Saturday, April 26, 2008

We Blog Because... We Are All Fouads and God is Awesome!

First, shout out, as always, to Nas because he keeps me informed. I saw on his blog that Fouad Al-Farhan is finally free (check out the original post from Saudi Jeans). And, now, a shout out to God (who doesn't need one but I need to give one). He heard our prayers, our pleas, our heartfelt requests. It seems like just yesterday I was blogging with my prayers, asking God to intervene (actually it was four days ago). Doesn't He work fast! And, I'd like to make this post yet another tribute to Fouad... I Blog Because...
  1. What I say may, just may, help free someone from prison
  2. Our community needs to know that we are here, we are thinking of them, we think they matter and we matter
  3. I have something that needs to be said
  4. Without honest, open self-criticism we are unable to grow, change, and become all we can
  5. We remember those who give their freedom to effect change and make a difference

In short, we blog because We are All Fouads. Each of us is perched in that realm where we need to say what we think, but also know that we may face difficulty because of it. For some the danger is very real and personal (prison or worse), for some it is the danger of being shunned by friends, family, and local community. We are all on that knife-edge together. We are all Fouads...

Happy freedom!

In final closing, Thank you God for this mercy you have shown us. Thank you for the children who have their prodigal father home, Thank you for hearing our cries. This day before Easter, you remind us of the hope, the will, the beauty of this time. You remind us that You are the King and you can do anything. Thank You God... on my knees in humble supplication and awe at your kindness and mercy... Thank You.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's in a Number? Is 134 as dull as it looks?

The number 134 seems like a very dull number doesn't it? I mean, it has nothing particular to recommend it. 123 is interesting. Even 234, but 134 is just, well, a number. Or is it? I actually found some rather interesting things about 134 today, so let me share them with you...

  • The world's tallest thermometer is 134 feet in height and is found in Baker, CA (can you say only in the US?!)
  • 134 is the gene adenosine A1 receptor (protein coding). It plays a role in fertilization and may play a role in kidney function and ethanol intoxication.
  • Form I-134 is the Affidavit of Family Support used to show the US government that you can financially support family visiting the US
  • In 134 AD, a law was passed in Rome to improve the lives of free workers
  • Also in 134, the Athenaeum, a university of rhetoric, law and philosophy, opened in Rome
  • 134 is a nontotient because there is no integer with exactly 134 coprimes below it

And, perhaps most appropriately...

  • Article 134 of the American Uniform Code of Military Justice is the catch all category for "offences not specifically mentioned in this chapter." It has been used to prosecute cohabitation by persons not married to each other and statements critical of George W. Bush (appropriate).
  • Psalm 134 from the Bible is A song of ascents and is as follows 1 Praise the Lord all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. 3 May the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth, less you from Zion

134 is the number of days that Fouad Al Farhan has spent in prison without charges being filed against him.

I Praise the Lord and lift my hopes and prayers to him that it will not be another 134 days before Fouad's children see him again. I plead with the Lord to soften hard hearts and bring this man home to his wife. I ask for His tender mercy and loving kindness to be upon Fouad that he may know that he is not forgotten.

Happy 134th day? May we not make it to 135...

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's a Small World After All... It's a Small World After All... Isn't It?

So, in Amman, we're always talking about what a small world it is. I mean, I'm not from here and know maybe 3 people in town and yet I'm ALWAYS seeing people I know in the unlikeliest places... And, if I don't know anyone, but meet someone, I nearly always find they know someone I know (usually Teta and JiddoBean who are quite well known I guess).

But, in thinking about this being a small world, I have to say the blogosphere is even smaller. Some of you may have seen the post I did on unusual names for kids. I used real-life examples of people I had known. Well, in the course of the day one of them googled herself, saw my blog post, laughed out loud, and commented. How cool is that?! Then her Mom commented too. So, we get it straight from the horse's mouth (it was Dad's fault).

Add this to the comment I got from the ladies who wrote that amazingly awesome book (I was a really good mom before I had kids) like 10 minutes after I posted it. Well, it's really a small world, isn't it?

I'm having fun with this today. How cool and awesome is this?! So I guess that the fact that they're teaching ButterBean the Mickey Mouse Song of the title of this post isn't as odd as I thought. It really IS a small world after all...

Happy shrinkage!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just what does "Open 24 Hours" mean anyway?

