Jan 30, 2017

That One Time When I Was Detained at the Border

Yes, you heard me right...me, a blue eyed blond haired (Clairol) woman of 60 or so was stopped at the border because I was covered totally so looked religious in some way. We had  lived through 9/11 and we had just gone to war with Iraq. If it hadn't been a little scary it would have been hilarious.

Me in the Alhambra (Generalife) with my long skirt on, 2003
I was back in 2003 and my husband and I were returning from Spain where we had been staying for close to a month. During that period of time the Spanish people had gone into full revolt after their PM supported the USA's invasion of Iraq and the United States actually carried out that plan to go to war over "weapons of mass destruction".

On the day before the invasion, a storm of biblical proportions crossed the Mediterranean and the world held it's breath. We watched waves wash restaurants built near the sand being fill with water. The next day it was March 20, 2003. The United States invaded.

Needless to say we were being careful what we did and what we said. We were no supporter of the war...in fact I just couldn't imagine that it would happen. It seemed insane to me. I knew in my heart of hearts that chaos loves a vacuum and we were just about to create a very large vacuum.

In the meantime in our own little world we went about our Spanish life. We shopped for cheese and Spanish hamon, ate dinner at 9 pm and lived near the beach. It was idyllic in so many ways although, as with all things, nothing was perfect.

Our son and his wife came from Saudi Arabia where they worked to travel with us for 10 days. My passport had been stolen by a gypsy in Madrid or we would have returned with them. It was very hard to send our family back without us because we were fearful for what was about to happen next. 


As a side note, their compound and the school my son ran in Yanbu was attacked by terrorists later that that spring. But that is another story.

When we returned to the airport we found that the security that was tight after 9/11 was only more strict. Airports had become a wary place to be. Everyone was very watchful.

I might be noted that the Avian flu (H5N1) had raised it's ugly head in China that spring and facemasks were recommended if you were traveling through Vancouver. Vancouver was where it spread to first in North America. That only added another odd note to the trip.

We were asked if we had masks when we checked into our airline in Malaga. We returned to the United States through Great Britain and we entered the United States through Vancouver, BC.

I had been laying on the beach that morning because we had a late flight. Our luggage was in storage ready to be taken to the airport. I was carrying a large bag with a change of clothing and room for my swimwear to be taken home.

I changed my clothes in the rest room at a hotel for our flight. I donned the light linen jacket I had been wearing almost everyday for a month over a long skirt. I wore my ugly walking shoes. My straw hat did not fit in the carryon so I wore it. My carry on was a beach bag of sorts. Honestly, I did look like a clown but I was going home and I just didn't care. I suppose my hair was a mess and I don't remember putting on make-up.

When we arrived in Vancouver from the Mediterranean coast, it was April it was snowing. The Canadians were not that excited about how frigid the airport was and I was not dressed to sit in a cold waiting room for hours. So I bought a extra large sweatshirt in the airport and put it on over my light jacket and long skirt. I put my straw hat back on my head.

We were called for our flight and I walked calmly to the gate...ticket, passport, straw hat, sweatshirt, long skirt, ugly shoes and a beach bag in hand. The Border Control took one look at me and tried to decide which group of humans I belonged to. They were pretty sure I was up to something.

I was asked to remove the hat, sweatshirt, jacket, shoes. I may have been asked to lift my skirt but I don't remember that. They went through my beach bag and seearched my wet swimsuit and towel. My husband walked on ahead and only became aware that I wasn't right behind him when so much time passed. He was looking a tiny bit concerned when I finally arrived.

We have traveled all over the world since that day almost 14 years ago. Airports have gotten their act together and we all knew what to expect up until this last week. We will see what happens next. We are traveling to Mexico for two weeks soon. It will be interesting at least.

I am writing about this today because of current events. We all are very aware of the world's concerns but in the end we all think about how actions by our government will affect us personally. I cannot imagine that we aren't all going to be touched in some way by this latest turn of events.

Any thoughts or questions?

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Jan 28, 2017

There Are Rules: BE NICE AND MORE

I don't know if I have written about the rules 100 times or not but it does seem that the subject comes up very often. In the past I have written about rules for napping, eating and driving. Today I am going to talk about the rules that get us from here to there with the least amount of words.

You see, most people don't listen and when they do, they don't really understand what we are saying. No, we are not talking in an outer galaxy dialect. Everyone knows we are saying "Blah, blah, blah and so on." The normal answer we get is "What?" or "Huh?"

So, two different times during the last two days I have found people getting to the point with very few words. No "blah, blah, blah." at all. I get it. I have done it for years.

One of my favorite blogger wrote a post yesterday called Unisex Restroom, A cranky opinion for CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY The blogger goes by the name of Cranky Old Man. (He makes me laugh which is fun which is part of being happy!) In the post he talked about Unisex Bathrooms and how he felt about sharing a bathroom with someone that was only dressed as a man. He had an opinion...he usually does.

Then he shared a few rules that would make it okay for a woman dressed as a man to use the stall next to him. Early on the list was "No looking!". That made me laugh. I suppose that applied to the men too.

But the one I loved was "NO BEING CREEPY". Wow talk about getting to the point. It was classic because he didn't need to say anymore.

I watched an episode of DCI Banks on PBS last night. Very near the end of the show Banks was talking to the teenage child of a co-worker that was in jail for breaking and entering. The boy was acting out because he was unhappy being a teenager. We all know how that age feels. But it was what Banks said to the boy that hit me between the eyes.

There was no big long explanation of what the rules were or what would happen if he broke them. He simply said, "OK here's the deal...BEHAVE YOURSELF. Alright?" No more. Oh, and the boy got a place and some time to think about it. It only seemed natural.

I can't tell you how many times I have told children and grandchildren and students that were misbehaving, "BE NICE!" It always stopped them in their tracks. It was so easy to understand. No threats, no shouting just two simple words. If they needed to think about it, I gave them the time and place to do that. No more!

So if we take our three rules and put them in a list, our day would have some good guidelines don't you think?

  1. No being creepy.
  2. Behave yourself.
  3. Be nice.
I like it a lot. Do you have a rule to add to the list?

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Jan 27, 2017

Was That Fun?

I played golf today. Golfing is not a natural talent for me at all. I struggle now just like I have for the last 20 years. It seems to me that I might be asking myself, "Was that fun?". If it isn't, why do I keep playing?

As I drove into my carport with the golf game still on my mind, I was wondering how many things that I choose to do during the week fall into the "fun" column. In fact, is there even one thing I do that makes me laugh? Good question don't you think.

Happiness is part of a well lived life I think. But is fun a necessary ingredient for happiness? I wonder.

I like to play golf and if I get to actually laugh and have fun doing it, it is a bonus. But I will not quit if I play a round or two with unsmiling women. The actual act of golfing makes me happy.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do but it does not generally fall into the "fun" category either. I do really like the conversations with commenters. That is fun I think.

I like to cook, watch TV, read, shop, throw a party and walk. I suppose each one of those can be fun on occasion....but not always.

So what do you think...is "fun" overrated? Do we need to be feeling jolly to be happy. Or is it enough to be content or simply enjoying oneself? You tell me.

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Jan 23, 2017

How Comfortable Are You? I am Scared!

Galen Pearl left a comment yesterday. She was most complimentary but I had to pause and think. First of all, I am shy and it is even hard for me to hear too many good things especially when I come out of the closet and let the world know how I REALLY feel. I worry and it is not clear to me why. Honestly, I do believe that I am good person and offending others does bother me. I apologize a lot.

I was an educator but that is not what I am all about. I have always been outspoken to the point of being a pain in the neck. It has taken me many years to learn to temper my nature. I have learned the hard way that I need to know the "whole truth" before I decide what my opinion is. Even then I am not entirely sure about things. It seems that the less I know the stronger my opinion will be so I keep that in mind.

When you read my posts you will usually find a disclaimer or two especially when I am talking about my opinion. Never when I state facts. Those don't require a disclaimer.

My friend Norah said on Facebook that watching the women march made her more proud than she had ever been. My son-in-law posted about his niece marching somewhere in the Midwest. Of course the comments here were in agreement. Even when I post on Facebook most followers agree with me with more enthusiasm that I can even muster.

