Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Stormy Day in Pensacola

You know me. I see beauty just about everywhere I go. Pensacola has a lot of sunshine, but this time of year, also has powerful thunder and lightening storms. No one seems to really mind – Pensacola needs the rainfall, and the storms are powerful, awesomely beautiful. And Pensacola presents herself well in stormy weather.

I love the French Quarter style balconies, the Spanish style architecture – Pensacola has been colonized by the French, Spanish, Brits, and I think even a couple others! The influences on the architecture, both public and private, provide a rich variety of style.

And the natural wetlands, the bay, the bridges – it is at it’s most magical in stormy weather, in my opinion.

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July 28, 2007 Posted by | Building, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Travel, Weather | 4 Comments

Hurricane Risks

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I wanted you to see a very scary photo, taken at The Oyster Barn. No, not the sign for the “Buoy’s” room (the other one is, of course, the “Gulls” room) but the marks on the wall from the floods resulting from the various hurricanes.

At the top is Hurricane Ivan, the most recent biggest, baddest hurricane to hit Pensacola. It caused billions of dollars in damage. People are still trying to fix damages to house and property caused by that hurricane, three years ago.

It’s a gamble, living near a sea coast. Hurricanes are an increasing worry in the gulf, and hurricane season lasts from the end of June to the end of November. Insurers, hit hard by both Ivan and Katrina, and by new legislation, are pulling out of Florida, fleeing like rats.

July 27, 2007 Posted by | Building, Community, Eating Out, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Weather | Leave a comment

Tuscan Oven – Pensacola

We have food prejudices in my family, and one of our prejudices is against thick crusted pizzas. We like thin crust pizzas, and we like them baked in a wood burning oven. So when my son and his wife recommended we go to the Tuscan Oven, I knew we were in for a treat.

The pizzas were fine. We all ordered them with a minimum of cheese, and that’s the way they came. I had the Pizza Putanesca, all vegetables, with capers and artichokes and oh, it was totally delicious. My son and his wife had a much larger specialty pizza, and they, too, ate every bite. The Tuscan oven is a WOW in my book.

And here was the starter – Yes, I know it looks like chopsticks, but those are tiny little breadsticks:

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This place is worth a trip to Pensacola all on it’s own!

July 27, 2007 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Lumix, Photos, Travel | 2 Comments

Tudo’s in Pensacola Revisit

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I discovered the Tudo’s (Tudo means “freedom” in Vietnamese, I learned by accident in Wikipedia) in Pensacola has a lunch special. What you see above is just the appetizer, then you have your choice of four entrees to go with it.

Actually, the soup and spring roll is fine for me, an entire lunch. They happily give me a box to take-away the main course which I can warm up on days I have builders in the house and can’t get away. Yummmmmm. And what a great deal. The lunch special is either $5.50 or $4.99, either way, you are getting two meals for that low price – less than 2KD! And so so so delicious. I dream of these salad rolls when I am in Kuwait, far away from any Vietnamese restaurants.

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos | 2 Comments

The Lancome Lady

I can get better prices on Lancome products (yep, I am addicted) in Pensacola than I can in Kuwait, Seattle, or even the duty-free, so I stock up while I am here.

On my second trip to the store, not knowing if my stock will last until my next trip to what Mini-R calls PepsiCola, I again bought enough that the saleslady said I could have TWO free sets of the bags and make up samples and I just laughed – like really, how many do I need? How many can I use?

They are always shocked that I would turn down the “free” gift. But packing space and suitcase weight matters more to me than anything free, and also, I hate to waste.

I just laughed.

“What I really need,” I started off, “what would really help me is if you have any small samples I can take with me on the long plane rides, so I can put good cream on my face, not the airplane stuff.”

“Oh! We can do that!” she said, and started opening drawers, pulling things out.

“How about some of this – you bought some of this but here it is in sample form – and this – and you will want to try some of this!” she said triumphantly and handed me about a hundred sample packets.

But she was on a roll.

“And you will need a travel mascara! And how about some suncreen! And you can have some perfume samples, and share them with all your friends!” and a hundred more samples came out of the magical Lancome drawers.

Holy smokes! I can take care of my face, my eyes, and smell good too! Not that I wear perfume in the close confines of an airplane where it could offend the other passengers, but I have a lifetime worth of samples I can use at other times . . .

When I am in Seattle and ask the Lancome ladies for samples, they act very haughty (and I am thinking “excuse me? Who is the customer and who is behind the counter here?”) and usually tell me they don’t give out samples. No wonder I do my Lancome shopping in Pensacola! It’s not just the price, it’s the caring and generous customer service!

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July 26, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Lumix, Photos, Shopping, Women's Issues | 7 Comments

Obesity Contagious

Obesity ‘contagious’, experts say
This report is from BBC Health News.

The study looked at data collected over 32 years
Having a friend, sibling or spouse who is overweight raises a person’s risk of being obese too, US researchers say.

They said data on more than 12,000 people suggested the risk was increased by 57% if a friend was obese, by 40% if a sibling was and 37% if a spouse was.

They argued this showed social factors, such as the body sizes of other people, were important in developing obesity. . . .

“Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship. What appears to be happening is that a person becoming obese most likely causes a change of norms about what counts as an appropriate body size.

“People come to think that it is OK to be bigger since those around them are bigger, and this sensibility spreads.”

The study was actually about heart disease, and this result was a by-product of the study.

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, News, Relationships | 2 Comments

“Alien Babies!”

“Whaja think of the storm?” the young man asked me, as he dusted the magazines with a feather duster.

“Oh, wow!” I said. “I thought it would go on forever! How long did it last?”

“I don’t know,” he responded, “but it WAS a long time, and it was right overhead! Hey, this can’t be right. . . it says George Bush is involved in some kind of divorce!” He was dusting one of the tabloids.

“Naaahhh.” I said, waiting for my turn in line. “Sometimes they even write about alien babies being born. You know that can’t be right.”

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He stood, transfixed.

“Alien babies?” he half whispered in astonishment. “No! Not really!”

“Yes! really!” I said, “and you know that can’t be true.”

“No!” he said. “No alien babies!” and then under his breath “alien babies!” half in wonder. He followed me around the store, from time to time saying in wonder “alien babies!”

Albertson’s supermarket hires mildly retarded adults to work as baggers and cleaners. These young people are trained to greet the customers, to accompany them to the cars if they have a basket, to unload groceries and generally to make the customer feel welcome.

I always feel welcome. These young people love their jobs, love being a part of the community, and they take great pride in doing their jobs well. God bless Albertsons for this enlightened hiring and training policy.

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Communication, Community, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Florida, Random Musings, Shopping, Social Issues | 3 Comments

World’s Largest Camel Race

BBC has published photos from the World’s Largest Camel Race, 468 camels in Layonne, Western Sahara.

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Wikipedia says:

Western Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الغربية; transliterated: al-Ṣaḥrā’ al-Gharbīyah; Spanish: Sahara Occidental) is a territory of northwestern Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands. The largest city is El Aaiún (Laâyoune), which is home to over half of the population of the territory.

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July 25, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps | 6 Comments

Libya Frees Medics

This has got to be one of history’s most bizarre news stories. For years, these Bulgarian (and one Palestinian) medics have been accused of deliberately infecting Libyan children with the AIDS virus at medical facilities.

Do you believe they did it? Most medical people are in the profession because they want to help. They have consistently denied their guilt, except under torture, and we all know that under torture people will say anything to make the pain stop.

I am betting the procedures in Libya were so primitive, the sterilization minimal to none, and the disease was transmitted by accident. Of course it would be too embarrassing for a nation to admit 1) that any Libyan had AIDS and 2) that poor hospital procedures and equipment caused the infection of children, so let’s accuse the guest workers from a poor country.

Here is a case where patient, persistent diplomacy prevailed. Although convicted in the Libyan courts, and although the guilty verdict was upheld by their courts, they were released to Bulgaria where they received an immediate pardon. Pardon my cynicism, but I don’t believe even the Libyans believed they were guilty. It became an embarassment all the way around.

HIV medics released to Bulgaria

The medics were greeted by tearful relatives and well-wishers
Six Bulgarian medics who were serving life sentences in Libya have arrived in Bulgaria following their release, ending their eight-year incarceration.
They were immediately pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

The five nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor were convicted of deliberately infecting Libyan children with HIV – charges they have always denied.

You can read the full story at BBC News.

July 24, 2007 Posted by | Africa, Crime, Cultural, Health Issues, Hygiene, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Apple Market, Pensacola

The Apple Market isn’t a big chain. You can hardly maneuver in the aisles, they are so close together. They have their own deli, with Boar’s Head meats, they have a big section with deli-made food, made with fresh ingredients, that you can take home and heat – some are already hot! They have rotisseried chickens, they have fresh key lime pies, boutique breads, a whole huge refrigerator full of freshly made salads . . . the Apple Market is my kind of place.

I can’t imagine the odds against the family grocery stores staying in existence against the giants. But I can walk into one of the giants here – Winn Dixie – and walk out without buying a thing, the giant is so tired looking, so sterile, so packaged. What the Apple Market offers is personal service.

When I walk up to the counter with a container of “Mama’s Gumbo” they ask me if I have had it before, and when I say I have, and loved it, they recommend the Shrimp Loxlie, in the same brand, and recommend that I serve it over rice or noodles, to make it go further. I buy some, serve it over angel hair pasta, and it is a gourmet feast. They encourage you to bring your own re-usable bags, or buy one of theirs – they are earth friendly.

You pay a little more. I don’t mind. They buy locally, the produce is always first rate, and they have an amazing variety of goods in a relatively small space. I can always fine something to fix up for dinner there, and I always love the service. Give me The Apple Market over a big box store anyday!

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July 24, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cooking, Customer Service, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Shopping, Social Issues, Uncategorized | 5 Comments