Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens 1-2012- Possible Gathering at the U.S. Embassy

Kuwait City, Kuwait
January 11, 2012

Please circulate the following message without additions or omissions
immediately to all U.S. Citizens within your area of responsibility.

There are reports of a possible gathering in front of the U.S. Embassy on
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at approximately 7:00pm. The gathering may take
place near the main Embassy gate. An increased police and security presence
around the Embassy compound is expected.

Spontaneous and planned demonstrations take place in Kuwait from time to time in
response to world events or local developments. At times, even demonstrations
intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into
violence. Please avoid areas where demonstrations occur or are planned and
exercise caution if within the vicinity of any large gatherings. Please stay
current with media coverage of local events, be aware of your surroundings, and
practice personal security awareness at all times.

U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad should enroll in the Smart Traveler
Enrollment Program (STEP) at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov.

U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate at their destination. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for
the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

Updated information on travel and security may be obtained from the Department
of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or,
for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at
1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern
Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). For further
information, please consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at
http://travel.state.gov where the Worldwide Caution and Country Specific
Information can be found. In addition, the Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to
review “A Safe Trip Abroad,” which includes valuable security information for
those traveling or living in foreign countries. You can also follow the Bureau
of Consular Affairs on Twitter and on Facebook.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa Street, Block 6, Plot 14,
Bayan, Kuwait. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of emergency assistance in
Kuwait, you may reach the U.S. Embassy by calling +965-2259-1001 and requesting
the duty officer.

U.S. citizens in Kuwait who would like to receive future Emergency and
Informational Messages from the Embassy directly by e-mail may sign up for this
service by sending an e-mail to the following address: join-wardenmessagekuwait@mh.databack.com

This message may be accessed on the Embassy website, http://kuwait.usembassy.gov
Please note that the Consular Section is closed for U.S. and most local
holidays. The current holiday schedule for 2011 is posted on
http://kuwait.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Communication, Community, Kuwait | 2 Comments

Yeh, Right

From today’s mail:

Your account has been closed because of too many failed login
attempts.

Please download and fill out the form below to reactivate your
account.

Amazon

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Scams | Leave a comment

Qwon Chi Sushi

I was on a mission. This wasn’t one of those leisurely trips through the supermarket, this was one of those four-things-on-the-list trips – grab, pay and go.

But I had to pass the sushi section en route to the chicken section, and they were offering free samples. I took one; it looked interesting.

“New sushi” he said with a grin.

“What kind is it?” I asked

“Qwon Chi Roll” he said confidently.

“”Qwon Chi?” I asked.

“No, Qwon Chi Roll” he said, but this time the accent was on the first syllable.

“Qwon’-Chi” I repeated, trying to figure out what it was.

He kept smiling but he was not happy; I wasn’t getting it. He reached behind him and pulled out a sign:

CRUNCHY ROLL

I thought of all my “Woh is der bahnhof” moments, when I have spoken to people in their own language and they couldn’t understand me, and I just had to laugh. What goes around truly comes around, doesn’t it?

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Communication, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Humor, Shopping | 3 Comments

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

We couldn’t wait. We saw the earlier version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, you know, the one with Alec Guiness, and we couldn’t wait to see this new version, with Gary Oldman playing the Smiley role. He was awesome.

The LeCarre’ books featuring George Smiley are grim and grey, and the opening captures that exactly. The entire movie has a bureaucratic, institutional bleakness, with all the power plays, the petty snobberies, the jockeying for position that these bureaucracies seem to nurture. The only times in the movie when there is color and life is the annual bureau party, once done entirely in Russian, once in French.

The movie is faithful to the book, which I think I need to go back and read once again. It all seems so historical now.

One of the things we noticed was that the theatre was utterly quiet as the movie progressed. A lot of the action is in the mind, figuring things out, and trying not to get caught, so the suspense is of the subtle kind, not the car-crashing and jumping off buildings kind. It was as if the entire theatre were holding its breath; noticeable because of its rarity.

