Posts Tagged With: Syria

A Lot Of Nothing In The Name Of Procrastination And The News…

By Kiki Keane

Rachel is still MIA. She has moved into her new place, but is without internet until tomorrow. I have been busy shopping for the trip and trying not to die in this terrible heat. I am sitting in my Papasan trying to protect my cup of coffee from my caffeine loving cat, Alia Atreides (Alia or Ollie for short) and studiously avoiding reading my book club book, Istanbul Passage. I want to read it. I do. I just … I’m a champion procrastinator. And lazy. (I think we have more than established that fact on this blog.) In fact, I am writing this post not because I have anything to say, but because I am avoiding the 133 pages I have to read today. If the procrastination goes as planned, I will have 266 pages to read tomorrow or the entirety of the book to read on Saturday.

I finished my orientation, or onboarding as the folks at Toonari call it, on Tuesday, which means that I can/should start turning out stories. I might try to get that War Tax piece we mentioned a few months back published on Toonari before I go. No one else seems particularly interested in it.

Besides shopping and studiously avoiding the things I should be doing, I have also seriously considered and decided to get rid of my Facebook account. I really love social media. I love being able to connect with all kinds of people all over the world. However, Facebook has been making me claustrophobic lately. Also, it’s a time suck. I sometimes feel that way about Twitter, but Twitter has been more useful than Facebook. Twitter has allowed me to connect with journalists, activists and others around the world, most of whom seem willing to help each other with their various pursuits. That does not mean that I won’t be purging some accounts that I follow. I will be sticking to a few friends, the news, activists and journos. That may only get rid of 100 or so accounts, but probably a 1000 or more tweets a day. I love Scott Baio, but I don’t care about his, or any of his fans, junk drawers.

And the news:

1) Herehere and here are Richard Engel’s latest on Syria. And here is a piece by CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Also, Assad has picked a new PM. This article is from NBC News (formerly MSNBC) and includes a few other pieces on Syria. And Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria.

2) Libya has picked Magarief to be president.

3) The murder trial of Gu Kailai started and ended today.

4) Here you will find the hottest places on Earth.

5) In Mali militias train to oust Islamists.

6) This isn’t news, but it’s an interesting article written by Douglas Preston about the time he spent in Italy trying to solve a string of 14 murders committed by a serial killer dubbed “The Monster of Florence.” He wrote a book about it called The Monster of Florence.

 

 

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Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged That When One Is In Need Of A New Pair Of Pants No Store Within A 300 Mile Radius Will Have A Single, Solitary Pair In Your Size…

By Kiki Keane

Ugh! I’ve dropped several dress sizes this year, which means that I have to do the thing I dread the most: Shop. I hate shopping. I really, really do. I thought I would love it. I thought things would be easier. Sad truth is, it still takes going to every store within a 300 miles radius to find a single pair of jeans in my size! Where did they all go? Everything below an 8 that does not show one’s ass-crack or cut off one’s circulation have disappeared from the shelves of New Mexican stores. Also, size 6 shoes. They have all vanished. I suspect everyone has been replaced by body snatching pod-people with large feet. Or maybe (Gulp!) I’m the pod-person…

Okay. Enough grumbling.

I really wish that I had something interesting to write about, but my life is currently uneventful. (I know. I know. Enjoy it while I can!) One would think with all this downtime, I would find something productive to do. I have not. I have not studied Arabic. I have not read more than 30 pages in a book. I have not read my book club selection. I have not exercised. Mostly, I just move from my bed to my Papasan and back with a few trips to the kitchen. Okay. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’ve made some trips to the library for books I most likely won’t read. I have also gone on a wild book hunt for used mass market copies of my favorite noir novels. (I can handle anything except an extended period without my hardboiled private dicks and femmes fatales.)  I came up mostly empty. I can find them in trade and ebook form online, but trade are big and sometimes heavy and I just can’t carry all that with me on my travels. And there is just something repulsive about reading classic noir on a kindle. However, I did find my favorite Science Fiction novel, Invasion Of the Body Snatchers, in a first edition Dell mass market. It’s a little musty and little worse for wear, but at least I’ll be able to take it with me! I’ll also be able to have my favorite spy (007) with me.

Needless to say, all this moving from bed to chair to bed has left little time for news gathering. I am not proud. However, I have been paying some attention. Here and here are the latest from Richard Engel who is still in Syria.

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We Are Back! No, Really! We Are! Promise!

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Okay. We have been really, really, really bad at this whole blog thing as of late. Rachel is still in the process of moving into her new place and I have been busy reducing my life into a backpack and medium sized duffle bag and watching a truly terrible show called Femme Fatale. It’s like driving by a car wreak; you know it’s wrong to look, but you do it anyway.

Also, I would like to share some happy news. I will be working for Toonari Post. It is unpaid and I still have to go through orientation, but I least I will have a place to publish and an extra set of news credentials. Yay!

For our first collective blog in weeks we are going to share our new goals. I don’t remember what mine were, but it’s a safe bet that I didn’t do them. I swear I’m going to get better at this whole followthrough thing.

New Goals:

Kiki:

1) Read a fiction book 2) Finish one of the trip related books 3) Make a Visa decision (they still aren’t answering the phone or responding to email)

Rachel

I do not remember my previous goals either but it is a fairly safe assumption that I have completed few to none of them.  Here are my new goals:

1) Complete a book either fiction or non-fiction 2) Work on my credit card issue (the issue is I don’t have one!) 3) Complete the moving process 4)Relax a little bit

Moving is really no fun, I can only console myself with the fact that soon I will be in a new home. There are 5 or 6, no joke, FOR RENT signs up in front of my house so at least once a day somebody comes by poking their head into the windows and asking me 5o questions about the place. Couple that with the fact that the tiny widow air conditioner is so completely ineffective that I cannot sleep  more than a few hours a night due to the stifling heat and you have a very cranky Rachel indeed. Yesterday I rode the bus for an hour simply because it was air conditioned.

In Other News:

I (Kiki) thought I would have to avoid the news for the duration of the Olympics, but thankfully news organizations have been good about putting other news on their websites. So, I have been able to avoid that jock-fueled, Nationalist weirdness as I read/watch the news. Although, I haven’t been able to filter out the Olympics completely. As it turns out this is the first time that all nations taking part in the games have women on their teams and there are two Saudi Arabia women able to participate.

Here are some stories I’ve been following:

1) Syrian rebels finally got a couple of missiles and Assad is rallying the troops. Also, Foreign policy experts urge US to get involved in Syria.

2) Is Mali a haven for Al Queda?

3) Clinton will be making her first visit to South Sudan.

4) The situation is deteriorating in eastern Congo.

5) Violence nearly at two-year peak in Iraq.

6) Netanyahu told Panetta that time for a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear dispute is running out.

This isn’t news, but I love this article (the book is about to come out). It’s a wonderfully articulate article (with lots of examples) about why some of the most touted “literary” writers are actually bad writers. He makes a very valid point: just because you don’t understand what the heck they’re saying, doesn’t mean they’re literary or that your stupid. Actually, it most likely means they are actually bad writers.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apologies But Life Avoidance Was Necessary, Or Why Are Women’s Sneakers So Annoyingly Colorful?

By Kiki Keane

I apologize for the long absence. Rachel has been busy getting ready to move into her new apartment and I have been very distracted by Blossom and Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place. I had no idea they had been put on DVD. I became obsessed. It was real ugly there for awhile.

The daily 90s sitcom marathons were no doubt an exercise in avoidance. Between dancing along with Blossom and Six and swooning over Nathan Fillion and Ryan Reynolds (together!) I had little time to freakout over the Visa situation (no one answers phones or emails), the lack of decently colored women’s sneakers (Why is everything white or neon and pastel? Whatever happened to just plain black?), the lack of “modest” but attractive dresses (Why are the only options skintight and Daisy Duke short or grandma?), the lack of real jeans options (again, skintight or mom or grandma), the fact that my Amazon purchases for the trip have been delivered but have not actually been delivered (they supposedly arrived a week ago) and I am six weeks away from the biggest life change I have ever had (and I have had a few) and I have no idea what I am doing. I’m not someone who “wings it.” I am planner and worrier and a freaker-outer (silently) and there is just no way to plan this kind of thing. Not really. Not in any kind of detail.

Okay. Enough of the drama. How about some actual important drama? Forgive me if these stories are out of date.

Here is the latest on Syria: Richard Engel is in Syria and here are his reports for Nightly News on Tuesday and Thursday and on Today. Richard Engel’s analysis of the situation and on the Shabiha and the rebel’s justice. Al Jeezera’s latest on Aleppo. CNN’s latest on Damascus and Aleppo. Here is the latest from NBCNews. This one is a bit old, but just in case you haven’t seen it: Richard Engel’s Rock Center report on his last trip to Syria a few weeks ago.

