Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Old Dog, New Tricks or I Greet New Technologies

About a year ago, I finally bought an iPhone. It could do so many things, it scared me, but when my little (then) 18 month old grandson fearlessly showed me how to play Tozzle, and Zombies in the Garden, and Angry Birds, I knew it was time for me to step up my game.

I don’t want my identity stolen, I don’t want Google tracking my searches, I don’t want targeted advertising, so I’ve been really careful about what I do. And then I though about the CIA. The CIA and NSA (aka No Such Agency) and several other highly technical services find themselves inundated with so much information these days that they have a harder time sorting it and then determining what is important and what is not. That gives me hope. I’m just not that important. Who would want to track me?

So, after a year, I finally synched my iPhone with my computer for the first time. Very scary. Then, when it didn’t work, I don’t know why, I restored the original settings, losing what little I had stored on the phone, but it wasn’t much.

Mostly, I like ringtones. I like for the people who call me regularly to have identifiable ring tones, and I have been really happy with the ones I have except for my daughter-in-law, I wanted an Edith Piaf song for her, and I never could find it.

Today, I girded my loins and bought a ring tone from a non-iTunes provider. Yes. Scary. And I thought it would magically go straight to my phone, but no, I had to download it, save it into iTunes, then synch my phone.

Earlier, I had taken another giant step and subscribed to “the Cloud” so, I thought, my computer, iPad and iPhone would all have the same music, but as it turns out, not everything goes to the cloud, like ringtones that you don’t buy from iTunes. So I had to risk everything and Synch again. It warned me that I could lose everything! I hesitated, then asked “what would I do if I were 11?” and pressed Synch. Woooo HOOOO, oh, the exhilaration!

There are some things I don’t want my devices to share, like financial information, etc. I don’t really want something like my iPhone, which gets carried everywhere and has the highest probability to get lost or stolen (although I have activated the Find My iPhone program, too). It’s a good think it’s not all-or-nothing, but it takes a longer time when you want some things but not others.

Now, I am all synched-up, and oh, I feel so dramatically technological, as I jump into last years technology. I know that my problem is over-thinking; the secret is to just jump in, just do it. I am just so thankful I have a son and a grandson to help me make the technology leaps.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Communication, Entertainment, Exercise, Experiment, Humor, Interconnected, iPhone, Living Conditions, Technical Issue | 5 Comments

The Jordan Valley Restaurant Opens at 9th and Bayou Boulevard

We’ve been waiting. Ever since we read in the papers that this restaurant would open another branch not too far from us (the first is downtown on Palafox and the second is on Navy Boulevard) we’ve been eager to visit the newest restaurant and wish them well. As you know, we love “Mediterranean” foods 🙂

First, the dishes take us right back to our earliest experiences eating out in the Middle East, when we lived in Jordan. The dishes are perfect!

For our first visit, on opening day, we were overwhelmed with choices, so we ordered a lot of appetizers, saving the swarmas and shish taouks for another day:

It was good. We couldn’t really eat it all, but it was fun having all those old familiar tastes. We hope they do well.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Jordan, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 1 Comment

Late Afternoon in DeLuna Park

One of the great joys of living in Pensacola is seeing our grandson often. Yesterday, we were picking him up and keeping him until dinner, so we decided to take him to run in the fountains, only to discover that the fountains stop at 5 on Mondays – Wednesdays, and run until 8 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. No problem – there is always something going on to thrill a two years old’s heart.

Yesterday, it was a tug-boat bringing in a huge dredger, with CRANES! Our two year old is all-boy. He loves car words, and truck words, and words like bulldozer, and pick-up, and CRANES. Watching the tugboat bring in the dredger thrilled his heart.

The crane lowers a cage onto the deck:

The pelicans are enthralled; the churning engines stir up fish and make finding supper easy pickings:

And then, chasing the pigeons! Where do they get the energy? A two-year-old can chase pigeons endlessly!

