Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Weather is Here...


I won't continue on with Jimmy's lyrics 'cause they don't fit entirely right.
But what is up with the weather here...can you say, steambath?
Sure, I knew you could. (a little allusion to the old SNL)

Suffice it to say that we arrived in Kuwait around 48 hours ago, and after making my way around in a semi-somnambulant state, I can positively say that I am thoroughly not adjusted!

The flight across the pond was very turbulent! What is it with BA? They don't come on to say anything to the passengers about what is going on up there in the cockpit?! Maybe it is the overly circumspect nature of us Americans, but heck, I want to know if we are going down so I can panic!
The ever-cool British pilot just remarked upon landing that that was some bad turbulence we went through back there, and it 'wasn't fun, was it?'!

Anyway, after being back for only one day, husband o' mine had to take off for Hamburg, leaving me to fend for myself to get ready for Ramadan, school, and settling back into Kuwait, gee thanks, Hon.
As he usually does, when he has to leave me here and travel for business, he tries to downplay where ever he goes; like when he went to Paris recently and said, "There's nothing much here, just basically one street."!
So, today, after spending a harrowing 25 minutes trying to get my exhausted and nearly comatose sleeping daughter to open her door and after failing, basically dismantling the faceplate and lock, I pick up the phone and give him a call; I ask him, "How is Hamburg?" and he says, "Oh, not much here, but I really didn't see too much, you know, just from the hotel to the conference....but the weather is nice."
Great, Hon, enjoy yourself. Meanwhile the water guy is breathing down my back for waiting for 'Sir' to come home- can't he talk to me if we owe him? And the car washing guy and the grass cutting guy continue to dispute and argue over who keeps moving the car washing guy's bucket. I am afraid that it will soon come to blows.

Hurry home... the weather is here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Dance


What is it about packing that pits husband against wife, mother against child? I think this is one time where personality and cultural differences become almost insurmountable, I admittedly aggrandize.
Never-the-less, I have watched as my husband works himself into a tizzy to symmetrically tape the edges of the boxes he is packing...no, not enough tape on the right edge, the left edge had more! I must wrap it around the complete circumference a full three times!

Man, his inner dialog must be killer. I keep telling him, he doesn't ever hear me when I ask him something because those voices in his head are soooooooo demanding and noisy!
He, the ever-perfectionist; I, cannot be bothered! I mean, when you are dealing with three children's needs, who has time to worry about color-coding suitcase tags? I am just fortunate to get to the airport with the kids, our carry-ons, PSP's, in-flight junk food, iPods, laptops, cameras, sippy cups, diaper bags, emergency diversion supplies, sans migraine, and I feel vindicated.
Ahh, God must have a great sense of humor!

Monday, August 25, 2008

All My Bags Are Packed I'm Ready to Go...


Not really, on either account.

I just can't believe it is time to go back already, and I absolutely loathe saying goodbyes.
And gee, I really wish there were some pithy humorous anecdotes I could relate, but life doesn't always present itself to me like that.
I guess in another life I might have been Hank Williams or Johnny Cash cause it seems like I'm always looking at the back end of a Trailways.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Apple


I don't usually write about a company or product, but I was so impressed with one that I feel the need.
My daughter's Macbook was acting up a bit , and I thought I would take it to a repair place before we went back to Kuwait, as it was not easy getting my Macbook worked on there.Well, wonder of wonder, turns out that it was the logic board(should that be one word?) problem.
Of course, I have no idea what that is, or that it would run about $800.00 for the part alone! Here is where Murphy's Law kicks in... The warranty ran out in July, (did the husband listen when I told him to buy the extended Apple Care...no, course not) and being that it is August, the fella tells me, I don't think they will care.

Ok, I am left with two, no three choices:
1. Bite the bullet and fix it for around 900.00
2. Buy a new computer for around 1100.00
3. Call Apple

So, I rolled my dice and called Apple. After making the correct selection of category on the phone, I actually spoke to a person, a real person...in California! Juxtapose that to my previous AWFUL experience with Dell when I had to talk to some folks over in India for 4 hours each time and NEVER solved my problems, apparently because one hand doesn't know what the other is doing with them.
Anyway, after I explained my problem to them, they told me that they were going to help me and fix my daughter's computer for me! Amazing, "so shines a good deed in a weary world"(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
To top things off, I called the place that had her computer, at 5:30 p.m.yesterday, and he told me he would order the part from Cali today, mind you, we are in South Carolina, and he would get it that same day. Well he did do as he said and called just a bit ago, at 3:00p.m. to say that the computer is indeed ready!
I am so impressed. That is what you call great customer service!
Way to go Apple and L2 Technologies!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?


I remember when I was a teenager being questioned about what I would like to do with my life. I don't think I was really able, at that time, to grasp the enormity of the meaning of those simple words, 'do with your life'. Never-the-less, questions do cause pause and I did think, even at that time, that what I wanted to do was something that could benefit someone.

I went to private schools which valued and included community service, winterims, (breaks in high school where you spend time in an internship of choice) and making students aware of what potential humanitarian opportunities were available to them. It was always emphasized that these were life-enriching opportunities for the potential volunteer and not burdens or obligations.

At that time I was really interested in joining The Peace Corps alas, being a teenager with the world of college, partying, and fun, stretched out in front of me, I was distracted and did not go. Ah, regret is a very sad thing. I keep preaching that to my children. :) It happens everywhere. It is the circus that distracts us on the way to living a real life, and maybe the sirens that take us away from what is meaningful is not so different in Kuwait as America. Partying, alcohol and such are not as readily available, but I understand that they are a problem here too.
As seductive and all-encompassing as drugs, is giving one's life over to consumerism too. Sadly, it seems that Kuwait is not providing much in the way of diversion and entertainment for its youth besides preparing them for a life of buying and indulging themselves. Forgive my religious tangent as I remember that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The mouths of the sons of Adam would never be filled until it was with the dirt of the grave."

But maybe there is something that we could indulge ourselves in that would be more satiating than the latest clothes, store openings, burgers, or cars. Maybe the answer is all around us just waiting to be discovered. After all, I sense that if one waits, in Kuwait, for the powers that be to provide something, one might spend one's entire life in inertia.

Today, worldwide, there are even more opportunities for people to get involved in and do something with their lives that could have a huge impact on the world around them. Like they say, though, often it is best to start with your immediate circle of influence. Eventually that circle will ripple out and touch many. One good turn, you know.

I don't write this to try to preach to others, rather to say that often what I have been guilty of doing in Kuwait is complaining about the lack of this and the presence of that, but these problems could just be opportunities in disguise. How often do you/I walk by a disgustingly dirty street and complain, or lament the quality of life of some poor worker, or feel bad for starving/hurt animals, or worry about the pollution in the sea?

Just perhaps these problems around us could be invitations from God.

And the invitation reads...

"Do something with your life."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reach Out

I came across this article in a great new magazine called Boho
With all of the avid shoppers and 'shoe-collectors' in Kuwait, it seems plausible that there would be many shoes that could be donated. Anyway, maybe folks could pass the website along. Many of us are so fortunate and never even give pause to realize it. Sometimes it takes very little to give a lot.

soles4SOULS

earth angels soles4souls

With over 300 million children without shoes, see how one company is changing the world, one shoe at a time.

how you can help

It's a simple concept: get shoes and give them away. That's what Soles4Souls founderWayne Elsey did after the Tsunami hit. While watching television at home one night, Elsey was moved by an image of a single shoe washing up on the beach. That ignited a flame inside him. After a few calls to some friends in the footwear industry, Elsey secured a donation of over a quarter million shoes to send to the victims. A year later, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Elsey called up the same group of friends and over 1 million pairs of shoes were delivered to towns along the gulf coast. Elsey admits that he could not have predicted such a successful turnout, and it left him wondering, why not do this full-time? A year later, Elsey left his executive position at a large footwear company and formed Soles4Souls. As for today, Elsey says he wants to inspire others to say "Hey, wait a minute! I can do something like that with my own resources."

Or, at the very least, "I could send them my shoes that are cluttering up the closet." We know that there are plenty of people in the world that could use them.

Soles4Souls have given away 2.6 million pairs of shoes since they started; that translates into one pair every 28 seconds. www.giveshoes.org

illustration by barbara von tannenberg

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Am I the Only Chicken---- Out There?

Granted, I am in the US now, but the news I am reading sounds ominous at best. What is the word 'on the street' about the possibility of a regional conflict due to Iran blocking the Strait of Hormuz? Are the Kuwaiti people taking this as seriously as it sounds like they should? The paper today said:
'"...Firstly, the procurement and distribution of medical supplies." For example, he noted, "If there is a nuclear leak from one of Iran's nuclear reactors we need to have stockpiled iodine.

He said, "Kuwait must have emergency medical teams ready to deal with such situations who are equipped with supplies ready in all areas of Kuwait who are ready to deal with every contingency." Secondly, Kuwait would have to "stockpile food and have alternative routes to import food into Kuwait." stated Khathor.
He noted if regional violence broke-out, it may be difficult to rely on airplanes and alternative land routes would have to be made available. "Kuwait would need to procure more trucks for this purpose." Khathor affirmed that the state's Ministry of Commerce has already begun preparations by increasing the strategic food supply and limiting food exports."...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beautify



Elias Ahmad and
Adib Fattal

I recently stumbled across the work of the above Syrian artists. I love to *find* art. I mean, to some these artists are well-known, just not to me, hence the *finding* applies.
Anyway, all around the world people are finding ways to express themselves and make their world beautiful. This is a segue from my previous post on going green. There are many ways of tending to one's environment. Recycling and cleaning it up are basic, mandatory aspects; however, so is adorning it with human expression and beauty.
A sadly-noted, missing aspect of life in Kuwait is the outward expression of the human experience. That may be manifest in visual, musical, architectural art, and countless other ways. While I am aware that many tremendously talented Kuwaiti artists are out there, there doesn't seem to be much of a forum for them in the public realm.
I wonder why that is...after all Islam says "God is beautiful and He loves the beauty-maker"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Go Green

While I know that some of the following suggestions would be impossible in Kuwait, most of them are more than doable. The following article can be found here, for all-inclusive, intact links.

Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life.

  1. Save energy to save money.

    Compact Fluorescent Bulb
    Armistead Booker/flickr
    • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying. If you must use a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time.
  2. Save water to save money.

    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

  3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).

    Bicycle Commuters
    richardmasoner/flickr
    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

  4. Eat smart.

  5. Skip the bottled water.

  6. Think before you buy.

    Garage Sale
    Michael Reinhart/flickr
    • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • When making purchases, make sure you know what's "Good Stuff" and what isn't.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

  7. Borrow instead of buying.

    • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

  8. Buy smart.

    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
    • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

  9. Keep electronics out of the trash.

    1000 Cell Phones
    Gaetan Lee/flickr

  10. Make your own cleaning supplies.

    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.

  11. Bonus Item!