Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Leaving Civil Seattle

Seattle_Skyline_Referral_Postcard

No, I didn’t take that photo, but it was exactly that kind of day. It was beautiful when I got to Seattle, it rained buckets one of the days I took my Mom shopping; she was such a good sport as we raced across the parking lot to the restaurant, both getting soaked, and then it was beautiful again for Mother’s Day and departure day.

Had juicy, laughing, crying visits with two very long time friends, feasted my eyes on all the rhododendrons growing so luxuriously, dancing with their intense colors in the Seattle gardens, watched the ferries coming in and out of little Edmonds. It was heaven.

Chihuly This is really a Chihuly rhododendron :-)

On the way to the airport KUOW, the local National Public Radio station, mentioned, very politely, that there was a huge accident on I-5 going South, blocking all lanes of the freeway, and would I please consider taking an alternate route south, and gave a couple of suggestions.

So so Seattle. So civil.

Rarely do I hear a car beep in Seattle. People actually do the “after you” gesture – all the time. It takes some getting used to. :-)

As soon as I got there, I opened the window where I was staying and just breathed the fresh sweet air. It always smells like fresh mown grass when I drive into Edmonds, and then the salt air. It is cool and refreshing. When the birds settle in for the night, there are the sounds of a thousand bird voices, loudest of all the seagulls, squawking at one another while the others are all doing sorter nestling sorts of sounds.

There are trains that go through in the middle of the night, but you learn to just wake up a little and say “oh, the train” and you go right back to sleep.

I took highway 99, which at one time was the major north south road, and while it was a little crowded, due to cars like me taking the alternate routes, it was peaceful and steady, with no delays. I haven’t taken the route for a long time, and got to see an old truck-stop my youngest sister mentioned, and I got to see all the things that are no longer there – the teepee pancake house, the elephant car wash sign. Things change. Taking 99 South took me a little longer than normal, but sometimes it can take a long time on the interstate, too, even without a major accident. Seattle, like Kuwait, has outgrown its infrastructure.

960x540

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 3.51.11 PM

It seems to be the story around the United States. Who is paying attention to the decaying bridges, the once smooth and now potholed highways? Who is checking the buildings in the abandoned city centers and malls?

When I turned in my rental car, the little girl checking me in was in hijab and looked Sudanese. She asked me where I was from, and I told her, and I asked where she was from and she told me Cleveland. LOL.

The Seattle Airport is a gem, full of art works, you just have to take the time to look. Off in corners, they also have free wi-fi, free power plugs, Chinese take away and quiet areas where people can read or use the internet. For some reason, I am TSA PreCheck. Someone said it is age related, but AdventureMan looked it up online and there doesn’t seem to be a connection. I love the shorter line, and not taking off my shoes.

I have plane karma. Just before the plane was loaded and ready to go, the two inside passengers for my row arrived – a basketball player and his also-tall Mom. Behind us arrived a Mom and her two babies – in two seats. The doors closed. There were only three empty seats in the plane, and they were across from me. The basketball player jumped into the window seat and the woman sitting in the aisle seat behind me jumped into the aisle seat across from me, and the Mom and her babies had all three seats to themselves, while the rest of us had room for knees and elbows and room to breathe . . . it makes all the difference.

I like Pensacola, and I like our life here. I am already missing the beauty and coolness of Pensacola winter, dreaming of the beauty and coolness of Seattle summer, LOL.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Road Trips, Safety, Seattle, Travel | | 4 Comments

Pensacola Tough @ Grafitti Bridge

00GrafittiBridge

 

On my way home from a great Algerian pastry treat at SoGourmet, I passed Grafitti Bridge. Grafitti Bridge is one of Pensacola’s quirks. Every month – sometimes every week, even sometimes daily – the bridge is repainted. Sometimes it is that BubbleGum pink of Breast Cancer Awareness, with names of the fallen and names of survivors, sometimes it is Gay Pride, sometimes it is who loves who, or who is a first class jerk, sometimes it is Class of TwoThousandWhatever – it can be whatever someone feels passionate enough about to buy the paint and make it happen. No one gets too bent out of shape about it. Occasionally profanity will show up, but very shortly someone else will spray paint out the offensive word, or, which I love, alter it to have an entirely new meaning.

