Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Not The Day We Expected . . .

And once again, we have to laugh at God’s perfect timing.

I love Thursdays. Thursdays are the only day I have unscheduled. Once a month on a Thursday I have a meeting, but other than that, Thursdays are mine, and I luxuriate in them.

This morning I slept in an hour, then went leisurely through my Lectionary readings and scanned my e-mail. AdventureMan had other plans, but as we talked over our day, decided he wanted to come with me to the commissary. It’s fine with me. We have always had some of our best conversations in the car, and he doesn’t follow me around in the commissary asking questions like “do we really need this?” the kinds of questions that drive wives to homicidal thinking. There are some benches in the commissary, AdventureMan calls them the Old Farts benches, and he picks up his specialty bird seeds and supplies, then settles in to watch for me coming down the last lane.

Four minutes after we left the house, we got a call from our son, tied up on a case, that little Q broke his arm on the playground, could we go pick him up? We were only about five minutes from his school and were there in a flash. AdventureMan/BaBa rode in the ambulance while I drove over to our son’s home to care for the baby while Q’s Mom zipped to meet them at the hospital emergency room.

It took all day. Between the transporting and the paperwork and the x-rays and the setting of the bones (yep, two bones broken), by the time we all met up again, I no longer had any interest in hitting the commissary. I will try again tomorrow, God willing.


Meanwhile, we marvel at how wonderful it is to be here in Pensacola, to be on call for emergencies like this, and that we were just minutes from his school when our son’s call came. We love it that we can be useful in these emergencies, that we are here to help and that we can be helpful. Once again, we thank God for his perfect timing.

Meanwhile, Mom called and gave me no sympathy whatever. She laughed! “Remember your sister broke both her arms before she was six, and you both broke legs skiing!” she chortled. Ouch! I guess little boy Q comes from a family of risk-takers. His dad broke exactly the same arm in the same place jumping to grab on to a high bar once. His son said “I thought I could fly. . . but I can’t.” It’s in the genes. :-}

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Health Issues, Pensacola, Relationships, Survival | 4 Comments

My View at Flounders on Pensacola Beach

“They’re all asking to have what you are having!” the waiter shouted across the aisle as I saw eight people watching me eat a Baja Fish Taco, not a pretty sight. They caught me with a mouth full, so I could only smile and nod good-naturedly, trying to indicate it was delicious – if messy. AdventureMan had a grouper Po’Boy and a bowl of their matchless seafood chowder.

In spite of the messiness – Baha Tacos was a three napkin meal, all the lettuce and tomato and jalepeno slices keep falling out, it is so stuffed, and holy smokes, it is so delicious. Four people at that table ordered the same. It is a wonderful dish. It is on the appetizer section of the menu, but it comes with three huge fish tacos, more than I can ever eat, so they bring me a box when they bring the entree. Yes, it is just as good later in the day. It tastes so fresh.

The weather is perfect now, crawling up into the 80’s, cooling down into the lower 70’s at night, sea breezes blowing, humidity . . . well, bearable. Reminds us of November in Kuwait.

Here is my view at Flounders:


October 3, 2013 Posted by | Eating Out, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | Leave a comment

Here Comes Karen

As I’ve watched Pensacola weather over the three years we have lived here, I have seen a hilarious co-incidence. If there is ever going to be a cold spell, or a lengthy rainy spell, it is going to hit for the weekend. It’s a pity, the beaches in Pensacola are at their most glorious in October, no tourists, just locals enjoying the God-given beauty of sun, sand and surf. The restaurants are accessible, you can find parking . . . and then the rain hits.

Long term forecasts for the summer were that while the rest of the USA would have record highs, we would have cooler, overcast skies. I don’t remember them mentioning record rains, that would rot the crops in the fields.

Last night, at an event, a friend said she and her closest 300 friends were going camping, but she had heard there might be something blowing in this weekend. Sure enough, when I checked WeatherUnderground this morning, there are bit warnings for Tropical Storm Karen to hit – you guessed it – on Saturday. Oh aarrgh.

Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 8.49.36 AM


Batten down the hatches, matey. Oh wait, Talk-like-a-pirate-day was last week.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Random Musings, Safety, Weather | Leave a comment

‘Staggering’ Traffic in Qatar as Cars Exceed Highway Capacity

From the Gulf Times Qatar

By Bonnie James/Deputy News Editor

Increase in the number of vehicles beyond the carrying capacity of roads, improper driving manners of many motorists and road works are among the key factors behind the acute traffic congestion currently being experienced in Doha and suburbs, it has been pointed out.

Brigadier Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, director of the Traffic Department, was on record the other day that the number of vehicles in Qatar has exceeded 1mn.

The total number of registered vehicles in Qatar had stood at 876,039 in 2012, according to official statistics. This means, as many as 123,961 new vehicles have been added to the roads within nine months of this year, at the average rate of a 13,773 every month, whereas the 2012 average for new vehicles was only 5,138 per month.

“The increase in the number of new vehicles is staggering and at almost three times the monthly average from 2012, it now exceeds the carrying capacity of the roads of Doha and suburbs, even from a layman’s perspective,” a traffic safety expert said.

This is evident on Al Shamal Road, a vital link of the Qatar Expressway Programme and a major arterial thoroughfare, during peak hours from Sunday to Thursday. All the way from The Mall signal to the Gharrafa area, the highway is clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

“The average speed on Al Shamal Road would be around 30kmh, as against the maximum allowed speed of 100kmh, and that too if there are no accidents,” observed a motorist who drives on the highway regularly.

The congestion on Al Shamal Road has gone from bad to worse ever since the reopening of schools on September 10, compared to the time before the summer vacation, asserted another resident.

“Al Shamal Road is the preferred choice of tens of thousands of motorists who have to travel to the northern parts of the country and back, but the carrying capacity of its busiest portions has been exceeded,” the expert maintained.

Though Al Shamal Road has three lanes each in either direction, they are proving thoroughly inadequate during the rush hours. “You have to go beyond the Gharrafa stretch to be able to drive at the maximum permissible speed, if proceeding to the north,” a motorist said.

Many road users also feel the traffic management strategy leaves much to be desired, especially with regard to Al Shamal Road.

“On Thursday, access from many service roads to Al Shamal Road was blocked off in a bid to ease congestion on the highway. But this led to vehicles being stuck on the service roads for up to 40 minutes,” a road user recalled.

A parent who drives his children from the Qatar Decoration area of Salwa Road to their school at Duhail, a distance of about 23km, said it took him more than one hour to reach the destination, as access to Al Shamal Road from the service road at Al Waab was blocked.

“My children were late for school the first time this academic year as we were stuck on a service road for nearly 40 minutes while vehicles were moving fast on Al Shamal Road, a rare sight these days,” he said.

Many motorists don’t use indicators or move ahead promptly when the vehicle in front moves. “It is a common sight to see people having their breakfast, putting on make up, or having animated conversations on a handheld phone, while they are behind the wheel, oblivious to the fact that they are holding up traffic and aggravating the congestion,” noted a woman who observes the road scenes from her front passenger seat.

The traffic situation on the Corniche is expected to take a turn for the worse, given that Grand Hamad Street’s intersection with Doha Corniche has been closed for 10 days from Thursday midnight.

“If I used to start from home at 6.30am before summer vacation, I leave 15 minutes early these days, but now I guess I have no option but to start even earlier,” another motorist added.

The helicopter patrol, introduced by the Traffic Department since last week, to help ease congestion on Qatar roads by giving guidance to police on the ground during morning rush hours has improved traffic flow by 30%, according to Brigadier al-Kharji.

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Road Trips, Safety | Leave a comment

New Florida Law Bans Texting While Driving

From today’s Pensacola News Journal, where you can read the entire story by clicking here:

TALLAHASSSEE — Florida is joining 40 other states in the U.S. where it is illegal to text and drive.

The ban is one of more than two dozen laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature scheduled to kick in on Tuesday. Other new laws include one that gives citizens the right to speak at government meetings.

The prohibition on texting while driving comes after several years of trying by legislators. Previous attempts stalled in the face of House Republican opposition, with conservative members worried about government intrusion into people’s lives.

Some have called the law “watered down” since it is only a secondary offense to read or send a text, email or instant message on a smartphone while driving. That means police have to first stop drivers for another offense like an illegal turn.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice and the sponsor of the legislation, says it will still act a deterrent — especially among teenagers just starting to drive.

“My whole purpose in the law is just to be able to tell teenagers that texting while driving is against the law,” said Detert, who plans to visit a Sarasota County high school on Tuesday to point out the new ban. “I’m not sure how many of them are going to pull down a copy of the Florida statutes.”

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also plans to target teenage drivers to remind them about the ban. The agency is running a public service announcement in 69 high schools across the state on Tuesday and again on Oct. 15.

The Department of Transportation plans to remind drivers about the ban through its digital billboards along state highways.

Drivers who text take their eyes off the road for almost five seconds, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry. At 55 mph, a driver can cross the equivalent of a football field while not looking.

There were 256,443 reported crashes in Florida in 2012. In 4,841 of those crashes, a driver had been texting or otherwise using an “electronic communication device” while driving, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Florida, Law and Order, Road Trips, Safety | | 2 Comments