Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is $7.64 too much?

Can someone do me a favor, please? The next time you go to the grocery store check out the price of Morning Star sausage patties. I am just curious what they cost.

I paid 28.50 riyals for a box of SIX little "veggie" sausage patties [8 ounces]. That comes out to $1.27 each. It just seems like a lot. Maybe that is what they cost in the States, too. I don't know. I won't stop buying them - I like them - and I don't eat meat - but I didn't realize how much I was paying for them until I opened a box to make for breakfast yesterday.

Morning Star makes the best veggie "hamburgers," and they cost 25 riyals [$6.70] for a box of four, which weighs 9 ounces. How much are they in the States?

My goodness. I'm paying more for non-meat that I am for meat. Well, with the exception of the rib roast I bought to make for Christmas Dinner.

Food is expensive, here. I know I tend to buy a lot of "American" products and we pay top dollar for them. That is what we have to pay and it is all part of the cost of living in The Sandbox. We just deal with it. There are many products, here, which cost a lot less than what they would cost in the States, though. A bag of bread - four big round slices of flat Arabic-style bread cost 3 riyals [.80] and that is four days of lunch, for me. I put some Italian salad dressing on the bread, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on it and then put a half a bag of "salad" on it. Roll it up and yum! Milk is inexpensive, here. As is soda - Diet Coke and Diet 7-up are only $6.43 a case [why those "American" products are so inexpensive is beyond me - it is actually bottled over here, though, so it doesn't have to be shipped over]. I digress...

Anyway, the next time someone goes to the grocery store... If you could check out the price of Morning Star sausage patties and let me know, I'd appreciate it.

Nothing to see, here, folks. Move along...

Just a housemaid getting ready to jump from a fourth floor balcony to end her life because she just can't take the physical abuse from her sponsor [employer] anymore. That her body is covered in bruises is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any abuse took place. She probably dropped a bookcase on herself while she was dusting. Or something like that. The maid works for an 80-year-old woman and that woman's two 50-year-old and 35-year-old daughters. The women are being questioned by officers. Expect resolution of the matter, immediately, with no wrong-doing having been done by the old woman or her two old maid daughters.

And, by the way. You are 50 and 35 years old and still live at home with your mother? Why aren't you married?!? And why aren't you at least helping out in the household? [There's a 58-year-old man out there that is looking for more wives. You two are probably too old for his taste, though.]

Remember that little 8-year-old?

The little EIGHT-YEAR-OLD girl that her "father" [and I use the term "father" in the loosest possible sense of the word] married off to a man 50 YEARS HER SENIOR??? She is still married with no "divorce" in sight. Thankfully, her mother does seem to have her wits about her and is seeking help from the HRC [Human Rights Commission].

The child's lawyer, Abdullah Al-Jutaili, wasn't satisfied with the court ruling and plans to appeal the case. He said "annulling the marriage was necessary because the husband could take the girl from school if he wished without anyone being able to object." What??? Oh my gosh! Oh, wait. What about the verbal agreement he made that he would not consummate the marriage until the girl turns 18? Yeah.

My goodness. This little girl should be going to school and playing dolls with her friends. I cannot fathom the psychological impact this will have on her if she is all of the sudden taken from her mother and school to be a wife to a man old enough to be her grandfather. She cannot possibly have any idea of what is in store for her in the very near future.

The man that donated his sperm to fertilize an egg sold his child for 30,000 riyals. $8,042.89! What kind of man can call himself a father when he does something so ludicrous?!? It is vile. He should be hanging his head in shame.

Apparently the court has stated that "an appeal for annulling the marriage could only be filed by the girl when she reaches puberty." What kind of ruling is that? Why isn't the court protecting the little girl?!? A member of the National Society for Human Rights, Suhaila Zain Al-Abidin, "questioned the decision by asking what condition the girl would be in if she was to reach puberty at the age of 9 or 10... A girl of her age cannot use her money freely, let alone take [sic] such a major decision. It is not logical by all means." No. Damn skippy it isn't. But then, sometimes The Sandbox truly is a "L F Z." [Logic Free Zone.]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How did I miss this!?!

I spend more time at the computer than I probably should. The list of blogs that I visit gets longer and longer every day. Reading one just leads to another which leads to another and before you know it, ten minutes has turned into an hour! I have the "favorites" that I head to first - and often - and others that I visit not as regularly. I used to read Little Green Footballs on a daily or at least regular basis; not so much now, for no particular reason. Charles posted this, "Saudi Columnist Calls for Abolishing Saudi Religious Police." The columnist was writing for Al-Jazirah. Apparently he was fired, although the article doesn't exactly say that. His columns are no longer being published. Yeah. Go figure.

Slavery Is Back

I might just be able to have a houseboygirl in the States when we finally move back, after all! On a serious note, this is NOT acceptable. Not at all.

It is going to be one heck of a wake up call, though, for me, when we are again living in the States and I don't have someone coming every day to vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, wash floors... When we first moved here, DH said "We don't need a houseboy." We didn't have one for the first three months that we were here. A young man who got our name and telephone number from a friend kept calling and asking if we needed his services. I said yes. And, although I have had a difficult time keeping houseboys - because I am far too particular and fussy - it is a part of the lifestyle that I know I am going to miss after we leave.

HB1613, Inam, has been back with us for two months now. He is doing a fabulous job. He is slow. Very slow. But he does do a really good job with the tasks that I assign him. I was sure that by paying him a monthly salary versus hourly he would pick his pace up to get his work done in a more timely manner. I was wrong. It is taking him even longer. His choice. I have decided that if he continues doing the work like he has been doing it that I will give him a raise after six months. He will never want to leave!

On the bright side, for him, I pay him at the end of the month - on time. I don't raise my voice or yell at him. I don't beat him with a mop or broom. And, he is not "locked up" in our garage without food or water or any light. I think that, even though the job of being a "houseboy" is certainly not one that anyone would aspire to be whilst growing up, it is a desired position in the "big picture" for many men on this side of the world. It certainly beats being outside laboring and toiling in the heat and sun of the long summer months, here.

Another Beheading

A Saudi man was beheaded Monday "after being convicted of killing his mother and brother." It is the bottom story, here. Scroll down.

That makes 101 for a total this year with two days left in 2008.

Saudi justice is swift and to the point. [Ha! No pun intended. Sure.] No lingering around in jail cells eating up taxpayer dollars, here. No appellate lawyers. No last minute "stays." Courts don't dilly dally around. There was a crime. You committed it. You will be executed tomorrow.

"Madinah sex den raided..."

And, a headline that you just couldn't make up... "Madinah sex den raided, suspect arrested in act." Along with news that you just can't make up. It is comical. Really, it just is.

"The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested an Arab expatriate on charges of having illegal relations with a young girl in a mobile shop... Officials did not mention the girl's age but reported that she had left her 'school bag' on a table not far from where she and the man - also of unreported age - were found engaging in sexual relations."

"The commission said that the shop run by the man was under observation following several complaints from local residents that they suspected the shop was a front for immoral activities... On Sunday, commission members entered the shop a little after a girl student went inside. The members could not see anyone inside though they saw the school bag. On closer examination they discovered a hidden doorway that led to a bedroom where the man and the girl were discovered... it found evidence the man was recording his sex encounters and possibly using the digital images for blackmail..."

Somebody is in a heap of trouble... That kind of thing just doesn't go over well, here. "...the commission members handed over the suspect to police for further investigation." Expect a confession - any confession - to any crime - in the short term.

No. Really. You can't make this stuff up.

There is no "person" to attribute this ridiculousness to - just a "place." A "place" has now deemed it un-Islamic to wear jeans or have your hair dyed black. Gonna be an awful lot of people on this side of the world that are going to have to change clothes if that is the case. Oh, and there are going to be an awful lot of "gray" roots showing, too.

