Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

AdventureMan Does Lobster

I don’t know if you remember, but when AdventureMan retired, it didn’t stick. He retired in April 2010, went back to work on contract to the same company in June – August 2010, retired, went back from October 2010 – February 2011. Finally, I think he has really retired. He hasn’t worked in a year. I think the last stint was ENOUGH! Thanks be to God.

I wasn’t sure how life would evolve, once he really really committed to retirement. And it definitely has been an evolution, starting with the day he told me he was going to re-organize my spice drawers (No! No! No, you’re not!) to yesterday, when he told me he had a yearning to broil some lobster for dinner.

You know those Red Lobster ads, like for a whole month they show these mouth-watering dinners featuring lobster, but if you actually go to Red Lobster, they are overcooked and pretty tasteless, sometimes even covered in cheese? We always say ‘never again.’

AdventureMan is a GREAT cook. Who knew? We had hints, back when our baby was born, and had colic, and AdventureMan took lessons in Chinese cooking on Saturday mornings and would cook Chinese food while I walked the squalling baby, but once the baby no longer had colic, we reverted to more traditional ways of doing things. (Pity, I still love his Chinese food!)

He started with simple things, and has become more and more daring. Lobster is expensive, but his lobster were PERFECT. He basted them with a mix of olive oil, a little sea salt and herbes de Provence. And he also fixed green beans, which were perfectly cooked, still just a little crisp, perfect.

Wooo HOOOO on you, AdventureMan!

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March 11, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Food, Marriage | 4 Comments

Stop Kony 2012

I love this campaign. I love its focus and specificity. I love that it goes after a merciless bully who uses children as a weapon, and twists religion to serve the evil. I spit on you, Lords Resistance Army.

Please, take twenty-something minutes to watch this, what young people all around the world are doing to stop a hideous abuse of children in Uganda.

April 20. Wooo HOOOO!

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Blogging, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Signs of Spring in Pensacola

Coming home from a meeting last night, I head into Joe Patti’s to pick up some crab for dinner, and holy smokes! The parking lot is full! There is no line coming out the door, and a car pulls out so I get a space, but what is going on?

Once I get in, I know. The place is PACKED, and most of these folk are wearing beach clothes or short sleeves, a couple young women in strapless sun dresses . . . I get it. It’s Spring Break time in Pensacola, and Joe Patti’s is as packed as it was on Christmas Eve Day. Lines to pay are snaking around everywhere, and I get the last loaf of multigrain French bread.

At least the lines are civil. The locals smile at one another – we’re all wearing long sleeves, it’s cloudy and a little on the cool side. Part of me smiles to think of myself as ‘local.’ Guess I’m getting there.

When I get home, AdventureMan is all smiles, and not just because I’m going to make Open Faced Crab Sandwiches for dinner. No! One of his Monarch butterflies has hatched! We’ve had such a mild winter that we’ve had a few hatching here and there all winter, but this is the first butterfly of spring, and he is fresh out of the cocoon. After losing two cocoons to hungry birds, he devised a protective shoe box. AdventureMan is fast becoming a local expert on creating a safe environments for butterflies to feed, lay eggs, cocoon and hatch. He’s also having a lot of fun with it.

On our back fence, a vine we planted last October is taking root and taking off. I think it is a coral honeysuckle, also called a coral trumpet honeysuckle, or coral trumpet vine. It attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. 🙂

This is not particularly a Spring photo, but it is a seasonal photo. The oysters right now at the Marina Oyster Barn are HUGE! I had a bowl of oyster stew, AdventureMan had six raw oysters and the little lady sitting behind us had a full dozen. “I can’t get these in Illinois!” she exclaimed; AdventureMan could barely eat all six, they were so huge, so we had a hard time believing she could eat 12, but she did!

Just as the weather is perfect for getting outdoors and cleaning out the weeds, the pollen also starts flying. I get out while it is cool, weed a selected area and come back in and shower all the pollen off. It doesn’t do that much good; my eyes are still watering and I am sneezing, but who knows how bad it would be if I didn’t wash the pollen off?