We were oddly jangled as we left the theatre, and over dinner we talked about how we never thought we would be obsolescent, but the Cold War has passed; the soldiers of today weren’t even alive when the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain parted and the cars flowed east. Life goes on.

There were several quotes, one that made us laugh was spies talking about recruiting other nationalities “You can hire an Arab but you can’t buy ’em.”

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Political Issues | Leave a comment

Helping Others, Help Yourself

I found this article this morning in an e-mail from Bottom Line, and it rings true to me. When AdventureMan was in the military, there were social events I was obligated to attend. I often felt so much reluctance I just wanted to go to bed; just the thought of the events made me tired. Then I discovered a secret – when I got there, to look for someone shy, and to go over and talk with them. There was always someone, and it made all the difference – to me!

 

It feels good to be a Good Samaritan, of course. But there’s more to the story—because science reveals that being of service to others brings numerous health benefits. Maria E. Pagano, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, has investigated the helper therapy principle (HTP), which is based on the concept that when people help others, they are also helping themselves—particularly when the helper and the recipient of that help share a common malady. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly published her recent review article on the topic. Among the evidence cited were studies showing that…

  • People with chronic pain who counseled other pain patients reported a significant decrease in their own symptoms of pain and depression.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who were trained to have monthly 15-minute supportive phone conversations with other MS sufferers showed improvement in self-confidence and self-esteem as well as reduced depression.
  • Alcoholics who helped other alcoholics were almost twice as likely to stay sober in the year following treatment…had lowered levels of depression in the three months after they started helping other alcoholics…and had significantly improved self-image. Dr. Pagano explained, “Helping others with a desire to live sober transforms the helper’s dark past and pain to greater good and enables him or her to be uniquely helpful to a fellow sufferer.”

While service to fellow sufferers is a cornerstone of 12-step programs of recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Pagano noted that it is not necessary to share a common health problem in order to benefit from doing good. For instance, helping others in general has been linked with longer life, less depression, higher self-esteem and greater life satisfaction.

Bottom line: For a “helper’s high” and a significant health boost, lend a helping hand to someone in need.

 

Maria E. Pagano, PhD, is a psychologist and an associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. She also is a recipient of a career development award funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. www.HelpingOthersLiveSober.org

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Relationships | Leave a comment

US Navy Rescues Iranian Fishermen from Somali Pirates

I love this story. I found it on AOL News / Huffington Post; it’s an Associated Press Story.:

WASHINGTON — The political tensions between the U.S. and Iran over transit in and around the Persian Gulf gave way Friday to photos of rescued Iranian fisherman happily wearing American Navy ball caps.

The fishermen were rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer Thursday, more than 40 days after their boat was commandeered by suspected Somali pirates in the northern Arabian Sea. The rescue came just days after Tehran warned the U.S. to keep its warships out of the Persian Gulf – an irony not lost on U.S. officials who trumpeted the news on Friday.

“We think it’s very doubtful that the Iranians or the pirates were aware of recent events of the last couple days,” Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group involved in the rescue, told reporters by phone Friday. “Once we released them (the fishermen) today they went on their way very happily, I might add, waving to us wearing USS Kidd Navy ball caps.”

Faller, speaking from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the Arabian Sea, said the fishermen, who had been living off the fish they could catch, expressed their thanks and are believed to be headed back to their homeport in Iran.

The rescue was carried out by American forces flying off the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, after crew on the Iranian fishing vessel, the Al Molai, made it clear they were in trouble.

The USS Kidd, part of the Stennis carrier group, was sailing in the Arabian Sea, after leaving the Persian Gulf, when it came to the sailors’ aid. It was alerted to the hostage situation when the captain of the fishing boat spoke by radio to the Americans in Urdu – a Pakistani dialect that he hoped the pirates near him would not understand – and managed to convey that he needed help.

