Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Flotilla Photography

While you are getting all dressed up in your Eid clothing, and preparing to visit one another, I am still in my nightgown, blogging away, and snapping photos, trying to capture the vastness of the fishing blockade off the coastline. It is too much for my mind to comprehend, and there is too little I can do to get a good photo.

Here is a section of the flotilla – just a section; there are so many fishing boats!

Here is a close up, using the extended zoom (it’s so pixellated that I think extended zoom is not always such a good thing)

And so I asked my photo program – iPhoto – to see what it could do, just clicked “enhance” and this is what my photo program thought would be a better photo:

LLLLOOOOLLLLLLLL!

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September 30, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Technical Issue | 5 Comments

Statistical Spike

As many of you have figured out, I get online early in the morning, then I get through my day – and sometimes it is a long day – before I can get back to answer any comments, etc. Yesterday was one of those super-busy days, and it was night before I was able to check the blog.

Something strange was happening. The stats were way high . . . and for what?

As it turns out, it was a post written a month ago – Moonsighting, and yesterday, that post alone got 539 hits. 539 – it hasn’t been that long since I would never have thought I would get 539 hits in one day, total. I think a lot of people were trying to find out whether Ramadan had ended, if that tiny thin crescent of a moon had been spotted. It gives me great joy to tell you that I also had a lot of hits, I am guessing from the Seattle area, on the Northgate mosque, and how to get to the Northgate mosque. Maybe this blog is doing some little bit of good in the world, helping just a little. It’s all I ask.

And it remains a totally humbling thought to me that the posts that live on, and on, and on – are posts greatly written by or inspired by fellow bloggers and commenters, in this case Fahad, at his blog Salmiya to whose blog I am totally addicted. He is also a little bit here there and everywhere. 🙂

I am only sharing this with you because it gave me a shock this morning to see the spike in statistics, and because I suspect I will never see the likes of it again.

May your day be full of unexpected blessings, and may you have the eyes to see them!

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Relationships, Spiritual, Statistics, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

Eid Mubarak Sunrise!

When I woke up this morning, it was a little after sunrise and the entire room was flooded with sparkling clear light. Grabbing the camera, I rushed to the window – you can’t see in the photo, but there is an entire flotilla of fishing boats about 2 kilometers off the coastline; I love fishing boats, they evoke something so timeless and serene in my heart. It has to be Eid! Such a beautiful sparkling day, it has to be Eid! And sure enough, it is.

This sparkling, clear, low-humidity, relatively low-temperature day is a blessing to us all! Eid Mubarak Kuwait, and Eid Mubarak (Eid Mubarkhom?) world!

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Eid, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan, sunrise series, Weather | 8 Comments

Who Has the Disability?

My good friend sent me this today, and I want to share it with you, on this, hopefully the last day of Ramadan:

 

GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED
 
I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that’s what I heard him say one night.
 
He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, ‘Are you there, God?’ he said. ‘Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed…’
 
I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin’s unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor.  I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.
 
He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he’s 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.
 
He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.
 
I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?
 
Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.
 
The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.
 
He does not seem dissatisfied.
 
He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.
 
He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day’s laundry chores.
 
And Saturdays – oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That’s the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. ‘That one’s goin’ to Chi-car-go! ‘ Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.
 
His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.
 
And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.
 
He doesn’t know what it means to be discontent.
 
His life is simple.
 
He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.
 
His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.
 
He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax..
 
He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.
 
He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.
 
Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.
 
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child.. Kevin seems to know God – to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an ‘educated’ person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.
 
In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.
 
It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.
 
It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances – they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God’s care.
 
Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.
 
And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I’ll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.
 
Kevin won’t be surprised at all!

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Health Issues, Interconnected, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual | 7 Comments

End of Ramadan Sunrise

The end of Ramadan is coming with the end of the great heat of summer. I checked Weather Underground: Kuwait this morning, and by Thursday, we will have our first day under 100°F /37°C. WOOOO HOOOOO, Kuwait!

Here is what might be the last sunrise of Ramadan:

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

How to Help: Animal Friends League

The newest newsletter from the Animal Friends League is out, with many exciting events to help them help abandoned, abused and neglected animals in Kuwait:

Hello all,

Many of you express the desire to do more for us but face limitations on your time. Attending our fundraisers is a great way to support us for one evening while having a great time with friends and family. Below is a list of upcoming events. Please show your support for the animals by giving us a call or sending us an e-mail and booking your ticket!

QUIZ NIGHT
Friday 10th October
6:30p.m. to 11:00p.m.
So you think you?re a rocket scientist?
Well if you are, then you are coming to the wrong quiz night!
Animal Friends is having another fun filled middle of the road quiz night.
Admission is 10KD per person, which includes dinner.
Teams consist of 6 people.
Bookings are essential, please e-mail info@animalfriendskuwait.org or ring Stephanie at 6657 9560 to confirm your team booking.
If you don?t have a team, don?t panic, we may be able to put one together for you!
Attached is a flyer that you can post anywhere!