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Gardens, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Weather | 2 Comments

New Stats on WordPress

When I went to my Stat page today, I found a new presentation – the countries my visitors are from, listed and in color codes on a map:

Pretty cool, hmmm?

While most of my visitors are from the US, I still get a substantial number from Kuwait and Qatar. 🙂

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Kuwait, Qatar, Statistics | 5 Comments

Driving in Qatar

Almost every day, the two articles garnering the greatest number of hits have to do with new traffic rules in Kuwait and in Qatar. I think I wrote the posts in 2009. Here is what the US Department of State has to say to US Nationals about driving in Qatar:

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Qatar, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Qatar is provided for general reference only and is subject to change at any time. Current traffic regulations may be obtained through the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Police.

Short-term visitors should obtain a valid International Driving Permit prior to arrival and should not drive in Qatar on a U.S. driver’s license. New and prospective residents should obtain a permanent Qatari Driving License immediately after arrival. To obtain a Qatari driver’s license, U.S. citizens need to pass a driving exam, including a road test. Short-term visitors and business travelers can also obtain a Temporary Qatari Driving License by presenting their U.S. driver’s license at any branch of Qatar’s Traffic Police.

Traffic accidents are among Qatar’s leading causes of death. Safety regulations in Qatar are improving, thanks to a more stringent traffic law adopted in October 2007 and a country-wide traffic safety campaign. However, informal rules of the road and the combination of local and third-country-national driving customs often prove frustrating for first-time drivers in Qatar. The combination of Qatar’s extensive use of roundabouts, many road construction projects and the high speeds at which drivers may travel can prove challenging. The rate of automobile accidents due to driver error and excessive speed is declining but remains higher than in the United States. In rural areas, poor lighting, wandering camels and un-shouldered roads present other hazards.

Despite the aggressive driving on Qatar’s roads, drivers should avoid altercations or arguments over traffic incidents, particularly with Qatari citizens who, if insulted, have filed complaints with local police that resulted in the arrest and overnight detention of U.S. citizens. Drivers can be held liable for injuries to other persons involved in a vehicular accident, and local police have detained U.S. citizens overnight until the extent of the person’s injuries were known. Due to its conservative Islamic norms, Qatar maintains a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving. Qatar’s Traffic Police have arrested Americans for driving after consuming amounts of alcohol at even smaller levels normally accepted in the U.S.

Any motor vehicle over five years old cannot be imported into the country. For specific information concerning Qatari driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact either the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington, DC or the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Houston, Texas.

There are things that the Department of State is too diplomatic to tell you, and that people living there will not write for fear of having a travel ban put against them, a case filed against them for ‘insulting’ a national or the government.

The beautiful roads in Qatar were wonderful when they had a tenth of the cars on the road they have now. There are two categories of “most dangerous.” One category is the expat $200 car held together with gum and rubber bands that breaks down in the worst possible place, or has a blow-out, or hits someone because the driver not only doesn’t have a license, he also doesn’t know how to drive.

Although there are rules about what trucks are allowed to haul and how it is to be tied down, the laws are ignored and unenforced. It is still important never to travel behind or beside a truck carrying cement blocks. They look like they are not secured. They are not secured. Watch out, too, for any truck delivering bottled water (that makes a huge mess all over the roundabout) or sheep or cows, which regularly overturn.

The worst hazard of all is Qatari male drivers between 11 and 35 years old. They own the roads. They will drive on the sidewalks, down the wrong way of a six lane highway to get to the roundabout, through red lights. They will push you into an unsafe roundabout with the Hummer daddy bought for their 12th birthday. If you insult a Qatari young male driver in any way, they may block you, stop you and threaten you, and no one, least of all the police, will come to your aid. They know no speed limits, blow through stop lights, harass female expat drivers, and they pay no fines for traffic violations. For a short time, the law was applied somewhat equally to all, but there were so many outraged Qataris paying the humungous fines that no one enforced the law against the Qataris anymore, and you rarely see the police stopping anyone except the poorest of the poor.