A U.S. Navy team helicoptered to the ship, boarded it without any resistance, and detained 15 suspected Somali pirates. They had been holding the 13-member Iranian crew hostage and were using the boat as a “mother ship” for pirating operations in the Persian Gulf.

“They were scared,” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jennifer L. Ellinger, commander of the USS Kidd, said of the Iranians. “They pleaded with us to come over and board their vessel, invited us to come over. And we reassured them that we would be on our way.”

Amid escalating tensions with Tehran, the Obama administration reveled in delivering the news.

“This is an incredible story. This is a great story,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, explaining that the very same American ships the Islamic republic protested for recently traveling through the Strait of Hormuz were responsible for the Iranian vessel’s recovery.

“They were obviously very grateful to be rescued from these pirates,” Nuland said.

The episode occurred after a week of hostile rhetoric from Iranian leaders, including a statement by Iran’s Army chief that American vessels are no longer welcome in the Gulf. Iran also warned it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway that carries to market much of the oil pumped in the Middle East.

The Iranian threats, which were brushed aside by the Obama administration, were in response to strong economic sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear enrichment program. Last week, President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad.

According to Faller and Ellinger, the incident began Thursday morning when the Navy got a distress call from a Bahamian-flagged ship, and saw six individuals in a small boat next to it, throwing what appeared to be weapons into the water. They checked but found no evidence of piracy, so they released the small boat, but followed it by helicopter.

The small boat headed back to the Iranian-flagged ship, where U.S. Navy officials said it looked like there were both Middle Eastern and Somali on board.

The radio conversation with the Iranian captain made it clear his crew was under duress, so the USS Kidd launched a Navy search and seizure team. The suspected pirates hid on the ship, but the Iranian crew told the team where they were, Ellinger said, adding that the pirates surrendered quickly.

“The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40-45 days,” said Josh Schminsky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd. “They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations.”

Schminsky said the Iranian boat’s captain thanked the U.S. for assistance. “He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months,” Schminsky said in a prepared release.

The U.S. team gave the crew food, water and medical care, and on Friday morning they moved the captured pirates to the Stennis. They will remain there while the U.S. considers options for prosecution and consults with other nations that have joined forces against piracy.

“Sadly, this is not a new thing,” Nuland told reporters, citing more than 1,000 pirates picked up at sea who are under prosecution in some 20 countries. “So this is always a question of where to send them and who will do the prosecution.”

Asked if the rescue mission could provide a chance for a thaw in relations with Iran, Nuland declined to comment. She said the Navy had made a “humanitarian gesture” to take the Iranians onboard, feed them and ensure they were in good health before setting them off. She said the U.S. and Iranian governments have had no direct contact over the incident.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Faller on Friday to congratulate him on the rescue, adding that, “When we get a distress signal, we’re going to respond. That’s the nature of what our country is all about.”

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Iran, Law and Order, News, Relationships | Leave a comment

Insecure

 

How can I be this ripe old age and still suffer from insecurity? Thanks be to God, it isn’t often, actually only a couple situations. I always joke that when I visit my Mom, I gain ten pounds on the way, and feel huge as I waddle off the plane. Flying back home, those new pounds miraculously disappear. I know it is all in my imagination, and knowing that doesn’t help.

There is a competition coming up, a quilt show, and I am trying to get a couple entries ready. One design I knew would be a snap, I’ve done all the various parts a hundred times before (well, many times anyway) but this time I am painfully aware if points don’t match up or placement is not perfect. It is costing me time, crucial time for the preparations, as I rip out and re-do, sigh, rip out again and re-do. Just when I think I have it licked, I see something else that needs a re-do.

I know that the problem is that I am looking with a critical eye of the most critical judge. Most of the time my quilts are for babies, or friends, or family, and while they may be flawed, my family and friends love me and love my quilts, and they live happily ever after. It’s only when I know the quilts will be compared to other quilts, other, more painstaking and meticulous quilters, that I start to quail and flounder.

