Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Together We Can

This one gave me shivers – the good kind. Together we can – take the pledge:

Take The Pledge

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Community, Customer Service, Experiment, Financial Issues, Friends & Friendship, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Starbucks Press Release

Thanks to a good friend who forwarded this . . . haven’t seen any slowdown in the Starbucks I visit. 🙂

January 16, 2009
Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East Arabic Language Statement

It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents, and have also led to violent situations involving our stores, partners (employees) and customers.

Our more than 160,000 partners and business associates around the globe have diverse views about a wide range of topics. Regardless of that spectrum of belief, Starbucks Coffee Company remains a non-political organization. We do not support any political or religious cause. Further, allegations that Starbucks provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army in any way are unequivocally false. Unfortunately, these rumors persist despite our best efforts to refute them.

What we do believe in, and remain focused on, is staying true to our company’s long-standing heritage — simply connecting with our partners and customers over a cup of high quality coffee and offering the best experience possible to them – regardless of geographical location. Though our roots are in the United States, we are a global company with stores in 49 countries, including more than 230 stores in nine Middle Eastern countries. In countries where we do business, we are proud to be a part of the fabric of the local community — working directly with local partners who operate our stores, employing thousands of local citizens, serving millions of customers and positively impacting many others through our support of neighborhoods and cities.


Is it true that Starbucks provides financial support to Israel?
No. This is absolutely untrue. Rumors that Starbucks Coffee Company provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a publicly held company and as such, is required to disclose any corporate giving each year through a proxy statement. In addition, articles in the London Telegraph (U.K.), New Straits Times (Malaysia), and Spiked (online) provide an outside perspective on these false rumors.

Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?
No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks is teaming with other American corporations to send their last several weeks of profits to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army?
No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks closed its stores in Israel for political reasons?
No. We do not make business decisions based on political issues. We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market. After many months of discussion with our partner we came to this amicable decision. While this was a difficult decision for both companies, we believe it remains the right decision for our businesses.

Middle East Partnership and Operations

Do you work with a Middle East partner to operate Starbucks stores?
Through a licensing agreement with trading partner and licensee MH Alshaya WLL, a private Kuwait family business, Starbucks has operated in the Middle East since 1999. Today Alshaya Group, recognized as one of the leading and most influential retailing franchisees in the region, operates more than 274 Starbucks stores in the Middle East and Levant region. In addition to its Starbucks stores, the Alshaya Group operates more than 1,700 other retail stores in the region, providing jobs for more than 15,000 employees of more than 35 nationalities.

We are extremely fortunate and proud to have forged a successful partnership for the past ten years and look forward to building on this success.

In which Middle Eastern countries do you operate?
We partner with Alshaya Group to operate Starbucks stores in Egypt, Kuwait, KSA, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon in the Middle East region. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many communities, and we are committed to providing the Starbucks Experience while respecting the local customs and cultures of each country we are a part of. We are also committed to hiring locally, providing jobs to thousands of local citizens in the countries where we operate.

Are you still operating Starbucks stores in Israel? If not, do you have plans to re-open should the opportunity arise?
We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.

When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community. We will therefore continue to assess all opportunities on this basis. At present, we will continue to grow our business in the Middle East as we have been very gratified by the strong reception of the brand in the region. We continue to work closely with our business partner, the Alshaya Group, in developing our plans for the region.

Contact Information:
Starbucks Coffee Company
Customer Relations
(800) 235-2883

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Sweet Home Alabama – As You’ve NEVER Seen it

Courtesy of my friend, Momcat, who shares my quirky sense of humor:

Written by To The Point News
Thursday, 06 March 2008

Prepare yourself for this one – maybe with a Stoli martini or two.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Red Army had an official choir composed of male soldiers and musicians. It still exists. The Red Army Choir performs throughout Russia to this day.

Now consider the Finnish rock band called The Leningrad Cowboys. A little while ago, they held a concert in Russia, in which – to the screaming applause of Russkie teen-agers – they got the Red Army Choir to join them on stage for a performance of “Sweet Home Alabama.” In English. You couldn’t make this up.

We’re talking seriously off the wall here. Better have that Stoli ready when you watch it:

(Prepare to die, laughing!) DA! Da! Da!

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Humor, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Architecture in Kuwait

Fascinating article in today’s 

Arab Times on architectural transitions in Kuwait from a talk given by Salah Abdullah, an expert in the analysis of architectural history, at the Aware Center. This is just an interesting excerpt, but you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type above.


Old Kuwait
Eng Abdullah also explained the architecture of old Kuwait and how a number of elements have influenced Kuwait in making its buildings and architectural layout what it is today. “In the past city development in Kuwait was completely spontaneous and simply divided. In this it has been similar to many old cities, like London. But what dominated was the Arabic and Islamic culture which is the mainstay of interior designs of many Kuwaiti homes. Building materials were usually taken from nature — sea rock, mud, limestone and gypsum. The shape of old Kuwaiti architecture came to suit the environment and circumstances. Houses were adjacent in a manner that indicated the unity and corporation of the people and streets were usually narrow. Mosques were placed very close to houses, to allow the elderly to walk without trouble.