"In response to a query on wearing of jeans by women... The physical structure (curves) of the body is reflected if one puts on a [sic] jeans. [How would anyone even know that a woman "a" jeans on when the women are covered head to toe in black in yards of black fabric?] Wearing them by a woman is a sin... It is barred for men as well. Women, who want to look as men, are cursed."

"On a query on dyeing one's hair in black, the fatwa said that any other colour other than black is permissible." Red, white, blonde, brown... All okay, then.

Sheesh. No. Really. You just can't make this stuff up.

The article is making the rounds of bloggers across the Internet. I don't know where I saw it to attribute the proper thanks...

Monday, December 29, 2008

We do NOT like peas; we will NOT eat peas!

How many times must I be "told" shown that no matter what I do to disguise peas, short of putting them in the food processor and hiding them in salmon, that my Kids are NOT going to eat them!?!

Okay. I get it. I really do. This time. Finally... No more peas!!! I promise. Unless of course I "sneak" them in with broiled salmon. Oh, and by the way, Kids, no treats tonight. You didn't eat your peas...

Which ones are dishonorable?

Perhaps you would care to elaborate. Enlighten us. "There are no mean or superior jobs. Rather there are honorable and dishonorable ones." The Minister of Labor, Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, has made some very valid points but the article is short and doesn't answer the question, "Which jobs are dishonorable?" That is open to interpretation. The "oldest profession" probably wouldn't be considered an "honorable" job, here, in The Sandbox. Apparently cleaning isn't an honorable profession, either. Conversely, being the head of some authoritative body would likely be considered "honorable," but what about when that official gets caught doing something wrong. He is no longer honorable - but the position is. Ramble, ramble, ramble and make no sense...

The Labor Minister says "...fight against labor injustice and harm to protect both citizens and expatriate workers and to prevent any comment tainting the reputation of the Kingdom." How about starting with paying ALL of the laborers on a timely basis and punishing the employers that do not? That would be a good start. "The public attitude to foreign labor in the Kingdom has been blurred by racism and arrogance." Who is to blame for that?!? "In the past, we looked up to foreigners with respect in our country, but now it seems to have changed... Foreigners are looked at as wealth grabbers, social corruptors [sic] and potential criminals." Yes. There are certainly some "wealth grabbers." That would be the reason many expatriates come here to work. But we are hardly all "social corruptors [sic] and potential criminals."

"Unfortunately, we have been overwhelmed by arrogance and have begun to think we are better than those workers who have come to be our development partners..." Understatement, that! "Imagine that housemaid who has abandoned her family and children to come here. Imagine that worker who has put all his family's savings or house in collateral to come here. We should not forget such sacrifices made by those who have come to serve us after it had been for a long time our job to serve ourselves." Well said. And, frankly, about time someone said it! Thank you, Mr. Al-Gosaibi.

But I still want someone to explain to me what "mean" and "superior" jobs are versus "honorable and dishonorable" jobs... Besides the obvious, that is.

UPDATED: Is driving a bus a "mean" and / or "dishonorable" position? Wouldn't it be a worthy effort to make sure that those who are hired to do the jobs, here, that others either do not want or refuse to do, get paid on a timely basis [see above]? Why must there be report after report after report in the daily newspapers of workers going unpaid, or worse, being mistreated and NOT even being allowed to go home when their contracts either specify they can or when their contracts end, and being blamed for wrongdoings that never happened?!?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blog Set at Eastern Standard Time

It would appear as though my posts are all a day behind - when in reality - I'm a day ahead. I have the "time" set for Eastern Standard Time and I could change it and maybe I will but it doesn't make all that much difference to me one way or another.

According to my blog, I put up five posts yesterday. I didn't. I did them this morning. Of course, since I get up at like four o'clock in the morning... That's eight o'clock at night for anyone living on the East Coast of the United States. Kind of makes me look behind instead of ahead. I think I will change that time, after all. I hate being late...

UPDATE: All fixed.

You are NOT going to find "that" here!

My goodness. Does my blog have a big "P" attached to it with search engines that you think you are going to find p0rn0graphy or perversion, here? No. You are not. But I get a lot of "hits" for some pretty weird stuff. Lots of Google searches for "p0rn" which is the way to get around being "blocked" in The Sandbox and find all sorts of stuff. Type in "p o r n" and you won't find what you're looking for - but type it "p 0 r n" and it is amazing what will come up. But then, anything with "bathing suits or lingerie" is blocked - and sites that are the most innocent in the world - because one particular word is used - whatever that word may be - are blocked, as well.

I can assure you, however, that you a
re NOT going to find anything condoning in any way, shape or form, "child fornication," at my place. Oh, sure. You'll find "child fornication" stories, here, but they are just news reports of pedophiles old men marrying little six and eight and eleven year old girls. Perhaps that is what you were looking for:

You are not going to find much for "t i t s," here, either:

And, unfortunately I don't have any stories or pictures of "naked soccer" games and players. Although I do not disagree that it certainly would make the game of soccer a whole lot more interesting:

I've got a lot more - hits that I've saved of people looking for things they are NEVER going to find on this blog... So sorry to have disappointed y'all. NOT!

Traffic Woes

The closing of a tunnel in the Eastern Province for road work is causing all kinds of havoc. Was the tunnel closed without warning? No. But the crying and whining over this - is it really necessary? Buck up. Get your butt out of bed a little earlier and get to work early [yeah, right!] to avoid the mess. DH travels this route to work. Of course, since he goes to work at 4:15 in the morning traffic isn't really much of a problem for him - except for the idiots the other day who were out partying at 4:30 in the morning who got stuck in the sand and then used a truck to try to tow the stuck car out - and blocked the entire road - in the fog - just over the crest of a hill. [They almost got T-boned by a Suburban that was doing 120 kilometers an hour. And who do you think would have been at fault? The idiots blocking the road - sideways - or DH's driver???]

Interesting Little Tidbit

More to this story than we are being told, no doubt. Why was he smuggling phones out? Where was he smuggling them to? Without additional details one can only speculate.

Take Away the Fun and Job Prospects

Is it not enough that there are limited "women only" parks and shopping centers and places where women, here, can go to avoid the appearance of improper behavior? And now, one of those few places has been shut down. Sixty women are without means to provide for their families. Their job prospects are limited, at best. We know they are not going to become cleaners as that would be "demeaning."

Obesity is on the rise - the world over. With obesity comes a slew of other health problems and concerns. Isn't having an all-women health and sports club a positive way to combat that? And, now, that's been closed.

The message that is being sent is that women should just stay home and sit on their couches and watch soap operas and eat bon-bons. Look at the bright side. Those abeyas are long and loose and flowing. No one will ever know if you've gained weight.

Brilliant Idea

Absolutely brilliant. ...but just how do you propose to "prevent" the couple, one of which - or both - carry the AIDS virus, from having children? Forced sterilization?

I am not a medical professional. I don't even play one on a blog. But isn't AIDS an illness for which there is no cure, yet? I could be all wrong on my very limited knowledge of AIDS and someone feel free to correct me if I am...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Two More Beheadings

The total for the year, so far, is 100. Two Saudi men were beheaded yesterday after being convicted of raping a man. [No that is not a typographical error.] No. I do not make light of the criminal justice system, here, in The Sandbox. I believe that Saudi Arabia could teach the United States a few lessons insofar as how to deal with crime. How many murders were there in the United States in 2008? [I'm sure the statistics are out there somewhere.] How many in Chicago, alone? Justice is swift and efficient in this part of the world - for murder, for rape, for burglary - unlike in the States where criminals have all the rights and languish in jails and prisons for years and years and years at taxpayer expense.

Weasel Zippers had the story first. I "borrowed" it from him.

Sentencing in Blackmail Case

And it sure doesn't appear as though any favoritism, at all, was involved. Interesting. Saudi authorities will arrest a Ministry official and sentence him to eleven months in prison - and 280 lashes - for blackmailing a woman, but steadfastly refuse to stop "locals" who violate traffic laws.

