Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thank you, again, Web$en$e

The most useless program in the entire world - for blocking me to read anything that you deem offensive. Freedom of speech? Not in this part of the world. Freedom to look? Not here, either. TMQII, J@w@ Report, W0man H0n0r Thys3lf and a big bunch of others [can't lead you to the links - you'd just get the same "blocked" page that I get]. Just because you decide that no one should view something not 100% complimentary. Full-time job for someone. Probably lots of someones. Victoria'$ $ecret, any site to order bathing suits from - even certain shoe sites for goodness sake... Lots and lots of sites. Anything that is not in full agreement with a particular mindset. And, anything with the word "$ E X Y" in it. Blocked. Can't view them. Web$sen$e decides what I can read. Not me. Thank you. [Sarcasim, ON!!!]


Number six [seven?]. A fully identified man was beheaded for killing his fully identified ex-wife. He stabbed her in the chest when she was working at a medical center.

Surprisingly this doesn't happen as often as one might think it could. There are a gazillion delivery men [rarely, very rarely, "locals"] in this part of the world. Perhaps because they are so expendable if they get robbed it just doesn't get reported. Unless the delivery man got the license plate number the perpetrators are never going to be caught. There are also a gazillion GMC's on the streets, here.

It would be interesting to find out a few more details of how this 23-year-old woman was shot in the mouth, with the bullet ending up lodged in her neck. Did she try to kill herself? Isn't that what happens when you eat lead like that? Did someone else try to kill her. Probably the maid. She was cleaning a gun and it accidentally went off. [I'm kidding!]

A stolen fuel tanker shouldn't be too hard to spot. Someone took one while it was parked at a service station, because the "attendants were not attentive." The keys had to be in the tanker [the article doesn't say]. You'd notice someone trying to hot wire a tanker. Wouldn't you?

Friday, January 30, 2009

This Didn't Take Long

Instead of being thankful that a pilot and his crew kept him alive, Joe Hart wants to sue U.S. Airways for the crash he was in that U.S. Airways had no control over. The guy got a bloody nose and a couple bruises. Oh. No! The plane hit some Canadian geese. Why not sue PETA for not allowing the geese to be killed; sue Canada for letting their geese fly to New York. Asshole. I wish I could find where I said - the day of the crash - that there would be lawsuits. Knew it wouldn't take long. And it didn't.

Almost Comical

If I had any drawing talent at all - which I don't - I'd be doing a cartoon strip for this. "Housemaids cast 55 sorcery spells." Not a joke, though. Apparently people really believe this kind of thing is possible. That a housemaid can cast a spell that will make someone sick enough to be hospitalized for two months and put others into a coma. I can't help but just shake my head in utter disbelief, and mutter "you've got to be kidding" to myself.

Really. The people who fall for this crap deserve it. No sane, rational person would believe that a housemaid could cast a spell that would put someone in a coma.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Simple Solution

Saudi Arabian Airlines has posted a big loss and is blaming it on no-show passengers. Really rather amazing. The world's 15th largest airline, and it is the passengers fault for not showing up. Some "3.61 million passengers did not fly even after reconfirmation of their bookings. ...domestic flights witnessed the largest number of no-show passengers last year as 2.3 million people did not travel after reconfirming their seats. International flights saw 1.15 million no-show passengers." The airline is the victim. [Yes, it is. As much as an airline can be a victim of stupidity, I guess.]

Pssst! Here's what you do to solve the problem. Make the passengers pay in advance for their seats and you won't have to worry about them not showing up! Fire your CEO for not coming up with such a policy on his own. It doesn't take a rocket scientist... Is there any other airline in the world that does not require payment in full to reserve a seat on a flight? If I was a stockholder of this company I'd be going ballistic over the loss - which could have been prevented.

By All Means, Don't Fact-Check First

Do you think someone could have done a little fact-checking prior to publishing an article in the paper about a maid having AIDS? Does she or doesn't she? Yesterday she had AIDS, today she does not.

Did a few [like, say 46?] men get nervous and scared? And, thus, to allay their fear a retraction was published? Is that why it is so important today to change the story? No matter. I think the maid, having been raped some 46 times, has suffered plenty without having to be cursed with AIDS, as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Why aren't the men - ALL 46 OF THEM - including the police officer, sitting in jail?!? If there is anything good about this, the fact that 46 men are at risk for having the AIDS disease / virus, is it. A maid was raped. 46 times. Let that sink in for a second. 46 times. And none of the rapists are sitting in jail. Never mind. It was, after all, it is just a 38-year-old Indonesian maid!!!

And in other "local" news...

Some unpaid workers. 150 of them. Some have gone two years without being paid. Two years! Nothing to see here, folks. Move along...

A 40-year-old Asian man committed suicide by throwing himself under the wheels of a truck. Nothing to see here, either. Move along...

Four months in prison and 200 lashes for a Saudi man who hosted a "mixed" concert at his "fun park." "Borrowed" from JammieWearingFool.

There is more. You can see it all here and here. I'm still trying to get my head around the poor maid who was raped 46 times! She's at fault for this. If she would have just stayed at her employer's home without trying to escape [for whatever reason] then none of the men who raped her would have had the opportunity. There. Think I've pretty much figured out the problem!

Monday, January 26, 2009


I have homework to do for my Arabic class. Not assigned homework - it isn't like the instructor is going to be giving us grades at the end of the course and she doesn't say, "go home and work on pages 18 through 40," but in order to keep up with what I am trying to learn I feel compelled to at least review what we've learned each prior class before going to the next class. It takes time and practice. I am still sounding out words - one letter and one vowel and one sukun [which indicates the "absence of any vowel sound"] at a time. Don't ever let anyone tell you that learning to read and write Arabic is easy. It is not. I took this same course over three years ago - and - probably not too amazingly, but for a couple of letters - have pretty much forgotten everything I ever learned.

There are 28 letters which all have three different forms to them - depending on where they are in a word. Some letters cannot be connected to other letters on the left side, but can be connected on the right - unless of course they are following a non-connecting letter. There are only three vowels but they each have long and short sounds - so six vowels, really. And the diacritical marks? There are too many of them. Oh - and just to make it a little bit more challenging - do it backwards - the opposite direction from everything that you have ever read or written. Right to left versus left to right.

A couple of the letters - no, quite a few, actually - in the Arabic alphabet have no equivalent sound in English. They are gutteral sounds that I have never learned how to do. I can't do the spitting thing that men can do - that deep, "hawking one up sound." Nor can I roll my tongue with an "r." Making grunting sounds from the side of my mouth just does not come naturally... The writing I enjoy, the reading I am doing okay with, but the speaking part is close to impossible for me.

This says, "Sabra," but is missing the vowel sound - the fatHa - over the last letter, the "r" [because I could not figure out how to get it there]:

THE Worst Dinner I Have Ever Made!

If DH thought certain things I have cooked and prepared in the past were bad and that I couldn't possibly outdo myself in such a scenario again, he was wrong. Very wrong. The other night I made the worst dinner I have ever made! It sucked. Simple as that. We're lucky we didn't starve... [Not a chance of that happening, as we both have "extra" and it wouldn't hurt either of us to miss a meal - or quite possibly - lots of meals!]

It was all because I h
ad a craving for a fried fish sandwich, onion rings and a vanilla milkshake. Why I didn't just call Burger King* and have it delivered is beyond me. It would have been easier - no fuss, no mess - probably less expensive, and it would have tasted a whole lot better than what I made! It couldn't possibly have tasted worse, that's for sure.