CHILDREN?S HALLOWEEN PARTY
Friday 31st October
5:00p.m. to 9:00p.m.
Animal Friends is hosting its annual children?s Halloween party! We will have great food and lots of games for the children including a costume contest.
Admission is 5KD. Please call 6657 9560 or e-mail info@animalfriendskuwait.org for further details.

THANKSGIVING DINNER AND DANCE
For the benefit of Animal Friends and Operation Hope
Saturday 29th November
7:00p.m. to 11:00p.m.
Animal Friends is hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner and dance.
Each ticket will cost 15KD and will be held at the Holiday Inn Downtown.
Please call 6700 1622 or e-mail info@animalfriendskuwait.org to reserve your tickets.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Kind regards,
Ayeshah Al-Humaidhi
Animal Friends League of Kuwait
P.O. Box 26112
13122 – Safat
Kuwait
+965-657-3430 (Kuwait)
+965-244-3859 (Fax)
http://www.animalfriendskuwait.org

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Charity, Community, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues | 1 Comment

Loneliness Makes You Cold

A recent study presented on BBC Health News shows that those who are excluded or left out feel colder than those who are included.

Loneliness ‘makes you cold’

Turning up the thermometer could lighten your mood

Loneliness and coldness are often associated in everyday language, but psychologists have found that social isolation does make people feel cold.

The University of Toronto team found people feeling excluded said a room was colder than those feeling included.

And people who felt left out also chose comforting hot soup, rather than an apple or soft drink.
A UK psychologist said the findings could help people feeling isolated, particularly in the winter months.

‘Unpopular’
In the first study, 65 students were divided into two groups.

One group recalled a personal experience in which they had been socially excluded and felt isolated or lonely, such as being rejected from a club.

The other group recalled an experience in which they had been accepted.
The researchers then asked everyone to estimate the room’s temperature.

The estimates varied from about 54F (12C) to 104F (40C) – with those who had thought about an isolating experience giving lower estimates of the temperature.

In the second experiment, the researchers asked 52 students to play a computer-simulated ball game.

It was designed so that some of the volunteers had the ball tossed to them many times, but others were left out.

Afterwards, all the volunteers were asked to rate the desirability of hot coffee, crackers, soft-drinks, an apple, or hot soup.

The “unpopular” participants were much more likely than the others to want either hot soup or hot coffee.

The researchers suggest their preference for warm food and drinks resulted from physically feeling cold as a result of being excluded.

‘Coping mechanism’
Dr Chen-Bo Zhong, who led the research, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, said: “We found that the experience of social exclusion literally feels cold.

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Health Issues, News, Relationships | 2 Comments

Pilot Impostor almost Succeeds in Kuwait

Very scary story from today’s Arab Times

Expatriate impersonates Brazilian pilot, ‘manages’ to enter cockpit

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 26: In a shocking incident that reflects on the level of security at Kuwait International Airport, an Egyptian expatriate is said to have managed to enter the cockpit of a plane ‘Al-Mottaheda’ impersonating a Brazilian pilot and when he failed to operate the plane, he allegedly tried to fly another, sources told Al-Seyassah. The suspect reportedly wanted to fly a Luxor-bound flight and asked an employee about the plane’s location. This time around he impersonated a Brazilian engineer whose identity card he found in the cockpit of the first plane. The alert employee, however, noticed that there was no similarity between the man on the ID card and the holder and promptly called securitymen who rushed to the scene and arrested the suspect.

Securitymen are investigating how the Luxor-bound passenger penetrated a high-security area and managed to reach the planes’ hanger. Minister of Interior Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled is personally following-up the developments in this case and sources say stringent action will be taken against employees who are found to have been negligent in their duty.

By Mizyed Al-Saeedi
Special to the Arab Times

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Community, Crime, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News | 8 Comments

Reflecting Al Kout

AdventureMan is so patient with me.

“Just one minute!” I say to him while he is starving, and I am busy with a photo I can’t resist.

He never grumbles. He just patiently waits while I shoot away.

Last night at the Al Kout Mall was just such a night – when we got there (and got a perfect parking place because YOU were still breaking your fast with family and friends) the fountains were not on, and the pool was a perfect Taj Mahal like mirror for reflecting the Al Kout lights.

“Just a minute!” as I shot from one angle.

“Oh, just one more!” as I see it again, from another.

Same camera. Same settings. Different angle – so why is one so much more golden than the other, which is more sparkly white?

Which to you prefer?

I would feel a whole lot better about my skills as a photographer if I knew how to reproduce the results I get, if I understood better how I got the shot I did. As it is, most of my best photos are the result of being in the right place at the right time with a camera. I hate to say it about myself, but it is a result of being prepared and dumb luck. I give myself full credit for having a camera with me when a shot appears, but making it that perfect shot? I need to learn more.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Random Musings, Technical Issue, Tools | 8 Comments

Prosper the Work of Our Hands

This is from today’s Psalm 90, the very last verse:

17Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

My wish for you today is that Mightly God prosper the work of your hands, and mine. 🙂

For my non-Islamic friends, in this culture there is a greeting I love – God bless the work of your hands! (Sounds like: Allah ya teek’ ala fee ah) (If that is not quite right, I welcome correction; that is how it sounds to me.)

This verse reminds me so much of that.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Spiritual | 7 Comments