Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Sweet Sound of... Rain!

So, the rain dance worked. Oh, wait, I didn't tell you about the rain dance. Scratch that. Magically, mystically (read that God heard our prayers and answered them, as all lovely magical and mystical things like rain come from God) rain has come. It took at least 15 minutes to penetrate into my consciousness (darn Internet, always distracting me). I heard the sound and wrote it off as the sound of the central heat. Oh, wait, central heat here is radiators, could that be RAIN?! Sure enough, I stuck my head outside and was greeted with drops on the face. It's raining at a pretty darn good clip too.

Take THAT 7% of average annual rainfall! Here's hoping that it keeps on coming and brings us closer to average levels...

Happy Splashy!

Friday, January 30, 2009

14 Days of Fresh Smell? Is it just me or is that really gross?

I was sitting watching TV last night when the ad for Comfort fabric softener came on for the 6 millionth time. It hit me, they're talking about how great this product is and touting the fact that the fresh smell remains for 14 days. Are there really people who wear the exact same item of clothing without washing for 14 days?!

Okay, say it with me... EWWWWWW. That would, however, account for some of the aromatic? odoriferous? downright disgusting cabs I've been in. And elevators. And enclosed spaces... 14 days without washing? Please tell me that other than in humanitarian crisis areas with no access to water (like, say, Gaza) people don't keep wearing their clothes over and over and over.

I mean, I'll go 2-3 wearings in jeans, but 14 days!

Happy Ewwwww!

Monday, January 26, 2009

What the Beans Could Teach The World About Dealing With Israel

So, back two summers ago, the nursery that the Beans used to attend had a 2 week break. For the 2 weeks prior to the break, the Bean girls decided not to go to nursery and only JuniorBean attended. After the first two days, the fabulous ladies who took care of them told me something very enlightening. This is what they told me...

Fab: "You know, MommaBean, JuniorBean is a different little boy when the girls aren't here."
MB: "Really, how so?"
Fab: "Well, when the girls are here, he cries alot more."
MB: "Yeah?"
Fab: "Yes, not that they bother him. Quite the contrary... he hits them and then cries first."

That's right ladies and gentlemen, JuniorBean was practicing proactive crying. He figured if he hit them or took their toy and then cried, they'd be the ones who get in trouble.

Does this sound hauntingly familiar to anyone else? It reminded me at the time of the big boy on the playground who shoves the little kid. Then he kicks sand on him, then he trips him. Now, when the little boy hits him, he cries and says, but he hit me first... again, sound familiar?

Every parent has to deal with this at one point or another. So, let me tell you my approach. In the Bean household, if I hear, "Mommy, mommy, X Bean hit me." My response is always, "Really, and what were you doing when it happened?" Pretty much our standard practice is that no matter who the alleged offender was, everyone involved must apologize and give a hug and kiss. So, see, in our house we're learning that in a situation where someone cries the loudest, it doesn't mean they're the injured one. And, even if they are, it doesn't mean that there wasn't an action on their part precipitating it.

I think the world could learn some things about dealing with Israel from the Beans... Here are the points I think need to be taken away:
  1. Just because Israel cries beautiful crocodile tears doesn't make it the offended party.
  2. Its actions have caused its current situation.
  3. It's time now for all sides to apologize and hug and kiss each other...

Now, mind you, I'm not saying I think the world (or Israel) WILL learn something from the Beans. I'm only saying that I think they could...

Happy KG Warfare!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yalla, It's Time To Boycott... Isn't It?

So, I've been the recipient over the last few weeks of numerous calls to boycott companies from Nestle to McDonald's to Carrefour. I find the concept very interesting. I know in the Middle East that the boycott has been a long term way of voting with your feet. I respect that greatly. I also think that boycotting over the Gaza situation could be appropriate. But, there's still something I don't get...