I bought vanilla ice cream [42.70SR - $11.44 for a gallon of Baskin-Robbins vanilla!], hamburger buns, the frozen fish fillets and frozen onion rings. I had to make tartar sauce [nope - can't find that on the shelves here - that would be too easy], which isn't a big deal because it is just mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish and a little onion. DH got the deep fryer out for me - I can't lift it down off the shelf when it has oil in it - and I heated it up. Fried the fish fillets, put them in the oven to keep warm, made vanilla milkshakes in the blender, and fried the onion rings. Put the fish fillets on hamburger buns with some tartar sauce and a piece of Kraft American cheese. Viola. Dinner.

Let me reiterate: It sucked. Big time. More than you can possibly imagine. The absolute nastiest and worst tasting fish I have ever eaten i
n my entire life. Who knew fried fish fillets could be SLIMY inside?!? These were. And, worse, I made the mistake of doing the fish before the onion rings which made the entire bag of onion rings that I deep fried taste like fish - and bad fish, to boot. [The deep fryer has since been emptied and thoroughly cleaned out so that whatever I make next won't run the risk of tasting pathetically horrid!]

Not that anyone will ever need to heed this advice, unless you are living in this part of the world, but don't ever buy:

What the heck kind of fish is Pangasius fish, anyway?!? It is NOT a nice "bland" fish that can be breaded and deep fried, like say, Haddock or Cod. It was just gross. I threw most of my dinner away - DH ate a couple bites of his fish and a few onion rings - and then I threw his food away, too. We both had two vanilla milkshakes. Had to fill up on something. I probably should have grabbed the bread, peanut butter [I think ours is safe?] and jelly and just made PB & J's for dinner. It would have been a far cry above what it was we tried to eat. I wouldn't even give any of the fish to The Kids. It was just that nasty and although they probably would have luved it, I didn't want to have to scoop "the remains" from the yard.

[Note: The following "click" is not safe for the squeamish. Dawn-Michelle, I'm thinking of you...]

Oh My Gosh. You Don't Want To Know!!! DISGUSTING. Appetite killer, that. Could I have possibly researched it and checked it out before we tried to eat it? No. That didn't happen. Won't make that mistake again, though, will I?! Thank goodness we didn't actually consume very much of it. What the heck was I thinking?!? The box cost 11.20SR [$3.00]. Not Mrs. Paul's that for dayum sure. Never again.

*Burger King - Whaler with cheese! Yum. Burger King, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Pizza Inn all deliver, here. Yes. Burger King, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Why? Simple. Women can't drive so it's not like you can load the kids into the family wagon and go through the drive-thru for a couple of Happy Meals if "your" husband is spending "that" night with wife number two, three or four instead of with you.

The tile has been delivered.

It was supposed to be delivered last week. Sure, Rev. Sure. Just try getting a straight answer from Mr. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. That is his answer to anything and everything. I could say, "Rev, if the pool is not repaired by Thursday, February 5th, then I am going to have you deported." He would say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." I said, "Rev, the new tiles are not the same size as the old tiles," and he said, "yeah, yeah, yeah." "Rev, are you going to cut all of the new tiles to the same size of the old tiles?" "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

"Rev, is it okay with you if I just pound your head back and forth against the patio tile until it is a bloody pulp and so horrifically painful that your great-grandchildren will have headaches?" "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Oh, I wish... The next time he asks for payment I am not going to be left with any choice but to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." And then I am going to tell him I'll pay him on the weekend - but I won't specify which weekend.

Today it smells like spring outside! Well, as much as you can possibly get for a "spring" smell, here, anyway. It has been cold. I know, I know. Cold is a relative thing. Cold for us. And although it is still a bit early - only the end of January - it feels like winter might just be over - it probably isn't. The pool needs to be ready for March. It is quite warm enough by then to be sitting outside next to the pool and dangling your feet in it - even if it isn't warm enough to actually be in the pool. I have work to do. In the three or four months that I have not been outside soaking up the glorious rays, I have turned a pasty white color!

Inmates Complain of Jail Conditions

There is not a lot of information available to the public about jails and prisons in The Sandbox. The few articles and the one book I have read about them have not been at all complimentary. But then, jail and prison are not supposed to be places where you book resort vacations, right? Unless of course you go to jail in the United States or Great Britain. Then you are guaranteed all sorts of rights, gourmet "halal" meals, and cable television in your "room," so even though it probably is not the ideal "resort vacation," it is a pretty close second compared to jails and prisons in the rest of the world.

That inmates are even allowed to complain about jail conditions in other parts of the world is actually quite remarkable. And, that an article has been published in the newspaper, and is on-line, for the entire world to view is even more remarkable.

I tried to find more information, on-line, about the jails and prisons, this morning. There is a minimal amount of information "out there," and it goes without saying that certain books - at least one, specifically, about prisons and conditions and abuse, etc., is not going to be found on bookstore or library shelves, here. I did find an interesting article, "Prison Information Pack - Saudi Arabia," which gives some information on what you can expect if something happens and you end up in prison, here. That it was even written is quite telling, in my opinion. Wikipedia has nothing. Again, there is not a whole of information out there.

The inmates complaints "included poor ventilation of cells and wards and lack of exposure to sunlight... being detained after the completion of their stipulated term..." [which sounds much more serious than poor ventilation!]. "Many detainees told the NSHR [National Society for Human Rights] that they have not been taken to their court hearings, which let to situations where the courts passed judgments in their absence..." It is a relatively short article and relatively "fluffy." I wonder what the repercussions might be for any inmate that speaks up about conditions that might be less than ideal?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Strange, but excellent cream.

I remember it very clearly - the first time DH took me to the Commissary here, after we had made the 27-plus-hour journey [with The Boy - who, then was just a "little" seven-month-old puppy] from North Carolina to Michigan, to Amsterdam, and then into Dammam. We were tired exhausted - DH and I - not The Boy, when we walked into our townhouse after being dropped off in the middle of the night [the customs experience that night - and bringing a very, very large puppy into a foreign country that for the most part detests dogs is a whole other story!]. My first impression of the townhouse was, "Who rented this place without asking me about it, first?" I grew to like the townhouse - but it took some time and getting used to.

DH's company does, for the most part, try very hard to make employees and their families as comfortable as possible in their new homes in The Sandbox and went as far as stocking the kitchen with some basics [very bas
ics!]. Whole milk [we drink lowfat], orange juice, a loaf of whole wheat bread, some peanut butter and jelly, a package of some no-name-brand chocolate chip cookies, a small jar of instant coffee and a small box of tea bags - I think there were a couple of apples, a small box of sugar and a box of cereal provided, as well. Poor DH actually had a meeting scheduled that very morning - only some four hours or so after we'd arrived. [Although we would have been dropped off at the townhouse many hours earlier but for the fact that Customs found a Book - read between the lines, there - in our luggage that delayed us for a long, long time]. I got up with him a couple short hours later and boiled water in a pan [no kettle] to make instant coffee for us. He was picked up at promptly seven o'clock and I was left on my own, with The Boy, in our new home, for a few hours while DH was gone - long enough to compile a list of what we needed for groceries and staples...

[The company provides fully, albeit sparsely, furnished living accommodations - furniture, bedding, four towels, a set of dishes for four, silverware for four, four drinking glasses, a set of pots and pans... No coffee pot, though. Just enough to get you through until your own household things arrive or until you are able to purchase whatever it is you need and want.]

