Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tagged

This was sent to me by Flying Birds, it sounded interesting so I thought I would answer it.

Are you satisfied with the form and content of your blog?
I'm always playing about with my template and adding new things and ideas. Sometimes I get the urge to completely scrap my template and start fresh - but so far I've resisted the urge because I have too much to do and not enough time!

Does your family know about your blog? I started my blog for my family, as a way to keep them up with all my news and happenings. It's evolved into something more. I have considered creating a new and secret blog, anonymously writing all the things I share with few or no one, but I haven't done that... yet.

Do you find it embarrassing to tell a friend about your blog? Do you consider it a private matter? No, I'm actually proud of the work that I've put into my blog, and my website.


Did the blogs lead to a positive change in your ideas? I'm pretty set in my ways and ideas. Not everybody likes them but generally if I've made a statement it sticks.

Is it enough for you to open the profiles of the commentors on your blog or do you try to discover more? If someone new comments I like to see if they're a fellow blogger. If someone makes a negative or offensive comment I try to pinpoint their location etc from the stats and see how often they visit my site. Sometimes negative remarks are a one time deal, but often they are from repeat visitors. So far I've not had to put my comments on a moderated status.

What does the hit counter mean to you? Do you care to put it in your blog? I have more than one hit counter. Looking at the number of visitors to my blog is interesting, but I really find the statistics of location and referrals and time spent browsing more interesting. Browser type and resolution are useful for design as well.

Have you tried to imagine the shape of your blogger friends? I've met in person many of the people who I met blogging. It's nice, but I don't try to imagine what they look like. I think you learn about their thoughts and feelings and then looks become pointless.

Admit! Do you find a real value for blogging? Yes, it's a nice hobby; I learn from it and hope that others learn from my blog too. I also find it a nice way to have fun and be silly sometimes. Not only that sometimes I use it as a place to get things off my chest and air my gripes.

Do you feel that the society of the bloggers is disconnected from the world around you or that it is affected by what happens? My personal world and my blogging world are somewhat interconnected. I often post about what happens around me.

Are you annoyed by criticism towards your blog? Or do you find it a healthy phenomenon? Constructive criticism is always useful.

Are you afraid of some political blogs and avoid it? Did the arrest of some bloggers shock you?
Being American, I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech. Living in a country that doesn't have the same ideals is often exasperating for me.

Have you thought about the fate of your blog in case of your death? No, but I back up my blog just in case Blogger dies.

What do you like to listen to? What song do you like to embed in your blog? I'm eclectic in my musical tastes, depends on my frame of mind or mood. I'm a Pandora fan and have my favourites on my sidebar, but I hate noisy sites and blogs, I wouldn't put any audio or video on my blog unless it was something the viewer had to make the choice to listen to or view. The choice to click on play is left up to the visitor.

Write the names of five bloggers to do this inquiry after you. If you read this and want to do it - go for it, but leave your link in the comments so we can all go and read what you've posted.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

PhotoFriday - Circle


I haven't done a PhotoFriday in ages... this week the theme is 'Circle' - here's my entry. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006


Adam's been living it up, swimming in my sister's pool, eating tons of junk food, going to the beach, shopping at the mall and going to movies. The funny thing is that since he's been in America, we've spent more time together. Just how is that possible? Internet of course - we talk more now than we did before. When he is here he's just complaining about not having any clean socks or how awful the my cooking is, but now he tells me what he's up to and what he's planning to do later. He also mentioned that he's doing his own laundry - Yeah! That means I don't have to ever look at his dirty socks again! Ha! Next time I hear from Adam he'll be asking me to remove his picture... hehehe. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

1st message

I've added Odeo to my sidebar and my sister sent me a voice message. So nifty! Actually, I only posted my sister's message as a test. I'm trying to figure out the whole podcasting thing. I'm not going to post any of the messages I recieve, but I might post some of my own podcasts in the future or use podcasting on my school's blog. What would life be like if I didn't have technology to play with? Ahhh! I love it!



