Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwait Bans Blackberry?

I have always loved politics. I don’t love politick-ing, I love watching what politicians do. One of the first rules, in my book, is “Don’t pass laws you can’t enforce.”

It’s pretty basic. Have you ever watched parents who tell their children over and over “Don’t do (whatever)” but they are too lazy to get off their big bottoms to go over and distract the child or to enforce penalties for misbehavior? What happens? The child does – or continues to do – what he or she wants, while the parent either gives up or escalates to a punishment out of proportion to the infraction.

Governments are the same. Don’t make a big noise if you don’t intend – or can’t – follow through. Don’t create penalties you can’t or won’t enforce.

Trying to ban Blackberries in Kuwait – LLLLLOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL! Trying to ban message services? These tech-savvy young people can run circles around the politicians and bureaucrats who try. This is a total hoot.

BlackBerry Ban Eyed
KUWAIT CITY, May 23: The Ministry of Interior is planning to stop BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service and a decision to this effect might be issued within the next few days, reports Al-Shahid daily. A security source said the service cannot be controlled by the Ministry of Communications or security authorities and hence, users of BlackBerry sets were taking advantage to spread rumors and call for strikes.

He added that the ministry came to the decision after conducting studies and holding several meetings in the last fortnight. The three telecommunication companies in Kuwait, however, said they had not received any official request from the Interior Ministry so far.
Arab Times Online

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cultural, Generational, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Technical Issue, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

BBC and the Oil Spill and Ethiopian Elections

You would think that living here on the Gulf Coast within miles of the huge oil spill spewing out to putrefy the beautiful, sparkling gulf waters, that we would have the best, most comprehensive coverage of the local news.

Not so.

“I love BBC!” I called out from my studio to AdventureMan, in his study next door. “Who else is covering the Ethiopian elections in such detail? And they have the best coverage of the oil spill!”

Here is the latest; and excerpt from the Huffington Post:

BARATARIA BAY, La. (AP) — As officials approached to survey the damage the Gulf oil spill caused in coastal marshes, some brown pelicans couldn’t fly away Sunday. All they could do was hobble.

Several pelicans were coated in oil on Barataria Bay off Louisiana, their usually brown and white feathers now jet black. Pelican eggs were glazed with rust-colored gunk, and new hatchlings and nests were also coated with crude.

It is unclear if the area can even be cleaned, or if the birds can be saved. It is also unknown how much of the Gulf Coast will end up looking the same way because of a well that has spewed untold millions of gallons of oil since an offshore rig exploded more than a month ago.

“As we talk, a total of more than 65 miles of our shoreline now has been oiled,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who announced new efforts to keep the spill from spreading.

A mile-long tube operating for about a week has siphoned off more than half a million gallons in the past week, but it began sucking up oil at a slower rate over the weekend. Even at its best the effort did not capture all the oil leaking, and the next attempt to stanch the flow won’t be put into action until at least Tuesday. . . .

In Barataria Bay, orange oil had made its way a good 6 inches onto the shore, coating grasses and the nests of brown pelicans in mangrove trees. Just six months ago, the birds had been removed from the federal endangered species list.

The pelicans struggled to clean the crude from their bodies, splashing in the water and preening themselves. One stood at the edge of the island with its wings lifted slightly, its head drooping — so encrusted in oil it couldn’t fly.

Wildlife officials tried to rescue oil-soaked pelicans Sunday, but they suspended their efforts after spooking the birds. They weren’t sure whether they would try again. U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Stacy Shelton said it is sometimes better to leave the animals alone than to disturb their colony.

Pelicans are especially vulnerable to oil. Not only could they eat tainted fish and feed it to their young, but they could die of hypothermia or drowning if they’re soaked in oil.

Globs of oil have soaked through containment booms set up in the area. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said BP needed to send more booms. He said it would be up to federal wildlife authorities to decide whether to try to clean the oil that has already washed ashore.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Bureaucracy, Community, Crime, Environment, ExPat Life, Florida, Health Issues, Hygiene, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

“Is it Spicy?”

AdventureMan and I have wide ranging taste in dining out, as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog. We like Barbecue, we like Mexican, we like Vietnamese, we like Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Seafood. There is one food we do not like – tasteless food. We like TASTE.

Living here in the South, we will often see a group come into a restaurant, and one person – always a lady – will ask the waitress “Is it spicy?”

Spicy doesn’t mean fiery hot, spicy means pretty much anything other than the food’s natural taste plus salt – they do use a lot of salt in food here. At one restaurant, the waitress said “no, it’s not spicy, but there is a little bit of horseradish in the cocktail sauce” and the little lady said “oh, then I had better order something else.”

It’s all a matter of taste, what your palette is used to, and what it craves.

I wonder, too, if it isn’t what we are trained to expect – for example, some Nigerian friends once told us that from the time their children are babies, they give them little bites of hot hot pepper with their food. I think many of our restaurants add sugar, as well as salt, so that we have become more and more addicted to sweetness.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cultural, Florida, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Random Musings | 3 Comments

Orange Beach, Alabama, Oyster House

We were looking for a place to have a nice lunch on our way home, and I was sure we would go Mexican. AdventureMan felt so deprived of Mexican for all our years overseas that he is still catching up, and when given his druthers, Mexican will mostly be his first choice.

But today – and this is the POWER of advertising – we saw a huge billboard telling us that The Oyster House was THE place to eat.

“We’re going to eat there!” AdventureMan said, and I sure didn’t argue – I am a big fan of seafood. 🙂

We followed the signs. There were a lot of restaurants, but only The Oyster house had big billboards telling us they were THE place to eat. When we got there, a spot was available right in front of the front door – “RSP!” shouted AdventureMan as he parked.

It was a nice place. We got a table where we could see the Bayou:

The menu had so many good choices we hardly knew what to do, and, as usual, we ordered more than we could eat and we brought the rest home to nibble on for dinner:

I had the Seafood Gumbo appetizer while AdventureMan had the salad buffet:

Then our main courses came – and my gumbo had filled me up! I had the appetizer crab cakes as a main course, and it was still too much food! But oh, they had a lot of real CRAB in them:

These were really really good crab cakes – and Wooo HOOO, I still have one for dinner!

AdventureMan had the grilled MahiMahi – also delicious – with red beans and rice. Poor guy, can you see his hand there, just so eager to have his first bite of the MahiMahi and I am so rude as to insist on taking a photo before he takes a bite, LLLOOLLL:

Plenty for dinner for him, too!

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Travel | | 4 Comments

Healing Power of Compassion

From the time we were early-marrieds, we have subscribed, when we could, to Bottom Line and now that we are back in the USA, we have subscribed again. (When we lived overseas, we subscribed, but many of our issues never reached us; now they do!)

I almost didn’t reprint this, but then I saw a message included which said we are welcome to forward this information to friends, family, etc. Well . . . aren’t you my friends? 🙂

This technique is wonderful. Helps others, helps you as you practice it.

May 23, 2010

The Healing Power of Compassion

Charles Raison, MD
Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD
Emory University

Thinking empathetically about other people improves your own health, research shows. Regularly meditating on the well-being of others reduces your body’s inflammatory responses to stress — and that lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes, dementia and other stress-related health problems.

The goal of compassion meditation is to reshape your responses to other people by concentrating on the interconnectedness of every human being.

It’s easy: Try the following technique for 10 minutes a day, three to four times per week.

WEEK ONE. Sit comfortably, eyes closed, breathing deeply. Think about a time when you were kind to another person — for instance, helping a loved one through a crisis or simply holding a door for a stranger. Recognize your great capacity for goodness. For the last few minutes of your meditation, repeat, “May I be free from suffering… may I find the sources of happiness.”

WEEK TWO. Repeat the same exercise, this time building compassion toward a loved one. Think about someone close to you — your mother, daughter, dear friend — and focus on what a blessing she is in your life. Then think about any suffering she is experiencing… and what you can do to ease her pain. Recite: “May she be free from suffering… may she find the sources of happiness.”

WEEK THREE. Think about someone with whom you have only a minor connection — a bus driver, a waiter at your favorite café. How is he a blessing in your life? How might he be suffering? How can you ease his pain (for instance, with a smile and a sincere word of thanks)? Conclude with the recitation.

WEEK FOUR. Focus on someone you dislike — a whiny neighbor, a critical cousin. Identify blessings, perhaps as lessons you have learned about being patient or not judging others. Consider how the person may suffer… for instance, from being a quitter or having few friends. Finish with the recitation.

MOVING AHEAD. Continue to practice several times weekly, incorporating all four types of compassion into your meditation.

Bottom Line/Women’s Health interviewed Charles Raison, MD, clinical director, Mind-Body Program, Emory University School of Medicine… and former Tibetan Buddhist monk Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, senior lecturer, Emory University, and spiritual director, Drepung Loseling Monastery, all in Atlanta.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Charity, Community, Family Issues, Health Issues | 2 Comments

Victory at the Shrimp Basket

This is a moral victory. AdventureMan and I ate at the Shrimp Basket last week and we DID NOT eat fried food! We tried their non-fried platters, AdventureMan had the grilled fish and shrimp, and I had the blackened fish and shrimps. I took the photo before eating! (another victory, woooo HOOOO!)

Yes, I did dip my shrimp in the melted butter. I could not resist. This is one of the best seafood meals I have had in a long time, it was totally delicious.

On the table was this sign:

The oil has started coming ashore in Louisiana. It is thick and gooey, and it is sticking to the marshlands, clinging to delicate feathers on birds and suffocating wildlife. This is the beginning of a long, long, ugly process of trying to reclaim what nature never intended the oil to touch. It is devastating.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Environment, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues | 4 Comments

The Missing Piece

I have a beautiful wrought-iron etagere which I had bought in Tunisia. It has made it through so many moves, but this time, I haven’t been able to put it together. It has glass shelves, and two iron pieces that hold the braces together, one at the top and one in the middle.