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Entertainment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Parenting, Pensacola | 6 Comments

Blood Sugar Solution

When I read the hype for these two books, I bought them – again. I bought them the first time when we were still in Kuwait, but gave them away in one of the moves. This time I actually read them. I stopped, however, when I came to the part where you give up caffein. Nope.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Health Issues, Hot drinks | Leave a comment

Florida Ranks #1 in the Nation for Identity Theft and Fraud; Pensacola #10 Beauty-Obsessed City in US

Just yesterday, I gasped when I learned that Time Magazine ranked Pensacola of all the cities in the USA, #10 in “Obsession with Beauty” as measured by internet access to sites for buying make-up and cosmetics at sites like Sephora and Ulta. New York and Miami didn’t make the list.

Then I understood. We don’t have a Sephora in Pensacola. We don’t have an Ulta. To get specialized make-ups like Urban Decay, you go online, to Sephora. Yep. Guilty. But it must take a lot of Pensacolians buying a lot of make-up online to make us #10 of all the beauty-obsessed cities in the USA.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Crime, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Shopping, Social Issues, Statistics, Values | 4 Comments

Phthalates Risk Factor for Diabetes

A Swedish study, posted on AOL Everyday Health News, indicates we heighten our risk of diabetes with repeated exposures to phthalates common in items we use every day of our lives . . .

HealthDay News
Common Plastics Chemical Might Boost Diabetes Risk
Phthalates, found in soaps, lotions and food packaging, may disrupt insulin production, researchers say.

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay News

THURSDAY, April 12, 2012 (HealthDay News) — High blood levels of chemicals called phthalates, which are found in soaps, lotions, plastics and toys, may double the risk for type 2 diabetes among older adults, Swedish researchers say.

“Our study supports the hypothesis that certain environmental chemicals can contribute to the development of diabetes,” said lead researcher Monica Lind, an associate professor of environmental medicine in the section for occupational and environmental medicine at Uppsala University.

“Most people come into daily contact with phthalates as they are used as softening agents in everyday plastics and as carriers of perfumes in cosmetics and self-care products,” she added.

The study’s implications “must be to cut down on plastics and choose self-care products without perfumes,” Lind said.

But the research does not prove cause and effect. To find out whether phthalates (pronounced THAL ates) truly are risk factors for diabetes, further studies are needed that show similar associations, she said.

“Experimental studies are also needed regarding what biological mechanisms might underlie these connections,” Lind stressed.

The report was published online April 12 and in the June print edition of Diabetes Care.

For the study, Lind’s team collected data on more than 1,000 Swedish men and women, age 70, who took part in the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors Study.

The researchers measured the participants’ blood sugar, insulin levels and levels of toxins from the breakdown of phthalates.

As expected, they found diabetes was more common among those who were overweight and had high cholesterol.

And they also found an association between blood levels of some phthalates and diabetes. That association remained even after taking into account obesity, cholesterol, smoking and exercise.

For people with high phthalate levels, the risk of developing diabetes was about double compared to those with lower levels, the investigators found.

Some phthalates were also linked to disrupted insulin production, the researchers said. Insulin is a hormone that helps deliver blood sugar into the body’s cells for energy. Without insulin, or with too little of the hormone, too much sugar stays in the blood, setting the stage for diabetes.

“Even at relatively low levels of phthalate in the blood, the risk of getting diabetes begins to rise,” Lind added.

Other studies have linked these chemicals with breast growth in boys and reproductive problems in men, possibly caused by estrogen disruption.

Phthalates are used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, according to information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays and shampoos, also contain phthalates.

At present, “the FDA does not have compelling evidence that phthalates, as used in cosmetics, pose a safety risk,” according to the FDA website.

In the United States, companies are not required to test the long-term health effects of chemicals before using them in consumer products. Lind said this means the dangers of hazardous chemicals aren’t known until they are already widely used.

Lind said the health effects of chemicals should be tested before they reach the consumer market similar to the way drugs get tested before being approved.

“We are looking at a tip of an iceberg,” she said in terms of a possible health crisis. “We are just scratching the very top of the iceberg.”

The way the system is designed, if phthalates were banned, they would be replaced by other chemicals about which even less is known, Lind said.

According to the Environmental Working Group, a group trying to rid hazardous chemicals from consumer products, there is no practical way to choose phthalate-free products. Sometimes the print on ingredient labels is too small to read, and different names are often used for the same plasticizing chemicals. And some products lack ingredient labels even though they’re required by federal regulations.

