Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sandstorm Blowing In

I was back in the project room, making the best use of the day’s light – and Kuwait truly has great light – when all of a sudden, it was as if I had just put sunglasses on. Big orange sunglasses, blocking out a good half the available light.

Here is what it looks like where I normally take the sunrise photos:

Here are more views:


April 30, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Weather | | 23 Comments

The Magic Bullet

What if someone told you there was a magic pill you could take that would help your body fight off attacks of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis – almost anything that ails you – wouldn’t you grab that pill?

You can read the entire article  HERE, at the New York Times.


You Name It, and Exercise Helps It


Published: April 29, 2008

Randi considers the Y.M.C.A. her lifeline, especially the pool. Randi weighs more than 300 pounds and has borderline diabetes, but she controls her blood sugar and keeps her bright outlook on life by swimming every day for about 45 minutes.

Randi overcame any self-consciousness about her weight for the sake of her health, and those who swim with her and share the open locker room are proud of her. If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.

“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise,” Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.

I have written often about the protective roles of exercise. It can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, osteoporosis, gallstones, diverticulitis, falls, erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease and 12 kinds of cancer.

But what if you already have one of these conditions? Or an ailment like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure or osteoarthritis? How can you exercise if you’re always tired or in pain or have trouble breathing? Can exercise really help?

You bet it can. Marilyn Moffat, a professor of physical therapy at New York University and co-author with Carole B. Lewis of “Age-Defying Fitness” (Peachtree, 2006), conducts workshops for physical therapists around the country and abroad, demonstrating how people with chronic health problems can improve their health and quality of life by learning how to exercise safely.

Up and Moving

“The data show that regular moderate exercise increases your ability to battle the effects of disease,” Dr. Moffat said in an interview. “It has a positive effect on both physical and mental well-being. The goal is to do as much physical activity as your body lets you do, and rest when you need to rest.”

In years past, doctors were afraid to let heart patients exercise. When my father had a heart attack in 1968, he was kept sedentary for six weeks. Now, heart attack patients are in bed barely half a day before they are up and moving, Dr. Moffat said.

The core of cardiac rehab is a progressive exercise program to increase the ability of the heart to pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood more effectively throughout the body. The outcome is better endurance, greater ability to enjoy life and decreased mortality.

The same goes for patients with congestive heart failure. “Heart failure patients as old as 91 can increase their oxygen consumption significantly,” Dr. Moffat said.

Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension, and it improves peripheral circulation in people who develop cramping leg pains when they walk — a condition called intermittent claudication. The treatment for it, in fact, is to walk a little farther each day.

In people who have had transient ischemic attacks, or ministrokes, “gradually increasing exercise improves blood flow to the brain and may diminish the risk of a full-blown stroke,” Dr. Moffat said. And aerobic and strength exercises have been shown to improve endurance, walking speed and the ability to perform tasks of daily living up to six years after a stroke.

As Randi knows, moderate exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes. And for those with diabetes, exercise improves glucose tolerance — less medication is needed to control blood sugar — and reduces the risk of life-threatening complications.

Perhaps the most immediate benefits are reaped by people with joint and neuromuscular disorders. Without exercise, those at risk of osteoarthritis become crippled by stiff, deteriorated joints. But exercise that increases strength and aerobic capacity can reduce pain, depression and anxiety and improve function, balance and quality of life.

Likewise for people with rheumatoid arthritis. “The less they do, the worse things get,” Dr. Moffat said. “The more their joints move, the better.”

Exercise that builds gradually and protects inflamed joints can diminish pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, depression and anxiety, she said, and improve strength, walking speed and activity.

Exercise is crucial to improving function of total hip or knee replacements. But “most patients with knee replacements don’t get intensive enough activity,” Dr. Moffat said.

Water exercises are particularly helpful for people with multiple sclerosis, who must avoid overheating. And for those with Parkinson’s, resistance training and aerobic exercise can increase their ability to function independently and improve their balance, stride length, walking speed and mood.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Community, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Meat Eating Drives up Costs

I first heard this idea weeks ago, on BBC, as I was listening back in the project room. “How can this be?” I thought, as I first heard the idea that as the poor become richer, their diets are changing and they are demanding cars. That the burgeoning middle-class in China and India are changing everything, and changing it quickly, in ways we never foresaw.

This article has to do with a shortage of fertilizer, and when you get down to the middle of the article (where I stopped) you learn that what is driving up the cost of fertilizer is that so much food that used to go to human consumption is now going into feeding animals for human consumption.

So how are we, as a world community, going to fairly allocate the world’s resources so that nobody goes hungry, everyone has “enough”?