We had the sides, the top and all the glass shelves. I couldn’t put it together. Well, I could, but without the one wrought-iron piece to keep it from slipping apart, the glass shelves would slip out and crash and break. I’ve gone through all the boxes. I’ve gone to the garage and looked and looked.

AdventureMan had a project this week; he wants our garage to be ORGANIZED. He wants to know where things are. (I fully support him in this and commend his efforts, especially when Pensacola is HOT and HUMID and he is out there in the garage toting boxes here and there, putting up shelving, figuring out what will go and what will stay – it is a BIG job.)

“I have something special for you,” he said, and slipped the wrought iron bar in my hand. He always knows what I like. 🙂

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Family Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Moving | 2 Comments

Old Time Pottery

We were on a reconnaissance; an exploratory trip, or so I thought. We had passed through Elberta, Alabama, “Woh Das Leben ist Gut” and the Lutheran Church welcomes you; AdventureMan said it was a settlement of Germans, and the German names still dominate as you scan the businesses in town. We had perused the Foley Outlet Mall, and we were on our way down to the beach road to head back to Florida when AdventureMan said “What’s that?!”

It was Old Time Pottery! We had looked for Old Time Pottery in Destin last week, but I didn’t know there was one in Foley, too. I could see the grin on AdventureMan’s face, he had known.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Oh, zee internet, it is a vonderful sing,” he replied, grinning and turning into the huge, gigantic store.

Right in front were the terra cotta pots I had been seeking, at a reasonable price. I picked up two 14″ pots.

For some reason my camera refused to focus, but as I pulled off the pots, I was surprised to find two bright green frogs. I thought they were decorations, and one quickly hopped through the pot hole and back into the dark:

“Only two?” AdventureMan asked, disappointment loud in his voice. “We come all this way and you only buy two?”

“I wasn’t planning to buy anything!” I protested. “You totally caught me by surprise! I thought we were just looking around.”

You can look around inside the Old Time Pottery for a LOOONNNNGGG time. They have everything. A lot of what they have is also available around the same price at other discount stores, TJ Maxx, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc. But the sheer massive amounts of stuff was purely mind-boggling. It would be easy to buy stuff you didn’t even know you needed, just because it is all there. Actually (she congratulates herself) I managed to hold it to just the two pots. I know where the store is. It’s not that far away, about an hour, I can go back if I need to. 🙂

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Experiment, Gardens, Germany, Living Conditions, Shopping | Leave a comment

The Alabama Muttawa

As we were driving into Alabama this morning (not such a big deal as it sounds, as we live right on the border of Alabama) we passed through Foley, where we found a large group of Alabama members of the committee to prevent vice and promote virtue:

They find a busy corner and parade their signs, hold up their Bibles, and read aloud from the bible to passing motorists. No switches to hit women in shorts or sundresses or swimming suits, no authority to tell people how to behave, only armed with conviction. It’s a very gentle kind of moral authority, encouraging people to make the right choice.

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Spiritual | 7 Comments

Garden Gate Nurseries

We’re new, but new-with-a-difference, as we have had so many good people to help us with all the decisions that come with settling in. Today, we spent most of our day exploring health care options. We are so lucky to have a military health plan that will cover most of our needs, but it is a bureaucracy, and our daughter-in-law’s step-father helped guide us through the channels, and introduced us to people who could help explain the benefits and rules. Today we searched out doctors who might work with us. At one point, I told AdventureMan, “the problem is, if they are available, I wonder why? Like maybe all the really good ones are taken?”

Our therapy is thinking about gardens, working on our gardens, and exploring ideas for how our yard should look in the future. Again, our daughter-in-law knew just the right person to help us out, and introduced us to Garden Gate Nurseries, a little piece of heaven on earth.

Garden Gate Nurseries specializes in educating clients as to what grows well in the Pensacola / Gulf Coast Climate, how to enrich the soil, which plants are particularly drought resistant, salt resistant, which attract butterflies, or hummingbirds, etc. You don’t just plonk things in the garden, you make a plan, and work little by little to accomplish that plan.

A visit to Garden Gate Nurseries is like a foretaste of Paradise:

They have herbs and vegetables, plants that love the sun and plants that love the shade, and trees, fruit trees, flowering trees, and some wonderful and unique hand crafted gifts and garden-friendly items in their gift shop.

Best of all, they have a landscape designer, Carole Simpson, who loves gardening, gets her thrills from incorporating your dreams into her designs, is thoroughly knowledgeable about growing things in this climate, and on top of all that, is gracious and kind and generous with her time.

Garden Gate Nurseries / Carole Simpson Landscape Design
3268 Fordham Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Gardens, Health Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 3 Comments