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Expat wanderer

Olympic Committee OK’s Hijab for Saudi Judo Contestant

From AOL/Huffpost

LONDON — A female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia will be allowed to compete in the Olympics wearing a form of headscarf after a compromise was reached that respects the “cultural sensitivity” of the Muslim kingdom.

Judo officials had previously said they would not let Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns.

But an agreement was reached after several days of IOC-brokered talks between the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Olympic Committee that clears the way for her to compete Friday in the heavyweight division.

“They have a solution that works for both parties, all parties involved,'” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said. “The athlete will compete.”

The agreement was later formally announced in a joint statement by the judo federation and the Saudi committee.

“Working with the IOC, a proposal was approved by all parties,” the statement said. “The solution agreed guarantees a good balance between safety and cultural considerations.”

Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, the judoka’s father, declined to describe what changes – if any – will be made to his daughter’s head cover for the competition.

He told The Associated Press his daughter has been training with women at a special facility in London for an hour and a half every day since she arrived with her parents and her brother. Shahrkhani said his daughter, who has a blue belt in judo, is preparing for Friday’s fight in seclusion.

“It’s her first time in competition and it’s the Olympic Games, so she is focused on that,” Shahrkhani said.

Saudi Arabia, which had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before, brought its two first female Olympians to London on condition they adhere to the kingdom’s Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.

Shahrkhani’s participation was thrown into doubt last week when judo officials said a headscarf could be dangerous because of chokeholds and aggressive grabbing techniques.

Without giving precise details, Adams said the headscarf agreement is in line with Asian judo rules and is “safety compliant but allows for cultural sensitivity.'”

“In Asia, judo is a common practice so they asked for something that would be compliant with that, and the judo federations have reached a compromise that both are happy with,” he said.

Asian judo federations have previously allowed Muslim women to wear the headscarf, known as a hijab, during major competitions. Headscarves are allowed in taekwondo, but taekwondo fighters also wear a headguard, which covers the headscarf.

Shahrkhani may be the first judoka to fight at the Olympics who does not hold a black belt in judo, a Japanese martial art. She did not qualify for her Olympic spot like most of the other judo fighters. The IOC extended a special invitation for her to compete as part of negotiations to bring Saudi women to the Olympics for the first time. The other Saudi female athlete to compete in London is 19-year-old Sarah Attar, a California-based 800-meter runner.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had been the only three countries that had never fielded female Olympians in their teams. With all three now including women, these are the first Olympics in which every competing nation – 205 – is represented by female competitors.

“Our aim is that we want to have women from all national Olympic committees competing in the games,” Adams said. “Clearly one of those that is new is Saudi. We want to make sure we give a maximum chance for women from every NOC to take part in the games.”

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Heritage, Saudi Arabia | | 2 Comments

Pantone Fall Colors 2012

These are the wonderful colors Pantone says we will all be wearing this coming Fall and Winter. Some years there are NO colors I like; this year I like ’em all, but oh, especially the green:

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Bureaucracy, color, Cultural | 2 Comments

Taco Rock in Pensacola

AdventureMan has been talking about the Taco Rock for months, and for some reason, we just haven’t made it there until today. I laughed when I first saw it, bright yellow, clearly a family-owned place, the kind of place we love.

“Hey! It’s Taco Buffet Day!” AdventureMan said gleefully. There wasn’t a self-serve buffet set up, that’s not how it works, you tell them what you want, like I said chicken and beef. AdventureMan wanted Al Pastor.

No one hurried us to make our choices. They have a hand printed menu above where you order, and some photos over to the right. The two gals at the order counter were pouring over a couple catalogs. When we were ready to order, they were ready to take our order, but they didn’t hurry us.

Then the cooks went into business; we could see them. They have some of the foods prepped, and then they heat the tortillas, crisp the tostada shells, everything comes hot and fresh to the table.

We saw a lot of customers taking out, there are about 20 seats at small tables inside, and room for maybe 20 more outside. The food is individually prepared. This is not your chain kind of place; it’s a real people kind of place, just where Palafox forks away from Pensacola Highway. Not fancy. No tablecloths. Great authentic tacos, burritos, tamales made and served by people who take pride in their work. 🙂

I could hear AdventureMan laughing when we got home.

“What’s so funny?” I called from my office to his.

“I’m reading the reviews for Taco Rock,” he laughed, “and they are all positive except for one, and it says ‘Horrible atmosphere. Felt like I was in Mexico.'”

