Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

U.S. Continues Proud Tradition Of Diversity On Front Lines

Funny in a very sad way . . .from The Onion. Note the Kuwait dateline – folks, this is satire, one of the bleakest forms of humor.

CAMP COYOTE, KUWAIT—With blacks and Hispanics comprising more than 60 percent of the Army’s ground forces in Iraq, the U.S. military is continuing its long, proud tradition of multiculturalism on the front lines of war. “Though racism and discrimination remain problems in society at large, in the military—especially in the lower ranks where you find the cannon fodder—a spirit of inclusiveness has prevailed for decades,” Gen. Jim White said Monday. “When it comes to having your head blown off by enemy fire, America is truly colorblind.”

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Fiction, Humor, Lies, Living Conditions, Middle East, Political Issues, Social Issues, Statistics, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Fat scan shows up ‘true’ obesity

From BBC Health News.
Given that obesity is becoming a world wide epidemic, and kills more people than the bird flu, this can be a helpful tool.

Scientists say they have developed a 3D scanner that can accurately determine if a person is truly obese.

Currently, doctors gauge fatness with a calculation of body mass index (BMI). But BMI is flawed – people with lots of muscle are considered overweight.

Instead of relying on weight and height measurements, as BMI does, the scan takes into account body shape and how much fat a person carries.

Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital has been testing this Body Volume Index.

Muscle or fat?

One human guinea pig who has tested the BVI scanner is 19-year-old rower Ashley Granger.

He is 6ft 2ins (1.88m) tall and according to his BMI of 28 is at the top end of the overweight category, borderline obese.

Muscle weighs more than fat does. And you can hide away fat but be quite thin looking
Fitness trainer Matt Roberts

His BVI scan correctly showed that he carries very little fat and that his weight is largely down to muscle.

Fitness trainer Matt Roberts said: “Muscle weighs more than fat does. And you can hide away fat but be quite thin looking.

“So it’s important that we don’t just use BMI alone.”

Dr Asad Rahim, a consultant in the obesity and endocrinology department at Heartlands Hospital, explained the work they had done with the BVI scanner over the last two years.

“We have completed the patient evaluation stage and are currently assessing the results.

“The scanner has certainly helped motivate some patients to manage their weight more effectively but there are also patients who were not scanned who lost weight.”

The next phase of testing has now been launched – the plan is to scan at least 20,000 people over the next two years as part of the Body Benchmark Study.

Select Research, the company which makes the scanners, said it hoped to make them available to GP surgeries at an “affordable” cost.

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Family Issues, Health Issues, News | 3 Comments

Irish Coffee Joke

Fresh from my e-mail, an Irish joke. Heard it before, but didn’t see this coming!

An Irish woman of advanced age visited her physician to ask his help in
reviving her husband’s libido ..

“What about trying Viagra? asks the doctor .

“Not a chance”, she said . “He won’t even take an aspirin” ..

“Not a problem”, replied the doctor . “Give him! an “Irish Viagra” . It’s
when you drop the Viagra tablet into his coffee . He won’t even taste it . Give it a try and call me in a week to let me know how things went.”

It wasn’t a week later that she called the doctor, who directly inquired as
to progress . The poor dear
exclaimed, “Oh, faith, bejaysus and begorrah! T’was horrid! Just terrible,

“Really? What happened?” asked the doctor

“Well, I did as you advised and slipped it in his coffee and the effect was
almost immediate . He jumped straight up, with a twinkle in his eye, and with his pants a-bulging fiercely! With one swoop of his arm, he sent the cups and tablecloth flying, ripped me clothes to tatters and took me then and there, took me passionately on the tabletop! It was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare!”

“Why so terrible?” asked the doctor, “Do you mean the sex your husband
provided wasn’t good”?

“Twas the best sex I’ve had in 25 years! But sure as I’m sittin’ here, I’ll
never be able to show me face in that Starbucks again!”

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Communication, Experiment, Family Issues, Fiction, Health Issues, Humor, Ireland, Joke, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bad Laws Encourage Breaking the Law

Going to university in Seattle, I did a paper on Washington State “Blue Laws” and how they were repealed. In Washington State, they have some really cool ideas that encourage citizen participation – one is called the initiative, and the other is called the referendum.

What this means is that citizens, just common, ordinary citizens like you and me, can gather support and signatures, and initiate proceedings to get a proposal on the ballot, in front of all the voters. They can also refer an existing law to the voters to get it repealed (made not a law anymore.) It’s hard work – but citizens do it all the time.

I just used my internet phone to change my car reservation, because KLM has “delayed” my flight by one night. I broke the law. It’s a bad law, and I am not by nature a law-breaking kind of person.

I also break the law by bringing in real vanilla flavoring when I enter Kuwait. Yes, it contains alcohol. I only use it for cooking, and I never serve it to Moslems. I have alcohal-free vanilla, too, that I use for when I cook for Moslems, but it doesn’t taste the same.

I probably bring in books and DVD’s that I am not supposed to, although I have never seen a list telling me what books might not be allowed. Most of my books are about ideas, and yes, ideas can be a dangerous thing.