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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Highly recommended!

What better way to change your mood than getting a haircut? Yesterday I went to my good friend Sheila and had the works, and today all three of my girls spent the morning at Sheila's getting beautified too.

Time with Sheila is time well spent. I always have a nice time. Chatting, listening to music and the end result is always soooo nice. This morning we stopped at the bakery on the way and picked up an assortment of pasteries, then stopped at the supermarket to get some juice and coffee. When we arrived at Sheila's I went to the kitchen and got our breakfast ready while Sheila set in to look at what the girls wanted done with their hair. We all ate while Sheila performed her magic. The music was fun! Jenna was dancing and Sheila was cutting hair and dancing. We laughed and joked. It was the best breakfast I've had in ages.

We are drop-dead georgous now! It was a wonderful way to lift our sagging summertime spirits. The only drawback will be getting the girls to do any chores in the house for the next week or so. They will be busy looking at the mirror and trying out new hairstyles. Never mind. . we look good, and feel good about ourselves too. . . . we should do this more often. I highly recommend it to all!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

At long last!

Someone has found the answer to the fifth 'Where is this?' challenge. Check out the post to see who the winner is and to find out more about the location.

Another Clue

So far no one's been able to answer the  fifth 'Where is this?' challenge. So I'm giving you another clue. Check the comments for the 'Where is this? - #5 post for the clue.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A downright ugly mood

A day off from work and hot weather. No one wanted to do anything but sit and stare at the TV. Well, I was fed up with sitting there while everyone wasted their day. Since I don't watch TV the whole idea of spending a day staring at it just doesn't make any sense what so ever to me.

I made the suggestion that we, meaning Mustafa and I, take a drive. 'It's hot.' whined Mustafa. 'The car has air conditioning and I can make a CD of music to listen to especially for the drive today.' I said while standing in front of the TV, blocking the Aljazeerah/Manar view. Mustafa, a bit reluctantly, agreed to go for a drive.

I know that it takes him forever and a day to get ready to go anywhere, which is something I could never understand. If I decide to go out I can be ready in all of five or ten minutes (this includes getting ready for a party). Why does it take him so long??? While he fiddled around I made a CD of music to listen to in the car. I finished the CD and turned off the computer and continued waiting for him to get ready.

Standing there next to the door were three of the kids; Ibrahim, Jenna and Sara. 'Where do you think you're going?' I asked. They all decided they wanted to come along. I said 'No way!' but was over-ruled by Mustafa. We all piled into the car. 'Where to?' asked Mustafa, I said 'Anywhere. Just drive please.'

We get two blocks away and Sara starts moaning, 'I want to go to my Grandma's house.' 'Shut up! We're going for a drive - you knew that before we left.' I answered. A few seconds later squeals and squawks can be heard coming from the backseat. Ibrahim has started poking and pinching his sisters. Sara continues her moaning and Ibrahim and Jenna are slugging each other. I turn up the volume on the stereo to try to drown out the noise.

Mustafa, the driver, decided to head in the direction of the coast road and I got out to take the pictures of the lighthouse (see the last post). We continued up the coast into Gargaresh. Ibrahim was getting extremely obnoxious by now and Mustafa pulled the car over to the side of the road and proceeded to smack and threaten him. Sara was still moaning about not wanting to be on a drive. Ibrahim swore up and down he would behave himself and we continued on.

After about two minutes Jenna says 'I think I'm going to be sick!' Mustafa quickly pulled to the side of the road and Sara opened the door and pushed Jenna out so she can be sick next to the curb. 'Have you got a plastic bag?' asks Mustafa. 'No, of course not. I would only have one if we didn't need one.' I replied. I did have a supply of wet wipes in the glove compartment and a piece of cloth that I usually put over the steering wheel to keep it from getting too hot in the sun. Jenna got back in the car and I gave her the piece of cloth to hold in front of her. A minute later we are off again and Jenna is puking in the car. Mustafa stops at a shop and gets two plastic bags.