It is out here in my retirement world where I live with people from different parts of our country and with different life experiences that I get in trouble. I feel assaulted by opinions I just can't come to grips with.

It seems that when I start to feel more brave, then there is no stopping me. That is the problem. See all the people except one that I went to dinner with last Friday where elated by the Inauguration. I watched but I was not happy. The only thing I could say was that I did like the Trump I saw on that day better than the other one that we see daily or hear from on Twitter.

Then I was the one to go off. I went on and on.

In the heat of the moment true beliefs emerged. I was told that Democrats are bad. I think it was because Roe versus Wade is linked to that party. I wasn't sure about that. We may be bad for other reasons too.

But...this is the thing, I know what good  people these are. They are working hard in their church and foster friendships with people even like me. It is my fear that a leader like Trump brings out the worst in a lot of people including me. He did on that evening.

So, being out spoken, defending what we believe in a reasonable way and realizing that most people will not or cannot be changed comes into play. The question is, "Are we willing to overlook our differences and play nice together." We will see because I am not hiding my light under a basket anymore.

If I seem uncomfortable in this place, it is because I really am. It scares me a lot!

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Might also want to read:

In My Humble Opinion
The Women's March: What do you want?
400 lb. 14 Year Old
Dubai: Second Graders Are Very Afraid




Jan 21, 2017

On Women's March: What Do You Want?

I was listening again to the news. Today we were seeing the flip side of what a Trump supporter might be thinking when women around the world took to the streets to simply have their say. Today the Catholic Church here in Tucson are marching in a protest against abortion. I suppose there are other groups marching in protest to those protests. Interesting isn't it?
Then I saw a post on Twitter by Michael Flynn, son of a hopeful cabinet member. I'm not sure what victory Flynn is talking about in his tweet however the statement that women already have equal rights seems a reality to him. That was interesting to me because I know that rights don't come with laws. Rights come with a change in attitudes by humans. The election of our 45th president does not make me feel that we are there yet.

But what struck me as most interesting was that by saying "What more do you want?" he implied that equality was his to give. The final slashing came with the implication that women as so shallow that they would be satisfied if he just gave us more money to get ourselves beautiful with a mani-pedi.

Now, I do know that I am reading things into his words. That is really not fair to him. I am sure that he intended no slight...well not that sure but he does have the right to speak his mind.

However, in a world where women are manipulated (no that is not just in the power of a women) and denigrated for simply being women to the point that they actually will march, there is something very wrong. It is all about perception and perception does count. A lot more goes into a conversation that words...body language, tone of voice for example.

What do we want? We want absolutely no talk that will make us feel less than worthy. The fact that it is rude is not the worst thing. It is just plain mean. The fact that it makes the man look bad might come into consideration but that is up to them to realize. If they are so small that making us look bad makes them feel good, they have a problem.

I might add here that women should not do any of those things either. Wrong is wrong!

We want there to be no prejudice against any race or religion.

We want our insurance companies and health insurance everywhere to pay for birth control so there is no need for abortions. (I do hate abortion a lot.)

We want to be listened to. We think we have some very good ideas. Young women across this world are living in a place of inferiority. (see yesterday's post).

We want the elderly and less fortunate to be viewed as real people and for their benefits to be viewed as deserved and not an entitlement. 

We women want to be valued for being the other half of our population!

As for equal rights and that wonderful glass ceiling and the equal pay that Flynn talked about...that is something for another time. Trust me women across this country are still not seeing equal pay and promotions but the practice is not as visible as it once was.

Just a thought.

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Note: I do not know this man. Is he a misogynist? Maybe but I did not say he was. You find out and let me know. :)

Jan 20, 2017

It's All About Power

On this inauguration day I am struck by the fact that "winners" do like the power. It is the chance to lay claim to the fact that they needed to win at any cost, that people do want what they offer and, well, they have ALL the power now.

Why am I reminded of a story my daughter-in-law told me while we were in Dubai.

There was a man and a woman that married after falling in love with each other in college here in the United States. He was a Muslim from Dubai and she was a blond from somewhere in middle America. After their marriage they moved back to Dubai where they then had three children.

When the last child was born here in the United States, the husband suggested that the wife stay with her parents for a few weeks to recover with the baby. He returned to Dubai with the two older children.