A few hours later when DH returned to the
townhouse he said he was going to borrow a friend's car so that we could go up to the Commissary to get some groceries. [DH had been here as a "contractor" for ten months prior to my joining him. Contractor's are not allowed to bring their families. Only full-time employees are privileged enough to do so. And, thus, he knew quite a few people on the compound before I arrived.] A short time later the friend - we'll call him John - came over with his girlfriend - John was on his motorcycle and his girlfriend was driving his car. A big, huge, twenty-year-old navy blue Crown Victoria. We were grateful to have a vehicle and John said, "Go ahead and use it for as long as you need." DH and I went to the Commissary. We needed everything.

As I was going up and down the aisles of the store, loading our cart with whatever I thought we would need for a week or so - along with all of the staples that are needed in a kitchen - salt, pepper, cooking oil... some cleaning products, paper towels... I had on the "list" that we needed half & half - which is what I've been u
sing in my coffee for years. We got to the dairy section and I was searching for it - the half & half. Nothing that looked remotely like it on any of the shelves. DH drinks his coffee black, so it wasn't an issue for him. No half & half. And, certainly no Land O Lakes fat free half & half! A very "Western looking" woman was at the dairy section and so I asked her, "Which of these products most closely resembles half & half?" She was British and had to ask me what I meant. I explained and she pointed out some cream that she used and said it was quite good. Fine. No half & half. I can make my own, right? Use full cream and dilute it with fat free milk. Already, after being in The Sandbox for less than twelve hours, I am discovering just how resourceful I am [although, at that point in time, I had absolutely NO idea how resourceful I was going to need to be!]. I bought the cream. I bought the fat free milk. It was doable. Not great, but you work with what you have and do what you need to do.

Many years later I am no longer making my ow
n half & half and have adapted and use full cream in my coffee. Just a little bit. I know it is super fattening! [Probably why I have gained thirty pounds since we arrived. Sure. Blame it all on the cream.] It took some time to discover which cream tasted the best. Not all cream is the same. Ditto for milk. One brand here tastes so much better than the other. All a matter of preference. I now use Elle & Vire Creme Excellence. It is good. Excellent in coffee. But here is the weird thing. When I open a container of it - and put it back in the refrigerator after opening it - the next morning it is butter. Solid. No pouring can be done. I have to actually spoon it out of the container to use it. And, the cream is not cheap, either. So, before I can use even a part of the container, I end up throwing the whole thing away. Now, whenever I can, I buy the small containers - but, of course, they are not always available. Suffice it to say that I do throw a lot of cream away - or at least I used to. Not anymore.

I don't put it back in the refrigerator any more. Doesn't it go bad? Get sour? Nope. Not at all. Amazingly enough, it can sit on the counter for a week before it starts tasting funny - and if I buy the small containers - they only last a fe
w days. So, for the first time in my life, I am not refrigerating a dairy product that has been opened, afterward. Just let it sit out. And it tastes fine.

This morning I was trying to get to the Ell
e & Vire site - and for whatever reason I can't - but I did find this site. As I was looking at it, I caught this, "In 1973, Elle & Vire created the first cream that can be stored outside of the refrigerator. This fluid, rich cream from Normandy is ideal for all your cooking uses." Well, I'm not using this exact version - my box doesn't have the "easy to spot on the shelves, thanks to the new green checked packaging," but the one I am using does best when it hasn't been refrigerated [so, then, why is all of the Elle & Vire cream in the refrigerated dairy section?]. Oh, and who knew they made a "light" version? I have never, ever seen it on our dairy shelves, here, in The Sandbox!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good luck. Let us know how this works out.

I think we all know how it is going to work out. And it just isn't. The solution seems relatively simple and obvious, but when it comes right down to it, is it going to work? I. Don't. Think. So. When imported taxicab drivers were fired so that "locals" could have those jobs, what happened? Other than the fact that several women were accosted by drivers? The drivers didn't bother showing up for work. That's what happened. They couldn't be bothered. Seven o'clock in the morning was too early - and they didn't want to work at night because they wanted to be doing something else, instead. And, no, not all - but some - enough to cause problems.

Saudis are now going to be offered jobs "that used to be among the most detested jobs in Saudi culture." I do not disagree with the premise of this, I just don't see it working [no pun intended]. "At the top of the list of professions which Saudis have traditionally found least attractive are jobs such as factory milking specialist, construction worker, auto-body repair worker, carpenter, and blacksmith." Um-hmm. Those jobs require physical labor. Real work. Some 49 professions are going to be made available to Saudis based on their qualifications. ...pump technicians, heating and cooling technicians, wood painters..."

According to the Labor Office, when it comes down to it - if layoffs are necessary due to the global economic crisis, expats are to be fired first. When that happens, who is going to do the actual work?!?


A maid has burned to death in a house fire. How is it that the maid was not able to escape? Accident? It will, no doubt, be so classified.

Why? Because it was the only way to end his suffering. And it is just sad.

Everyone has to have something they are proud of. There is a photo, here of this man's claim to fame.

Big, big trouble for this Eritrean man. If the bottles of Black Label were being sold for 1000SR each - that's $268.09! How much is a bottle of Black Label in the States?

Work accidents are commonplace. This is no OSHA. It is just the risk you take being employed. A Pakistani worker has died while excavating "a sewage" [sic]. A 30-year-old Asian worker fell to his death from the ceiling of a 45-meter-high reservoir onto a concrete surface. The "accidents" causing the death of both of these men - and the slews of others before them - could have been prevented.

This was in the paper a couple of days ago. I just didn't get around to including it somewhere. The article is brief and won't take but a minute to read. I cannot be the ONLY one to see "what is wrong" with it: "Bahrain registered its first fatal accident of the year when a Saudi woman passenger died in a car crash... ...the 26-year-old woman was traveling with a 22-year-old Saudi male... The car was speeding... and lost control." [Okay - two obvious "things" in the brief article. The first being that the "speed" of the vehicle was a contributing factor. That, in and of itself, is not only a contributing factor to the majority of road fatalities, here, but is often the ONLY factor. Rarely - and I do mean, RARELY - mentioned, though.] Here's the final line of the article: "Bahraini residents often complain about the driving habits of motorists from neighboring countries. ...Saudi women, who are barred from driving in their country but obtain driving licenses in Bahrain, are generally safe drivers." Just what does that fact have to do with the fact that a woman died in the passenger seat of a vehicle being driven by a 22-year-old man?!?


The causeway to Bahrain can be a nightmare. It is the reason we do not go over to Bahrain very often, any more. If you time it right - and go at nine o'clock in the morning on a Sunday or Monday - you probably won't run into too much traffic. If you decide to go at four o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday [in which case you have to question whether you are certifiably nuts] - you can count on traffic - and you can count on sitting for a hour, if not hours, waiting to get across. Why? Because drivers are so obnoxious and unruly and rude and discourteous. No one wants to wait their turn in the "queue," because they shouldn't have to - they should be first - all of them!

Some new measure - that customs at the causeway will receive shipments and trucks 24 hours a day is supposed to solve the "traffic jam" situation. B.S.! You have got to be kidding!! And, believe me, we've seen the lines for the trucks. The lines for cars are nothing to even whisper a complaint about compared to the poor truck drivers. They can spend their entire day sitting on the causeway.