We were dying, we were laughing so hard.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Experiment, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Restaurant | 5 Comments

Severe Weather Warning

The severe weather warning ended at 4, the Pensacola News Journal has photos up uprooted trees and flooded areas, but up above, the skies continue to thunder, and the rain keeps a tumblin’ down.

Clouds beginning to pile up:

they just keep coming:

Et le deluge:

My family out in Seattle would kill for some sunshine as we roll into August and the Seafair events begin taking place, the parades, the Blue Angels and the Hydroplane races . . .

The temperatures are down into the seventies, a blessing, but when they go up again, it will once again be HOT AND HUMID.

July 30, 2012 Posted by | Environment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | | 2 Comments

One Man Woman

Thank you, Hayfa, this is hilarious:

July 30, 2012 Posted by | Entertainment, Humor, Mating Behavior, Relationships | 3 Comments

McGuire’s For Lunch

“I just have a yen for a steak,” I said to AdventureMan, and since it is my turn to choose, he grins and says “I could use a steak, too.” We don’t even feel guilty. The last steak we had was New Year’s Day this year, also at McGruires. Two steaks a year, not so bad.

It’s a gloomy day, and we are hoping it’s not so crowded we have to wait. We are seated immediately, but upon looking around, AdventureMan said “Does anyone in here know that the economy is suffering? Do they know we are in a downturn?”

McGuires is PACKED. It’s not just old retired folk and tourists, either, it’s young Pensacola families and their children, generations meeting up for a Saturday lunch. The bar is packed, the tables are full throughout and as we leave, there is a line waiting.

The steaks – we like the Molly filet – were fabulous. Erin A, our excellent waitress, warned us that some people find the pepper coating too peppery, and we assured her we like a pepper coating to be very peppery; when our steaks came, they were VERY peppery, and we were very happy. They also had fresh asparagus, perfectly cooked, still just a little crisp. We were really bad, we also had the bleu cheese dressing on our salads. It was a wonderful meal, altogether, and Erin A was attentive without being intrusive. Erin kept our glasses full, swept used dishes away as soon as they were finished, and kept her eye on our table in case we had any needs. Her service added to our enjoyment of the meal. Isn’t that the best?

There are other steak houses in town, where you can get a steak almost as good for a lot less. You can’t beat McGuires for the overall experience, though, and when you only have steak every few months, why not have the best?

We also love it that our out-of-town guests LOVE McGuires, for the overall experience as well as for the food. Live entertainment at night, lots of old Irish ballads. 🙂

As we left, we had to run between the raindrops to get to our car. Big heavy voluminous clouds over Pensacola, and a daily humidity factor of around 100%.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Restaurant, Weather | Leave a comment

Live Olympic Coverage Online

You can stream live Olympic coverage online by clicking the blue type:

NBC Olympics Online

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Events | | Leave a comment

Hemingway and A Movable Feast

After reading The Paris Wife, I had to read Hemingway’s A Movable Feast. I wanted to see how he saw his Paris years, and how his version integrated with the fiction version of Hadley’s. I was prepared to not like the book.

I was not prepared to like it as much as I did. Hemingway writes of the years when he was young, newly married and wildly happy, living a stimulating and lively life with lively friends. They were poor, but he was following his dream. They had a lot of fun.

Hemingway wrote this book, full of stories of their Paris life, full of names you know – Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Closerie des Lilas, Les Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp, the Louvre . . . and as you read it, you are there. He writes in the moment; you are right there experiencing it along with him. He writes of people he likes, and people he doesn’t like. He writes about his own vices – an addiction to horse racing, for example – and he writes with enormous sadness about how he came to be distracted from his marriage and lost the most wonderful relationship that ever happened to him. He blames it on the careless rich. He takes some responsibility.

He also writes very frankly and openly about people he doesn’t like and why. I couldn’t help but think it is a heady thing, being an acclaimed author, where you can take revenge by putting people you dislike in your books. Hemingway uses real names and real people and often portrays them in a distinctly unflattering light. It made me wonder if he was planning to commit suicide all along; that or he just didn’t care what people think, and it seems he might have been the kind just not to care.

Just after finishing this book, and talking one last time with his first wife, Hadly, Hemingway committed suicide. It leaves me wondering if he was driven to suicide by regret, or by fears that his bigger-than-life life of adventure, travel, high life and travel was over, or if he had serious bouts of depression all his life, and this was just another, deeper depression?

It is a great read, especially paired with Paula McLain’s book, The Paris Wife. I thought it might be “he said – she said,” but Hemingway and the fictional Hadley in The Paris Wife both agree that they had a love and marriage that was very special, that Paris was a wonderful stimulating, alive environment, and that it was a great tragedy when the marriage ended. A Movable Feast seems to say that destroying his marriage to Hadley was one of a cocktail of self-destructive behaviors over which he tried to ride herd (gambling on the horse races, drinking, drugs, a coterie of star-struck sex partners outside of marriage, inability to focus on his work, a curmudgeonly nature . . .)

