Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Double Rainbow

Last night, heading towards the house of good friends about an hour down the highway, I saw this glorious double rainbow. Actually, it showed up a lot better through my sunglasses, but I was uncomfortable enough taking a photo while driving, much less, removing my sunglasses and trying to keep them over the camera lens to take the photo, while driving, LOL. No! No! I didn’t!

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Florida, Photos | 4 Comments

Pensacola Oil Spill Editorial Cartoon

The editorial underneath, Death of a Fisherman, refers to the suicide of a charter boat fisherman. His business tanked, he joined the BP clean-up. After an early morning meeting, he killed himself. All he ever wanted to do was fish. His heart was broken.

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Florida, Pensacola, Spiritual | 1 Comment

Sun in Ultra High Definition

You would never know my Kuwaiti friend is such a nerd. She is beautiful, she is gracious, and she is a lot of fun. She also sends me some of the most wonderful e-mail forwards, great stuff, stuff you can think about and go WOW. She knows I am a nerd, and she loves me anyway. 🙂

Today she sent me a link to Fox News where there is an article with new, ultra high definition series of sun shots – they are purely glorious:

At a second link, you can click on play and listen to the transliterated ‘sound of the sun.’ Give it a try. It is awesome.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Experiment, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Technical Issue | 8 Comments

Bionic Cat

You can read this entire story at The NPR Website

No Mouse Is Safe: Cat Gets World’s First Bionic Paws

Oscar, the cat with a pair of prosthetic paws, is seen in an undated photo.

June 25, 2010
Oscar the cat may have lost one of his nine lives, but his new prosthetic paws make him the world’s first bionic cat.

After losing his two rear paws in a nasty encounter with a combine harvester last October, the black cat with green eyes was outfitted with metallic pegs that link the ankle to the foot and mimic the way deer antlers grow through skin. Oscar is now back on his feet and hopping over hurdles like tissue paper rolls.

After Oscar’s farming accident, which happened when the 2 1/2-year-old-cat was lazing in the sun in the British Channel Isles, his owners, Kate and Mike Nolan, took him to their local veterinarian. In turn, the vet referred Oscar to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, a neuro-orthopedic surgeon in Eashing, 35 miles southwest of London.

Together with biomedical engineering experts, Fitzpatrick gave Oscar two metal prosthetic implants that are a bit wobbly, to imitate a cat’s natural walk. But first, he covered the brown implants with black tape to match Oscar’s fur.

Fitzpatrick said he and biomedical engineers designed the artificial paws so that they would be fused to the bone and skin. “That allows this implant to work as a seesaw on the bottom of the animal’s limbs to give him [an] effectively normal gait,” he said. “Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do.”

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, Health Issues, Pets | 2 Comments

Pesticide Exposure Cause of ADHD?

This morning on AOL Health News:

By Mary Beth Sammons
In the United States alone, an estimated 4.5 million children ages 5 to 17 have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and rates of diagnosis have risen 3 percent a year between 1997 and 2006. Yet it is unclear what is causing this increase. New research is investigating many avenues. One of them is environmental factors such as pesticides and allergens.

In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers studied 1,139 children ages 8 to 15. All of the children studied had measurable residue of pesticides commonly used on fruits and vegetables. Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of this exposure comes from the common kid-friendly fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries and celery. In a 2008 government report, detectable concentrations of malathion (a pesticide commonly used in agriculture, residential landscaping and mosquito abatement) were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples and 19 percent of celery samples.

In the Pediatrics study, researchers found that for every tenfold increase in the urinary concentration of pesticide residue, there was a 35 percent increase in the chance that the child would develop ADHD. The effect was seen even in kids who had a very low level of detectable, above-average pesticide residue.

Unlike other studies of pesticidal impact, this one looked at the average exposure to pesticides in the general population of children and not at a specialized group such as children who live on farms, according to lead author Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal.

Because certain pesticides leave the body after three to six days, the presence of residue shows that exposure is likely constant, Bouchard said. The study found that children with the kind of metabolites left in the body after malathion exposure were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children. Children may be especially prone to the health risks of pesticides because they’re still growing and may consume more pesticide residue than adults, relative to their body weight.

More research is needed to confirm the findings, says Bouchard. But the take-home message for parents, she says, is to give kids organic produce as much as you can and to wash fresh fruits and vegetables — organic or not — thoroughly.

An unpublished 2008 study out of Emory University found that in children who switched to organically grown fruits and vegetables, urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to undetectable or close to undetectable levels.

Denver immunologist Dr. Isaac Melamed is studying another effect that may contribute to ADHD: the inflammation caused by all allergies including food, pollen and dust. In his unpublished study, he found that the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction may contribute to ADHD. Therefore, he says, by controlling a child’s exposure to allergens, parents may be able to better control ADHD. Melamed says that although much more study needs to be done on this, in his private practice, he has controlled his patients’ ADHD by limiting allergic triggers.

Remember that all of this research is in the very early stages and needs to be studied more thoroughly before it can be confirmed.

So the parents who conscientiously feed their children fruits and veggies are at most risk for exposing their children to pesticides which may lead to ADHD? And the recommendation is for eating organic vegetables? Or growing your own?

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Family Issues, Food, Health Issues | 10 Comments

Mr. Helpful and Ms. Sourpuss

If it weren’t that this really happened, it would be funny.

I had a complicated errand at the post office today, and a wait in line. Several people came in for passport services. They would wait in line and get up to the front and be told that the man who handles the passport services is at lunch. Actually, Mr. Helpful would tell them that, and add that just a block down the street, they could get the same services at the (?) county office (?) (I am not sure that is what he said because I wasn’t really paying attention, but the third or fourth time it happened, I caught on.

What is really funny is that there was a woman working in the same post office. She wouldn’t give any explanation, just say that no, the service wasn’t available now. When the bewildered patron would say ‘but it says on the sign . . ” she would add ‘oh the man who does that is at lunch now.’ Nothing more. Mr. Helpful would take pity on the customers and give them the additional information.

When I got to the counter, I got Mr. Helpful, thanks be to God. I had the wrong packet, but he quickly got me all squared away, and then asked me if I knew about the special rate boxes; I had paid $2.00 more than I needed to and the boxes were free. This guy was so impressive – and a stark contrast to the woman working next to him who gave her customers as little service as she could.

It takes so little to make people happy – just words, just a little information.

To push the envelope, I asked another, irrelevant question, and Mr. Helpful acted as if he couldn’t be happier that I asked, and calmly and politely gave me a lengthy explanation. Wooo HOOO on you, Mr. Helpful Customer Service.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Customer Service, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Random Musings, Work Related Issues | 9 Comments

Heartache in Pensacola

It’s a beautiful full moon over the oil soaked beaches of Pensacola. There is a beach advisory against children on the beach, against pregnant women or people with weak immune systems being on the beach. The surf is contaminated with oil and VOC, which is volatile organic compounds, whatever that means, it is bad.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Community, Crime, Environment, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Political Issues, Social Issues | 6 Comments

Lost in Space

Did you think I might have dropped off the face of the earth? The truth is so much more mundane, I am just up to my neck in boxes, and the tedious task of unloading those boxes and trying to find the right place for each of the myriad objects is frustrating and totally not worth sharing with you.

It was only a year ago I did this same move, on a smaller scale, the move from Kuwait to Doha. Only one year ago this month. This move is more complicated, with another whole household coming in, and now all our Doha goods have arrived, and I get to put everything away.

I decided to do things differently, and it worked for me. Normally, I am methodical. I choose a box, empty the box, put everything away, break down the box and move to the next box.

This time, I opened the box, and if I just wasn’t ready to deal with that box, I moved on to the next box. I would put away what could be more easily put away. Occasionally, I have had to run to the local Target store and buy some more put-it-together storage organization pieces, and that slows me down a little, but helps me store things for effectively and efficiently – I like to know where things are. If you have to go looking for things, and you can’t find them, then they are useless, no?

And, last and most freeing of all, now that I am working upstairs – when I finished with a box, I just tossed it over the landing, down into the entryway! LLLOOOLLLL! You cannot imagine the joy it gave me! Just toss, and it’s gone, and it makes a satisfying racket when it hits the floor, or the other boxes!

I also had a collection of boxes in what was called ‘the butler’s pantry’ in the house brochure. It is a room between the guest suite, laundry and garage, where there are two wine refrigerators – one for white and one for red – and more glass fronted cupboards, where AdventureMan stored all our wine and beer glasses. He also keeps beer in the white wine refrigerator, as we don’t drink that much wine.

Yesterday morning, once I had finished the last box, I broke down all the boxes at once. When you do it all at once, it takes like less than one minute per box. I had all the boxes broken down and into the garage in about 40 minutes. Wooo HOOO on me!