When I teach, I tell my students “this is supposed to be fun! Have fun with it! If you struggle too long, set it aside and come back; a solution will appear.” I teach tricks to cover flaws, I build their self-confidence, I show them how to attain ‘good enough’.

I am my own worst critic. I just have to fight discouragement and defeat at the hands of my inner critic.

 

(The quilt at the top is not one of the entries; it is a quilt I did for an earlier competition.)

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Community, Cultural, Living Conditions | 5 Comments

Adult Bullies: They’re Everywhere

How to Deal With Adult Bullies

From bulldozer bosses to pushy neighbors, bullying continues long beyond the playground years. Here’s how to recognize a full-blown, fully-grown bully – and what to do about it.

Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

When you hear the world “bully,” what comes to mind — a pre-teen ruffian who’s constantly picking on the neighborhood wimp?

Actually, bullying lasts well into adulthood — and instead of the playground, the abuse is most likely to occur in the workplace. A recent survey of American workers found that more than 41 percent of them had experienced some form of bullying at work in the past year; 13 percent of them were bullied on a weekly basis. “Often, adult bullying occurs between bosses and employees,” explains Irina Firstein, LCSW, a relationship counselor in New York City.

But that’s not all: Many adults find themselves emotionally tormented by fellow employees, nasty neighbors, aggressive friends, and even their spouse, says Firstein.

No matter who’s doing the antagonizing, the effects of bullying can be extremely damaging psychologically. Here’s what you should know about adult bullies.

How to Spot a Grownup Bully

A recent Iowa State University study found that childhood bullies may very well grow into adult bullies. Of the participants, those with a history of childhood bullying were six times more likely to get in a fight and two and a half times more likely to threaten someone than those without a bullying past.

“Adult bullies tend to be opinionated, judgmental, and coercive,” says Katherine Krefft, PhD, a practicing psychologist in Buzzards Bay, Mass. “If a person repeatedly makes you feel intimidated or humiliated, you are probably dealing with a bully.”

These people tend to:

  • Abuse a position of power.
  • Repeatedly give undeserved criticism.
  • Use verbal or physical abuse.
  • Have excessive and unrealistic expectations.
  • Repeat insults or threats.
  • Abuse the rights and dignity of others.

The Toll Bullying Takes on the Victim

“Repeated bullying — whether it occurs between bosses and employees, between spouses, or in any adult relationship — is a form of traumatic stress that is toxic to one’s emotional health,” says Firstein. In fact, the effects of bullying have been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a trauma-induced anxiety disorder.

In addition, bullying victims may experience:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Fearfulness
  • Financial losses from missed work
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Aches and pains
  • Digestive disturbances

How to Put an End to the Abuse

The worst thing you can do if you’re being bullied? Ignore it.

“The reason child bullies grow up to be adult bullies is because the behavior is repeated and reinforced,” warns Krefft. If not confronted, a bully will likely continue his antagonizing ways.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Recognize that being bullied is something no one deserves.
  • Document the bullying behavior as well as you can.
  • Try to have witnesses to support you.
  • Seek help from an appropriate authority.

Never try to retaliate directly, says Krefft. The proper authority will depend on the situation: If at work, your employee handbook or HR department may identify the right person in your workplace to talk to. If you have been physically threatened or attacked, you may want to go to the police.

Could You Be the Bully?

What if you’re the browbeater? In a national survey on bullying, 6 percent of adults admitted to picking on others.

If you’re constantly taunting others, enjoying other people’s discomfort, have trouble controlling destructive behavior, take out your anger on others, or have threatened other people, you could have a bullying problem. Other warnings signs include frequent lying and fighting.

Whether you are the bully or the bullied, it is important to recognize it and take steps to stop it. If not, it could continue on a destructive path, affecting the emotional health of everyone it touches.