No, I am not disputing that blackmailing a woman is wrong. It is very wrong. But I do see this as a situation that could quite easily be manipulated and punish an awful lot of "innocent" men by putting them in jail for the actions of TWO people. What are you doing allowing yourself to be photographed by a man who isn't a relative, anyway? [Yeah. That's not quite how I meant for that to sound.] But, if it goes against every grain of your "culture" to be in the company of a man that is not related to you, how are so many men ending up with photographs of young women that they can "blackmail" them over? Are there some scorned women that are accusing men unjustly? It could happen...

Fake Tires

What are fake tires? I'm not really sure. Are they tires that say Michelin on them when they are not really Michelin tires? And, if 50% of the tires that are sold, here, are fake how would you know if you were getting a fake tire or a real tire? Interesting.

A Jeddah businessman is blaming "government agencies and incompetent civil servants for the malaise, saying they care more for paper work than the quality of work they achieve." Hmmph. It is, after all, government. Name me a government anywhere in the world that is competent... Impossible. It doesn't exist.

Really? You don't say...

Who would have guessed: "Discourage first cousin marriages to check the likely increase of genetic diseases..."

"The rate of consanguineous marriages is quite high in this part of the world and has to go down if the incidence of genetic diseases including heart problems has [sic] to come down..."

Will this warning be taken seriously or not?

Friday, December 26, 2008

World's Most Perfect & Expensive Rib Roast

Eveh! I paid $70.00!!! for a rib roast to make for DH for Christmas Dinner. $70.00!!! That's $14.00 a pound. Outrageous. Just outrageous. But, that is what it costs to live here, and that is what you pay... For US beef. I don't eat it - but I do have to cook it. DH is a "meat and potatoes" man. It isn't dinner if it doesn't include meat - preferably red meat. I can get away with making an occasional eggplant Parmesan but there is little else that I make that I can serve and call "dinner" if it doesn't contain meat.

The most perfect every single time roast beef - no matter what the cut - is the easiest in the world to make. You can stick it in the oven in the morning and leave it in the oven ALL DAY and it will be ready for dinner when you get home from work. I used to do this all the time when we lived in the States and I had a "real" life that included a job in an office where I spent a whole lot more than forty hours a week...

Buy a roast. Big, medium or small. But just about any cut will do for this... [The cut that you would use for stew is going to be tougher than a rib roast. Obviously.]

Pre-heat the oven to 450°. Season the beef - I use liberal [and I do mean liberal!] amounts of garlic powder [NOT garlic salt] and fresh ground black pepper. And, I use a little salt. Just a little, though. I cover the entire piece of meat - every side of it - with garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper and a little salt [even the bottom]. Put the meat in a GLASS [yes - this does make a difference!] baking dish - a brownie pan - or if your roast is big enough - a Lasagna pan. You do not want the dish too big for the piece of meat [otherwise all the fatty juice will dry up and you won't have what you need for adding flavor to the gravy].

Stick the roast in the 450° oven for TWENTY MINUTES and ONLY twenty minutes. Then, when twenty minutes is up, turn the oven down to 350° and cook the roast as follows:

SEVEN minutes per pound for rare-to-medium-rare meat;
NINE minutes per pound for medium-rare-to-medium; and
ELEVEN minutes per pound for medium-to-well-done.

Round up. If your roast is three and a half pounds you cook it for 28 minutes at 350° for a rare-to-medium-rare roast beef. If you want the meat to be cooked a little more - so that it isn't still going "moo mooo" you cook it for 36 minutes at 350° and if you want the meat to be more "done" [cooked!] you cook it for 44 minutes at 350°.

If you have a five-pound roast - which is what I cooked - and I cooked it rare-to-medium-rare, which is how DH likes it [yuck! just gross!] you cook it for 35 minutes at 350°.

First, the 450° for TWENTY MINUTES - no matter how big or small the roast - then go by the times listed above.

Here's the thing. YOU CANNOT OPEN THE OVEN UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SERVE THE ROAST! I used to post sticky notes on the oven door so that NO ONE would walk by and go, "Oh my gosh, whatever is in the oven smells soooo good - and it does smell good - I'll just open the over door for a peek - the smell will permeate throughout your kitchen and your house - but DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! No matter what!!! At any point in the entire process. If you forgot to add salt - too bad - you open the oven door and you are going to RUIN the roast. Ruin. It.

Like I said, I used to get roasts ready and cooked before I left for work in the morning. Yep. I cooked the first part while I was in the shower - the 450° - and then turned down the oven to 350° while I was getting dressed, feeding Boy Number One [our Rottweiler, Sergeant] and then letting him out to do business, etc., and doing my hair... VoilĂ . Dinner is done. For the most part. I would leave it in the oven all day long - nine, ten, eleven hours...

When I would get home from work, first I would pour a glass of wine. My favorite is Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon. The year 2000 was great - but good luck finding a bottle of that! Then I would pour a second glass and take my shoes off, take the suit I was wearing off and put on a "house uniform" [bike shorts and a tee-shirt or sweatshirt]. Turn the oven to 325°. As SOON AS IT REACHES 325° set the timer for TWENTY MINUTES. In twenty minutes you can either whip up McCormick "brown gravy" or open a jar of beef gravy. Let it simmer on the stove on low - you'll want to add the drippings from the roast to the gravy. If you want to get real fancy - mash real potatoes. There is really no point, though, when Betty Crocker makes excellent Butter & Herb instant mashed potatoes?!! No fuss. No mess. Ten minutes. Just add water, milk and butter... Heat a can of green beans in the magic mini oven [this is what DH calls our microwave - I do a lot of cooking in the "magic mini oven"]. If you are doing this for a special occasion, like Christmas Dinner or for company - sautĂ© some mushrooms. Canned mushroom will not do for this purpose. You must use fresh mushrooms.

...when the timer goes off in 20 minutes - take the roast out of the oven. Let it sit for five minutes or so before slicing / carving it. I usually transfer the roast to a cutting board so I can take the drippings that are in the glass baking dish and put them in the gravy.

Dinner is done!

Just try this. You WILL thank me. Hey. Sometimes I'm a giver...

P.S. Buy a Turtle Cheesecake at Sam's Club for dessert. They have FABULOUS cheesecake. Oh my gosh. What I wouldn't do for a Sam's Club in The Sandbox.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Population Control Road Carnange Reasons

Well, this certainly explains a lot. Who knew that the reason we don't see traffic police stopping drivers who callously and wantonly break the laws by speeding and running lights and a whole slew of other violations was because they are afraid they will be found guilty of "issuing tickets to motorists on false charges?" The traffic policemen will "face tough punishment and [be] made to pay the fines they wrongly imposed." Hmmph.

There are all sorts of new traffic laws. They have been introduced and implemented during the course of this past year. Supposedly there is a "point system" in place - similar to what is done in the States - where if you get a speeding ticket you get so many points and if you run a red light you get so many points - accumulate enough points and you get your license taken away from you and you lose the privilege of driving. I'd be curious to know how this is working out, here, where only ex-pats get tickets.

I was discussing the issue of driver's here - and how they are the absolute most dangerous in the entire world with my driver - one of my regular drivers - last week during one of my trips downtown. He told me he had received a ticket for not stopping "100 percent" at a stop sign. He says that he did stop - but that when he was pulled over he was told that although he stopped "he didn't stop 100 percent." The drivers we use on the compound are imported workers. I'd be willing to bet the man did stop - and stopped "100 percent." These guys know that they will be deported immediately if they get caught doing so much as breathing wrong. He had no recourse when he went to Court. His employer went with him. He has been told by his employer that if he receives a violation for anything - ever again - that he will be sent home and black-listed [he won't be able to return].

So the driver gets a violation for "stopping - but not stopping 100 percent" and the "locals" can get away with NOT STOPPING AT ALL and get no violations. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. The speed alone, at which many drivers insist on maintaining, should be enough to get them pulled over and ticketed. It just doesn't work that way, here. The "road warriors" that drive endangering everyone around them will be allowed to continue causing death and destruction in their paths because if they get ticketed by a traffic policeman they can simply appear at the Court and say "he ticketed me falsely."

What a system! Put traffic policemen out there. Give them vehicles which are little more than the equivalent of "pedal cars" compared to all of the Mercedes and BMW's out there. Give them virtually no authority and then bind their proverbial hands even more tightly by allowing the public to say "he ticketed me falsely" and thus punish the police. It is absolutely nuts to think that population control road carnage on the streets in The Sandbox will ever be controlled with the system like it is. What is the point? I mean, come on. Why even bother?!?

Best Gift, Ever!

I have been very, very blessed in my life with many, many gifts. Not the least of which is a wonderful family and some very dear friends. The best gift, ever, though? It has to be my husband. A man I love more than I ever thought it would be possible to love someone. [Just thinking about him - after twenty years together - still gives me that fluttery tingly feeling in my stomach!]

It is with realistic clarity - like it was just yesterday - that I can remember meeting him for the first time. A friend [she was my Maid of Honor in my first wedding] set me up on a blind date with her brother-in-law. It was one of those "ho-hum" not interested kind of things, "I'll go ahead and be the 'even' person at dinner if you really need me to." Oh my gosh. Yes! There really is such a thing as love at first sight. I knew that night - he didn't know - but I did - that I was going to marry him. When I got home that night I told my then roommate that I was going to marry the man I had just met. She laughed. "Okay. Sure you are." Two years later we were married.

He - Dear Husband - is truly a gift. The kind of gift that just keeps on giving and giving and giving. And, sometimes it really is the "little" things that mean the most...

Last night, as we were getting ready to go to a Christmas party, I was standing in DH's bathroom [we have separate bathrooms - yes I love DH, but how we ever got along with sharing a bathroom before we moved to The Sandbox is beyond me] holding on to a necklace that I needed him to help me with [a birthday present from him two years ago]. DH was toweling off after just getting out of the shower - we were already late - because he played 18 holes of golf instead of the 9 he said he was going to play... I was dressed and all ready to go - but for the necklace. I was standing in front of his mirror and turning from one side to the other and getting ready to ask the question that most women ask at one time or another. DH could see it coming - he knew what I was going to ask before it came out of my mouth: "Do I look fat in these pants?" He said, "I could just tell by the way you were posturing that you were going to ask. As long as either you or I are still alive that question will remain unanswered." Is he the most wonderful man in the world, or what!!! As we were walking out of the house to the truck, I said, "So, by not answering that question, you are saying that I do look fat in these pants." DH turned around and said, "Honey, you are as beautiful today as you were the day that I met you. You are not fat. Voluptuous, maybe. But not fat."

He really, truly IS the most wonderful Husband in the whole wide entire world! A gift that I can never, ever be thankful enough for...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Lights, But Much Christmas Spirit!

I took both Kids for their separate walks this afternoon - we haven't done a "group" walk since our jaunt through the bushes and MY ride across the asphalt - and, by the way, as if it isn't bad enough that I have a bum right knee - my right shoulder hasn't been the same since that walk, either. Still need to take The Kids for their trots through the neighborhood, however, but now I get to go twice! [A well-exercised and tired four-legged-Kid is a happy Kid!]

Seems like in years past that there have been lots of Christmas lights strung out, and you could see everyone's trees through their front windows [those of us that have houses and are not surrounded on all four sides by six foot high cement walls]. This year? There are a few random strands of lights outside but NOT A SINGLE CHRISTMAS TREE! Not a one. Either they are being well-hidden behind closed drapes or there are just not as many ex-pats here [and there aren't] during the Holidays this year. [And, that isn't to say that there are not Christmas Trees in homes on our compound - there are - but those that have been visible in past years are not visible this year.] I wonder why... But, then, who am I to talk? We don't have our tree up this year, either. We celebrated the Holidays while we were in the States and have only just been home for two weeks. It wasn't that I can't be bothered - but it just didn't seem worth the time and effort. Christmas is in the heart; just because there isn't a tree in our living room / dining room doesn't mean we are not celebrating the reason for the season!

Tonight is Christmas Eve. I am saddened that our family and our friends in the States are separated from us - even though I did just spend three weeks with them. The Holidays ARE about family and friends. I am glad, however, for our many, many friends here, and the celebrations that we have been to and look forward to continuing to partake in...

Lemuel Calhoun, at Hillbilly White Trash posts the most awesomely chosen music videos - especially for Christmas! This "is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's video for Christmas Eve Sarajevo. The tune is the traditional Christmas carol Carol of the Bells." Enjoy.

I wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas!!!

No. You may not have a divorce, either.

As if the Court not agreeing to a divorce for an EIGHT-YEAR-OLD child who was married off to a 58-year-old man for the paltry sum of 30,000SR [$8,042.89], earlier this week, wasn't enough...

16-year-old Shaikha and 11-YEAR-OLD Abeer have not been able to get a ruling in their divorce cases, either. They are married to old men - one of the husbands is 70 and the other is 75! And, they were married off "in trade." You know. The "if you let me marry your daughter I will let you marry my daughter" type of deal. I don't get why a dowry was paid. I mean, really, wouldn't that be like just exchanging the 'same' money? "Here. I will give you a dollar. Now, you give me the dollar back." One dowry was slightly higher than the other in this instance, though. Apparently one of the daughter's was worth slightly more than the other daughter - but I'm not sure which was deemed worthy of the extra 5,000SR. The article says "The two guardians received SR50,000 and SR45,000, as dowry to exchange each other's daughters." [$13,304.82 and $12,064.34, respectively.]

The article also says that the 16-year-old, Shaikha "had tried to commit suicide by drinking Clorox but she was rescued." Who would have thought that a young girl would go to such extremes just to NOT marry a man some 54 to 59 years her senior?!?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My goodness, guys!* Where's the fire???

Where the heck is everyone going that they have to be there fifteen minutes ago?!? Our trip downtown this morning was harrowing! DH and I went after he got home from work at 10A, just to the eyeglasses store to pick up our glasses which we had dropped off yesterday - three pairs - to be repaired. Talk about quick turn around time. I will miss things like that, at some point, when we've returned to the States for good where it takes a week to get a simple repair job done whether it is at the cobbler, tailor or eyeglass store. Here? Repairs for shoes, clothing and glasses are done in a matter of hours... I digress...

Our street signal lights here in The Sandbox have timers on them - digital countdown clocks so that you know how much time left until the light changes from red to green and then how much time you have for the green light until it changes to red. They are timed for 30 second intervals. Bad enough as you are either waiting for your light to change green that cars are cutting in front of you from both the left and right - or worse - as you start to accelerate to move through the green light into the intersection someone from the far right lane cuts you off to make a right-hand turn [an oft-used maneuver called "the Saudi swing"] but must the horns start honking, beeping and blaring to "G O" before the light even changes from red to green?

Everyone seemed to be in such a hurry this morning. That we were not subjected, first-hand, to seeing major population control road carnage was a miracle. I thought for sure - on a couple of occasions - that we were going to be eye-witnesses to some "minor fender benders." [Ha! They would have been total wrecks; not minor fender benders.] The first of which would have involved a laborer transport van, thankfully empty of its passengers, as a small green Toyota Tercel-looking vehicle was weaving in and out of cars down the highway at a breakneck speed [who knew a Toyota Tercel could even go that fast?!?] which narrowly - and I do mean narrowly - like by a couple of millimeters! - missed clipping the van as it passed us on the right and then flew into the left-hand lane to speed by another car - back into the center lane where it sped up [yes, apparently it is possible to go even faster than he was going] and almost rear-ended the van as he raced to get back into the left hand lane. Asshole.

Almost all of the drivers - men* - were acting like unruly children behind the wheels of testosterone and nitrogen fueled metal weapons this morning. Only two lanes on the street? Drivers here will make two lanes into four or five lanes - everyone has to get to that red light first! Stop sign on your side of the intersection - and a "straight through" for us? Please, by all means, disregard the sign. Completely. Asshole.