If you want to drive in Qatar, you will want a sturdy car to get over the unpaved areas and the roads torn up for infrastructure improvements, as well as for protection against the aggressive Qatari male drivers and the accidents that may not be your fault but cannot be avoided. You will want to drive only during the lowest traffic times of the day, if possible. Even during the summer, when much of the population goes elsewhere, anywhere, to avoid the heat, night traffic on the major ring roads, the major arterial roads and on the Corniche is gridlock.

The Department of State will also not tell you that if you are ever in trouble on the road, you are certain to have many kind older Qatari men stop and render assistance. They will insist on giving you water, and fixing whatever they can fix, or at the very least waiting with you until help comes. If they think you are lost as you journey around Qatar, they will make sure you get where you are going. There is a long tradition of taking good care of the guest, and of civility among the Qataris, but mostly it seems to kick in when they mature – like around 35 or so.

This may not be the truth for everyone; we all have our own stories, horror stories and stories of kindness. It’s a little bit of the wild west, driving in Qatar.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Circle of Life and Death, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Qatar | Leave a comment

Solar Storm Hits Today – How it will effect us

From the Huffpost Science:

Solar Flare, Solar Storm, Sun Storm: Whatever It’s Called, Sun Activity May Yield Stellar Aurora Borealis
By SETH BORENSTEIN
WASHINGTON — The largest solar storm in five years was due to arrive on Earth early Thursday, promising to shake the globe’s magnetic field while expanding the Northern Lights.

The storm started with a massive solar flare earlier in the week and grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said. When it strikes, the particles will be moving at 4 million mph.

“It’s hitting us right in the nose,” said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo.

The massive cloud of charged particles could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast could also paint colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal.

Astronomers say the sun has been relatively quiet for some time. And this storm, while strong, may seem fiercer because Earth has been lulled by several years of weak solar activity.

You can read the rest of the article here (click on blue text)

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Communication, Living Conditions, Safety, Technical Issue | | Leave a comment

Mardi Gras Legacy

We had almost a full week of grim, grey skies and little sunshine, during which I saw the sad reminders of Mardi Gras valiantly trying to sparkle in the trees:

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Mardi Gras, Pensacola, Weather | 3 Comments

AdventureMan Gets a Great Idea

“Hey! I’ve got a great idea!”

AdventureMan scared the hell out of me; I was coming out of the bathroom, it is the middle of the night, and I intend to go right back to sleep, but what the H___? It’s four in the morning and AM wants to tell me his great idea?

AdventureMan has been sick, really really sick, two antibiotics, a steroid, ear drops, a and a probiotic sick. For a week, mostly he slept and groaned with pain, either it was the worst cold in the world or the flu, coupled with a terrible ear infection. Now that the antibiotics have done their job, the combination of all the meds leaves him wide awake much of the night.

I wake up almost every morning feeling great; I am a morning person. We have a family rule; I don’t discuss any financial matters after nine at night. So while AdventureMan’s mind is racing, and good ideas are tumbling around, it is my down time and I am not prepared to discuss anything. Technically, it is still after nine o’clock. although an argument could be made that it is the next morning . . . but it is too early in the morning, and AdventureMan lets me go back to sleep.

Actually, when I woke up the next morning (and AdventureMan slept another couple hours) and I thought about it, it really was one of those great ideas that sometimes comes out of the blue in the middle of the night.

Now that we are no longer getting the expat exemption on our taxes, we were gritting our teeth about what we might yet owe in taxes, but our brilliant new tax preparer found something we would never have thought of in a million years, and . . . we will get money back. God is good. 🙂 It’s a miracle.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Communication, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Idiots Walk Among Us

My friend Hayfa sent these to me. Although they are written in the “I” form, these things did not happen to me, they happened to someone else – many someone else – who wrote them down.

I handed the teller @ my bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00
I said “May I have large bills, please”

She looked at me and said “I’m sorry sir, all the bills are the same size.”
When I got up off the floor I explained it to her….

