Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Obvious Paternity

Today’s LOL from I Can Has Cheezburgers – no DNA testing necessary:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Mating Behavior, Random Musings, Social Issues | 3 Comments

American Unipolarity

One of the top five articles e-mailed to others this week in the New York Times was this fascinating article called Waving Goodbye to Hegemony by PARAG KHANNA, published January 27.

It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.

Why? Weren’t we supposed to reconnect with the United Nations and reaffirm to the world that America can, and should, lead it to collective security and prosperity? Indeed, improvements to America’s image may or may not occur, but either way, they mean little. Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either. Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.

Its premise is that during the two terms of George Bush, American power has altered in ways he never anticipated. While he foresaw America leading the world into a peaceful place (like the Pax Romana), he never dreamed American power would unite friend and foe into powerful opposition. The author foresees a future – not that far off – where there are three major powers, the EEC, China, and the US in “a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.”

You can read the rest of this fascinating piece by clicking Here: Waving Goodbye to Hegemony

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, Geography / Maps, Leadership, News, Political Issues | 8 Comments

Hegemony

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Hegemony:

Hegemony (pronounced [hə.ˈdʒe.mə.ni (Amer.), hɪ.ˈɡe.mə.ni (Brit.)])[1] (Greek: ἡγεμονία hēgemonía) is a concept that has been used to describe the existence of dominance of one social group over another, such that the ruling group—referred to as a hegemon—acquires some degree of consent from the subordinate, as opposed to dominance purely by force.[2] It is used broadly to mean any kind of dominance, and narrowly to refer to specifically cultural and non-military dominance, as opposed to the related notions of empire and suzerainty.

The processes by which a dominant culture maintains its dominant position: for example, the use of institutions to formalize power; the employment of a bureaucracy to make power seem abstract (and, therefore, not attached to any one individual); the inculcation of the populace in the ideals of the hegomonic group through education, advertising, publication, etc.; the mobilization of a police force as well as military personnel to subdue opposition.

If you want to learn more, you can read the complete article at Wikipedia on Hegemony.

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Leadership, News, Political Issues, Relationships, Technical Issue, Words | 2 Comments

Niemoeller and “When They Came for Me. . . “

Today’s quote from A.Word.A.Day:

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the
tormentor, never the tormented.

-Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b.1928)

When I read this quote, I was reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoeller’s poem about Nazi Germany, “When They Came For Me:”

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

We are all by nature cowards. We take the easy way out, we look the other way, we tell ourselves “later” I will do this or that, “later” I will get involved. When our nations and our character slide into the dumps, we have no one but ourselves to blame.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Random Musings, Relationships, Spiritual, Words | 2 Comments

Sunrise 30 January 2008

Here is the best sunrise photo I could get. This is actually about ten minutes after REAL sunrise, but this is the sun breaking over the thick layer of haze and pollution near the water. My friends, I think we are breathing whatever it is that makes up that cloud . . .

Meanwhile, we are having the most wonderful weather, cool evenings, chill nights and nice warm days with lots of sun. Oh! It feels like Spring!

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Here is just a few minutes earlier:
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And here is one where I thought God had sent me a bird to add interest to my sunrise photo, only to discover I had shot a photo of a gracefully flapping garbage bag:

00sunbird.jpg

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Weather | | 2 Comments

Tips for an Exceptional, Superb and Powerful Life

I was at an utter loss for a blog entry today, when I was blessed to receive this from a wonderful friend in Qatar. Many thanks, Grammy!

Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful Life!

1) Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate antidepressant.

2) Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.

3) Buy a Tivo (DVR), tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4) When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to________ today.’

5) Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6) Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did last year.

7) Always pray and make time to exercise.

8) Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of Six.

9) Dream more while you are awake.

10) Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in
plants.

11) Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli , almonds
& walnuts.

12) Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13) Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14) Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative
thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15) Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class….but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16) Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17) Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

18) Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

19) Life is too sho rt to waste time hating anyone.

20) Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21) You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22) Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

23) Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24) Ladies – Go on and burn those ‘special’ scented candles, use the 600 thread count sheets, the good china and wear our fancy lingerie now. Stop waiting for a special occasion. Everyday is special.

25) No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26) Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27.) Forgive everyone for everything.

