Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Did the government of Jordan fail geometry?

There's something I simply don't understand (okay there are many things I don't understand, but...), why are circles called squares in Amman? I mean really, the circle at the intersection of Mecca and Medina streets is Al Haramayn Square. There's no square. It's a circle. Now, if it had a small park in it, like Wasfi-Al Tel Square (2nd circle), maybe, just maybe, I could buy it. But, there's no square, no park, nothing but the intersection of two bridges. So, how, exactly, is this a square?

I could also understand if , once upon an olden time the circles were in fact squares. But, I haven't heard any mention of this. They were circles, then lights (which at least would sort of form a square), then tunnels with circles. So, where did the square come in? I mean really, why would you call a circle a square. Unless you simply don't understand that a square has four straight sides and a circle has none. There are no lines in a circle. It's all curves, arcs, etc. So, why square? Perhaps someone can get an answer for me from the governmental agency responsible for naming the circles (or are they squares?). I'd appreciate it, because I know the government has well educated people and there must be some explanation that I haven't hit upon yet.

Good geometry.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Teaching English?

So, I have a thing about the English language. I enjoy it. I really do. I don't mean the grammar and the names of things. I mean the way it's spoken in the US, really in the Southern US. When I moved to the Northeast, I first experienced the fact that I speak a different language than the people of Philadelphia. I referred to the fact that I wanted to have a groom's cake (a true Southern tradition) at my wedding. We went through an entire "Who's on First" type conversation about what a groom's cake is. Finally, one of the other girls said, "Wait a minute! Is that like the bleeding armadillo in Steel Magnolias?" Ugh, yes, yes it is. The only experience they had with this entire concept is a bad example of a movie. So, it was brought home to me that English isn't English isn't English. Since I've been in Jordan, I've realized how much more than the average Joe and Jane American I enjoy the language. From my previous post about the misspellings and my endless amusement with them, you've likely gathered that I notice this stuff more than most. Well, in my Arabic class, I've even taught the other Americans a few useless and obscure things!

As we were learning the Arabic word for fork, I asked the teacher if there is a name for the "points" on the fork in Arabic (there isn't). One of the other American students said "Well, is there a word in English?" Of course. EVERYONE knows they're called tines, right? Okay, I think I may have been the only one in the class who knows. So, I guess not everyone knows... Further education on how trivial my knowledge is. And then, just last week, in the book it talked about an Arabic expression meaning old (kbiiri fi sinn, literally big in the tooth). I commented that we have a similar expression in English, long in the tooth. It also means old. The only other guy in the class who'd ever heard it is my dad's age. Uh oh, maybe it's arcane as well as obscure? I went on to explain that I was pretty sure it was a horse term. It referred to the fact that as horses grew older their teeth were larger. When purchasing a horse, you should look at it's teeth to determine it's age. So, today, I ran it by my Mom. She has this same instinctive guide for the language that she passed along to me. She had heard the phrase but had no idea what it meant. Oh, my. So, doing what all resourceful gals do, I looked it up on-line. I was right in all details except a tiny point, as horses age, their gums recede causing their teeth to appear longer. Well, at least it really IS an expression, even if most people don't use it or know it.

When El 3atal and I first started going out, he was somewhat astonished that I actually kept a dictionary around and consulted it when I came upon a new word. In fact, I once proved him and my Mom wrong. We had an argument about the word dearth and whether, in our situation, there was a dearth of waiters at the restaurant. I argued that since we couldn't find one anywhere there was a dearth. They argued that a dearth meant too many. I was right! Woohoo! So, as you see, I have a bit of a thing about English. I'll go on teaching the world obscure facts and little used expressions, well, just because that's what I do.

Good grammar.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What's in YOUR wallet?

So, bad Citibank commercials aside, it is an interesting question. I think you can learn a lot about people by looking at what they carry around with them everyday. Now, for the ladies, this clearly extends to the entire purse, not just the wallet. I remember back in junior high and high school, I always wanted to be exceptionally prepared. There was a time when these huge woven bags were in style. Nowadays, they would be viewed as a weekend beach bag. But then, in the heyday of the 80s, they were girls' purses. So, I would carry around everything known to man. I had an entire aerosol can of hairspray in my purse. I had a set of makeup, I had it all. You name it, I had it. Looking back, as an armchair psychologist, I'd say I was trying to gain control over some are of my life. My mother had a tendency to get so focused on projects that she'd forget us at school dances and I felt powerless to make things happen for myself. But then, what teen doesn't feel powerless?