Sara is still moaning, Ibrahim is still picking on his sisters, Jenna now that she's emptied her stomach, is quite happy, I'm in the front seat fuming and Mustafa is driving down the highway. Forget about having a nice drive. We headed in the direction of my mother in law's house. Soon we are outside the gate telling the kids to get out. At least Mustafa is smart enough to know that I have no intention of visiting his family.

'Now where do you want to go?' asked Mustafa. By this time I am in a really shitty mood and I tell him, 'Let's go to the farm so I can have a look at all the work you haven't done this week.' 'But I haven't done anything this week.' he says. 'It's been too hot.' I just give him 'the look' - the look that means don't argue with me! and we head for the farm.

At the farm I have a look around and he has in fact done NOTHING all week. I did notice that there is a cushion and a pillow (that he'd taken from my storage room) all set up so he can go to the farm and take a nap. 'I think I'm going to get you a satellite dish and small TV out here so I don't have to look at you.' I tell him. I went off and took a walk. I think that if I hung around for even a minute longer that I would have hit him over the head with something.

I'm a bitch these days. I readily admit it. But I think I deserve to be a bitch. The summer is way too long here. The kids are bored and are getting on my last nerve. Nothing is getting accomplished at the house - the building has gone on way too long. We also wanted to take a break and go to Tunisia for a while; also I've not been able to travel to the US this summer which was something I wanted to do too, but no luck as I'm still waiting on my passport.

Yes, I'm in a downright ugly mood.

Tripoli Lighthouse



Recently I posted a picture of the lighthouse in Al Khoms. It was for the fourth 'Where is this?' challenge. My sister Holly was the winner of that contest and she won, not because she had been to Libya and seen the lighthouse, but because she's fantastic at Googling and found Russ Rowlet's website The Lighthouse Directory. Holly contacted Russ and within minutes he had the answer. He's never seen the lighthouse either. He only had a written description of it.

Russ is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina and certified lighthouse nut (his own words) and he's got a whole page on his site about Libyan lighthouses. Almost no photos are available of Libyan lighthouses and Russ was thrilled to be able to use the picture I took of the Al Khoms light. Today I took some pictures of the Tripoli light and sent them to him to add to his collection.

The views from the top must be fantastic. It's not known when the lighthouse was built but the station was established in 1880.

No one has yet to come up with the answer to the most recent 'Where is this?' challenge. Please keep guessing, someone will come up with the answer soon (I hope).

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tripoli weather... simply miserable!



The weather here lately has been just awful; hot, sticky and humid. It's typical weather for this time of year and makes everyone feel miserable. No one wants to do anything except sit inside next to the air conditioner. Even with the ac on full blast it still feels hot.

Usually this time of year we try not to even open the shutters, keeping as much of the heat outside as possible. How I wish we had double-glazed windows and insulation! Yesterday I opened the shutters in the living room to let in a bit of light as it seemed so gloomy inside and I was surprised with the sight of the cactus in full bloom on my windowsill. Everyone is wilting in the heat but the cactus never looked better!

So far no one has got the correct answer to 'Where is this? # 5'. I'm really surprised because I'm sure at least some of the readers probably walk right past this all the time! Keep guessing.Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006

Where is this? - #5


Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.

------------------------------

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the answer! Who's the winner? Drum roll please........


He guessed the Academy of Graduate Studies which is located in Janzour. I was so surprised that it took so long to find the answer because some of the people who read my blog actually work there. I'm sure they walk right past the iron work all the time.

The picture is a close up of iron work that surrounds a stained glass panel and is located next to a stairway in the entrance area in one of the main buildings.



I took the picture of the iron a while back because I was looking at different kinds of designs that we might use for the house we are building. This particular iron work was unique. I haven't found any quite like it.

One of the things that you notice when walking about the Academy is that the campus is well maintained. Lots of attention has been paid to detail and landscaping, but most noticable is the artwork that is on display throughout the campus.

The artwork is mostly done by local artists and students of the Academy. There is always a nice selection.

They change the displays from time to time and there always seems to be something new each time I go there. If your interested in seeing what Libyan artists have been working on it's a good place to visit.


Congratulations Aladdin of Tripoli - you're the winner!

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Safe arrival

Adam's arrived in Chicago and he's surprised his grandmother!

My mother had gone to Chicago - the windy city, to visit my uncle and his family and she was really disapointed that Adam would be arriving in Florida while she was 'up north'. But what she didn't know was that we booked Adam's ticket through to Chicago so he could meet the family there and surprise her. They will fly down to Florida in a few days. In the meantime he'll get a chance to see the city where I spent the first 12 years of my life.

Uncle Ed and cousins will take him to the Knights of Columbus annual summer picnic. I hope they're all decked out in their costumes - and I hope he gets pictures. My cousin's daughters are going to take him on the train downtown for a sightseeing and shopping trip. I don't know what else they've got planned. I haven't spoken to Adam yet, I heard this info from my sister. Hopefully I will talk to him on the phone tonight.

I finally heard from the embassy. Apparently they've had my passport in Tunisia for the last four days and they expect it will take a couple of days more to finally arrive in Tripoli. It must be coming by passenger pigeon! Sigh. . . .

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Where's Adam?

Oh where, oh where has my little boy gone?
Oh where, oh where can he be?
Is he in the airport? Has he been waiting long?
Oh where, oh where can he be?

Adam called his aunt and said he'd arrived in New York. He's on his next flight soon. He said he was OK and had no problems getting through immigration and customs. . . Just a little bit more and I know he'll be safe and sound, and then I will be able to relax.

Somedays I am completely backwards. . . click on the image above and see for yourself.  Posted by Picasa

And he's off....



Adam is off to America. He got his ticket last week and I bought him a big backpack and a suitcase and packed him up. We got the ticket before all the hulabaloo began in Heathrow with the terrorist scare. So we repacked everything and took out anything not allowed. He'll just have to get shampoo, toothpaste, etc when he finally arrives. I had been hoping to go with him but seeing as though I have no valid passport, he's gone off alone.

So now my oldest child who only just 17 is somewhere on his way to visit his family in America. First time he's ever travelled alone. . .this is going to be a big adventure! Pray that he arrives safely, please. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summertime is Hindi-time



Summertime is time for eating cactus fruit , called hindi in Libya.



In rural areas cactus is often used as a hedge or fence. Collecting the fruit, that are also known as barbary figs is a tricky business. Wearing a heavy pair of gloves is a good idea.



Once the fruit is picked and rinsed off, the skin is carefully removed by cutting the two ends with a sharp knife and making a slit along the side. Then the skin is peeled away from the fruit. The fruit itself is not really impressive. It's somewhat sweet and full of small hard seeds that are swallowed whole along with the pulpy fruit. Unfortunately the kids ate them all before I could take a picture of the fruit once it had been skinned.



Ibrahim had a nice time at the farm today. He's wearing his new hat.



Jenna climbed up the ladder to check on the progress of the house. It's going way too slow (in my opinion) and I've gotten very discouraged about the whole process. It seems as if we've been building the house forever. Nowadays I get depressed when I go to the farm. Of course with Ramadan coming up I only see more delays in the future. I guess I should just count my blessings and eat hindi! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A US embassy in Libya???

Do we really have a US embassy in Libya? No, I think it's just a farce. They offer hardly any services and give nothing but excuses as to how their hands are tied because they are still located in the wonderful five star hotel (The Corinthia).

I put in for a passport renewal about two months ago. At that time they said it would take about three weeks. They can't issue me a passport here because they aren't in a secure location. The paperwork must go from here to Tunis, to the US - then it's sent back to Tunis before it get's sent here. I mean come on! What is the problem with going directly from Tripoli to the US? Save some time and skip the whole Tunis thing? For sure people must be travelling back and forth between here and the US all the time.

I'm still waiting.

Now my passport is expired and I hope and pray that I have no emergencies. But I need my passport for other things too, it's used as a form of ID and I need it to put the number on legal documents. It's very frustrating to be without a passport.

When I try to call the embassy they either don't answer the phone or it's hooked up to the fax machine. If I email them they usually either don't reply, or if they do it's after about a week and they give me the excuse that they will check with the embassy in Tunis. Then they never follow up with and tell me what Tunis had to say. For God's sake you can track packages with DHL and know where they are every minute of the day! Get with it! - there is technology these days - it's 2006!

Of course the whole time they are not getting back with me I have the mental picture that they are off lounging around at the hotel pool or coffee shop or probably off at the beach. Uuuugh!

Can you picture me now? I have steam coming out of my ears!!!

Where is this? - #4


Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.

------------------------------------

The winner is Holly! Someone who's never even set foot in Libya! - shame on you Tajourans. . . it's obvious that you have never gotten in the car and driven down to look at the Tajoura lighthouse which is completely different - I'll have to post some pictures of it another time.

This particular lighthouse is in Al Khoms, which is located about an hours drive east of Tripoli. Al Khoms is most famous for being the city were the ancient Roman city Leptis Magna is located. This is a big stop over for the majority of tourists coming to Libya.

Last year we visited Leptis Magna and we also took a drive around Al Khoms to see what it looked like. They have a road that goes along the seafront that looks like it's being used as the dumping grounds of the city. It made me upset to see all the garbage that's been dumped there.

It's really a shame because if it was cleaned up it would probably be quite beautiful. I kept saying, 'What is this mess?' and 'Why don't they clean this up?' We parked the car and took a walk around the area.

There's a road that follows along the sea front and it curves along the coastline in a picturesque kind of way. I imagine that it could be turned into something really nice. Perhaps a touristic area, something like in Tunisia, maybe like Nabuel or Hamamat, with shops, cafes and clean beaches and parks. The residents, who I saw just hanging about looking lethargic and poor would have an opportunity for employment. . .

I stood along the sea opposite the crumbling old lighthouse and just imagined. . . .

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 05, 2006

How have mobile phones changed the lives of Libyans?


I was reading the news today and came across an article in the Yemen Observer about mobile phone subscriptions. It mentioned that Libya had the highest increase in mobile phone subscriptions in the Arab world in 2005. The report didn't state any figures but I am not surprised by these findings.

Nearly every adult in Libya owns a mobile phone and many have more than one. Nowadays, especially in urban areas, it is common to see small children with mobile phones. Phone shops have opened up and business is booming, with customers buying cellulars and all the accessories that go along with them.

Some reasons why the phones may be so popular is that obtaining a land line is often extremely difficult. In the past it wasn't unusual for someone to register for phone service and have to wait years for it. In some areas this is still the case. And then there was always the problem of having discrepencies with the phone bill itself, with many people finding themselves charged erroneously for calls that they had never made, oftentimes finding the bill hundreds and even thousands of dinars. Settling disputes over the bills was usually unsuccessful, most people just relinquished their phone service. This isn't a problem with a cell phone. Users can easily monitor their phone charges and purchase cards to recharge their accounts.

Service is not cheap. Opening an account requires 20 dinars for Libyana (and rumours abound that this fee will soon be lowered), with Almadar being somewhat more expensive. The expense accumulates as the charges per minute for calls is high. Telephones themselves can be quite costly, especially considering the average salary in Libya is so low. In order to save money, many Libyans buy used phones that had most likely been stolen. Cell phone theft is unfortunately a common occurrence throughout the country.

Life for Libyans has changed. Mobile phones can be seen being used everywhere. Social gatherings are often spent with everyone talking, or playing with their phones, and no one paying any attention to the people they are sitting with other than to impress each other by showing off the wallpaper they're using, and listening to each other's ringtones. Women at weddings spend the entire evening worrying over being able to hear their phones over the loud music. Phones with built-in cameras come in handy, enabling the party goers to record the event.

Phone etiquette is virtually nonexistent. Motorists can be seen everywhere talking while driving and fines for using a mobile while driving are seldom issued. People shout into the phones, allowing everyone in the vicinity to hear their personal business, and phones ring seemingly non-stop. Mosques are about the only place that is free from the noisy nuisance. Signs are posted at the entrances to most mosques asking worshippers to turn their phones off and these signs are usually obeyed.

Personally I hate mobile phones, I don't own one. Most people find it strange that I haven't got a cell phone, especially since I am so into all things technical, but I know that it's inevetable that I'll probably have one before the year is out. I'm not looking forward to it though.

Why, you ask? I feel that there really isn't a need for one. There are public telephone calling centers on nearly every main street, and in an emergency I can use someone elses phone. If I'm home I have a landline and at work I would have it turned off anyway. I'd also have the kids hounding me every time I was out; calling to ask stupid questions or to tell me about the fights they were having. I think I'd rather enjoy my few minutes away from the kids and be oblivious to the disasters awaiting me at home.
Posted by Picasa

A portrait of me?


I found a site that creates computer generated portraits based on a questionairre. This was what Ryan Terry's Portrait Machine did for me. Hmmmm.... I can see were it might represent me.. kind of messy and disorganized - but somewhat balanced. Give it a try yourself. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 04, 2006

Is it safe to drive in Libya?

I've only been driving here in Libya for the past few months. In the beginning I was afraid, but I've gotten over the initial fear and I'm getting pretty good at it. Actually, being a passenger is probably worse than being the driver because as a passenger you have no control. Also, I've come to realise that my husband is an awful driver - not that he can't drive, he's good at it. His problem is that from the moment he gets behind the wheel of the car he becomes 'Mr. Road Rage'. That makes me nervous. I hate going anywhere with him driving, and if I'm driving he is yelling at other drivers and at me too!

I'm happy in the car. I get in and put on some music, put on the air conditioner and away I go. If some idiot with road rage wants to cut in front of me, I let them. If another idiot behind me wants to entertain the world with the music from his horn, I just turn up the volume on my CD player and let them honk away to their hearts content.

Big Damn Heroes has a nice post about driving here. One thing that I really hate are the traffic circles. Death traps, for sure! The fact that no one follows any traffic rules or laws make me think that there probably aren't any.

Many Libyans have decided to limit the amount of speeding that's done in their neighbourhoods by creating traffic bumps (in the UK they are called sleeping policemen). These homemade traffic bumps are dangerous. I don't know how many times I have hit one that I had not seen and nearly had an accident! You have to slow down and go over them really carefully. I have a mental map of all the traffic bumps and potholes on the roads I frequently travel.

A few years ago the street near my house was widened and resurfaced. Cars were flying down the road and we were worried about the kids crossing it to go to school. We had also been having a big problem with the boys hot rodding near our house, trying to impress the girls at the nearby high school. My husband went to the agency that dealt with traffic signs, etc. and asked if they would come out and put up some signs and traffic bumps so none of the children would get killed. They said 'Make us a map of where you want the bumps and the signs and we will be more than happy to install them.' So we did just that! - Within 48 hours the traffic bumps and signs were in place! Actually they were very happy to do it and said that no one ever asks them, they'd be more than happy to put them in for anyone who requested them. Aaaahhhhhh.... everyone in Libya complains, but no one thinks to complain to the right place!

I still plan on taking a defensive driving course, if I ever get a spare moment or two.

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