28) What other people think of you is none of your business.

29) Time heals almost everything. Give time, time!

30) However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

31) Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch with them.

32) Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

33) Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. God provides remember?!

34) The best is yet to come. (in Heaven)

35) No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

36) Do the right thing!

37) Call your family often.

38) Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: ‘I am thankful for __________.’ Today I accomplished _________.

39) Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

40) Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast
pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

Please share with friends!

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Exercise, Family Issues, Health Issues, Spiritual | 8 Comments

Marrakesh Delight

Forty days ago, the REAL “first Moroccan restaurant” opened in the Alia/Galia Towers in Mahboula, next door to the Starbucks, and across the street from Al Noukhaza, Sakura, CinnaMonster, Ruby Tuesday’s etc.

00marrakeshexterior.jpg

The entrance is warm and welcoming. The Marrakesh may not be well advertised, but it is certainly not undiscovered, and if you want to get a table, you will want to reserve, or to get there early. It deserves the crowds.

The decor is lush, with large mashrabiyya screens between spacious saltillo-tiled areas. Heavy tablecloths, Moroccan tableware, plush banquettes and attentive service are all side orders to the exquisite main dishes – the tajines – coming out of the kitchen. By 8:30 on a weeknight, almost every table is filled and people are waiting in the entry for seating.

First dining room:
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Decor:
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Private dining cabinets:
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Starters:
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Couscous Barbarian:
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Lamb Tajine with Plums:
00lambtajineplums.jpg

We really liked it that they played Moroccan music, that the primary wait staff were Moroccan, and that the food was really, REALLY good. Each starter had an individual and lightly spiced flavor, the couscous was rich and light, and the lamb tajine with plums was tender, sweet and heavenly. The tea was hot and our etched glass cups frequently refilled, and an irresistable plate of sweets arrived just when we thought none of us could eat another bite.

The table waiters were supplemented by kitchen staff delivering the meals hot and covered in the traditional tajines, and there are three separate richly decorated dining areas (one we think is just for men), AND the private cabinets in the back. We intend to go back often – it’s that good.

TELEPHONE: 3715333

Update: When I called for reservations, no one answered. When I went by in person to make reservations, I was told that the management has informed the staff that they have a “no reservations” policy, and you just have to show up and hope to get seated.

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Morocco | 22 Comments

“Hello! My Name is Heather . . . “

Every now and then, one of my readers writes to me. Most of the time, it is on an issue, and behind the blog we have a great conversation. (I learn so much from you, my readers.) :-)

Occasionally, I will get one that makes the little hairs on the back of my neck rise up. I wish I had saved the one I got that started “Hello! My name is Heather (last name) and I live in (small-town) Iowa, and I would like your permission to share your (wonderful) blog with my friends.”

She went on to tell me a little about herself. I don’t know why – there was something about the letter that made me uncomfortable, and I have learned to trust those feelings.

I wrote to her and told her she was welcome to share my site, that anyone could visit, they were welcome. I didn’t share any personal details in return.

Her next e-mail coming back told me a whole lot about her life, and . . . it didn’t ring true. I don’t know why. When your instincts are telling you something is not right, you just MUST listen.

At the end, she asked who I really was, and where I was from and more oh-now-that-we’re-such-good-friends kinds of questions. Bingo. It felt like the whole thing had been set up to ask me that very question. I wrote back, as I always do, that I blog as Intlxpatr for a reason, and that I protect my anonymity.

Funny. I never heard from “her” again. I don’t believe a word she said, including I don’t know that I was corresponding with a woman, much less a woman named Heather.

Why on earth would anyone target me?

My friends, there are crazy people out there, people who think differently from you and me. No matter how good someone sounds, no matter how trustworthy, this is a virtual world, not a real world, and if you gut tells you to beware – then listen. Listen to that gut feeling, listen to the hairs on the back of your neck, and listen to that uneasiness . . . something is not right.

Given enough time, most scams and cons just can’t keep up the deception.

I once worked for an organization which would give emergency loans. I was pretty good, and pretty fast at putting a loan together, and verifying that the loan was needed. One day, a man came in with a serious problem, and with him was his boss, verifying his need. He had all the right papers, too. I made the loan.