Construction in the past depended on Kuwaitis themselves. The engineer called ‘ustad’ at that time supervised the buildings and the laborers. They carried rocks, prepared mud bricks and started building. This process was called ‘collective vernacular architecture’. At that time three critical customs were kept in mind when constructing the houses. These included the privacy of women, segregation of guests — male and female — and future family expansion. Therefore to tackle these problems, the family part of the house where women rested was pushed to the back, far away from the street, so it was impossible for anyone passing by to see inside. The family entrance was also separated from the guest entrance. There was also a separate entrance for male and female guests. “The Diwaniya which persists until today also dominated the architectural buildings of the past. Diwaniyas for women were built on the west side of the house and male Diwaniyas on the east side,” explained Eng Abdullah.

I remember moving to Kuwait, I was shown 21 villas, and most of them had a kitchen outside. I was puzzled, then a friend told me that Kuwaitis don’t like the smell of food hanging around inside. What happens is . . . you forget. You get used to things, and after a while, it is like “oh yeh, the kitchen is outside” and you forget that it’s different. Recently, having dinner with Kuwaiti friends, they told us that their kitchen is inside, but they have a separate oven outside for cooking fish, because of the smell. I’ll have to remember that when they come to visit me in Seattle! Don’t cook fish, Intlxpatr! The smell goes all over the house!

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Building, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Privacy | 12 Comments

What Happened Here?

I take photos, but I am not all that sophisticated about photography. January, for me, is a month of clearing out and organizing; it helps me face the rest of the year with more confidence. As I was clearing out duplicate photos, I came across this:



My photo has holes in it.


It looks like a tear in the photo, see the way the lines resonate around the center? I think the holes in the bottom might actually be in the woven fabric, but the hole in the center is definitely a flaw. How did this happen? Are all my digital photos at risk?

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Photos, Technical Issue | 6 Comments

Older Dog

This came in this morning’s e-mail:


An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.
I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of. 

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; 
he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the 
hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.


An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.


The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.

This continued off and on for several weeks.



Curious I pinned a note to his collar: ‘I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful, sweet dog is


and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.’



The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:


‘He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 – he’s trying to catch up on his sleep.


Can I come with him tomorrow?’

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Community, Humor, Living Conditions | 9 Comments

Gung Hey Fat Choi in Chengdu, China

The Chinese really know how to celebrate New Years. This is footage from Chengdu, China, taken as the Year of the Ox came in at midnight. Well, from a minute before midnight to several minutes afterwards. You cannot begin to imagine 180° of fireworks continuously, minutes on end. A spectacular display.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Holiday, Living Conditions | , | Leave a comment

Mr. Ken’s Sunrise #2

I love the pinks and blues and purples in this one from Mr. Ken:



Here is what Mr. Ken says:


I am, by nature, a night own who normally would only see a sunrise as he was going to bed. But, since I started a new job last week, I have been getting into work before the sun even casts a glow on the horizon. Yesterday I was off and slept in past the sunrise but not this morning.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series | | Leave a comment

In Today’s E-mail – Great Hints


Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to 
pick the little ‘stringy things’ off of it. That’s how the primates do it.

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. 
If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.


Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. 
Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. 
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
 To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of 
spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.
For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt  Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting. 
Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste 
of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm! 
                                                    Reheat Pizza 
Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low
 and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works. 

Easy Deviled Eggs 
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting 
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer
 for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving. 
                                            Reheating refrigerated bread 
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in
a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food
moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper weeds away 
Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers,
put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and for-
get about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not
get through wet newspapers.

Broken Glass 
Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.
                             No More Mosquitoes 
       Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.
 It will keep the mosquitoes away. 
                                                    Squirrel Away! 
To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper.
 The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

               Flexible vacuum 
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel
 roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings. 
                                                    Reducing Static Cling Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and … ta da! … static is gone. 

Measuring Cups 
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.
Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such
as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield? 
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of
 your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth! 
                                     Reopening envelopes 
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside,
 just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily. 

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s cheaper than shaving cream and
 leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair. 

Goodbye Fruit Flies 
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2′ with Apple Cider Vinegar
 and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever! 

Get Rid of Ants 
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it ‘home,’ can’t
 digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! 
                     INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS 
The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the
 house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to  the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material .. I’m sure you know what your dryer¢s lint filter looks like. Well …. the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn’t go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that’s what burns out the heating unit. You can’t SEE the film, but it’s there. It’s what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free … that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box … well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn’t know dryer sheets would do that. So, I thought I’d share! 
Note: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ranthrough a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it .. the water ran right thru the screen! There wasn’t any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about! 
PS. I , Intlxpatr, was not the one who did the dryer test, it was a part of this e-mail forward. I don’t know that it is true or not true.  🙂

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Experiment, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Technical Issue | 4 Comments

Rare Occurrence

Yesterday morning, on the way to the airport, I was taking a different route, a more travelled route, but early in the morning, so early, most of the routes are more lightly travelled.

There were none of the weaving wonders I normally experience.

I experienced a new phenomenon, very very slow drivers.

I don’t know why there were so many people driving really really slow on fast roads. They were all in the very far right lane. I wondered if they were falling asleep, they were so slow. And then I remembered . . . when I first came to Kuwait, the traffic terrified me. I would get up very very early and go out and drive, to try to learn the roads, but I always stayed in the right lane, and I was going pretty slow.

I don’t know if they were new drivers – there were a lot of slow drivers on the road. Maybe they were sleepy, or incapacitated in some other way. Or maybe they were new, terrified drivers like I used to be.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Random Musings | | 9 Comments