It’s also an easy read. I particularly enjoyed reading it on the iPad because you can do that swirly-finger-thing and find out what words mean or see the street locations as he walks Paris, see whether a cafe or restaurant in Paris still exist. It would be a good airline read – keeps your attention and finishes quickly.

As little as I like Woody Allen, it was fun to see Midnight in Paris, and to have some visuals of this go-go inter-war era.

Two things that stuck out for me: Hemingway loved walking in Paris, as do I. He also talks here and there about the benefits of being hungry. There were times when money was tight; they wore old shabby clothes, and there were times they didn’t have much food. He talks about hunger sharpening your other senses. On the other hand, very quickly when he has money, he has a great meal and a drink – or two – or three.

Bottom line, I’m glad I read this book. It’s given me a lot to think about.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Books, Character, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fiction, Financial Issues, France, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Paris, Relationships, Travel | 2 Comments

Rain for Ramadan

Frequent commenter Daggero asked for photos of clouds and rain to help him get through the long hot days of Ramadan in Kuwait. Yesterday I published cloud photos; today we had a downpour, so here are some rain photos:

First thing I learned is that it’s not that easy to shoot rain drops. You have to shoot them against a darker background, and you have to shoot them at a slower speed, else you don’t see them at all.

This was great exercise. Now I want to go to Paris in November for more practice. Paris gets lots of rain in November, fewer tourists, it’s more the real Paris. It would also be great for shooting in black and white, people holding umbrellas, bent against the wind-driven rain, great architectural and textured backgrounds . . . 🙂

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Ramadan, Weather | 4 Comments

Deepwater Horizon Spill and Hazards

On the front page of today’s Pensacola News Journal is a report by the Associated Press saying:

BP Missed Big Hazards, report says: Focus on worker safety obscured other problems.

HOUSTON – BP and the drilling contractor that operated the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon were so focused on worker safety they didn’t do enough to prevent major hazards, such as the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people, federal investigators said yesterday.

Excuse me? Does that make sense to anyone?? So concerned with safety that 11 people got killed because they overlooked SAFETY problems?? I thought I must be crazy, but the report goes on to say the following:

The panel listed a litany of problems large and small they had already uncovered even though it has not received all of the records from Transocean, the drilling contractor that has challenged the board’s right to investigate the offshore incident.

Among the panel’s findings:

• BP and Transocean’s “bridging document,” designed to align safety procedures between the companies, was generic and addressed only six safety issues, but none of them dealt with major issues.

• The companies didn’t have key process limits or controls for safe drilling.

• There were no written instructions for how to conduct a crucial test at the end of the cementing process, one that ultimately was misinterpreted by the crew after it was conducted several times, each time differently.

• Similar concerns about too narrow a focus on personal safety were raised after an explosion in 2005 at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 people, but few of the panel’s recommendations were implemented on the offshore rig.

“It’s always puzzled me why a company like BP … that has major resources available … is involved with two of the biggest accidents,” said John Bresland, a member of the board who is wrapping up his second five-year term and was involved in both investigations.

The drilling company doesn’t want to cooperate, and doesn’t think the federal government has the right to investigate? The company so focused on worker safety had an agreement with the drilling company that only focused on minor issues? NO key processes or controls?

What is wrong with this story? From this story, it is clear that worker safety was never a focus of BP. BP had another blowup with 15 deaths at a Texas refinery resulting from safety processes that were too narrowly focused, and now they are saying they are too focused on worker safety, and that is why they have so many worker deaths?

I guess, following the same reasoning, that the Deepwater Horizon blowup, which killed sealife, is still blackening beaches, which has created a tar carpet along the ocean floor, created birth defects among birds and mammals, and will create havok for a lifetime to come, all that resulted from BP’s excessive concern for the Environment?

Is this craziness? That kind of communication just makes me crazy.

I don’t care how much they end up paying to universities, groups promoting tourism, people who lost work, wildlife organizations, etc. as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. You have to see that whatever they are paying is to buy silence, to buy complicity, to keep us from complaining too much when problems associated with the explosion continue to – literally – surface. Their money is to co-opt us. No matter what they are paying, it is too little.

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Communication, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Environment, Financial Issues, Florida, Lies, Living Conditions, News, Pensacola, Pet Peeves, Rants, Safety, Survival, Technical Issue, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment