I’ve been listening to a very painful report on National Public Radio, Under Suspicion at the Mall of America, a report about counter-terrorism measures being taken at the Mall of America, a huge mall, in Minnesota. One reason I’ve always wanted to go there is that I think I remember it having a huge, huge swim area, with lots of water slides and wave machines, and it just looked like a lot of fun. When I look at the mall map, I don’t see any pool area. You know malls – they change, and it’s been years. It was probably a liability issue.
So this is the ten year anniversary of 9/11, an event so awful most of us barely want to think about it. There are some things that just go so deep, you could get lost in the horror of it all. Officials are warning of the possibility of anniversary acts of terrorism, and Mall of America has always felt itself to be a vulnerable symbol, due to its name.
This is a lengthy report of “suspicious” incidents at Mall of America. They make me want to cry. You can read the report, but if you listen to the audio (you just click on the audio symbol) it is a richer, more detailed report. Listen – and weep.
Below is an excerpt:
A Missing Cellphone
Yet look what happened when Najam Qureshi’s father came under suspicion at the Mall of America.
Najam Qureshi was born in Pakistan, but he’s been a U.S. citizen since he was a teenager. Today, he manages computer systems for a major company near Minneapolis. He and his family live on a pretty suburban street.
Najam Qureshi’s father came under suspicion at the Mall of America after leaving his cellphone in the food court.
In January 2007, an FBI agent showed up on his doorstep. It turned out that a few weeks before, Qureshi’s father had left his cellphone on a table in the Mall of America’s food court. When the mall’s counterterrorism unit saw the unattended phone, plus someone else’s cooler and stroller, guards cordoned off the area. Qureshi’s father wandered back, looking for his phone, and the RAM unit interrogated him and then reported him to the Bloomington police. In turn, the police reported the incident to the FBI. The documents we obtained show that the mall’s reports went to state and federal law enforcement, in roughly half the cases. The incident with Qureshi’s father led the FBI to want to question Qureshi himself, in his own home.
“He asked me if I knew anybody in Afghanistan. And that was kind of like, what?! And, then he asked me if I had any friends in Pakistan,” Qureshi says.
The FBI also asked him if he knew anybody that would try to hurt the U.S. government, according to Qureshi.
“My reaction in my mind, was, ‘How dare this guy in my house, come in and say this,’ ” he recalls.
But mall officials stand by their program of identifying suspicious people.
“You’re talking about a handful of people that are complaining, out of the 750 million plus that have been through these doors since 1992,” Bausch says. “And we apologize if it, you know, if it caused them any inconvenience, I mean we really do.”
“Unfortunately the world has changed,” says Bausch. “We assume you’d want your family and friends to be safe if they are in the building. And we simply noticed something that we didn’t think was right.”
A commander with the Bloomington police said these reports would be kept on file for decades. When Qureshi found out that the 11-page report reading “suspicious person” would be kept that long, his eyes filled with tears.
“It shattered an image of the U.S. that I had, fundamentally. I don’t know, especially when I saw some of these reports. It’s definitely bothersome, how small things can just, you know, trickle up that quickly, and all of a sudden you’re labeled. And once you’re labeled, you’re basically messed up, right?”
“I think I need a hamburger,” I said to AdventureMan as we were tucking in to bed. I can’t even remember the last time I had a hamburger, but I think it was in April, 2010, at the Red Robin in Pensacola.
Red Robin . . . YUMMM. One of the best ad campaigns in history, in my mind. Pure repetition, a little humor to re-inforce the memory, all positive. Anywhere you go in America, you can say “Red Robin” and someone will say “Yummm.”
I have a personal relationship with Red Robin. When I was a student at the University of Washington, long, long ago, the Red Robin was very near the university, near enough we could walk, even, and even though it was a bar, they weren’t very strict about carding people, and oh, they had the best burgers. It was pure comfort food. They also had a wonderful deck, so on the rare and beautiful spring days when final exams were coming and we just needed to blow off some steam, the Red Robin was one of the places we headed.
Yep. . . a little stoned.
There were old wood floors, not the shiny kind of good wood floor, but the old fashioned cheap kind, sort of spongy when you walked on them, and usually covered with stuff that had been spilled. No, not exactly your family kind of place, it was a college student kind of place.
It was YUMMMMM. Now, I won’t need another burger until September 2012 or so.
Sadly, as I was looking for some photos of the original Red Robin, I learned that they closed down the original on March 21, 2010. So sad, but I suspect it just didn’t suit the image of the new, family oriented Red Robins, more than 400 of them around the USA. But they still serve a good burger.
I still get e-mail from I Love Qatar.com and even though I no longer live in Qatar, I love their e-mails, I love hearing about what is going on in Doha socially and culturally, and I love this fresh, enthusiastic group of people who promote having fun and learning more about Qatar.
In today’s e-mail was a reference to this lovely video collection by Mballan which I recommend you watch when you have a few peaceful moments to enjoy it – he – or she – has found some magnificent sights, and the collection is beautiful. I only wish more of the selections were identified; I could recognize several, but far from all. Enjoy . . .
I don’t know why I am suddenly getting a lot of hits on an old post I wrote when we had an earthquake in Kuwait, and discovered that Kuwait was vulnerable. Somehow, we thought Kuwait was a low risk earthquake area. I thought about it a lot, on the 10th floor of my tower in Fintas, as I watched how other tall buildings were being constructed.
If you need information on earthquakes and / or tsunamis in Kuwait, here is the best place to start: click the blue type
This is what I love about long road trips with AdventureMan. We have hours together in the car, and you just never know where the conversations will go.
We saw a lot of barns. Most of them are red.
“Why are barns red?” AdventureMan asked. “Like we just accept that barns are red, when we are kids and we are told to draw a barn, we reach for the red crayon, why is that? Why red?”
So we looked it up at the next wireless stop and found the answer on Wiki answers:
Centuries ago, European farmers would seal the wood on their barns with an oil, often linseed oil — a tawny-colored oil derived from the seed of the flax plant. They would paint their barns with a linseed-oil mixture, often consisting of additions such as milk and lime. The combination produced a long-lasting paint that dried and hardened quickly. (Today, linseed oil is sold in most home-improvement stores as a wood sealant).
Now, where does the red come from?
In historically accurate terms, “barn red” is not the bright, fire-engine red that we often see today, but more of a burnt-orange red.
Farmers added ferrous oxide, otherwise known as rust, to the oil mixture. Rust was plentiful on farms and is a poison to many fungi, including mold and moss, which were known to grown on barns. These fungi would trap moisture in the wood, increasing decay.
Regardless of how the farmer tinted his paint, having a red barn became a fashionable thing. They were a sharp contrast to the traditional white farmhouse.
As European settlers crossed over to America, they brought with them the tradition of red barns. In the mid to late 1800s, as paints began to be produced with chemical pigments, red paint was the most inexpensive to buy. Red was the color of favor until whitewash became cheaper, at which point white barns began to spring up.
Today, the color of barns can vary, often depending on how the barns are used.
My dad and grandpa have been farmers their entire lives and they used to tease us kids that the barn was red because it was the most noticeable when the snow was falling sideways and you could barely see because of the sleet and hail.
We ordered the washer and dryer almost a month ago, but because of a huge energy star promotion, there was a backlog, and it took forever to get them.
In the meantime, our household goods from storage – 12 years of storage – arrived, and almost everything we are keeping needs to be cleaned.
We had two old featherbeds from the former East Germany that had a little mildew on them. I almost threw them away, but I thought since I am going to throw them away, I might as well see if they could be saved. I put them in (one at a time; they are each too big to be put in together) on a cycle called “sanitize” and then dried them on high and . . . they came out perfect! Wooo HOOOO!
As you can see, even though I have done many loads, I still have a ways to go:
No, not the brass pot; it is not going in the washer. It needs to have a handle put back on, so it is waiting there with other low-priority projects for me to get around to it. Isn’t this a great laundry room?
We didn’t end up at the Brussels. As we walked into the souks, we smelled a whiff of grilling meat and decided we wanted Arabic food while we could get it. We walked up and down and decided this was the night to eat at the Tawash.
The Tawash is gorgeous. Somebody put a lot of thought into it. You can eat outside, along the walkway, or outside on the balcony, or outside on the upstairs terrace. Or you can eat inside, in a private dining room, or in a large dining room that can be separated by tent-like hangings that drop down between tables. It is beautifully thought through.
We chose the balcony – we wanted to be outside, but I don’t like to eat right out on the street, with people walking by and oogling my food.
If you have special guests in town for only one night, this would be a great place to take them. It is a beautiful building, it has character and charm, the food is very good, the service is attentive without being intrusive, and it has a kind of magic, a uniqueness that sets it apart from the chains of restaurants also in the souks. If the weather allows you to sit outside – do so. Part of the charm for us was the great parade of humanity passing by as we conversed and ate. It’s an altogether lovely restaurant.