Having read the information on Nestle's direct investment in and commitment to Israel, I understand boycotting them. Many people in the US have been boycotting Nestle for many years for its portrayal as it's infant formulas and milk as "better than mother's milk" in less developed countries. I can see many reasons Nestle might be a company you'd want to boycott. and, given its corporate politicism given not only where it builds plants, but the lobbying of the Swiss government on behalf of Israel, okay. Boycott them, if you like.

What I find fairly befuddling are the arguments that one should boycott McDonald's on the strength that this publicly held company's FORMER CEO personally supported Israel. Hunh? So, we're saying that it's not only appropriate and desirable to boycott companies who support Israel but companies that used to be run by a person who supported Israel? This one fails to launch for me.

The argument is fundamentally the same for boycotting Starbuck's. Their CEO is a Zionist. Yeah, and? The company doesn't support Israel. In fact, given that it has NO stores in Israel currently and is in 9 Middle Eastern countries, it seems to me that the company itself supports Arab economies far more than the Israeli economy. Am I missing something here? I tend to expect that what someone does with their money personally is just that, personal. But maybe I am missing something. I figure the folks who have jobs at Starbucks here in Amman and the partners who own the license for the region in Kuwait are going to hurt far more than the Zionist CEO... But, that's just me.

Somehow the fervor people are showing to this boycott idea is a bit unsettling to me. Not that they vote with their dollars, that's a great idea. What I find worrisome is that people seem to get a list and start spreading the need to boycott the company. No research is necessary. When the boycott of Danish products began, many non-Danish products got caught up in it because they were originally Danish or sounded European. Is that the right way to boycott? Harming those who have done no wrong? I'm just not sure.

Personally, I hate Carrefour (see previous posts on this topic), but when I saw them appear on the list, I wanted to understand why. It turns out that they buy bras from an Israeli company. This company has the majority of the market share. So, rather than suggesting that people put pressure on Carrefour to identify an alternative or withdraw those products from their stores, the list says boycott them today... Is that the best idea?

I guess my bottom line question is, what is the purpose of the boycott and will it accomplish your goals? Because putting local families out of work and decreasing their ability to earn a wage seems counterintuitive to me. I think boycotting Israeli produce is excellent as it hits the people who feel it the most. But, make sure that the broccoli you are boycotting isn't grown in the Dead Sea farms on our side of the border. Otherwise, again we're only hurting ourselves if we punish our fellow countrymen over misunderstanding and rumor.

Happy Boycotting!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finally Some Good News For Gaza: Barack Obama Has Got Your Back

Okay, a little tongue in cheek certainly, but... Finally seeing the whole of his speech I have some reflections which should apply directly to Gaza and, with support and a call to action of heartful people everywhere, Obama needs to see and hear. So, here are the highlights that I took from his speech (as an aside his speech writer is truly AMAZING! and his delivery, the man can talk...) and truly hope DO apply to Gaza in his mind.

"All are equal, all are free, all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

The photos I've seen out of Gaza reflect no equality, no freedom, and no chance to pursue happiness. American must hold its "good friend" accountable for its actions. Leave the excuses, leave the complaints and pity calls, come forward as adults who take responsibility for your actions and move forward in a different way. Open the borders and allow freedom, allow aid, stop ridiculous regulations like "new clothing only" for people needing so much aid that even the aid agencies can't keep up. Give the people of Gaza a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness without the intentional attempts to dehumanize and humiliate them daily at each checkpoint.

"America is a friend of ... each man, woman, and child that seek a future of peace and dignity."

I hope that means that America can judge EACH man, woman, and child based on their own measure and hopes, not those of a political party that does not represent them. I hope that means that America will be a friend to those in Gaza who oppose violence and seek only a voice and a measure of justice, freedom, and happiness. Do you really mean it, Mr. President?

And, in a phrase that could have been written for the Palestinian people (in Gaza and elsewhere), "Our spirit is strong and can not be broken. You can not outlast us."

This is, perhaps, one of the defining characteristics of America. It applies no less to the proud and beautiful Palestinian culture. I hope that Barack Obama will be able to remove the blinders from his eyes and experience all that this wonderful culture has to offer.

So, like most Americans, I cling to hope. I anticipate change. And, I will hold MY President accountable for his actions, as every good American should. Please, please prove my vote for change was worth it...

Happy Hopefulness!

Watching the Inauguration with My Mom

Nope. She's not here. She's in Alabama. And we're watching together. The general consensus so far:

Music: Minus. I didn't like Aretha's arrangement or the instrumental

Video: Minus. MSNBC is cutting out awfully. Bah.

Message: Plus. Hope is a happy thing. We need some right now.

And, isn't technology awesome when you can sit as a family and watch a moment in history even when you're thousands of miles apart? And blog about it real time?

Happy Hope!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I love it when someone takes an idea I've tried to express and just blows it out of the water!

So, this is a shout out to Ahmad of 360 east. He wrote an AWESOME post about rebranding Gaza. I encourage you to read it here.

In his post, he suggests that Arabs need to come to terms with the fact that a) we don't live in an ideal world and b) approaches to date simply haven't worked. I touched on this topic in my post Enough With the Rhetoric Already. Man, Ahmad blew me out of the water. He took the core theme I danced around (I'm sure without ever even reading my post) and gave practical, pointed guidelines for building an appropriate Brand for Gaza. And, in doing so, he couched the thought in simple terms. Go Ahmad.

I suggest to each of you that you read his post. Give it some thought. Think about what you can do to help Rebrand the Palestinians. Because one this is for sure, or too long the conversation has been a rhetoric filled extravaganza about the Palestinian "problem". Somehow the Palestinian has been forgotten by both sides. This isn't about a problem, it's about a people. So, now how do we help the world begin to see this more clearly?

Maybe it's the right time for an "I am a Palestinian" campaign full of ads and shots of people just like Joe your average American helping people see that they probably know a Palestinian and don't even know it... I've got my thinking cap on, how about you?

Happy Thoughts!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How Do You Tell Your Kids? What Words Do You Use?

So, this topic has come up in passing lately a number of times and has definitely been on my mind. How do you approach the sensitive topic of the Gaza situation with your children of all ages? For us, the Beans are little (ButterBean's not even 7 yet). This complicates the amount that they will understand. And, add that to a local culture that often seeks to "protect" children at the expense of their ability to process and deal with emotions and this is really tricky.

So, how are yo dealing with this issue? What are you telling your kids?

For me, I'm walking a fine line with kids who think that pretty much only old people die (we had several deaths in the family in the last year or so). We've talked about death, but I doubt they relate it o kids. And, that's one barrier I'm not sure I'm ready to cross over.

But, I know I can't avoid the conversation all together given the strong police presence, out of the house trips to donate, etc. In addition, the reality is that these are their cousins. Whether or not El 3atal has any actual blood relations in Gaza, these are his people. I lament the fact that several of his actual cousins have never heard the story of their parents being evicted from their homes and fleeing their land. I refuse to be party to denying my Beans half of their identity.

And, so, I'm left with this thought. How much do I tell them? I explain that there are little boys and girls (and their mommies and daddies) who are living in very bad conditions. We talk about the fact that we've never had to face having no food to eat for a meal. We don't worry about whether our clothes will keep us warm enough because of the lack of fuel. These worries are not for us, with God's blessings, but are affecting our people (while the Palestinians might or might not adopt me, I feel I have become one by marriage and in order to ensure my kids become one by heritage).

So while we talk about tough conditions and wanting to help those who are less fortunate than we are, how much can they understand? How much of the underlying issues are appropriate to discuss? What words do I use?

I find myself wishing for a well-written, thoughtfully worded book. So many of life's tougher issues like moving from one city to another (okay country in our case), bringing a new baby home (okay twins for us, but we like to do thing big it would seem), going to school, all of these topics have been made easier by relating to characters in a book.

