Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Obsession: Radical Islam and the US Election

Most of you know that I have a niece I admire as well as adore. She speaks Arabic fluently, and even better, she is interculturally fluent, from Morocco to the Gulf to Beirut, she flows with the Arabic culture, and works with an organization promoting intercultural understanding. I couldn’t be more proud of the work she does.

Please, before you read any further, take a deep breath. This is going to get bad.

Today, Little Diamond wrote about a DVD sent out by a facade-organization through newspapers in US swing states. The DVD is called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

Although it never claims to be a Republican support organization, or a McCain support ad, what the DVD does is to try to scare people into voting for McCain. The message is this – all Muslims are radical, and we need a strong leader like McCain to counter their insidious influence.

As my niece says, she doesn’t believe McCain would ever approve such a tawdry piece of nasty propaganda; the Clarion Group who sent this DVD out probably did it on their own.

I urge to to go to Little Diamond’s blog and read her experience, and the comments. She quotes one individual, saying:

“Whoever they are, they sure must have a lot of money. H pointed out last night that each DVD probably cost $1 to produce and $1 to distribute. That’s $56 million, not to mention the cost of placing the DVDs with each newspaper. Even if H’s estimate was too high, assuming $.50 to produce and $.50 to distribute means $28 million + advertising contract costs. That’s quite a lot of money for a no-name non-profit to have gathered since its creation in 2006.”

Elections can bring out the best in people and/or the worst. Both McCain and Obama have so far treated each other respectfully, as is appropriate for educated, senatorial leaders of a country. This kind of hate-tactic is NOT the American way. It makes me see red.

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September 23, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Community, Cross Cultural, Leadership, Lies, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues | 7 Comments

The Scourge of Poverty

For the last several years I have tried to start my day by reading my daily readings in the Lectionary (which is also listed in my blogroll there at the right, so you can click on it any time to see what I am reading) and the daily reading from Forward Day by Day (also on the blogroll list).

I think my days go better when I do. I’m human; there are days when I have forgotten, or gotten caught up in the frenzy of daily life and neglected my readings, but it is my commitment and my habit, and I am fairly faithful to it.

Today’s reading in Forward Day by Day (oops, I can see that it is actually Monday’s reading, but as I write, it is still Monday in the USA where it is homed) has to do with poverty.

I thought I would share it with you because I know from what you share with me that during Ramadan, as you grow closer to Allah/God, that part of the expression of that closeness is giving to the poor. I have read of many different ways in which this is expressed – medical expenses paid, food given in Iftar meals, eyeglasses purchased for the needy, a year’s rent paid for a widow with children – what generosity!

I have worked with the poor. I have known what agony it is to have to choose between making an expensive car repair and getting a dental exam. We kept a pantry full of food for those who could barely make the rent, and had nothing left over for food. These were the working poor, the can-we-make-it-from-month-to-month poor. There is a whole other level, the street poor, with their worldly possessions in a garbage sack, or shredding backpack, who never know if they will get food for the day.

I see people here in Kuwait scouring the beaches for something to throw in the soup to make it nourishing, people who beg just for a little bread.

The problems can be overwhelming.

In Kuwait, one group refuses to be overwhelmed. Every month of the year is devoted to alleviating the suffering of the poor. That group is Operation Hope Kuwait. While you are considering where to make an impact this Ramadan – or any other time of the year when you are feeling thankful and generous – please consider Operation Hope Kuwait. They gather all kinds of resources and distribute them to the poor. They faithfully act as God’s hands here on earth, serving the needs of the most desperately poor and needy. Whatever you give them will be stretched to the maximum; they don’t waste a penny, not a fil. Please, give generously.

Psalm 41. Happy are they who consider the poor and needy! the LORD will deliver them in the time of trouble.

The scourge of poverty can be viewed as a sociological problem, an economic problem, a political problem, or in other ways. The scriptures offer no grand economic theories other than to tell those who have much to share with those who have little. Christ told his disciples that they would always have the poor among them. Given human sin and limitations, the problem will always be somewhat intractable.

But the problem of my heart and how it regards the poor-the problem of my own generosity to the world around me – is not intractable. Economic theory and political allegiance are not the crucial questions before us. How I regard the poor is a matter of deep importance in the relationship of my heart with God. The psalm could not be clearer: happy are those who consider [do good to] the poor. It offers a promise to us as well that God will deliver us when we find ourselves in the day of trouble.

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fund Raising, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan, Relationships, Social Issues | 2 Comments

Arte Y Pico Award

My friend Lofter, over at Life at the Foot of the Stairs has honored me with the Arte y Pico Award, “given to those who are creative and have a penchant for art.” I am truly honored, Lofter, and I thank you.

There are responsiblities that go with this award:

1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog.
3. Each award winner (upon acceptance) should show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
4. Show the link of Arte y Pico blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5. Show these rules.

So here are my selections:

1. Suresh Gundappa and Meditation Photography. I don’t know how I found this blog, but I find myself returning to it often. We don’t share the same religion, but we share similar values. His photos knock my socks off.

2. In a move of flagrant nepotism, I choose my niece, Little Diamond, at A Diamond in Sunlight because she also has lots of photos, describes daily life in the turbulence of Beirut living, and did I mention she is my niece?

3. Because they are also here, there and everywhere, writing about any and every interesting thing from technology to food to sky photography, and because they have only been blogging since October and have had amazing response, I choose Some Contrast, with bloggers Yousef and Mishary.

4. The Queen of all Kuwait Bloggers, Jewaira because her Jewaira’s Boutique delicately manages to introduce controversial topics without setting the blog-world aflame, because she has the most amazing headers and because she is smart and savvy and a great writer.

5. This last one is a stretch, but I select Purgatory because, like VanGogh, he is an original, people don’t always “get” him, I don’t always get him, but he does original works of art, he thinks way outside the box, and he lets Jacqui give him a new, and usually very artistic look from time to time.

Again, thank you, Lofter, for selecting me for this award.

May 31, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogroll, Community, Photos | 19 Comments

Jewaira Sunrise

When I saw the sunrise this morning, I thought of Jewaira, another blogger who in her own way and in her own head is also here, there and everywhere. She loves silvery sunrises, and oh man, this is one shimmering, silvery sunrise:

It must be the haze that exaggerates the size of the sun so – and makes it appear to throb, even in the photo.

It is 79°F / 26°C at 0630 with dust expected today according to Q8weather.com.

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Uncategorized, Weather | 4 Comments

Travel Nerds

We are a bunch of travel and geography nerds in my family. Nothing makes us happier than jumping in a airplane, reaching an exotic location and driving, getting our feet on new ground, seeing new things, learning new ways. We all have cameras glued to our hands and laptops stuffed in backpacks.

All my married life, people have looked at me with pity and tole me how they can’t believe I live with such uncertainty, never knowing where I will be in the next year – even the next few months. What I tell them is this – the truth is, we ALL never know. We ALL never know when something will happen that will change our lives dramatically, forever. We live day to day, not thinking about all the things that can happen. If we think too much about them, we might go crazy.

I consider myself blessed. I was created with a restless spirit, a spirit for new experiences and new ways of thinking. I was given a life where all those things became my daily bread.

What is fun for me is watching the next generation of young adults discovering their own lives, who they are meant to be.

My nephew, at Google Earth took his love of geography to new heights. He works in a place he loves, doing work he loves. He wrote to me yesterday, to tell me about a new game being played, a grown-up version of the old “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.” (one of the earliest computer games for kids) He has published a really really hard one on the Google team LatLong blog (as he says, he has the home court advantage in this game!) and he refers us to another blog, Where on GoogleEarth? where there are a series of contests to see if you can identify landmarks, special places, from the sky.

Here, for example, is the photo from contest #22 – and people have to write in telling what it is. Can YOU tell what it is? 🙂

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April 3, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Blogroll, Community, Cross Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Relationships, Travel | 9 Comments

A.Word.a.Day: Karuna

I love A.Word.A.Day. You will see it down there at the very top of my blogroll. They send me an e-mail every day with a new word, where it came from and how it is pronounced and used. I’m pretty good with words, and AWAD challenges me to keep growing. Love it. You can subscribe by clicking the blue words above or clicking on A.Word.A.Day in the Blogroll. Today’s word:

karuna (KUH-roo-na) noun

Loving compassion.

[From Sanskrit karuna (compassion).]

“Once we experience and feel this inter-dependence of all living beings,
we will cease to hurt, humiliate, exploit and kill another. We will want
to free all sentient beings from suffering. This is karuna, compassion,
which in turn gives rise to the responsibility to create happiness and
its causes for all.”
Suresh Jindal; Interdependence of All Living Beings; The Times of India
(New Delhi); Nov 13, 2003.

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Character, Spiritual, Words | 4 Comments

New Crop Palm Trees

Sitting over a long lunch, a friend asked me if I could remember my earliest impressions of Kuwait, and all I could remember was that the traffic speeds scared the hell out of me. Then, yesterday morning, we were driving on 40 and my memory was jogged; I remember moving here from Qatar and thinking how GREEN Kuwait is.

Qatar is impeccably clean. Street crews are out all the time, insuring that the highways are immaculate. There are beautiful flowers and wide boulevards. But when you leave Qatar, you realize your eyes are starved for green. I remember landing here the first time, and seeing pockets of green, even in very desert-like areas. I love the way the government has planted trees, especially palm trees. Your mind may not always register them, but it makes for a nicer environment.

I noticed recently a new crop of palm tree antennas. I think this is a total hoot. A generation ago, everyone in this area was buying Eiffel tower replicas for their roofs to bring in TV signals; now the communication towers are being disguised – and I love it. I blogged about this a while back but this time, I am going to challenge YOU – take your camera and open your eyes. When you see a disguised communications tower, shoot it.

How do you recognize them? They are taller than any real palm tree you have ever seen. They have no dead leaves and nothing on the trunk. They tend to be near hotels, but I also see them occasionally in a residential district.

You can blog it, or you can send it to me as a JPEG attachment and I will publish them. Be sure to tell us where it is taken. Here is the one I saw at the Hilton:

00palmtreeantenna.jpg

Here is the previous entry on Palm-Tree-Antennas.

And bravo to whoever came up with this idea – it is clever and it is a great disguise for those communication towers. Gives me a grin whenever I see them.

No sunrise today; the dust is rolling in and the sun can barely be seen. The temperature at 0830 is 66°F/19°C.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Blogroll, Communication, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Humor, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Public Art, Weather | 9 Comments

Rich WordPress Upgrade

Today WordPress announced a huge increase in free upload space: Free Space to Three Gigabytes.

“Today, one of those developments comes to fruition — everyone’s free upload space has been increased 60x from 50mb to 3,000mb. To get half that much space (1GB) at our nearest competitor, Typepad, you’d pay at least $300 a year. We’re doing the same thing for free.”

They also announced, important to people like me who like to illustrate heavily with photos, that if you bought a 1GB upgrade, it is now a 5GB upgrade, at no extra charge.

i iz blogginz / leef IÂ alonze
moar funny pictures

I upgraded when I got up to 75% capacity, but never even reached 1% or capacity yet. I feel like the (space) richest woman in the world today!

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Blogroll, Bureaucracy, Communication, Technical Issue, WordPress | 4 Comments

Insha’allah

One of the best things about moving between cultures as often as I have is that I get a chance to learn how much I don’t know. One of the things I have learned living in the Middle Eastern countries was how little I knew about my own religion. Knowing how little I knew sent me into a bible-study program that I look forward to resuming one day when I am living back in the US, or someplace that offers it – Bible Study Fellowship. They do an in-depth study of different books, or sections, of the bible, very serious, and you learn so much.

Apart from that, the church with which I affiliate, the Episcopal Church, has daily readings – I’ve mentioned this before – you can see them yourself by clicking on The Lectionary over in my Blogroll, and then going to the Daily Office Readings and clicking on the right week. Once there, you have to click on the day of the week, and it will take you to the readings for today.

One of the readings for today, the New Testament reading, made me smile:

James 4:13-17,5:7-11

13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’
14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’
16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

7 Be patient, therefore, beloved,* until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.
8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.*
9 Beloved,* do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!
10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved,* take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11 Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

In the first section, verse 15 tells us that we should be like good Moslems, never saying we are going to do something without adding “if God wills it,” or (big grin) in Arabic, “Insha’allah.” How often we hear Westerners saying “None of this ‘Insha’allah!’ I want you to DO it, dammit!” I never looked twice at this verse until I had lived in the Middle East.

In the second part, there is a message just meant for me, maybe not for you, in verse 9. It tells me not to grumble against another person, of I will be judged by the same standard. Hmmmm, now there’s a scary thought!

December 31, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Relationships, Spiritual | 9 Comments

Christmas for Expats

By the time October hits, it is almost too late for many expats to be thinking about Christmas. Packages have to be in the mail in time for a December 25th delivery, and that can mean different things in different countries.

Even travel and delivering the gifts yourself has become more challenging; one of the changes 9/11 made in all our lives is that we can no longer travel with wrapped gifts; baggage inspectors must be able to look at everything we pack, which means a mad scramble on the arriving end to get everything wrapped and labled before delivery.

We all face that universal problem – what to get for the people who already have everything?

So I sent to Find Me a Gift.

Here were some of their suggestions:

Become a Lord or a Lady – Buy Yourself a Title
lord-lady-laird-title-moo5.jpg

Name a Star
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Neiman Marcus always has outrageous and imaginative gifts for the people who have everything, and this year one of the catalog items is a Top Stars Orchestra concert for only $1,590,000.00

(Their 100 year anniversary catalog is a must-see, even if just for the giggles)

And, of course, here in Kuwait you can make a donation of time, goods or money to Operation Hope – Kuwait to help Sheryll Mairza with her 2007 goal of feeding and providing winter clothing for 7,000 poor laborers here who are unprepared for the cold winter to come.

October 21, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Christmas, Community, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Social Issues, Spiritual | 10 Comments