There is one thing and one thing only that will partially solve the traffic problems at the causeway. Cement barricades. Lots and lots and lots of cement barricades. Line 'em up. Make it so that the obnoxious, unruly, rude and discourteous drivers cannot form their own lanes, make it so they cannot shove themselves in front of other cars. These drivers view the game of playing "chicken" with their vehicles as a "sport." Cement barricades are the ONLY way to control them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bold and Beautiful in Black

Dayum, Ladies! I think you are missing the entire point of why it is that in this culture you are required to wear an abaya...

The young woman at the post office on Wednesday morning was "hot!" She was a knockout. There is no man in his right mind that wouldn't have done a double take - and a third, even - to take in such comeliness. Along with a smokin' hot body she had an incredibly pretty face. Honestly, I was a little shocked at her appearance - not shocked that someone could look like that - but shocked that she did look like that. A sight not often observed in this part of the world where every single woman wears black in a most remarkably unshapely manner. And man-oh-man did I feel frumpy in my leggings, oversize sweatshirt and sneakers. She was the prefect example of "drop dead gorgeous." Very, very pretty face with the dark eyes, perfectly and heavily outlined in kohl. Puffy, pouty lips wearing dark burgandy - brown lip gloss. Perfect white teeth. Flawless olive skin. Nails manicured and polished. And a body that would attract men like the Pied Piper attracted rats. How could I tell, you wonder? Her abaya was that tight and actually had some quite a bit of shape to it - as opposed to the ones that the rest of us are wearing that have no shape whatsoever. That's what caught my attention first - her figure. Yes. I could see the entire outline of her figure - the top half - from her waist up - as she stood behind the counter at the post office. And it was a very, very nice figure. She could give Pam Anderson a run for her money, figure-wise. What I want to know is where did you get that abaya. Plain black, and some sort of polyester knit - had to be - in order to hug her body like that. [Oh, and by the way, I absolutely hate you for that teeny, tiny little waist! You, my dear, NEED a hot fudge sunade, a plate of chocolate chip cookies, a few brownies and a couple pieces of cheesecake!!! That'll take care of that teeny tiny little waist of your.] She had a soft voice and moved gracefully. Does your husband know what you were wearing? And he let you go out of the house like that?!?

I have no idea if she was married or not. I did notice her hands as she clicked a few keys - oh, so delicately - on her computer to check to see if I had a package, but I didn't pay enough attention to see if she had a wedding ring on. I was too busy looking at the "rest" of her to notice. Her hair was completely covered and she wasn't showing any "skin" but for her hands - her face was unveiled though so you could admire her beauty [she really, really was pretty], but it is how she was wearing her abaya - skin tight - that really got my attention. I could be really snarky and say she was rude or something - but she wasn't. She smiled when she told me that my package wasn't there, "No. Not today." And, again when she said "You're welcome." Hate. Her. In the envious way. [She'll have kids someday and that perfect figure will be ruined. Ha! That teeny tiny little waist will be a distant memory, those heaving breasts will need underwire to keep them in place or they'll be like matching saddlebags on her hips. Oh, and those slim hips will balloon out to be twice the width. I recommend you have six or seven children. And do yourself a favor. You're also going to need to develop a "real" voice or your kids are never going to listen to you.]

Yesterday morning as I was driving home I saw two young ladies walking toward the bus that takes shoppers to the malls and downtown and although I didn't get nearly the look at either of them as I did the young woman working at the post office the day before, I was rather caught off guard by their "lack" of modesty - more one, than the other. The two had their obligatory abayas on - but they were open from the ground almost all the way up. Clasped over their chests and at the neck. Both dressed to the nines underneath the yards of flowing in the wind black fabric. Like I said, one, more so than the other. And, the one I took notice of? She had stovepipe jeans on that were so tight they looked like leggings - with ankle height, stiletto heeled black boots. Her scarf was loosely covering her head - showing only her hairline but not the rest of what was underneath it. I wasn't close enough to see the detail of their faces - just what they were wearing - and that their abayas were NOT covering them. According to a columnist who wrote an article last week - that I did a post on - the newest way to stylishly wear an abaya is to let it be open part-way up and have it drape on the ground behind you. These two were perfect examples of that "new style." Oh, and by the way, both of you need to eat a little something, too!

By all means, the three of you - post office Girl, and mall Girls, come by my house. I will teach you what you need to eat to eliminate those thin thighs, small hips, and teeny, tiny little waists. I can have you looking more than curvy and voluptuous in no time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Commenters...

...are carefully and selectively posted.

Some people just don't get it. This is not going to be the place to discuss certain things. Like I selectively choose the comments that get posted, I also get to selectively choose what I want to write about. Why? Because it's MY blog. That's why.

If you want to write about whatever is going on in the world or in your world at your blog - by all means - do it. But Stilettos in the Sand is not going to be the forum for it. So, if you've left a comment, with the screen name, "Anonymous," and it does not show up in comments, here, that's why. There are, of course, exceptions. But for the most part all of the "Anonymous" comments come from someone - he, she, they - whoever they might be - that obviously dislikes and is offended by my opinions and viewpoints very, very much but not nearly enough to go read something else or start their own blog.

You - whoever you are - obviously have no idea the satisfaction it gives me to complete a task - and by clicking on the "delete" option in comments moderation I feel like I've accomplished something - finished a task, so to speak. So thanks! I was able to click-off three of you whoever you are, today. Life is good.

Time Wasters Site

Like I needed something to help me waste time. I could [and should] be doing Arabic homework, there are sock drawers that needed to be rotated, a load of towels that should be put in the dryer and a dishwasher to unload, a Pretty Princess [no, not me, The Baby!] that needs her nails trimmed...

The link is here. My final score was 243. It only took me 6 or 7 18 or 19 tries to get through Level 12.

Thanks to Clyde at The Patriot Room for leading me to a way cool site. Lots and lots of "time wasters" there!

I Got Nothin'

There are only two things going on in the world. One, which I refuse to acknowledge, and another which I know too little about to even try to analyze or comment on. Not to say that I do not have very, very strong opinions on both of the "things" that are going on in the world, but sometimes it is just best to say nothing at all. Especially when you just know that you can't say something nice...

We are taking a trip downtown this morning. HB13/16, Inam, broke his mop last week and needs a new one. And, we are getting a new DVD player. I feel as though I have been missing something because people all over talk about the show, "24." I've never seen a single episode. So, we borrowed Season One from a friend and got set to sit back and watch it a couple of nights ago - and don't you know - our DVD player, which is from the States, can't read the discs - something to do with the fact that they are "PAL" and our DVD player isn't. As long as we get our DVD's in the States, then we're good to go - but if we try to watch DVD's that are purchased over here in The Sandbox, we can't. So, we're going to buy a PAL readable DVD player just to watch 24. It better be worth it, is all I can say. 24, that is. [All I need is one more piece of electronic equipment that I'll never learn how to operate and another "clicker." You have no idea how daunting this kind of thing is to me.]

Rev was here yesterday morning. He has the new tile for the pool. Supposedly - ha! - he is going to get his guys to start working on it this weekend. Not holding my breath. I know how Rev operates. And, I'm pretty sure when he was asked when he was going to start the work he said, "the weekend," not "this weekend." "The weekend" in his book means any weekend in the next four or five months. DH isn't nearly as particular with Rev as I am - I make him tell me exactly when - as in not, "the weekend," but the actual date - and time - and we all know how well that works for me. Honestly I wish we could replace the man, and that sounds so easy, but believe me, it isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. We're rather stuck with him for certain things - like the pool. Yes, there are other companies that do pool work, but my experience with two of them has not been positive. I really think that part of that has to do with the fact that there are men here who just refuse to deal with women. They don't want to lower themselves. And, a Western woman, at that! Nope. They won't have anything to do with that. After all, what can a woman possibly know about something so complicated as a pool?!?

I have got to do a post on the cream I am using for my coffee. It needs pictures, though. Pretty amazing stuff. And, I need to find a magnifying glass to read exactly what the ingredients are, because there is obviously something more than just cream in the container... Somehow I am not so sure that it is all good.

The camera is out and ready to go on our trip downtown. It is Wednesday, though, and that means "Friday," here, so downtown will be busy. The butcher shops HAVE to be photoed and documented. If I can talk DH into stopping on a side street so I can snap a few pictures, they'll be posted tomorrow. There is no way we can leave The Sandbox without pictures. I've been saying for sometime that I want them - that I need them - perhaps I can get them, today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

U.S. Acknowledges Abuse of Maids Rampant

An article on the MSNBC [which, as we all know, is about useless when it comes to reporting "real" or "truthful" news] says "Abuse of foreign maids rampant in Mideast." Really? You are just now picking this up. Nothing like being just a little bit behind. But then MSNBC has been much, much too busy with just about everything going on BUT the news, lately, haven't they! It has been one story and one story only. I refuse to acknowledge it. Not turning the television on today - but to stick in a DVD of Monk when I get on the treadmill later. It is not earth-shattering, it is not going to change anything. Perhaps it will be safe to turn the television on sometime next week. $160,000,000 to $170,000,000 dollars for "hopechange." I cannot possibly be the only one trying to digest exactly how much money that is. Not one word of how "abusive" that is - money being capriciously wasted like that. That amount of money being spent for a party. Shameful, is what it is. Absolutely shameful!

Sadistic and Barbaric

Having animals - ANY ANIMAL! - wrestle for entertainment purposes is beyond words. Sadistic, even, and pathetic, at best. Barbarian in all respects.

No outrage from any useless group like PETA.

Crickets chirping...


My gosh what were YOU thinking?!? Oh. Wait. You weren't. A 17-year-old girl met a "boy" on-line and has been "having an affair" with him for "some months." Were you married? Was he married? How do you have "an affair" if one of the parties involved isn't married? If neither of you were married you having something but whatever it was it wasn't an "affair." Whatever. So the girl meets a guy - on-line - and then goes to a mall to meet up with him. When she got there, she said "three young men (including her boyfriend) kidnapped her, took her to an apartment and raped her." So, what were you thinking?!? In a culture like this, where we are, where NO ONE is allowed to be "hooking up" with unrelated members of the opposite sex, and where sexuality is repressed beyond belief, did you actually think that the boy was just going to want to shop for shoes or something? Good grief. No one deserves to be raped. Ever. But doesn't the 17-year-old girl have to accept some responsibility for her part in this, as well? Why isn't being stupid a crime?!? [Rhetorical, that.]

Looks like someone is going to working to make sure that little 10 and 12-year-old girls won't be able to get married, after all. About time. The Human Rights Commission is taking steps to end marriages involving minors children and "has begun studying ways to set a minimum age for marriage... It is expected that the minimum age will be set at 16." Last week, the grand mufti, said "If a girl exceeds 10 or 12 then she is eligible for marriage, and whoever thinks she is too young, then he or she is wrong and has done her an injustice." The world-wide-web has been abuzz since. Who knows how long it will take for an actual law to be implemented that will put an end to this practice, but that it is in the works is a good start. Baby steps.

And, speaking of babies... A 35-year-old woman [who, by the way is named, in full, in the article] is brain-dead from developing serious complications after undergoing her FIFTH Cesarean section. I had a conversation at a party in October with a woman who had worked as a mid-wife for ten years, here. She had some very interesting things to say about "local" women who wait until they are in labor before seeking any medical attention whatsoever [i.e., no prenatal care], and that Cesarean section was the preferred method of childbirth versus a natural labor. I have no medical training, and have only had one child so I'm not the right person to be consulting, but this doctor says, "Beyond three, some women will face a substantial surgical risk that needs to be weighed against whether they really want to have that next baby." The husband of the brain-dead woman, instead of taking any responsibility for his wife's condition and the fact that this was her fifth C-Section wants the doctors who tried to save the woman's life punished. It is always somebody else's fault, isn't it.

Sadness, here. Two babies are dead after inhaling toxic fumes from pesticide. The pesticides which are used here are banned in the United States. Although, I will say, that the ones we are allowed to use to kill bugs are a heck of a lot more effective than anything you could buy in the States.

A father has been detained for torturing his 9-year-old daughter "for her poor performance in school." The girl, according to this brief article, "was brought to the hospital with burn injuries in her hand." What the heck did he - the father - do to the child? Put her hand on a stove burner for sloppy penmanship? So many people - not just here, but everywhere - just do NOT deserve to have children!

Monday, January 19, 2009

RIP Mickey Minnie

UPDATED: Thanks to reader Dawn-Michelle who has some experience with mice and tells me that from the close-up photo it is pretty clear from "the evidence" that the little mouse is a "Minnie," and not a "Mickey."

I have said all along - since the pool was emptied - that it is dangerous. Someone is going to fall. Someone is going to get hurt. And I was right. Poor little mouse. I don't know if he [she?] came out of the hole where the light
goes, or if he/she went running over the edge. Either way, the result was the same.

Yesterday morning The Boy was standing at the end of the pool - looking down. Something had his attention. I went out to get him because I wasn
't comfortable with him standing so close to the edge and this is what was there:

Rev never came by last week when he said he was going to [oh, yeah, big surprise]. DH talked to him this weekend and he said he was still looking for tile. Which, of course, is the exact same thing he said to me last week. The man is incapable to telling the truth. He says what he thinks you want to hear - whether you do or not - and then forgets he's already said "that." Just fix the pool, Rev, and get it done. If there is still a big "tile" hole in March I am going to be one PO'd woman. It's been almost a month, now. Progress? Nah dah. Absolutely NONE!

And for no reason other than the fact that The Boy is so incredibly handsome, and that The Baby - also known as The Princess - is too pretty for words...

Stark Differences in Reporting

I don't know what the Literary Club, here in The Sandbox, is, or what it does. I do think that someone doesn't like women, though. Nothing more than mere speculation on my part. Someone explain to me why it was important to list all five women that were expelled from the Literary Club in this article. How is it newsworthy? Yet, five men can be caught impersonating doctors to grope women and not a single name is made public. Does the public - here - or anywhere - have the right to know who the perverts in society are? I think so. Not only should those five men have been identified, but their pictures should have been published. Are they not doing a great deal more harm to society than five women who haven't been attending a club? Stark differences, indeed!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Underwear Woes

Blah, blah, blah... I started, this morning, a post about women not being allowed to work in lingere shops in Saudi Arabia even though it was directed with some kind of mandate a couple of years ago that "only" women should be allowed to work in this field. After writing some dozen paragraphs because sometimes I can be a tad verbose I realized that today I just couldn't be bothered with some trivial matter like who should and shouldn't be allowed to sell underwear. I don't have to buy any of my under garments here and won't. Not my problem. Surely there are more important issues to be concerned about.

Although, I will say, that when I was trying to do some "research" for my now deleted post, I came across this and this. I think both are really pretty, but the price! Oh my gosh. Perhaps some will find $143.00 for a bra [retail price $238.00] and $66.00 for a thong [retail price $110.00] reasonable, but I find it insane. Oh, sure, La Perla may have some pretty things, but come on. Just not worth that kind of money!

I have Arabic to review before class and I need to do my nails. Priorities.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So I am not the only one who calls an abaya a garbage bag. A Saudi filmmaker is "having a hard time finding a leading woman for his short film, 'Garbage Bag.'" That "Saudi Arabia does not allow unrelated men and women to mingle" is part of the problem. Perhaps he can find a pretty boy to fill that role. The film is "about a woman stuck in a public restroom because her abaya... has been stolen. After an agonizing night in the restroom, she fashions an abaya out of a black garbage bag and walks out." Sure, the plot is slightly farfetched, but stranger things have happened. And, quite frankly, there is not a lot of difference in the look of an abaya and a garbage bag. Both are big, black and shapeless.

Road carnage. Eight killed. The cause, according to the article, was a tire blow out. Never any mention of the rate of speed at which these cars are traveling.

Whoa. Right after typing, "Never any mention of the rate of speed..." I read this, "A 10-year-old boy died after being run over by a car carrying celebrating Saudi soccer fans... He was trying to cross the road when a speeding Caprice car hit him." First mention - ever - of a "speeding car."

Three years in prison and 720 lashes for stealing cell phones seems a tad excessive, but it does make it quite clear that authorities are willing to set examples with harsh penalties to deter crime. I am not against this. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The United States needs to take lessons from other countries with regard to criminal justice matters and quit catering to the criminals and giving them all the rights. Oh. The two thieves, both Saudi nationals are, of course, unnamed.

The head count is at six. A Saudi man convicted of murder was beheaded yesterday.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Some quick - and not so quick - takes of news in The Sandbox, today...

The count is up to five now. Oh, and the total for last year, according to this, was 102. Beheadings, that is.

An unknown, suspected South Asian, woman has been found dead on the street. Fingerprints have been lifted. Surely she will be identified in that manner, right? Fingerprints - along with blood and bodily fluids - are required by every single foreigner that enters The Sandbox. Probably just a discarded housemaid. Nothing to see, here, folks. Move along...

More on the economics of "supply and demand" here. And, here, too. If there wasn't a demand then there would be no supply. Well, that is how I learned the policy, anyway. But, then, it has been a long time since I was in accounting classes. Perhaps "supply and demand" doesn't mean the same thing now as it did then. [See the very end of this post for what someone else has to say about "supply and demand," here in The Sandbox.]

This was probably meant to be "cute." I don't find it "cute" at all. In fact, I find it quite degrading and disparaging and distasteful. What's that saying? "A picture is worth 1000 words?" Something like that.

This story has been in the paper for the past few days. I didn't post on it because - because - I don't know why. Just because. I guess it didn't strike me as being all that interesting. More "ho hum" kind of "just another day" and "same old, same old." Must have caused some interest somewhere, though, because it is getting quite a bit of attention. The gist of it is that a man has kept his 20 and 22-year-old sisters locked in a room in squalor for the past ten years - since their elderly father became paralyzed and could no longer take care of them. Supposedly the two sisters "were completely shut away from the outside world, existing in complete darkness, playing only with mice, and communicating in their own language." It was the "playing only with mice, and communicating in their own language" that did it for me - something is wrong with this story. Very wrong. I'm not denying that it could happen, I just think that perhaps some "literary license" was applied to make this a "tug at your heart-strings" kind of story. The brother - or half-brother - supposedly kept them locked up because he had to "protect them from the evils of this world since they had a psychiatric illness from childhood." He "feared for the girls as they would rip off their clothes and break windows because of the psychiatric condition." Okay. Stranger things have happened... "The brother, identified by the authorities only by the initials A.M., categorically denied that he had meant to cause his sisters physical or mental harm." [Duh. Well of course he denied everything! Oh - and isn't it interesting that the brother is only being identified by initials and that his name isn't being published; but steal a couple of sheep and your full name will be published!] The brother says, "I've never ever beaten them despite their aggression - they would break the doors, windows and electric appliances." Hmmph. You know what? I think I'd be just a little aggressive, too, if I'd been locked in a room for TEN YEARS! The brother "decided to lock them up after neighbors advised him to protect their family's reputation and image." [Emphasis, mine.] Bingo! There we go. The real reason he locked them up. All to protect "their family's reputation and image." When there is something newsworthy to report about the asshole brother who locked the two girls up, I'll post on it.

Another item that was in the paper earlier this week I purposely chose not to dissect and post on - although I really kind of wanted to - just because what the author had to say was, in my opinion, so ridiculous. It was an article written by a woman, who at one time I, quite mistakenly, thought would offer a perspective that would be worth-while and be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dusty environment. The more I read her columns, the more I realized that she was anything but a breath of fresh air. She's gotten herself a good "take down" by commenter's with her column, this week, on how she thinks that the Saudi government should give her an allowance toward the purchase of an abaya that she is required to wear in The Sandbox. She doesn't want to wear just any old inexpensive, plain black bag covering. Nope. She wants a designer abaya that probably costs more than what most domestic workers make in an entire year. The article is here. Her reasoning - that she should be given an "abaya subsidy" is that since she isn't required to wear it in the United Kingdom she's adapted and goes without and now has to remind herself that she needs one when she visits family at home - here in Saudi. The woman is studying to get a doctorate - although in what field she doesn't say - and she gave away all of her "lovely abayas" before she left home to go to school abroad, keeping only one. [I own only one and it is the ONLY one I will ever own! I wear it to cover my clothes and myself because I have to.] She moans and complains about going to a store with SR700 [$187.66] to buy another abaya, and that she was "looking for something fashionable and to keep with my newly acquired social status as Dr. Jawhar in the making. After all, if I am going to earn a doctorate degree and become indispensible to Saudi
Arabia then I must dress the part." She kids, not! Apparently she believes she is "sadly" outdated, and says, "Imagine the humiliation when the salesman knew more about abaya styles than I." Oh, the horror! No. I can't imagine. The salesmen know more about make-up here, than most women, too, but I don't find it humiliating. I find it amusing. She goes on about sticker shock and the new styles and how it used to be that abayas were only black blah blah blah and now they are "glittery" blah blah blah and the new way to wear them blah blah blah so that "you are the cat's pajamas (a Western expression for looking cool)." [The expression is from the 1950's! If you want to be cool you need to wake up - by a half-dozen decades.] She inanely drones on and on and on believing she has to spend 1,500 or 2,000SR [$402.14 or $536.19] to "not only look respectable but not make a fool" of herself [too late!], because after all, "Saudis don't want their national treasures walking around in dish rags. Don't they want us to outshine those Emirati girls across the border?"

The comments that were left on-line to her column are what are worthwhile posting, here. No one was at all impressed with what she had to say, this week. Some of the best lines from the comments include: "Do you have any idea of the purpose of an abaya? It is to cover yourself... not show yourself off. ...the ignorance of some of those born... never ceases to amaze me." "What an absolutely pathetic article. It frightens the hell out of me that a doctor could be bothered to write such nonsense... I hope I never end up being a patient of yours!" "This is a disgusting and inappropriate article. What does it take for Muslims to have some respect for themselves and their deen?!" [Deen = religion, as best as I can determine from my Arabic dictionary.] "By going to the West some of us not just leave the abayas but also our deen. The reason, being apologetic, ignorant & arrogant." " you are one of those... who whip off their abayas as soon as the plane... approaches England. And you wear it so little that you actually have to remind yourself to wear it again! What a thing to write in a national newspaper." "Reading this I can realize this Sister... is infected by the worst disease, more severe than AIDS but unidentified in the Medical books... Doctor, I urge you to treat this first!" "Wow a doctor wrote that. scary." "This article shows the author's ignorance of the very purpose and benefits of the hijab." "This person is a sad example of a stupid, arrogant, spoit brat who is a liability to the Saudi image with such vain ideas. She is certainly not 'a national treasure' but an example of what a national treasure should [sic] not!" There are more. You can read them all, here, and leave your own comments as well.

In other news...

Here is an article on domestic violence, "No end in sight as women left to suffer." Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It occurs world-wide. Is it such a far stretch to think that perhaps if domestic violence - in all countries - were to be absolutely and finally curtailed that someday there might, in fact, be world peace? Yeah. Never mind.

Another construction accident has killed three laborers, injured 14, and possibly burried two beneath the rubble. Sad. And to think, these accidents could be prevented...

Interesting article,"We live in Utopia," here. It is 404 words and it will take less than two minutes to read. It speaks volumes and says an awful lot for six short paragraphs.

Pretty Sure our Little House Lizard is Dead

Haven't seen him [her?] in a while. I assumed he - we'll call it a "he" - was content living under one of the refrigerators in the kitchen. He could come out at night in relative safety to eat food that the Kids leave on the floor - my Kids are very, very messy eaters. I'm guessing it was warm enough for him under the refrigerator, even if it was dark. At least he didn't have to worry about The Boy getting him since The Boy's paws are too big to fit underneath the refrigerator and there is no way he's getting his snout under there.

Yesterday morning our kitchen smelled kind of funny. It was a strange smell - but one that I've experienced before. Please don't let it be that smell! The Houseboy was here and since Thursday is Kitchen day - he cleans the cupboard doors, inside and out, cleans the outsides of the appliances, the stove top, cleans the trash can out, all those kinds of chores - I rather figured that by the time I got home from doing errands the smell would be gone and in its stead would be the lovely smell of clean, bleach! Umm. No. I walked in the back door and was assaulted by the odor.

DH got home from work at about one o'clock. He came in through the front door and not the back. His first words were not, "Hi, Honey, I'm home," but instead, "What is that smell?" Yeah. You smell it too, huh? "Where is it coming from?" I have no idea, but it smells even worse in the kitchen. DH asked me if I had checked under the refrigerators. No. So, he grabbed a flashlight and tried to see underneath them - which was impossible - so he pulled both of them out. Eee-gads. What a mess. No one has cleaned behind the refrigerators in months. [I'll be speaking to HB13/16, Inam, on Sunday morning about this.] Do you have any idea how much dust and gunk collects underneath and behind refrigerators?!? A lot! There was no lizard - alive or otherwise. Plenty of lizard poop, though, in the dust. DH helped me clean up the mess - we swept, vacuumed and cleaned behind the refrigerators. He wasn't particularly happy about it, either, since ultimately he is the one who is paying Inam. "Why are we paying the someone to clean and then cleaning ourselves?" Good question. Apparently I'm not doing a very good job supervising the Thursday cleaning.

The smell lingers heavily in the air. I have no idea where it is coming from. DH thinks it could even be in one of the hot-air vents. Great. How is it that we have experience with this particular smell? Quite a few years ago when we had our Land Rover, DH was driving along and something "fell" in front of him. Something much, much bigger than a bug or a bee. At the time, DH said he was lucky he didn't get into an accident when it happened - it was one of those "startling" moments that happens so quickly you don't have much of a chance to react. What was it? It was a lizard. A gecko. And, where did the gecko go when DH was trying to shoo it away? Underneath the dashboard in the truck. Gone. But not really.

The truck - the Land Rover - they are all trucks, to me - sat outside with its windows shut in the sun for a day or so, maybe even a couple of days before we noticed it. And it wasn't something that could go unnoticed. I do remember it was hot - July or August - and we went to go get in the truck and - Oh My Gosh - the smell was so overpowering it was nauseating, gagging! You had to hold your breath and breathe through your mouth - only you didn't want to do that either, because the smell was so bad you could taste it. Apparently the gecko got itself trapped in the air-conditioning unit where it perished. DH spent several days taking various pieces/parts of the truck apart to try to locate the poor thing - and to remove it. He never found the gecko. But for a good six weeks, both of us dreaded having to get in the truck to go anywhere because of the nasty after-effects that a small reptile leaves when it dies in a vehicle and gets baked in the heat and sun.

I am so hoping that it is not going to take six weeks, in the house, to remove the smell. We can burn incense and candles, and spray Febreeze and put plug-in deodorizers in all of the outlets - but all that is going to do is intermingle with the odor of what is a pretty unpleasant smell so that instead of the house just smelling like something rotten, now it is going to smell "sandalwood, pine, fresh rain and rotten" at the same time. The smell did not seem to be so overpowering this morning when I was in the kitchen making coffee. So, either we did sweep, vacuum and clean up the remains [unknowingly? he wasn't a very big lizard] yesterday afternoon, or else I'm just getting used to the smell at this point. Guess we'll know in due time whether or not the smell is gone. Surely if a friend drops by then we'll know if the offensive odor is still with us... Hopefully no one will be polite enough to just not mention that our house reeks something awful!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out of the House - Thinking Only ONE Thing

I went to go do errands this morning. Completely forgot today is Thursday, the equivalent of "Saturday" in the States - or I would have left the house at 8 instead of 10 - but, oh well...

My first stop was the library to return my overdue books - and as always, to check to see what new arrivals are on the shelves. The library is not big, but it is well-stocked, and I can always find something that I know I will enjoy reading, even though the non-fiction section leans - good grief, it almost topples it leans so far - a little too left to my liking. Right now I am reading for the second time - because there is a paragraph in the book that I so want to use on this blog - "The Saudi's: Inside the Desert Kingdom," by Sandra MacKey. A full review on her book will be posted as soon as I am done with it. Her book is one I read before we moved to The Sandbox, and one that I gave to all of my family members that year for Christmas gifts. Surely my perspective will be different now that I've been here for as long as I have - and I will be able to race through it and not feel as though I've missed anything. I read more than one book at a time, always, keeping one on the nightstand next to the bed, one on the coffee table, one on the treadmill... I digress. Moving on... At the library I checked out a couple of books, "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey thorugh his Son's Addiction," by David Sheff and "Why do People Hate America," by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies. They were both on the new releases shelf, even though Sardar and Davies' book was published in 2002. [Yeah. Okay. So things are often behind, here in The Sandbox.]

What was particularly interesting about my trip to the library this morning was that there were families there. [Remember, I forgot it was Thursday.] There were quite a few children in the "Children's Area" - with their Mother's - covered head-to-toe in black, and quite a few men sitting in the reading area reading newspapers and a few students studying. Catching my eye, though, as I was standing in line waiting to pay my overdue fines and check out my new selections, was that in the children's area was a little girl - probably four or five-years-old, sitting on her Dad's lap in a chair at one of the little "pint-sized" tables where they were turning the pages of a book together. It did not appear to be phasing the man - who I am assuming was her Dad - perhaps it was an older brother or uncle - who knows - in the least that the chair in which he was sitting holding his little girl was meant to be used by a child. It was very sweet. He may have been reading to her - or she "reading" to him - I couldn't hear either of them so if one of them was reading they were doing it very quietly. Actually, it wasn't something that I just glanced at out of the corner of my eye as I was standing and doing what I had to do. I was staring - and I continued to stare as I was exiting the library and I was thinking the whole while only one thing.

My next stop was the post office. We never have any mail, and we didn't have mail today, either. But I am waiting on a package that was sent from the States the last week of December. It was sent via priority air-mail, so I expect that we will have it any day. Sure. And it will be intact, unopened, in pristine condition. Not a chance!

After I left the post office I went to the cleaners. I had to wait my turn in line - there was only one person in front of me. While I was still waiting, another man with a little girl - not much older than a toddler came into the cleaners. He was holding her hand, protectively, as Dad's do when their little girls are still so young. Cute little girl - in brown and pink corduroy pants and a matching long-sleeved plaid tunic-style top. Short, pixie-cut hair and BIG brown eyes. She had sandals on with no socks - and even though it has been quite cold for this part of the world, that is not all that unusual - to see sandals. She was staring at me when I looked at her and I returned her stare with a smile and a "hi there." Her response was to put her finger in her mouth. So sweet. Young. Innocent. Again, I was thinking only one thing.

Walking to my car, a Surburban pulled up into the no parking area - the area reserved for taxi-cab drop offs and pick-ups. From the front passenger's side jumped a young boy - ten, maybe - and from the back a maid got out of the vehicle [it is obvious who the maid's are versus the mother's] both heading to go into the grocery store. A woman, covered head-to-toe in black, was behind the steering wheel. The reason I bothered to notice was that the Surburban didn't pull away - it remained parked there - as the boy and the maid went into the store - an entitlement - "I can park here," kind of thing even though the sign says no parking. The young boy had bare feet. Bare Feet!! What kind of mother lets their kid go out in this weather - it was 35 degrees this morning - and was probably only 40-something when I was out - with NO SHOES?!? What kind of mother lets her child go into a public builidng with NO SHOES?!? I was NOT thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw the little girl on the man's lap at the library; I was not thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw the man holding his little girl's hand at the cleaner's.

Exiting the parking lot - heading around the corner past our community cafeteria, the "Dining Hall" - there "it" was again. The same scenario I had seen played out already twice this morning. With their backs facing me, a man holding the hand of a little girl who was just a little taller than his hip, was walking across the parking lot. My mind, again, immediately turned to just one thought.

Yes, I know it may be presumptious of me to think that all of these men were these little girl's Daddy's. But that is what Dad's do - they let their daughter's sit on their laps and read to them. They hold their hands in public places and walking across parking lots. They treat their little girls like Angel's and Princess's and they protect them from harm and evil. My Dad did. I like to think that most Dad's do. Except for the ones that let their little girls - eight, ten and eleven and twelve years old - get married. And, that, is a part of this culture in The Sandbox that for as long as I live here I will NEVER EVER understand!

Oh, and by the way, one of the reasons for my errands this morning was to go back to the pharmacy for more cough syrup. I wanted to see if the new pharmacist was still there and not the old one. Doesn't matter. I completely forgot I was going to go there. Apparently the little girls with their Dad's consumed my attention too much for me to focus on what it was I was supposed to be doing. Guess we know who will be going back out again this afternoon...


I posted on the severity of the penalty two men received for stealing sheep the other day. Yesterday an article reported that the "judge who sentenced two young Saudis in Bisha to three years in prison and 2,000 lashes each... said Tuesday that his verdict was fair... 'I swear to God, these two young men are like my sons and the court is a place of mercy and discipline.'" It is reported, today, that the National Society for Human Rights is stepping in and will "seek a much lighter punishment taking into consideration their age, if not scrapping of the verdict altogether."

If there was no demand, there would be no supply: 2,000 p0rn0 DVD's have been seized. Phew. That danger has been removed.

Apparently there is no place that women - just women - can go and be left in peace. Meddling residents "are now demanding closure" of a center "exclusively meant for women," after a woman worker was smoking a cigarette in a coffee shop. The residents want the shop closed "for violating their traditions and customs." Gimme a break. How many coffee shops where men are smoking have been closed? Are they not violating traditions and customs by smoking? Aren't women allowed to have a place where they can go and relax with a cup of coffee and a cigarette if they so choose? And, if they aren't, why not?

The divorce rate in The Sandbox is on the rise. In 2007 there were 18,765 divorces; last year there were 24,428. According to a family medicine consultant, the rise is attributed "to a number of reasons, including the absence of religious values, low incomes, intervention of relatives in the personal lives of the married couples and the adverse effect of satellite cable programming."
What were the reasons for divorce, before those? Just curious.

Only 11% of pharmacists in the public sector are Saudi. Interesting. I wonder why there aren't more. Seems to me like it would be a field that would be fairly attractive. Apparently not, though, with so few Saudi's in the pharmacies...

We have a pharmacy on our compound. Not a big one - just a small shop - but, with a fair offering of products considering its size. I went the day before yesterday. DH has the flu [and, yes, I am coming down with it as well - I can feel it in my eye-lashes]. I'm sure that there are other wives out there who will be able to sympathize with me in this regard: When men get sick, they turn into infants. Poor DH. He was coughing, sneezing, blowing his nose and laying in bed, just shivering. He needed cough syrup so I said I would go get some - even though I do not like the pharmacist at our little shop - who, by the way, is Saudi. He tripled charged me for something a while back - I didn't see the teeny, tiny little price sticker on the back of the packaging and when I asked how much the item was - and he told me - I paid what he said the price was. When I got home I saw the price - and of course, didn't have a receipt - so didn't bother going back. It was more than just being triple-charged. It was his whole attitude! Probably he just dislikes Western women in general, but too bad, sometimes you have to deal...

Anyway, I went to the pharmacy for DH to get some cough syrup and was pleasantly surprised to find a different pharmacist there. I told the young man - yes, he was Saudi - that DH had a dry, non-productive cough and asked him what I should get. He was more than helpful in explaining the different brands and suggested a specific one. DH had also decided that he needed antibiotics - after being sick for only 24-hours - and asked me to get those as well [which you can get without a prescription]. I'm not a medical professional - I don't pretend to be one - but I was pretty sure that DH didn't need antibiotics for the flu. So, I asked the pharmacists about it and he confirmed that no, DH probably didn't need them, but he was more than happy to sell them to me if that is what I wanted. However, he recommended something else, seeing has how DH had had a fever for less than 24 hours, and said to take them for a couple of days and that if DH wasn't feeling better to try the antibiotics. We had a bit of a communication problem - but only insofar as me telling him that DH's temperature was 101.9 - Fahrenheit versus Celsius - which is what the pharmacist was familiar with.

We have been to pharmacies downtown and had similar experiences that have been less than pleasant - I'm sure I've blogged about them at least once before. So, it is always refreshing to find someone who is genuinely willing to be helpful and who isn't trying to make an extra riyal or two off of some unsuspecting Western woman. I hope the new pharmacist is actually "ours" and wasn't just filling in for the other pharmacist on his day off or something. I'm going to have to pick up more cough syrup, today, so I guess I'll find out...
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