Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

What Women Did For Fun

Several weeks ago, AdventureMan presented me with two (large) piles of files, saying that they were mine and needed to be gone through. I spent the day today tossing out old term papers, old manuscripts, old resumes – lots and lots of things that were worth saving, and now, not so much.

One thing I came across was a file with copies of work my departed aunt Helen had done to gain entrance into the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution (Revolutionary War for America’s Independence). It was like a game, only when she started playing, there was no e-mail, only snail mail. Long distance telephone calls were expensive, and she was a Navy wife, so it was all done by hand.

Genealogy work, too, was painstakingly done, and family histories, cemetery records, lists of people arriving and departing on ships and who married who – all lovingly compiled and typed on manual typewriters by people with a passion for making connections, solving the mysteries of who married whom and for how long:

(“no need to mention the divorce” one correspondent wrote, “it happened in my family, too, and it isn’t relevant so we just won’t mention it” she wrote about a marriage that ceased to exist over a hundred years before)

My aunt had a sure thing, and she had a unique entry, so she was tracking three entries at the same time, trying to prove a new connection, while knowing she had in her pocket an already proven entry.

I lost a couple hours of my life, reading through all the correspondence, trying to decipher her notes and the arcane charts of relationships stretching back to 1690, when one line of the family arrived on these shores. I grinned, thinking how we document our bloodlines, leaving out the pirates and the horse thieves, and (legend has it) the French aristocrat who left his first family in France and started our branch here, without having divorced his first family, LOL.

My aunt must have been a little younger than I am when she started on this search, and I know that she served proudly in the DAR for many years, along with several civic committees, library committees and planning commissions in Santa Barbara, California. I still miss her.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Community, Detective/Mystery, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 4 Comments

Idiot Awards 2009

After posting the story today about the suspect who tried to drown the police officer AND the police dog, I Googled “Idiot Awards 2009” and found these on the blog Daily Funny Jokes.

Idiot Number Six of 2009

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers.
The first one shouted, “Nobody move!” When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him This guy doesn’t need an award, he probably figured it out himself.

Number Five Idiot of 2009

A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag,the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, “Because I don’t believe you are over 21. The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn’t believe him. At this point, the robber took his driver’s license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the Scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later.

This guy definitely needs an award!

Number Four Idiot of 2009

Arkansas: Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he’d just throw a brick through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the brick and heaved it over his head at the window. The brick bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. It seems the liquor store window was made of Flexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape.

Oh, that’s smart. Give him his award.

Number Three Idiot of 2009

A true story out of San Francisco : A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America , walked into the branch and wrote “this iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag” While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller’s window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo . After waiting a Few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller.

She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn’t the brightest light in the street told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, “OK” and left. He was Arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America .

Don’t bother with this guy’s award. He probably couldn’t read it anyway.

Number Two Idiot of 2009

Early this year, some airline employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home. Shortly after they took it for a float on the river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated. They are no longer employed with the airline.

Here’s your award, guys. Don’t get it wet; the paint might run.

Number One Idiot of 2009

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants.

I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away.

Here’s your award, lady. Wear it with pride.

I hope you find these as hilarious as I do, I laugh every time I think of the Wells Fargo bank teller telling the robber she can’t give him the money because the note is written on a Bank of American form, LLLLOOOOLLLLLLLL!

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, Humor | Leave a comment

Chase Ends with Suspect Trying to Drown Police and Police Dog

I loved reading the papers in Kuwait. What criminals could be so incredibly STUPID, I would wonder. (Here is my all time favorite Kuwait story.)

This morning, AdventureMan asked “Have you read the paper? Some guy had a high speed chase, then he tried to drown the policeman AND the policeman’s dog!”

No, I hadn’t read it. It is almost to stupid to be believed. What I do love is that the idiot is named in the Pensacola News Journal story and, of course, that his mother says he couldn’t have done it, LOL.

Chase Ends With Officer Fighting To Save His Life

Gulf Breeze Police Department Sgt. Stef Neff knows things can go bad in just a few seconds in his line of work.

That’s what happened in Gulf Breeze early Saturday morning when a traffic stop ended with Neff fighting for his life with a suspect in Hoffman Bayou.

“There is no lonelier feeling than that,” said Neff, a 15-year veteran who survived the fight without serious injuries. “I didn’t have any way to call anybody else. It was me and him.”

The suspect — Kyle Estes, 21, of Navarre — was eventually captured but it took more than an hour as he struggled in the water with two other officers and a police dog.

Estes remains in Santa Rosa County Jail today under $111,000 bond. He is facing a long list of charges related to Saturday’s fracas:

• Fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers.
• Obstruction of police.
• Aggravated battery.
• Resisting an officer.
• Driving while license is suspended or revoked.
• Hit and run.
• DUI with property damage.

The suspect’s mother hasn’t talked to him since the early morning battle, but she insists he is not violent by nature.

“It was totally out of character for Kyle to get violent like that,” Michelle Estes said today. “It was a very desperate and extreme attempt to get away from the police. I just think he didn’t want to get in trouble.”

The incident began when Gulf Breeze Police Officer Greg Baker tried to stop Estes at about 2 a.m. after seeing him speeding south on the Pensacola Bay bridge at about 95 mph, Neff said.

Baker followed Estes to Chanteclaire Circle, where Estes lost control of his vehicle and hit a cement wall, a mailbox and a tree, Neff said.

Estes jumped out the vehicle and ran. Neff and Gulf Breeze police officer Daylyn Wilson went to help Baker.

As Neff drove on Chanteclaire Circle, Estes ran by. Neff said he jumped out his vehicle, ran between some houses and pursued Estes to Hoffman Bayou.

Estes fell into the bayou from a rock embankment. Neff said Estes pulled him into the water.

“He tried to push me under the water,” Neff said. “He tried to drown me.”

Neff had no way to tell anyone where he was because his radio was disabled after being dunked in the water.

The Pensacola Police Department and Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office dispatched officers to help look for Neff.

Neff said he hit Estes in the head a few times with his flashlight as the two struggled in the water. He said Estes let him go after he hit him and started to swim across the bayou toward Laura Lane.

As Neff was coming out of the water, Wilson arrived. Neff told Wilson to head toward Laura Lane.

At first, Estes couldn’t be found after he swam away.

“He kind of hunkered down in some saw grass,” Neff said. “He just tried to wait us out.”

When Pensacola Police Officer Shawn Thompson made it to the area, he let his dog, Bandit, off his leash to search for Estes.

The dog found Estes hiding in the saw grass. Estes grabbed Bandit.

“Then he tried to drown the dog,” Neff said. “He was pulling the dog out into the bayou, holding him under the water.”

Thompson and Wilson jumped in to save Bandit. Estes started to swim away after taking some hits to the head with a flashlight, Neff said.

It wasn’t long before Estes was spotted under a pier. Neff and Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Judd White went into water and pulled Estes onto the pier.

None of the officers involved in the incident suffered serious injuries.

Estes was taken to Gulf Breeze Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries, and transported to jail.

Bandit was taken to a veterinarian.

“I think he’s doing fine now,” Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons said.

This story illustrates why police and fire crews and teachers and emergency room personnel are, to me, everyday heroes. Every day, they never know what might be out there to bite them.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Community, Crime, Humor, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Happy Baby at Siam Thai in Pensacola

Generally speaking, AdventureMan and I do not like buffets, especially in hot countries / towns, because food can spoil quickly. Also because children sometimes get into buffets, LOL, in Kuwait and in Qatar we would see children eating food right out of the buffet dishes, at places like the JW Marriott or the Ritz Carleton! That is enough to put anyone off eating at a buffet.

We have found one buffet in Pensacola, however, where we can feel good about going, the Siam Thai. There are two now, one more a bistro, located by WalMart, and the one we go to, we call it the Siam Thai Carwash because there is a car wash attached, and, this is hilarious, you can watch the cars go by as you are eating your lunch. I am not kidding, there are windows from the restaurant into the automatic car wash part.

The food is always fresh. The restaurant is always clean, immaculately clean. We even invited our son and his wife and the Happy Baby to join us for lunch, and oh what fun.

Our own son started with Chinese and Mexican food at six months, as we drove across the country in our Volksvagon Van, en route to the Naval Postgraduate School with our cat, Big Nick. We taught him early about rice, about spring rolls, and beans. So we thought we would give the Happy Baby a little start on Thai food. Oh, what fun.

Everything’s allowed, a spoon (he has yet to figure out which way is up), chopsticks (we feed him like a baby bird) or fingers.

The team at Siam Thai was so good to us; we asked for a very private table far from the buffet – when you have a baby, you know there is going to be a mess. The Happy Baby really knows how to behave in a restaurant; he is a baby who wants to be good, and with four adults to do his bidding – who wouldn’t be happy? 😉

The only thing he doesn’t like is having his face wiped, which, after any meal where a baby gets to work at feeding himself is a total necessity, LOL:

We love this place – the salad rolls, the soups, the fresh fresh curries and the condiments – it is a Pensacola Red R (Michelin gives a red R for good local cuisine at reasonable prices)

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 2 Comments

Cox Customer Service

On my recent Cox bill, in tiny print, I found the following:

Attention: Beginning (date) the price for the Cox Service Assurance Plan will increase to $5.95 per month plus franchise fees and taxes. The Cos Service Assurance Plan offers you protection for some of the inside wiring connection of you Cox services including Cox TV, Cox Advanced TV, Cox High Speed Internet, Cox Home Networking and Cox Digital Telephone. For more details on how the Service Assurance Plan protects your Cox services please call a Cox Customer Care Representative at (phone number).

My question . . . When you subscribe to a service, and pay a monthly rental on the equipment they provide to provide their service, doesn’t that SERVICE cover fixing things that go wrong with their equipment??? I should have to pay $5.95 a month MORE to ‘assure’ SERVICE???

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Florida, Pensacola | 3 Comments

Oh! My Aching Back!

“My back hurts,” AdventureMan complained, “and I am really, really tired.” He slept in yesterday, and I went to the early service alone.

We’ve been helping our son this weekend with the Happy Baby while his wife is out of town. 🙂

It is so easy to forget – a baby is hard work! Especially a mobil baby, able to explore and who moves quickly!

Fortunately for us, he is also a very very good baby, a sweet tempered baby who is easily distracted from his more dangerous attractions, and who is not yet fast enough to catch the cats, who evade him easily.

We took him out for barbecue yesterday, and fed him baked beans, sweet potato and broccoli. He gets this concerned look on his face, but he doesn’t complain, as he explores the new textures and tastes. I also bathed him when we got home, because he managed to get his hands and feet sticky between spoons of food.

It was a lot of fun, and we understand thoroughly why God gives babies to young parents, LOL!

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | , | 2 Comments

Show Me the Money

Two themes came together, early this Sunday morning in Pensacola, first, as Father Harry spoke to us at Christ Church this morning on stewardship, and giving generously, and then later, as I was reading my Sunday Pensacola News Journal, an article on our elected officials, and their finances, their net worth and where their money is coming from.

Father Harry spoke about the rich man, at whose gate Lazarus begs, covered with sores, and then, at death, how the rich man asks God to send Lazarus to wet his lips, as he burns in the eternal hellfires, and Lazarus sits with God. He also asks God to send Lazarus to warn his rich family members that their choices, their lack of generosity, will have consequences, but God says (I paraphrase here) that Moses already told them, and earlier prophets, and that if the rich didn’t listen to them, they are not going to listen to Lazarus.

To me, it seems a given, that if you are blessed with plenty, then you have an obligation to help those who struggle. It isn’t necessarily money, it can be food, it can be time, it can be expertise, or – in my case – it can even be fabric. 🙂 We learn it in pre-school and kindergarten, don’t we? Share what you have, and everyone gets along.

It totally boggles my mind that many of our good friends, government and military people, have excellent health care under a highly socialized system – that’s what the military health care system is all about, we all have access to the same treatment. Many of the people who have access to medical treatment become rabid about supporting health care for those who don’t. Part of it seems to be “I earned it, and those lazy bums expect it for nothing.”

Most of my life, I’ve worked with ‘those lazy bums’ and have grown to have a lot of understanding and compassion for the circumstances that can make an entire family bone poor. Sometimes, it is poor choices – but how do people learn to make better choices without help? How do people aspire to more when they think that the ‘more’ is inaccessible to them?

The face of our nation changed after World War II when many more Americans gained access to higher education as a veteran’s benefit; prior to the GI Bill, higher education was only available to those comfortable people who could afford it.

Also in today’s Pensacola News Journal is an article about Study: Educating Women Saves Millions of Children which is an Associated Press Story about a study published this month in Lancet. “Educated women tend to use health services more and often make better choices on hygiene, nutrition and parenting,” the study (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) concludes.

And last, in the Pensacola News Journal, is an article that makes my heart sing, that makes me proud to live in a democracy, the article about how much our elected officials are worth, and where there money is coming from. I love it that we hold our leaders accountable, and that their wealth is (theoretically) transparent to us.

I’m a great advocate of wealth. I admire people who create wealth, who invest, who work hard for their money. The best of these people, and I mentioned Bill and Melinda Gates (above) for a reason, give back generously. Many people don’t start out rich, they start from little or nothing and build slowly slowly until they have reached a comfortable level. Sometimes, even in hard times, if you have built a strong foundation, that money just keeps multiplying, especially if it is invested with some diversity.

“It’s called the law of the harvest,” my Mormon friends told me when we were discussing how what you give comes back to you multiplied. It was so graphic, I’ve never forgotten it. There is nothing wrong with money. Money is just another tool, like a computer, or a hammer. It’s what you do with your money (tool) that makes the difference. Money is kind of like a seed, you plant and you harvest, but it is also like fertilizer – you spread it around, and amazing things happen.

Having money is a blessing, and giving it away is even more of a blessing. When you give, good things come back to you, multiplied. It’s the Law of the Harvest.

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Fund Raising, Health Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Social Issues, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment

Guide to Giving to Beggers

I don’t see so many beggers in Pensacola, but I do see a lot of men sleeping rough; the warm temperate climate here attracts a lot of homeless. The churches provide hot breakfasts, sometimes, and there is a homeless shelter and long term transition facility downtown. Giving to beggers was a much bigger issue in Qatar and Kuwait, where the begging woman with the baby in the souks or the guy with the plastic bag full of urine and blood would accost me, and I always had half a feeling I was being scammed.

Today’s reading in Forward Day by Day puts it all in perspective:

THURSDAY, September 23
Luke 4:14-30. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

Snow fell on me as I waited for a cab. A rumpled homeless man in a stocking cap and fingerless gloves asked me for money.

I like to know that anyone I give money to is worthy (which usually means working or actively looking for work) and I don’t want him spending the money on alcohol or drugs. So I donate through a church or community organization. Pastors usually encourage that kind of giving.

I gave the man twenty dollars because I’d just been to the ATM and had nothing smaller. He stared at me for a moment and stammered, “Ma’am? You meant to give me a dollar, didn’t you?” When I said no, he put his head back and began to yell, “Thaaaank you, Jesus!” over and over. He went to a nearby coffee shop and came out with a huge cookie and a cup of coffee, still singing out, “Thaaaank you, Jesus!”

What if a beggar misuses my money? That isn’t my business. Giving to a beggar is between me and God; what he does with the money is between the beggar and God. (2004)

Thank you, Jesus. 🙂

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Charity, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Spiritual | 3 Comments

Only As Old as You Think You Are :-)

I found this great story in BBC Health News. The part that cracks me up is that they made these people carry their own bags, and they left all the uneven floors and throw carpets in place and forced them to pay attention to where they walked. . . and the result – they all did BETTER than they had been doing before!

Can You Trick Your Body into Feeling Younger?

Our volunteers were actors Liz Smith (88), Sylvia Syms (76) and Lionel Blair (78), cricket umpire Dickie Bird (77), newsreader Kenneth Kendall (86) and former Daily Mirror editor Derek Jameson (80).

They agreed to live in our time capsule house for a week, during which they dressed in 1970s clothes, slept in replicas of their very own 70s bedrooms, watched television from that era, and talked about 1975 in the present tense.

It proved to be a fascinating but draining experience – for both experimenters and experimentees.

From the beginning we made it clear to our volunteers that they would be expected to look after themselves. Research in nursing homes shows clearly that giving residents control over their own lives and their own choices has a hugely beneficial impact on health and happiness.

In one study, residents who were allowed to choose a plant to care for, and when and where to receive visitors, were found 18 months later to be significantly more cheerful, active and alert. They were also far more likely to be still alive.

Another thing about our 1970s house was that it was full of physical challenges. There were shag pile carpets to trip over, door ridges to step over and lots of slippery linoleum. Research on mice has shown that those who live in a challenging environment live nearly 30% longer than those who in a secure but boring environment.

In this spirit, on their arrival, our volunteers were asked to carry their bags up a flight of stairs to their bedrooms. It was the first time they’d been forced into such physical activity in many years, and they were not happy.

But they rose to the challenge. When they started at the bottom of the stairs, a couple were adamant it would be impossible to make it to the top. Watching from a laboratory close by, it was hard to resist going to their aid.

Slowly, step by step, they succeeded. We had made them question whether, perhaps, they were more physically capable than they had given themselves credit for.

It was a tough initiation, but a core element of Ellen’s original experiment was the idea that our prior beliefs play a huge part in how we perceive the world, and how we perceive ourselves. By immersing our volunteers in a 1970s world, we were hoping to make them think of themselves as younger, fitter and healthier.

For many of them, the 70s had been a golden decade, a highlight of their careers.

We took Dickie Bird back to Lords to relive the atmosphere. As he walked through the tunnel, onto the grounds, he blossomed before our eyes. Dickie had had a stroke, suffered 18 months of illness, lost confidence and come to think of himself as old. By the end of the week, his confidence was back and he showed remarkable improvement across a range of tests, including memory and stamina.

Over the week we gave all the celebrities tasks to do, but we also left them to fend for themselves. For up to 12 hours a day, we observed them through our surveillance cameras and, just as Ellen had discovered all those years before, we saw great changes.

Half way through the week, Liz Smith took 148 steps with the aid of just one stick. For someone who had not walked without both sticks since her stroke – and who often relied on a wheelchair – it was a real breakthrough. She was no longer willing to be limited by the physical constraints she had imposed on herself.

At the end of the week we put our guinea pigs through the same rigorous battery of physical and psychological tests we had at the beginning. Memory, mood, flexibility, stamina and even eye sight had improved in almost all of them.

The results were not uniform, but in some cases they shed up to 20 years in their apparent biological age.

It made a compelling case for Ellen Langer’s argument that opening our minds to what’s possible can lead to better health, whatever our age.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Experiment, Generational, Health Issues, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Super Harvest Moon Tonight

Thank you, BitJockey, for this news from 13 WMAZ on tonight’s enormous moon.

AdventureMan and I – before we even knew it was the Super Harvest Moon – took a walk tonight and the moon was glorious – glorious.

The autumnal equinox is Wednesday night — 11:09 p.m. sharp — and it’s a full moon, which can only mean one thing: Super Harvest Moon!

The two rarely occur at the same time — in fact; the last time this happened was almost 20 years ago.

A Harvest Moon is simply defined as the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.
You may be wondering where the term came from. Well, from agriculture! Farmers, before the days of electric lights, depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. It allowed them to gather their ripening crops in time for market.

The name “Harvest Moon,” came along, as it brought extra harvest.

What can you expect to see? As the sun sets, the full Harvest Moon will rise. The two sources of light will mix together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.

The moon may appear strangely inflated, which is an illusion. A low-hanging moon appears much wider than it really is.

The moon will reach maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. The brilliant planet Jupiter rises a little below the Moon, and they remain close throughout the night.

It is definitely a sight to check out, and with mostly clear skies shouldn’t be a problem in Central Georgia tonight!

Don’t miss it or you’ll have to wait until 2029!

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Technical Issue | | 2 Comments