After a time the man called his wife and told he was going to take another wife and she would have to return to Dubai if she ever wanted to see the two older children again.

She did just that because she was a loving mother and wife. She also thought she was in a monogamous marriage but her world changed in a heartbeat. I was told she is miserable.

She and the second wife have equal houses, the children by the second wife come to stay with the first family so the children can get to know each other and the husband according the law in that country can demand these things under law.
Under Islamic marital jurisprudence, Muslim men are allowed to practice polygyny.... If a man cannot deal justly with more than one wife, then he must marry only one.
Is there a point here? I wonder. This marriage was based on what was evident on the surface. Everyone thought they knew about the other. But it turns out that in many cases what we see is NOT what we get. There is culture, upbringing, basic values and religion that cannot be counted on to change.

I am in that being careful mode right now. Those around me do not share my culture or upbringing. I know that my friendships as I know them could change on a dime.

I live six month of the year in Tucson Az where there really is a "taco truck on every corner". I like it that way thank you. I cannot imagine that it will change but who knows.

Our lives, our costs of living and our willingness to provide for those less fortunate may be at stake here. But if we want to see "our children again" we cannot leave ever. We are married to our country.

It is just a thought.

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Jan 19, 2017

Rubber Shoes in Hell...the perfect word for 2017

I may get up late but, when I do, I do
GO, GO, GO.
I can never come up with a workable goal. When I was a teacher, I was required by my supervisors to write about the place I was headed and then tell them when I had arrived.

About a week into the task I would forget the objective and then in what seemed very logical to me at the time, I would set off on a new goal to replace it. That would be the one I actually pursued. It was very odd and took a lot of explaining at the end of the year.

So when I read Michelle Poston Combs blog post today, I could only think I may as well have chosen "Batman" as a goal (one of the defining words she suggested)."Getting better organized with the objective of tracking (whatever)." didn't work for me. I think Batman is a pretty cool defining word because I have no idea what that would mean. I like open ended more than anything else. 

But of all the silly and absurd words she suggested (squegee, slurry, squash, lobotomy, brackish, etc.) I actually liked one and could see how it applied to my life. She ended the blog post with GO.

GO is just perfect don't you think? I mean we all get up in the morning and do just that. The beautiful thing about it is that we get to decide where, how and why. The words doesn't require much thought really at all. It simply requires that we don't NOT GO. It is so simple.

Yes, I think I like the idea that it is not a word that sets and end point. It doesn't hold me accountable to some list or net weight or even another person. I like GO a lot.

How about you? Would you choose FAT, STUMPT, Vacuum Cleaner OR even POWER POLE as your word for the year? Let me know if you have a better idea.

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Jan 17, 2017

I Wish I Had My Camera

How many times have we all said that. It comes out of our mouths when there is something so fleeting that it cannot be caught or when it is dark or when we don't pay close enough attention...I wish I had my camera.

When we were vacationing in Jordan this last month, there was one particular occasion when I could not take pictures but if I could have seen more clearly and I could have taken pictures, I think we all would have been amazed..

We left the hotel near Petra late in the day because we were cramming all that we could in a short space of time and we wanted to spend the day taking pictures and walking. It was almost dark when we left and we were all very tired. My granddaughters fell asleep against their mother in the very back seat of the van and the rest of us just watched.

Our driver came from Amman I think and he had had a very long day already before he picked us up. We were going back north to the Dead Sea where we would spend two nights.

Now you need to understand that going into and leaving the hotels in Jordan is very interesting and does NOT inspire confidence. Metal pillars guard the entrance and exit. They come up to guard the entrance and recede into the ground when you enter or exit. We saw those pillars in Amman at the Marriot too.

We climbed into our van and my son told the driver where we were headed and the journey began. We wove our way through the city of Petra and took a side road that soon turned to a dirt road. There is a pretty substantial range of mountains between Petra and the Dead Sea. The road was one lane a great deal of the way. We passed big lorries carrying produce and several cars. Then traffic ceased all together.

Sheepherders tents during the day...the temp lingers very near freezing all day.
We could see the tents that the sheepherders lived in lit from the within beside the road once in awhile but most of the time we saw the night. The rock cliffs beside the road lit up in the lights of the vehicle and in the blackness I wondered how big the drop off was as we traveled along.

My husband commented that the road reminded him of the ones we travels along the Snake River in eastern Oregon where the road fell away to a black body of water.

We climbed and climbed before we eventually dropped into the Dead Sea valley. It lays 1400 feet below sea level. The lights began to appear and at last we arrived at a gas station where I was allowed to use the restroom.

I wandered through the dark to a door that was lit so I could find it. It was there that I was greeted by the first squat toilet I have seen since I was in China almost 10 years ago.  For the dozenth time that evening I was thinking...where is my camera?

Our driver did save a lot of time that night. We arrived at the hotel where we were again greeted by security, pillars, scanners and a pat down search. By that time we were accustomed to the routine and simply did what we needed to do. My granddaughters didn't even blink. They travel a lot and know the drill.

I wished I had had my camera out of the bag and ready but then we all know that there will be no pictures taken in the security area. As we entered the hotel we were awestruck by the luxury and beauty of the accommodations. It was gorgeous.

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I think you will like this post too: Middle East Travel: The Rules of the Road





Jan 15, 2017

I'm Going to Tell Grandma and Grandpa!

Pano picture with me son appearing several times...this is life in our world!
Dinner time with family is always a lively affair. We share stories, children quarrel and parents tease...endlessly. So when my granddaughter told her dad that she was going to tell on him for teasing...Grandma and Grandpa needed to know what he had done, he had no memory of ever doing anything bad enough that he would "be in trouble with Grandma and Grandpa."

He threw his hands up in the air in amazement. "What did I do?" he asked.

Now you can imagine how our minds were turning. We wondered what did he do that would make him be in trouble with us. He is over the age when we have any power.

However, in our 13 year old granddaughter's mind, my husband and I have some mythical power over just about everyone and everything. My husband and I looked at each other in amazement.

"I am going to tell Grandma and Grandpa!" she repeated but still her father would not let her alone. He couldn't see how any bad could come of his behavior.

Did she tell? Well, yes she did. Was my son in trouble...maybe just a little bit. Did we laugh? You can bet on it. Will my son change? Never. We like him just the way he is. As for our granddaughter, she is perfect!

Don't you just love children. They are a constant source of amazement.

Any stories? I would love to hear them.

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Jan 14, 2017

I Got Nothing!

I'm in the mood to write today. I didn't have an idea so I went to Facebook to see if anything sparked my mind.

It occurred to me that the Facebook pool of ideas has been drained and nothing will ever be the same again. Darn.

My one remaining glimmer of hope is my family. They keep it positive and that works for me. Pictures of the beautiful snow in Oregon and videos of grandchildren playing keep me grounded. I thank them for all that they are and do.

Have a wonderful day.

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Jan 10, 2017

400 lb.14 Year Old Hacker...I know that guy!

I have been talking a lot about real people. They are the people that are the victims of smack talk on Facebook or made fun of on Twitter or during a press conferences. For example, we all heard about the 14 year old hacker that weighed 400 lbs. being ridiculed on Twitter, not entirely because he was a hacker but also because he weighed 400 lbs.

Do you know anyone that might fit that description? Well, I do sorta.

Last summer I discovered that I was pre-diabetic and signed up to take a class on nutrition and behavior to help deal with the issue. It as a class of people that were in the room together simply because of a health problem. We had nothing at all in common other than that. Yet, as we sat together for three, 3 hour sessions, we began to bond and get to know each other.

There was a stunning older woman that discovered that she needed the class even though she had never be out of control in her whole life.

There was a very Type A personality gentleman that actually inventoried Costco to discover what they were stocking on the outside aisles as opposed to the inside aisles.

There was a widow that lived on McDonald's and Starbuck's menus.

I was there getting myself ready to do what was necessary to make a few life changes.

And there was Aaron. Aaron was very overweight. He was developmentally about 14 year old even though he had lived 24 years. Aaron lived as a recluse because of his weight and spent the biggest part of everyday on his computer. I suppose he was an expert of sorts. He was dealing with the results of a brain tumor that was discovered when he was a small child.