From AOL Health News

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Character, Civility, News | 1 Comment

Teach Your Teen to Negotiate

I found this article on the National Public Radio Health Page; with the title Why a Teen Who Talks Back may have a Bright Future. It has to do with teaching your teen to talk problems through confidently; researchers found teens who could express themselves confidently had a greater likelihood of turning down offers of illegal drugs or behaviors.

It is interesting to me, too, that the Dutch who had the courage to shelter the Jews during the Holocaust were those who had learned to think independently as teenagers.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you likely find yourself routinely embroiled in disputes with your child. Those disputes are the symbol of teen developmental separation from parents.

It’s a vital part of growing up, but it can be extraordinarily wearing on parents. Now researchers suggest that those spats can be tamed and, in the process, provide a lifelong benefit to children.

Researchers from the University of Virginia recently published their findings in the journal Child Development. Psychologist Joseph P. Allen headed the study.

Allen says almost all parents and teenagers argue. But it’s the quality of the arguments that makes all the difference.

“We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground,” he says. Such arguments, he says, are actually mini life lessons in how to disagree — a necessary skill later on in life with partners, friends and colleagues on the job.

Teens should be rewarded when arguing calmly and persuasively and not when they indulge in yelling, whining, threats or insults, he says.

In Allen’s study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.

“Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, ‘OK, let’s talk about this,'” he says.

It was the parents who said wanted to talk who were on the right track, says Allen. “We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world,” with all its pressures to conform to risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.

Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. “The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers,” he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying ‘no’ when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say ‘no’ than kids who didn’t argue with their parents.

For other kids, it was an entirely different story. “They would back down right away,” says Allen, saying they felt it pointless to argue with their parents. This kind of passivity was taken directly into peer groups, where these teens were more likely to acquiesce when offered drugs or alcohol. “These were the teens we worried about,” he says.

Bottom line: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.

So, ironically the best thing parents can do is help their teenager argue more effectively. For this, Allen offers one word: listen.

In the study, when parents listened to their kids, their kids listened back. They didn’t necessarily always agree, he says. But if one or the other made a good point, they would acknowledge that point. “They weren’t just trying to fight each other at every step and wear each other down. They were really trying to persuade the other person.”

Acceptable argument might go something like this: ‘How about if my curfew’s a half hour later but I agree that I’ll text you or I’ll agree that I’ll stay in certain places and you’ll know where I’ll be; or how about I prove to you I can handle it for three weeks before we make a final decision about it.”

Again, parents won’t necessarily agree. But “they’ll get across the message that they take their kids point of view seriously and honestly consider what they have to say,” Allen says.

Child psychologist Richard Weissbourd says the findings bolster earlier research that finds that “parents who really respect their kids’ thinking and their kids’ input are much more likely to have kids who end up being independent thinkers and who are able to resist peer groups.”

Weissbourd points to one dramatic study that analyzed parental relationships of Dutch citizens who ended up protecting Jews during World War II. They were parents who encouraged independent thinking, even if it differed from their own.

So the next time your teenager huffs and puffs and starts to argue, you might just step back for a minute, take a breath yourself, and try to listen. It may be one of the best lessons you teach your child.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Character, Civility, Communication, Cultural, Education, Family Issues, Free Speech, Generational, Parenting, Statistics | 6 Comments

Making Way for the Devil

Today’s reading sounds like it could have been written yesterday, about the climate of self-indulgence we face today. Then I have to laugh, and to remember, that I am one of those Gentiles!

All our feuding about who has a piece of doctrine ‘right.’ God looks at our hearts, and does not say “You are saved because you are a good Catholic/Sunni/Mormon/Klingon . . . No. He looks at our heart and sees the darkness there. If we seek his forgiveness, and repent our wrong-headed misdoings, he forgives us and welcomes us home. Thanks be to God; he is merciful. From the Lectionary:

Ephesians 4:17-32

17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practise every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up,* as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.*

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Relationships, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment