Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

BBC Secret Life of Cats Article: Hilarious Site With Mobile Cat Web Cams

First, you have to go to this BBC Science Website, where cats in a Surrey village were tracked by the Royal Veterinary College to see where they would go during 24 hour periods. You click on each cat to see the route they followed – some are amazing – and then you can click on a video to have a glimpse of cat life, usually including the underside of a cat chin. It is fascinating and hilarious.

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June 13, 2013 Posted by | Community, Experiment, Living Conditions, Pets, Statistics, Technical Issue | , , , | Leave a comment

Bloggers Create Freedom Friday in Oppressed Eritrea

I heard whispers of this on National Public Radio, and found this write up on The International Business Times website. The message is simple – in a country where even a glance can be interpreted as treason, express your non-support of the government by STAYING AT HOME ON FRIDAY, the day Ethiopians usually go out and visit with friends, gather together and mingle. Ghandi would smile; this is civil expression at it’s most civil 🙂

Let the empty streets speak for you. LOL @ a tyrant making staying at home a crime against the government!

Eritrean bloggers outside of Ethiopia started it, smuggling an old Eritrean phone book out of the country and making calls to acquaintances – and strangers – in Eritrea. People didn’t even have to respond. they could just listen . . . then they developed a robo-call to help them enlarge the number they could reach.

Eritrea is considered one of the continent’s most opaque countries. National elections have not been held in the Horn of Africa country since it gained independence in 1993. Torture, arbitrary detention and severe restrictions on freedom of expression remain routine.

President Isaias Afwerki does not tolerate any independent media, the internet is strictly controlled and Reporters without Borders recently named it 179th out of 179 countries for freedom of expression.

It is illegal to criticise the government, prompting the Eritrean diaspora to set up a campaign to reverse the Arab-style call to take to the streets every Friday by emptying the streets in protest.

Freedom Friday Poster

Freedom Friday Poster

“We made phone calls from diaspora to Eritrea,” Meron Estefanos toldIBTimes UK. “We have a phone catalogue and called random numbers every Friday, telling them to stay at home and think about problems in our country.”

The phone calls “give them [Eritreans within the country] an opportunity to protest without risking too much”, according to Freedom Friday’s coordinator in the UK Selam Kidane.

The activists turned to a computerised auto-dialer called robocall to spread hundreds of thousands of taped messages to Eritrean phones. “It is time to restore our liberty and dignity” messages were sent automatically.

In another message, the mother of renowned political prisoner Aster Yohannes recalls the fate of her daughter, who was arrested in 2003 and has disappeared.

After two years, the movement is finally gaining momentum inside the country.

“Now they trust us inside the country, we have our team in Eritrea that puts out posters and leaflets late at night,” Estefanos said.

“The plan now that we have their trust is asking them to go out and demonstrate.”

About 1,500 Eritreans leave their country every month, according to the United Nations, paying up to 30,000 euros ($39,500) each to seek a new life free of grinding poverty and repression.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International put the spotlight on Eritrean asylum-seekers who are kidnapped from Sudanese refugee camps by the local Rashaida tribe, sold to Bedouin criminals in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and severely abused while they are held for ransom.

One thousand refugees are held captive in the Sinai, according to reports. About 7,000 people in total may have been tortured and 4,000 may have died as a result of the people-trafficking in humans from 2009 to October 2012, according to recent data. A total of 3,000 people disappeared from 2007-11.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Experiment, Law and Order, Leadership, Political Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Round-Up Herbicide Tied to Serious Health Deterioration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shocking news for everyone with grounds and gardens – we’ve all been using this, not knowing its long term impact on our environment – and on us.

 

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Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows

April 25 (Reuters) – Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.

We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff said.

Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.

The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should be limited. The study is among many comments submitted to the agency.

Monsanto is the developer of both Roundup herbicide and a suite of crops that are genetically altered to withstand being sprayed with the Roundup weed killer.

These biotech crops, including corn, soybeans, canola and sugarbeets, are planted on millions of acres in the United States annually. Farmers like them because they can spray Roundup weed killer directly on the crops to kill weeds in the fields without harming the crops.

Roundup is also popularly used on lawns, gardens and golf courses.

Monsanto and other leading industry experts have said for years that glyphosate is proven safe, and has a less damaging impact on the environment than other commonly used chemicals.

Jerry Steiner, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability, reiterated that in a recent interview when questioned about the study.

“We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied,” he said.

Of the more than two dozen top herbicides on the market, glyphosate is the most popular. In 2007, as much as 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. farmers, double the amount used six years ago, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Environment, Experiment, Gardens, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Technical Issue, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Shams I; Huge Solar Plant in Abu Dhabi

Today – from WeatherUndergroundNews:

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Behold — a way to capture a maximum amount of solar power in one of the sunniest regions on the planet.

Located in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates that cozy up to the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi announced the opening of the Shams 1 solar plant last month. Shams 1, which translates to “the Sun” in Arabic, according to the BBC, utilizes more than 250,000 mirrors to capture and harness the power of the sun.

Officials in Abu Dhabi hope the new plant will save 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, reports an NPR blog. That’s the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road, they say, and several more of these mega-plants are in the works.

The other reason for building the Shams 1? The country will be able to export more of their vast natural oil reserves instead of using it within the country. It will lead to even more profit for the UAE, says Bloomberg. The plant cost $750 million to build, but according to the report, it’s just the first step in a plan to generate one-third of the country’s energy from solar power by the year 2032.

April 20, 2013 Posted by | Environment, Experiment, Financial Issues, Home Improvements, Interconnected, Technical Issue | , , | 3 Comments

Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Now than Last 1,000 Years

Found this morning on AOL News; this is not good news.

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Summer Ice Melt In Antarctica Is At The Highest Point In 1,000 Years, Researchers Say

Reuters | Posted: 04/15/2013 2:39 am EDT | Updated: 04/15/2013 6:36 pm EDT

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The summer ice melt in parts of Antarctica is at its highest level in 1,000 years, Australian and British researchers reported on Monday, adding new evidence of the impact of global warming on sensitive Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves.

Researchers from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey found data taken from an ice core also shows the summer ice melt has been 10 times more intense over the past 50 years compared with 600 years ago.

“It’s definitely evidence that the climate and the environment is changing in this part of Antarctica,” lead researcher Nerilie Abram said.

Abram and her team drilled a 364-metre (400-yard) deep ice core on James Ross Island, near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, to measure historical temperatures and compare them with summer ice melt levels in the area.

They found that, while the temperatures have gradually increased by 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over 600 years, the rate of ice melting has been most intense over the past 50 years.

That shows the ice melt can increase dramatically in climate terms once temperatures hit a tipping point.

“Once your climate is at that level where it is starting to go above zero degrees, the amount of melt that will happen is very sensitive to any further increase in temperature you may have,” Abram said.

Robert Mulvaney, from the British Antarctic Survey, said the stronger ice melts are likely responsible for faster glacier ice loss and some of the dramatic collapses from the Antarctic ice shelf over the past 50 years.

Their research was published in the Nature Geoscience journal.

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Paul Tait)

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Environment, Experiment, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Locard Exchange Principal, Weather | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Porn Sites Install Malware

Surprise, surprise, you go to porn sites, you get malware. The entire story, which comes from BBC News, can be read by clicking here.

Top porn sites ‘pose growing malware risk’ to users
By Dave Lee
Technology reporter, BBC News

Some advertisements were found to be installing harmful software on users’ machines without consent

Browsing some of the internet’s most popular pornography websites is increasingly putting visitors at risk, research has found.

Advertisements displayed by the sites, which are visited by millions every day, were found to be installing harmful files without users’ knowledge.

April 10, 2013 Posted by | Experiment, Humor, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

Daniel and the Vegetarian Diet

Most people I know these days are trying to eat less meat. In the readings for today, we start the story of Daniel, a story every Christian child learns in Sunday School, but when you read as an adult, you see different things. This morning, doing the readings from the Lectionary, I smiled to see that Daniel and his companions wanted only vegetables; they were working very hard not to violate their food laws.

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I also wonder if not eating meat was helpful in the den of lions; maybe they smelled less interesting as vegetarians? Then again, lions eat impalas, wildebeest, all sorts of vegetarians, so that probably was not a factor . . . 🙂

Daniel 1:1-21

1In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2The Lord let King Jehoiakim of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. These he brought to the land of Shinar,* and placed the vessels in the treasury of his gods.

3 Then the king commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, 4young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. 6Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah. 7The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. 9Now God allowed Daniel to receive favour and compassion from the palace master. 10The palace master said to Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.’

11Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12‘Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe.’ 14So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. 15At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. 16So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams.

18 At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, 19and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court. 20In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus.

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, ExPat Life, Experiment, Iran, Lectionary Readings, Values | Leave a comment

Green Tea and Coffee Really Do Cut Stroke Risk!

I found the report of this newest survey on National Public Radio’s The Salt:

A Daily Habit Of Green Tea Or Coffee Cuts Stroke Risk
by ALLISON AUBREY
March 15, 2013

05 Coffee and Tea

Whether it’s green tea that warms you up, or coffee that gives you that morning lift, a new study finds both can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, included 82,369 men and women in Japan.

Researchers found that the more green tea a person drank, the more it reduced the risk of suffering a stroke.

“It’s almost a 20 percent lower risk of stroke in the green tea drinkers” who drank four cups a day, compared with those who rarely drank green tea, explains Dr. Ralph Sacco of the University of Miami. (He’s the past president of the American Heart Association, and we asked him to review the study for us.)

And with coffee, researchers found just one cup per day was also associated with about a 20 percent decreased risk of stroke during a 13-year follow-up period.

“I was still feeling rather surprised” about the findings, Dr. Yoshihiro Kokubo, the study’s lead author, tells The Salt in an email. Kokubo is a researcher at the Department of Preventive Cardiology, National Cerebra and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan.

Kokubo says that green tea contains compounds known as catechins, which help regulate blood pressure and help improve blood flow. The compounds also seem to promote an anti-inflammatory effect. Kokubo says coffee, which contains caffeine and compounds known as quinides, likely influences our health through different mechanisms.

It’s not just the Japanese who seem to benefit from drinking coffee and green tea. Over the past few years, researchers in the U.S. have documented similar reductions in heart disease risk among Americans.

“The accumulating evidence from a variety of studies is suggesting that green tea and coffee may be protective,” says Sacco.

And, in addition, recent studies have linked a regular coffee habit to a range of benefits — from a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes to a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.

It’s interesting to note how much the thinking about caffeine and coffee has changed.

In the 1980s, surveys found that many Americans were trying to avoid it; caffeine was thought to be harmful, even at moderate doses.

One reason? Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health says back then, coffee drinkers also tended to be heavy smokers. And in early studies, it was very tough to disentangle the two habits.

“So it made coffee look bad in terms of health outcomes,” says Stampfer.

But as newer studies began to separate out the effects of coffee and tea, a new picture emerged suggesting benefits, not risks.

Researchers say there’s still a lot to learn here — they haven’t nailed down all the mechanisms by which coffee and tea influence our health. Nor have they ruled out that it may be other lifestyle habits among coffee and tea drinkers that’s leading to the reduced risk of disease.

And experts say when it comes to preventing strokes and heart attacks, no food or drink is a magic bullet. It’s our overall patterns of eating and exercise that are important.

“It’s a whole lifestyle approach, and we need to remember that,” says Sacco.

So if you are already in the habit of drinking coffee or green tea, this study is one more bit of evidence that you can go ahead and enjoy it.

March 16, 2013 Posted by | Experiment, Health Issues, Hot drinks, Statistics | Leave a comment

Thought While Not Moving

We’ve been in Pensacola three years this month, or anyway, I have. AdventureMan retired, but went back twice to help out and to start things up on a major contract. He was retired, but useful.

The longest we’ve ever stayed in any one place was 6 years. The second longest was 4.5 years. There were some 6 month places, 10 month places, and three years was a long posting. I feel the internal clock ticking; I am cleaning out closets and drawers. No, I am not packing. No, I am not moving, but the habits are still there and don’t go away. Go through everything. Weed and cull. Pass along. Give away. Evaluate.

AdventureMan is fully engaged in a very different life from before, and it requires some adjustment – for both of us. You’d think my life wouldn’t be that different, I still do aqua aerobics, I spend time doing volunteer work, serving the church, meeting up with other quilters, etc., same life, different location, right? No No Noooooooooooooooooooo!

Take the spice drawers. AdventureMan still tells the story of when we first got married and I did my first big grocery shopping, setting up household. As he lugged bags and bags into the house, he jokingly asked if I had everything (his bachelor refrigerator kept beer cold; there was nothing else in it!) and I said no, that I had groceries, but I would have to go back for spices.

When I got back with two bags full of herbs and spices and cooking things like baking powder and baking soda, he was wide-eyed. He was thinking “salt . .. pepper . . . what else is there?” He still laughs about it, lo, these forty years later.

Three years in Pensacola has given me time to think about the spice drawers. They frustrated AdventureMan, and he offered to re-arrange them more logically, which almost started a nuclear war in our family dynamics. Logically, he is now doing more cooking and he should have more input, but it is really, really hard for me to give up territory in the kitchen, and, well, AdventureMan can be a little bit aggressive in amassing his territory.

But, after three years, I agree, the spice drawers are not working, and one reason is I got this state-of-the-art rubberized drawer liner, but it crept back and made the spices rise up and then the drawers got stuck open or closed and it really was frustrating.

Yesterday, I had the house to myself and because I hadn’t planned it, it wasn’t something I dreaded, I just started fiddling with the spice drawers, just editing, getting rid of some really old stuff, combining duplicates and . . . well, because I hadn’t put it on the “To Do List” it was fun. So much fun I decided to go all the way, take out the annoying rubberized liner and have some fun.

I’ve always loved great drawer liners. Good thing, huh? I’ve lined a LOT of drawers. There are some wonderful liners out there, but I love to use wrapping paper. Every now and then I’ll see a design I love, or something that thrills my heart. Because I moved so often, I knew it wasn’t a lifetime commitment, so I just had fun with it. And that is what I did yesterday.

I have some great wrapping paper I brought back that I went to a lot of trouble to get, flying down from Kuwait to Doha to go to the American Women’s Bazaar in November, where I knew there would be the vendor from Saudi Arabia who makes and sells these quirky, whimsical Arabic-themed wrapping papers that I loved to use for all the Christmas gifts and house-guest gifts I would take back three or four times a year. I hand carried several rolls of this paper back to Kuwait, then shipped it back to Doha when we moved back there, then shipped it again, carefully protected, to Pensacola when we retired.

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Here in Pensacola, however, it seems less and less relevant. I don’t use it to wrap my Christmas gifts like I used to because the gifts are no longer exotic surprises from the Middle East. And I still have a lot of this paper, paper which delights me, but for which I have no real purpose . . .

So I decided I would use it to line my spice drawers. I can see it every day and smile. It is making itself useful, and two or three years down the road when it is worn and needs replacing, I can find something else that delights my heart.

When AdventureMan comes in, I am just finishing up. I warn him, because he, like me, likes to know where things are.

“What’s the logic?” he asks, and I think “this is one of the reasons I married him; he knows to ask the most pertinent question.”

“Here are whole spices, seeds, peppers,” I tell him as I indicate a section, “and here are exotics, spices from the Gulf and Jordan and Tunisia. This section is grill mixtures and all kinds of chili powders and Creole mixes. Over here you have aromatics and baking spices, and here are the Italian and French herbs. The last section is onion and garlic powders and salts, flavored salts of all kinds, and frequently used multi-use herbs.”

He totally got it. 🙂

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00SpiceDrawer2

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Doha, ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Home Improvements, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Moving, Pensacola, Shopping | | Leave a comment

Processed Food vs Real Food Experiment

LOL, this is hilarious, and also frightening when you think what might be in the preserved sandwich.

There are four videos showing food non-deterioration, by Melanie Warner, author of Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Foods Took Over the American Meal

February 28, 2013 Posted by | Eating Out, Experiment, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Safety, Shopping, Technical Issue | 2 Comments