It just so happened that as this actually was happening - just moments before - I was asking DH if he had seen the article recently where a British man ended up in jail for flipping of an Arab in Dubai. Believe it or not, I was purposely sitting on my hands while telling DH about it - and - just as we were entering the intersection that the "other driver" had a stop sign for - which, by the way - it was quite vividly apparent that he wasn't going to bother stopping for - my hand flew up from underneath me to the window. I could not help, nor restrain, myself. Birds happen. The guy deserved it. [He deserved to be slapped, at the very least! Just let me at him...]

There were a few other minor and narrow mishaps that we witnessed - but our trip home was worse than our trip to town. Horns and honks blaring and emanating from almost every vehicle. No civility at all. None. Whatsoever. Cars passing on all sides regardless of whether there were lanes to pass or not. [I know I've written in posts, here, before that a breakdown lane is regarded as just another high-speed passing lane in The Sandbox.] Downright dangerous. Not a traffic policeman anywhere to be seen. Not a single one. [Not that it would matter; they don't stop and ticket drivers for their total disregard and callousness and lawbreaking anyway.]

As we were on the final stretch home and driving down the highway at a speed [much faster than the posted speed limit, I might add - but if no one else is following the signs - and DH was just keeping up with traffic...], TWO white Ford LTD-looking vehicles - yes, two of them - were pushing everyone out of their way by flashing their lights and racing to get somewhere and passing IN THE BREAK-DOWN LANE on the left side of a three five-lane highway - both drivers behaving manically and wildly - trying, one can only surmise - to kill everyone in their path but somehow adeptly not succeeding in doing so. What caught my attention was that one of the cars was carrying probably SIX SMALL CHILDREN and NOT A SINGLE ONE WAS restrained. I could see them all crawling over each other in the front and back seat for the minute or so as they were passing us - before speeding out of view. One of the children was actually laying in the back window ledge area! My gosh, guys. Get a grip. Do us ALL a favor and slow the f^ck down before we all get killed!

*Guys / Men / Boys - There are NO women drivers in The Sandbox.

But, what about the theft?!?

The Saudi Post is being investigated looked into regarding "embezzlement involving Saudi Post Corporation employees." This is all well and good. There are some bribery issues that are being "investigated," as well. Might it not behoove authorities to look at the cases of theft, too? Items and things have disappeared from mail that comes to us, including a couple of books and a pink shoe. Oh. And what about the way the mail is actually handled - or "manhandled" as the case may be. The damage that is done to items that are mailed? How about checking into that while you're investigating other wrong doings? Just a thought. The mail system in The Sandbox leaves a lot to be desired. [Understatement, that!] Best to pay the additional money and have friends and family send items via DHL or Federal Express or some other way that you have a system to track your package or packages.

My Dear Mother-In-Law sends us Christmas presents every year. Bless her. She takes the time and trouble to prettily wrap and beribbon the gifts before boxing them to be sent. I don't have the heart to tell her not to bother wrapping them in anything but newspaper. Customs and Saudi Post workers are just going to rip the gifts open and then carelessly and wantonly stuff whatever it is back in the box and tape it up before it gets to our mailbox. So what that that box cutter slices through whatever the "gift" may be. Not their problem. Not even a concern. So what that when whoever is inspecting the packages he [there are no "she's" that work at the Saudi Post] only replaces half the contents of whatever has been removed from the box during inspection and that pieces go amiss or get destroyed in the process. Deal.

Anyone who has issues with the way mail is handled in the United States should see how mail is handled, here. You would have a total and new-found respect for the carriers in the States who traipse through rain and snow and wind and hail to deliver cards and packages that have not all been opened and censored and picked through and damaged or destroyed...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Internet Woes

We were without internet for a period earlier this week. And it is still not all fixed. It is sporadic, at best. On, then off. I know that it is all part of fixing the problem and that we can expect "spotty" service until the damage is repaired. Funny, how, years ago, when AOL offered "dial-up" service we thought, "Wow. Isn't this great!" Now, though, with DSL or whatever service it is that we have, that is not "dial-up" and with being so used to instant access, that I am waiting and waiting and waiting for a page to load is incredibly frustrating. Really. I have time to throw a load of laundry in the washer or switch it to the dryer while I wait for a site to come up with whatever routing or system we are now on. I'm not blaming whoever it is that is fixing the problem. They are, no doubt, doing what they can and the best that they can to get it taken care of.

Belmont Club has a most excellent article about our dilemma, here. Yesterday's papers reported that we can expect difficulties and service outages for the rest of the month. Something to look forward to...


I haven't done a "Locally..." post in a while. 'Tis time. Consider it a gift.

Good thing authorities haven't ruled out "criminal activity," on this. I'd be willing to venture a guess that the maid's death was not a suicide. In fact, if I was the betting sort, I'd be more apt to put my money on the blame of the sponsor - or someone in the household. Let's just speculate for a moment why someone would wrap their maid in blankets and set her room on fire: The maid hadn't been paid in years and was threatening to tell authorities. The maid had been physically abused in some manner and was threatening to tell authorities. The maid had had enough crap and was threatening to leave. There are probably quite a few more "speculatives" that I could come up with if I thought long and hard. Would I venture to speculate that the maid committed suicide by wrapping herself in blankets and setting her room on fire to end her [miserable] life because she "had problems with her family back home?" No. I would not.

100 workers have not had their salaries paid. Not news [second story; scroll down]. Same old, same old.

A quick little "guess the nationality" game, here. Oh, wait. The nationality is reported. But of course it is. The men arrested were not "locals." Three Asians have been arrested for stealing "spare parts" of aircraft engines.

Catchy headline, here: "Woman 'drives' Sudanese mad." Aww... "A Sudanese man, whose car was hit by a speeding car coming from the wrong direction was in for a shock, not from any injury but by the fact that the driver of the erring vehicle was a pretty girl." Police were chasing her because Saudi law does not allow women to drive. Kudos to the "pretty" girl for trying. I hope she was not injured too badly.

I think this set-up, or entrapment, has some ramifications to it that haven't quite been thought through [here? shocka!]. I am not discounting that [foolish] young women should have the right to report that they are being "blackmailed," but I question how often dubious motives might be behind the reason that someone reports it. Seems to me, that both parties need to take some responsibility for their actions, but only the young man gets the blame [and punishment]. How is it that this young woman's phone - with photos of her on it - ended up in the hands of a young man to begin with? The report says that the man had taken her phone, but yet, it is reported that the young woman wanted to "end contact" with him after knowing him for a year. Lover's quarrel or something, if you ask me, and it is the young men that are going to be taking the brunt of the blame in similar situations. On the other hand, as "commission" members are not going to hesitate to help women in such predicaments, I guess they can look at it as job security...

Two deaths. Both unnecessary. One a murder; the other a heart attack. A man murdered his daughter because she wanted to go to medical school. [Sure. Seems like a reasonable explanation, doesn't it?!?] The girl's grandmother, who was at the home, died of a heart attack. The man - the father - is being called a drug addict. Still. No excuse for brutally murdering your daughter.

Here is a report on the 97th beheading this year.

No You May Not Have a Divorce

A prime example of insanity, here. The Court has rejected the pleas of a mother to allow her eight-year-old daughter to divorce the 58 year old man that the girl's father married her off to for the price of 30,000SR [$8,042.89] because he was having some financial difficulties. [You are in a financial quandary and your daughter is only worth $8000.00?!?]

These are the kinds of things that make you shake your head and mutter things under your breath in total absolute disbelief that they could even happen. Wasn't there "talk" just a short time ago of determining a minimum age for marrying girls? Wasn't there "talk" that a marriage contract wasn't going to be valid unless both parties consented? Guess it was just that. All talk. No action. The poor child in this particular instance doesn't even know that her father has sold her off to a pedophile man old enough to be her grandfather. The CHILD is still in grade school for goodness sake! So much for consent of both parties; so much for a minimum age.

The 58 year old groom has "a verbal undertaking with the girl's father that he would not consummate the marriage until she turns 18." Ten years. The groom will be 68 then. A lot can happen in ten years. Until then, though, the CHILD, the eight-year-old girl, can dream about the story book wedding she has always wanted to her Prince Charming and how they will live happily ever after... Dayum. Is she in for one rude awakening when she finds out that she wasn't having a dream, but a nightmare!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dinner and a Movie? Maybe not.

"Date night," with "dinner and a movie," isn't looking like it is going to happen anytime soon, here, in The Sandbox. According to the chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, "Cinema is an evil." Well, okay, then. Going to the movies is out. There are plenty of other forms of entertainment, though... How about a nice walk through one of the malls?

Although that too, apparently, is not such a good thing. "Morality problems and complaints have increased with urban expansion and the proliferation of malls." Who knew? The article states that "market owners and citizens were demanding that the Commission step up its presence in the malls. Shoppers feel reassured when Commission staffers are present in the malls, and in turn sales increase." Interesting.

No Surprise About Caylee

The remains of a small child found in Florida have been positively identified as Caylee Marie Anthony. That the remains are that little girl doesn't come as a big surprise. I am glad she was finally found. I am glad for some closure in the case insofar as the child is concerned. The mother, Casey, on the other hand... Who, by the way, in my opinion, has already been tried and convicted - thanks to a much concerned "public," needs to just get it over with and give herself up. Tell the truth for the first time in her life. Admit to what she did. I will never believe that "Zanny the Nanny" did this. What a sick, sick woman - Casey, that is. I just don't get it...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can You Say Sabotage?!?

Whoo Hoo! We have internet again. Cables were cut 1,000 miles out in the ocean and we've been without cable for over a day, now. Thirty hours. Yikes! Yes, I was having withdrawal symptoms. Again. We've been out of communication with the outside world since yesterday morning. Sabotage? Submarine accident? Yeah. Right. Sure it was...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot and Sunny

One of the things that I truly have never complained about is the heat in this part of the world. I like hot and sunny every day. I want to sit by the pool. I am a "professional tanner." Yeah. Not lately!

It is hot in the summer, here in The Sandbox. We can expect temperatures of between 110° and 125° every single day of June, July, August and September. Yes, I do very much feel sorry for the workers who are forced to endure that kind of heat as they toil under the sun in the land of no shade as I sit either next to or float in my pool. But this is just crazy! Right now, outside, it "feels like 35°!" What the ?!?! And, I am feeling just as sorry for the workers who are trying to stay warm as they toil in the freezing cold, at this point... They are all bundled up. Who could blame them?

The Boy [our Great Dane], like his Mommy, enjoys the heat. He has a "blonde" coat - very short "fur." The poor little guy is actually shivering by the time he comes inside after he's been out to do business. Yes. Of course I have a coat for him. I got it out of the closet last night, and I will put it on him each time he has to go out from now on, until it warms up to at least 80°. I will use the "rule of thumb" that if I need a sweatshirt [or two!] then he needs his coat.

Today I am going to get my sewing machine out. I will be making fleece pajamas for both Kids. It is just a little skewed, as far as I am concerned, that we are in a Country that is supposed to be hot most of the time - and at least warm - during the winter months. My goodness, if we had any precipitation, I am more than sure that we could expect snow!

Update on the Shoe-Thower and his Sister

I published the wrong photograph of the sister of man who threw his shoes at President Bush. One of Debbie Schlussel's readers, the site from which I "borrowed" the photo, alerted me to the error. I have fixed my original post; it is correct, now.

The si

In related news, about this same incident, Samir Sumaida'ie, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., explains to a couple of wackos, from a group I won't even bother mentioning because they do not deserve the space or publicity, just how lucky the journalist is that what he did - insult President Bush by throwing his shoes - was NOT done while Saddam Hussein was Iraq's dictator.

I "borrowed" the video from the man who scours the bowels of the internet so I don't have to, Weasel Zippers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

LOST: No Squeakies!!!

The Baby can kill a squeaky toy in a matter of minutes. I find it quite amusing. The Baby's favorite toys are these little furry squeaky balls which are part of a toy called "Egg Babies." You stuff the little furry squeaky balls into some sort of "toy." She has an alligator, a platypus and now a new duck that I brought back to her from the States:
Egg Babies are a take-off of the I-Cube "learning toys" for four-legged kids:

These toys are NO challenge for The Baby. None. Whatsoever. She can get those little "plush covered squeaky balls" out of the cubes in seconds. Seconds! And
she can get all of the rings off her little "Squeak Puppy Learning Toy" just as fast.

While these toys are supposed to be "interactive" and provide hours and hours of fun for your four-legged kid, when they are so easy they can hardly provide hours and hours of fun. Truly the most joy, insofar as The Baby is concerned, that is derived out of these toys is the joy of squishing each little "plush covered squeak ball" over and over and over again until she finally kills the little plastic mechanism inside of the ball - or ring - or whatever - and then the squeaking stops. Completely.

When The Baby was just that, a little black-fur-ball of a puppy, and she would play with her "squeak" toys listening to the squeak for hours, I would say things like "Oh, what pretty, pretty music you're making" and "Mommy likes your singing." You know. Stuff like that. T
he kinds of things that all two-legged Mommy's say to their little four-legged cute as Christmas balls of fur.

I've said before that I knew I was n
ot going to like "LOST," and how very, very wrong I was about that. I was hooked after the very first episode of the very first season which DH and I bought on DVD during a trip to the States last year and brought back with us. We have a friend who just happened to have the second and third season, which we borrowed and watched and then had to wait until a recent trip to the States, this past month, to get our hands on season four, which was released on December 9th. We brought season four back with us and devoured it. Watching a whole disc at a time instead of a single episode at a time.

Last night, as we sat on the edge of our respect
ive couches, watching the very last episode of season four, The Baby pranced into the living room with one of her new yellow "eggs," and promptly jumped onto HER ottoman [I get the couch; DH shares the love seat with The Boy - it's fair - it's just how it is] and started "squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeaking." I can ignore the noise. DH cannot. He turned the volume up - and then turned the volume up again. All was fine for about thirty seconds and then he could take NO more. As The Baby continued to "squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak" I am pretty sure she was just waiting for me to praise her - as I usually do when she's making "such pretty music," DH wasn't at all impressed with the concert she was performing. DH said, "Baby, no." "Baby, stop it." "No. That's enough, Baby." Finally he just couldn't take it any longer and he jumped off the love seat and grabbed The Baby's "egg" out of her mouth and stuck it on top of a "hat chest" in a marble chalice. Oh my gosh. You could SEE the heart-break in The Baby's beautiful brown eyes - the sadness - I'm pretty sure I saw tears, and I wanted to jump off the couch and give it back to her. I didn't...

In case you don't know what I am referring to when I call the piece of furniture that DH put the "egg" up on, a "hat chest" is a chest that
has "step-like" looking drawers, cupboards and openings. Ours is a fairly big one; it is a six-stepper. It looks something like this:

This is the closest I could come - finding one on the internet - without actually getting the camera and going to take a photo of ours, and downloading it, and uploading it. [I shared yesterday, with some music videos. I'm not that much of a giver... So not taking the time, right now, to post our hat chest.] The "egg" was probably on the fourth step - which, on the one I've pictured doesn't look very high - our chest, although the same idea, is much different and the fourth step is pretty high.

I had a hard time concentrating on LOST - one eye had to be glued to The Baby, who, truly is a pretty smart little girl. I could just see it coming - I knew it was going to happen. The Baby was quite distressed looking at her little "egg" so high u
p on a shelf - peeking out of a marble chalice - and she was bound and determined that she was going to get it. Every couple of seconds I would have to say, "Don't even think about it Little Girl" or "ut-uh Pretty Princess" to get her attention so that she knew that I knew that she was planning on doing some "climbing." For an hour and ten minutes she paced back and forth from me to the chest. "Please, Mommy. Help me! I must get my egg." I finally got up and grabbed the egg and put it on a shelf in the laundry closet and shut the door so that she would quit fretting over it. Poor little thing. Like I said, her "squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak" is music to me - and I can drown it out. DH cannot. It is irritating and obnoxious to him. [I keep telling both Kids that Mommy loves them more than Daddy does!]

Finally, when the very last episode of LOST season four was finished and both of us had collected ourselves and moved from the couches to the kitchen I
knew it would be safe to give The Baby her "egg" back. I didn't give her just one egg, though. Nope. The package that comes with the toy that has two replacement eggs with it happened to be on the same shelf so I headed for the toy box and grabbed the duck and filled it with three squeaky eggs! Two brand new ones and one partially flattened, matted down one. The Baby was thrilled. A millisecond later we both heard her lovely music coming from down the hall. "Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak..." And a second or two later she trotted down to the kitchen with TWO squeaky balls in her mouth. She's pretty tricky, I tell ya! "Oh what a Good Girl. Mommy likes the pretty music you are making."

I grabbed the netting and tag attached to the replaceme
nt pack of squeaky balls and for some reason I read the tag [and scanned it, too!] before I discarded everything. It is worth posting:

Clicking on the image will enlarge it. But if that doesn't work, here is what the "instructions" on the tag say, at the very end, "If the squeaking of the eggs becomes tiresome, simply remove the eggs and return toy to your dog." Ha! Sure. That'll work. So long as you don't mind that your four-legged child is willing to actually climb furniture and break marble chalice's to get to the "egg."

She's such a good little girl, The Baby. And she makes such pretty, pretty music...

Eve-Teaser Arrested

Do not ask me what "eve-teasing" is. But, an "eve-teaser" has been arrested [scroll down to the sixth story]... Has something to do with a young man trying to get the attention of a young woman - apparently, it is a form of sexual harassment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I am late with this. It rightfully should have been posted on December 14th, and I would have posted it then had I have known about it. I saw it for the first time, today, at Parkway Rest Stop, who borrowed it from Erica's Blog:

Just watch it. There is nothing more to add.

It is as good, if not better, than one of my old personal favorites:

Yeah. Today I'm all about sharing. You're welcome!

Global Warming

Global warming? You call "feels like 40°" here, in The Sandbox, global warming?!? Bu!!sh!t. It is COLD outside. And I do mean cold. So, okay, I won't be, yet again, garnering much sympathy from my friend Gill in Canada or relatives that live in upstate New York, but pluheeze... We just are NOT used to such frigid temperatures. It is 120° here for the entire summer and now this!?! Dayum. I left my fur coat in the States. I just knew it was a mistake. I just knew it! Heck. It is warmer where my Mom lives in North Carolina than here, today! At least there it "feels like 41°" and that is in the dark:

Here, the sun is shining and it feels as though it could actually snow! Yeah. Global warming. Al Gore, you are a putz... Keep your silly "global warming" crap to yourself. I don't believe a word of the "forced hot air" that drivels from that over-rated bloviating orifice that serves as a mouth on you. Not when it "feels like 40°."


Some things just never change. Will workers ever be able to get their due, here, in The Sandbox, regardless of what ruling the Labor Courts issue? Why, someone please tell me, must it always be a struggle for the worker??? Always. Just once - just one time - let us read a report where the employer is actually named [yeah, there was one employer a while back and I posted on it here, but I am just not inclined to go searching for it right now], actually punished, and actually MADE to pay its workers their wages. Just one time. Doesn't seem like too much to ask for, really.

Another article on yet more unpaid workers, here. Scroll down. To the bottom.

*same old sh!t, different day

Intentional Insult

The incident involving President Bush having a pair of shoes thrown at him is deplorable. I, personally, have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zeidi who, according to his brother, is whining about having received a beating for his despicable behavior. Good grief. What did you expect? That you - the shoe thrower - would simply walk out of such a situation with not so much as a verbal admonishment?!? Supposedly, again, according to his brother - probably a reliable source albeit biased - Muntader Al-Zeidi "hands and ribs are fractured and he has eye and leg injuries." No. You don't say! You unfortunate soul [pun intended], you. Not.

What he did - throw a pair of shoes - at President Bush, who, handled the situation with his usual graceful aplomb, is unacceptable behavior. Unacceptable behavior toward any country's leader! Oh, sure. I know there are many who are applauding his actions and elevating the man to hero status but what he did was just plain wrong. I am glad that there are many, even here in the Middle East, who agree with me.

A book I purchased, "Very Simple Arabic Incorporating Simple Etiquette in Arabia," probably the first or seco
nd week I arrived in The Sandbox, says, on page 85:

So, okay, then. The journalist [and I use that term in the loosest possible sense], apparently decided that, in his own small mind, President Bush was deserving of such "insult" by throwing his shoes and that his actions would depict and insinuate same. Heh, heh. Where'd it get him?!? Looks to me at a minimum he will be in jail for seven years, and perhaps fifteen. Right now the man's sister, Hana [pictured below*], said "her family did not know about Muntader's whereabouts and fear for his life, afraid that he would be handed over to the Americans."

Yeah. Not to worry. The Americans don't want him, and believe me, justice will be served much, much more effectively and a whole lot more swiftly on this side of the world than it ever would be in America!

*Thanks to Debbie Schlussel for the picture.

More to this Story, No Doubt

I suspect there is a lot more to this story than what is being reported. I mean, come on. Really. No where in the world does someone pick a random house, knock on the door, and just start beating the occupant or home-owner with an iron rod for no good reason. Yeah. Well, maybe in Chicago. And even then, with "pay to play" politics and the ever-increasing crime statistics, it is not "random."

The fact that the victim was a Saudi female doctor may be part of the story. Did family members oppose her choice of professions as perhaps she was required to treat male patients as well as female patients? That would make family members guilty of a crime. Were there, perhaps, men in some position of authority, whatever it may be, that thought that this well-educated professional woman had over-stepped her boundaries in some manner who decided it might be a good idea to teach her a lesson of sorts? Either scenario, in and of itself, could be a reason and wouldn't surprise anyone, here. Although it is a bit odd that she answered the door at 9:05P in the evening, it is not all that incredulous.

We have had Showtime show up to collect payment as late as 10:05 at night [when they said they would be at our house "after eight o'clock, Madam"]. They were. And they were right. It was way "after eight o'clock!" That is the way business is done in The Sandbox. You do not get a monthly bill in your mail that you need to pay. Someone comes to your house to collect the money unless you are putting it on a credit card. You have the choice of purchasing satellite television in quarterly, bi-annual or annual increments. We made the mistake of putting it on our credit card, once. We were promptly "double-billed." Go ahead. Just try getting "their" mistake corrected when they double-bill you. Ha! You're in for some real fun, then!!! Better to pay the money in cash. After the one incident when they finally showed up to collect the money at 10:05P on a Sunday or Monday night, when they said they would be there at "after eight o'clock," [time means nothing in The Sandbox] I made it very clear the next time a payment was due that if they did not collect it at the specified time that they would have to come back. And, quite frankly, if DH wouldn't have been home - he happened to be upstairs when the doorbell rang that night - I wouldn't have answered the door. Nope. Would NOT have done it.

The difference though, is that we were expecting a man to come and collect the money for our Showtime subscription that particular night, and apparently the doctor wasn't expecting guests as she said she "was surprised." Perhaps she thought there was someone requiring emergency medical treatment or something. Who knows why she opened her door at nine o'clock? Where was her household help? What Saudi family doesn't have a maid that does this for them?!? Where was her husband? What self-respecting, professional, Saudi woman isn't married? [Never mind. Her husband, if she had one, may have other wives and perhaps it was his night to be with wife number two or three or four. I have no idea how a marriage in which a man has multiple wives actually works. Nor will I ever have first-hand knowledge of this.]

Nonetheless, there is more to the story than has been reported. It does not sound as though the woman's injuries were life-threatening and perhaps we will learn the "rest of the story" at some later reporting as to why three men were "fiercely" ringing her doorbell at 9:05P on Monday night and then covered her eyes and began beating her with an iron rod when she answered and opened her door. I am glad that she was only injured - the outcome of this could have been much, much worse - and that one of her neighbors heard her screams and rushed to help her. In the meantime, as a precaution to women everywhere, unless you are expecting guests at that time of night - do NOT open your door!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Date Night

Looks like eventually "date night" in The Sandbox will include being able to go to dinner AND a movie. Maybe. Kind of. The article doesn't say whether the single men were segregated from the families [men, women and children]. The article does include a statement that says, "'We enjoyed the movie as there was entertainment with an important message,' said one man who brought his wife and children to see the movie." Jeddah tends to be a bit more metropolitan than other parts of this country - perhaps there was no segregation of the sexes;I wouldn't stake any money on that, though. What is the saying? "A picture is worth 1000 words." The picture says it all then; I don't see a single woman or child in the photo that accompanies the article.

Date night. Dinner and a movie. Yep. The man goes to his respective entrance at the restaurant and sits alone; the woman goes to her respective entrance and sits alone. Ditto for the movie theater.

On a positive note it is a sign that The Sandbox is moving forward with the times and out of the seventh century - making great strides inching along. Maybe someday women will be able to drive here... Not holding my breath.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pretty Much Back to the Daily Grind

Yeah, not so much a "daily grind," I guess, but back to normal? [Okay. Not that yet, quite, either.] Still NOT on the time zone here, though! DH and I have been going to be early. And I mean early!!! I think we made it until 7:30 last night - he made it until 7:30, I beat him - I was ready for bed at 5:30 but managed to stay up until 6:30 when I said, "I'm going to watch TV in the bedroom." Code: "I'm ready for bed, now." The wrong thing to do. What you need to do when you travel this direction is to make yourself stay up as late as possible, like 8P, at least. Otherwise you'll be wide awake at midnight. Not such a big deal, though, as DH has had to work the last couple of days at 4:45. So, we've been waking up at - like midnight - or, at least I have, and then tossing and turning unable to sleep - until I finally just get up. At 1:30 or 2 in the morning. Which means at 10A I'm ready for a nap... It is going on 7P, now, and I think I can make it another couple of hours.

What are we doing with ourselves when we're getting up in the middle of the night like we are? LOST. Season four. We brought it back with us. I wasn't going to like the show. It was going to be too science-fictiony for me. Wow. Was I wrong on that call. I couldn't wait to get my hands on Season Four and it came out right before we left the States. We'll be done with Season Four by the end of the week at the rate we're going. Then jonesing for Season Five. What a great show. The writing is some of the best I can recall from a television show in a long, long time. Done by someone with quite the imagination, if you ask me, to be able to put all the flash-backs and fast-forwards together like they've done. What happened to Jin? He's dead. Will I find out in Season Four?

So, DH left for work this morning and I finished unpacking what was left sitting on the dining room table from our suitcases - a couple things remain on the dining room table. Fifty yards of fabric for the window treatments I'm going to do in the dining room / living room. Now I can get those areas redone like I wanted to do a couple of months ago. I couldn't find the "right" fabric here. Found it in the States in the first fabric store I walked into. And, found it in about a minute and a half. Saw it - knew it was what had to be my new window treatments. "I'll take 50 yards, please." I did, and then spent an hour unrolling it off the roll it was put onto at the store and folding it in half lengthwise and then re-rolling it to get it in my suitcase. Can't wait to get that project underway and finished, now. Painting to be done - and it will, no doubt, require several trips to the paint store for samples. I think I've pretty much got it narrowed down though, so perhaps it can all be done by sometime in January. Before and after photos will be posted here. Rev and his crew will NOT be doing the painting.

So, finished taking care of a bunch of unpacking and then decided I'd get a really early start on the errands I had to do today - go to the bank and cash a check, go to the post office, drop a bunch of things off at the cleaners, and go to the commissary. I was out of the house at 7:45 this morning. What was I thinking?!? The bank isn't even open until 8:30 - I thought it opened at 8 - so after I went to the post office and cleaners I had time to kill. I would have gone to the commissary to start grocery shopping, but I wouldn't have had enough money to pay for everything, so I came back to the house and had the last cup of cold coffee that was in the pot and started a load of laundry before I headed back to the bank. Which still wasn't open. I wanted to be the first person there so as not to have to wait in line forever, but such was not the case. There were others already lined up in the "outside" lobby waiting for the bank to open. The bank sign says it opens at 8:30 but their clock is set five minutes off from everyone else's clocks and watches. It was 8:36 when it opened. No biggie. I was second in line for a teller and in an out within seconds. That was a first!

After the bank I headed off to the commissary to shop - and had the store to myself. There are still no bags of salad - apparently they cannot keep up with the demand - and of course, no one would ever think to order more since it is a fast sell-out. Far too logical. Not complaining, but still, you'd think if a store had a product that they were always out of that someone would come up with the brainstorm idea of ordering more than what is usually ordered, right? Not here. Doesn't work that way. Got everything else I needed, though, including club soda. There has been no club soda in the Sandbox - anywhere - for months. Months! Like six months - and what a surprise to find it today. Nice. Had enough groceries in my cart in such a nice, neat organized fashion that after everything had been rung up and bagged that I needed two carts. Had help taking one of the carts to the truck - I pushed the other - and then had help unloading everything in the truck. It wouldn't have mattered if I didn't. I would have happily pushed and unloaded both carts. I had my new ugly most comfortable shoes on in the whole world!

When we were in the States I decided that I needed a pair of clogs. I used to wear them all the time. When I was wearing them they had wooden bottoms. Apparently wooden bottoms are not even being made anymore as I couldn't find any with wood bottoms. These have a lightweight synthetic bottom. [It is a "shock-absorbing polyurethane sole."] I bought these, and although they are not - by a long-stretch - the most attractive shoes I own, they are the most comfortable! They are like slippers. I just know I'm going to need a few more pairs in different colors on my next trip home to the States. You can walk for miles and miles and miles and not worry about comfort in them.

Inam was here at the house when I returned with my truckload of groceries and although he offered to help unload the truck, he was busy, and I said, "That's okay. I've got it." So, I unloaded the truck myself and then unloaded all the bags into their respective cupboards and spots in the refrigerators [yes, plural - one for food-stuff, the other for drinks - juice, soda, water, etc.]. It is good to have HB13, Inam, back. He, apparently doesn't quite understand the whole "salary" thing - and what should be taking him only three hours or so still takes him four or more. I am not underpaying him by any means, but he could make more if he picked his pace up and got his "chores" done faster. His choice, though. And, in all fairness to him, he does do an excellent job doing exactly what I want him to do. DH and I looked at a house in the States - one that we have absolutely no intention of buying - but looked out of curiosity - we had to - it was 10,185 square feet! It had six bedrooms and nine and a half bathrooms - yes, that wasn't a typo - it had nine and a half bathrooms! Sure it was a nice house, not at all my style - far too dark and gloomy - but can you imagine cleaning something like that? Jokingly with friends later on that night as I was describing it, I said just that. "Can you imagine cleaning a house like that?" To which, DH, without missing a beat, responded, "You'd clean it the same way you clean now." Meaning I'd have someone else do it. But of course... [I am going to be in for one heck of a shock when I return to the States and do not have a houseboy coming four days a week!]

With the exception of our time schedule - which is going to take just a few more days to adjust - things are back to what is my normal every-day "life." It's too early to start bitching and whining about things here. Give me a few days and that will be a part of what is my normal every-day "life." All it will take is one trip downtown... Paint... Ahh. Yes. It is GOOD to be home.
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