Addicted to the Internet

PC Magazine apparently has a list of the top 100 underrated websites of the year. I won't link to it here, i think you're all capable of a google search.

I checked out a few of them and I have found one that I enjoy very much. It's called GoodReads.com. Here's the deal: you create a profile and begin reviewing books that you are reading/ have read. You can invite your friends and keep up-to-date with what they're reading as well as their reviews of books read.

I have been fighting the temptation to add every book I've ever read! But, I want each book I add to have some sort of value - a good review or something. I have to admit that I have added more books already than I plan to review, so I am trying to slow myself down and just add new books as I read them. We'll see how I do.

If you decide to join, seek me out and be my friend. Unless, of course, you read crap books that I don't want to know about. I don't think that's be anyone who reads this, though.

In the spirit of book love, I've also added the GoodReads widget down below my archives on the right hand side of this page.

Also, you will notice that I have added a new blog to the blog list on the right. Be sure to check it out. Wink, wink.


Breaking News

Heather Tom is on The Bold and the Beautiful now.




Audiobooks for those who like audiobooks. For free.

I don't listen to audiobooks, but for those of you who do, this would be a good find.


Nerdy, but...

Ok, Ok. This is from a movie that isn't out yet which is based on a book which I have not read and do not intend to read. I took a quiz and was matched with an animal which may be the animal representation of my spirit. I'm not sure, I didn't really read the website.

Here's what I do know. My animal is a snow leopard. You can click on the pic and take a short quiz about ME. If you don't agree with my self-assessment, then the animal will change from a snow leopard to something else, say a flamingo or a snail. Who knows.

I promise to do the same for you - if you are nerdy enough to create your own!

;param name="movie" value="http://goldenc!

This is How I Roll

I don't really have anything to write about tonight, I just wanted to write something.

Tomorrow, I'll be babysitting Vanessa and Rob's kids. It should be fun. I'll get to meet Hannah at the bus stop after her first day of second grade. I am looking forward to it.

Other than that excitement, there isn't too much going on. The labor day weekend is coming up, so I am looking for something exciting (I need a thesaurus) to do. Vanessa is planning a game night for Sunday and Mom is making lunch before taking Angie on a shopping spree* for baby supplies. That also occurs on Sunday. All of the activities clumped onto one day leaves me open Friday, Saturday and Monday.

If you're having a party let me know, I'll be there with bells on (not literally, of course, so don't let that stop you from shelling out the invite). But I will need a ride...

You might be interested to know that I stumbled upon an online game that has become an obsession. It's called Tower Bloxx. Check it out.

*Probably not an actual spree


On a Roll

I like to share things here that i know you will love and I knew you would love this picture.


Seriously, People

I am posting another article about Iran. This time, I can't vouch for the source. I haven't had time to research them, but the info included has been read other places so I decided to post it. It was forwarded to me by someone with an interest in the Kurds - and evil hearts. You know who you are.

You know me and my strict rules for authenticity...

Here's a (lengthy) quote:

The Turks have been threatening for months to go after the PKK, who have tens of thousands of fighters training in camps inside Iraq, along the Turkish border.

And so the Iranians have spread the rumor, which until now has been accepted at face value, that its own Kurdish dissidents (PJAK) are actually the Iranian branch of the PKK, which the U.S. has designated as an international terrorist organization.

The State Department took Turkey’s insistence that PJAK was allied with the PKK seriously enough that it refused to meet earlier this month with visiting PJAK leader, Rahman Haj Ahmadi, despite his open support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq and his identification with U.S. goals in the region.

Both the PKK and PJAK have training camps in the Qanbil mountain range in northern Iraq. But because of the difficult geography, and their different needs, they inhabit “different sides of the mountains,” Rahman Ahmadi told me in Washington.

“The PKK doesn’t need us,” he said. “They have tens of thousands of fighters, and hundreds of thousands of sympathizers.”

