Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Phone Fees to be Lowered

(for my non-Kuwait readers, Kuwait has a monopoly on all the communications in the country, and the phone rates are the highest I have experienced anywhere in the world. Most people who can subscribe to internet phone service providers like Skype, Vonage, etc. and use the internet connections to stay connected with family, friends, and to do personal financial transactions by phone. Kuwait claims they are losing millions of dinars in revenue, and continually tries to monitor and crack-down on illegal internet telephony.)

This is another tiny article from the Kuwait Times, September 26th.

Kuwait: Undersecretary for International Services at the Ministry of Communication Engineer Hameed Al-Qattan said that the ministry will offer outstanding call service fees over the Internet in order to stop the theft of international calls. Al-Qattan said that the announcement of this service will be in October and it will lead to a 50% reduction of international call fees from it’s present price.

I don’t have the figures. But I believe that most of the internet call services are charging between $16 (around 4KD) to $30 (around 8KD) per MONTH depending on the number of minutes you sign up for. Most of the calls to the US / Canada are free up to X number of minutes. Calls to foreign countries cost pennies per minute. They are charged to your credit card monthly, and the cost is a pittance. It’s laughable.

The call quality is not always so great, but hey, it’s a connection, right? And you are not paying an arm and a leg.

So Kuwait is going into competition with all the international internet call companies?

They will provide “outstanding” call service fees?

How cheap do those call service fees have to be in order to be competitive with the providers people are already using?

Will they also provide “outstanding” connections, better than the current internet connections we are dealing with?

Stay tuned!

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Technical Issue | 3 Comments

The Lone Flamingo

God is so Good! Around a year ago, my husband and I saw Dolphins lazily swimming in the Gulf and so I have been half watching for them to come back again. It was such a thrill.

Today, I saw something pink flying. How many pink birds do you know? I had been taking some photos for you anyway, and had the camera in my hand.

Don’t flamingos normally fly in a group? I think he chose this beach for resting, he is poking around in the surf, I don’t know if he is catching anything but it is a ripe place for small fish.

When we lived in Doha, we would drive out to a particular lagoon to watch the flamingos. I feel like I have been given a great gift, a very special gift, having my own flamingo, even for just a few minutes.

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Isn’t he beautiful?

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September 27, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Lumix, Photos, Spiritual | 8 Comments

Weather Change

Holy Smokes! I just checked the Weather Underground site for Kuwait and the HIGHEST forecasted temperature in the next five days is 104°F / 40°C today and Sunday. It looks like we have turned the corner! Next week, maybe we will have a day or two under 100°F/38°C. Wooo Hoooo, break out the parkas!

It’s like getting a break for the last part of Ramadan!

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Kuwait, Ramadan, Weather | 8 Comments

Understanding Engineers

Thank you, KitKat, for sending me these. Nice to start the day with a grin! 🙂

One:

Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said,
“Where did you get such a great bike?”

The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday
minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike.
She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said,
“Take what you want.”

The second engineer nodded approvingly, “Good choice; the clothes
probably wouldn’t have fit.”

Understanding Engineers – Take Two:

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is
half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to
be.

Understanding Engineers – Take Three:

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a
particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, “What’s with
these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such
ineptitude!”

The pastor said, “Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let’s have a word
with him.” [dramatic pause] “Hi George, say, what’s with that group
ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”

The greens keeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind
firefighters lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last
year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”

The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, “That’s so sad. I
think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”

The doctor said, “Good idea. And I’m going to contact my
ophthalmologist buddy and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”

The engineer said, “Why can’t these guys play at night?”

Understanding Engineers – Take Four:

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things
mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he
happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding
a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their
multimillion dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone
else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they
called on the retired engineer who had solved so
many of their problems in the past.

The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying
the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small “x” in chalk
on a particular component of the machine and stated, “This is where your
problem is.” The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly
again.

The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his
service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly: “One chalk mark, $1.00. Knowing where
to put it $49, 999.00.”

It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

Understanding Engineers – Take Five:

What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil
Engineers?

Mechanical Engineers build weapons. Civil Engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers – Take Six:

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the
possible designers of the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical
engineer. Just look at all the joints. ”

Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system
has many thousands of electrical connections.”

The last said, “Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a
toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

Understanding Engineers – Take Seven:

Normal people believe that …if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Engineers believe that: “…if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough
features yet.”-Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

Understanding Engineers – Take Eight:

An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was
better to spend time with the wife or a mistress. The architect said he
enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring
relationship.

The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the
passion and mystery he found there.

The engineer said, “I like both.”

The others: “Both?”

Engineer: “Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each
assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the
lab and get some work done.”

Understanding Engineers – Take Nine:

An engineer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him
and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent
over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up
again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful
princess, I will stay with you for one week.” The engineer took the frog
out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog
then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll
stay with you and do ANYTHING you want.” Again the engineer took the
frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the
frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess,
that I’ll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won’t
you kiss me?”

The engineer said, “Look I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a
girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that’s cool.”

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Building, Communication, Cross Cultural, Education, Entertainment, Humor, Joke | 12 Comments

Where’s QC?

This is one of his favorite games: Where is the Qatteri Cat? But if you put your finger too close to that little paw, you may have a painful surprise – he is very very fast and those sharp little claws can do some serious damage in a matter of seconds. Better to use a feather duster!

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September 26, 2007 Posted by | Entertainment, Family Issues, Humor, Pets | 11 Comments

On the Horizon

Just another beautiful Kuwait sunrise – oh wait! What is that deep colored band on the horizon? And is anyone else having terrible allergy problems these days?

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September 26, 2007 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Humor, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Technical Issue, Weather | 13 Comments

Ride the S.L.U.T.

You’d have to know the humor. Every country, every tribe, has their own unique way of handling situations, and in Seattle, humor often beats anger, any day. When city officials asked a low-income area of Seattle how they could help, the people said “affordable housing.” The city officials responded with “How about a trolley?”

“What? ? ? ?” you might ask. Sounds like this might have been about a trolley all along, don’t you think?

So the South Lake Union residents played the humor card. You can read the full article at CNN Travel,

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) — Officially, it’s the South Lake Union Streetcar. But in the neighborhood where the new line runs, it’s called the South Lake Union Trolley — or, the SLUT.

At Kapow! Coffee, a shop in the old Cascade neighborhood, 100 T-shirts bearing the words “Ride the SLUT” sold out in days, and another 100 are on order.

“We’re welcoming the SLUT into the neighborhood,” said Jerry Johnson, 29, a part-time barista.

Some claim — incorrectly, according to representatives of Vulcan Inc., the company that is developing the area — that South Lake Union Trolley was the original name and that it was changed when officials belatedly realized the acronym.

The $50.5 million project should be completed with streetcars running in December. Underlying the lighthearted opposition, however, is resentment over changes in the old working-class neighborhood.

“There was a meeting with representatives from the city several years ago,” Johnson recalled.

“They asked us, ‘What we could do for you?’ Most people raised their hands and said, ‘Affordable housing,”‘ he said. “Then the people from the city huddled together — ‘whisper, whisper, whisper,’ — and they said, ‘How about a trolley?

The neighborhood has sold out of the “Ride the S.L.U.T.” T-shirts. You can see the video if you go to the CNN website. Just a little grin to start your day, and a little insight into the Seattle way of doing things. Seattle people do not have a great fondness for bureaucrats and politicians.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cultural, Humor, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, News, Seattle | 5 Comments

QC Helps with the Cleaning

I am working back in the project room, which is also the guest room, trying to get it all cleaned out for guests arriving soon. It is a major task. When I am working, things can get pretty chaotic. The room gets vacuumed and dusted regularly, but, in truth, it isn’t easy to dust when all the sufaces are covered with items I might use.

And when cleaning up, things really need to be put back in the right place (or I will never see them again!) and sorted so I know what I have to work with.

Thank God I have the Qatteri Cat to help me out:

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Pets, Relationships | 13 Comments

We Do Not Have Homosexuals in Iran

I found this clip through Global Voices Kuwait who got it from somewhere else, too! Isn’t the net great?

Mahmud Ahmadinejad,Iranian president,said,in Columbia University,”we do not have homosexuals in Iran like you do in your country.” He brought the house down. Most just laughed, a few boo-ed.

The Columbia University president has taken a lot of criticism for his decision to have Ahmadinejad speak. He stuck to his guns.

You can see the film clip for yourself here: We Do Not have Homosexuals in Iran.

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Communication, Community, Entertainment, Family Issues, Free Speech, Humor, Kuwait, Language, Leadership, Lies, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Social Issues | 12 Comments

Ramadan Futoor

I was invited to a friend’s for Iftar the other day. We played, and as the day lengthened, she napped while I read. Her husband came down yelling “get up! get up! It’s almost time!” and had the radio on so we could hear the sound of the cannon, announcing the end of the day’s fasting.

We had water and dates, and then soup. Because these are dear friends, and because they love me, we also had Kuwaiti fish!

It was stuffed with parsley, onions and garlic, oh WOW. It was delicious.

As we ate, they were telling me about the thin thin pancakes you can buy at this time of the year to make a special stew. They are made on a dome shaped pan, with a very liquid dough, and evidently you can buy them at the co-op or along the side of the road (I have got to find one of these women!) because the thin pancake you can get during Ramadan is very close, I think, to the brik skin that you use for the Tuna Tunisienne which, hmmmmmm, could also be made with just about any leftover fish.

You have to be quick, because the dough is so fragile. While the photo shows all the ends tucked in, I was never that good, and neither are most Tunisiens – most of the brik I ate in Tunisia were all just folded over and fried in olive oil. So you have to have the oil hot before you put the brik in, and it sizzles, but it can’t be too hot because it has to cook long enough to cook the egg (if you add egg) or to heat the tuna through. Ohhhh, yummmm!

I was also asking about Swair’s Ramadan Soft Dumplings / Lgaimat and they were laughing and telling me how hard they are to make well, and that you have to eat them all the same day they are made, they are so fragile.

Later in the meal, as they were showing me low to roll the rice and fish into a ball together and pop it into your mouth in the old gulf way, my host mentioned the act of making that ball is called “ligma” and – – – ta da! it is the same root as Swair’s lgaimat!

I don’t know about you, but making a connection like that is like having a big light go on in my head. I love it. I can’t always remember words correctly unless I write them down, but this one – making balls to pop in your mouth/ making sweet dumplings balls – don’tcha just love it when things come together like that?

(I am posting this early in the day because you won’t feel hungry for fish this early if you are fasting – I hope – and it might give you a good idea for tonight’s Futoor!) Ramadan kareem!

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Communication, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Ramadan, Words | 10 Comments