Bad laws force normal law-abiding people to break the law.

(This does not apply to speed limits, which are good laws, and if they were obeyed, would save hundreds of lives in Kuwait every year. Think of every life as something precious, a resource, and you will see that disobeying the speed limits is like throwing resources down the drain.)

I know this entry is really all over the map, but I have all this angry energy and I don’t have anywhere to expel it. If I could, I would kick KLM all over Kuwait for what they have done. They have robbed us of one day with our son and his wife and I am really really angry. They didn’t even tell us, just changed the reservation. One flight was “delayed” 24 hours, so all the passengers on the next flight were also “delayed”. That’s not a DELAY! You cancelled a flight! And now you are going to have hundreds of angry passengers, angry phone calls, and people PO’d at KLM. Shoddy way to do business.

March 29, 2007 Posted by | Communication, Community, Cooking, Crime, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Holiday, KLM, Kuwait, Language, Lies, Living Conditions, Rants, Seattle, Shopping, Social Issues, Spiritual, Travel | 5 Comments

Outraged at KLM

I just checked reservations we made on KLM back in February. Someone in the KLM office here went into the system and changed our reservation for the next night. I have tickets – paid for – in my hand that say we fly the original date. Even if there were a legitimate reason – like no plane – to change our reservations and NOT TO TELL US is the worst kind of customer service.

This happened to me once before with KLM. I showed up at the airport and the man behind the counter took two hours to fix it. He was embarrassed. I was outraged. I am thinking it is a Kuwait thing; it has only happens to me here.

I checked online; it says the flight has no available seats. I think they bumped us thinking we wouldn’t make trouble. They have another think coming. I am mad, steaming mad. Angry enough to make trouble.

March 29, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Communication, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, KLM, Kuwait, Rants, Travel | 17 Comments

Blue Light Special

Back in the United States, there is a store, K-mart, that from time to time makes an announcement:

Attention, K-mart shoppers. We have a blue light special for the next fifteen minutes on (vacuum cleaners/ school supplies / men’s clothing / holiday wrapping / . . .ad infinitum) on Aisle whatever.

So when I saw this at the local co-op, I just had to grin:

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Shopping | 8 Comments

Stormy Weather


This was taken minutes ago, through my dust encrusted window. For my non-Kuwait readers, although we have rain throughout the winter (and winter does get cold here, down to almost freezing at night) the “rainy season” is late March – April. We have had truly spectacular thunder storms, amazing lightning, and rainy days.

Even on the rainiest day, the sun breaks through at some point in the day. We are already beginning to feel hints of the heat to come. The rain, combined with the heat, makes it increasingly muggy. Most of the year, it is dry, not terribly humid, even living at the coast.

But my windows! You would think that the rain would wash them clean, but no! The rain carries dust, and my windows are streaked and caked! You can see it if you look at the darker part of the clouds – but you grab the shot you can when you can, and although this one is flawed by the dust, I love the contrast of lights and darks.

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Weather | 4 Comments

A Male Theory

I read this op-ed piece yesterday in the Kuwait Times, and found it heartbreaking. And yet . . . I read hints of these stories in your blogs, too. I am printing this with the author’s permission. Tell me what you think – and make a copy and send it on to Fouad Al-Obaid, whose e-mail address is at the end of the article.

A Male Theory
By: Fouad Al-Obaid

In recent talks with many friends, I heard rather spine chilling revelations on how my fellow males (Kuwaiti that is) perceive their fellow Kuwaiti girl counterparts! Today I will try to rationally touch upon a matter that is highly irrational in nature. I will discuss the Kuwaiti male theory on women, dating and relating.

The average Abdallah I have noticed is a person filled with great ego, an individual who has a desire to control and manipulate others. In his desire to manipulate, often encourage by both elder relatives and society at large, seemingly has developed a tendency to project power over his friends, enemies, and concubines alike.

The desire of power is inherently something that most men aspire to. However if everyone in society was a leader then it would be hard to govern. Hence men in local custom, and to an extent projected in religion are deemed to be sovereigns of their possessions, which could be understood as leaders of their family and of the people that directly report to them. In this social order, a concubine is yet another person the average Abdallah can project his power upon.

A dilemma however constantly surrounds the average Abdallah for despite his desire to grow his “harem” he is conscious that perhaps other ill-natured people: people at the end of the day similar to him, are likewise on the look for yet another conquest.

Abdallah aware of the situation realizes that people out there could try to make any-given number of his female relatives likewise concubines in their respective “harems”. At this point if one question’s Abdallah’s rational of wanting other female yet at the same time if one transgressed his “sovereign kingdom” he would not hesitate to decapitate the fool who would have dared come close to any of his female relatives. Yet he like a lion in a jungle after a long day preying on Gulf Street and Marina, nevertheless is proud to share details of his hunt with fellow kings at their weekly roundtable or more correctly speaking “diwaniya”.

Moving to the next illogical notion that many have in recent times developed, if a girl accepts to even talk “innocently” on the phone it is seen as a big problem by many, yet most if not all people I have come to known do it on a rather consistent basis. Following the initial contact, a relationship develops usually, and more often than not, it would be an open one, unless off course prince-charming is eloquent in speech and threatening in nature. If the later is the case, then another highly illogical matter arises. Brining back the concept of power and control, guys I have noticed have this inherent nature to have the final word on most of everything. This is applied to “dating” for I have witnessed many irrational actions based on the later notion.

I recall once being with a friend cruising around when he called his “girlfriend” and asked here where she was. Upon knowing that she was out with her mother, he started to literally scream and shout at her, telling her how she disobeyed his command to not go out, and ordered her to return home immediately, he further instructed her to make an excuse in order for her mother not to doubt anything was wrong with her! I for one was shocked by the conversation and so I intriguingly asked the given friend about the rational of his action.

In all calm and serenity he replied that he had to teach her how to respect him. Furthermore he went on how it made him feel good, and that it was her fault not to ask permission from him to go out! What made the situation that much more unusual was the fact that they were “phone-dating”, needless to mention the irony of the situation!

On the one hand you have the guy ordering a girl he physically isn’t close to. On the other hand you have a girl who naively believed that the guy was overprotective and saw it as a gesture of love, or simply plainly put happened to be stupid, foolish enough to abide by the rules of a guy she barely knew; certainly a guy she will not end up having any meaningful relationship with.

For thoughts and comments

So here is my question – would a man marry a woman who had a phone relationship with him? Is a phone relationship enough to ruin a woman’s reputation?

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Kuwait, Lies, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, News, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 10 Comments

“Woh ist der bahnhof?” Revisited

Today, in the co-op I was looking for toilet paper, because we were perilously low. In the diaper section I found three women workers (when did women start working in the co-ops? I really like it!) who wanted to help.

“Ana ashuf . . .” I started off (I am looking for) but I don’t know how to say toilet paper, so I said “toilet paper”.

Blank faces. I’m trying to think of a way to say it in Arabic, roundabout, but all I can say, weakly is to repeat “toilet paper”.

Blank faces. But kind, patient, so I say it again.

The light goes on.

“Ah! Toi LET paper!” she says, with the accent on the second syllable.

“Yes!” I say, as she leads me there, continuing to correct me: “Toi LET paper, Toi LET paper.”

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Relationships, Shopping, Words | 7 Comments

The Many Uses of Vinegar

When I wrote yesterday about being a mosquito magnet, Walzing Australiaquoted a recommendation about drinking vinegar every day to keep the mossies away. It tickled a brain cell, and I googled Vinegar and Health this morning and found pages and pages of information. Vinegar is amazing, even if it is HALF as good as all these articles claim.

From How Stuff Works: The Healing Power of Vinegar

Health Benefits of Vinegar Overview
Vinegar has been valued for its healing properties for thousands of years, and during that time, it has found its way from the apothecary’s shelf to the cook’s pot. Today, it can continue to play that dual role, taking the place of less healthful dietary ingredients and helping to regulate blood sugar levels while entertaining our taste buds with its tart flavor.

There seems hardly an ailment that vinegar has not been touted to cure at some point in history. And while science has yet to prove the effectiveness of many of these folk cures, scores of people still praise and value vinegar as a healthful and healing food. So let’s take a look at the history of vinegar, the healing claims made for it, and what science does and doesn’t have to say about those claims. Along the way, we’ll discover why vinegar deserves a place in every healthy kitchen.

The Healing History of Vinegar
For centuries, people from Asia and Europe have used different types of vinegar to add flavor and zest to their food. Read about how this tangy condiment was first discovered and then developed into a must-have for kitchens around the world. Learn the key ingredient that gives vingear its special sour taste and the basic chemical process used to create it.

Misconceptions About Vinegar’s Health Benefits
Although some people believe vinegar is a miracle cure, it can’t fix everything. Marketers have asserted that vinegar cures diseases such as diabetes, osteoperosis, cancer, and many other disorders. Some even claim that it halts the aging process. Obviously, these claims are exaggerated. Find out what’s being said, and learn the truth about the real nutritional value of vinegar.

How Vinegar Affects Digestion
Although vinegar can’t cure cancer, it can help improve your general health in many ways. Vinegar benefits the digestive system, improving the absorbtion and utilization of several essential nutrients. Learn about the different organ systems that are affected by simply adding vinegar to your diet, and find out how you can improve your health and the taste of your vegetables at the same time.

If you go to the above website, there are additional articles that elaborate on the uses of vinegar. There are so many websites about the positive powers of vinegar!

There are hundreds of articles about the health benefits of vinegar. One of the most comprehensive was at Vinegarbook: Vinegar tips for health where there are topics you can click on to get to the full article, such as Treat Dandruff with Vinegar, Itchy Skin Soothed with Vinegar, Urinary Tract Infections and Vinegar, Soothing Aching Feet with Vinegar and several articles about fighting off colds and sore throats with vinegar. Vinegar has some known anti-fungal properties, and also anti-microbial and antiseptic properties. Fascinating, all from a cheap little bottle of vinegar found on any grocery shelf.

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Cooking, Diet / Weight Loss, Family Issues, Health Issues, Hygiene, Uncategorized, Women's Issues | 2 Comments