Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who needs $70,000? Who doesn't?!

For those of you who haven't heard yet (yes my 3 readers, I'm talking to you now), there's an awesome opportunity to start your own business. For the last two years, the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship has been helping those who want to depart from the traditional rat race start their own ventures. In a land like Jordan, with its great dearth of available venture capital, $70,000 can make the difference allowing a young person (or not so young) to realize their dreams. I'm pleased to be able to help spread the word on this initiative which is co-sponsored this year with Google and KADDB.

In cooperation with Google and King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) , the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship (QRCE) has officially launched the 3rd year of the Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Competition (QRNEC) with$70,000 of cash prizes in addition to in-kind services provided by the Centre to the winners in order to support the their mission in creating successful startups.

So, the QRNE Competition is now open for all entrepreneurs - whether you are a university student or an aspiring entrepreneur, so, everyone is invited to apply and compete for $70,000 of cash awards.The additional interesting advantage for this year is that Google is offering an additional cash award for the best the online business plan,in addition to the special award that KADDB is offering for the best business plan for defense and security.

If you have a business idea in any discipline of technology (biotechnology, nanotechnology, information & communication technology (ICT), agricultural technology, environmental technology, water, energy or any other disciplines of technology) that is likely to win, present it to the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship (QRCE) through the its website before 19/6/2008 and start on the road to success!

QRCE has established many invaluable partnerships, this year, with many institutions contribute to the support of the center and the competition. These institutions include: Google , King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau, Orange, Jordan Commercial Bank , Jordan Dubai Capital, Jeeran and Jordan Business.

So, take advantage of this awesome opportunity and maybe you will win the $70,000...

Happy Business Planning!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance & Bless Bliss

So, today was a huge day in the Bean household. Today ButterBean graduated. Although no one played Pomp and Circumstance, plenty was evident. The little KG2ers donned caps and gowns (yes tiny little caps and gowns how cute) and marched down the aisle. In honor of the day, they sang several patriotic songs and even some Fairouz. El 3atal was so pleased that ButterBean was singing along with her classmates in English AND in Arabic. I've been telling him, but he really doesn't listen (sigh). So, now, finally! he's seen the light. I'm pushing him to speak more with them bil 3arabi and let them hear him greet people. These conversational tidbits just haven't been part of their experience. They don't give the long string of greeting following greeting (mar7aba, kiif haalik, kiff issahha, kiif il3ayli, and one and one) to their aunties and cousins. Baba doesn't even do it so much. So, how are they supposed to learn these things? I think he got a bit of a push today... we'll see if it translates into movement.

After graduation (we have another one coming up on Saturday by the by), we dropped by a place Kinzi mentioned in one of her blog posts. We stopped by for a little bliss at Bless Ice cream on Abdoun Circle. And it was... a blissful blessing. So, there! Take that Kinzi, you may be going to DQ without even taking OUR orders, but we stopped in for a bless-ing. Ironically, I think the best flavor of the day was JuniorBean's diet raspberry. It was awesome. My own coffee was schway strong for me (a non-coffee drinker). The nutella was also very good, but it would be too much very quickly I think. At any rate, awesome choices and I can't wait to try every one. Although, my waistline assuremes me I CAN wait to try even one more...

Happy Blessings!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

If EVER a teacher should be fired... teacher leads KG class to vote student out?!

So, I came across this news item through a group I'm on (that's praying for the family and the teacher), but as a parent I just have to register my disgust with this teacher. Also, honestly, I'd be firing her if I were the Principal.

In these days of school shootings by children who felt ostracized by their peers, this teacher thinks such an action is appropriate in KG! At 5 years old! Please...

I've dropped in a link to the article below, but basically, a little boy in KG who has significant challenges (he's in the process of being diagnosed for autism) returned from a trip to the Principal's office. His teacher brought him to the front of the class, allowed his fellow students to say whatever they wanted about him (I can only imagine!) and then vote whether he could remain in the class. Honestly, this kind of action is criminal. Truly criminal.

His Mom says he's been sitting around saying "I'm not special" to himself. How can anyone who calls themselves a teacher do this sort of emotional damage to a child? You know, as a parent, I think I'd sue to get her fired. And I'd also probably sue her personally, and I would pretty much NEVER sue. But for this... I think I just might.

How pitiful are we? Caution: this post is dedicated to whining and moaning, no upbeat attempts at cheering-up will be allowed (teehee)

You know, in America, we have this old adage "When it rains it pours." That has been life at the Bean house recently. Things have just not been up to our usually sunny standards. First, every blogger in Jordan seems to be taking a hiatus (except Nas, of course, but he's not even IN Jordan). As if that weren't bad enough, life is just hard now. And is it because - wait for it - I'm SPOILED! Yes, I'm actually admitting that life in Jordan has turned me really, really soft (read that super-wimpy). So, let me tell you my tale of woes.

HelperBean is on vacation. For a month. Do I really need to say anything more? Really? The back-up person who has been doing our cleaning seems to just pick what she wants to clean that day. And, while I'm pretty darn lackadaisical about such things, not having the kitchen floor cleaned at least twice a week is really a problem. Last time she helped out, it took a month to find all of the things she had rearranged in our absence. This time, on the day she seems to have neglected the kitchen floor, she spent time rearranging our bathroom cupboard. El 3atal was not at all pleased. While is may have looked untidy and disorganized, we knew exactly where everything was and it had rhyme and reason (at least to us). So, the house is not spic and span these days.

As if that weren't bad enough, ButterBean got the nasty rotavirus that's been going around town. So, she's been alternately puking up her lunch and feeling just fine. I've had a nasty case of Montezuma's Revenge and MimiBean has a sinus infection. So, tell me, are we pitiful enough?

Of course, adding insult to injury is the fact that ButterBean's best friend in the world just left town for 3 months! (Kinzi, how COULD you?!), Teta and JiddoBean went for over two weeks to visit 3ammoBean, and El 3atal has been traveling. So, yep, It's down to the sick MommaBean and ailing MimiBean to keep 3 kids occupied.

And, it continues... the school decided to close for Independence Day yesterday too. So, not even the chance to drop them off and have some quiet nap-time. Yikes!

Okay, so how long can I whine and moan for? Well, that's pretty much it. Now, I'm going to count my blessings...
  1. HelperBean will be back in just 16 days (okay 15 days and 7 hours, but who's counting?).
  2. School may have been closed yesterday for us, but many people were still in school, so our trip to Jungle Bungle's outdoor (and then indoor) playground was fairly quiet with few kids.
  3. I've dropped 10 pounds in one week from the lack of appetite and the medicine to treat it features the same (maybe I'll lose the whole 50 I need to by the time I'm done, ha!).
  4. Quality time with the Beans has been plentiful and I feel connected and closer.
  5. I get the whole bed to myself.
  6. ButterBean and the TwinBeans graduate from KG2 and Pre-school this week and I'm SUPER excited!
  7. Except for minor aliments, we still have our health.
  8. If one of the kids has to be sick, I'm glad it's ButterBean because she's so good natured that it isn't nearly as unpleasant as it could be.
  9. Lil Kinz is coming back (she's just on vacation).
  10. Summer school is extra fun and starts in just a week, so all the kids are excited.

You see, even when the clouds get you down, you've got to look for that silver lining!

Happy whining!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

She doesn't run like a girl, she runs like a Princess?!

Okay, so before ButterBean's participation in T-Ball, I would have wondered how a princess runs exactly. Now such musings have been put to rest. ButterBean has come a long, long way in the months since T-Ball started. She's gaining the confidence to hit the ball more than about 2 feet, catching ground balls like a champ and even throwing fairly well (if VERY girly). But the running thing... well, that hasn't changed.

Oh, and I didn't coin the term. Based on my traveling schedule I missed the first game. When I got home for the following practice, I was having a fine time chatting with one of the other Moms. She heard me cheering for little ButterBean and said, "Oh, is she yours? I saw her at the game last Friday and she runs just like a little princess." Really, what it means is that she does so much run as prance. Yep. She lifts her knees up nearly to her chin, raises her arms with the hands pointing straight out to the sides, and prances from base to base. It's about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

And, the contrast with Lil Kinz is rather striking. She slides into first base like a pro. Gets dirty and runs like a wild one bent on getting to base...

What can I say, she thinks she's princess, so she runs like one too. For those of you who have never seen a T-Ball game with its phantom outs, happy chattering, kicking sand, and lady-bug studying, I recommend you take the opportunity and check it out. It's about the sweetest thing you'll ever see. And to the Coach and the Assistant Coaches who've been making ButterBean's first season so wonderful, thanks!

Happy Prancing Princesses!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite: Palestine and Human Rights

So, this is one of the things I really love about blogging. There's such a sense of community. There are awesome people you meet. Seeing the bloggers come together and try to keep consciousness of the plight of Fouad Al-Farhan points out what's so special about this blogging community. They care about some guy they've never met in another country. They care enough to mark the days of his incarceration. They care enough to talk and talk and talk, which is, after all, what blogging really is.

And so, today is Blog About Human Rights day and Blog About Palestine day. How exceptionally appropriate that those two fall on the same day.

I remember about 15 years ago, I heard Hanan Ashrawi on Larry King Live. This was shortly after the Oslo Accord had been signed. In response to one of Larry's questions, Hanan said of Israel, "just because it's state-sponsored doesn't mean it's not terrorism." I personally mourn the fact that Hanan's voice has been very quiet since the Palestinian state was formed. She was a calm voice of reason, well-spoken, and, frankly, female. Women find it easier to trust and understand other women...