I still have chaos in two rooms, the room we call the Grandchildren’s Room, next to ours, upstairs. I have piles of things I haven’t used for years, but I keep hanging on to because I might want to use them sometime. Hmmmm. Actually, I love this room. It has the best light of all the rooms in the house, with a Southern window and a Western window. Lots of light.

And then, there is my quilt room. Quilters collect fabric, and being mildly obsessive compulsive, I like to have my fabric in order, by color, by type (floral? checked? baby quilt? Batik? Christmas?) and sometimes by nationality (African? French? Dutch?) or project (blocks from Germany? blocks from Doha?). Quilters often also have a lot of equipment, including more than one sewing machine and cutting tools, patterns, books, embellishments, etc. It is a real mess to put away:

You can see the chair in this room – to the right of that chair are two large bookcases, and in the lower part near the chair is also my “office.” That chair is where I do my morning Bible readings and where I write many of these posts, while AdventureMan is still snoozing. When I am working, AdventureMan comes in and sits in that chair to talk to me. There is an identical one in his office, where I sit when I am talking with him, and where I sit when we are watching the upstairs TV. AdventureMan jokes that we are wearing a hole in the carpet as we go back and forth to each other’s offices. 🙂

My kitchen has a couple clear counters, now, although there are still things I am trying to find places for. There are two ‘areas of sanity’ – the living room and the family room. I don’t have a lot up on the walls yet, but a few little things. Putting things up is fun for me, so I save that to encourage myself to get everything away – once I have everything put away, I can have a little fun. 🙂

As you can see, I still have work to do, but I wanted to take a minute to bring you up to date. 🙂

June 24, 2010 Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Work Related Issues | 7 Comments

Chaos Once Again in Pensacola

I believe the word that will ultimately characterize this year is chaos, and the struggle to bring order out of chaos. You might have noticed I have not been able to blog. Once again, chaos has hit Pensacola, this time in the form of our Doha shipment.

Good news for all my expat friends, concerned about packing out of Doha, or Kuwait. This has been the very best move, ever, and the second best move was the move from Kuwait to Qatar. I rate this one higher only because it was so much longer, and across a sea, and there is so much potential for damage – humidity, being left out on the pier in a storm, a leaky container, theft, lack of careful packing . . . not a single element was wrong with this shipment. Not a thing missing. Not a single thing damaged.

For your information, we were packed by GAC. We marvel at how carefully they packed even the most humble drinking glass. 🙂

So here is what we look like right now:

Chaos in the entry – we have all our artworks stored here, except for the really large pieces, and most of the large ones we already know where they will go . . .

It seemed like we had a lot of cupboard space, until this shipment arrived. I had left room, but . . . not enough. More donations to the Pensacola Junior League Sale coming up!

Most of this is my stuff, a tiny bit of winter and evening clothing and . . . a lot of fabric which will move to the quilt room when there is room . . . My quilt room used to look so big!

Now, for AdventureMan’s chaos – we are heading to his office:

Yes! Yes! Hide your face, AdventureMan! All these boxes . . .

I can see the end in sight. Once I have all this put away, there is just one more shipment, all my strays from Seattle. I have a storage locker there, and things left at my mother’s, and a whole underbed area at my sister’s house. Who knew they would be inconvenienced this long? We are going to drive up and haul all this stuff back, and at that point – the move is complete.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Moving | 11 Comments

Lunch at the Tuscan Oven

We took a road we don’t usually take, and suddenly, there it was – The Tuscan Oven! I had eaten there before, and loved it, but had not seen it and had assumed it had disappeared. Restaurants do that, even good ones, it takes so much work and so much effort to run a restaurant, and they run on such a slim margin that we have often been disappointed to see good restaurants close.

We were joyful to see the Tuscan Oven!

The place is packed. People who love good food are here. 🙂 You can tell that many of them are friends with the owner, and they come here often. The menu has too many good things!

We ordered the Antipasta Plate, with delicious cheeses and sausages, tasty olives and a stuffed artichoke heart. Unfortunately, we dug in before I remembered to take photos 😦

We each also ordered a small pizza, but even small was too big after the antipasta plate, so we ended up bringing more than a full pizza home.

I love the decor – an artist has painted food ingredients for the meals – this is my favorite, the artichoke:

We look forward to coming back here often!

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Photos | 1 Comment