My purse these days is definitely minimalist in approach. In my wallet I carry minimal cash and a couple of credit cards, my insurance card, my Jordanian ID, and my American driver's license. In the rest of my purse, I carry my cell phone (unless it's in my pocket), a pen and pencil, my keys, and a small container of Advil/Tylenol (think the size of a lipstick). No kitchen sink, no hair spray, no need for control. However, another thing you'll notice from the items in my purse is this: I play it safe. I thought about this the other day when I noticed a friend who carries her American passport around. I even said to her, "Wow, you're brave." I know it can be helpful and perhaps even advisable to have it, but mine always stays in the safe when I'm in Jordan. I think she thought I was a bit on the loony-bin side. I just know the hassle it would cause and abhor the idea of a replacement passport. I've done that once. I don't anticipate doing it again. The last time I had a passport go missing (it was among my stuff, it just refused to be found until after the overseas trip), I got a replacement valid for one year. At the end of the year, they renewed the SAME passport. So, it still said it expired on one date and had a page added to the back saying it was extended. As if that didn't cause enough hassles at border crossings, the following year, I got married! So, now I had not one, but two modifications noted by adding pages in the back of the passport. As a result, I had many years of annoying immigration in countries outside the US. I hope not to need to deal with that again, ever.

Sadly, my friend had an experience that changed the way she viewed my extreme cautiousness. Last night, the sister of the woman from whom she rents her place had her purse snatched. A service drove up, someone leaned out and grabbed it from her. She lost her cash, jewelry she was carrying, and other items of value, as well as all of her its and such. My heart breaks for her as I know enough of her story to guess that she was carrying her emotional security in her purse. She must be feeling violated and insecure. And, it makes you think again, what's in my wallet. Could I replace it? Could I live without it? Do I want to? I'll be going through my already minimalist handbag and ensuring that it truly does contain the bare minimum tonight. My cautiousness becomes even more pronounced and I think, what can I afford to lose. Maybe I'll be taking the pictures of my children out, I would want to lose those...


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Being with kids is an amazing and fun thing. Going to school in the morning becomes an adventure. In Louisiana, there are no tunnels. I say this for those of you who may have been to New York/New Jersey, Baltimore, etc. and think everywhere in the US has tunnels. Louisiana has none. There are bridges, lots and lots of bridges. But, you can't have tunnels (or basements). That's one of the effects of having half a state below or at sea level. You don't dig down because the water rises to meet you. So, ButterBean has never actually been in a tunnel before moving to Amman. So, now, every morning on the way to school, we go through the tunnels on Zahran Street. And, each time we reach the tunnel under the fifth circle, ButterBean says Whhheeeee! Of course, I'm obliged to join in. And, you know what? It actually makes the experience more fun. I'm serious. Okay, I can see you are skeptical. So, try it. The next time you go through any tunnel, punctuate it with a Whheeeee! Now you have to make the sound last as long as the tunnel does. (I consider this vocal breath control training for ButterBean.) Tell me if you can honestly do that without smiling. I can't. So, I start every morning with a smile.

Today, however, coming home, I encountered the down side of the tunnels. Now, for those who haven't seen these tunnels, they are wide enough that in the US, two lanes would be clearly marked. Here, however, no lanes are marked. That isn't meant to imply that the tunnel is a single lane. It just means that the government of Jordan doesn't want to box in motorists. Think of it as interpretive driving. Some people make it two lanes. Some 2 and a half (don't ask), some one lane driving on the right, some one lane driving on the left, some one lane driving in the middle, and some one lane wandering from left to right to middle. So, like interpretive dance, there is no way to anticipate what might happen next. Apparently the lady in the spanking new, super fancy 2 seater Mercedes failed to anticipate the next move of the guy in the Hyundai 4 door sedan. An unfortunate accident involving bumpers and lights ensued. Now, the Hyundai guy probable has a couple of hundred dollars with of damage. Unfortunately, knowing parts costs on Mercedes, I suspect her bill will run over $1000. What a shame.