 

As I drove past today, I saw a lightning storm, well done, I couldn’t imagine how they had captured what it was like seeing so many strikes at once, and then I saw “Pensacola Tough.” By that time, I was through the bridge, so I had to circle and go back. I had to park, and take a closer look. And then I had to photograph it, and post it here.

00PensacolaTough

Pensacola Tough. Pensacola got an award as the Toughest City in the USA, based on a criteria that measured percentage of felons in the population (it’s OK, it keeps us humble), sports heros, the number of military personnel, violent crime statistics, etc. It isn’t an award cities run for.

And yet, as the raging water abates, tales of heroism and helpfulness abound. While there have been bands of looters at an apartment complex housing the low-income workers in Pensacola, there have also been bands of volunteers scouring the county, helping clean out houses, pull out sodden carpeting, moving soaked furniture to the curbs for pickup, pulling out drywall and ceilings to prevent black mold. In today’s Pensacola News Journal, there is a story of a man who worked just above where the Escambia County Jail exploded and fell through the floor, breaking legs, ribs and assorted bones. He was paralyzed. His co-worker, also hurt, saw him with his head under water and pulled his head out, and held his head out for over an hour while waiting for help to arrive. She got tired, but the alternative was letting him die. She didn’t let go.

Pensacola Tough.

 

“When Things Get Rough . . . We’re Pensacola Tough.

You gotta love this place

May 5, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Communication, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Free Speech, Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Values, Weather | Leave a comment

Praying for the Central Gulf Coast

Today, the church prays for the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. That’s us. Today, we need your prayers.

BmcnQzIIgAAZ5Py Bmd8ZW9CIAA6tNF BmcPAX4CEAAs4oH

Photos from Business Insider

 

I don’t think I have ever seen a storm like we saw last night. This was not a hurricane type storm, this was a thunderstorm that had Pensacola grey and dark and gloomy all day Tuesday, and then around 7 pm, all hell broke loose. Thunder. Lots of thunder. Not just a tornado watch, but a tornado warning for our area, one of those “get away from all the outside walls of your house to a protected inner area NOW” kind of warning.

 

The tornado warning passed. The tornado watch passed. We found a leaking door frame, and brought buckets. The thunder and lightning continued. We found a leaking ceiling light fixture, and put another bucket under it. The thunder and lightning and high wind continued. We found water coming down through a bathroom vent – thank God we have a lot of buckets. The thunder and lightning continued.

 

We found a leaking closed door frame in another part of the house – four mixing bowls, surrounded by towels. The thunder and lightning continued.

The thunder and lightning continued all through the night. We slept fitfully, AdventureMan getting up three or four times to check the buckets.

I know, it sounds like we live in a terrible house, but we have never had things leak like this before. I think it has to do with rain blowing up under the roof vent, that’s all I can think of. AdventureMan has already called the roofer, and the insurance office, who is not answering, due to the number of callers they are dealing with.

Our son and his wife, down the street, have no electricity, and will come here later for some coffee and to charge their electrical devices. A road near us has collapsed, and in the collapse, contaminated two wells, so we are on a “boil water” notice until further notifications.

Today, indeed, is a very good day to pray for the Central Gulf Coast. Most schools are closed, many offices are closed.

 

We sit high, but many are struggling with high water and flooded roads. Many have worse leaks than we have. Many are lacking power, and how can you boil the water without power? This storm dumped inches and inches of rain on us, so much rain that they don’t have an exact calculation yet. Our front yard is eroding in front of our eyes. And we are the lucky ones.

Pray for Pensacola.

