Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Drunk Drivers on the Road

Looks pretty dark blue from Pensacola across to Austin, all the way on I-10. Hmmm, used to be one of my favorite roads . . .

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Drunk driving is always dangerous and a problem across the country and the world, but certain places have a knack for attracting drunk drivers. In the US, those places tend to be rural western states.

Avvo, a legal services company, crunched the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s road fatalities stats for an in-depth look at drunk driving across the country. The company sifted through the data and found that between 2004 and 2013 there were a total of 94,550 drunk driving deaths in the US. A deeper dive revealed which roads are the most dangerous for drivers.

The findings indicated that the most dangerous roads for drunk driving crashes tend to be in mountainous states out west. These roads cut through vast stretches of nearly empty territory to connect a few smaller towns and cities. There’s no one clear reason for the increase in drunk driving deaths in these states, but the study does offer some possibilities. The roads in question have high speed limits with few side streets, and in areas with little to no public transportation, increasing the likelihood of partiers driving home after a few too many. The study also says that the variable terrain and drivers unfamiliar with the winding roads and sudden weather shifts might contribute to the high rate of crashes.

Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and South Dakota all top the list. Interstate 90 in Montana is the most dangerous road in America, with 6.4 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people. However, Wyoming appears three times in the top ten, making it the most dangerous state. New Mexico and South Dakota also appear twice in the top ten. The only area in the top ten that isn’t a rural Western state is Washington DC, which often finds its way on to any list of worst car accidents, congestion and road deaths. To see more information about the deadliest roads in America check out the full study here.

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Crime, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Safety, Social Issues, Statistics | Leave a comment

“Someone Puts it in a Box and Sends it To You!”

I relished having a day off from my volunteer job. A sudden cold front moved in; the daily temperatures are still in the nineties, but the early morning temperature was in the low seventies, and will be going lower. I started the day, once again, with a big smile.

There are obligations I have each morning; the expects to be fed and he has an inner timepiece that is amazingly accurate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t understand “days off” so I have to get up at my normal time to feed him, give him his medications, grab a cup of coffee and head for my scripture readings.

My computer has become increasingly buggy, but today, it won’t charge. Sure enough, there is a tiny puncture – a bite – along its slender length. Just one, but one is enough to keep my machine from charging.

It’s not the only thing. Just yesterday, I found my settings changed; the time was set for somewhere in China, the date was goofy, it was just weird.

I was headed for the nearby base, so I called my friend who has taken a spill and can’t get around and asked if she needed anything from the commissary. She didn’t sound like herself. I asked what was up, and she told me she had to have her faithful kitty of 17 years put to sleep; it was time. We both wept. I stopped by later, after grocery shopping and buying a new, tiny, svelte MacBook Air, and we wept some more. The vet had thanked her for making the decision, and said her bloodworm had shown she was in misery in so many ways. She was a great kitty. My friend said she wishes it were so easy for human beings, that we could just humanely end it, and we wept some more.

When I met up with AdventureMan, he could see I was shaken and we talked over a good Bento Box lunch at Ichiban. He, too, said he would prefer to end his life to lingering on in suffering. His plan (I laugh and tell him he doesn’t ALWAYS get his way, which comes as a huge shock to him) is that he will go first, but that if he doesn’t, he thinks he will not last long without me.

It’s probably true. We have become greatly intertwined these forty three years.

And we talked of Zakat, who has now been well, totally well, for four whole weeks. His fur is full and gorgeous, his eyes are clear, he hasn’t lost any teeth, and he plays like a kitten. We know it is the antibiotics, and that it can’t last forever, but we will celebrate as long as it does last, that there are medications and God’s mercy to allow him a sweet life off the streets – while it lasts.

And then the tedium of transferring all my data from one computer to the other.

We are caring for our grandson, now a full kindergartener, who attends a school nearby. We pick him up, we bring him home. AdventureMan takes him to parks and museums, I take him shopping and on errands. He is so much fun, and we love hearing his stories.

He came in Friday with a necklace with red hearts. “I got it from the treasure box!” he told me.