I hadn't noticed how much my driving has changed since being here until I had another American in the car. Our entire first trip was punctuated with exclamations of shock and surprise as we had one near miss after another. Driving in Jordan is a bit like an obstacle course. The goal is to sidle along as close to the guy in front and beside you as possible. you being to think that 4 inches off your side is plenty of space. In the US, I am a Mommy driver, you know super-cautious, super-safe, super-lane conscious. Here, what lanes? what signs? do those mean something? You mean 2" from the guy in front of you isn't normal? It's amazing what we become used to and how quickly it happens. As I've mentioned before, I find it quite fun. Unlike my non-existent dancing skills, I rather enjoy interpretive driving. So much is left open to the imagination. Oh, and the road belongs to the bold and I've become quite bold. I only hope my boldness remains when I'm driving my own car instead of a rental...


Monday, June 19, 2006

A Banner Day for the Beans

Okay, I admit it. Small things make me happy. Really small things, although I guess it all depends on your perspective. Today was an awesome day. On the way to drop the beans off at school today, ButterBean (who's been resistant at best to living in Jordan) said to me, "I like our new house Mommy." After weeks upon weeks, okay actually it's been months, of her asking me when we'll move back to Baton Rouge, this is a very welcome change.

Then, after my school was done, I went for a haircut. The picture in my profile here is very old (probably about 2 years) and so you can't fully appreciate it, but I actually got about 10" cut off my hair today. It's even shorter than my profile picture. When I went in to this amazingly awesome lady at the salon (thanks Kinzi for the recommendation), I could tell she was a bit nervous about what I wanted. Here I am with hair all-one-length and halfway down my back showing her a picture of a chin-length layered bob. She expressed some worry that it would be a really big shock and feel strange. I tried to explain to her that I typically get my hair cut every other year or so and always get about this much taken off. She was very pleasantly surprised that I was enthusiastic, happy, and in love with my new style. I know she really thought I was likely to be uncertain (best case) or truly freak out (worst case) upon seeing myself in the mirror. So, happily I could surprise her. Then she surprised me. How much, you may wonder, did I pay for this new creation? How much did happiness cost me today? Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves... I paid.... 4 dinars. Okay, for those in the US, that's equivalent to about $6.50, I think. Yes, I went to a salon, got a fancy salon haircut and paid under $10! My mind is truly boggled by this, happy, but boggled.

And, it's as if the final baggage from an old life has been shed. I'm ready to face the ever-increasing heat with a built-in air conditioner. And, I feel lighter, happier, and more relaxed. Now, if only I could get the kids to cooperate and stop teasing each other, everything would be just right...


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Everyone knows SO much about Jordan

I find it fascinating that seemingly everyone I know is fully briefed about Jordan. And, these folks don't mind sharing the benefit of their wisdom. Now, how, you may ask, did they come about this knowledge. Well, I believe they are sharing things that "everyone" knows. When we were preparing to move here, my Mom's husband's son's family (boy that sounds a bit odd) was telling my Mom all about what my life would be like. Let me put this into perspective, my Mom has visited Jordan 3 times, including for my wedding. The people sharing their knowledge have never been to Jordan. I'm not sure they've ever left Alabama. But, don't worry they know ALL about Jordan. One of the first things they told my Mom is that I would have to wear a burka. A what? It seems that this is a word for the Abaya. Of course, my Mom has been here and explained that while that may be the case in some countries in this region, it certainly isn't here. She's gone to visit sites in shorts and even been to the souk downtown in jeans and a T-shirt. She's never worn a burka, an abaya, or any other covering clothing. They just argued with her that she was wrong :). Too funny. So, of course, I've taken many pictures of us in shorts on picnics, in jeans and short sleeves (pretty much every other day), etc. In fact, the reality is that I don't dress any differently than I did in the States. I always wore jeans there too. That's just me, I'm a jeans kind of gal.

One of my new friends here was telling me about all of the people who are either from other countries (Egypt) or married to people from other countries (Lebanon) who advised her that she would be unable to go running in Jordan! What? Unable to go running. Okay, she is a single woman. She is blond. But she's also got to be 5'10" and served in some branch of the military long ago. So, maybe, just maybe, she can hold her own. In fact, I suspect that if I wanted to go walking alone in the early morning I could. I don't (owing much more to laziness than anything else), but I suspect I could. Again, it's funny what people who've never been here "know" about Jordan.

It gets tiring trying to argue it. In fact, I advised my Mom to stop trying. I told her, just wait and I'll send pictures so they really understand. Now, mind you, El 3atal gets mistaken for a foreigner when we're together since he's always dressed in shorts and is fairly blond himself. And, when I see a guy on the streets in shorts, I often assume they're American myself. But still, the reality is, while it may mark you as different, it isn't all that. And, given the fashions (skin tight, low cut, etc.) that the people from here wear, I'm not entirely certain what IS off-limits. But then, isn't the way it's supposed to be? I'm no slave to fashion (as anyone who knows me noticed in the first 10 seconds), so for me it's all a non-issue. But, I wish that people who've never been here would stop offering advice and the benefit of their "wisdom". So, if you're reading this, haven't been to Jordan, and were planning on offering advice on the social and fashion climate here, do us both a favor... keep it inside this once. Teehee.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

Yesterday, El 3atal and I took the beans to Popeye's for a bit of a play on the outdoor play area. ButterBean has been bugging us about this for about a month, so we finally broke down and did it. And, overall it was a pretty good experience. I discovered several things. First, Popeye's has better fried chicken than KFC (in my humble opinion, of course), second Popeye's actually has mashed potatoes, and finally, their Play Area is nice as are their outdoor tables. While the kids played, I shuttled back and forth from KFC to Burger King placing orders and getting food for the Beans. I took ButterBean to the little beans room (W.C. for those Anglophiles out there) and came back to find my food had been given to the beans. Not because we didn't have enough, but they just didn't notice the fun kids bags with food in them :). So, I went in again to get food. Finally! I started to eat. I was but mere moments into my chicken when our helper brought my youngest out of the play structure concerned that one of the girls has chicken pox.

My first instinct is that of all Moms, I suspect, GET MY KIDS OUT OF THERE! Decontaminate them! Quick! But, then a half second later reason takes over. Here are the next thoughts that came to me.

1. My kids have been vaccinated against the chicken pox, they aren't likely to get it.
2. If they do get it, it will likely be a very mild case (I understand that kids who've been vaccinated get maybe 2 spots on their tummies).
3. If they should somehow get a full blown case, they're all 4 and under, so who cares? They aren't in school. I got chicken pox (this is in the dark ages before the vaccine) when I was four. It was a bummer that I couldn't go out, but it wasn't an big problem.

So, once I got to number three, I figured, ah who cares, let them have fun. While we didn't rush off on account of the chicken pox, I think it did dampen the enthusiasm for the outing. And, while the caregiver of the child assured everyone that the Doctor's said she wasn't infectious, I suspect they knew it might have this affect. But, we did have fun, the tempest in the teapot notwithstanding. So, I do recommend Popeye's (or Burger King) on the 6th Circle. We had a good time and I expect you will as well.

Joy. (That's right, with the arrival of our furniture, I've got a whole new state of mind!)

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Corner on the Chronic Inefficiencies Market...

Today I had my first experience visiting the American embassy here in Jordan. Joy of joys. Okay, first I got better treatment at the gate because I am so very obviously American. I wasn't sure what the line was, so I went up to ask and was sent on through... That was nice. However, once inside, I found that I was No. 46 and they were on 13. Yikes! El 3atal and I were there together to notarize a document that finally finishes all the formalities with his previous employer. At 1:15, I sent him off to pick up the kids at school, since I needed to be there and he didn't. For those of you who don't know, notarizing a document takes approximately 1 minute. In the US, it typically costs $10-15 (if you don't have a relationship with someone who does it, which we always have) and takes the 1 minute. I paid 21JD ($30) after waiting for over an hour. However, to give them credit, I didn't wait as long as I was afraid I would have to. And, to further give credit where it's due, the lady who helped me (maybe the Vice Consul) was fabulously friendly, apologetic about the wait, and responsive to my needs. She also made suggestions for future visits (don't come on Monday, it's their busiest) and indicated that one of the issues is that they are short a couple of staff members presently. So, I hope the next visit will be quicker and smoother. After all, we may well need to get ButterBean's passport renewed form here next year.