April 30, 2014 Posted by | Communication, Community, Environment, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Health Issues, Home Improvements, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Survival, Weather | 2 Comments

Donna Leon and The Golden Egg

“What are manners?”

“What is ‘nice’, what does it mean?”

“What is ‘kind’?” the most adorable little boy in Pensacola asked me. It was bath time, a time when we have some of our best conversations, and you never know where the conversation will go.

 

I love these conversations because I have to think, too, but most of all, because I love to watch this little boy’s mind grow in grasping concepts and perceptions. He is four; his class in school is on the letter “U” this coming week, and already he can sound out words in the books we read together. He knows what a globe is, and how it differs from a map. He knows his address, and he can point to Pensacola on the globe.

He knows things because we talk to him, and because he goes to school and his teachers talk to him. His mind is wide open and he is eager to learn, and he asks the most wonderful questions.

 Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 2.15.00 PM

Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti has a new case that troubles him. He knows the dead man, not well, but he would see him in his quarter, and he often saw him helping out at the local laundry. He assumed the man was deaf and retarded, everyone knew that. When the dead man has no papers, in bureaucratic Italy, no birth certificate, no medical records, no finance records, no record of social aid (he is poor as well as disabled) Brunetti is troubled. How could such a familiar figure be so undocumented?

 

His mother is no help; her stories are transparent lies about travel to France and her son having grown up in the country with people whose name she cannot remember.

 

It is a troubling book. If you read Donna Leon, you will understand how close and wonderful and articulate Brunetti’s family is, how loved and cherished their children. We eat meals with them, we understand how the Venetian vernacular distinguishes those to whom one speaks more frankly and those to whom one lies. Brunetti’s a detective; the things he sees often trouble him, but this case troubles him more than most.

 

I can’t tell you more without spoiling the ending. All I can tell you is that it will encourage you to love your children, hold them closely, and give them all the benefits in their life-toolbox of attention, instruction and loving discipline that a parent (and grandparent!) can give.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, Detective/Mystery, Family Issues, Fiction, Interconnected, Italy, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Parenting, Relationships, Values, Venice, Words | Leave a comment

When Strangers First Kiss

Fascinating video from Huffpost on AOL News:

In seconds, a first kiss can go from insanely awkward to completely perfect.

Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva managed to capture that transformation in her short film, where she pairs off 20 strangers and asks them to kiss.

Watch above as the couples’ uncomfortable introductions turn into small, sweet romantic moments.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, March 11: Wren studio, a womenswear brand based in Los Angeles, announced on Twitter that this video was shot as part of an ad campaign for their Fall 2014 collection

March 11, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Cultural, Experiment | 2 Comments

Headlight Flashing to Warn of Police is Free Speech

This is big news for people in my area, because they often flash lights to warn of speed traps ahead.


Warning Drivers Of Speed Traps With Flashing Headlights Is Free Speech
A federal judge in St. Louis has set the benchmark

A federal judge in St. Louis ruled Monday that a driver flashing their lights to warn other drivers of an impending speed trap is protected free speech.

On November 22, 2012 Michael Elli received a ticket for flashing his lights to warn fellow drivers of a speed trap, according to Fox 2. The American Civil Liberties Union helped Elli fight the $1,000 ticket all the way to federal court.

Judge Henry Autrey of St. Louis ruled a driver has the right to flash their lights under the First Amendment. Autrey issued an injunction to stop Ellisville Police from enforcing the policy.

“If you’re at the gas station on the corner and someone says ‘Hey be careful over there, there’s a speed trap,’ that’s protected speech. You can’t be ticketed for that. This is no different,” Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Fox 2.

A lawyer for the police in Ellisville said the department isn’t affected by the ruling, as this kind of ticket has only been issued five or so times in the last decade. Across the country, however, the ruling will be considered the benchmark for such cases.

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Free Speech, Law and Order, Safety, Social Issues | | Leave a comment

Humbling Intlxpatr Statistics

I have a lot of followers. Many of them “like” my articles. Some write me in the background, asking how they can achieve blogging success.

I answer them truthfully. Since I left Kuwait, blogging hasn’t been so much fun and it’s harder for me to find interesting things to blog about, other than the news, and the kinds of odds and ends that catch my eye. At my peak, I had between 1500 – 1800 viewers every day, and once, over 10,000 in one day.

But blog entries attain a life of their own. In all humility, I will tell you that the entries I just wrote because it was mildly interesting to me seem to be those that live on and on. It’s not the impassioned plea for parents to put every child in a car seat, or at least put the children in the back seat, it’s not the photos of Mubarakiyya or the changing Doha skyline . . . it’s the trivia that keeps the readers coming back, LOL.

Here is the list of favorites just since the start of January:

Screen shot 2014-01-25 at 3.39.09 PM

And here are the all time favorites, from the beginning of the blog:

Screen shot 2014-01-25 at 3.48.36 PM

Humbling, isn’t it?

So my words – maybe not wisdom, but my experience – to those who aspire to statistics if not longevity – is to please yourself. Blog because you have something you want to say. Blog persistently, even if you don’t particularly have something to say; something trivial that interests you may interest others. Every now and then AdventureMan will hoot with laughter; he will Google something and one of my entries will end up being in the first three or four references. It’s not that I’m good, it’s that I published, even on something obscure, like the African tribe, the Lemba, who claim to have the Ark of the Covenant.

There are times I don’t feel like blogging; we all have those feelings at some time. It’s your blog. You can blog or not as you please. If you don’t feel like blogging today, you might have some inspiration tomorrow.

For me, this all started as I read some letters I had written from Tunisia, with episodes and events I no longer even remember. They came back to me in such vividness as I read that I wanted to find a way to write a little about my daily life in a way that down the road I could look back and wonder at how so many interesting things had happened that I had forgotten. Sadly . . . it’s already happening, there are stories from Kuwait and Qatar that I’ve already forgotten, but that they are written here.

Blogging is selfish. You do it because you can and because it fills a need. You can dance as hard as you want, and if you dance for your own joy, you will be happy, but if you are dancing for the attention of others, you will be disappointed. If there are readers now and then who enjoy your writing and come along for the ride, all that is good, but . . . most of them just want to know the benefits of drinking green tea ;-)

January 27, 2014 Posted by | Blogging, Civility, Communication, Community, ExPat Life, Statistics | Leave a comment

From Yen to Compulsion

If you were to overhear conversations between AdventureMan and I, you would think we are whacko. It’s a funny thing about love; sometimes odd ducks can find one another and live happily ever after, or at least, have some really good times.

The other day we were on our way to lunch, and had no great preferences for going anywhere. We made a decision (and now I can’t even remember what it was, it was such a negligible decision) and AdventureMan said he kind of wanted to eat this, and I said his want was greater than my yen . . . . and off we went.

All the way to the restaurant, we were inserting words on a spectrum and debating now and then on their proper placement on the continuum. Like is a “yen” milder than a “want?” On the far end, does “obsession” precede “compulsion?” Is a compulsion truly related to a want at all, or does being driven to something take out the want-factor altogether? Yes, like I said, we are totally whacko, and thanks be to God, often whacko in the same direction, or we would drive one another totally crazy.

images
(No. This is not us. This is just a photo I found online)

Here is our “want” line, from “yen” which we consider a very mild want, to compulsion, which drives out all other wants. We have probably left out some words you can think of, if you are a person who is still reading this far, please feel free to suggest amendments, or specific additions to make the line more flowing. You must defend your suggestion rigorously :-)

yen – hankering -like – want – desire – crave – obsessing for – compulsion for

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Language, Marriage, Random Musings, Relationships, Words | Leave a comment

“We Are All Children of One Heavenly Father”

I am not Catholic, and I like this Pope. I like his humility. I like his down-to-earth behavior. I believe he will bring more people to belief than those who revel in the pomposities of an exalted role. I like it that he believes we are all children of the same God.


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis, laying out his hopes Wednesday for the just-begun year, urged people to work for a world where everyone accepts each other’s differences and where enemies recognize that they are brothers.

“We are all children of one heavenly father, we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny,” Francis said, speaking from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, jammed with tens of thousands of faithful, tourists and Romans.

“This brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one’s diversity, and takes care of one another,” the pope said.

Setting aside his prepared text for a moment, he expressed impatience with violence in the world. “What is happening in the heart of man? What is happening in the heart of humanity?” Francis asked. “It’s time to stop.”

He told the crowd this reflection was inspired by letter he received from a man — “maybe one of you” — who lamented that there are “so many tragedies and wars in the world.”

“I, too, believe that it will be good for us to stop ourselves in this path of violence and search for peace,” Francis said.

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Character, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Faith, Living Conditions | , | Leave a comment

Your Emotional Intelligence

AOL News has this fascinating article on successful people and emotional intelligence:

How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? Here’s How To Tell

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 12/05/2013 8:39 am EST  |  Updated: 12/05/2013 2:22 pm EST

Share on Google+
Social Brain
 

What makes some people more successful in work and life than others? IQ and work ethic are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. Our emotional intelligence — the way we manage emotions, both our own and those of others — can play a critical role in determining our happiness and success.

Plato said that all learning has some emotional basis, and he may be right. The way we interact with and regulate our emotions has repercussions in nearly every aspect of our lives. To put it in colloquial terms, emotional intelligence (EQ) is like “street smarts,” as opposed to “book smarts,” and it’s what accounts for a great deal of one’s ability to navigate life effectively.

“What having emotional intelligence looks like is that you’re confident, good at working towards your goals, adaptable and flexible. You recover quickly from stress and you’re resilient,” Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, tells The Huffington Post. “Life goes much more smoothly if you have good emotional intelligence.”

The five components of emotional intelligence, as defined by Goleman, are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skills and empathy. We can be strong in some of these areas and deficient in others, but we all have the power to improve any of them.

Not sure how emotionally intelligent you are? Here are 14 signs you have a high EQ.

1. You’re curious about people you don’t know.

friendly conversation

Do you love meeting new people, and naturally tend to ask lots of questions after you’ve been introduced to someone? If so, you have a certain degree of empathy, one of the main components of emotional intelligence. Highly Empathetic People (HEPs) — those who are extremely attuned to the needs and feelings of others, and act in a way that is sensitive to those needs — have one important thing in common: They’re very curious about strangers and genuinely interested in learning more about others.

Being curious about others is also a way to cultivate empathy. “Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own,” Roman Krznaric, author of the forthcoming Empathy: A Handbook For Revolution, wrote in a Greater Good blog post.

2. You’re a great leader.

work leader

Exceptional leaders often have one thing in common, according to Goleman. In addition to the traditional requirements for success — talent, a strong work ethic and ambition, for instance — they possess a high degree of emotional intelligence. In his research comparing those who excelled in senior leadership roles with those who were merely average, he found that close to 90 percent of the difference in their profiles was due to emotional intelligence, rather than cognitive ability.

“The higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness,” Goleman wrote in Harvard Business Review.

3. You know your strengths and weaknesses.

A big part of having self-awareness is being honest with yourself about who you are — knowing where you excel, and where you struggle, and accepting these things about yourself. An emotionally intelligent person learns to identify their areas of strength and weakness, and analyze how to work most effectively within this framework. This awareness breeds the strong self-confidence that’s a main factor of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman.

“If you know what you’re truly effective at, then you can operate from that with confidence,” he says.

4. You know how to pay attention.

mathematiques

Do you get distracted by every tweet, text and passing thought? If so, it could be keeping you from functioning on your most emotionally intelligent level. But the ability to withstand distractions and focus on the task at hand is a great secret to emotional intelligence, Goleman says. Without being present with ourselves and others, it’s difficult to develop self-awareness and strong relationships.

