Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

My Visitors from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Every now and then I check statistics, see who’d dropping by, see what they are looking at. My Mongolian friends always give me a grin; I get about four a day, they are all looking at the same post:

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Be careful what you blog, LOL, sometimes it assumes a life of it’s own.

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Blogging, Humor, Statistics | | Leave a comment

MRSA Link to Pigs

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From Nature.com News:

People living near pig farms or agricultural fields fertilized with pig manure are more likely to become infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, according to a paper published today in JAMA Internal Medicine1.

Previous research has found that livestock workers are at high risk of carrying MRSA, compared to the general population2. But it has been unclear whether the spreading of MRSA through livestock puts the public at risk of infection.

The study examined the incidence of infections in Pennsylvania, where manure from pig farms is often spread on crop fields to comply with state regulations for manure disposal. Researchers reviewed electronic health-care records from patients who sought care from the Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System (which helped to fund the study) in 2005–10.

The team analysed cases of two different types of MRSA — community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), which affected 1,539 patients, and health-care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA), which affected 1,335 patients. (The two categories refer to where patients acquire the infection as well as the bacteria’s genetic lineages, but the distinction has grown fuzzier as more patients bring MRSA in and out of the hospital.)

Then the researchers examined whether infected people lived near pig farms or agricultural land where pig manure was spread. They found that people who had the highest exposure to manure — calculated on the basis of how close they lived to farms, how large the farms were and how much manure was used — were 38% more likely to get CA-MRSA and 30% more likely to get HA-MRSA.

The researchers also analysed 200 skin, blood, and sputum samples isolated from patients in the same health-care system in 2012. The MRSA strains found in those samples are commonly found in humans. Researchers did not find any evidence of bacteria belonging to clonal complex 398 (CC398), a MRSA strain classically associated with livestock and found in farms and farmworkers in many previous studies.

However, there is little information about which MRSA strains are most common on US farms, so the absence of CC398 is not a sign that MRSA is not being transmitted from livestock to humans. “We’ve done studies in Iowa, we haven’t always found CC398. That’s not too shocking,” says Tara Smith, a microbiologist at Kent State University in Ohio, who was not involved in the study.

Many researchers think that widespread use of antibiotics to encourage growth in farm animals fuels the proliferation of MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria. The latest findings suggest that manure is helping antibiotic resistance to spread, says Joan Casey, an environmental-health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and a co-author of the study.

“We’ve certainly described a connection we think is plausible,” she says. “We haven’t described every step in the path.”

“It’s a pretty interesting and provocative observation,” says Robert Daum, a paediatrician and the principal investigator of the MRSA Research Center at the University of Chicago in Illinois. He adds that he would like to see similar studies done in different geographic regions, and research to find out whether the MRSA strains carried in pig manure are the same as the MRSA strains found in nearby human infections.

Casey is at work on a follow-up genetics study to identify the most common MRSA strains in the region.

Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2013.13752
References

Casey, J. A., Curriero, F. C., Cosgrove S. E., Nachman, K. E. & Schwartz, B. S. JAMA Intern. Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed/2013.10408 (2013).
Show context
Smith, T. C. et al. PLoS ONE 8, e63704 (2013).

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Statistics, Technical Issue, Work Related Issues | , | Leave a comment

My Travel Must-Have

I don’t like large handbags. I am small; a large bag is disproportionate. At the same time, I wanted a bag big enough to stick my computer in without looking like a briefcase. I wanted to be able to take my computer to Alaska with me.

I looked and looked, searching for the right bag. I looked in Pensacola, I looked online, I looked in Seattle. It had to be the right size, a nice heavy leather, a sturdy leather carry strap, and a neutral color as I was only taking one bag. Finally, at the very last minute I found this wonderful bag, and the computer fit beautifully, leaving room for my camera and wallet – what more do I need, right?

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Then, me being me, the night before leaving for Alaska I decided I really did not need to carry a full sized computer, that the iPad had enough capacity and besides, it had books and Sudoku on it. But I still liked the purse; I stuck a nightshirt inside in case my luggage got lost, it has a side zip pocket for tickets, car rental brochures and car keys, and with everything inside, it was still roomy and not too heavy. It is wonderful boarding airplanes with just a purse!

By the end of the trip, I was in love. It is a great bag, goes everywhere, can be filled or used with little, it is versatile. I love this bag!

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Shopping, Survival, Technical Issue, Tools, Travel | 2 Comments

Get Ready For the Harvest Moon

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From Weather Underground News where you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type:

Get ready for the Harvest Moon. Depending on where you live on the planet, it’s either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

“In traditional skylore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox,” EarthSky reports, “and depending on the year, [it] can come anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the autumnal equinox.” For 2013, that changing of the seasons happens on September 22 — just a few days from now.

Unlike the Blue Moon we covered back in August, the Harvest Moon behaves differently than a typical full moon. “Throughout the year, the moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day,” according to NASA Science News. “But near the autumnal equinox … the day-to-day difference in the local time of moonrise is only 30 minutes.” Why does that matter? Simply put, agriculture.

“In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset,” wrote NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips. “It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market. The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox became the Harvest Moon, and it was always a welcome sight.”

So my question is this – the Harvest Moon is what we call it, because it gave farmers extra time to bring in the harvest. What do other cultures call it?

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, Education, Statistics, Technical Issue, Weather | Leave a comment

One Thing Leads to Another

“I’m afraid to go home,” AdventureMan told our son. “She’s moving the furniture.”

“She can do that without consulting?” our son asked.

“Yeh, she can,” AdventureMan responded, “And I count myself lucky that she hasn’t bought another house and said we’re moving.”

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Moving furniture is one of those things I do. I get tired of everything the same-old same-old. If I’m not moving, it gives me a chance to re-think things, and try something else to see if that works better.

We have a dining room we hardly ever use. We have never eaten a meal in there. We had too much furniture, and besides, in the family room we have a huge circular teak table that seats eight. It’s less formal and a lot more fun. The dining room is in a very quiet part of the house, so we talked about turning it into a library (see! we talked!) and that is what I did. But when you move a piece of furniture, or get rid of another, or both, you end up also having to evaluate all the things inside that piece of furniture, and having to think through where things need to go.

Life is so different. As an Army wife, we entertained all the time. I hit the sales in Czechoslovakia and have bar ware and wine glasses for our 48 closest friends, and we just don’t entertain like that any more. We don’t even drink like that!

We do entertain; we host the monthly book club some months, I have my quilting group in frequently, and we have dinners for family and dinners for visiting IVLP delegates. We entertain people we like. It’s a whole different world when it’s a choice. I’m getting rid of a lot of pieces I’ll never use again and I’ll never miss once they’re gone.

I’m getting rid a lot of irrelevant things, including an old TV cabinet, you remember them? They enclosed an old fashioned TV, had shelves for videos (remember them?) and little drawers for CDs? I’ve been using it as storage for art work and a thing that plays music from an iPod or two. I’ll hang some of the art work, get rid of some, and find another place for the MP3 player.

Yesterday was the big work, the figuring out how to change furniture and carpets into new positions. Of course, once you move something, you have to clean the places no one ever sees, so it takes more time, but you’ve got to do it right.

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Today was the small but time-consuming work of getting things put away in a kind of order so that they can be found again. When I put books on the shelves three years ago, it was like fiction here and non-fiction there, and I never went back. Now, I have them sorted into subjects and country, art related, or religious. Got rid of about half my CD’s but still have too many.

It’s a messy process; you take something fixed, turn it into chaos and slowly, slowly, bring a new pattern into being. Tomorrow I need to hang some more art work. It’s been three years.

Then we live with the changes and see if they work for us. If not . . . the process starts over, but in the meanwhile, got rid of some stuff! One of these days, need to tackle the closets . . . Have an entire closed full of evening clothes I never wear, and can’t bear to part with . . . yet.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Family Issues, Home Improvements, Living Conditions, Marriage, Pensacola, Relationships | 6 Comments

One Night in Hawali; Cops Book 995 “To Fight Chaos On the Roads”

From today’s Kuwait Times:

KUWAIT: Traffic police in the area of Hawalli have set a record by booking 995 drivers and motorcycle riders in a one-day campaign to fight chaos on the roads. “A large team of traffic policemen was deployed in the area to check the extent of discipline and compliance with the law on the roads,” security sources told local daily Al-Rai. “The policemen detained 20 people and impounded their cars. Among them, there were five people who did not have a driving licence, seven who were utterly reckless in their driving, three who staged a race and five who did not have licences to ride their motorcycles,” the sources said. According to the figures he revealed, 23 cars and five motorbikes were impounded in the crackdown conducted on Friday.

Lesser violations included uninsured vehicles, tinted windows, not wearing seat belts and parking in areas for people with special needs, the sources said. Traffic officers in Kuwait have been actively engaged in relentless campaigns to restore order in a sector plagued by a high toll of accident fatalities, reckless driving and non-compliance with administrative procedures. Foreigners who repeatedly broke the law have been deported for endangering lives while citizens have been deprived of their vehicles or licences.

Abdul Fattah Al Ali, assistant undersecretary for traffic and the force behind the campaigns, who had come under attack, mainly from the opposition, for his strong approach towards foreign drivers who commit several traffic offences, said that the trend to end the chaos and impose road discipline would continue.

“I am not an abusive person, but I do apply the law and assume my responsibilities to save lives and protect people from reckless drivers,” he said. “The expatriates who do not respect the law should be sent home. We will deport the irresponsible expatriates who do not respect the laws of the country,” he said. “We have also extended the vehicle impounding period from two to four months and drivers can now be held for 48 hours for the sake of the investigation and the normal procedures.”

The crackdown led the authorities to discover that 20,000 forged driving licences had been issued since 2010. “We have withdrawn 7,000 forged licences, and we are working on tracking down and cancelling all the others,” Al-Ali has said.

He added that expatriates summoned to the traffic directorate should come forth and hand their licences, assuring them that there would be “no questions asked”. However, those who fail to show up to hand back the licences will face forgery charges and will be deported, he said.

Comment: 20,000 forged licenses??? 20,000???

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Crime, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, News, Safety | | Leave a comment

Dinner at the Twisted Fish in Juneau

Even though it was down on the docks where the cruise ships dock, local people we asked often mentioned Twisted Fish as the place they liked to dine in Juneau. Here is the menu so my Mom can see the prices 🙂

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The entrance to Twisted Fish facing the wharf:

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Interior dining area with view
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Interior Host(ess) and Bar
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Very nice side salad
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First Mate’s Plate – grilled salmon, grilled halibut and (for us) a side of sauteed spinach instead of fries or mashed potatoes 🙂
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Although it is on the cruise ship docks, it is way down at the south end, and many of the cruise ship people would rather eat free (well, already paid for) on board, or eat elsewhere. The Twisted Fish was recommended by a local, and we can see several locals already seated when we come in. The hostess is good at finding us a good table with a view – we like this place.

Twisted Fish is in the same building as the Taku smoked fish building. It has a lot of wood decor, and a lively bar, and a good menu. AdventureMan and I end up ordering the same thing – side salads, and the First Mate’s Plate, which is a slab of grilled halibut and a slab of grilled salmon, served, as we requested, with no rice or potatoes, but with sauteed spinach, YUMMY. We had a Lost Angels cabernet, nice, dry, complex. The sun set behind one of the cruise ships, LOL.

I had hoped they might have some kind of berry cobbler for dessert, but all their desserts were huge mammoth portions of fudgy chocolatey or creamy things, and we passed on dessert and went looking for gelato. We were hugely full anyway, and very happy with our dinners. It’s a good thing, because by seven, all the tourist-oriented stores and ice cream places are closed down, hosing down their outside venues, pulling all their display items inside.

It’s hilarious how quickly and how early everything shuts down. I wonder what the Europeans think; do they look for night life? I wonder about our Middle Eastern friends used to the souks with lights and colors staying open all hours of the night ‘for your buying convenience?’ 😉

September 14, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Travel | | Leave a comment

Return to Eagle River on our Last Day in Juneau

It’s our last day, and we’ve checked off everything we wanted to do, we even visited the glacier once again, early in the morning, to see if we can spot bear without the drove of tourists. Drat! No matter how early we get there, there is already at least one bus load already there.

Off to Eagle River, a place we love, with a stop at the University of Alaska book shop en route. The book shop is almost across from a place we used to stop when we would go for a ride on Sundays as a kid; we would stop for ice cream sandwiches. Now, ice cream sandwiches are replaced by our hunger for a different treat – books. 🙂

Eagle River is even more beautiful this glorious sunny day than it was the first time we visited. No bear, although a Mama and her cubs were reported earlier this morning, but a few gulls dining on dead salmon, and the eye-satisfying tableau of river, mountains, snow, channel, clouds, sky and a million shades of green.

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I took this because of all the shades of green – a feast of green, from the blackest greens through the lush blue-greens to the yellow greens:

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Just look at this luscious meadow! Can you hear Heidi calling for her Grandfather?

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The peaks high above the meadow:

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The ferry coming in, probably from Haines:

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It’s getting late, and we need to pack, so we head back to the hotel, pack, work on hotel reservations in Seattle and head out for dinner.

September 14, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, color, ExPat Life, Photos, Road Trips | , | 2 Comments

Zen Chinese Food in Juneau, Alaska

I felt so bad, I felt like I was betraying my heritage, but after nearly two weeks of eating salmon and halibut and crab and shrimp and scallops . . . we were ready for a change. AdventureMan spotted Zen, a restaurant in the Goldbelt Hotel, and it looked interesting. When we went inside, there were a lot of people there already, but many of them were busy accessing the internet, waiting for friends, arranging upcoming parties, etc. We were ready to EAT.

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It gets worse – they have a really good menu. There are halibut dishes, shrimp dishes – I could have stayed true to the traditional and had ginger halibut, or something, but no, when I backslid, I backslid all the way.

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We looked around, everyone was ordering the lunch specials. There are so many to choose from!

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AdventureMan settled on the Hot and Sour Soup and the Cashew Chicken. When it arrived, he was impressed. Not only was there an abundance of cashews, they were also deliciously roasted:

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I had the Miso soup and Vegetables with Garlic – perfect!

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Might as well go all the way, once you backslide. You can always pick yourself up and behave tomorrow! 😉

The food came quickly and was beautifully prepared. We were surprised at how much care had been taken on dishes that were part of the daily specials. Service was prompt without being intrusive, and friendly. We were glad we ate there. We lament the lack of really good Chinese food in Pensacola; sadly, Zen had the edge over the best that Pensacola offers.

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant, Travel | Leave a comment

The Alaska State Museum in Juneau

“Oh,” the docent laughed, “everyone asks about that old bear. He hasn’t been around for years. He got all patchy because all the kids touched him and his hair fell off.”

LOL. I know one of those kids. There was a big sign that said “Do Not Touch the Bear” but he was a snowy white polar bear and . . . irresistible. My Dad worked in the same building as this museum, in its old location, and I would meet him there for a ride home after going to the library.

I loved this museum.

This time, it was one of the highlights of the entire trip. This museum is rich in well-curated pieces, and they are beautifully arranged. A new museum is going up; I can only hope that when it opens, it is at least as well done as this one is. Both AdventureMan and I could spend a lot more time in this museum.

Carving at the entrance:

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Bent wood box
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Painted chest
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Ceremonial robe
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Everyday clothing
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Upiq masks
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Close up Upiq masks
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Sun motif ceremonial outfit – look at the leg pieces – don’t they look like Sadu weaving to you?

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Moon motif ceremonial outfit
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Hand made hats. I was so surprised; these are like prayer caps in Oman and in Pakistan and I think in Indonesia. That they would be so similar in shape and geometric embroidery was amazing to me.

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Eagle’s nest display, with eagle sounds. I love this! There is also a bear, but positioned so you really cannot touch . . . 😦

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Corner pillars of Alaskan native houses used to look like this, not exactly totemic but with carved spirits:

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There is so much more. I focused on the Alaskan Native inhabitants, but there are also exhibits of the coming of the Russians, the gold rush, the transition to territory and statehood . . . I can only take in so much at one time! Good thing we are going back 🙂

ALASKA STATE MUSEUM
395 Whittier Street
Juneau, AK 99811-1718
Tel: 907.465.2901
Fax: 907.465.2976

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Biography, Birds, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Heritage, Interconnected, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , | Leave a comment