So, I have a pharmacy that I usually go to in my neighborhood. But, on holidays, during Ramadan, and on Fridays, I go over to Pharmacy 1 because I can count on them being open, right? Well, today MemeBean needed some medicine and I went over to the somewhat convenient P1 in Swefieh. Do you think they are open? No, apparently, open 24 hours has a large exception at this location. They closed today during Friday prayers. So, after some time waiting for ANYONE to respond from inside the store, the guard finally came over and said they're at prayer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly happy to see the faithful go to prayer, but don't call yourself a 24 Hour pharmacy. Call yourself a "sometimes 24 hour pharmacy" or a "when we feel like it 24 hour pharmacy." And while we're at it, why is it that Jordan makes no use whatsoever of the advantage it has in having a diverse population? The Christian population is not small here, so why not (gasp!) hire Christians to work on Fridays (and during Ramadan) and give them Sundays off. What a win/win that would be. And yet, I haven't seen any establishments to date that do this. Even Christian bookstores and such are closed on Friday. I'm sorry, but to me, that's silly. Enough ranting on this topic, but I demand truth in advertising. Pharmacy1, shape up or ship out!

Happy false promises!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You know the place you live is dry when...

I was thinking about this just now because I saw some raisins I bought that dried out too much before I could eat them. Enjoy and please add any items you can think of that I missed.

  1. The bread you bought yesterday is fit only for croutons by today.
  2. Opening the seal of the bag of raisins allows them to dry out (I mean raisins are dried fruit!)
  3. The water used to wash your car in the mornings dries in the 10 minutes between the time the guard finishes and you come out to get in.
  4. Instead of dry patches of skin in the winter, you have only a few moist patches all year round.
  5. Water evaporates as quickly as it hits the ground.
  6. Hello alligator is a greeting friends and family use when they see you coming.

Feel free to add to my list...

Happy scaliness!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

If Anyone REALLY cared about protecting domestic helpers...

I saw on Dave's blog yesterday that the Philippines has begun allowing helpers back into Jordan. It's strange to be in such an ambivalent position on the topic. I'm glad for the helpers and their families (who have such limited options to earn income) and yet sad that so many are being placed in danger. HelperBean and I went to the consular office for the Philippines to process her paperwork before a visit home and found very nice girls "volunteering" there. These would be some of the 200+ workers who have left their families for a variety of reasons. One very sweet girl we met left the family that expected her to work from 5 am to 1 am every day and then failed to pay her. She said many of the others also left due to a failure to pay salary. Some were raped or abused, some were beaten. How frightening it must be to leave home and journey thousands of miles for a job knowing that there is no way to predict your fate... And, so I propose a method of improving the situation.

For those of you who may not be aware, there is a program in the US called the Au Pair program. This program allows people aged 18-26 to come live in the US. They provide "limited" (45 hours a week) care for children in exchange for a small salary and room/board. In order to take part in the program, the potential hiring family must be screened by the sponsoring company. They come and view the physical accommodations for the au pair, they monitor the au pair's situation, and they have periodic meetings of all the au pairs in a specific region. In this way, they try to ensure that the family and au pair match is working and the au pair is in good shape.

If we're really serious about improving the conditions of foreign domestic workers in Jordan, I think we need a program like this. We need something administered by someone other than the agencies that currently recruit the workers (which seem to all be skirting the dark side of the law both in the Philippines and here). Someone should really be interested in these workers. Someone should really care and have the ability to remove a worker and re-place them or send them home at the employer's expense if they are in an unsafe or inappropriate situation. You, know, if we REALLY cared...

Happy foreign exchange!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Can someone tell me, how does a house move?

So, one day last month, when I went to work, I lived at (let's call it) 21 Elm Street. However, when I got home, I lived at 19 Elm Street. Hmmm... I didn't move houses while at work. So, how, oh how, could this happen.

In case anyone in town has missed it, Amman is going through a new signage process. I have to say that it is very nice. You can actually see street signs (too low and not offset making them a challenge to read upon occasion, but still...). In addition, houses and buildings are getting house numbers. This is an awesome idea. The only challenge is that someone has trouble with addition. While I was at work, they came and took down the old sign that denoted that the house was #21. They replaced it with a very nice big blue #19. How does that work exactly? And, in case I would be concerned that I were going crazy, they left the old house number in my flower beds (where else should it go, I suppose). And, so that's how a house moves, it appears. The biggest challenge with this is that two days after the move, we were giving a party for which invitations were already distributed with a map to #21 Elm Street. Ahh, well... they all arrived eventually.

One more funny thing about this new numbering, our office is on a street that is one block long. On that block, there is one single, solitary, sole building. And the building is number 3. Don't ask ME what happened to numbers 1 and 2. Just be thankful for the big blue number on the street that no one has ever heard of and the delivery companies can't find.

I do like the progress being made, but find it a tad disconcerting that the ability to count at a national level seems lower than I would have preferred? So it wasn't just the shapes part of basic math that they failed? Well, at least some things are predictable, Jordan never does things quite like anyone else, do they?

Happy differences!