From today’s New York Times; you can read the entire article by clicking here)

Published: April 30, 2008
XUAN CANH, Vietnam — Truong Thi Nha stands just four and a half feet tall. Her three grown children tower over her, just as many young people in this village outside Hanoi dwarf their parents.

The biggest reason the children are so robust: fertilizer.

Ms. Nha, her face weathered beyond its 51 years, said her growth was stunted by a childhood of hunger and malnutrition. Just a few decades ago, crop yields here were far lower and diets much worse.

Then the widespread use of inexpensive chemical fertilizer, coupled with market reforms, helped power an agricultural explosion here that had already occurred in other parts of the world. Yields of rice and corn rose, and diets grew richer.

Now those gains are threatened in many countries by spot shortages and soaring prices for fertilizer, the most essential ingredient of modern agriculture.

Some kinds of fertilizer have nearly tripled in price in the last year, keeping farmers from buying all they need. That is one of many factors contributing to a rise in food prices that, according to the United Nations’ World Food Program, threatens to push tens of millions of poor people into malnutrition.

Protests over high food prices have erupted across the developing world, and the stability of governments from Senegal to the Philippines is threatened.

In the United States, farmers in Iowa eager to replenish nutrients in the soil have increased the age-old practice of spreading hog manure on fields. In India, the cost of subsidizing fertilizer for farmers has soared, leading to political dispute. And in Africa, plans to stave off hunger by increasing crop yields are suddenly in jeopardy.

The squeeze on the supply of fertilizer has been building for roughly five years. Rising demand for food and biofuels prompted farmers everywhere to plant more crops. As demand grew, the fertilizer mines and factories of the world proved unable to keep up.

Some dealers in the Midwest ran out of fertilizer last fall, and they continue to restrict sales this spring because of a limited supply.

“If you want 10,000 tons, they’ll sell you 5,000 today, maybe 3,000,” said W. Scott Tinsman Jr., a fertilizer dealer in Davenport, Iowa. “The rubber band is stretched really far.”

Fertilizer companies are confident the shortage will be solved eventually, noting that they plan to build scores of new factories. But that will probably create fresh problems in the long run as the world grows more dependent on fossil fuels to produce chemical fertilizers. Intensified use of such fertilizers is certain to mean greater pollution of waterways, too.

Agriculture and development experts say the world has few alternatives to its growing dependence on fertilizer. As population increases and a rising global middle class demands more food, fertilizer is among the most effective strategies to increase crop yields.

“Putting fertilizer on the ground on a one-acre plot can, in typical cases, raise an extra ton of output,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Columbia University economist who has focused on eradicating poverty. “That’s the difference between life and death.”

The demand for fertilizer has been driven by a confluence of events, including population growth, shrinking world grain stocks and the appetite for corn and palm oil to make biofuel. But experts say the biggest factor has been the growing demand for food, especially meat, in the developing world.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Family Issues, Food, Health Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions | Leave a comment

Looks Like Yesterday

I know this photo looks just like yesterday, but it is different. Today, the clouds are not so heavy on the horizon, and they are heavier overhead. Visibility is lower.

Now here is where I get confused. At 7 in the morning, it is 90°F / 32°C. The high temperature for today is only supposed to reach 93°F / 34°C. If it is this hot at seven in the morning, how can it only go three degrees higher?

More haze. I can barely see the water today.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 2 Comments

Rain Tomorrow?

Weather Underground Kuwait forecasts RAIN for tomorrow:

April 29, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Uncategorized, Weather | 7 Comments

Today’s Crack-Up

From today’s Kuwait Times:

Citizen Sneaks
Border police detained a Kuwaiti citizen for attempting to sneak through the Salmi Border on foot to enter Saudi Arabia. They approached the man thinking he was a sheep, as he was wearing sheep wool to disguise himself.

On questioning him, he said he was banned from leaving the country due to alcohol cases pending against him so he planned to sneak into Saudi Arabia.

This cracks me up on so many levels. First, just the visual, the idea of a man wearing a sheep’s pelt to sneak across the border. Second, a man with alcohol problems wanting to sneak into Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is slightly less friendly to alcohol than Kuwait. You have to wonder if he was sober when he donned the sheep’s pelt?

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Saudi Arabia | 7 Comments

Eat Your Tomatoes!

I have a Kuwaiti friend who grows tomatoes, and was grousing because this year’s crop wasn’t as abundant as last year’s. Two short weeks later, he changed his tune.

“Come get tomatoes! We have all the tomatoes in the world!”

He had planted a large variety this year, partly because I wanted to see how some American “heirloom” seeds would do here. Either the climate is a little funny this year, or the heirloom seeds just take a little longer, but oh, what a crop there is! One of my friends said “it is like eating tomato candy!” Some of them are that sweet!

Just a little balsamic vinegar and a little of the best olive oil, a little fresh ground pepper and a little salt – oh, what heaven.