“Your ability to concentrate on the work you’re doing or your schoolwork, and to put off looking at that text or playing that video game until after you’re done … how good you are at that in childhood turns out to be a stronger predictor of your financial success in adulthood than either your IQ or the wealth of the family you grew up in,” Goleman says. “And we can teach kids how to do that.”

5. When you’re upset, you know exactly why.

grief management

We all experience a number of emotional fluctuations throughout the day, and often we don’t even understand what’s causing a wave of anger or sadness. But an important aspect of self-awareness is the ability to recognize where your emotions are coming from and to know why you feel upset.

Self-awareness is also about recognizing emotions when they arise, rather than misidentifying or ignoring them. Emotionally intelligent people take a step back from their emotions, look at what they’re feeling, and examine the effect that the emotion has on them.

6. You can get along with most people.

teenagers

“Having fulfilling, effective relationships — that’s a sign [of emotional intelligence],” says Goleman.

7. You care deeply about being a good, moral person.

compassion

One aspect of emotional intelligence is our “moral identity,” which has to do with the extent to which we want to see ourselves as ethical, caring people. If you’re someone who cares about building up this side of yourself (regardless of how you’ve acted in past moral situations), you might have a high EQ.

8. You take time to slow down and help others.

good samaritan

If you make a habit of slowing down to pay attention to others, whether by going slightly out your way to say hello to someone or helping an older woman onto the subway, you’re exhibiting emotional intelligence. Many of us, a good portion of the time, are completely focused on ourselves. And it’s often because we’re so busy running around in a stressed-out state trying to get things done that we simply don’t take the time to notice (much less help) others.

“[There’s a] spectrum that goes from complete self-absorption to noticing to empathy and to compassion,” Goleman said in a TED talk on compassion. “The simple fact is that if we are focused on ourselves, if we’re preoccupied — which we so often are throughout the day — we don’t really fully notice the other.”

Being more mindful, in contrast to being absorbed in your own little world, plants the seeds of compassion — a crucial component of EQ.

9. You’re good at reading people’s facial expressions.

grumpy cat

Being able to sense how others are feeling is an important part of having a good EQ. Take this quiz from UC Berkeley to find out just how skilled you are at reading others’ emotions.

10. After you fall, you get right back up.

resilience

How you deal with mistakes and setbacks says a lot about who you are. High EQ individuals know that if there’s one thing we all must do in life, it’s to keep on going. When an emotionally intelligent person experiences a failure or setback, he or she is able to bounce back quickly. This is in part because of the ability to mindfully experience negative emotions without letting them get out of control, which provides a higher degree of resilience.

“The resilient person isn’t papering over the negative emotions, but instead letting them sit side by side with other feelings,” Positivity author Barbara Fredrickson told Experience Life. “So at the same time they’re feeling ‘I’m sad about that,’ they’re also prone to thinking, ‘but I’m grateful about this.’”

11. You’re a good judge of character.

eye contact

You’ve always been able to get a sense for who someone is pretty much right off the bat — and your intuitions are rarely wrong.

12. You trust your gut.

intuition

An emotionally intelligent person is someone who feels comfortable following their intuition, says Goleman. If you’re able to trust in yourself and your emotions, there’s no reason not to listen to that quiet voice inside (or that feeling in your stomach) telling you which way to go.

13. You’ve always been self-motivated.

Were you always ambitious and hard-working as a kid, even when you weren’t rewarded for it? If you’re a motivated self-starter — and you can focus your attention and energy towards the pursuit of your goals — you likely have a high EQ.

14. You know when to say “no.”

hand cookie jar

Self-regulation, one of the five components of emotional intelligence, means being able to discipline yourself and avoid unhealthy habits. Emotionally intelligent people are generally well equipped to tolerate stress (a bad-habit trigger for many of us) and to control their impulses, according to Goleman.

December 7, 2013 Posted by | Character, Civility, Communication, Leadership, Relationships | 3 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 488 other followers