Drive to airport
Pick up at airport; talk.
Drive to Macy's; talk.
Window shop in the mall; talk.
Lunch at The Olive Garden; talk
Kohl's....open an account, get 15% off....not crazy about the store; talk.
Drive towards home; talk.
Stop at market; talk
Go to bed; sleep.
So far today:
Wake up; talk.
Feed the pets; talk.
Get ready to go out for lunch then....to be continued...pix maybe today.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Steve has been in Qatar for 5 days. He is finally sleeping at night...which is daytime here.
Some tidbits he has shared: On the plane, you know how they will show a screen with the course of the trip? Qatar Airlines show that plus a map of where Mecca is located.
The ceiling above his hotel room bed has an arrow showing where Mecca is.
One of the women in the hospital...and only one...wears a Burkah. So far she has worn black. Steve said she has a gold nose plate on her face piece...he doesn't have a clue what it means but it makes her look like a gladiator.
All of the other women wear black as well and they are totally covered but their faces are exposed. These women wear a ton of makeup. Of course, I am not sure what a ton of make up means to Steve.....but if he noticed it there must be a lot of it on their faces.
The men wear the traditional dress you see on TV......white long robes plus the head pieces all the time. There are no Qatari men in any kind of western wear.
Steve put his hand out to shake one of the female administrator's hand and she told him she did not shake men's hands. She does shake women's hands.
They have staffing problems on the night shift because they can't have one female and one male alone anywhere in the hospital. Many of the nurses in the hospitals are from the Philippines, Japan and China and they can mingle any way they want to. They stay for a year and then immigrate to Canada and the U.S. The few nationals that are working nurses all work the day shift and that shift ends at 1PM....they start at 8AM.
A lot of the hotel staff are from other countries.
Steve is loving the local food served in the hotel. He is a food risk taker and will try anything once. He seems to have taken a real liking to Fava Beans and some concoction they make with tomatoes, onions and other veggies.
The PR man at the hospital took Steve and his co-worker on a tour of Doha. They went to a "suk" which is a market of some sort. The man that took them is obviously a big mucky muck which means he is part of the Royal Family. He paid for nothing; just took what he wanted and everyone smiled at him as he left. He took Steve and Janelle on a "food tasting tour" and then on to meet a man that would be the equivalent of a sage or priest or holy man. The holy man showed them pictures of his ability to walk on glass, lay on a bed of nails and just lots of pix from his former healing days. Steve said he had the darkest sun "torched" skin he had ever seen and was beyond wrinkled.
Qatari nationals do not pay for gas or electric for cooking or heating (I can't imagine needing heat). They don't pay for water and gasoline is $.10 a gallon.....that's right ten cents. Health care is free, medicines are free if you are a national. If you are not you pay and it is quite expensive. There is no national health insurance. Steve did talk to one woman from Australia who is in an administrative position at one of the hospitals and she told him that if you are not a national but work for the hospital you are covered automatically. All of the hospitals, physician offices and medical complexes are owned by the State.
It is the cool time of year over there. That means it is in the high 80's and low 90's. Steve is staying close to the hotel for the most part. He took a little walk around but there is not much to see. The airport and hotel complexes are south of Doha and there is a ton of constructions going on.
Chicago, Doha, Qatar and Dubai are all in the competition to host the 2016 summer Olympics and Doha (per the PR guy) is fierce about the bidding. The country is trying to compete with Dubai for tourist attractions, hotels, huge estate living and having wealthy Europeans invest in the country.
Steve blatantly asked why there are "Come visit Qatar" ads everywhere (they were in the airport, and are all over the hotel and in Doha) and I was denied a tourist visa. I am from the wrong country, am an unknown and not coming for business. They are trying to attract tourists and investors from everywhere but the U.S. They don't like our foreign policy...DUH!!!! Steve said there is an American military presence there but the military and the Qataris want the U.S. to keep a really low profile....and after we accidentally shot off a missile good thing to do.
That's it for now. Steve got a camera and has taken some pictures and we will get them developed as soon as he gets home and I will share. I'm glad he is feeling a bit better and has gotten out a bit. He sounded horrible yesterday but a lot better this morning. He slept all night finally. Cowbell if you can shed any light on all of this, please share in the comments and I will add to the post and highlight it in red.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Go get a pencil/pen and paper because this is just the kind of time saving information you will all need.
When you need an international dialing code DO NOT call 411 or regular information. If you do, the operator will talk to you like you are a hick that has never left Idaho.
BUT, if you did call 411 by accident the nasty operator will give you the correct information by saying "For future reference the international operator can be reached by dialing Z.E.R.O., Z.E.R.O.
Here it is, get your writing instrument ready:
The international dialing code for Qatar is 974. You first have to dial 011 then the 974 and then the number.....and that number will not look anything like a US phone number.....it will be something like 2-49288889.
Calling friendly Hong Kong; specifically Kowloon? Dial 011-852 and then numbers that might look like 4567-0987.
See? Helpful. Yup, that's me, helpful.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I just can't even think straight at the moment, so I thought I would start a Qatar/Hong Konk countdown update post for a few days....
12:47 PM: TEST : If one US dollar= 3.64 Qatar Riyals and Steve's hotel room at the Marriott Doha costs 1499.00 QaR per night, how much is that in US dollars....and does he really want to spend that much per night for a bed only, no high speed hookup...he has to buy a "card", no free breakfast but they do have a laundry service that he can pay for. Of course all of this will be expensed but still.......
12:06 PM: UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The contract for Qatar was emailed to Steve.....unsigned by the folks in Qatar. What does this mean? I don't have a clue.
Today: 10/12/07: Qatar is on at this moment in time. International cell phone on the way, A-Med emergency care card on the way, travel itinerary firm ($14,402.16 for the Qatar/Hong Konk trip), talking about throw away underwear versus having the hotel wash it. Steve thought if we just bought enough for the whole trip he would bring it home for me to wash....NO, NOT....can you imagine...of course you can't. No one seems to know if Steve already has a Visa from the travel agency or if he has to get one at the Doha airport. We do know that he will have to obtain an exit permission letter from the hospital in Doha to leave the country. I have already registered with and notified the American Consulates in Qatar and Hong Kong and filed his itinerary with both of them even though his company says that is unnecessary. Hello! He is going to be in Saudi Arabia! The last time I looked that was in the Middle East....the place I CAN'T GET A VISA TO VISIT BECAUSE IT IS UNNECESSARY TOURIST TRAVEL.
As far as me meeting up with him in Hong Konk...if we had figured all of this out in the beginning I might have been able to go, but with all of the changes and the fact that this Qatar thing might flop, every day that we waited to make arrangements for me added 10,000 frequent flyer miles to the trip and we are now at a number that Steve doesn't have in his bank with United Airlines that would cover that airline and the code share airlines like Lufthansa and Qatar Airlines.
The Qatar trip may still fall apart. There is no contract signed and Steve was told yesterday to leave the international cell phone on at each and every airport...Spokane, Denver, Wash/Dulles and even Doha. My thoughts? What a F****** MESS.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
OK, I will tell the embarrassing comment I made to Jackson Browne. I had posted it briefly in a memememe months back but I will now give all of the boring details.
In late October 1998 Jackson was coming to Sandpoint to do a benefit for The Rock Creek Alliance, an organization against mining in the Cabinet Mountains that would cause runoff to go into our beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. I was a member of the RCA and volunteered to help with setting up the high school gym where he was going to perform. I spent the whole day rolling out mats, numbering the bleachers, dragging electrical cords all over the place and getting a free lunch of a burger and chips.
Steve and I had splurged and paid $75.00 each (in addition to the price of the ticket) to be able to go back stage and meet the man. To say I was excited is an understatement. I had just flown to California at the beginning of October to see him do a political candidate benefit with my daughter. We had 10th row side seats and I managed to embarrass her by singing "Get it up again" every chance I got (Do you remember that, Chris?). My daughter was won over that night by Jackson's charm, generosity and talent.
After the concert in Sandpoint, Steve and I and a few friends made our way backstage where I stood at a distance just admiring the man. I had joked with Steve that after the backstage meeting Jackson was going to whisk me away. I told Steve it had been fun but that I must follow my heart. He said as long as Jackson cut him a big check he was fine with my leaving.
My friend Mary Lou kept trying to push me into the line to meet Jackson, but I was already blushing and didn't want to go up alone. A friend of Mary Lou's said she would go up with me, I agreed and off we went. She was first to say hello to Jackson and she took hold of his arm and wouldn't let go. He looked at me (I was right behind her and straight in his line of vision) and said "Have I met you before? Not recently, but did I know you in the 50's or 60's?" I was dumb struck...literally...and when I did answer this is what I said, "Not unless it was in the back seat of a car."
The friend dropped his arm and moved away like I had said F*** Y** to him and he took my hand and shook it and touched my arm with the other hand and he laughed...a good loud belly laugh as I turned red and just wanted to melt into the floor. It was a good moment, a special moment and has been talked about a million times over and over again.
The morning after the concert when we woke up Steve looked at me and said "Are you still here? What happened? I had that check spent."
So, that's the story.....but for timing.
Monday, October 08, 2007
I thought I would explain why Steve is going to the exotic spots of Qatar and Hong Kong....one person asked and maybe others wonder why.
Steve is a Pharmacist by trade but it has been almost 20 years since he actually filled a prescription. He works for an organization that accredits health care organizations. His company sets standards of care, organizations structure their care environment around those standards, Steve's company comes out to survey these organizations and then scores them on how well they are doing. Doing well, they are accredited, not so well, conditional accreditation, poorly, no accreditation. In order for a health care organization (hospitals, home care, ambulatory care etc.) to bill and receive payment from Medicare they MUST be accredited. Steve's company is the primo one to do that.
This organization also has a "pre-survey" arm. These folks go out and prepare health care organizations for the actual survey. Steve used to do the surveys, but after the accident in 2005 he moved over to the pre-survey part because it requires less travel and he can do teaching projects from home. This pre-survey organization has an international division. It takes a while to be considered for international jobs and I guess Steve has earned his stripes.
There is a huge hospital complex in Qatar. Another pharmacist has been to that country a number of times but he is not available to go until 2008 and this hospital wants someone NOW. Kowloon, Hong Kong is also growing a large "Hospital Authority" complex and Steve will be working with both of these organizations on medication management.
So, in a way this is quite a prestigious assignment and had Qatar gotten its' act together sooner I might have been able to go to at least Hong Kong with him, but they kept putting off signing the contract and now the trip is melded into one huge adventure. It is a longer story, but the bottom line is I won't travel to Hong Kong alone and Qatar won't issue a visa to me for "Tourist Travel." I understand why, but it just sucks in general.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I have been perusing blogs to see if anyone has posted about the Clarence Thomas interview or said anything about his new book. I haven't found anything yet but I admit I didn't look very hard.
I rarely post political opinions on this blog. I am not informed enough, usually am unable to be articulate enough to say anything of value other than to call George Bush an asshole but......I saw the interview. I heard the words come out of Clarence Thomas' mouth and in brief here is what I think.
He lied about his interactions with Anita Hill when he testified before Congress, he lied in the interview and he lied in his book.
He came from the poorest of the poor. He suffered greatly as a child.
He blamed the Catholic Church as a whole for a racist remark he heard about the assassination of Martin Luther King while he was in the seminary.
He commented to his wife when he learned about his appointment to the Supreme Court..."Whoop-de-doo," and said the appointment really meant nothing to him at that point.
There is a lot more he said and a lot more I could say, but I would just be rambling.
Clarence Thomas is an angry man. Clarence Thomas is a lying angry man. He needs to go to confession. Might make him feel better about himself.
JP is absolutely right.....Rather than say Clarence Thomas needs to go to confession, maybe I should say he needs to 'fess up. Telling the truth is so very cleansing. Confession is a Catholic ritual. Clarence alluded to being back "in the faith" thus my confession statement.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Here it is noon and I have done close to nothing, zero, nada, just nothing. My thinking is a bit scattered, kind of how the leaves look on the lawn.
It has been raining, it is still overcast, the kittens slept all night long right on my face, the bear came through and while there was nothing in the squirrel feeder he (has to be a male) had to tweak it just a bit so when I do put a few seeds in it they slide right out onto the ground. Thanks Bubba.
I haven't gone anywhere since we got back from California. Steve flew out yesterday and I absolutely had to go to the market. Normally, I could con him into going to the General Store a mile away where they charge $5.59 for a gallon of milk. I was forced to go to WallieWonderWorld with a bowel issue.
As I turned our street corner I thought "My goodness, look at what I have been missing!" The trees are glorious shades of yellow, orange and deep red. There are pine needles scattered across the roads. The temps have been in the 20's every morning and yesterday it barely got up to 50. Cows are huddled in bunches in the fields to keep warm; although I would think even a cow might reconsider cow breath as a main source of warmth.
All of the home For Sale signs put up in the spring that looked like starched aprons are hanging onto their stands by a string. PRICE REDUCED is slapped across the agents name. Pretty soon the signs will be gone only to re-appear next April. There are three homes on our road that have been up for sale for four years in a row without a nibble I've been told.
It is time for fall clean-up but I don't have any desire to do any of the required outside chores; put away the hoses, rake up the fallen seeds, pick up pine cones, turn on the pump house heater, take the mower in for service, haul out the snow thrower and yell until Steve fixes the damn chute that will only face to the left. I know there must be other necessary winter prep things to be done but I don't really want to try and think of them now.
This is the time of year we used to come to our little piece of heaven for vacation. Steve would be up here several times a month, but I was restricted to vacations only; April and October. Our anniversary is this Friday and every year we would spend it snuggled up in Idaho in clothes that I would never have a use for in California, visiting with friends that have now scattered in the wind, planning a big night out in celebration. It was a special time for me; for us I think. Now, if Steve is home at all it is special no matter what the day or month for that fact.
It rains in April and October in Idaho. I actually like the rain. It is soothing, maybe too soothing today. I like the tappytiptap sound on the metal roof of the house, I like feeling the stove heat, seeing the cats all curled up in a big O or in ying yang positions with each other.
This is the kind of day to be on the couch with my cats and kittens, reading, sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Sounds special. But, litter boxes are calling in their kitty cat scented way, the laundry hamper is full, there are dishes to wash and dusting to be done. As necessary as that sounds do you know what I would rather be doing; shopping with my daughter for a handbag, sitting in my son's living room watching Sachiko dance and sing or laughing at Spencer trying to do a somersault. Seeing the back of Steve's head in his messy office would be nice too.