“What did you do?” I asked. “What was it that you did that you got to take something from the treasure box?”

He looked at me with his big blue eyes and his expressive face and said “I have NO idea!”

We were laughing so hard we could barely stand. The day before, he had told us that no, his mommy and daddy had not bought his backpack. He explained that they let him choose a backpack online, and click on it. “Then someone puts it in a box and sends it to you!” It was a huge surprise to him that Mommy and Daddy had indeed paid for it.

License plate seen in Pensacola:

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August 26, 2015 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Shopping, Zakat | 2 Comments

American Heroes: “With Your Bare Hands”

I started this Monday with a great big smile. American Heroes! Our three young men, off to explore Amsterdam and Paris, and without giving it a second thought they tackle an armed man who has already shot and injured one passenger and intends to kill as many more as he can? They disarm him, and they tie him up, and deliver him, relatively unharmed, to the authorities.

They don’t behead him. They don’t beat him once they have him subdued. They don’t treat him with gratuitous cruelty. No. They turn him over to the authorities. One hero seeks out the Frenchman who has been shot and plugs his throat wounds with his own fingers to staunch the flow of blood until he can be treated by medical professionals.

And I love what French President says to these khaki and polo-shirt clad All-Americans (from The Guardian):

“Awarding them the Légion d’honneur, Hollande said: ‘The whole world admires your sangfroid. With your bare hands, unarmed, you were able to overcome a heavily armed individual, resolved to do anything.’

Hollande praised the soldiers, saying: “In France you behaved as soldiers but also as responsible men. You put your life in danger to defend the idea of freedom.”

Referring to the bravery of Sadler and Norman, he said they did not have military training and had “doubtless never seen a Kalashnikov in their life”. He added: “They stood up and fought, they refused to give in to fear or terrorism.”

Leaving the ceremony, Norman told TV crews: “I just did what I had to do.”

That’s exactly what true heroes say :-)

I smile, too, seeing these young men being presented their medals with everyone else in dress uniforms and suits, and they are in their polos and Khakis; polos provided, I am guessing, by the US Embassy, with French and US flags intertwined.

I imagine they are going to have a wild time in France, and I can imagine they won’t be able to buy their own wine or meals. It all makes me smile.

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, France, Interconnected, News, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Worry – Rick Warren

I used to worry. It was in my bones. I learned to control my anxieties by running, and now, with water aerobics or a good run on my trampoline, and of course, with faith. Worry changes nothing, worry impedes finding solutions.

This is the message Rick Warren sends out today on worry:

Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Worry

By Rick Warren — Aug 10, 2015

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25 NIV)

Worry is essentially a control issue. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. We can’t control the economy, so we worry about the economy. We can’t control our children, so we worry about our children. We can’t control the future, so we worry about the future. But worry never solves anything! It’s stewing without doing.

Jesus actually gives four reasons you don’t need to worry in his Sermon on the Mount.

Worry is unreasonable. Matthew 6:25 says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (NIV) Jesus is saying, if it’s not going to last, don’t worry about it. To worry about something you can change is stupid. To worry about something you can’t change is useless. Either way, it’s unreasonable to worry.

Worry is unnatural. Jesus gives us an illustration from nature in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” There’s only one thing in all of God’s creation that worries: human beings. We’re the only things God has created that don’t trust him, and God says this is unnatural.

Worry is unhelpful. It doesn’t change anything. Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” When you worry about a problem, it doesn’t bring you one inch closer to the solution. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair — a lot of activity, energy, and motion, but no progress. Worry doesn’t change anything except you. It makes you miserable!

Worry is unnecessary. Matthew 6:30 says, “If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?” (TLB) If you trust in God, you don’t need to worry. Why? Because he has promised to take care of all your needs: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).
Does that include bills? Yes. Does that include relational conflicts? Yes. Does that include your dreams and goals and ambitions? Yes. Does that include the health issues you don’t know what to do with? Yes. God will meet all your needs in Christ.

Don’t worry about it!

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Values | , | 2 Comments

Perseid Meteor Showers Peak This Week

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By MARC TORRENCE (Patch National Staff)

The brightest meteor shower of the year is coming up, and it should be very easy to see.

The 2015 Perseid meteor shower began July 13 and runs to August 26, with activity peaking around August 12 and 13.

The Perseids are typically the brightest of the year. And Earthsky.org says that this year should be an especially good year for Perseids since the moon will not come out until after sunrise, avoiding the pesky bright light it gives off.

Earthsky says the best time for viewing is after midnight, when the meteors will pick up steam until the “wee hours before dawn.”

It will appear to originate from the constellation Perseus, which will be in the northeastern sky on the nights of the August 12 and 13.

Meteor showers happen when the earth passes through the orbit of a comet. Bits of the comet that have broken off pass through earth’s atmosphere, and when they burn up, they create a gorgeous streaking pattern across the night sky.

NASA estimates that at its peak, Perseids will produce up to 100 meteors per hour streaking at 37 miles per second.

Here are some other tips to get the most out of your meteor shower-watching experience:

Find an open location away from bright city lights and other light pollution.

Bring something comfortable to sit or lie down on and try to fill your entire peripheral vision with the night sky.

If you’re in a colder climate, dress warmly.

Give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness. This can take up to 20 minutes and can be disrupted by looking at a bright phone or tablet screen. If you need to shine a light on something, use a flashlight with a red filter, the easiest color on your eyes.

Be patient. Give yourself anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, and the streaking meteors should be easily spotted against the still night sky once your eyes are fully adjusted.

Don’t worry about using telescopes or binoculars. Those devices may actually make it harder for you to see meteors, since they only cover a small portion of the sky. You should be able to easily see the show, and more of it, with just your own two eyes.
(Photo credit: NASA)

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Environment | , | 3 Comments

Skinny and Scarred No More

Yesterday, as Zakat was sitting on my desk in the sunlight, watching cars go by, butterflies in the garden, whatever catches a cat’s eye, a ray of sunlight caught his skull and I saw tiny hairs covering his scars. I whooped for joy! Coming to us, one of his most distinguishing features was his scars, almost entirely circling his face.

We have had many cats through the years, most of which have stayed with us for 11 – 14 years. We have loved them all, but AdventureMan and I agree that this is the sweetest cat we have ever owned. There isn’t a mean bone in his body. He exists to love and be loved. Best of all, he is truly AdventureMan’s cat. He follows him around like a dog, sleeps touching him at night, and yearns, always, to be in his lap. I don’t mind. It is so adorable how much he loves AdventureMan.

The veterinarian, who treated him before we ever knew him, had told us it might happen. He said Zakat was in such poor condition that he hesitated to treat him, it almost felt as if it would be kinder to just put him down. His face was so infected, it was huge, distorted and swollen. But as painful as it must have been, Zakat was always a sweet cat. By the time we got him, his face was healed, the infection gone, but the scars were still fresh and raw.

We continue to go to the same vet. He has become an important member of our community of friends. He sees us often. Zakat is also FiV positive, which means he has the cat equivalent of AIDs. He is immuno-deficient, susceptible to infections other cats could easily fight off. In contrast to our sweet Pete, the Qatari Cat, we have to make sure Zakat eats; he needs good body weight to help him through the fevers and infections.

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We got him through a good friend, who rescues abandoned and stray cats, neuters them, gets their shots and houses them while they search for a good home for these cats. We give thanks for their mission on a daily basis; one of the things they did was teach Zakat to take pills. It’s a good thing. He takes pills almost every day.

He pretty much stays on anti-biotics, so we also give him pro-biotics, to help his digestive system. He gets fevers. His skin breaks out in huge patches of itchy oozing pustules, which drive him crazy. He looses teeth. Sometimes one eye gets red.

Two weeks ago, the vet gave him a shot of cortisone to help with the itching, and a new course of antibiotics and pro-biotics. It was like a miracle. Within a week, there was no compulsive licking, no more outbreaks, no teeth loss, and this scars are starting to fuzz over. His coat is gorgeous. We are learning to dance for joy for every small gain, but this gain is monumental. For all appearances and behavior, he is a perfectly normal, healthy cat. We’ve had five wonderful days. It’s amazing just how good “normal” can be.