IDIOT SIGHTING
When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. ‘Hey,’ I announced to the technician, ‘it’s open!’ His reply:

‘I know. I already got that side.’
This was at the Ford dealership in Canton, MS

IDIOT SIGHTING
We had to have the garage door repaired.
The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a ‘large’ enough motor on the opener.

I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower.

He shook his head and said, ‘Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.’ I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4.

He said, ‘NO, it’s not..’ Four is larger than two.’

We haven’t used Sears repair since.

IDIOT SIGHTING
My daughter and I went through the McDonald’s take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill.

Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter.

She said, ‘you gave me too much money.’ I said, ‘Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back.

She sighed and went to get the manager, who asked me to repeat my request.

I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said ‘We’re sorry but we could not do that kind of thing.’

The clerk then proceeded to give me back $1 and 75 cents in change.

Do not confuse the clerks at McD’s.

IDIOT SIGHTING

I live in a semi rural area.

We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office

to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road.

The reason: ‘Too many deer are being hit by cars out here!

I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.’

From Kingman , KS

IDIOT SIGHTING IN FOOD SERVICE
My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco.

She asked the person behind the counter for ‘minimal lettuce.’
He said he was sorry, but they only had iceburg lettuce.
— From Kansas City

IDIOT SIGHTING
I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked,

‘Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?’

To which I replied, ‘If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?’

He smiled knowingly and nodded, ‘That’s why we ask.’

Happened in Birmingham , Ala.

IDIOT SIGHTING
The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it’s safe to cross the street.

I was crossing with an intellectually challenged coworker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for.

I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red.

Appalled, she responded, ‘What on earth are blind people doing driving?!’

She was a probation officer in Wichita , KS

IDIOT SIGHTING
At a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker who was leaving the company due to ‘downsizing,’

our manager commented cheerfully, ‘This is fun. We should do this more often.’

Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

This was a lunch at Texas Instruments.

IDIOT SIGHTING
I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself

and for the sake of her life, couldn’t understand why her system would not turn on.

A deputy with the Dallas County Sheriffs office, no less.

IDIOT SIGHTING

How would you pronounce this child’s name?
“Le-a”
Leah?? NO
Lee – A?? NOPE
Lay – a?? NO
Lei?? Guess Again.

This child attends a school in Kansas City, Mo.

Her mother is irate because everyone is getting her name wrong.

It’s pronounced “Ledasha”.

When the Mother was asked about the pronunciation of the name, she said, “the dash don’t be silent.”

SO, if you see something come across your desk like this please remember to pronounce the dash.

Tell dem de dash don’t be silent.

STAY ALERT!
They walk among us……and they VOTE

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Humor | 6 Comments

Record High

Today the high temperature in Pensacola, FL was 87°F. It was a record high temperature for this date, March 2. The temperature yesterday was also a record high, 82°F.

It is also raining. So it is hot, and it is humid. And it is only the beginning of March. At the beginning of February, I celebrated. We didn’t have to use the heat or the air conditioning for the entire month, and our electric bill was a mere $100. You need lights. You need to use the oven now and then, and the washer and dryer, computers and TV’s. If you could see our other electric bills (the heat and air run on electricity) you would know why I celebrate $100. for January.

Earlier this week, it was in the 60°’s (F) in the mornings, and I weeded! It was foggy and cloudy, and it felt a whole lot like Seattle, where the temperatures are around 40 something this week. Give me cold any day. You can always put on more clothes when it gets cold, but when it is hot and humid, even with the AC, it is still hot and humid.

It is still raining, and humid. There is a tornado watch on until midnight. I was near a tornado once, living further south in Florida, and the sky turned green and it sounded like the biggest loudest freight train in the world, and it didn’t even hit in my neighborhood. You could hear it anyway. It is a terrifying sound.

Our pomegranate tree is leafing out, our blueberries have blossoms and it really is time for a spring clean up, if only we can have a few more cool days in March before the serious heat sets in.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Gardens, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Rants, Weather | Leave a comment