Ancient Estate and Garden Fountain Unearthed in Israel

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The remains of a wealthy estate, with a mosaic fountain in its garden, dating to between the late 10th and early 11th centuries have been unearthed in Ramla in central Israel.

The estate was discovered during excavations at a site where a bridge is slated for construction as part of the new Highway 44.

“It seems that a private building belonging to a wealthy family was located there and that the fountain was used for ornamentation,” Hagit Torgë, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. “This is the first time that a fountain has been discovered outside the known, more affluent quarters of Old Ramla.”

Fountains from the Fatimid period were mostly found around the center of the Old City of Ramla called White Mosque, Torgë added.

Researchers found two residential rooms within the estate along with a nearby fountain made of mosaic and covered with plaster and stone slabs; A network of pipes, some made of terra cotta and connected with stone jars, led to the fountain. Next to the estate, archaeologists also founda large cistern and a system of pipes and channels used to transport water.

Other discoveries at the site included oil lamps, parts of dolls made of bones and a baby rattle.

A network of pipes, some made of terra cotta and connected with stone jars, led to the fountain disc …

“This is the first time that the fountain’s plumbing was discovered completely intact. The pipes of other fountains did not survive the earthquakes that struck the country in 1033 and 1068 CE,” Torgë said in a statement.

Ramla was founded in the eighth century by the ruler Suleiman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. Its strategic location on the road from Cairo to Damascus and from Yafo to Jerusalem made Ramla an important economic center.

The entire area seems to have been abandoned in the mid-11th century, likely in the wake of an earthquake, according to the IAA.

Once the excavation is complete, the fountain will be displayed in the city’s Pool of Arches compound.

Due to Israel’s long history, construction projects often yield archaeological discoveries. For example, a “cultic” temple and traces of a 10,000-year-old house were discovered at Eshtaol west of Jerusalem in preparation for the widening of a road. And during recent expansions of the main road connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, called Highway 1, excavators found a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age, a ritual building from the First Temple era and animal figurines dating back 9,500 years.

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Learning style? What? Huh? “Bonnie,” I ask my Scottie. “Do I have a learning style?”

“GrrrARF” she says, which loosely translated means “You are too slow with the biscuits this morning, Mom.”

“Nan? Feel free to jump in here.”

Nan - 14

“Oink, grrrunt, oink,” replies Nan. For a terrier, she sounds remarkably like a rooting piglet. I’m sure she too is commenting on my failure to go more than a single round of biscuits.

“I don’t need no stinking learning style!” I growl at my monitor.”I’m done with that. I don’t have to learn anything anymore. I’m finished. My brain is closed, locked up tight.” As usual, the monitor remains imperturbable and silent. How did I ever learn anything? I read books. Lots of books. I remembered some stuff. Forgot the rest. Now I read whatever I find amusing and remember what I find interesting. Is that a style?

“Humbug” I declare, still railing. The monitor has yet to respond. Bah.

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t have style. Not in learning, not in clothing, not nohow. Well, a little, sort of. If I must. Are the fashion police involved in education now? Do I have to do it a particular way? I’ve never been any kind of stylish. What’s trendy and hot? Whatever it is, I am not.

Two Terrier 7

My dogs learn only when food is involved. My husband learns if it’s about current events, history, baseball and/or movies. I’ve got acquaintances who only learn if it’s being shouted on Fox News. I’m not sure that counts. Actually, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count. Do things you learn that are utterly incorrect count as learning?

Learning. Way too early for this. I need coffee. And a cookie, maybe two. I’ve learned (see? it’s that word again) if I drink a lot of coffee, caffeine will wake me from my stupor. I’ve learned that, but I’m unsure how.


Amazon launched the new generation of Kindles at the end of September 2013. I spent time perusing these latest greatest Kindles. They are much like the previous generation with the following differences:

  • Higher resolution graphics
  • More memory and memory options
  • Faster processor
  • Longer battery life
  • Easier (more) Amazon cloud storage
  • Simplified (better) support
  • A front-facing camera for Skype and similar applications
  • Different, more intuitive, menu structure
  • New placement of speakers and buttons
  • Even better sound quality
  • Comes with a charger.

There are other difference, but these are the ones that concern me.

When the HDX first came out, my Kindle Fire HD was working fine, but as months passed it began to stutter. Stuff wouldn’t download. Too many audio books and movies. Too much music. I kept finding more ways to use the Kindle and 8 GB of memory was insufficient.

When they dropped the price by $50, it became less expensive than my original Kindle HD Fire. After a dark night of the soul about spending the money, I bought it. It came with 6-month financing at 0% interest … a nice touch.

I depend on my Kindle. It’s not an optional piece of equipment. I have hundreds of books I can read only on Kindle so in the end, there wasn’t much choice. I was going to get the new Kindle.

I’m convinced Kindles are the biggest bargain in tablets. My granddaughter has an iPad which theoretically has more functions. For my purposes, it isn’t as good. Not only does it cost two to three times more than the Kindle, but the sound quality, screen resolution and color are not as good. The difference in sound quality is particularly obvious. I don’t know how Kindles get such great sound from tiny speakers, but listening to anything on the Kindle Fire HDX is a pleasure.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX has a new interface for email that’s smoother and easier to use. The calendar is greatly improved. There are plenty of free games from Amazon. If you have a Prime subscription, you can watch a wide selection of movies and TV shows free too. You can also borrow books. Moreover, you can “buy” many books for $0.00. Sometimes these sales run for only a day or too, but there are new deals every day. And finally, you can lend your books to Kindle-using friends and family.

This is an incremental upgrade to the Kindle Fire HD. The HDX is a wonderful tablet, but so is the original Fire HD. You can still buy the Fire HD (new from Amazon) for $139. For many people, it will be more than adequate. The main advantage to the HDX is the faster processor and additional memory. If you use your Kindle a lot, you’ll notice the difference.

This is a remarkably complete, fun entertainment center in a lightweight, purse-sized package. It’s almost too much fun offering a plethora of pleasantly distracting choices. It’s also a better reader. The page color is a softer; adjusting screen brightness is easier.

You can store everything on Amazon’s cloud servers. If you delete a book, you don’t lose it. You can remove items from the device, but they remain accessible as long as you have WiFi. Serious road warriors may want to get a Kindle with 3G.

You can do most things you would want to do on any tablet on the Kindle. You won’t be editing pictures or writing your novel, but I don’t think you’d be doing that on any tablet. Or at least I wouldn’t. For those things, I want more RAM, a hard drive, an application with legs and a full-size keyboard.

Big thumbs up for overall quality, sound, video, and speed.

Buy a cover that offers some protection and keeps dust out. Most let you prop your Kindle like an easel to watch a movie or listen hands free. Many (most) covers turn the Kindle on and off when you open or close it. Covers are affordable.

Fingerprints are a peril of all tablets. Keep a stash of lens wipes handy. Good for the Kindle, cameras, computers and eyeglasses. Don’t bother with a protective screen; it’s a waste of money.

The on/off button is less difficult to reach, though its placement on the back of the unit wouldn’t be my first choice. I’d prefer all the controls in front. And I find the charger connection tricky. The edges of the HDX are beveled, so the plug is not straight, but slightly angled. You have to be very careful when connecting it; it would be easy to damage the connector. They need to find a way to make the connector straight, not angled. It isn’t a deal breaker, but it is annoying.

The Kindle Fire HDX wakes up instantly. Zero boot time.

I got the one with the ads. They only appear on the splash screen before you unlock it. What’s the big deal?

If you own a Kindle, you are in the Amazon universe. Amazon is so integral to my life anyway, that’s fine with me. I’ve been buying books, appliances, music, movies, housewares, coffee, cameras, computers — everything except clothing — from Amazon for years. If you feel you need to spend two or three times as much for a tablet for the privilege of buying exactly the same stuff elsewhere, hey, that’s what Apple is all about.

Awakenings: After Pearl Harbor Rare Photos

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The rarity stems from most of the photos having not been published in LIFE Magazine.

Be sure to watch in full screen.

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There are monuments and mountains, deserts and oceans … and then, we have the dam at Manchaug. 

Manchaug 5


Gar w 2 terriers

I don’t post a lot of pictures of my dogs. They do not coöperate. They will not sit still. They will run out of the room or stick their wet black noses right up my lens. Outdoors, they will run  and hide. I’ll get nothing but pictures of their furry butts as they disappear around the corner or through the doggy door.

Inside? They huddle in the darkest corner of the room or spread out so no lens will get them.

Two Terriers - Toy Camera

The two miscreant terriers were groomed yesterday so they’re looking pretty spiffy. Garry offered to hold them while I took a few pictures. Emerging from my office into the dimly lit living room, I realized even if I turned on every light, it would still not be enough to get sharp images.

I am nothing if not persistent. I turned on lights. Garry had the two terrorists on his lap in a death grip. What do they have against me and the camera? I don’t even use a flash.

Garry was wearing his comfortable clothing. A sweatshirt paired with weird green fishing print pajama bottoms. The throws on the sofa are a blocky red, white and bluish print — not beautiful to begin with — that clash in a particularly noxious way with the green print pants.

Gar w terriers 2

Between the bad light, the wriggling dogs, the ugly background, the bad pants, the clashing colors … well, these are among the worst pictures I’ve ever taken. Barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, color shifts and everything out of focus. Absolutely nothing to recommend them. So bad I had nothing to lose by trying out some of the special effects in my filter packages. I never use special effects on good pictures. Why waste a good image?

The doggies came out kind of cute. I used a toy lens effect on one shot. On the other two, I used various vintage camera effects, with added blur, light leaks and other kinds of aging. Cute — bad — pictures. Proving if you have enough filters, you can make anything look okay.