Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Mediterranean Plus in Pensacola, ReVisit

“It’s hard to believe there are so many people in Pensacola who like Middle Eastern food,” my friend whispered, as we waited for our meals to arrive at Mediterranean Plus.

The restaurant was not packed, but it is a large restaurant, and most of the tables were taken.

The Mediterranean appetizer platter arrived and we all dug in, conversation flowing fast and furious. We slowed down when the main course arrived – holy smokes, all that food . . .

At the end of the meal, she said “Wow. I’ll be back here for sure!”

Pensacola has been a surprise – all the ethnic restaurants, and the food is not dumbed down.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Eating Out, Pensacola | 3 Comments

Did You Get the Dashboard Gas Emissions E-mail?

I did.

Here is what I read this morning in the Qatar Gulf Times:

Steamy car interiors do not produce gas: expert
By Sarmad Qazi

The National Campaign for Road Accident Prevention (NCFRAP) yesterday dismissed as “false” a purported e-mail from “Saudi Geophysical and Environmental Consulting” making the rounds, saying that a poisonous gas forms in cars parked under direct sunlight.

There is no such company in Saudi Arabia, it has been learnt. However, a national organisation, “Saudi Geophysical” has been in operation since 1998.

“This is absolutely false. It is true that vehicles parked under direct sunlight get hot, but the formation of any poisonous gas is absolutely ridiculous,” Ademola Ilori, adviser to the Traffic Department said yesterday.

The e-mail cautions motorists to leave the vehicle’s doors well and windows open for a while, to let the “gas” escape.

“Based on scientific research, it is found that there is a gas called gasoline, emitted from the seats, air fresheners and seat covers, when parking your car in the sun particularly when the temperature is higher than 15 degrees Fahrenheit or 6 degress Celsius,” one of the six paragraphs from the e-mail reads.

According to Ilori, on a typical sunny day in Qatar, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can easily exceed 50 degrees C in just ten to twenty minutes.

“Hot weather brings unique challenges to vehicles. It can present dangerous conditions for both the vehicle and its occupants but fortunately most incidents can easily be avoided,” Ilori said.
“Studies show that 75% of the temperature rise occurs within five minutes of closing the doors and goes up to 51-67C within 15 minutes. Leaving the windows (cracking) slightly open does not keep the temperature at a safe level,” he added.

Sharing summer driving tips, the official said that motorists should check oil, transmission fluid, windshield washer, battery level and strength, tyre pressure, etc before taking their vehicles out.
“Drivers need to stay cool as well, by drinking a lot of water (not ice cold) especially those who travel in vehicles without air-conditioning. Of particular importance for motorists is to keep an eye on the lights and gauges when driving in hot weather.

“If your temperature gauge moves up, turn on the heater to its highest and hottest setting. It will be uncomfortable, but it will help draw some of the heat away from the engine. If you are stopped in traffic put the vehicle in “P” (or neutral for manual gears) and lightly step on the gas to help circulate the coolant,” he said.

In case the temperature gauge enters the “red zone”, a vehicle should immediately be pulled off the road and the engine be shut.

However, at this point, motorists should not attempt to remove the radiator cap as the hot pressurised coolant will spray out with great force.

“Do not pour water over the radiator or engine, since a dramatic change in temperature could cause damage. After the engine cools, add a 50-50 mix of coolant and water to the reservoir to bring it up to its proper level,” Ilori said.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Lies, Living Conditions, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

The Bride: To Dance or Not to Dance?

From National Public Radio, where you can listen to the entire story

July 22, 2010

One Sudan Marriage Ritual: An Alluring Nude Dance

A mating ritual in Northern Sudan is hotter than the Sahara but not for everyone to see.

It has no official name, only a few simple rules apply, and, like all matters of the heart and the loins, the custom is open to interpretation.

In English, people here call it the Bride Dance.

Young brides have been performing the dance on, or near, their wedding nights for thousands of years. Like Sudan, it is both Arab and African. And, like Sudan, it is neither Arab nor African.

It is deeply erotic. The women wear revealing clothes. Not so long ago, in some fleeting instances, they wore no clothes at all. Sometimes, a gathering of sisters, aunts, mothers and friends teaches the steps. Or wealthier brides engage professional instructors. Because rich or poor, urban or rural, every bride knows that doing the dance well takes practice.

