Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Leaving Civil Seattle


No, I didn’t take that photo, but it was exactly that kind of day. It was beautiful when I got to Seattle, it rained buckets one of the days I took my Mom shopping; she was such a good sport as we raced across the parking lot to the restaurant, both getting soaked, and then it was beautiful again for Mother’s Day and departure day.

Had juicy, laughing, crying visits with two very long time friends, feasted my eyes on all the rhododendrons growing so luxuriously, dancing with their intense colors in the Seattle gardens, watched the ferries coming in and out of little Edmonds. It was heaven.

Chihuly This is really a Chihuly rhododendron 🙂

On the way to the airport KUOW, the local National Public Radio station, mentioned, very politely, that there was a huge accident on I-5 going South, blocking all lanes of the freeway, and would I please consider taking an alternate route south, and gave a couple of suggestions.

So so Seattle. So civil.

Rarely do I hear a car beep in Seattle. People actually do the “after you” gesture – all the time. It takes some getting used to. 🙂

As soon as I got there, I opened the window where I was staying and just breathed the fresh sweet air. It always smells like fresh mown grass when I drive into Edmonds, and then the salt air. It is cool and refreshing. When the birds settle in for the night, there are the sounds of a thousand bird voices, loudest of all the seagulls, squawking at one another while the others are all doing sorter nestling sorts of sounds.

There are trains that go through in the middle of the night, but you learn to just wake up a little and say “oh, the train” and you go right back to sleep.

I took highway 99, which at one time was the major north south road, and while it was a little crowded, due to cars like me taking the alternate routes, it was peaceful and steady, with no delays. I haven’t taken the route for a long time, and got to see an old truck-stop my youngest sister mentioned, and I got to see all the things that are no longer there – the teepee pancake house, the elephant car wash sign. Things change. Taking 99 South took me a little longer than normal, but sometimes it can take a long time on the interstate, too, even without a major accident. Seattle, like Kuwait, has outgrown its infrastructure.


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It seems to be the story around the United States. Who is paying attention to the decaying bridges, the once smooth and now potholed highways? Who is checking the buildings in the abandoned city centers and malls?

When I turned in my rental car, the little girl checking me in was in hijab and looked Sudanese. She asked me where I was from, and I told her, and I asked where she was from and she told me Cleveland. LOL.

The Seattle Airport is a gem, full of art works, you just have to take the time to look. Off in corners, they also have free wi-fi, free power plugs, Chinese take away and quiet areas where people can read or use the internet. For some reason, I am TSA PreCheck. Someone said it is age related, but AdventureMan looked it up online and there doesn’t seem to be a connection. I love the shorter line, and not taking off my shoes.

I have plane karma. Just before the plane was loaded and ready to go, the two inside passengers for my row arrived – a basketball player and his also-tall Mom. Behind us arrived a Mom and her two babies – in two seats. The doors closed. There were only three empty seats in the plane, and they were across from me. The basketball player jumped into the window seat and the woman sitting in the aisle seat behind me jumped into the aisle seat across from me, and the Mom and her babies had all three seats to themselves, while the rest of us had room for knees and elbows and room to breathe . . . it makes all the difference.

I like Pensacola, and I like our life here. I am already missing the beauty and coolness of Pensacola winter, dreaming of the beauty and coolness of Seattle summer, LOL.


May 13, 2014 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Road Trips, Safety, Seattle, Travel | | 4 Comments

Pensacola Flood Recovery Instructions

Here are our recovery instructions quoting from the Pensacola News Journal:

“Caution. Stay off roads. Stay off bridges. Stay out of the water. Stay home, unless home is gone.” And in my wrecked neighborhood, boil all water for at least a minute until further notice.


More rain expected. People are not staying home. People are out and about, going to their jobs, keeping on keeping on. People are out helping one another clean out, carrying out soggy furniture and putting it by the curb. People are helping clean the trash. People are closing roads to make sure the underpinnings haven’t washed away. All our fire and police people are out doing extra duty, trying to keep us all safe and prevent chaos.


I saw a woman today with a T-shirt that said “medical examiner.” These days, you don’t know, there are shirts that say FBI and they aren’t FBI at all, or Alice in Chains, and it isn’t Alice in Chains. But as she turned around, the badge on her belt glinted in the light. She and her assistant  were taking out; between the flood and the prison explosion, I doubt she has gotten a lot of sleep.


May 1, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety, Weather, Work Related Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Qatar Teacher’s Murderer Sentenced to Death

From Doha News:


After verdict, Patterson family worries justice won’t be served



Alison Patterson, mother of Lauren Patterson.

At this time last year, Alison Patterson was celebrating Mother’s Day in the UK with two of her three children. Her eldest daughter Lauren was working in Qatar, and sent a gift and a card home, as she always did when she was away.

Today, things are very different for the Patterson family. Daughter Lauren was killed in October by acquaintances in Doha, and on Thursday, a criminal court here found two Qatari men responsible for the 24-year-old teacher’s murder.

One of the defendants, 22-year-old Badr Hashim Khamis Abdullah Al-Jabar, was given a death sentence.

Badr Hashim Khamis Abdullah Al-Jabar

The other, 24-year-old Muhammad Abdullah Hassan Abdul Aziz, was handed a three-year jail term for helping Al-Jabar burn Patterson’s body, which was considered damaging and erasing evidence.

At the time of the sentencing, Alison Patterson told media that “justice was served” in the case of Al-Jabar, but that she was deeply upset with Abdul Aziz’s lighter sentence.

In an interview with Doha Newstoday, Patterson said she is worried that neither of the convicted men will pay for what they did to her daughter.

“Is it something that’s just been said – and that’s never going to happen?” she asked.

At the root of her doubts is a scene she witnessed after Thursday’s verdict inside the courthouse. Patterson had gone in search of her two younger children, and ended up passing a sitting area where the defendants were being held.

“They were just laughing and joking with each other,” she said. “It just almost makes me feels that they were laughing at what happened. They have no respect for the sentence they’ve been given.”

Another issue that troubles her is that Qatar has not executed any prisoners in more than a decade, according to Amnesty International.

Prior to her daughter’s death, Patterson said she never gave the death penalty much thought. But after being told that Al-Jabar sexually assaulted her daughter, stabbed her to death and then attempted to burn her remains at a farm outside of Doha, she said she supported the punishment.

“Lauren came home in a box the weighed 7 kilos,” Patterson said with regards to her daughter’s remains. “She weighed 50 kilos when she died.”

Other questions

Patterson has also been unable to shake an argument she read on a recent blog post about her daughter’s case on “Muslims Worldwide,” which she found while googling Lauren’s name.

The site appears to be full of hate speech about Islam and its adherents, but the post on Patterson struck a chord with Lauren’s mother because it questioned whether the quick sentencing of Al-Jabar was done so that officials could close the book on this crime, which the prosecutor called “heinous, foreign and shocking to a society as conservative as Qatar’s.”

The blog post reads:

“Sharia gives no justice to a kafir (non-Muslim/non-believer). And it never gives a death sentence to a Muslim over a crime committed against a non-Muslim…

So why would they announce the ‘death penalty’ if it is not given out? To appease the media. This case has been circulating all over the world. Arabs can’t stand negative media attention…These Arab countries make bogus claims of justice only to get the media off their back. In reality they keep them in prison and release them after 1-2 years.”

The last sticking point is that the verdicts must pass through two appellate courts here before they’re officially final, meaning closure could be some ways off for Patterson and her family.


Speaking to Doha News, Patterson’s partner Kevin Crotty said they were grateful for all the Qatari government has done to ensure a speedy trial.

“They’ve been more than generous and more than reasonable,” he said. “Everything’s been done that should have been done. But them (the defendants) smiling – and the lighter sentence for the second one… Ultimately, we’ve always felt the political angle was there. Is there something that we should worry about?”

The Pattersons’ lawyer, Sami Abu Shaikha, has said he plans to appeal Abdul Aziz’s three-year sentence, asking for a more severe penalty.

Meanwhile, Alison Patterson, who has started smoking again after 15 years due to the stress of all that’s happened, said she knows that whatever the outcome, the pain will likely never go away.

“There will never be peace. (But) I just really don’t want to be let down,” she said.


April 6, 2014 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Safety | 12 Comments

More Radar on Qatar Roads to Trap Violators

Qatar makes some great laws – like fining those who go through red lights, or who drive near the speed of light. . . but when the violators turn out to be mostly young Qattari men, who pays the fines? Does anyone pay the fines?


From Doha News:

In an effort to tackle bad driving in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior plans to set up speed radars every two to four kilometers on major roads, Traffic Department Director Brig. Mohamed Saad Al Kharji has said.

Additionally, some 120 radars are being installed to catch drivers who overtake others from the right lane, the Qatar Tribune reports Al Kharji as saying.

He added that the software of speed radars that are already installed on the roads would be updated so that they could also catch such violators.

No timeline for when the cameras would be installed was disclosed. But last fall, the MOI announced it would be rolling out radars to catch queue-jumpers.

Using the “slow” right lane to overtake vehicles in the left lane is a traffic violation punishable by a QR500 ticket, but among one of several rules flouted by motorists here.


In Qatar, traffic violators are rarely pulled over by police officers, despite brief campaigns to step up enforcement. In 2012, plainclothes police officers began ticketing drivers who overtook other vehicles on the right.

And at the end of last year, the traffic department began a three-month campaign to ticket those who violate road rules, including drivers who hadn’t fastened their seat belts, used their phones while driving, and rode without a license.

Both initiatives were lauded by many residents who said enforcement is key to improving safety on the roads, but neither seem to have lasted.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Doha, Education, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Qatar, Safety | Leave a comment

IMF Says Negative Publicity Will Force Qatar to Pay Laborers More

DUBAI: Qatar will likely face higher labor costs as a result of publicity about deaths of migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup football tournament, the International Monetary Fund said. The Guardian newspaper reported in September that dozens of Nepali workers had died during the summer in Qatar and that laborers were not given enough food and water.

Qatar, which has denied the Guardian’s findings, has seen an increasing influx of foreigners, now estimated at 1.8 million, with its population rising 10 percent in 2013.

“Working conditions of some construction workers and domestic help have made global headlines and could affect the availability and cost of hiring new workers in the future,” the Fund said after completing annual consultations with Qatar.

“This would hinder growth since the success of Qatar’s current development model depends importantly on the ability to rapidly hire expatriate workers,” it said.

The gas-rich nation has planned to spend some $140 billion in the run-up to the World Cup on new infrastructure projects, including a metro, port and airport.

Such large public investments entail a possibility of overheating in the near term and low return and overcapacity in the medium term, the IMF warned. “In particular, the extent to which public investment will durably boost private sector productivity remains uncertainty,” it said.

Certain big-ticket projects such as the metro, port and airport have been scaled down or divided into phases to reduce the overcapacity risk, and the authorities are preparing a shortlist of critical projects, the IMF said without details.

However, the large-scale nature of the program has led to implementation delays and cost overruns and Qatar will continue facing the risk of cost escalation given its commitment to a compressed timetable ahead of the World Cup, it also said.

Increasing government spending may push the fiscal balance into a deficit over the medium term when combined with flat production of liquefied natural gas, falling crude oil output from mature fields and lower hydrocarbon prices.

“The public debt ratio is expected to fall, but the headline budget balance could … turn into deficit over the medium term, while the current account surplus could drop to 5 percent of GDP,” the IMF said.

The country’s fiscal surplus could shrink to 6.8 percent of GDP this year from an estimated 11.0 percent in 2013, and further to 4.2 percent in 2015, the IMF said, cutting its October forecasts of 8.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

The government intends to reduce public debt over time from an estimated 33.1 percent of GDP in 2013 by trimming foreign borrowings and domestic loans. It would continue issuing government securities to support bond market development.

The IMF also raised its forecast for economic growth to 5.9 percent this year and 7.1 percent in 2015, from 5.0 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, in its October regional outlook.

Inflation should remain benign at 3.3 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2015, the IMF said, less than 4.0 percent forecast for both years in October, as a decline in commodity prices will help reduce pressure from strong economic activity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 10, 2014, on page 5.

(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Safety, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | | 2 Comments

Saudis Protest Female Death While Paramedics Barred from Campus

Thank you, John Mueller, for forwarding this high interest topic:
Abdullah Al-Shihri And Aya Batrawy, Associated Press | February 6, 2014 | Last Updated:Feb 6 3:24 PM ET

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online over a report Thursday that staff at a Riyadh university had barred male paramedics from entering a women’s-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.
The Okaz newspaper said administrators at the King Saud University impeded efforts by the paramedics to save the student’s life because of rules banning men from being onsite. According to the paper, the incident took place on Wednesday and the university staff took an hour before allowing the paramedics in.
However, the university’s rector, Badran Al-Omar, denied the report, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He said the university did all it could to save the life of the student, who was identified as Amna Bawazeer.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Safety, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues | , | Leave a comment

Headlight Flashing to Warn of Police is Free Speech

This is big news for people in my area, because they often flash lights to warn of speed traps ahead.

Warning Drivers Of Speed Traps With Flashing Headlights Is Free Speech
A federal judge in St. Louis has set the benchmark

A federal judge in St. Louis ruled Monday that a driver flashing their lights to warn other drivers of an impending speed trap is protected free speech.

On November 22, 2012 Michael Elli received a ticket for flashing his lights to warn fellow drivers of a speed trap, according to Fox 2. The American Civil Liberties Union helped Elli fight the $1,000 ticket all the way to federal court.

Judge Henry Autrey of St. Louis ruled a driver has the right to flash their lights under the First Amendment. Autrey issued an injunction to stop Ellisville Police from enforcing the policy.

“If you’re at the gas station on the corner and someone says ‘Hey be careful over there, there’s a speed trap,’ that’s protected speech. You can’t be ticketed for that. This is no different,” Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Fox 2.

A lawyer for the police in Ellisville said the department isn’t affected by the ruling, as this kind of ticket has only been issued five or so times in the last decade. Across the country, however, the ruling will be considered the benchmark for such cases.

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Free Speech, Law and Order, Safety, Social Issues | | Leave a comment

Pensacola Ice Storm

Timing is everything. I had wait to get these photos until enough ice had formed to make it interesting, but before I lost what little light we had with the clouds, rain, sleet and now freezing rain.

If you are the praying kind, I ask your prayers for the homeless, those without heat, those who still have to make it home (so far the roads are OK but the bridges may start icing soon) and for these poor helpless birds seeking shelter on a night which will show them no pity.







Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 5.57.28 PM

January 28, 2014 Posted by | Birds, ExPat Life, Florida, Gardens, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety, Wildlife | 6 Comments

Driving While Incapacitated

Today we had one of those adrenalin experiences I haven’t had since leaving Kuwait. As we turned left onto a major thoroughfare, we were almost side-swiped on the left by a car turning left and driving the wrong way down the lane into which we were turning.

Fortunately, AdventureMan saw him in plenty of time, and made room. So we were behind this guy. Normally we just assume people are inattentive, or arrogant. For us, it’s not that important; just let ’em go their way.

Today, our eyes were as wide as saucers. This same driver kept driving over into the left hand lane. At first, I thought he was going to turn, but he made no turn. AdventureMan honked, to alert him to the fact that he was in the lane where cars were coming his way, headed right into him, we thought maybe he was texting.

Then he shifted all the way over headed into the parking lane, then wove back into the oncoming traffic. Fortunately, all the traffic – and this driver – were all going relatively slowly and the oncoming traffic pulled over. Everyone could see something was not normal.


AdventureMan spotted a police car, just behind us, and pulled over so that the police car would be directly behind this driver. The police car put on the flashers and this driver was oblivious, just continued weaving from the oncoming traffic to the parking lane, until after a very long 30 – 45 seconds, the siren sounded. It was as if the driver woke up – and maybe he did. He pulled over.

AdventureMan and I had one of those conversations where we look for the right word. This driver was more than impaired. Truly, this driver was totally incapacitated in some way. Maybe he had just come from the hospital where he had been up for several nights with his terminally ill wife, in which case he was driving-while-sleep-deprived, a condition that happens more than you would like to think. Maybe he had the flu, and his medication had knocked him for a loop? Maybe he was falling down drunk? Maybe he was on some kind of drug? Maybe he was just driving-while-oblivious, texting?

We will never know. A couple hours later, we passed along the same stretch of road and watched a tow truck haul the car away as the police watched. We hope that whoever the driver was has been hospitalized, or taken somewhere he cannot harm himself. We are also very thankful that we were behind this driver, not in front of him or coming from the other direction. It was one of life’s little adventures.

January 25, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety | Leave a comment

Manyang: Our Friend in South Sudan

God willing, in life, people cross paths and share their stories. I told you about Manyang, how he visited us near Christmas in 2012 and how his story changed our lives. Now, when we hear stories of the South Sudan, it is immediate, it is real, because we know the story of a young boy grown to be a very fine man, who survived the chaos and horrors of the janjaweed invasions and tribal conflicts before his country attained nationhood.

I recently wrote to Manyang, hoping he is still alive. It was that basic. I asked him, if he could, just to let us know he was alive, and that whether he could respond or not, our prayers were with him, for him, his family and his country.

This morning, by the grace of God, I received this wonderful response. Please, join your prayers with ours for Manyang/David, and his country, South Sudan, for peace, safety and prosperity, for justice and equitable distribution of resources.

I am glad to hear from you again. I have been talking of the nice people I was able to meet in Pensacola. Whenever, I talk about these people you are the first people I talk about. I still remember the nice dinner we had in your house.

I think God touched you to worry about my safety. You might have heard from news report the critical condition my country – South Sudan is going through. It is just like the story of my childhood to many other children now.

A political row in the ruling party here, turned violent in Juba, the capital of this country on December 15, 2013. Heavy artillary were fired and sporadic gunfire broke out in most part of the city. it was a genesis of another war which is now going on. Thousands of people were killed only in Juba.

I was in Bor, the captal of Jonglei State, about 125 miles north of Juba. The violent in Juba quickly spread to us in Bor and I was forced to flee to the bush with my family and the rest of the civil population as the town was quickly seized by anti-government forces. I carried my back on my head, walk long distant and drink dirty water again and eat grains when I was in the bush for seven days.

(This is a screenshot from Google Maps; Bor is the “A” north of Juba)

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 9.29.01 AM

(These are photos from Manyang’s BBC blog, referenced below. Please go there to read more in his own words about the terrors of the South Sudan chaos.)

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 9.17.12 AM

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The government forces recaptured the town and we returned to the town. Many more people were killed and bodies were lying everywhere and there was a terrible smell. The rebels killed everyone they found in the town including old women, lame, deaf and all vulnerable people. And I was wounded in the upper left arm by a stray bullet of soldiers celebrating. The wound has healed and I am fine now.

It did not take long for the rebel to recaptured the town of goverment forces for a second time. And I was force to flee, this time cross the River Nile by boat to a makeshift camp across the river. This was where I got an access to go to Juba which was abit calm at the time. I am now in Juba staying in fear, not knowing where else to go.

God was speaking to you those conditions I was in in December and part of January. We spent Christmas and New Year Day on the run. I am glad for your prayers were able to lead me out of that mess. I still have hope that your prayers will continue to press political leaders to reach a peaceful solution to this crisis.

I have a live blog where I am sharing my bush experiences. You may have a look.

Share my message with the rest of the great people of Pensacola. My heart is always there with you.



January 16, 2014 Posted by | Africa, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Safety, South Sudan, Sudan, Survival | , , , | 1 Comment