That said, some of the names to look for in cosmetics, self-care products, solid air fresheners, and scented candles are: mono-methyl phthalate (MMP), mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP), which are types of the chemicals dimethylphthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). DMP is also used in ink and as a softening agent in plastics.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Statistics, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

The East Hill Market

We’ve driven by this market a hundred times, at least a hundred times, but when I came back from Seattle, AdventureMan had eaten there, and had a surprise for me.

Muhammara. Fresh, home-made Muhammara, and it tastes just like the real thing. It IS the real thing!

I am thrilled, and eager to visit the East Hill Market for myself.

We go for lunch the next day, and I order the three salad special – and oh my. No, that is not potato salad at the bottom, it is a curried chicken, with pecans and cranberries – oh yummm. I also got the broccoli and the bean salad, again and again, oh yummm!

AdventureMan had a sandwich, but we’ve been back so many times, I’ve forgotten which sandwich this is:

This is where you can see the salads, and . . . the desserts. Watch out. The desserts are irresistable. If you look . . . you lose all resistance.

The East Hill Market is not undiscovered. It teems with life; people eating in, people taking out. The food is all prepared on-site, none of this pre-processed stuff. There soups are delicious. Their salads are tasty. Their rosemary bread is lovely. It is a total WOW.

They also have shelves full of wines, condiments and delicious extras. 🙂

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant, Shopping | 2 Comments

Perfect in Pensacola

In spite of the constant pollen levels, and yes, I am still weeping and atch-oo’ing, the weather here couldn’t be much prettier. It’s the kind of weather where you never have to think about a coat, it’s balmy. The humidity is relatively low, low for Pensacola, and the nights have been down in the 50’s, so the A/C doesn’t kick on at all. You wake up refreshed, you can take a cup of coffee out on the back patio and sit and watch the birds come to the feeder, the bees sample the guara and the aloe, and fertilize the blueberries.

Our pomegranates have blossoms! One of the best things we ever did was to put in the pomegranate tree; this year we will add a Meyer’s lemon tree and a Satsuma, two trees which do well in Pensacola. We have a sheltered part of the yard where our yard coach/advisor/ landscaper thinks they will do well over the years. Even with my allergies, I can’t resist a daily walk around the yard to see how things are doing, what AdventureMan is up to now. His Purple Hyacinth is thriving, and we hope to cover a good section of the back wall with it.

(Our purple hyacinth is still just beginning; this is what we want it to look like)

All in all, life is sweet when the temperatures are mild, the humidity low, and the family nearby.

When we were down at the Pensacola Pier, where the children have a special fountain to play in, who should show up but Batman:

Batman doesn’t drive a Batmobile, he drives a big black truck. It’s kind of cute, some grown man pretending to be a superhero, but in the light of the recent Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin shooting, self-appointed super heros are a little scary. Knowing that in Florida, so many people are carrying guns in scary. No, I don’t feel better protected. My friends all say “but all the criminals have guns, we just want to protect ourselves.” Statistics show that you are more likely to be killed by a weapon when you are carrying a weapon.

If you read the newspapers, whether you are in Kuwait, or Kenya, or Florida, or anywhere in between, the criminals seem to shoot themselves in the foot. They take a stupid chance and get caught. Their own arrogance catches them up. They feel unstoppable, and they take risks they think they can get away with. Most criminals get caught, eventually, tripped up by their own pride. So to me, when you go up against a person who is not that rational, you can’t count on a weapon. A weapon can just get you into trouble. You need to use guile; live to fight another day. I trust that a criminal will get caught eventually. I don’t want to die going up against one.

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Gardens, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

Pet Peeve: Parking Ignoramus

There is all the space in the world . . . what is he thinking?

April 11, 2012 Posted by | Pensacola, Pet Peeves | 2 Comments

Happy Easter

While an Easter Church service can get a bit long for a toddler (“No baby church! Big church!”), learning to hunt for eggs is just pure delight. We had Easter dinner and an egg hunt and then our little Happy Toddler spent the night. He has his own room, his own bed – and he slept through the entire night! Woo HOOOO!

We have a nearby park that he just loves! Who wouldn’t? When you are two years old, and love to run, all the world is your playground!

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Community, Easter, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Relationships | Leave a comment