Speaking of the embassy, I find the whole premise interesting. In my overly romanticized American mind, I have always envisioned embassies worldwide as bastions of American community. I expected that it would a place that you could go as an American and get assistance, meet and greet other Americans, and find out about happenings in the American community in any given country. Maybe that's the case some places, but it definitely isn't here. In fact, parking was an issue, entry was an issue, and there were no lounge or meeting places in sight. In short, my first experience with the embassy was certainly less than I had envisioned for so long. Maybe one day I'll find the American community here, but I'm not quite sure how... Maybe I'll call the American Community School. I'm not sending my kids there, but maybe it's still the holding place of my community. I'll keep looking and enjoying Jordan for all it is!


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Aching, exhausted, and thrilled

Okay, so after 2 days of unpacking and placing items, I'm hurting and sleepy. But, I'm SO happy. It's funny that such a small thing (okay maybe it's a big thing) makes such a difference in outlook. I've been walking on air all day knowing that we are moving today! That's right, by tonight I'll be sleeping in my own bed. Don't get me wrong, when I found El 3atal had put a large box of extra heavy games on top of 3 boxes of toys, I wasn't happy. Let me give you the mental picture of taking this down, my helper was standing on a table, shoving the box onto my head so that I could shift it onto the table, so she could hop over it onto the floor. And it was HEAVY! And, one more small point of frustration, I can't find the spare pillows. We've got our pillows and we brought Butterbean's with us. But, I don't have pillow for the twinbeans or for our helper. Hmmm... Appears we may be making a run pillow shopping tonight :). At any rate, if you see a short American waling around with a goofy smile on her face, just say Hi MommaBean 'cause it's probably me... Wishing you and your family...


Friday, June 09, 2006

It's Here! It's Here! It's Here!

Alright, so I'm a bit excited. After the long, long looooooong wait, our furniture finally arrived! El 3atal got the call yesterday just before noon that the truck had arrived in Amman and he needed to go deal with customs. So, he rushed over and waited. Well, what else would happen after a rush like that. Finally, at about 3:30 he called and told me that I should leave the beans with his folks, they'd be there in half an hour! So, I hurried and finished eating and rushed to the house. And, I waited, and I waited, and I waited. Too funny. It seems that the truck driver (who had driven all day leaving Aqaba at 4:00 am) had run out of gas. So, finally the truck arrived and we went through the usual jockeying of finding the owners of the various cars and getting them to move (sukran to those affected).

Some interesting things about the move-in process. First, the container sits on a large truck (imagine 18 wheeler). But, there's no ramp, lift gate, nothing. So, the guys who are offloading the truck just slide the items off into waiting arms (or onto waiting backs). As is expected with El 3atal's borderline OCD, we checked each item as it was coming into the house. About 50% of the guys hauling our stuff spoke enough English to call out their box numbers in English. They were all very nice and understanding about it. I could tell they were sort of doing a "silly people" thing in their heads, but they remained patient while they stood waiting their turn in line. Last, we painted the twin beans' room green. However, apparently some of the movers were color blind because I found 4 or five large boxes of twin's stuff in our bedroom...

Today El 3atal, our household assistant, the concierge of his parent's building, and I spent the entire day beginning the unpacking process. We made significant headway and, by tomorrow, should be at least to the point of moving in! We took the little beans over tonight after we stopped for the day. To say they were thrilled would be an understatment. It was as if a sigh of relief went through the whole family at once. Finally! We are home... So, now I need to go and let El 3atal blog. I wish you that which is within reach for me...


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What shall I talk about?

So, originally I was intending to post on the really long shoes that seem to be in fashion among young men in Jordan who are attempting to be fashionable. I really don't understand it. Okay, admittedly, I am no arbiter of fashion. My style is more play-on-the-ground-with-3-kids than photographed for inclusion in the best dressed lists. Even so, I don't understand the benefit of ewearing shoes that are so long that they appear to be 3 sizes too big. They are so big that they curl up at the end. It puts me in mind of pashas reclining on pillows in days of old. And yet, at least the pasha's shoes were fabric and looked comfortable. Current shoes are leather and look terribly uncomfortable. Even more odd, to me, are the men who are not of a certain age (young) and are wearing the shoes. I presume it's a crisis of encroaching middle age and the longing to be younger.