Not two months later his boss came in to me with a hangdog look and said “I have to tell you about (so-and-so).”

He had been dealing drugs and had serious problems. His boss had vouched for him. The guy was clean cut and articulate and knew how to present himself. He had all the right papers – and both his boss and I were totally fooled. The boss brought the guy in to apologize to me – he was on his way to jail and he would never repay the loan; I had to write it off. The con-man looked at me and apologized sincerely, and gave me one piece of really really great advice:

“The reason they call us con-men is because we are really good at what we do. We make you believe us.”

Con-men fail in many other areas of their lives – anything that requires consistency and a long term commitment. They can’t perform under scrutiny over time – it’s mostly wires and mirrors and smoke, and it all falls apart when it is examined too closely.

Con-men also create drama that make you feel YOU have to commit now. They have deadlines, and terrible consequences. When you feel that happening in your life, take a deep breath. Slow things down. When you feel unduly rushed, when someone is pushing you for a quick decision on a major issue – that is the time to SLOW WAY DOWN, to examine closely, to give a situation some time. There are con-men and con-women in every culture.

“Heather” – or whoever “she” really was – has agendas you and I can’t begin to imagine. She/He may need money (they often do!) or your connections. He or she may just like messing with people’s lives.

Listen to your instincts, and take your time. Take a deep breath, relax – YOU set your own timeline. Ask around, ask if anyone you know has had experience with a similar approach, especially on the internet. Protect yourself. Protect yourself. Protect yourself.

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships | , , , | 14 Comments

A Man and His Dog

A good friend sent me this today – I think you have to be a pet lover to get the full effect, and I totally love it.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as
he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.

‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.’

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

‘Can my friend,’ gesturing toward his dog, ‘come in, too?’ the traveler asked.

‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.’

‘How about my friend here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog.

‘There should be a bowl by the pump.’

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked.

‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?’

‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.’

January 28, 2008 Posted by | Friends & Friendship, Pets, Spiritual | 4 Comments

-Nzm – You’re It: Mermaid of Mangaf Update

Here’s what I love – a comment on my blog, buried way back on a post I wrote almost a year ago ( Mermaid of Mangaf Update) , which was an update on a previous post – Mermaid of Mangaf. And the comment is so good, contains so much more information that I don’t have, that I can use it as a blog entry, lazy lazy me! Wooo Hoooo, for my readers and commenters. -Nzm, today, you are my guest blogger!

Hey all! We went to visit the mermaid a few months ago, and the management was really kind and gave us a whole tour of the place. They showed us two villas, one furnished and the other plain. The villas are absolutely gorgeous, very luxurious and spaceous. The look and feel is completely different from the rest of the housing in kuwait — the Mermaid encompasses a very western style/feel of living. (You might feel as if you are no longer in kuwait!).. The roof contains the pool, party hall with a plasma tv, gym, saunas, squash courts, lockers, a massage centre and even a cafeteria…The view of the sea from the roof is breath taking. And yes there is also a car elevator which tenants can use (at the time we visited they had not finished installing the interiors of the elevator)

However, the prices are quite high for each villa.. The villas at the very bottom are selling for 310,000 KD and the ones at the very top are for 370,000 KD with ranging prices for villas in between (you cannot simply “rent” the villas). Also, you must pay 90% of price on purhase, and EVERY MONTH you must pay 500 KD for maintenance.

Honestly, as beautiful as the mermaid is, I dont think its worth THAT much money.. (370,000 KD converts to about 1,365,152 Canadian dollars!) I’m sure you can find much better houses for that amount of money in Kuwait..I know that the villas are stunning but the prices are set too high.

Recently, we have heard that Tijara changed its pricing and now you can actually rent the villas for about 2,600 KD/month (this is simply what I have heard)…

I live very close to the Mermaid and pass it every day, and I believe that it is still as empty as it was before.. the clothes some people have seen hanging on the balcony are those of the workers who stay around the villas for cleaning/maintenance. It appears quite empty.

I do not know the current situation of the Mermaid, but if someone could update us that us that would be nice. I hope my information has helped!

January 28, 2008 Posted by | Building, Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions | 16 Comments

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