Friday, October 30, 2009

About Last Night

Once I get over being angry at what happened during the first THREE minutes, and then, much later on, the hypocritical disregard to what one person's belief is over that of another, I'll try to post on it. Am I glad I went? Sure. Something different and something outside of my "comfort zone." All for $13.40.

Even more interesting than the event I attended, though, was something that happened outside afterward. Slightly disturbing, but, then, hey, teenagers will be teenagers, right? What the boys there were doing was absolutely nothing more than what boys all over the world engage in. As I was leaving the area I had to walk through a very large courtyard with brick-paved walkways and families enjoying the park atmosphere outside around 9:45. Nothing unusual about that. The weather was perfect for full head-to-toe black dress - or in my case - a long-sleeved shirt [I didn't wear the off-white sweater I has originally planned on]... Families out enjoying themselves on what is "Saturday" night in the Sandbox.

Walking down one of the pathways I had to pass by a group of teenage boys - eight or nine, maybe ten of them - one member of that group had everyone's attention - he should have been whispering - but he was not. The part of the conversation that I caught as I was right next to them went something like this, "Best party ever. Before she left I f^(ked her right there on the table." [Nice. Someone probably eats off that table...] Of course I turned around - did that kind of "double-take" thing. The boys knew that I was staring at them and at the same time looking somewhat shocked. [Shocked isn't really the word I'm looking for. Perplexed, maybe.] Whether or not the young man doing the bragging actually did what he said he did, who knows? Who cares? My thoughts immediately turned to Mazen Abdul Jawad. "I dare you to post your braggadacio on YouTube. Just see where boasting about your xesual exploit gets you."

In and of itself that this takes place in this society really is no different than anywhere else, other than the fact that this particular society prides itself on being so far morally above any other. Umm hmmm...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Doing Something Different Tonight

I hope I have good things to report about it tomorrow... I hope I am not disappointed. I've been planning on doing this for a month now.

What to wear - what to wear? Must dress conservatively. Do not want to stick out. I suspect most of the women there will be dressed in black. Jeans. Off-white sweater. Purple boots!

Not taking the camera, though. Do not think that would be a good idea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mean Vicious Step-Mother

Worse than the step-mother that Cinderella had, that's for sure. She will be executed. Good. Kudos to justice system here for having the gumption to make this woman pay the ultimate price for what she did to a child. A little child. No. I know I do not always agree with the way justice is meted out, here, but I certainly do appreciate the expediency of the court system as opposed to the lingering that takes place in the U.S. court system where cases and causes drag on for years and years and years.

A seven-year-old child was tortured to death at the hands of her step-mother. The step-mother says she was only disciplining the little girl. You can read the article, here. It is horrific. The father knew about the abuse and did nothing but encourage the step-mother to "discipline" the child even more. Some father. He will have plenty of time to think about what he did, though, during his fifteen years in jail.

Stupidity Is Not A Crime

Which is too bad. It should be. But what happened isn't a crime. It is the shame he brought about. The xesual exploits of a man, Mazen Abdul Jawad, who has been imprisoned for five years and will be given 1,000 lashes. [Although in actuality, if there was a crime, it was stupidity. Going on television and bragging about encounters you may or may not have had, in this part of the world, was just plain stupid.]

As this article states, "Before foreigners come to work or visit this country they are told to respect the Kingdom's religious and social traditions such as the conservative dress code pertaining to women, and the prohibition on dating, talking or even looking at a woman." Of course, that doesn't necessarily work both ways, as evidenced by the recent "directive" that was issued. Sure, it is a bit of a double-standard. No matter... Just don't do anything wrong, here. And for goodness sake, if you are going to do something that goes against the "religious and social traditions" do not put yourself on television! What were you thinking?!

Supposedly such rigid restrictions "naturally arouse the foreign media's interest and curiosity about everything in Saudi society." Umm hmm. Sure. Couldn't possibly be something else, could it? "Our own insistence that we are a 'unique' society and have a 'special' standing and that we consider ourselves religiously and morally above other Muslim societies tweaks that curiosity even more..." Bingo! [Emphasis, mine.] Well, that and the fact that women here are often treated as nothing more than chattel - they have little say in who they will marry, with some getting married when they are still just children to men old enough to be their grand-father's. That women cannot drive. That women are not allowed to make decisions for themselves. Etc., etc., etc. All of that... But, you don't think that that is what "tweaks" the curiosity of others?

What has upset so many, in this society, is that someone - Saudi's own "Casanova" had the audacity to go on television and speak out on a topic which is totally taboo, here. Xes. Shhhsh. No one must ever speak of it. It is the kind of thing that just does not happen here. If you sweep a pile of dust under a rug, it is gone, right? That is the mentality. What he did - was go "too far in exposing Saudi society." Many think that the man is getting his just punishment. Others think that the punishment is not severe enough. Regardless, the man and his lawyer still refuse to take into account any personal responsibility for what was done and continue to blame "the channel for manipulating and tricking him and his friends into participating and talking about his xesual exploits on camera without concealing his identity." Was there any sort of contract that was signed in advance that the man's identity would be concealed? [Has anyone seen the video of this? At one point it was posted on YouTube, but I never watched it. What was the man's demeanor while he was being filmed?]

A lawsuit has been filed by Mr. Jawad's lawyer against "LBC for allegedly editing and recontextualizing a long video shoot into a minutes-long segment aimed at portraying [Mazen Abdul Jawad] in the worst possible light." Interestingly enough, LBC had offices in Riyadh and Jeddah "for years." It was only after the subject show, "The Bold Red Line
," aired the particular episode exposing Mr. Jawad that those offices were shut down by the Ministry of Culture and Information for "operating without a license." So, for the years prior, they were able to operate without a licensed, but not any longer. Why is that? Because a society could not handle that someone exposed "such abhorrent behavior." That is why.

I have never seen a single episode of the show, and have no idea how long it ran. According to this, the television program "encourages some young men and women to discuss highly sensitive issues such as h0m0xesuality and infidelity, etc." So, the show encouraged these men and women to discuss these issues? Were the participants involuntary? I highly doubt it. Were the participants forced to admit to doing things that are not allowed to be spoken of? Probably all did so under duress. So, just how is it then that the "program's producers shoulder the most responsibility socially for all the confessions made on the program and the subsequent impact they might have." Why are the individuals who participated not being held accountable? I am in no way saying that this is the only culture in which personal responsibility is absolved. It is no different here than in the States in some respects. But it is a concept I have a difficult time comprehending.

What irks me most, today, about this whole thing is reading this: "Part of the Arab youth is confused between Western conduct, portrayed by the Western media on the one hand, and the values of the society in which we live on the other hand." I know. It was written back in July. [I only just saw it today.] That is why there is no personal responsibility for those, here. Once again, and as usual, it is all the fault of Western society. We all know that, here, in the Sandbox, "these youths are deluded into thinking that by taking part in such television programs they will be considered modern and open-minded, so they make comments that do not necessarily reflect their reality and lifestyle." Oh, really? Pluheeze.

Are they made to break together?

Last week my washing machine stopped working. Just stopped. It did not quit or die, it just stopped. Something happened and it tripped the circuit breaker - although I did not realize that that was what had happened at the time. DH got home from work and I said, "The washer is broke." It took him all of a minute to realize that the circuit breaker had "tripped." It is one of those plugs with a "reset" button and he pushed it for me. Washer's fixed. Good.

Yesterday the dryer stopped working. This time it was not a circuit breaker, though. They were purchased as a pair some eleven years ago. They both have to act up at the same time? They are made to break together? Yes, the washer wasn't really broken - but why, after so many years of use did it decide to "trip the circuit" or whatever the heck it did? Do I think, then, that it is a coincidence that since the washer "acted up" last week now the dryer thinks it has to "act up," too? I think not. They were made to "break" together!

DH, who is incredibly adept at fixing things that break - I often say that if he can't fix it - it can't be fixed - tried to fix the dryer yesterday. It does not work. He doesn't know what is wrong with it and said, "You're going to have to call someone." Sure. Like I have a copy of yellow pages here, or something, that I can just open up to "dryer repair" and find someone to come to the house to fix it.

I decided, on a whim, that I would call our maintenance number. When a burner on our cook top broke the maintenance company for our housing compound would not fix it, so I did not expect that they would come to repair our dryer, either. Wrong. Policy has been changed and the maintenance company NOW repairs residents personal appliances. Thank you thank you thank you. The dryer repairman will be here this afternoon. Good thing, too. I have a load in the dryer that is not dry, and another load in the washer that needs dried.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Slow Day in Saudi

Not much going on in the Sandbox, today.

The King - who seems to have a great deal more common sense than many, here - has waived the 60 lashes previously ordered to be given to 22-year-old Rozana Al-Yami for being a participant in what is probably the "scandal of the year." Ms. Al-Yami's case has been transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Information, along with her co-worker, another female journalist. We have not heard the last of this.

In another lashing verdict, the married woman who was just recently convicted of engaging in "misyar marriages in order to cheat prospective husbands out of dowry money" has lost her appeal. She will be lashed 300 times and will spend two years in prison for her "crime[s]." A male defendant involved in the same scheme has "had his sentence of one year's prison and 150 lashes upheld." Interesting that the same laws do not apply to married women as they do to married men, here. If a man is "legally married" and participates in a "misyar" marriage, that is just fine. After all, the man can have up to four wives. However, if a woman, "who is legally married" wants to involve herself in a "misyar" marriage, she gets in trouble. Oh, yeah. That's right. The married woman is only allowed ONE husband. I get it. [Misyar marriage: "in which couples live apart and the male is relieved of the responsibility of providing a home..." Legalized prostitution? No. Couldn't possibly be...]

Monday, October 26, 2009

You're Kidding, Right?

No. I don't think he is kidding. The man says that it is okay to wear a belt with blow-uppy things on it in other countries but not in your own country. I had to watch it twice to make sure I was reading it correctly the first time.

File under "a Saudi university professor said what?!!?" He said, "[blow-uppy] belts are legitimate when they are used against colonialist aggressors." Then he reiterates that. And makes it clear it is meant for those that cross continents and oceans... Hmmph. Who knew. What about those planes, then? Explain that. Yeah. Never mind.

Wow. Just wow.

Saw it first at WZ's place. The site that "scowls the bowels of the internet so we don't have to."

Menu Plan Monday

Giving this a try - doing this to add to I'm an Organizing Junkie. Since I have to go to the Commissary, today, and I only want to make ONE trip I am actually planning for the entire week. Makes it difficult when the choices there are so limited. That, and the fact that I don't eat meat or poultry, but DH has to have it - or it's not a meal. So, our "menu" for this week, is:

Monday - Broiled salmon, mushroom risotto, frozen peas

Tuesday - Steak, hash brown casserole, green beans with toasted almonds

Wednesday - Turkey sausage on the grill, left-over hash brown casserole [which has to be reheated in the oven or the corn flakes on top won't be crunchy], cucumber salad, Brussels sprouts

Thursday - Baked hamour, oven-roasted spicy sweet potato wedges, asparagus, left-over cucumber salad

Friday - Beef / mushroom stroganoff [I use cream of mushroom soup in this instead of cream of chicken, and I double the mushrooms and onions!] on pasta, broccoli

Saturday - Dinner in Bahrain

Sunday - Chili [I make two batches - one with meat, the other without], corn bread for DH, garlic bread for me

Lots and lots of excellent menu ideas over there every week at Meal Plan Monday. Pigs Do Fly has some delicious sounding ideas [Bacon Cheeseburger Wellingtons! DH will like them, I'm sure.]

60 Lashes Not Enough

For the "woman" journalist, the young 22-year-old, whose role was "a coordinator and the one who prepared and advertised the program." My gosh. Who knew that women were even allowed to be employed in such a capacity, here? The public prosecutor says her punishment "is too light and not in sync with her role..." What punishment are you looking for? It isn't enough that the young woman's life - along with the lives of the other six people involved - is now so tarnished that she will probably never be able to get another job in the media in any capacity ever again?

The man at the center of this whole debacle is Mazen Abdul Jawad, a 30-something-year-old divorced father, who went on television over on this side of the world and bragged about his xesual exploits. Dumb ass. Shortly after the program, "Bold Red Line," aired, the uproar started and people were calling for his head - literally and figuratively. The man's lawyer, Suleiman Al-Jumaei, says that it is his client's position that he was set up, and "that the LBC edited and re-contextualized a long video shoot into a short segment to present him in the worst possible light." Was a crime committed by Abdul Jawad? Not knowing what the laws are, I have no idea. But the fact that what he did "goes against the religious values and traditions of Saudi Arabia" was, apparently, more than enough to warrant that he be thrown in prison for five years and sentenced to receive 1000 lashes. In defending Abdul Jawad his lawyer says it is "the channel that violated these values first when it filmed the segment." Nothing like taking personal responsibility. It is "the channel's" fault.

Oh, and R.A.'s fault. She is the media person from LBC - the young woman who isn't being lashed enough.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

21st Anniversary...

...of my 29th birthday, today. Unbelievable. But it is true. Spoke to DS who said, "Mom you need to send an e-mail to all the talk shows. Let them know that it is the first time in man-kind that a Mom and Son have been almost the same age." [DS turns 29 in January. So, right now, he's just some ten weeks younger. Or, that is how I figure it, with my math. You know, kind of the same way they are doing the math with the whole health care debacle. I digress.] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you want that pool table for Christmas, DS? If so, you just hush. "Do you want a time out?" "That's it. You are grounded!" Oh my gosh, how many years it has been since I uttered those words.

Had a lovely day, though. No complaints. DH had a card on the table, waiting for me, when I got up this morning. So sweet. [He doesn't always remember...] And then he got me flowers, too. Lillies. The kind that smell soooo good! That look fabulous in a purple vase. Vah-zz... We're not going out to dinner or doing anything special tonight because there is a 5P mandatory pilot meeting. What's that about? 5P. Screws up the entire day. We'll go to Bahrain for dinner next week so I can drink a $50.00 bottle of grape juice Woodbridge with some Italian food... Really, DH got off easy this year. Did not have to shop or do anything special. I'm getting my present in February when I will return to the States to visit Dr. Au. [Pronounced "ow." What kind of name is that for a plastic surgeon?] I promise, before and after photos. If you're going to do it - and everyone knows you're going to do it - no sense in keeping it a secret insofar as pictures go.

Cleaned out my closet today. Bought all those new shoes - and TWO pairs of purple boots - in the States that I had to make room for. And, since none of the clothes I have now are going to fit come March... They will all be much too big in one place, and much too small in another. Had The Baby at my side the entire day - as she is now. She is still on 24/7 leash or crate with hood [Elizabethean collar], and will be for another week or so. Then she will be free. Honestly, I don't think she even has a clue as to why she is being "locked up" in her crate at night, or on a leash and at my side otherwise. In her mind she is probably thinking, "What did I do that I am being punished like this! Don't you realize that I am The Pretty Princess?" World's most expensive dog toy - a soft fur covered squeaky ball - that had to be removed from your stomach. That's why!

Life is good. Happy Anniversary to Me...

Idiots. Surrounded by them.

Including Fox News - especially this morning - with Geraldo. What the heck is he still doing on that network, anyway? Shouldn't he be over "there" with tingles matthews or that other loud-mouth clown? What was last night's Geraldo program, we see in the morning, here. And because Geraldo couldn't get Sheriff Joe Arpaio to agree with his point of view - that all the illegal aliens should NOT have to live in fear of being locked up for breaking the law in Arizona - Geraldo picked up his toys and left, suspending the rest of his interview with the Sheriff. Why have Sheriff Arpaio on the show if he is not going to be allowed to voice his opinion? Whatever. At least Ann was there to sound the voice of reason.

Yesterday I made it very clear to Appuk that he was NOT to ring the doorbell ever again. I know what time you are supposed to come to do the gardening, and I will unlock the gate. DO NOT RING THE DOORBELL! Why? Because I am trying to keep The Baby from jumping up and racing to the door. Of course she can't race to the door because I keep her on her leash at all times and attached to me when she is not in her crate [at night]. But that doorbell rings - and she leaps up from where she is laying at my feet - and she immediately lunges to the end of her leash to get to the door. This morning? HE RANG THE DOORBELL! I had to snap. Just. Had. To. "Do NOT EVER ring that doorbell again, Appuk. Do you understand?" "Yes, Madam. No more doorbell." Did we not have THAT understanding, yesterday, you idiot?!!

Inam cleaning - lately - as much as I don't want to let him do so - he is getting on my nerves. We go over the same things day after day after day. For a while, I just decided it wasn't worth the effort of my trying to explain to him what he should and should not do and I was letting him do things on his own. Nope. He has to be closely supervised. Last week we went through how many bottles of Windex we had and how much Pledge and how much leather cleaner. Yesterday? He told me, again, we needed more leather wipes. No. We. Do. Not. Use what is in the garage you idiot! This morning we had to go over how he is NOT to touch the television clickers no matter what. Another one of my "directives" that we have been over and over and over. Just because I am not in the living room when you are dusting, does not mean that you turn the television off. Leave it on. Ditto for the kitchen. Ditto for the bedroom. That I choose to leave a huge carbon footpring [all a bunch of hooey] the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex is my business - and not his - leave the television sets on. [He screws up the clicker's when he turns things off and I have to wait for DH to fix them for me.] Now, it will be noon before I can use the television set in the living room because he had to go and touch buttons that he has no business touching. Oh, there's more. But not worth going into, it will just irritate me more than I am already irritated.

This is already all over the web. "Saudi woman journalist sentenced to 60 lashes." The young woman, Rozanna al-Yami, is 22-years-old. Supposedly she is "the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment." The AP reports that Ms. Al-Yami, "worked as a coordinator for the program but has denied working on the xes-show episode... [said] it was her understanding that the judge at the court... had dropped the charges against her." The charges may have been dropped, but not the punishment, as "he [the judge] still handed down the lashing sentence 'as a deterrence.'" She will not be appealing the sentence as she is "too frustrated." Yeah. Understatement.

I would really like to be empathetic to this. Umm. No. Just not feeling it, though. A young woman in her 20's is seeking a divorce from her "octogenarian" husband. She married him to help her family out of a financial situation for 50,000 riyals [$13,404.82]. The arrangement was that the old man geezer would pay her a dowery and then provide her with her own house. Not satisfied with having three other wives... probably not nearly as young as "R.G.," the old geezer "reneged on his promises." What were those "promises," I wonder. He promised you money - you got it - and as to whether or not you got your own house, the article doesn't say, but since it is customary that all wives must be treated equally, if the other three have their own house, then you likely got that, too. So, what else did he promise? That he would forever leave you alone to live in peace in your own little house - that he would be content with his other wives, or something? And you believed him? Now the woman is begging him for a divorce and the old geezer will agree to it only "if she repays the dowry which she cannot afford to do." You made your bed... Put your big girl panties on and quit whining. "She said she is living a very miserable life because her husband is so much older than her." You don't say? Look at the bright side. He is 80-something. Life expectancy in the Sandbox? He's surpassed it.

An article about men waiting on death row - it is short - here. Says that the waiting is worse than death itself. Just be thankful you're not in the States, then, where the waiting can last for decades. Personally, I'd like to see justice practiced much more swiftly in the States. Taxpayers foot the bills for prisoners to sit around sucking up good oxygen, watch cable television, be fed, housed and lawyered up for far too long: Christoper Bernard Coleman sat around for 14 years. Stephen Lindsey Moody was on the dole for 18 years. Terry Lee Hankins cost taxpayers the least - he was only sucking up good oxygen for 8 years. [Posted by Duncan at And Rightly So...]

Dude. You're doing it wrong. No matter. Justice was served. Likely much more quickly than it is ever served in the States. "A Saudi man who murdered an elderly woman and then raped her has been executed." He was beheaded on Friday "after he was convicted for murding the woman... and then violating her corpse." [Emphasis, mine.]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Interesting Directive

Interesting in that it outlines that Saudis traveling abroad must adhere to whatever the rules and laws are of that country regardless of how different they may be from what the rules and laws of their country are. Telling in that it speaks volumes about the disregard for the rules and regulations that other countries have, that the Ministry must issue guidelines. Foreigners coming to this country must adhere to the rules and regulations - no ifs ands or buts about it. But for some reason some think that the same does not hold true for them if they visit another country?

Apparently so, as the "Ministry of Foreign Affairs has produced guidelines," one of which "deals with how servants must be treated in accordance with the laws of the country they are in." Yeah. A lot of countries are kind of funny about this - the U.S. in particular - which outlawed slavery in 1865 - where it is not okay to not pay your help and where you can't beat your help... Trivial little details.

As to whether or not "corporal punishment on their children," is okay or not, I guess would all depend on what the definition of "corporal punishment" is. Chances are good that if you simply swat your child on the behind to get their attention after time-outs or whatever else you've tried doesn't work, that you are not going to be arrested in thrown in jail. Beating your child, on the other hand, is not okay. But kissing your child on the lips? "They [Saudis] are also advised not to kiss them on the lips in public places [huh?] or talk to children they do not know, which could lead to accusation of child molesting." I can see why a guideline like that would be issued. Many countries frown on 8 and 10-year-old little girls being old enough to be considered as marriagable.

The guidelines have been issued "following a series of high profile incidents involving Saudis in a number of countries." Specifically, the case of the man in Colorado who was convicted for "xesually assaulting his Indonesian housekeeper and keeping her a virtual slave for four years." Good grief. What would make someone think that that is okay ANYWHERE in the world? Or this, getting intoxicated, "stripping naked and chasing a 36-year-old woman through the streets." Ahh, newsflash: Just because a woman is not covered head-to-toe in black really doesn't mean that she is asking to be xesually violated. Perhaps in your mind, but not to most sane and rational people.

"Such cases are an embarrassment..." Interesting that the shame of the country seems to be more important than the violation of human rights. "Anwar S. Ahmed, an Egyptian mediaperson... said some Arabs do not acknowledge the concept of human rights elsewhere and they too often travel unaware of the law in foreign countries." Well, there you go.

One 28-year-old Saudi student tells of how there is no law requiring car seats for babies and small children in the Sandbox, and that she "forgot" to strap her two-year-old in one day and got a ticket. Those pesky child safety laws in the States. You forgot?! You chose to disregard the law and got a ticket and now you're whining. Same for her husband who "forgot" to pay the rent. She says, "We found a letter on our door saying that if we didn't pay the next day, then we would be sued in court... laughing on how laws make a difference." Umm-hmm. Nonpayment of rent is something a lot of landlords laugh about.

Apparently, it really is necessary to issue guidelines. Very telling. Just my opinion...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Baby Is Home!

Blogging is going to light to non-existent. I've got a Pretty Princess to keep quiet. She was not a very good patient and the vet said he thought she would probably do better with me at home. Bless you, Dr. R! Miss Pretty is laying quietly at my feet, but we're going to move to the living room, where I have her pillows and blankets all ready for her to rest on. Plans to start cleaning the garage today? Put on the back burner. Hardly important. Plenty of time for that in ten days... I'm happy to just sit and snuggle with my Pretty Princess, do some knitting and watch Fox News or Monk DVD's.

The most important thing is that The Baby is home and that she is fine, now.

If I can get photos to load - which has been a problem for a while, now - I'll post some of The Baby. And, will post a photo of the cuplrit ball which Dr. R. sent home with us this morning in a bag. [It will be deposited directly into the trash as soon as I take a picture of it. Not going to take the chance of having something so DANGEROUS in our home ever again.]

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes for The Baby. I am grateful and much appreciative.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Baby

Made it through her surgery. Spoke to the vet last night. I am going to be allowed to visit her for ten minutes this morning. I so want to see her, to hold her, to comfort her. The other part of me says that this is just going to upset her, though, since she will not be able to leave with me and she is going to cry up a storm. That will about kill me. I am torn between seeing her and not seeing her. I plan to take the t-shirt I wore to bed last night and leave it with her so she will have something familiar and won't feel so scared. She has only ever been away from home with Big Brother - at the kennel a couple of times before we found the world's most terrific sitter - and she has never been away from home, alone, ever. Never had to stay at the vet's - even when she was spayed, it was day surgery and we brought her home that evening. I know she is in good hands. And the vet said that she was getting pain medication in her IV, so she is probably doing nothing more than sleeping. I have a couple of hours to make the decision of whether or not to see her. Yeah. I'm going! Guess that decision is made. On the other hand, am I doing it for her, or am I doing it for me?

The vet made my decision very easy. I went, and had the consultation - an update on her post-surgical condition - and he said, "You can see her if you'd like, but really it would be best not to." Well. Alrighty, then. He didn't want her disturbed and wants her to be able to rest as quietly as possible. He candidly said that because she is as alert as she is - even though resting - that my seeing her would just "escalate things." What things, exactly? He doesn't want her even trying to move about at this point. She needs another day or so of complete rest with her IV. Tomorrow they will allow her to drink a small amount of water if she wants it. The vet knows best. He will call me tomorrow morning after he does his "morning rounds." The Baby will probably be able to come home on Saturday. Sunday, at the latest. In the meantime, she's got a t-shirt that I wore last night - and that The Boy for a couple hours this morning. I am hoping she finds some comfort in familiar smells.
Poor little girl. Things are just not the same around here without the Pretty Princess.

Customs Clearance

A couple of days ago...

Another interesting experience at the Customs Office in Dammam. Not nearly as horrific as it could have been, thanks to Mr. F! What a cluster-f^ck of paper pushers, though... Job security for many men who do nothing but create AND maintain continuous mashed pulp havoc.

It is an interesting place, the Customs clearing area. A humongous warehouse with rows and rows of boxes and shipping containers stacked to the ceiling on what looks like scaffolding - or maybe the kind of shelves that Home Depot uses. I had the opportunity to observe the inner workings of this warehouse for about an hour - just watching what was going on around me and it was mesmerizing in a very odd, strange way. [Like an accident that you have to look at?]

DH couldn't go with me to clear our shipment at Customs because he had to work. I didn't want to have to wait until Wednesday - his day off - when our "stuff" was soooo close - yet sooo far away. If women could drive, here, it wouldn't have been a problem. But noooo. [It is my opinon that they will never drive in the Sandbox!] A good friend of DH's said he would take me. Ahh. Thank you! So, at 8:30 Monday morning he came to our house to drive our truck so that I could go and be there for the ceremonial opening of the boxes by an "official" Customs man. Mr. F., who works there and facilitates the process for those of us who want to do our own "clearance," set a meeting time for 9:30. The man is a Saint. Truly. The rigamarole that he is forced to have to comply with day in and day out would give any other person ulcers - to say the least. [The rules and regulations at the Customs Office are pretty much designed to be at the whim of whoever you need to deal with and are subject to change - every other minute.]

It isn't enough that we had to go downtown to a separate office to pay in cash for our shipment - and take special papers which had been authorized by personnel of DH's company - to prove that we are who we say we are [copies of DH's passport, his company I.D., and a copy of his Iqama - working permit - are required as proof], that we live where we say we do, that DH is an employee of the company he says he is an employee of, and that we are using all the "stuff" in the 24 boxes for our own personal consumption and that the goods are not going to be sold to a third party, that the goods were not manufactured in countries that Saudi Arabia does not have trade agreements with [I guess, so - who knows? the statement says that the goods were manufactured and produced in the U.S.A. - but come on, now, what is actually manufactured or produced there any more?], and that the goods contained in the boxes were only lawful and allowable items [i.e., no booze, no ammunition, no p0rn0graffy, etc.].

From that office the documents are couriered to the Customs Office at the airport where they are put into some kind of system that would be almost impossible for me to adequately describe and do justice... Truly it has to be seen to be believed. My inventory [I have to document every single item that is placed in the boxes - include the price I paid for whatever it was that I packed - then measure and weigh each individual box - it is a pain in the butt is what it is] for our "stuff" consisted of eight pages. The shipping documents from DHL consisted of about four pages. The authorized paperwork consisted of a few more pages. But the file that Mr. F. had in his hand when we met him yesterday morning was at least an inch thick. Good grief. The trees! And what happens to all of that paperwork after the shipment is cleared and we drive off with it? You might think that it would get filed somewhere - and perhaps it does, but from what I could see in various offices, paperwork is just randomly stacked anywhere. You need a document from Customs that is two years old? Yeah. Good luck with that.

I called Mr. F's cell phone as soon as we got to the Customs office and Mr. F. said he would come find me. Not hard. The ONLY woman in the entire facility. The ONLY one. With uncovered long blonde hair, no less, and a bit of ankle showing where my stupid black bag is opened at the bottom [the snaps don't go ALL the way down]. Mr. F. walked DH's friend and me to an office where there are bank-teller like windows and a bunch of men behind glass doing a little bit of absolutely nothing that I could see. We were told to take a seat. Mr. F. was walking the papers back to arrange to have an official come and do our inspection. However, somehow this requires even more paperwork to be generated and several trips back and forth between various offices and teller windows. DH's friend and I sat in this particular area of the Customs facility for about fifteen or twenty minutes. No biggie.

It certainly was interesting to just sit and people watch. Men with their thobes and ghutras strutting about - one man played with his ghutra no less than a half dozen times - pulling it down, then flipping the triangular sections back up over the top of his head, one at a time. I so wanted to tell him that he still didn't have it right - there was a fold in the fabric that just refused to lay down properly. I was amused. Imported men in various uniforms, scurrying back and forth with reams of paper and folders, all vying for the necessary approvals and authorizations from various officials. One of these imported workers came through holding a box that had a "disco light," in it. I kid you not. And he was holding it up in both arms as though it was something highly dangerous - like he was carrying liquid nitrogen, or something. I mention it because for the entire time that I was there, this poor worker was going back and forth between various offices and the warehouse carrying this light. He is probably still doing so...

We finally got all the necessary documentation and authorizations and went to the warehouse. We were led to the pallet, all shrink-wrapped, with my boxes, where we stood and waited. And stood and waited. Mr. F. wandered off to find the official that was supposed to be doing our inspection. There were two imported men with us, both in blue cover-alls, ready and waiting with their box-cutter-openers. After some fifteen minutes of waiting, Mr. F. came back with the "official." The official muttered something to one of the men in blue, an "okay" of some sort, for the shrink-wrapping to be sliced open, and then pointed to two boxes. Each worker grabbed a box and sliced the tape open. The Customs "official" lifed up a set of sheets that was in one box, and opened a shoe-box and nodded his head. Then he went to the second box, where he didn't even pulling anything out, he just rummaged through it, and again, nodded his head. That's it. That is all he had opened and that is all he inspected. He signed off on some document and gave it to Mr. F.

At that point, Mr. F. said, "We will go get the vehicle pass." So, friend walked off with Mr. F. to go and get the pass that allows us to bring our vehicle to the warehouse so that we can load our stuff into the truck. I stayed with our pallet in the warehouse. One of the men in the blue cover-alls came over with a chair for me. How sweet. Told him thank you, I was all set. Who knows where the chair came from - it seemingly appeared from out of nowhere.

These men - several dozen of them - in the blue cover-alls spend their entire day opening boxes. That is all they do. Slice open boxes and pull the contents out while an official hoovers over them, watching, just waiting for there to be some kind of contraband in a container or a box. A team of four "blue" men spent the entire time I was in the warehouse opening boxes from a pallet that had little boxes inside of them. Little boxes about the size - say, 2" X 6 or 8" - that had some sort of electrical type apparatus in them - I could see the gray metal, and I could see wires hanging out. In the time I was watching, they had to have opened several hundred of them - the little boxes - from each of the big boxes - and pulled out each piece - individually - while a Customs "official" stood by with his clip-board, nodding. My gosh. Imagine a job that entailed opening small boxes for eight or ten hours every day!

Another group of box-openers was obviously inspecting a personal shipment of someone who chose not to be present for the clearance process. Each item was removed from a pallet of boxes and inspected. A stack of school books was set aside. One of the books said "MATH" in big letters on the cover - an elementary school book, judging by the pictures - but a Customs official looked at every single page in the book. He was still leafing through the stack of books when we finally left, so I have no idea if the books were put back in their respective boxes. What was he hoping to find in the "MATH" book? Did he really think someone would go to the trouble of putting pages that contained something other than elementary school math between the covers of that book? Probably. Apparently every man in this country thinks that all we want to do is corrupt this society by bringing "bad" things in. I digress...

As I stood waiting for Mr. F. and DH's friend to return so that we could load our truck, and watched the workers in cover-alls work, and the Custom's men all hoovering over the workers, another Custom's official approached me and asked me if I had the approval. Yes. Thank you. He went to sit down in the chair I had been offered previously and pulled out his mid-morning snack, along with two cans of Pepsi and a lime soda - Miranda, maybe? A minute later he came up to me from behind and said, "Excuse me," and I turned around - he was offering me one of his soda's. I accepted the lime soda. It would have been rude not to. I thought it was very generous of him and thanked him. And, I very much appreciate that he was willing to sign the papers for our shipment, or do the inspection, without having to be cajoled to do so by Mr. F. How much palm greasing takes place in this facility, I wonder?

Finally Mr. F. and DH's friend came back - DH's friend said that getting the vehicle pass was just another hassle - one man said they needed X-document, another said they didn't - it was a half hour of back and forth to various offices and officials. DH's friend pulled the truck around and Mr. F. found us a fork-lift driver [there were a half dozen of them moments prior, but when we needed one? nowhere to be seen], who delivered our pallet to the back of our truck - and the two "blue" men who had earlier each opened a box of our shipment were right there to load the boxes into the truck for us. I was prepared this year with tip money. [Last year, I wasn't - I handed the fork-lift guy 50 riyals anticipating that he owuld share it with the guys who did the physical moving of the boxes and he didn't he drove off with the 50 riyals and the other workers told me that he works for a different company. The companies do not share tip money. Good to know.] Everyone involved got their money, DH's friend and I got in the truck and we drove off.

Approaching our house, DH's friend said, "How are you going to get this stuff out of the truck?" He couldn't do it - he has a bad back. No problem. I am simply going to find a couple of gardeners or street cleaners to help me. And I did. Three of them. Had the truck unloaded to the patio, right in front of the sliding doors in a matter of minutes. Thanked the three men who helped us - with cash - and that was that.

Most of our stuff is unpacked and put away, but I do have
I have a few more boxes to take care of. First I need to clean out a couple of closets. Some purging is going to be required to make room...

See last year's "Field trip to Customs" for some pictures of the front of the warehouse, here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Surgery at 4P, Today

The Baby swallowed a furry squeaky ball. Her surgery is schedule to take place in an hour or so. Obviously, she will not be able to "pass" the mass - or the squeaky inside the ball. So, The Baby will be opened up so that the vet can remove a ball. Not good.

There is a big bag of trash outside by the street. Every single small squeaky toy she owns has been tossed to the curb. Never again will there be another little squeaky toy for the I-Cubes or any of the Smart Toys for The Baby.

How she was able to even able to swallow something just a bit smaller than a tennis ball - WITHOUT CHOKING - is beyond us. We were right there. We were both outside with The Kids. And it happened.

Emergency Trip to the Vet

Something is very, very wrong with The Baby. Yesterday was not a good day for the Pretty Princess. She threw up at least a dozen times. I am trying to convince myself it is something she ate - and that she did NOT swallow a ball.

We were all outside on Monday evening - The Boy playing with his flying squirrel, and The Baby playing with one of her little squeaky balls. The ball is gone. We threw it - she went after it - and came back "empty mouthed." DH and I have both looked for the ball. It is nowhere to be found in the back yard...

So, yesterday, the poor little thing ate very little. A couple of "treats," two bites of fish - and one bite of steak. Small bites. If she drank water, I didn't see her... No matter what went down - it came back up. This morning? She was vomiting blood. Called the Vet at 7:20 and said, "I need to bring The Baby in right now. She threw up all day yesterday, and now she is throwing up blood."

The Baby is at the Vet's as I type. He is going to do and x-ray and start an IV as she is slightly dehydrated. I"ll be sitting by the phone until he calls - he said it would be late morning.

Truly we are thankful for being able to live on a compound that allows us to have our four-legged children AND provides an entire veterinary hospital for routine care and for emergencies when they occur! At the very least, The Baby will remain there overnight with the IV drip. Oooh. She is sooo not going to be happy about that. Worse, worse things could happen though. And she is in good hands.

As soon I as I hear from the vet, I'll post an update... Until then, who cares about my trip to the Customs office the other day, and whatever is in the news today is not at all important as far as I am concerned.

The Baby. That is all I care about, right now.

UPDATE #1: The vet was supposed to call "late morning." At 12:15 - which in my book is now afternoon - I called. I asked how The Baby was doing. The receptionist put me on hold and then said, "The vet needs to speak to you and he will call you back." It is now 1:40. Still no call...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Very very busy.

Unpacking boxes. Putting things away. Trying to find "new" space in our teeny, tiny little house for all the stuff we shipped over from the States. My small pantry in the kitchen currently looks like an Honest Kitchen store! 240 pounds of "canine nutrition" is now stored where I used to keep appliances and boxes of rice. The rice is now where I used to keep the bowls I use to mix my own "canine nutrition." The bowls are now over the washer and dryer. This house has been turned upside down and I've got about forty-nine different things going on all at once. Put all my new books away - which meant moving other books down or up various shelves to get them all to fit. And, if you're going to do that, well, then, you may as well clean and dust at the same time... One project just leads to another. Worked hard today. Tomorrow is going to be a repeat. Good times. Oh, yeah. Real good times.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging will be light. I've got new books!

The shipment is here. More on that in a later post - spent the morning at Customs in Dammam. Forgot to take the camera - not that it would matter since the computer is giving me such a hard time downloading pictures and them putting them on posts [which is why there haven't been any in quite a long time].

New reading material. Always - always - always a very good thing!!! What is really too bad is that tanning season is basically over. And now, while the weather is cooler, is the time to be doing inside projects. Along with the clean the garage [again] type projects. If I could just learn to knit while I'm reading, though... My Mom can do it. I'm sure Warrior Knitter can, too. I'm not quite there.

Fall, winter and early spring reading:

Against Medical Advice, James Patterson
The Big Black Lie, Kevin Johnson
Big Russ & Me, Tim Russert
Blood River, Tim Butcher
Blood Sport, James B. Stewart
Catastrophe, Dick Morris
Common Sense, Glenn Beck
Culture of Corruption, Michelle Malkin
The Falcon and the Snowman, Robert Lindsey
Gratitude, William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Housing Boom and Bust, Thomas Sowell
The Human Factor, Ishmael Jones
Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg
Lights Out, Mark Steyn
Little Pink House, Jeff Benedict
The Mind at Work, Mike Rose
On Hitler's Mountain, Irmgard A. Hunt
Ordeal by Hunger, George R. Stewart
Prisoners of the Japanese, Gavan Daws
The Right Man, David Frum
To Save a Boy, A.D. Peacock
You Got Nothing Coming, Jimmy Lerner

The list doesn't include the books I hand carried home from the States. I'm going to be busy. What to read first, though. That IS the question?!? Decisions. Decisions. Maybe I'll read them just like I listed them. As soon as I finish reading The Israeli Secret Service, I'll start Against Medical Advice.

P.S. The list is alphabetized by title, here. On my bookshelves everything is alphabetized by author... Just let one book get put back in the wrong order. I can practically smell when that happens.
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