Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sunrise in Seattle For Ansam 5/18

It’s not the sun coming up over the Gulf – it’s coming up over the tall pine trees up on the hills north of Seattle. The day is going to be a sizzling 23°C / 74°F and I slept last night with my window wide open to the fresh, fresh air. It’s August in Seattle, and it is not raining. It doesn’t get any better than that! 🙂


When I got up this morning, I thought I really should be observing Ramadan, changing half the globe in time zones is the way to do it. I feel like eating all night and I feel like sleeping all day. I forced myself to stay awake last night until ten, and I was still wide awake at four in the morning – aaarrgh!

August 24, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Seattle, sunrise series, Travel | 7 Comments

Translations of US Home Ads

In a housing market many feel is near the bottom, there are some good deals available. Before you go looking, you may want to take a look at this tongue-in-cheek translation of what the agents are REALLY saying in their online ads:

Homebuyer’s translator
From AOL News: Real Estate

You can read the entire article from which this is excerpted by clicking on the blue type above.

Boyd, a past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, or NAEBA, was so amused by these codified euphemisms that he compiled a translation guide with the help of NAEBA members nationwide.

For example, he cites the commonly used term “cozy” and says the connotation to savvy Realtors is that there isn’t much space in the house.

“It triggers the Henny Youngman in us: ‘This house is so small that you have to go outside to change your mind,'” Boyd says.

Boyd says that although some of these phrases can be taken to extremes, a little hyperbole is not necessarily a bad thing for buyers.

“I would rather take the time to show a buyer an extra five houses that they don’t want because it’s too cozy or smells bad or whatever so that the buyer has a better reference on what they are getting and the compromises to make on the house they do choose,” he says.

The industry acronyms he’s more worried about these days are “BATVAI” and “IDRBNG,” which stand for “buyer’s agent to verify all information” and “information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.”

“We’re seeing more and more of those listings now,” says Boyd. “The idea is that the listing office doesn’t want to take responsibility for actually measuring the property or adequately describing it.

“Sometimes, they don’t even visit the property. They just put down the information from the assessor’s records and put it on the market and say it’s the buyer’s agent’s problem to verify it.”

They include:

* Grandma’s house: Realtors interpret this to mean a) the house hasn’t been updated since Grandma moved in or b) it still smells like Grandma.

* Great potential: The operative word here is “potential.” The “potential” in one case pointed to the fact that there was a large crack through the center of the foundation caused by an earthquake.

* Light and bright: Bring your sunglasses because everything in this baby will be white: walls, cabinets, tile. Where have you seen this before? Oh yeah, the hospital.

* Meticulously maintained: It could mean the owners never bothered to update the property. Maintenance is admirable for plumbing and HVAC, not so much for cabinets, carpets and windows.

* Mile to the beach as the seagull flies: And you’ll wish you had wings. Those straight-line calculations can mean some pesky traffic lies between you and the lifeguard shack.

* Needs TLC: You may freely substitute “OMG” for “TLC” here. Boyd says the phrase “TLC” often means the house has been abused and requires more than mere redecorating. “The average homebuyer who sees HGTV a couple times before they go looking is not sensitive to that,” he says.

* Newer furnace and AC: “Newer” has a certain “truthiness” to it. In one case, both units were 25 years old. When the listing agent was asked why she made such an audacious claim, she replied, “Because each one of them had received a new part within the last year.”

* Retro decor: It’s ’60s flashback time. Can you dig the original paisley vinyl floors and avocado appliances, man? Groovy!

* This house just had a total facelift: Loosely translated, it means the seller painted everything. But paint, like a facelift, can only hide so much.

* This house will go fast: Might have been believable in the first 30 days on the market, but not anymore. One home with this description had been on the market 247 days.

* Turnkey: Meaning they don’t want to have to haul away all that orange-and-brown-plaid-polyester-covered furniture.

* Very bright, sunny home: Often true because there’s not a tree in sight.

* Water view: Of course, you’ll need to stand on the upper deck railing and crane your neck. With binoculars. On an extremely clear day.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Marketing, Shopping, Work Related Issues | 3 Comments

If You Thought the Last Joke Was Bad . . .

This one might qualify as the WORST:


Well, A Girl Potato and A Boy Potato had eyes for each other, and finally they got married, and had a little sweet potato, which they called ‘Yam.’

Of course, they wanted the best for Yam. When it was time, they told her about the facts of life.

They warned her about going out and getting half-baked, so she wouldn’t get accidentally mashed, and get a bad name for herself like ‘Hot Potato,’ and end up with a bunch of Tater Tots.

Yam said not to worry; no Spud would get her into the sack and make a rotten potato out of her!

But on the other hand she wouldn’t stay home and become a Couch Potato either.

She would get plenty of exercise so as not to be skinny like her Shoestring cousins.

When she went off to Europe, Mr. and Mrs. Potato told Yam to watch out for the hard-boiled guys from Ireland. And the greasy guys from France called the French Fries.

And when she went out west in the USA, they told her to watch out for the Indians so she wouldn’t get scalloped.

Yam said she would stay on the straight and narrow and wouldn’t associate with those high class Yukon Golds or the ones from the other side of the tracks who advertise their trade on all the trucks that say, ‘Frito Lay.’

Mr. and Mrs. Potato sent Yam to Idaho P.U. (that’s Potato University) so when she graduated she’d really be in the chips.

But in spite of all they did for her, one-day Yam came home and announced she was going to marry Tom Brokaw.

Tom Brokaw!!!

Mr. and Mrs. Potato were very upset.

They told Yam she couldn’t possibly marry Tom Brokaw because he’s just…well he’s just a…

Are you ready for this?

Are you sure?



OK! Here it is!



August 24, 2009 Posted by | Joke, Mating Behavior | , | 5 Comments

Sunrise in Amsterdam (for my Kuwait friends)

OK, OK, now I have to tell you the truth.

I am not celebrating Ramadan in Doha this year.

When we moved to Doha, we didn’t know how long we would be there. It could have been just months. I know, I know, those who knew us and knew the situation just gasped and said “Why would you do this?”

We don’t know.

This is our life. This is the life of expat contractors. You always get a choice, but sometimes you do what will help out the company. The packing and unpacking part, the leaving friends part – all that is bad. Really really bad. The moving to a place you have lived before, where you know the roads, you know the grocery stores and gas stations and don’t have to learn everything all over again, and best of all – where you still have good friends – all that is really really good.

So once we learned that we will be in Doha for longer than three months, I quickly booked a trip to Seattle. If we were moving again soon, I wouldn’t have bothered, because these long trips get harder and harder on us.

As we were about to land in Amsterdam, I just happened to look outside the window – and there was the sun. Thinking of all my friends in Kuwait who got sick and tired of the sun rising over the Gulf (hee hee hee, it’s MY blog, and I never get tired of the sunrise! 🙂 ) I thought you might like to see the sun rising over a bunch of nice cool clouds and an airplane wing in Amsterdam.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan | 7 Comments