But then, I thought, maybe I should post about starting school. That's right, yesterday was my first day of Arabic School. I'm honestly trying to learn to speak Arabic. Although I have to admit that my pathetic American ear has as significant trouble HEARING the difference as my pathetic American mouth has making the sounds. Perhaps the most striking examples are kha, ha, and gha. Hunh? You've got 3 ways to say ha? I don't get it. It puts me in mind of Spanish class all those years ago. We were discussing the difference between being hungry (tiene hambre) and man (hombre). Perhaps predictably, the first student caught eating in class after this lesson said, "but Mrs. Teacher, tiene hombre." Yes, he said I have a man... I tend to expect that I will make a similarly embarassing mistake by switching the 5000 ways to say ha. To date, I already make fun of the previous king naming his son 5. C'mon folks, even you have to hear it. Hamze, Hampse. It's the same word... You know it, let's just admit it and move on with our lives! Teehee. So, if you see some poor harried American Mom walking down the street muttering Arabic with an awful accent, just say Hi MommaBean and smile to yourself. I promise, I'm trying...

Sanity (and good pronounciation).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Against Torture: Isn't that like motherhood and Apple Pie?

Okay, so I joined Bloggers Against Torture in support of Torture Awareness Month. And, as I was doing so, I thought to myself, isn't everyone against torture? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no more naive than your average Joe. I do get that torture happens. In fact, I know that my fellow countrymen perpetrated unspeakable acts of torture and are still walking loose, while the US President claims that "those responsible have been brought to justice." Oh, please. How dumb are we supposed to be? But, I also think that if you had asked Lindy England BEFORE the situation occurred, she'd have said she's against torture. Honestly who wouldn't? Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, it appears that some people are only against theoretical torture. When reality sets in, they are able to participate in such inhumane acts.

In college, I wrote countless letters for Amnesty International challenging governments to give up their practices of torture and abuse. So, maybe in reality, I'm an activist after all. In looking at the Cosponsoring Organizations, I saw an interesting list of "liberal" organizations. I must admit that I am definitely a liberal conservative. Or is it a conservative liberal? In reality, I (like many, many Americans) belong to a party that does not exist. I am fiscally quite conservative (stop spending my tax dollars) and socially liberal (I want the US government to stay out of my (and others') private life.) So, I consider myself to be in good company when it comes to the organizations that are supporting Torture Awareness Month and hope that more organizations and bloggers will agree that this deserves our attention. Bloggers to join up, visit And, for more information, visit I encourage you to do this. Raise awareness of torture in general and its shameful use by the US government. Take a stand, even just in writing. Because, we all love motherhood and apple pie. We should all hate torture, so let's take a stand together against it.


Friday, June 02, 2006

On Becoming a Citizen

Alright, so I'm a tad late with this post. Earlier this week, I finally became a dual-citizen. I think El 3atal was a bit perplexed by my desire to become a citizen of Jordan. He couldn't quite grasp why, when I had the American citizenship already, I would want Jordanian citizenship. The answer is simple, if my family is, I should be too. The kids have been Jordanians since we got here. My papers took a good bit longer. In part, that's because I had to be reviewed by the secret service. Once the review was done, I had only to run back and forth to what felt like every single governmental office in Jordan to process paperwork, obtain IDs, and get a passport. I've done most of this before, so it wasn't the shock it could have been. In fact, one day I should tell you all about the time I became officially my Father-in-Law's second wife. Quite an accomplishment for a Christian priest to have two wives... only through governmental error would such a thing be possible.

What was very interesting to me was observing the differences in the offices that I visited pre-Abdullah and post-Abdullah. I have to say that the King's donning of disguise has worked WONDERS on some of the offices. The time I mentioned before with the second wife issue was an entire day spent trying to get a family book so that El 3atal's passport could be updated. Literally, the process took 8 hours, 15 minutes of which was the renewal of the passport. When we went to update the family book with the twins, it took a few minutes. I noticed the same difference in both the attitude of workers and the confusion and frustration on entering the country after Abdullah overhauled processes at the airport. I can't say enough good things about the changes that I've seen in the offices I've visited. Unfortunately, that makes the distinction between the offices that have received a visit and those that haven't even more stark. Perhaps they should open an on-line suggestion box where you could suggest a governmental agency in need of attention. Wouldn't that be a hoot? I've got a background in process improvement and a sense of the absurd, maybe I could even head up a new office for this... After all, after my citizenship exercise, I've got a few suggestions :). At any rate, I'm happy to actually belong to this country that has become my home. It's nice to be legally residing here, it's nice to know that the family is all the same, it's just nice in general. And so, on becoming a citizen, I raise a glass of filtered water to Jordan and simply say...