I also remember on my first visit to Jordan nearly 13 years ago now the thing that made the biggest impression on me was a trip to Baka'a refugee camp outside Amman. I blogged about it almost exactly 2 years ago. I have hard time not crying every time I think of the folks who live there. As I remarked two years ago, Baka'a residents are "in transit". I had the saddest conversation about this the other day when talking about the new road the government is building.

(The last time El 3atal and I went through we had to take a huge detour around the camp because they're constructing an elevated roadway through the camp. In some ways, that's kind of appropriate, hunh? These people who spend their time waiting and waiting to go home get to watch outsiders speed by on their way home or to their farm for a "break". When do the people of Baka'a get a break?)

I was talking to a European guy and a Jordanian gal about the new road and it was so clear to me that the Jordanian had no understanding of these people. Now, I'm not the most sensitive American, but I get the people of Baka'a. I can imagine how heart wrenching it is to know you aren't home. Palestine is home. Their subtle form of protest speaks to me. The visible reminder to all that they are visitors in this land is meaningful in the way that a protest in front of an embassy or office will never be. 12 years later to see the same cinder blocks holding the same corrugated tin roods on the same worn out shops is amazing. Why would I build a real house on land that isn't mine? Really, why would I do it if it signaled to the world that I accept that I am home. Do you know, I lived in Louisiana for 8 years. I never expected to live in Alabama again, and yet, Louisiana was never home. I owned a house there, had all three of my children there, but it still wasn't home. I guess we Southerners are like the Baka'a refugees in that way. I didn't leave because I had to, yet I still knew that anywhere else I lived, it wouldn't be home. So, how sad that someone who grew up here in Amman can't see that.

For me, this is the tragedy that is Palestine. You have the people on the inside living in danger, turmoil, horrible conditions. You have the people in the camps living in danger, turmoil, horrible conditions. And all they did wrong was live on a piece of land that someone else wanted. All they did was demand rights, freedom, and RESPECT. All they asked for was basic human rights. And, so, today I join the other bloggers in uniting for human rights world-wide, for the cessation of Israeli aggression, and for the world to stand and pay attention. It is criminal that the only time most Americans think of the Palestinians is when an act of terrorism occurs. It is unforgivable that the only thing the average American knows about Palestinians is that some of them blow up planes and buses. Americans live next door to Palestinians who fear claiming their heritage, they see Palestinian culture adopted, adapted, and outright stolen by the Israelis ("Jewish Hamburger anyone? Felafel, the Jewish hamburger indeed!). And, the world would simply rather not see them.

I for one stand up for the Palestinians! I stand up for human rights! Here I am, count ME! And on this day blogging for such worthy causes, I will not remain silent, I will not talk about froofy Mom-topics. I will speak and pray and hope. I hope for my Palestinian American children's' sakes that there will be a solution in their lifetime. I hope I won't be showing their children the Baka'a camp. I sincerely hope I won't be explaining why they have no permanent homes and such sadness in their eyes. Those are my hopes...

Happy Unison!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Does anyone else think there's something wrong with the gas prices in Jordan picture?

So normally don't think too much about this stuff. Gas prices have gone up and I whine (like everyone else) about how high they are. But, really, I don't put much though into it. And then, something triggers me. In this case, it was a conversation on a message board about gas prices in the US. So, for those here who don't know, gas prices n the US vary WIDELY. They vary in the same town (people drive around town the get the best price), they vary on the same street, but mostly they vary by locale. So, in Iowa, which is the middle of absolutely nowhere, gas is hugely expensive. The reasoning behind this is that gas has to be trucked in from a coast ad it's a LONG way from the coast. As a result, when we lived there, we paid more for gas than people who lived in such high-cost mavens as LA and New York City.

On this board, the ladies were complaining about how high gas prices were in their locations. So, I decided to see how we were faring against the US. After doing the gallons/liters conversion and then the dollars/dinars conversation, guess what I found? Jordan's gas prices were as high as the really high-cost areas. So then I started to think... (I assure you, this is dangerous even in the best of times). In Jordan, we have what should be the benefit of being right next door to the major oil producing nations. So, transport charges shouldn't be very high, right? I mean, given the number of UAE cars in town each summer, clearly it's dirt cheap to ship stuff...

So, the cost isn't in getting the oil to Jordan. Is it in the production from crude to gasoline? Perhaps, but at these prices, Jordan's refinery should be posting HUGE profits, beyond even those touted by the large American companies making billions per quarter on gas. It's seems to me that something's broken in the system. If the gas tax is that high, where is all of the money going? Seems like that kind would be able to bring Jordan's finances into great shape. After all, the government is removing subsidies, but does that mean they're increasing taxes? This is just one woman's curiosity, but how is it that we pay as much (if not more) for gasoline than people half-way around the world? Any thoughts?

Happy curiosity!