems to change and age, starting you out on a journey through sandalwood, vetivert & cumin and morphing into a sexy, smoky, musky mass of sweet, almost metallic molasses. Whisky, resin and beeswax. After 6 hours it departs with a whiff of jasmine and dark maple syrup. This is not a casual scent. This is the scent of fire, brimstone, and things that go bump in the night. Except you wear this scent, and you BECOME the thing that goes bump in the night. If Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” was a scent, Hellstone would be it.

Make no mistake. If you walk into a room full of people wearing nothing but Hellstone, I dare say you’ll be remembered for the perfume.

Hellstone has nothing to do with anything you’ve ever smelled at your local perfumery – this is true for everything I’ve sampled from Gorilla Perfume. Unlike some of their other scents, such as Vanillary, which I enjoy slathering on every day, Hellstone is a scent I’ll want to enjoy in moderation – like my most prized pair of high heels. Except that I can’t actually walk in those, and in Hellstone I’ll be doing dances for the dead.

If you like uniquely dark scents which play tricks with your head, try Hellstone. Go into a Lush shop, resist the urge to sniff the bottle. Try it on, exit the store and wear it around for a while. See what it does for you. Then decide.

On being a Jew, genetics and other things


A colleague of mine recently cited a statistic from a newspaper article, stating that “20% of all Germans are anti-Semitic”. I pressed him to be more specific, to which he explained that he had read the article to mean that “20% of Germans believe people of the Jewish faith have disproportionate power in business and politics”.

I was more taken aback by his interpretation of (dubious) statement, than the (dubious) statement itself, but this wasn’t the first time I had been confronted in Germany with a somewhat distorted view of what Jews actually are, especially considering the 20th century history of central Europe.

I’ll try to explain this quickly and concisely:

Judaism is a faith. But a Jew is not necessarily someone who practices Judaism. As a matter of fact, a Jew can be an Atheist (like Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Sarah Silverman, myself and many more). This is because hundreds of years of Jewish history have created not only a rich culture but also markers which, in genetics, serve to define ethnic divisions – and your DNA doesn’t care what you believe in, if anything at all.

Indeed, a Jew can be an Atheist, a Christian or even a Nazi (I threw that last one in there for shits n’ giggles).

I am Ashkenazi Jewish, just like Sigmund Freud, Adam Sandler, Heinrich Heine, Theodore Herzl and Franz Kafka (and most of the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic division coalesced at the turn of the first century (during the time of the Roman Empire), subsequently formed communities and around Central and Eastern Europe and are today the largest Jewish ethnic division at around 75% of Jews worldwide.

Here are my 23andMe Ancestry Composition results:

23andme Ancestry results

23andMe explains:

DNA shows clearly the connections among those who consider themselves to be Ashkenazi Jewish: two Ashkenazi Jewish people are very likely to be “genetic cousins”, sharing long stretches of identical DNA. This sharing reflects the close knit nature of this population.”

This easily explains why some diseases are far more prevalent in specific Jewish ethnic divisions, such as Tay-Sachs Disease (read more).

In Germany, I often get told that I look “Middle Eastern” or “from Israel”. Ashkenazi Jews, however, have actually little common ancestry with Middle Eastern populations (as far as the last 2000 years are concerned). Genetically, I’m far more likely to be closer to a person of mixed European Ancestry than to a Jew of general Middle Eastern descent, such as Mizrachi Jews, and my genetic connections to any historic Jewish population in what is today Israel are somewhat weak. This fact is hotly debated and politically volatile, as the existence of modern Israel is based on the understanding that the land has historically served as the ancestral home of Jews.

Middle Eastern Ancestry

Above: My Middle Eastern ancestry, according to my 23adnMe genetic test results

Does being ethnically Jewish mean anything to me? Not very much. But aside from the religion (which i don’t have) and the genetics (which I do), Ashkenazi Jews have developed a rich and fascinating culture which spans centuries of art, poetry and tradition. This culture is part of my history, but it is not me. I appreciate it for its beauty und diversity, and criticize it for aspects which have not made it into the modern world.

I hope I was able to shed a bit of light on the term “Jew”, however please be aware that I am neither a geneticist nor a rabbi. If you’re interested in the topic, there’s a whole world of information – I suggest you start here.

Note: Being Female, my 23andMe results can only analyze ancestry information via my Mitochondrial DNA. Considering both my grandmothers were Ashkenazi, It is unlikely that my male lineage is different than the above values in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, since no males in my family have done genetic testing, I am unable to verify this assumption.

A note on scale


I just finished watching the first two episodes of “COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey” a show presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson as a follow up to Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” from the 80s. Just like Brian Cox’s “Wonders of the Solar System“, which aired in 2010, the new Cosmos series evoked plenty of reaction and discussion on and offline.

Whenever I’d sit and talk about the universe with friends (something I immensely enjoy and do surprisingly often), I’d often hear them say that coming to terms with the scope of the observable universe made them feel insignificantly small. I’ve never shared that sentiment. In fact, trying to grasp myself in the context of the universe has made me feel just as big as it itself might be, for the simple fact that scale is nothing but an illusion.

As I sit here and write this blog post (in my house, which is on a street, in a city, in a country, on a continent, on a planet, in a solar system, in a galaxy), thousands of species of bacteria are living in my digestive system. There’s an entire world of microorganisms living inside my body, and I can scale down to the infinitesimal (from my humble, human perspective) to find ecosystems thriving in our soil, oceans and extreme environments. You might call them “small” and our observable universe “big”, but none of this really matters. Only our stubborn need to put our universe in a human context makes us feel tiny.

You are as small as a protein, binding to DNA. You’re as large as Shoemaker–Levy 9, slamming into Jupiter. You are as massive as the distance between my cat and the outer edges of Andromeda. Think of the smallest thing you possible can; there are things even smaller than that. Think of the largest thing you can possible comprehend; there are things far larger than anything you can imagine.

Scale is personal. You’re only as small and insignificant as you allow yourself to be.

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