Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years

Goodness it has been an eventful past few weeks. And I have every intention of filling everyone here in!

But for the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Years, I'm off to get the festivities started in style! (Literally as well as metaphorically - my new shoes will make their debut tonight! :D )

So here's to your health, wellbeing, and a bright and successful year in 2011.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Suz's tip of the week

My tip of the week this week comes from a stranded traveller. I shall make it short, so as to fill you in on the whole shenanigans in a blog on its own.

The tip this week is:

NEVER. I repeat. NEVER try to fly Air France, particularly out of Cairo International Airport.

Unless of course incompetence is your forte. Then you can gladly go and WORK for Air France. It's their primary hiring tactic. Find the most inept staff, then have them try to run an effing airline.

If you are going to try and fly Air France, bring a good book. You'll be made to wait around a lot. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes. They don't like people sitting down.

That is all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Negativity, not me!

This is a re-post from an email I received earlier today, from a great website, the I found this website, and I love the motivational emails I get sent every morning. It's so powerful, and constantly reminds you of the power of your own positive thinking and the control that YOU have over your own destiny. Below is a re-post of a particularly striking article. May you all have a wonderful day, it is yours for the taking :)

Orkut Papa
Do you have a negative vibe?

Have you ever wondered if you have a negative vibe and people just aren't telling you?

Well, here's a little test to see if you radiate negativity.

If you think you might have a negative probably do.

You can understand that nobody wants to tell you. It's not like most people to walk up to someone and say, "Whoa, your vibe is negative. I'm getting away from you."

People will tell you in subtle ways. They'll leave a conversation that you're having. They won't want to spend time with you when you offer. They won't join you for lunch or take your phone call. Is most of your communication through email with the people you consider your closest friends? They might be trying to tell you something.

Have you ever had this experience?

Recently at the grocery store, I bumped into a woman that I know from the YMCA.  As we're speaking, I'm noting how tired I feel all of a sudden! How could I be tired so quickly in our conversation? Because she began our talk with all that wrong in her life. To put it boldly, this person was a drain. She was a very nice lady, just her negative mindset was draining. 

Why was it draining?

Because I had allowed my vibration to match hers! Unfortunately we can all see why her results are what they are. We can understand why she has so many things going wrong in her life...because that is what she focuses on! If she's telling me in the grocery store, you know that's she having this conversation multiple times throughout her day with others, not to mention the internal conversation she's having. When I asked if she'd be open to some feedback, she said, she would, but when I pointed out what I just pointed out here, she went into defense mode.

We all know what defense mode's where we'll stick with our opinion and close down all other options. Hey, believe me, I've been there and continue to monitor my own defense mode.

Did this woman have a negative vibe?

Sure, she did.

As with all interactions, we are often reminded to take a closer look within.

What Is Vibration?

Vibration is the feeling you get around others. You've felt it lots of times. If you have a dog, you know that even before you open the door for a walk, the dog just "knows." If you've ever been over to your sister's house and her husband walks in and you can tell that they've had a fight, without your sister saying a word to you...that's vibration. It's that energy.

You're wanting your best life, yet it seems that whatever you desire never manifests in reality. You visualize, you meditate, you affirm...yet, nothing!

Well, if you're doing all the right things why are you not creating what you want?

Because your negative vibe diluted your positive vibration of desire.


Yes, get this. Every time you fear, doubt or worry about achieving your desires, you've repelled them to you.

You understand that the Law of Attraction says that whatever you focus your energy and attention on, you'll attract more of the same whether it's wanted or unwanted.

So, just when you've identified what you want and are excited about creating it, you allow that little voice in your head to be heard. "You've never made that amount of money." "Our family history has too poor of health for that." "I'm too old, (too young, too poor, too heavy, etc...) to do that."

It's the fear and doubt that are pushing your desires away. You must learn to:

Talk about what you want

Let go of fear, doubt and worry

Live on purpose with passion

How Do We Raise Our Vibration

1. Fill Your Mind With the Good Stuff. Start ridding yourself of your junk. Watching CNN is not going to raise your vibrationally level. Watch TV and movies that make you feel good. Read empowering books. Don't know any? Go to the library and ask! There's so many great authors out there...Andy Andrews, Jerry and Esther Hicks, T. Harv Eker.  Right now, I'm re-reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

2. Know Where You're Going. Do you have vision for yourself? Do you know that if you don't know where you're going, it will be really tough to get there? Have a plan/goal in place for yourself. Not sure how to set a goal? You can find out more HERE.

3. Give Generously. It's truly a gift to give of yourself to others. Your financial assistance can benefit other charities, your time can give to your community, your smile can lift someones day, your thoughtful words can empower others. People are waiting on you. A few days ago, I went to the library and read, The Giving Tree to some of the young patrons. Did I have other things that I could have been doing? Absolutely. Was there anything more important to me in that moment. No. Because I understand that giving of myself is not only good for them, it's good for me!

4. Connect to Your Source. Quiet meditation is one of the greatest things you can participate in with aligning with your light and love source. Take some deep breaths. Take on the mantra, "All is well."

5. Exercise! We all know moving our bodies makes us feel vibrant and joyful. Get up and move your body. I love starting my day this way! For me, everything is aligned if I start my day with exercise. I eat better, I'm more relaxed, I'm more confident etc...

I know there's lots of other ways to raise your vibration. What works for you?

I'll look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Suz's Tip of the Week

With the holiday season in full swing, this tip of the week will help to keep some of those unwanted pounds away.

We all know that when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. there is copious amounts of food. Unfortunately, most of this food is not healthy. But it's the holiday season, why would you want to restrict yourself during this time of the year?

So here's a tip that you can apply throughout the entire year, but particularly at this time of the year.

Our brain has a difficult time distinguishing between when we are thirsty, and when we are actually hungry. Many times that you think you are hungry, your brain is actually trying to tell you to drink something. So before you head to the dinner table, or holiday breakfast buffet, take an 8 oz glass of water. Drink the whole glass, and WAIT ten minutes before you start eating.

Not only will the water satiate your thirst, it will also help to fill up your stomach. This ensures that even if you DO consume the holiday meal, you'll be eating less, and your body will be able to more readily feel when it is full.

A tip to use all year round, but one that can be especially beneficial at this time of year!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

To lighten the mood

These pictures were posted on one of my online forums. I had to share them, if only to give people a laugh!! hehe.

Not sure if I would ever actually get a tat like this, but it's still hilarious! Overdose on rainbows much?

And here, the four ponies of the apocalypse:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shark attacks in Sinai

The Following article is taken from the Guardian Online. I'll post my comments on it later :) Just a head's up!!! 

An oceanic whitetip shark is believed to have attacked three tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh. Photograph: Brian J. Skerry/Getty Images/National Geographic

A hunt is under way to track down a shark responsible for maiming three Russian tourists in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, one of whom remains in a critical condition.
Tonight Egyptian officials closed Sharm el-Sheikh's famous beaches and suspended nearly all diving and watersports activities, which attract more than 3 million holidaymakers every year.
Two of the attacks took place within minutes of each other yesterday afternoon, when an oceanic whitetip shark moved close to shore and began snapping at a couple swimming in the Red Sea. The man's legs were torn by the shark and the woman sustained injuries to her legs and back and had to be resuscitated after rescue.
This morning a further attack, believed to be by the same shark, was made on a woman snorkelling on a reef north of the city's Na'ama Bay. Her arms were bitten off, and she was flown to Cairo for emergency treatment. "We are monitoring the situation very closely and working together with all authorities to ensure the safety of all members and visitors in the Red Sea," said Hesham Gabr, chairman of Egypt's chamber of diving and watersports. "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families."
The oceanic whitetip is a common species of shark that can grow up to four metres long, but as its name suggests it is mainly found in deep water. "This event is absolutely extraordinary," Richard Peirce, chairman of the UK-based Shark Trust, told the Guardian. "Since records began in the late 16th century there have been only nine recorded attacks on humans by an oceanic whitetip. It's abnormal behaviour; this shark hasn't just decided to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – there must have been a specific activity or event that brought it there."
Sharks can be sighted frequently in the Red Sea waters around Sharm el-Sheikh, but attacks on humans are rare. There have been some suggestions that fishing vessels have recently started coming closer to the shore.
"Something has brought this animal to the area and made it think dinner, and it's likely that it involves something being put in or on the water," said Peirce. "If fishing vessels have started coming near the beaches and they're discarding unwanted fish over the side, then that's a powerful shark attractant. It could also be camping sites or hotels dumping rubbish, although until further investigations are done none of us can comment intelligently on what the trigger was."
Today a team from the South Sinai national park launched a search for the shark, which they plan to trap and then release in the Gulf of Suez at a safe distance from the shoreline. The Egyptian government will be watching nervously to see whether the incident has any long-term impact on tourism levels, an important source of revenue for the country.
"It won't be just a bump – this is a catastrophe for the local tourism industry," said Ramy Francis, a veteran diver with close knowledge of the area. "Three attacks so swiftly in succession and all of them that aggressive – it will certainly take some time for the hotel and watersports trade to recover."
But Amr Aboulfatah, the owner of a Sharm el-Sheikh dive centre and former chairman of the South Sinai Association for Diving and Marine Activities, disagreed. "Everyone is scared to get in the water right now, but there are concerted efforts going on to resolve the situation and I really don't think we will see any lasting consequences in terms of the tourism industry."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apple Crumble!

With Thanksgiving this week, and all the cooking that goes with it, I thought a new recipe post would be just perfect.

Apple Crumble (or any fruit crumble for that matter) is one of the easiest desserts to make, and takes very little time to boot! :) So here you go, the infamous Apple Crumble recipe, a'la Suz!

For the filling:
3-4 large apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the crumble: 
2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white, doesn't matter :) )
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup crushed biscuits 
4 tablespoons of butter 

I prefer to use biscuits for my crumble. Many recipes will call for flour, but I feel the biscuits give it a nicer crunch. Hob Nobs work best, with their oaty flavour it compliments the apples nicely.


  • Preheat your Oven to 180 Celsius, 350 Fahrenheit.
  • Take your apples, peel and core them. Slice them into sections, about 1/2 inch thick. Take the apples, and add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix and sit aside.
  • Crush your biscuits (Easiest way to do this is with a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin :) ) 
  • Add your biscuit mix to the oats. Stir in sugar, and mix all together with the butter. You want it to be fairly solid in consistency, but still enough to crumble. Add a little bit of extra butter if it's not holding together well. 
  • Place the apple mix in your baking dish, and sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. 
  • Bake for roughly 10-15 minutes, or until the top has browned. 

Serve warm, or cold. Goes GREAT with custard! Bon appetit :).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Equal rights to worship...or...?

I've lived in Egypt for over four years now, and of the time spent here, I worked for three years with the Arab-West Report. Stories of attacks against Coptic Christians by Muslims, or visa versa, are unfortunately not uncommon to my ears. The underlying truth behind most of the stories is that most incidents are simply disputes among a group, which is then turned into a religious debate.

Today, reports have surfaced of two dead in clashes between police and Coptic protesters in Giza governorate, just outside of Cairo. While I'm sure that there is more to the story than Al-Masry al-Youm will let on, I think it is of utmost importance that people within Egypt come together to prevent such squabbles even arising.

Take it into perspective for a minute, how many Muslims around the world have stood up and proclaimed that the right to build a Mosque, or Islamic Cultural Center, should be guaranteed and permitted under the U.S. Constitution, particularly when you take Freedom of Religious Belief into consideration. The calls are echoed by statements of the peaceful nature of Islam, and how Islam itself promotes the three monotheistic religions and an individual's right to practice their own religious ideals (assuming, of course, that it falls under the three main monotheistic religions...).

Don't get me wrong, until I know more details about the specific events that happened in Giza, I do not want to pass judgement. However, bringing the broad spectrum into light, is it not about time that the Copts in Egypt are given the same rights to build houses of worship as Muslims are around the world? Seeing that we're living in a democratic nation, and Copts constitute roughly ten percent of the total population, why is their right to worship freely so suppressed? In Hurghada, I have seen a greater concentration of Copts than I ever did in Cairo, yet I have not seen one Church. Not one. Sure, they exist, tucked away in little back alleys so as not to disturb the flow of things. It saddens me greatly. Has it really come to such a point where Copts are being pushed to build their houses of worship under the guise of something else, lest their permissions to construct be immediately denied?

Below is the article from Al-Masry al-Youm. I welcome any and all comments!

Two feared dead in Coptic protest over church construction

Photographed by AFP

Two Coptic protesters are suspected dead and scores more wounded in clashes between police and Copts over a decision to stop construction of a church in Giza, eye witnesses said.
Approximately 2000 Copts attempted to break into the Giza Governorate headquarters, while others attacked police and security vehicles, according to security officials.
Security repulsed the attempted infiltration, the officials said, adding that police have arrested 100 protesters and dispatched thousands of forces to Omraneyya and Talbeyya in southern Giza to prevent the spread of unrest.
Thousands of Copts organized a protest on Tuesday in rejection of the Giza Governorate decision to stop construction of the church. Officials said the building did not possess the appropriate permit.
Officials added that building authorization was approved for a service center, not a church.
Protests resumed on Wednesday with demonstrators hurling stones and bottles at security personnel. Security used tear gas to disperse the Coptic protesters.
Rally leaders called on authorities to stop intervening in the construction of churches and their restoration. Church building and restoration has been a controversial issue since both require approval from a governor. 
A government report published last year stated that Egypt has 2000 churches, compared with more than 93,000 mosques.
Copts constitute roughly ten percent of Egypt's total population of 79 million.
A security source said police are keeping the situation under control and have tightened security at the entrances and exits of Giza.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Make Cairo Clean!

This is a Re-post for my friend LeAnne. I encourage people to actively get involved in this, as this issue is also one that I consider of utmost importance to further development in Egypt.

Letters from Egypt: Small Changes

I’ve been told that you don’t move to a country anticipating to change it; however, you should find one small thing that you can work on to give back to the place that houses you. After all, we are only guests and we should give back to the country that allows us to accrue experience whether it’s for your job or just life in general.

I thought my small thing was teaching the children around my office how to be nice to the stray dogs and now, they even take care of one of the puppies. This is a huge deal here as animal rights are just not on the priority list for Egyptians. Yet in addition to the poor treatment of animals, there’s another problem that faces this country: little to no environmental awareness.

First things first, I am NOT a greenie ranting through the streets about climate change or anything like the such. However, the past week or so, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated at the amount of trash I’m walking through on a regular basis, and it seems like its getting worse. I was so angry the other morning after walking through a heap of trash and finding bags thrown over a balcony near my apartment that I cleaned it up myself. This morning, I saw the same thing in the same place again. This is where I walk my dog and you know what, I’m sick of having to walk through this.

I’ve done blogs on the Zabaleen before, the largely Christian community that hand recycles and collects the trash throughout Cairo. Cleaning trash from the streets carries a social stigma, but I’m determined to help even if I’m only an army of one. I don’t understand is that age old saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” which also translates into something similar in Arabic, “Elnazafa men aleman” (cleaning for faith).

There are hardly any trash bins throughout the city and the ones that you do find are overflowing.

So I utilized Cairo Scholars this morning to get feedback as to organizing a cleaning crew. Someone sent this article as a parallel (Young Pakistanis Take One Problem into Their Own Hands), and while the article is discussing Pakistan, there are so many similarities.

  • ·         “A group of young Pakistani friends, sick of hearing their families complain about the government, decided to spite them by taking matters into their own hands: every Sunday they would grab shovels, go out into their city, and pick up garbage.” Everyone here complains about the government, but no one does anything.
  • ·         “The youth of Pakistan wants to change things,” said Shahram Azhar. As well as the youth in Egypt.
  • ·         “The major problem people have here is that there are no bins,” said Murtaza Khwaja, a 21-year-old medical student. Same same
  • ·         “People say, ‘This is nice, but things will never change,’ ” Mr. Khwaja said.
  • ·         “The men in the mosque, on the other hand, were picky, wanting the young people to clean the mosque but not the surrounding area.”
  • ·         “They said, ‘We already have Christians doing that for us in the morning,’ ” Mr. Khwaja said. Christians are a minority in Pakistan, and those who have no education often work in the lowest-paid jobs, like collecting trash, sweeping streets or fixing sewers.

I am a firm believer in grass roots initiatives, so not only do I want to help clean, but I also want to create awareness. I am not naïve to think this will help anything for awhile, but I am hopeful (which could be considered an idealist) that if organized properly, we could help make Egypt better for everyone.

Volunteer to Help Make Cairo Clean
I just sent out an inquiry on Cairo Scholars and have had many people comment/want to help with a clean up. The first matter is organizing a group of volunteers, so if you’re interested, please email me at and I will add you to a list that I’m creating to send out notifications.

While this is all in the preliminary stages, I have proposed that we start off once a month to get support. I can make signs in English and Arabic that would explain what we’re doing in order to follow the concept ‘teach by doing.’ This will create awareness. The streets will be small because longer streets may cause people to feel frustrated or as though their efforts aren’t producing any results.

Participants will wear a green shirt to easily identify volunteers.

The trash collected will be taken to Garbage City for the Zabaleen to sort/recycle.

As I said, this is only preliminary thoughts so if you would like to participate or have other suggestions, comments and/or thoughts, please let me know.

So yalla Egypt, let’s get to cleaning!

Suz's Tip of the Week

Here's a tip that I just recently picked up, which I have to stay astounded me.

I've always suffered from brittle nails, breaking all the time or just not being strong enough to grow substantially. I've tried many things to remedy this problem, to no avail.

This past weekend, I heard of a tip that can simply help to remedy this problem. Something that most of us will have on hand in the kitchen. Garlic.
Image from
That's right, garlic. Take a clove of garlic, and chop it into small pieces. Let your fingernails sit in the garlic for a couple of minutes, a few times a week, and you'll notice dramatic increase in the strength of your nails.

You may wonder wtf Suz, I may have strong nails, but my fingers are gonna stink, but worry not, I have a remedy for that too!

Find yourself a stainless steel appliance in your kitchen, be it a knife, spoon, what have you. Rub the metal along your fingers, and you'll magically remove the garlic smell. If you're using a knife, be smart, and DO NOT use the sharp edge. Geez.

If you can't find a stainless steel appliance, just rub your fingers along the drain in your sink. Very few sinks do not use Stainless steel for the drains.

There you have it, Suz's tip to stronger, healthier nails, without the stank!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Once in a blue moon

I was sent this article by a friend today, and for anyone remotely interested in astrology, this provides quite an interesting read :) Not to mention, I definitely had to update my blog!! haha. Will provide Eid updates in the coming days ;)

The Really Strange Story Behind Sunday's Blue Moon

Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist
The full moon of November arrives on Sunday and will bring with it a cosmic addition: It will also be a so-called "blue moon."
"But wait a minute," you might ask. "Isn't a 'blue moon' defined as the second full moon that occurs during a calendar month? Sunday's full moon falls on Nov. 21 and it will be the only full moon in November 2010. So how can it be a 'blue' moon?"
Indeed, November's full moon is blue moon – but only if we follow a rule that's now somewhat obscure.
In fact, the current "two- full moons in one month" rule has superseded an older rule that would allow us to call Sunday's moon "blue." To be clear, the moon does not actually appear a blue color during a blue moon, it has to do with lunar mechanics.
Confused yet? 
Well, as the late Paul Harvey used to say — here now, is the rest of the story:
The blue moon rule
Back in the July 1943 issue of Sky Telescope magazine, in a question and answer column written by Lawrence J. Lafleur, there was a reference made to the term "blue moon."  [Gallery - Full Moon Fever]
Lafleur cited the unusual term from a copy of the 1937 edition of the now-defunct Maine Farmers' Almanac (NOT to be confused with The Farmers' Almanac of Lewiston, Maine, which is still in business). 
On the almanac page for August 1937, the calendrical meaning for the term "blue moon" was given. 
That explanation said that the moon "... usually comes full twelve times in a year, three times for each season."
Occasionally, however, there will come a year when there are 13 full moons during a year, not the usual 12. The almanac explanation continued:
"This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number."
And with that extra full moon, it also meant that one of the four seasons would contain four full moons instead of the usual three. 
"There are seven Blue Moons in a Lunar Cycle of nineteen years," continued the almanac, ending on the comment that, "In olden times the almanac makers had much difficulty calculating the occurrence of the Blue Moon and this uncertainty gave rise to the expression 'Once in a Blue Moon.'"
An unfortunate oversight
But while LaFleur quoted the almanac's account, he made one very important omission: He never specified the date for this particular blue moon.  
As it turned out, in 1937, it occurred on Aug. 21. That was the third full moon in the summer of 1937, a summer season that would see a total of four full moons. 
Names were assigned to each moon in a season: For example, the first moon of summer was called the early summer moon, the second was the midsummer moon, and the last was called the late summer moon.
But when a particular season has four moons, the third was apparently called a blue moon so that the fourth and final one can continue to be called the late moon.
So where did we get the "two full moons in a month rule" that is so popular today?
A moon mistake
Once again, we must turn to the pages of Sky & Telescope.
This time, on page 3 of the March 1946 issue, James Hugh Pruett wrote an article, "Once in a Blue Moon," in which he made a reference to the term "blue moon" and referenced LaFleur's article from 1943. 
But because Pruett had no specific full moon date for 1937 to fall back on, his interpretation of the ruling given by the Maine Farmers' Almanac was highly subjective. Pruett ultimately came to this conclusion:
"Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon."  
How unfortunate that Pruett did not have a copy of that 1937 almanac at hand, or else he would have almost certainly noticed that his "two full moons in a single month assumption" would have been totally wrong.
For the blue moon date of Aug. 21 was most definitely not the second full moon that month!
Blue moon myth runs wild
Pruett's 1946 explanation was, of course, the wrong interpretation and it might have been completely forgotten were it not for Deborah Byrd who used it on her popular National Public Radio program, "StarDate" on Jan. 31, 1980.  
We could almost say that in the aftermath of her radio show, the incorrect blue moon rule "went viral" — or at least the '80s equivalent of it. 
Over the next decade, this new blue moon definition started appearing in diverse places, such as the World Almanac for Kids and the board game Trivial Pursuit.
I must confess here, that even I was involved in helping to perpetuate the new version of the blue moon phenomenon. Nearly 30 years ago, in the Dec. 1, 1982 edition of The New York Times, I made reference to it in that newspaper's "New York Day by Day" column. 
And by 1988, the new definition started receiving international press coverage. 
Today, Pruett's misinterpreted "two full moons in a month rule" is recognized worldwide.  Indeed, Sky & Telescope turned a literary lemon into lemonade, proclaiming later that – however unintentional – it changed pop culture and the English language in unexpected ways.
Meanwhile, the original Maine Farmers' Almanac rule had been all but forgotten.
Playing by the (old) rules
Now, let's come back to this Sunday's full moon. 
Under the old Almanac rule, this would technically be a blue moon. In the autumn season of 2010, there are four full moons:
  • Sept. 23
  • Oct. 22
  • Nov. 21
  • Dec. 21
"But wait," you might say. "Dec. 21 is the first day of winter."
And you would be correct, but only if you live north of the equator in the Northern Hemisphere. South of the equator it's the first day of summer.
In 2010, the solstice comes at 6:38 p.m. EST (2338 UT). 
But the moon turns full at 3:13 a.m. EST (0813 UT). That's 15 hours and 25 minutes before the solstice occurs. So the Dec. 21 full moon occurs during the waning hours of fall and qualifies as the fourth full moon of the season. 
This means that under the original Maine Almanac rule – the one promoted by Lafleur and later misinterpreted by Pruett – the third full moon of the 2010 fall season on Nov. 21 would be a blue moon.  
Choose your blue moon
So what Blue Moon definition tickles your fancy? Is it the second full moon in a calendar month, or (as is the case on Sunday) the third full moon in a season with four?
Maybe it's both. The final decision is solely up to you.
Sunday's full moon will look no different than any other full moon. But the moon can change color in certain conditions.
After forest fires or volcanic eruptions, the moon can appear to take on a bluish or even lavender hue. Soot and ash particles, deposited high in the Earth's atmosphere, can sometimes make the moon appear bluish.
In the aftermath of the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991, there were reports of blue moons (and even blue suns) worldwide. 
We could even call the next full moon (on Dec. 21) a "red moon," but for a different reason: On that day there will be a total eclipse of the moon and, for a short while, the moon will actually glow with a ruddy reddish hue.
More on that special event in the days to come here at, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Big Feast

November marks the month in 2010 when Muslims around the world will celebrate the feast of the Eid al-Adha. Also known as the “Greater Eid,” the Eid al-Adha is a festival unlike any other.

Set to fall around November 16 in 2010, the history of the Eid al-Adha, or the “Festival of Sacrifice,” is one riddled with religious practices, time spent with your family, and gratitude for the life and blessings around you.

However, many foreigners that are living in Egypt are unaware of what exactly makes this feast so special, and why it is earmarked as such an important religious festival for Muslims around the world.

Eid al-Adha is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar. The Dhu al-Hijjah in itself is a sacred month in Islam; it is the 12th month in the Islamic lunar calendar, and coincides with the time during which Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. As this pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, the importance of this practice should not be underestimated. The pilgrimage relates closely to the Eid al-Adha, as both are expressions of an individual’s devotion and faith in Allah, or God.

The story of the Prophet Abraham forms the backbone of the Eid al-Adha festival. Charged by God to kill his only son Ishmael as a testament of his faith in God, the Prophet Abraham set about to carry out the task set before him.  During preparations to carry out God’s will, Satan appeared to the Prophet Abraham and his wife, Hagar, and son Ishmael. To drive away Satan, Ishmael and Hagar threw stones. To this day, Muslims will throw stones during the Hajj to represent the rejection of Satan.

When the Prophet Abraham was about to kill his only son to prove his faith in his Lord,  Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice a ram instead. Abraham had proven that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God, and it is this sacrifice that Muslim’s commemorate during the Eid al-Adha.

To this day, Muslims around the world will sacrifice animals during the Great Feast to commemorate Abraham’s trials and faith. However, the animals are not sacrificed in a haphazard way. Muslims are required to speak the name of God before slaughtering any animal, to remind them of the sanctity of life.

The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow God’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. It is a recognition of the fact that all blessings come from God, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

Along with sacrificing meat, Muslims will attend prayers on the first day of the Great Feast. In addition, and in Egypt in particular, Muslims will dip their hands in the blood from the slaughtered animals and put their hand prints on cars, buildings, homes, front doors, and a number of other places. This is a form of protection against any evil spirits and the evil eye; many new buildings throughout Egypt will bear these handprints.

So during this special and holy time of the year, remember what the real history of the Eid al-Adha is. 

Remember the sanctity of life, and the importance of humbleness and generosity. It will give you an additional insight into the Islamic faith, and the practices of every day people throughout Egypt!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Irresponsible Pet Ownership - 101

I'm not a dog trainer, nor am I a dog expert. I have, however, grown up with dogs my entire life. I like to think that when it comes to learning how to deal with your animal, I at least have a preliminary basis of information.

For example, I know that my dog requires fresh food and water every day. I know that my dog requires shelter, and a place to sleep. And I know that my dog requires to go outside throughout the day. To ensure that my dog does not get lost, hurt, hit by a car, or attack someone / something else, I keep my dog on the leash. I figure, it's one of the fundamental steps of dog ownership. Unless your dog will literally stop, drop, and roll from 500 metres away via the command of your voice, it should be kept on a leash.

In Hurghada, people find this logic silly. This includes European pet owners, not just Egyptians. (Who, btw, I have seen allow a 6 week puppy off the leash, to follow them in the streets. This would be all well and good if cars here didn't make one of their sole objectives in driving hitting objects at large, including dogs.) *and in all good sense, WHO LETS A 6 WEEK OLD PUPPY WANDER AROUND ON ITS OWN!!!*

So I take Orien out for a nice walk this afternoon. Two streets away from my house, there's an expanse of desert that is great for dog walking. Were I less intelligent, I'd let him off the leash to wander around. Then end up spending half my afternoon chasing him to get him back on the lead. :p

We're in the desert, minding our own business, and I see a lady walking up the road. She's holding a lead. About 200 meters in front of her, is her dog. Breed unknown. Now, picture this. Orien and I are about 1/3 mile away across the desert. Her dog sees Orien. Starts barking, and proceed to march towards us. Said dog's owner, simply continues strolling up the road. I'm standing there thinking, "OK, she'll call him back any second" - I mean, where am I supposed to go? Turn around and retreat into the desert so said dog can follow us further?

As this dog gets closer, he starts barking. Raises the hair on the back of his neck. Finally, said dog's owner realises that "hmm, maybe I should call my dog." Starts shouting out his name, no urgency. Nothing. Said dog does not respond. (A fairly good indication, you stupid woman, that you should keep your dog ON THE EFFIN LEAD). Said dog gets close enough to Orien where I can hear him growling. Now, Orien is not an aggressive dog. He would play with everyone were I to let him. I am however, trying to break his habit of essentially dislocating my arm whenever he sees another dog. So I have him sitting quietly next to me. Just watching this fiasco play out.

Lady finally gets close enough, saying "quiet *insert dogs name here*, it's ok. There's no problem." I can see, she is grossly mistaken, and there is indeed a problem, as said dog is rolling his eyes and growling at Orien. She then tells me "Don't worry, he just gets nervous around other dogs on a leash." Oh really? How interesting! What kind of phenomenon is this?

Her dog comes closer, and sniffs Orien. Deciding instantly he didn't like him. AND ATTACKS MY DOG. This whole time, the dog owner is still standing there saying "it's ok, come here *name*, don't worry!" The noise of him attacking Orien attracts another dog. Owned by another EQUALLY IRRESPONSIBLE PERSON, who proceeds to join in the fray. This dog, an enormous male German Shepherd.

Next thing I know, I'm doing everything in my power to get BOTH dogs off of my dog, who is pinned to the ground, while these two assholes are biting every bit of him they can reach. I finally manage to grab the collar of the Shepherd, who's owner is slowly walking up to us calling his dogs name. The stupid woman owner of the first dog, just STANDS THERE AND WATCHES, while I'm trying to break this fight apart. Seriously, could you BE any more stupid.

After I manage to break them up, kick her dog away, and she FINALLY realises that *hmm, maybe I should grab his collar* she proceeds to tell me, while I'm trying to calm Orien down, who is shaking and looking very forlorn, "Oh, I hope he's ok!" Fortunately I was more concerned about my Dog, otherwise that woman's face would have made a very intimate relationship with my fist.

As we're walking away. I see the epitome of intelligence exhibited in this country. A doorman, who had seen the fight happen, had RELEASED his two dogs, again, BOTH OFF THE LEAD, to come and investigate. Yes. Genius. That's EXACTLY what needed to happen. Orien wasn't having it. These two dogs came close, and all I could hear was the jet engine sounds of him growling at them. You know at this point, he's just thinking "WTF man! I'm just out here to PEE!!!"

Fortunately, Orien has come away with just a few cuts and bruises. Thank God he has had his shots, so I don't have to worry about how much more irresponsible these other owners could have been. Now, he's sitting in the corner of my bedroom, licking his wounds and looking very sorry for himself.

I just cannot get over the stupidity of some people here. So for anyone and everyone reading this who owns a dog, for the love of God. KEEP IT ON A LEAD.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taboo and Rape in Egypt

By Mona Eltahawy
The Jerusalem Report
Oct. 28, 2010

A WOMAN, COVERED head-to-toe in a black veil, appeared on Egyptian television this summer to drop a bombshell: two policemen, she said, had raped her.

It’s unclear if she normally wears the niqab, the face veil, or if it served to protect her anonymity. But there was no doubt that her allegation served as a sledgehammer to strike two of Egypt’s sorest spots of late: sexual assault and police brutality.

The latter has been the subject of outcry and unprecedented protest since Khaled Said, a young businessman, died on June 6 from what his family and witnesses say was a police beating. Two plainclothes police officers went on trial on July 27, charged with illegal arrest and excessive force.

Standing up to the police in a country that’s been under emergency law for 29 years comes with considerable risk. Said’s family says he was targeted after posting an online video allegedly showing police sharing the profit of a drug bust.

Reporting rape anywhere is difficult but in Egypt’s conservative culture, women keep quiet rather than risk arousing blame or humiliation, and at times rape again at a police station. In some cases, they risk being killed by a relative to rid the family of shame.

“I am sacrificing my reputation by telling the story... to protect every girl, every woman who may trust a police van. I tell them now, if you see a police van, you must be very careful,” she said. “I want the officials to know what policemen do to the people. Even now, I still can’t believe or comprehend that these were policemen.”

Her lawyer told the TV station a police investigation had recognized that the rape took place but didn’t identify the attackers as policemen. It’s unclear how her case has proceeded. Assailants in rape cases face sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment. Marital rape is not illegal in Egypt.

Some 20,000 rapes are reported in Egypt each year, according to a state-run research center. But that figure is said to represent just 10 percent of the total number of victims. When I was a reporter in Cairo, psychiatrists were my source for information on sexual assaults. They are the ones rape survivors went to for help to cope.

Sexual assaults have been surfacing for a while, often with a background of police ineptitude or compliance. In 2005, hundreds of Egyptians staged an angry protest against the sexual harassment and assault of female activists and reporters by suspected government supporters. The women said police and security forces stood by, some shouting orders during the assaults.

Sexual assaults in downtown Cairo during a religious festival in 2006 forced Egypt to confront the consequences of its unchecked sexual harassment. Women said police did nothing as men tore off their clothes and headscarves, groping them and in some cases trying to rape them during the festival. The Interior Ministry denied the assaults even took place.

Bloggers at the scene posted photographs and videos of the assaults, pushing them onto the headlines and forcing a long-overdue reckoning. A number of draft laws dealing with sexual harassment are under consideration by Parliament but there is still nothing on Egypt’s statute books that specifically prohibits street harassment.

Later this year, a volunteer-run private venture, HarassMap, will be launched that will allow women to report street sexual harassment by sending an SMS to a centralized computer. They will receive a reply offering support and practical advice, and the reports will be used to build up a detailed and publicly available map of harassment hot spots that activists hope will shame authorities into taking greater action.

Attitudes toward rape across the Arab world generally are abysmal. The stigma – and often the law – is much harsher on the woman than on the rapist.

Two cases notorious for their miscarriage of justice clearly illustrate why most women who are raped keep quiet. In 2007, a Saudi woman who reported being gang-raped was sentenced to 200 lashes and imprisonment for being alone with a man. After an international outcry, the Saudi king pardoned her.

In June, a court in Abu Dhabi sentenced an 18-year-old Emirati woman to a year in prison for illicit sex after she reported that six men had gang-raped her. The court said that by agreeing to go for a drive with a male friend, a 19-year-old military police officer, she had consented to having sex with him.

The woman in niqab on Egyptian television understood the magnitude of what she was doing. Her tearful TV segment, which has gone viral on YouTube, stands to become as iconic as the harrowing footage in 2006 of policemen sodomizing bus driver Emad Kabir with a stick. Two bloggers posted that footage and two of the policemen were sentenced to three years in jail. Kabir’s testimony helped break the taboo around male rape in police custody.

The woman in niqab is helping break a taboo too, but neither she nor Egypt is ready for her to do so as publicly as Kabir, whose name we know and whose face was clearly visible as he screamed in pain in the footage of his rape.

All we know of the woman in niqab is that she is a grandmother.

She told that to the police she accuses of raping her as she pleaded with them to stop.