Aaron didn't go outside because the neighborhood kids made fun of him. He could not bring himself to go to the mailbox or the garbage cans. It seems that kids think that is okay to do that for some reason. He could not work because of his weight issues. His mother was his best friend and she watched over his life. He did live alone.

Now, this is a case of realizing that Aaron was a dear man. He was kind and concerned and related to those around him when we talked about food problems. His main weakness was related to immaturity.

The questions are very obvious I think. Are we at liberty to make fun of a 400 lb. man because he doesn't look like you and I? Should we assume that he is a "hacker" or a pervert or even lacking in self control because he is overweight?

It is worth thinking about. What is your opinion?

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Jan 8, 2017

Middle East Travel: Rules of the Road

Camels inside the Petra Canyon

I continue to learn. As we travel, the rules we encounter are different yet the same. It is just a matter of filling in the blanks. If you have ever traveled, you will understand.

For example, we know that we should always keep a pair of underwear and your pills close to you. Even though this is an unwritten amen rule, we still  returned to Tucson and not one piece of luggage followed us. We had checked everything so there was no underwear or pills. Thankfully, we have a spare of most things here but my husband's pills did not turn out to be one of those things. We were in bed the next night when the luggage was finally was delivered.

Abu Dhabi, UAE


Check point on road from Amman to Petra.
I will have to admit that being in the Middle East does change some of the rules. We learned that you mustn't touch or hug your spouse in a mosque. It is forbidden.

We visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As we walked through that opulent and beautiful structure, we took pictures of ourselves with our arms around the waist. We were asked to discontinue that gesture by guards monitoring the behavior of tourists that were allowed to visit. My daughter-in-law and I were also give abiyahs to wear while on the grounds. I will admit though that even if we were not required to cover ourselves, I would have done so. I do not think it is silly. It is a cultural belief and I respect that. When in Rome you know.


    The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE 

Jordan

We traveled to Jordan for 4 days. It had been warm and beautiful in Dubai and we were very surprised to find out that the temperature in Jordan would be very near freezing, particularly when you traveled through the mountains. So I am telling you, remember that the Middle East is not always warm. 

...tee-shirt, sweater, wool scarf, jacket,
tights, heavy pants and a
borrowed coat...all
on the same day.
As all experienced travelers know, you can get by in cold weather even with hot weather clothing. The secret is to just put them all on at once. You will be just fine. Sweat shirts are available almost everywhere in the world...buy one right away.

Remember that the people in the Middle East are a bit like the dromedaries that inhabit their land...they NEVER need a bathroom. Prepare for that. We flew on Royal Jordanian round trip. The plane was filled with Jordanians going both way. I think I was the only person on the plane to use the facilities more than once. We were in the air for well over 9 hours. It was very surprising!

Everywhere we go children are selling postcards or chicklets or something. Every country tells you to not support that practice because the parents are taking advantage of their children. We have all had experience with the practice. 

Still, these are children, real children with sweet smiles and warm hearts. I cannot be mean to them. We encounter this lovely young lady while walking through Petra in Jordan. When I asked her why she wasn't in school, she told me it was a holiday. (It really was.) She was 13, the same age as my granddaughter. There was a sweet connection and we photographed her with Maddie. We all knew her life was hard but she was the one that lifted us up, not the other way around.

Always be kind.
We walked slowly through the Siq canyons so the the first sight of
The Treasury would knock us off our feet...wow!

The Treasury

Granddaughter sitting on a perch among the Petra rocks.
In Jordan, Petra was one of the most amazing natural wonders I have ever seen. It sits in an ancient place where humanity lived and prospered and has survived the onslaught of tourist that walk through almost everyday of the year. My feeling was that it is not Muslim nor is it Jewish or Christian. It just is. Much like the Jordan we visited, it is a place where the old stories began and, even though those of in the West think we own those stories, they do truly belong to the Jordanian people. We only skimmed the surface but even that little bit of insight has truly changed the way I see the region.

We were told by our driver that the government takes care of it's own people. It was very expensive for us but the locals manage just fine. The average wage for it's people is around $400 (dinars perhaps) a year. The herders and tribe member are supported in this culture so they continue to work and don't abandon their family history. Lower level education is free for everyone and college is free for many. Nothing is fancy but everything seemed to be cared for.