Here is a bit about Iraq: There were a 103 people killed in Tuesday’s blasts and according to CNN, suspected Al Qaeda militants clashed with security forces on Thursday.

Here is some news out of Egypt: Morsy appointed a new Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Here is a domestic story:  A short NBCNews story on the massive synthetic drug bust that happened recently. I put it here only because one of the stores that was raided is a local one. I always find it amusing and annoying that the only time New Mexico makes the national news is for something bad.

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A Trip to the ABQ, Haiku, Tarantulas, Age Related Vision Problems AND The News

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Pardon our absence, but we have been busy social bees the last few days. Yesterday was filled with adventure (a trip to Albuquerque) and pain (Kiki had to get her Yellow Fever, Tetanus and Meningitis shots). We also ate more than any human being should be allowed consume. We went to an amazing restaurant called The Elephant Bar and had quantities of ultra delicious food that it surely had crack mixed into it. (Kiki wishes to state that the food was good, but would not go so far drug-laced.)  We also visited the mall, a great bookstore called Page One and Trader Joe’s, which we don’t have in our corner of New Mexico. We drove and drove. We passed the Very Large Array, which I (Rachel) very much wanted to see but alas it was too late in the day and we did not have the time.

Light filtering through

Blue-white cirrus clouds above.

Rio Grande gleaming.

I (Rachel) was very excited to find on my porch today a package of much anticipated tarantulas. Two Poecilotheria subfusca spiderlings which are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful off all tarantula species. These guys are not for beginners though, they have precise temperature requirements and they possess a medically significant bite. I also got a freebie Phormictopus cancerides. For the sake of Kiki we will imagine I received a box of three precious kitties.

My (Kiki) day was not nearly as exciting. I got a new pair of glasses and then had to buy some reading glasses to use  when I wear my contacts. This is what happens when you age. Not only does your distance vision worsen, but have to correct the part of your vision that was perfect before.

On a less happy note: The News

1) Today is the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica

2) Women protested the public shooting of a woman in Afghanistan

3) Photographer and Richard Engel remember Marie Colvin

4) More on Syria

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Accounting, New Goals, Syria And Punctuation Personality Types, Or Why Rachel Is Now Called Wednesday And Why Kiki Can’t Find The Glasses On Her Face…

By Kiki Keane

Apologies for our long absence. Rachel and I were busy (Rachel) and lazy (me). Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m going to take a dig at Rachel simply because she’s not here to defend herself. You see, Rachel has been busy this week, but there was a day were she could have blogged, but she decided instead to play Cards Against Humanity into the wee hours of the morning… Actually, it’s not much of a dig. Rachel would the be the first person to confess that she chose a game over blogging.

Anyway, enough of that. I am here for our weekly accounting. Rachel is busy running around and doing things that self-sufficiant adults have to do. Put simply, Rachel accomplished 1.5 out of 3 personal goals and is 1 for 1 in the collective category. As for me, I accomplished 1.5 out of 4 and a perfect 1 for 1 for the collective! In truth, however, things are little more complicated than that, at least as far as Rachel is concerned. Let me explain.

Rachel:

Rachel finished one whole goal, which was to watch two movies. She watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version) and The Yacoubian Building. The other two goals (reading two books and being optimistic) were only half accomplished. Rachel read one book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. As for her optimism… Well, she’s decided that I am the best judge. My ruling is as follows: 3 out of 6 days. She wasn’t optimistic in the strictest sense, but she did try to crack a few jokes while practicing Arabic. And there were a few moments were she wasn’t all doom and gloom. Some days I am tempted to call her Wednesday.

So you see, the tally isn’t exactly 1.5 out of 3. For all I know, Rachel might think she was pretty optimistic everyday. Until I learn to read minds (it’s on my Bucket List) I will have no idea what goes on in her dark, dark mind…

New Goals:

1) Read 1 book 2) Study Arabic 3) Cling to the remnants of her sanity

Kiki:

As always, I was a lazy lady this week. I think sometimes that I was born in the wrong class in the wrong century. I am much more suited to the life of country lady of yore. One who lays on an uncomfortable looking couch staring dreamily into the distance or being fed grapes by very handsome, very stupid man.

Moving on…

I watched The Yacoubian Building, which was my one fully accomplished goal. I even returned it to the library on time! I read one book, which was also called The Yacoubian Building (my halfway finished goal). I forgot to call the visa people. Every. Single. Day. I would only remember at night (like right now) when it was to late to call, which would cause a small panic attack (like I’m experiencing right now). So there went goals 3 and 5. I feel like I shouldn’t make “not panicking” a goal, since I panic a lot. Everyday. Sometimes multiple times a day. It’s hardwired into my DNA. It’s what I do. And I’m REALLY good at it. But, I hate it. So, I’m going to keep making it a goal and maybe one day I will successfully not panic. It’s funny though. I’m always much more calm when I’m traveling and have no idea what I’m doing. I only panic before I go…

As for reading 1984… well, I had to take it back to the library (I renewed it to many times) so I was unable to finish it. However, I will check it out again (and finish it!) as soon as I read one of the other library books I have stacked at the side of my bed. Which leads me to the half unfinished goal: reading a book relevant to my trip. Now, The Yacoubian Building is an Egyptian novel. So technically I could argue that I accomplished the entire goal, but that’s not what I had in mind. When I wrote “one relevant to my trip” I meant non-fiction and while I have read a good 200 pages of a couple of different non-fiction books about the Middle East, I didn’t finish a single one.

New Goals:

1) Read 1 novel and a book relevant to my trip 2) Study Arabic 3) Call the Visa people 4) Read two magazine articles a day 5) Not panic

Collective Goal(s):

1) Study Arabic together

Because I Haven’t Wasted Enough of Your Time…

I came across this today. It’s called Your Punctuation Personality Type, in which you can find out what your favorite punctuation mark says about you. It’s made up, of course, and I completely disagree with most of them because I see those punctuation marks differently. For example, I really love and abuse the ellipses. I like what it says or doesn’t say. I love that it leaves so much unsaid and that you, the reader, get to decide all that is in the … I think it shows a healthy respect for the unknown. This is what my personality type is according to the post: An indecisive and flighty person. You lose your train of thought easily. You are a follower and like to let other people take the risks. You often misplace your keys or spend ten minutes looking for the glasses you’re already wearing. Indecisive? Yes. It’s not because I can’t make a decision, but because I like adventure and because I really don’t care most of the time. Flighty? Maybe. I don’t forget the glasses on my face and I NEVER misplace my keys. Okay. I forget them sometimes, but only if I haven’t driven my car for a few days. Follower? Certainly not. Not unless there taking me to the ice cream shop or leading me to chocolate. I may not be a “leader,” but I’m definitely a risk taker. I am, after all, about to embark on a journey that could get me killed or imprisoned or just be an epic fail.

My other favorite punctuation marks are the parentheses and the exclamation point. I over use them. A lot. I don’t wholly agree with the personality assessment for these marks either, but they are half right. I am sarcastic, though I prefer the term “snarky,” and I am a very affectionate drunk, though I can sometimes be mean. It depends on what I’m drinking.

I also have great respect and am in awe, really, of the semi-colon. Mainly because it’s so powerful and so often misused.

Okay. Enough about the punctuation. How about some news? I’m only going to mention Syria because I have things to do and the sun is quickly setting.

It turns out that Syria’s regime is ‘wobbling’ and is descending into a civil war. Apparently it’s less like Libya and more like Baghdad. Here’s Richard Engel’s report on Nightly News yesterday and the bit he did with Andrea Mitchell today. Also, Russia seems to be giving the regime helicopter gunships.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Bull, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Punctuation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots Of Troubling News And A Brief Ode To The Power Of A Good Traveler’s Tale On The Young

By Kiki Keane

More news from Egypt today. According to MSNBC, Mubarak was sentenced to life for the deaths of protesters just over a year ago. He could have been sentenced to death. Also on trial were his cronies and sons. His interior minister, Habib el-Adli, was also given a life sentence. Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa were acquitted on corruption charges. The rulings sparked protest in Tahrir Square, Alexandria and Suez.

Here is another piece on the story from NBC Nightly News.

Sadly, this week I have not been watching/reading the news as much as I usually do. However, I have managed to watch NBC Nightly news most evenings and I was glad to find that there was an interview done with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak about Israel’s intentions toward Iran should they insist on going forward with their nuclear program. Here is the story for Nightly News and here is the extended interview (web only). The report is by Richard Engel.

There’s lots of other interesting and important international news stories. The growth and appeal of al-Shabaab in Africa, Taylor’s 50 year jail sentence for ‘brutal crimes,’ Syria’s trouble is spilling over into Lebanon, al-Qaeda in Yemen and the latest in Syria, of course.

Here is a Frontline piece on al-Qaeda in Yemen. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad and producer Jamie Doran are very brave souls.

I have also been following the news in Mali, which frankly hasn’t been getting much attention. And why would it? It doesn’t have much to interest foreign powers. But Mali has always had a certain allure for me, ever since a woman professing to be some sort of missionary in Mali came to the local church and into my Sunday School class and told us wild stories of her time there. She turned out be a fraud and cheat, but those stories sparked something in me and I promised myself that I would go there one day. Anyway, the events of the last few months would make a trip there very difficult, especially to the al-Qaeda dominated northern cities, like Timbuktu. Though I try not to shy away from danger, it may be awhile before I make it there.

So the latest news is that the al-Qaeda linked Ansar Dine and the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or the MNLA (led by the Tauregs) signed an agreement Saturday, but disagree on how strictly to impose Islamic or Sharia Law. It seems that African groups that want to implement Sharia Law are on the rise: al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Algeria).

Okay. I think I’m done depressing everyone now.

Categories: Adventure, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, Or Kiki Is Grumpy and Rachel Is Cheery (For A Change)

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

So… we have news on our trip. Firstly, it will be much more expensive to live in Egypt than we thought, so a new job hunt has started! Wish us luck (also because we are miserable in our current occupations). A friend of mine (Rachel) has offered to help us in our apartment search, so it’s not all bad. Secondly, one of my former professors has offered to let me (Kiki) write a few stories for the journalism departments online magazine, The Merge. She has also offered me (Kiki) a press pass, which is very exciting and helpful! In other words, our trip is both progressing and halting.

Rachel has been making progress on her 50/50  challenge, she has finished one book this week (Bag of Bones by Stephen King) and is halfway through a second (Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham). She needs to do better on the movie side of that 50/50 coin however, since starting the challenge she hasn’t watched a single one! She also has to get on board with some non-fiction to round out the book portion of the challenge.

Kiki is a complete failure on both parts of the 50/50 challenge. She has done nothing but watch The Golden Girls and Frasier  reruns. Well, that’s not entirely true. She did read about five pages in a new book called Baghdad Without A Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz. So, that counts for something right?

Here are some interesting bits we’ve been keeping an eye on this week:

1) Paintballing with Hezbollah

2) Mathematician, Vi Hart, Explains Spirals and Fibonacci Numbers in Doodles and Vegetables

3) Einstein’s documents are online

4) Muppets get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

5) Iranian weapons are being used against Syrian protesters, according to U.S. and European officials

6) Military push against Kony

7) Cruise ship vs. cargo ship

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blog With No Name

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Rachel has signed up for the 50/50 challenge! Now we can be crazy ladies together!

Rachel has had a hard week with her dog being sick and now, sad to say, has passed away. So, she hasn’t been thinking about ideas for our duel blog posts. I have no excuse. I’m just lazy, it would seem.

Here are a few News stories we have been following:

1) We are sure everyone has heard about the Kony video. Here is a news story about in case you have been living under a rock.

2) The Solar Storm

3) Citizen Scientists Discover Cosmic Bubbles in Milky Way Galaxy

4) Here and here  and here are a few really good (though limited due to time constraints) discussions on Syria and the Israeli-Iranian conflict with Richard Engel and a couple of experts.

5) President Bashar Al-Assad and Kofi Annan talk candidly in Damascus amid fresh violence

6) US gives up control of jail where Quran was burned

Categories: Books, Journalism, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is Very Tedious To Write A Blog Post On Your Phone, Or Being Reminded How Old I Am

By: Kiki Keane

For some reason I can’t access the blog on my computer, so I am attempting to write this on my phone. We’ll see how long I can go before I become truly annoyed.

I have started a new book. It’s called tThe Sisters Brothers. I can’t stop reading it! I generally do not like Westerns, but much like True Grit, it is surprisingly well written, full of interesting characters and has a compelling and weirdly likable narrator. Based on what I’ve read so far, I would definitely recommend it.

Okay, I’ve just about reached my limit. One more thing. I can’t seem to find a link for it, but Richard Engel was on the Dylan Ratigan Show discussing Iran and Syria. You should watch it if you’re able to find it. I’ll see if I can retweet the link later.

Categories: Books, Goals, Journalism, Media, Nerd | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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