We know it won’t last, but for five days he has been totally well, thanks be to God.

August 5, 2015 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Community, Family Issues, Health Issues, Pets, Qatteri Cat, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | 2 Comments

25 Best Two Line Jokes Ever

The 25 Best Two-Line Jokes Ever (thanks, Kit Kat)

1. Parallel lines have so much in common.
It’s a shame they’ll never meet.

2. My wife accused me of being immature.
I told her to get out of my fort.

3. Women only call me ugly until they find out how much money I make. Then they call me ugly and poor.

4. How many Germans does it take to screw in a light bulb?
One, they’re efficient and not very funny.

5. What do you call a dog with no legs.
It doesn’t matter; it’s not going to come.

6. Someone stole my Microsoft Office and they’re gonna pay.

You have my Word.

7. What’s green, fuzzy, and if it fell out of a tree it would kill you?
A pool table.

8. Apparently, someone in London gets stabbed every 52 seconds.
Poor bastard.

9. How do you find Will Smith in the snow?
You look for the fresh prints.

10. I went to a really emotional wedding the other day.
Even the cake was in tiers.

11. We have a genetic predisposition for diarrhea.
Runs in our jeans.

12. A physicist sees a young man about to jump off the Empire State Building.
He yells “Don’t do it! You have so much potential!”

13. A hot blonde orders a double entendre at the bar.
The bartender gave it to her.

14. Want to hear a word I just made up?
Plagiarism.

15. Why do cows wear bells?
Because their horns don’t work.

16. What did the pirate say when he turned 80?
Aye Matey.

17. To the handicapped guy who stole my bag –
You can hide but you can’t run.

18. I took the shell off my racing snail, thinking it would make him run faster.
If anything, it made him more sluggish.

19. And the Lord said unto John, “Come forth and you will receive eternal life”
But John came fifth, and won a toaster.

20. Q: How do you think the unthinkable?
A: With an itheberg.

21. Someone stole my mood ring,
I don’t know how I feel about that.

22. I tried to catch fog yesterday,
Mist.

23. The first rule of Alzheimer’s club,
Is don’t talk about chess club.

24. Why does a chicken coop have two doors?
If it had four doors it would be a chicken sedan.

25. I told my wife she was drawing her eyebrows too high.
She looked surprised.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Humor | Leave a comment

Walter Palmer, “Tiny-Dick” Hunter

While we lived in Germany and Qatar and Kuwait, we went every year to Africa. On the smaller flights out of Johannesburg to Windhoek or into Zimbabwe or Zambia, we would encounter swaggering men, hanging out in the aisles, talking loudly, usually with big bellies, all decked out in safari gear/ersatz military camo. At first, I thought they were mercenaries of some sort, they seemed to be so full of themselves. Then a stewardess told me they were the “tiny-dick” hunters.

I had never heard the term. These are men, who, to make themselves feel good, pay thousands of dollars to be taken to an animal, like Cecil, the lion below, to kill. They have these hunts in the United States, too, where semi-tamed lions are shot at game farms, trapped, and fed, only to be sacrificed to the egos of the “tiny-dick” men.

Walter Palmer says he was told all the permits were in order. A news article on NPR yesterday tells how this famous lion from a protected game reserve was lured across the boundary so that Walter Palmer could shoot his with is little bow and arrow. Walter Palmer has broken the rules and lied before. He has a history of imagining that the boundaries do not apply to him.

I love it that his shameful behavior has been outed, and that his name and his detestable hobby are now known internationally as a man who would shoot a beloved lion for the sake of his ego. Below is the story from Associated Press via AOL News:

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota dentist who went on a guided bow hunting trip for big game in Zimbabwe said that he had no idea the lion he killed was protected and that he relied on the expertise of his local guides to ensure the hunt was legal.

Walter Palmer, who has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin, released a statement Tuesday after Zimbabwean authorities identified him as the American involved in the July hunt. They said Palmer is being sought on poaching charges, but Palmer said he hasn’t heard from U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” said Palmer, a dentist who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. He said his guides had proper permits, and to his knowledge, everything was handled properly.

“I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” he said.

The 55-year-old was identified by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe and police as the American facing poaching charges for the crossbow killing of Cecil, a well-known lion. Local authorities allege the lion was lured from a protected area and killed in early July. Zimbabwean conservationists said the American allegedly paid $50,000 for the trip.

The lion’s death has outraged animal conservationists and others, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat. In a statement late Tuesday, the congresswoman called for an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see whether any U.S. laws were violated.
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, condemned the lion’s killing in a statement.

“To get a thrill at the cost of a life, this man gunned down a beloved lion, Cecil with a high-powered weapon,” the PETA statement said.

Palmer’s hired spokesman, Jon Austin, said he believed Palmer was in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area Tuesday. No one answered the door at Palmer’s home, and a woman who came out of his dental office in nearby Bloomington said he wasn’t there or taking patients Tuesday. Phone calls to listed home numbers went unanswered.

According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Doug Kelley, a former federal prosecutor and Palmer’s attorney in the bear case, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, according to his assistant.

Palmer has several hunts on record with the Pope and Young Club, where archers register big game taken in North America for posterity, said Glenn Hisey, the club’s director of records. Hisey said he didn’t have immediate access to records showing the types and number of animals killed by Palmer, but he noted that club records involve legal hunts “taken under our rules of fair chase.”
Although African game wouldn’t be eligible, Hisey said he alerted the group’s board that Palmer’s ethics were being called into question. He said Palmer’s domestic records could be jeopardized if he’s found to have done something illegal abroad.

A Facebook page for Palmer’s Minnesota dental practice was taken offline Tuesday after users flooded it with comments condemning Palmer’s involvement in the hunt. Hundreds of similar comments inundated a page for his dental practice on the review platform Yelp, which prior to Tuesday had only three comments.
Some people left stuffed animals at the door to his shuttered office Tuesday in a sign of protest.

Palmer is properly licensed and able to practice in the state, according to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. Board records show that Palmer was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint settled in 2006, with Palmer admitting no wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a former receptionist more than $127,000.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Civility, Crime, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Quality of Life Issues, South Africa, Travel, Values, Wildlife, Zimbabwe | Leave a comment

Praying for Ruaha

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, we pray for the Diocese of Ruaha, in Tanzania.

We have such happy memories of exploring the Ruaha, and Selous. Many people visit the more famous sites in northern Tanzania, but fewer go to the more remote south. Wonderful people, we learned so much there.

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July 27, 2015 Posted by | Africa, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Friends & Friendship, Geography / Maps, Interconnected, Tanzania, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Lazy Saturday Morning

No, no, I didn’t sleep in. But I slept well. Tired yesterday after a killer combination of water aerobics and a meeting held at my house (prep, execution, clean-up) I was ready for bed earlier than usual, but Zakat was ready to party, and was exploring surfaces where he could play his favorite game called “knock things off.” I am heartless. I said no, a couple times, distracted him (briefly) after which he went right back to partying. Finally, I put him out of the room and closed the door.

Zakat is a sweet little cat, the sweetest of all the cats we have had. He doesn’t complain, just goes about his business elsewhere, and when he sees me in the morning, he is eager to love.

I slept wonderfully. I sleep better now than I ever slept when I was younger. I used to worry about things, wake up in the middle of the night and try to solve problems. I’ve gotten a lot better about letting things go.

Although I can sleep in, I slept so well that I was awake and ready to go at my regular time, and Zakat’s tummy doesn’t know it’s Saturday.

AdventureMan rolls out of bed; we are not in a hurry to get started. We are meeting up with a family group tonight for dinner, but we have nothing pressing until then. AdventureMan thinks he might plant a Limelight sage in a shadier corner of the garden, and I might do some quilting – or I might not.

When we retired, we had no idea how busy and compelling life would be, with our grandchildren and family, our church, our pursuits, our activities, and our friends. The weeks fly by, happy weeks, and we are all the happier for having a lazy Saturday.

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Pets, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Zakat | Leave a comment

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