But there were so many, we cooked up a tomato sauce, just tomatoes, not even any onions. It was magnificent.

And then in today’s Health News, we learn that in addition to helping us have a healthy heart, eating tomatoes can also help protect our skin against the sun:

(photo courtesy BBC News)

From yesterday’s BBC Health News. (You can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type.)

Tomato dishes ‘may protect skin’

Pizza and spaghetti bolognese could become new tools in the fight against sunburn and wrinkles, a study suggests.

A team found adding five tablespoons of tomato paste to the daily diet of 10 volunteers improved the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays.

Damage from these rays can lead to premature ageing and even skin cancer.

The study, presented at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology, suggested the antioxidant lycopene was behind the apparent benefit.

This component of tomatoes – found at its highest concentration when the fruit has been cooked – has already been linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.

Now researchers at the universities of Manchester and Newcastle have suggested it may also help ward off skin damage by providing some protection against the effects of UV rays.
Anti-ageing paste?

They gave 10 volunteers around 55g of standard tomato paste – which contains high levels of cooked tomatoes – and 10g of olive oil daily. A further 10 participants received just the olive oil.

After three months, skin samples from the tomato group showed they had 33% more protection against sunburn – the equivalent of a very low factor sun cream – and much higher levels of procollagen, a molecule which gives the skin its structure and keeps its firm.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Kuwait, Living Conditions | | 12 Comments

Lemba, Arc of the Covenant and DNA

As I work in the Project Room, I often have the radio on, BBC. I get to hear all about the US elections from another point of view, I get exposure to music I might otherwise never hear, and I hear things that show up weeks, even months later in the news.

AdventureMan called and asked if I had heard the segment on the Lemba in Zimbabwe. I hadn’t, but I listened closely for the next couple days and it was repeated.

It is about a professor who discovered what he thinks is a replica of the Arc of the Covenant in a dusty museum in Zimbabwe. He explored further, and discovered the Lemba claim ancient connections with the Arc, and had priestly customs similar to old Jewish customs. When they underwent DNA testing, the priestly clan of the Lemba had the same genetic markers as the priestly clan of the Jews, the descendants of Aaron.

How fascinating is that? Legend has always claimed the Arc of the Covenant is or was hidden somewhere in Ethiopia . . . transport to Zimbabwe from Ethiopia would not be out of the question.

I went to BBC news online and did a search – no results. Maybe it takes a while for their newest stories to be documented in their search files.

Googling on the internet, I found Ethiomedia which says the following:

In a newly released book, University of London Professor Tudor Parfitt claims to have located the treasured artifact on a dusty shelf of an out-of-the-way museum in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“It was just by chance that I finally managed to track it down to a storeroom in Harare, was able to analyze it and discover that quite apart from anything else, it’s quite probably the oldest wooden object in sub-Sahara Africa,” said Parfitt, an expert in Oriental and African Studies.

“It’s massively important in terms of history, even apart from its status as the last surviving link to the original Ark of Moses.”

In his HarperCollins’ book, “The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2,500 Year Old Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark,” Parfitt describes traipsing around the globe, decoding ancient texts and deciphering numerous clues to locate the enigmatic object.

Along the way, the man dubbed the “British Indiana Jones” by friends, colleagues and the Wall Street Journal uncovered genetic evidence confirming claims by the Lemba tribe that they
are descendants of ancient Israelite priests, the caretakers of the lost Ark.

He experienced a major breakthrough in 1999 when he took DNA samples from 136 male members of the Lemba tribe. In a finding that drew worldwide publicity, a genetic analysis confirmed they were descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses.

So many discoveries have proven to be fraudulent that I hesitate to put too much faith in this discovery, but I have to admit that it appeals to the little girl in me, who still believes archaeologists have great adventures, and loves the Indiana Jones movies!

(I hear there is a new Indiana Jones movie coming out soon. I hope old Harrison Ford can recapture enough of his youth to make this as good as the first one.)

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, News | 5 Comments

Sunrise 29 April 2008

I awoke rested this morning, and although the sunrise is getting earlier and earlier, I was up for it. Actual sunrise was a non-event – whatever is on the horizon, and I think it is a thick bank of clouds – the sun didn’t make it through for many minutes. When I first could see it, it was barely there. Looks to me like it will have to fight through a thick cloud of “haze” most of the day.

It’s that haze that worries me. Did we have so much haze last year at this time?


I guess summer is here. It is already 88°F / 31° C at 0600, with an expected high today of 100° F / 38°F. 

April 29, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 5 Comments

Photo tools

Technical issue – Yousef – this is what I see in my “gallery” when I select a photo. Is this what you see? Where are the tools? How do you resize from here?

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Photos, Technical Issue, WordPress | 7 Comments