(skirt traditionally worn)

The Bride Whisperer

Iman Ali, aka Shengota, is a kind of bride whisperer. She teaches young women how to be one part Salome, one part Beyonce and one part the girl next-door.

But that ain’t easy.

Creating the right effect takes several songs, smart choreography, a custom-built stage and a whole wardrobe of costume changes.

Young brides-to-be practice their steps every day, sometimes for months in advance. The upside, Shengota says, is that the women usually lose several pounds before the wedding. And that makes just about everybody happy.

When the music starts, the bride and groom mount a circular stage. And while the groom stands there snapping his fingers, the bride does her best to make him look like the luckiest man in the room. Never mind that he’s usually the only man in the room. The dance is, more often than not, performed in front of an entirely female audience of cheering family members and friends.

But not everyone here is a fan.

Contradicting The Rules?

The dance predates Islam in Sudan. And it may be one of the few customs on which feminists and Islamic fundamentalists agree.

Nowadays, plenty of Sudanese women say they don’t want to dance, “like monkeys,” half-naked for the crowd. And Sudan’s Islamic fundamentalist government has strict rules on how women should comport themselves in public: conservative attire, head and legs covered, no shimmying.

Fatima Sir El Khatim Hallulah danced when she was a bride at age 14. Now, at age 60, she says she doesn’t want her daughters to dance.

Hallulah says she was an uneducated country girl at 14, marrying a man she had never seen before at the bidding of her parents. But her daughters are university graduates who chose their own husbands. Hallulah says her girls should not be made to debase themselves. Others say they’d hate to see videos of their performances end up on YouTube.

‘Nice To Show Off A Little’

But after a recent dip in general interest in dancing, choreographer Shengota says her phone is now ringing more often. Educated women of Sudan’s economic elite are seeking her services.

Zaeneb El Khamis, a dentist in her late 20s, says the dance gives brides a chance to shake things up a little before settling down to marriage. The lights and the music and the costume changes — including different perfumes and nail polishes for different dances — can be great fun.

She, like many brides, enjoys watching the video of her performance with her family and friends. “It’s nice to show off a little,” El Khamis says. “I was good.”

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

HIV Increases Significantly in People over 50

Today, on BBC Health News experts say you are likely at risk if you have had sex without condoms, multiple sex partners, or sex in countries with high HIV rates:

HIV rate rises among over-50s

There has been a big increase in the number of people aged 50 and over catching HIV, latest figures show.

The over-50s infection rate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland more than doubled in under a decade – from 299 new cases in 2000 to 710 in 2007.

In 2008 there were 7,382 new diagnoses – 8% of these were in the over-50s, says the Health Protection Agency.

Experts say the figures are a stark reminder of the importance of practising safe sex, whatever your age.

This highlights the importance of HIV testing – whatever your age”

Other sexually transmitted infections have shown a similar doubling in under a decade among the same age group, and have been rising at a faster rate than in the young.

Ruth Smith, who led the HPA research, said: “We estimate that nearly half of older adults diagnosed between 2000 and 2007 were infected at age 50 or over. This highlights the importance of HIV testing – whatever your age.

“We must continually reinforce the safe sex message – using a condom with all new or casual partners is the surest way to ensure people do not become infected with a serious sexually transmitted infection such as HIV.”

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Health Issues, Interconnected, Mating Behavior | Leave a comment

When Royalty Comes to Dine

I know I dream, but most of the time I can’t remember. Most of the dreams I can remember are the equivalent to university exam dreams, you know, the dreams you have for years after you graduate about missing the class and having to take the exam? Most of the dreams I remember are packing dreams – it’s time to go, and I haven’t finished packing. Oh aarrgh!

Recently I had a different dream. This is so hilarious I can’t begin to figure out what it is about. Royalty is visiting in our town. Like English royalty, and I vaguely recognize Princess “Fergie” and Elizabeth I, they are all dressed in period costume and are sort of posed around looking royal.

I realize that no one has taken care of making sure they have events scheduled that honor them, so I invite them to dinner, and then for the rest of the dream, I am so busy trying to make sure that they are sufficiently ‘honored’ that I keep worrying about what I am going to do about dinner. No one seems to be at all concerned except me. The royals are all just looking royal, very good sports, but how am I going to be a good hostess – taking care of them now – and still get dinner on the table? I could order out, but I think they are expecting a home cooked meal? I am not living overseas anymore, where I might have hired help; this one is on me.

Fortunately, I wake up.

I don’t know why I can even remember this dream, most of all I remember the feeling that I have offered up something and I don’t really have the resources to keep my promises. Oh aaarrgh!

July 20, 2010 Posted by | Character, Civility | 7 Comments

Old Spice Man Goes Viral

Today on NPR I listened to a lengthy interview with Ismail Mustafa, the new Old Spice Man, and actor in what has been called the most successful advertising campaign, EVER.

My friends, this is totally hilarious. Old Spice is so old that my father wore it. It is so old that is has been way past unsexy, and this campaign boldly reversed everything.

Not only is it getting hit after hit on YouTube, Old Spice is now flying off the shelf. This is a total hoot!

July 19, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Entertainment, Financial Issues, Marketing, Mating Behavior, Shopping | 5 Comments

Love of our Lives

AdventureMan and I often discuss with wonder the odds of our finding and marrying one another – and God’s great goodness in our life together.

Here is one of the most amazing things to ever happen – they call him the Happy Baby:

We love to be able to spend time with our sweet son and his wife and their son. 🙂 They ask us to babysit, and they think we are doing them a favor. Little do they know how we cherish our time with the Happy Baby!

July 19, 2010 Posted by | Family Issues, Pensacola | 8 Comments

Really Bad News for USA Olive Oil Lovers

Horrifying. I read the labels. I thought we could trust the labels. Thank God for independent testing. Bring on the Palestinian Olive oil!

Most ‘extra virgin’ olive oil bottles are actually cheaper mix

(See full article from WalletPop

More than two of every three bottles labeled imported extra virgin olive oil are either a cheaper grade of olive oil or adulterated with another type of oil, a University of California at Davis study found.

Top-selling brands including Bertolli, Filippo Berio, Carapelli, Pompeiian, Colavita, Mazola and Carapelli all had bottles that flunked the test — containing instead a cheaper virgin olive oil, the study by the university’s Olive Center found. Even a brand carrying the name of TV host Rachael Ray — who frequently touts her supposedly extra virgin olive oil — flunked the testing on two of three samples.

The chemical analysis did find that 90% of the California-packaged olive oils were indeed what they claimed to be. Two that were exactly what they claimed to be were Walmart’s Great Value brand and Costco’s Kirkland Organic.

“The intent of the study was to provide consumers and retailers with an accurate picture of the quality of olive oils now being marketed through grocery stores and other retail outlets in California,” Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center, said in statement sent to Consumer Ally. “Our hope is that these findings will lead to improved methods for evaluating extra virgin olive oil, and increased consumer confidence that ‘extra virgin’ on the label means extra virgin in the bottle.”

Flynn said the United States is the world’s third-largest consumer of olive oil.

Consumer Ally contacted several of the largest manufacturers cited in the study, but only one immediately responded to the request to comment on the study. A Colavita official wanted to read the study before discussing.

A history of duping consumers believing they’re buying the rich-flavored and often pricey extra virgin olive oil led the federal government to enact more stringent olive oil standards, scheduled to take effect in October. In 2008, Connecticut became the first state to regulate olive oil after finding that some being sold included nut oils or soy oils, which could cause dangerous allergic reactions.

“Before this study, we had anecdotal reports of poor quality olive oil being sold as extra virgin,” Flynn said. “Now there is empirical proof.”

Some of the tests analyzed for problems that would affect flavor — the very essence of extra virgin olive oil. “Many of these oils just did not taste good,” Flynn said.

He cited the following reasons for the oil flunking the tests:
adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil
oxidation due to elevated temperature, light and or aging;
poor-quality oils made from damaged and overripe olives,
processing flaws or improper oil storage.

See full article from WalletPop:

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cooking, Crime, Experiment, Food, Scams, Shopping | 5 Comments

Gushing Oil Stopped

This is what the latest live feed of the Gulf Oil gusher looks like:

It is not totally stopped. It has already spewed millions of gallons of life-killing petroleum into the Gulf. No one knows how well it will hold, or if it will hold. No one knows what the long term effects of this gaffe will be.

We’re just all glad it is tamed for now.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Environment, ExPat Life, Experiment, Pensacola | 3 Comments

Seattle Library Flash Mob

“I knew you’d like a Seattle one, if you haven’t seen it already,” my friend wrote to me. I totally do. Seattle ROCKS! What a great study break, and what a cool library to allow the Seattle Theatre Group to stage it there. 🙂

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, Entertainment, Humor | 4 Comments