But no one has written a thoughtful book on the Palestinian problem for kids. I don't have a story to read like that of TetaBean (celebrating her birthday on the back of a truck fleeing her home never to return and live) or of those who have been made refugees three times over and now live in the pit that is Gaza. How I miss great writing on tough subjects at this moment. Maybe this is a new opportunity. Perhaps the time has come to stop lamenting and start writing. I only wonder, do I have the sensitivity, the grace, the ability to walk that fine line when I have trouble finding the words to explain it to my kids? Have any of you found ways to talk to your kids about this? Any tips you'd like to share?

Happy explaining!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Death of Birthdays, Really? Is This Necessary?

So, we went to a birthday party for JuniorBean at McDonald's the other day. El 3atal (who came with us as a way to spend some time with JuniorBean one-on-one and ended up bucking the no-Dads-at-parties trend) started talking to one of the employees about whether they get lots of birthday parties. The employee answered, well not now given the situation (Gaza). This one was booked before the situation developed, so we didn't cancel but we aren't booking any additional ones. Okay, now I'm not getting into the whole boycott or don't boycott issue. Maybe I will on another post. For us, JuniorBean had his first ever McDonald's meal. El 3atal and I have been to McDonald's maybe 3 times in the 3 years we've lived here. It's just not high on our list of places to eat.

But, the location is fairly immaterial. What amazes me is the idea that a child shouldn't be able to have their birthday party where they want. Is this common? Are families here forgoing birthday parties for their young kids because of the Gaza situation? Any thoughts?

Happy Dirge!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Imagine With Me Giving Birth in a Hovel With No Food, Water, Electricity

Boy, haven't we come along way since the days of Jesus' birth? Today in Gaza women, approximately 40,000 of them, are pregnant. 170 women are giving birth each day. In a place with no heat (and its COLD over here), no food, and no access to Doctors. Every risk factor counted in the US applies to these women.

But, have no fear, there are organizations that provide them supplies and care, right? Well, today CARE joined the UN and halted its relief efforts due to the on-going Israeli bombing.

It must comforting to the Israelis to know that they can even stop the limited aid that has been getting in by making it so dangerous.

And, what will the outcome be? I know two things about Israel's actions.
  1. They have no chance of "winning" as long as even one Palestinian lives.
  2. They are creating more extremist terrorists.

In the end, I won't even blame the 4 children who were left for four days next to the dead bodies of their mothers as Israel refused to get them out or allow others to do so. If they spout the rhetoric of driving Israel into the sea, I won't blame them. What other choice do they have? What other world do they know? Israel uses violence to dehumanize them, then decries their refusal to use human logic.

It's sad to see the world has come so far only to end up right back where it was 2000 years ago. Israel, you have much to answer for...

Happy reverses!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

MommaBean's Challenge: I Did It, Now It's Your Turn

Okay, ladies and gents... I actually managed to drag El 3atal out tonight after we go the kids to bed to help the 7iber and Aramex folks. First, it was a good crowd, even though we got there late. Kudos to those who turned out. So, here are my top ten reasons you should get on out there tomorrow and help finish up food sorting (and maybe start clothes... one can only hope).
  1. You can skip the gym. Yep, with all the bending and moving and lifting (cans not boxes ladies), you get a work out and can skip the gym or whatever exercise it is that you do (and get some if you don't do any).
  2. It not scary or intimidating. If you're like me and a weetle nervous about going into an unknown situation, rest assured it's very simple and non-threatening.
  3. You get to meet celebrities of the blogging world like Nas, Qabbani, Ali, and maybe even MommaBean...
  4. You get out of the cold. Okay, so maybe it is chilly, but with all the work-out you're getting, you won't even notice it (at least I didn't).
  5. You can shame your spouse into doing more than "brain work" in support of the cause (at least once anyway).
  6. You can meet new people who share your humanity and heart for the Palestinians.
  7. You can meet friends you haven't seen in 20 years (okay, this one works better if you're actually FROM here, like El 3atal who saw a classmate for the first time in a crazy number of years).
  8. You are helping people who definitely have less than you, no matter how little you may have.
  9. You can bring your kids. I saw a little girl there tonight who was probably 5 or 6 helping find things for the boxes (think miniature expediter). Great idea. I don't think the TwinBeans are ready for prime time yet, but I think ButterBean might be.
  10. You can share your skills and bring your own special perspective to the crowds...

So, check out to find out when they'll need people (at least through the weekend is what I'm hearing). Get off your duff and get on out there. Oh, and I don't what to hear I don't have a car as an excuse. If transportation is your biggest issue, drop me an e-mail a mommabean at windowslive dot com and I'll find someone to haul your sorry hind end out there, teehee. Come on folks, let's pull together for Gaza... And as a thought to leave you with, here's Michael Heart's song about Gaza, "We Will Not Go Down." Is it awesome, so enjoy it while you plan when you can carve time to go help sort. Oh, and as a last note, let me say Aramex Rocks!

Happy Alterna-exercise!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keep Your Money, Gaza Needs Your Time...

Okay, so it's old truism that it's far easier to give money than time, isn't it? We all lead such busy lives and especially with the kids home from school, it's hard to find a minute to think. And, yet with the suffering in Gaza, can't we find a minute? Mind you, I'm asking myself here as much as anyone else. While I found the time to shop for Gaza (which was both a chore and a sacrifice given how much I hate shopping), packing-for-Gaza-time has been harder to come by. But the time has come to put my time where my money is...

The fine group of folks at 7iber who engaged Aramex in responding to this crisis have been working tirelessly. After the first amazing collection, Aramex took over donations and is bringing stuff in FOR FREE from all over for the folks in Gaza. But they need more help. Your generosity has been so overwhelming that they have a warehouse full of things that need to be sorted and packed. And now they need people to help. An excellent fellow-blogger Ali posted about his experience as one of 50 when there needed to be 200.

So, here's the call for assistance. Come down and help out. I'm going to do my best to find the time, so you may even get the dubious honor of meeting MommaBean in person.

Who: Volunteers of all ages and both genders
When: 2 – 9 pm Tuesday – Thursday
Where: See the map below (if you need a ride, comment and I'll get you in touch with the right folks)

Please don't let an issue stop you from helping out. Let us know what the problem is and I'll see if I can help solve it. If there are Moms who want to help but are having challenges with the kids home, drop me a note and maybe we can do a childcare cooperative. I hope to see you there!
Happy Backaches!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When There's Too Much Noise, Can We Hear Anything?

I've noticed this trend of large, loud, angry demonstrations going on around the world and here at home. And, I've noticed something else, in all the shouting (and rioting) the voices are lost. The message is lost. So, maybe it's time for another approach? I've got a conceptual idea that I'd like to put out there (okay I've got 2). I want your thoughts.

Idea #1: I would like to see our first silent protest. Let me tell you what I mean by that. Imagine a line of protesters standing shoulder to shoulder all the way from the eighth circle to the first circle. Okay, get ready for the full visual, imagine these thousands (because that's what it will take) of people dressed head to toe in black with tape over their mouths. Standing silent because the world is. Standing silent because all of the words we shout, all of the railing at the wind we do isn't changing anything. Standing silent because the people of Gaza have gone without the blessedness of silence for far too long. Imagine that with me and tell me, wouldn't that make an impact?

Idea #2: A candlelight vigil for Gaza with people representing each country in the world. This one involves tape as well. For all of us with a home country (or another home country as the case may be) that is shaming us by remaining silent, our message needs to be heard. You know, sometimes the whisper is more powerful than the shout. In fact, the Venezuelan contingency could come and speak, since they're the only government that has officially spoken against this travesty that I've heard about.

Maybe it's time for a new approach. What do you think?

Happy silence!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Enough with the Rhetoric Already

I have to admit, I'm non-plussed these days by the rhetoric on both sides of the current situation. I'm afraid that in a classic lack of understanding, the Palestinian cause continues to not just lose but be obliterated in the PR world. Whoever their press agents are, they should be fired. Should have been YEARS ago. And, it migrates down to everyday people.

Israel is NOT "defending itself". That rhetoric is old tired and false. And, while Israel may be a terrorist nation, no one is being won to the Palestinian side by hearing it over and over again. But, the one that disturbs me the most is the much-propagated thought that Israel is in a battle with Hamas. This is the most dangerous idea that has been allowed to take root.

If you want to win hearts and minds (in the US particularly), stop expressing support for Hamas. Stop talking about Hamas at all. The reality is that Hamas is barely even a factor in this equation. We know that, right? But, most people outside the region have no idea. They see this as a "war" between Hamas and Israel. The really don't get that that's like saying the guy with that straw shooting spitwads is at war with the fellow over there with an RPG launcher... Israel has declared war on the Palestinian residents of Gaza. They don't ask to see Hamas ID Cards before shooting. They don't point rockets at Hamas strongholds. They point them at schools, hospitals, and mosques. So, Palestinians, please change the conversation. Stop talk of Hamas in its tracks. Whether you support them or not, move the dialog away from politics and toward humanity. People are the ones being harmed - not Hamas.

At the end of this current conflict, Hamas will be stronger than ever, society will be more polarized, and Israel will be less - not more - safe. Don't worry about Hamas. They'll come through this just fine.

But, do worry about the Palestinians in Gaza. Speak for them. Make your voice heard. And, change the conversation now by getting rid of rhetoric and beginning honest conversation as people.

Happy Rhetoric!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Apparently Israel Wants To Have Its Cake and Eat It Too... Israeli envoy to U.K. accuses church service of being anti-Semitic

So, TetaBean sent me an article that I found curious. It's about an "alternative" service that a church in the UK had. Among other things, the church changed the words of that old Christmas classic, The Twelve Days Of Christmas. The "gifts" were "Twelve assassinations/Eleven homes demolished/Ten wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree."

Now, honestly I think that's a bit tasteless. Funny. Appropriate. Clever. But tasteless in a church. However, what I found more interesting were following comments made the the Envoy.

"For 2000 years, the Jewish people suffered persecution because of the accusation of responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. The carol service deliberately attempted to make a linkage between this notion of deicide and Israel's relations with the Palestinians. It thus perpetuated an anti-Semitic canard that has no place in modern Britain," Prosor added.

Okay, let's review. The sole Israeli claim to the "Promised Land" is biblical in nature. So, in essence they are attempting to draw some link between the Israelites of the Bible and the Israel of today. But, when the Christians take the same approach, it's "anti-Semitic". Well, shoot, I think the Israeli genocide of Palestinians is pretty anti-Semitic as well. After all, as the Jews try their best not to acknowledge, Palestinians are Semites too. Take about an amazingly self-deluded double-standard...

Oh, and for the record, they DID kill Jesus. Get over it, we have. Jewish persecution has never, to my knowledge, had anything to do with killing Jesus. I imagine sociologists would be better equipped to talk on the subject, but in my very humble opinion, the very "held apart" nature of Jews through time has made them different. Being different typically leads to persecution. Ask those Christians who stand in trucks shouting their viewpoints at schools in the US if they feel persecuted. They do. And they also think it's because of their faith rather than because they hold themselves apart.

The bottom line is that either a) you claim the land as descendants of historical Israel (I'll illustrate in my next post why that's a ludicrous idea) and accept that your ancestors killed Jesus or b) you claim the land based on nothing and should be thrown out. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Happy self-delusion!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another Local Company Provides Assistance. American Ingenuity At Work...

So, my lovely friend Umm Farouq had a very good idea. It's the kind of thing that goes over big in the land of convenience and I hope it will here as well. We've been hearing about the need for medicines, supplies, etc. Well, Umm Farouq asked herself, what should go in such a package? What are the most needed items? How can I ensure that what I pick up will be useful. Then she had an idea.

She got on the phone and called some people she knows at the local powerhouse Pharmacy One. "Can you help?," she asked them. Sure enough, they can. So, here's her idea implemented in a simple, user-friendly way.

Beginning tomorrow, January 5, the Pharmacy One chain of pharmacies, with 40 locations throughout the Kingdom, will have available Medical Relief Packages that can be purchased and sent to the people of Gaza. They will offer three packages, at costs of 20, 50, and 100 JD. For those of you wanting to help out with medical aid in Gaza, which is in the direst conditions imaginable, here is your opportunity!


Aramex will be picking up Medical Relief Packages at all Pharmacy One locations, making it even easier to donate. So, please go out and support if you have the ability to do so. And, even though she thinks she doesn't deserve, GO Umm Farouq!

**End update**

One thing that American companies typically do very well is make it as easy as possible to give. Umm Farouq's idea takes the guess-work, concern, and hassle out of giving medicines. So, take a minute to stop in a Pharmacy One store and grab a Medical Relief Package. Thanks to Pharmacy One for making this possible and Umm Farouq for finding the right channels to make her own contribution.

Happy Supply Runs!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Candlelight Vigil for Gaza: Another Way to Show You Care

The YWCA of Jordan will be hosting a Candlelight Vigil for Gaza as noted on the invitation below. Join these ladies, these mothers, these sisters, these aunts. After all, the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.

I understand that the YWCA will also be collecting money for supplies such as wheelchairs and other necessities for those in Gaza to be administered through the YWCA in Palestine directly. For more information, call the YWCA offices at 465-5476.

Happy Lighting!

I Was Proud To Be An American. Once.

For a moment, anyway. A brief sliver of time. Literally a blink of the eye. I was proud to be an American. Then. Americans voted for change. They cast their votes for a man most of us would never have expected to take office in our lifetime. The country got out there and made their voices heard.

But where are their voices now? Where are OUR voices now? I was proud to be an American. Then.

Now, once again, I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of my fellow countrymen who speak so confidently on a topic about which they know so little. I'm ashamed of people who are only willing to listen to someone else's story if they look like we do or at least our neighbor. How sad is it that it would be more meaningful to many Americans to hear that there are 5000 Christians in Gaza without food, without water, without heat, without power. Yes, there are 5000 of my brothers and sisters in faith. But there are millions of humans. When all is said and done, people are people. I didn't give food for those 5000. I didn't give blankets and clothes for them. I gave those things for everyone in need. Just as the Bible tells me to.

Hear me, Americans, just as THE BIBLE tells me to.

It doesn't say, only help those who look like you and worship like you. I doesn't say only help those with good PR machines. It says whatever you have done to the least of them, you have done to Christ. I wonder, when the time comes, will you be proud of your hard-heartedness to the Palestinians? Will you be proud of loudly calling for Israel to "wipe out Hamas" and damn the civilians who happen to be in the way? I'm not proud today.

I'm ashamed of my government, both the old (which continues to act according to pattern) and the new (from which I expected better than silence). I'm ashamed of my fellow Americans who clearly saw the evil that was Apartheid in South Africa and refuse to accept and admit that the State of Israel is also practicing Apartheid.

But, I am proud of my fellow Americans here in Jordan. Where it's impossible not to know a Palestinian (would that those in the US would spend as much time getting to know a Palestinian family as a pro-Israeli Jewish family) and to understand what they lost when forced from their homes. Here in Jordan where we understand that, regardless of the tit-for-tat nature of this conflict and regardless of who poked whom first, the current situation in Gaza bears more resemblance to the ghettos of Warsaw and the holocaust than it does to a "humanitarian crisis". Here we Americans have been giving for Gaza, helping for Gaza, and praying for Gaza.

So, I was proud to be an American. Once.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Fadi Ghandour and Aramex, I owe you an apology! Outrageous Customs Charges Seem To Be The Norm...

Okay, so I just read Hani's blogpost about his videos and Kinzi's experience with customs for her kid's Christmas gifts and I finally understand a couple of things that happened to me recently. I'm going to completely overlook Hani's comment about his understanding that the customs are higher in December to discourage Christmas gifts as I think we all know where I stand on the hidden discrimination that seems fairly widespread...

But, about a month ago, I had an emergency and needed to order new Clinique make-up. This isn't because of the outrageous mark-ups (although I'm sure they would be), it's because of the literal unavailability of a shade I can wear (you may recall they carry shade number 22 and I wear shade number 01). I used Aramex Shop and Ship because it's the simplest way to get things here. When the package finally arrived, the cost for the shipping was 13JDs. Outrageous! The last time I did this, the shipping was 5JDs, which I thought was a load of hooey given that the package weighed a sum total of less than 1/2 pound. But, I think maybe I owe Aramex an apology for the bid vibes I was sending them. If Hani paid ridiculous customs on his package of videos, is that why my bill this time was so high? Man oh man... If so, Fadi, please consider this as a very public apology. If not, then your pricing structure is outrageous, teehee. However, if it was due to customs, then Aramex needs to be clear on what the cost is for. If I am not told differently, I have no choice but to assume that the total amount is shipping, right?

But, the bigger issue was the package the Beans received from Meme in October. It was two boxes full of things bought at the Dollar Tree (well, except for some more Clinique that she had bought a month earlier and failed to send). Customs decided it required 35JDs in customs. So much for receiving little bits of home. I guess we'll go back to the begging and hoping that friends and relatives will bring back stuff in their suitcases. I only hope they don't get dinged at the airport...

It leaves me wondering, what is the strategic mandate for the customs department? Is it to penalize those of us who are unable to find items in Jordan? Is it to spur local business by forcing everyone to accept sub-standard substitute products? Is it to make those miserable who have loved ones outside Jordan who want to send a little something home? What EXACTLY is their intent? Because their policies should follow their intent. Perhaps one of our awesome blogging community is in the same ahil as the new Director and can ask him. Because someone, somewhere has gone overboard. When you charge average people for receiving goods that are clearly not intended for resale, you're just plain going too far in my very humble opinion. I'm not making money on it, it's just something to make our lives a little easier. In fact, given the awful break-outs I have without my makeup, customs should be paying me to WEAR it, teehee...

Happy highway robbery!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Jordan Seriously Needs Generally Understood Rules of Etiquette

This post is dedicated to colleague X who loves me so much that they sent a text message wishing me a Happy New Year at midnight. Now, I like colleague X, but there is NO ONE I like enough to want a message from them at midnight. On any night. Ever. But, it brought to mind a more general thought. Being raised in the US, there is a hard and fast rule about calling people. Everybody knows it. And here it is.

Except in cases of a) emergency, b) family or friends close enough to be family, phone calls (and yes, this would include text messages) may be politely made between 9 am and 9 pm. Yep, that's right. After 9 pm, you simply don't call. When the phone rings after 9 pm, people typically assume the worst. Since living in Jordan, I routinely receive phone calls and text messages at 10 or 11 o'clock. Last night, the text message mentioned before was the second one, the first having come after 10. Since I charge my phone at night in our bedroom, the tune that plays when a message is delivered was quite loud. It's a miracle that El 3atal didn't wake. But, never fear, it seems Jordanians don't sleep...

So I propose a new set of rules, phone etiquette if you will. Included amongst these is that phone calls should never be made after 9 o'clock. And, since I know this won't happen, now you know. Unless you are a member of the Bean family or a friend so close that I would call you family (you know who you are), don't call or text after 9pm. We're sleeping and if we aren't were busy relaxing... ;)

Happy rude awakenings!