There is no where on the face of this earth that is completely safe. There never has been. We are well aware of what is going on around us even here in Tucson. Jordan is no different. The little country is rocky and caught between other rocky places. As we traveled with our taxi drivers, we were stopped many times at checkpoints. Soldiers were surprised that American would be traveling through the countryside. Hotel entrances had pillars that retracted into the ground to keep them safe. Soldiers stood at intersections in Amman and submachine guns were mounted on the back of trucks. Did we feel afraid? Never. Life goes on. I do realize that one day something might happen that scares us a lot but until then we are just careful.
Check point near the Dead Sea.
Dubai

Dubai remains a wonderful reinvented place. The country has turned this very dry and sandy place into an other-worldly city. The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is so tall that when we traveled up to the observation deck (not the top at all) our photos came out looking as though we were flying over the city. 
The Burj Khalifa

View from the top of the Burj Khalifa
Resorts in 5 star hotels provide stunning views of the Arabian Gulf and golf courses brag about world class designers and professional golf tournaments. 
Fairmont Hotel (5 Stars)
And surrounding all this is a population of expats living in designed communities and working at well paying jobs. Servants and service employees are imported from Pakistan, India and Far Eastern locations. Superhighways that spring up with amazing speed are traffic jams at quitting time. This is in a country that did not even exist until 1971. 

We visit our son and his family when we go to the country. They live in what the country calls "affordable" housing that rents for around $50,000 per year. The designed community has it's own grocery, restaurants, hardware store etc. 
Typical affordable housing.

We walked to the store daily. A neighborhood pool serves the residence and includes a life guard that also enforces Islamic law...no playing cards (gambling) and things like that. Westerners don't pay much attention unless there is a rule that might cost a fine if broken. It is very safe and peaceful for the most part.

I have so many more pictures and stories but that is all for today. Enough is enough!

Have a wonderful week.

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Jan 6, 2017

Amman Jordan, @realDonald J. Trump and Real People

I don't know if it is a good thing but I am back. AND I have had lots of time to think about stuff but no way to write it down. So here goes.


I was watching the hearing this morning...you know...the one by the Senate Armed Forces Committee lead by John McCain. James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, was testifying at the hearing. It went on for two hours and most of that time was taken up by the agencies information on Russian hacking of the Democratic party's accounts and how our soon to be president's comments affected the agency's people. It seems that Clapper and those around him felt "disparaged" by the remarks make by our soon to be president. 




As I listened to the voices, i
t hit me right between the eyes that the head of the intelligence agencies and those that work with those departments are real people that take offense when they are "disparaged".
Amman from the hilltop Citadel...a city of real people.

The the key part of the above sentence are the words real people.

As you know we have just returned from a trip to the Middle East where we visited Jordan. I don't know what I expected but the fact that the Jordanian are real people never entered my mind. But there it was. We could feel an emotional reaction to our presence in their country caught between Saudi Arabia and Israel. They were real people that worked for the American Embassy and drove taxis and guarded the roads. Real people.


Our taxi driver works with the embassy.
This was his story...a road filled with checkpoints.
One taxi driver told the story of Michelle Obama's plans to visit Amman. (He is one of the chosen taxi drivers that works for the embassy.) A horrible storm hit when she was in a country nearby. Even though the day of her arrival was beautiful and clear, her plans changed at the last minute and she went back to the USA instead.

It wasn't the inconvenience to the American Embassy or even the government of Jordan that hit me as much as it was the work that the cooks and the taxi drivers and all the ordinary people had done. It was almost painful to listen to the story of them waiting for her visit. It was very important to them.

See, I don't think it occurs to very important people that there are real people touched by their every act and word.

As I read my Facebook entries today, I was really very depressed by the fact that people don't realize that the people both average and important are indeed real people. Facebook users feel detached enough that they say things that don't make good sense, are not really true and are hurtful. They feel free to do those things because they are pretty sure that they will never meet any of those people face to face.

As for our soon to be president, I don't think he has taken it all in yet...he will stand face to face with the people he attacks. That is a whole lot different that using Twitter...a whole lot different.

Is there a point to all this? I don't know if there is or not. But it sure has been on my mind. What do you think?

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