But Ahmadi acknowledges that PJAK and the PKK cooperate to a certain degree, if only to prevent clashes between their own fighters.

“The president of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional government, Massoud Barzani, also has an agreement with the PKK,” he told me. “Does that make Barzani a supporter of the PKK?”

This is not the first time the Turks have played us in Iraq. In 2003, on a flimsy pretext of domestic opposition, they successfully prevented the 4th Infantry Division from crossing Turkey to join coalition forces that liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

We can sit by and allow Iran to violate Iraq’s sovereignty, defy the U.S. military, and smash a significant Iranian opposition group on the slim pretext that Iran is “merely” seeking to punish its own rebels, just as Turkey.

Or we can extend protection to the Iranian Kurds who have established training camps in the rugged mountains of northeastern Iraq, and inflict a double blow on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Clearly, the Iranians believe they can thumb their noses at the U.S. military. For more than a week, they have conducted intermittent shelling of Iraqi Kurdish villages in the general vicinity of suspected PJAK bases.

My Iranian sources tell me that the Iranians are hoping to expel PJAK from the area and replace them with Ansar al-Islam, the precursor group to al Qaeda in Iraq.

See? Turkey is the devil. Just like I have always said.


Hee Hee

This and other super posters can be found here.


Here's another story about Iran's leaflets. I assume the leaflets mentioned are the same leaflets from a few days ago.

This newest article was listed on the Drudge Report, so the story is making it's way to the American media. Although, I think the Drudge Report isn't so interested in the Kurdish side of the story as much as supporting the "Iran is cr-a-a-a-a-azy" theme they have going.

But, really, they might just be crazy.

Here's an old Saddam joke, updated for the day:

Q: What do Ahmadinejad and Little Miss Muffet have in common?

A: They both have Kurds in their way.

Get it? Curds in their whey. Kurds in their way.

So funny......


Good Morning

I left the house this morning at 8 am. That's right. AM. Sis convinced me to go with her to the YMCA so we could work out.

On the way out the door, I found my luggage sitting on the porch! I don't know when it came, but there it was. I was thrilled. Everything was inside and intact, too.

Yay for me.


"Iran is Attacking Us Like Satan"

In continuation of my last post, here are a few more links about Iran's shelling of Iraqi Kurdistan. It seems that Iran may be threatening to invade.

Reuters India
Iran Focus

I encourage you to take time to read these, but, if you can only read one, read the Reuters article.

I have been looking at maps and I finally found the area being bombed. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It's on the other side of Lake Dukan between the lake and the border. That'll help some of you get your bearings.


Real News

After a few days of just posting silliness, I decided to talk about a real issue.

The Guardian is reporting the Iran has shelled Kurdish villages inside Iraq. (Read more here) The article fails to name the villages, but I can assume that it's areas north of Halabja - maybe an hour or more away if one is driving. That would put it about three hours away from Sulemania and even farther from Hewler, the capital.

Of course, that's just an assumption. I'll keep searching the news to find more information. If you find something out, let me know.

PJAK is, in simple terms, the Iranian version of the PKK in Turkey. The article mentions the Qandil mountains which is the same place the PKK is typically accused of setting up camp. I don't know enough to explain how the two are related, but I know that both battle against oppressive regimes - one supported by the US (Turkey) and one opposed by the US (Iran).

Oops. Did I say "battle against oppressive regimes?" I meant to say "are terrorists." Just in case the CIA reads 13Months...

Also interesting is the lack of reporting by the US media.


I Don't Know Why...

I was bored today so I checked out what they call the "Meez" feature on Photobucket..

It's fairly lame in that it's hard to get the "Meez" to actually look like me - which wouldn't be a big deal except that's the whole point of the thing.

However, once I realized I could make it do the Elaine dance from Seinfeld, I was sold.



Angie is a Stalker

Dear Kate,

Angie told me that you had been reading her blog. She asked if you had left any comments here. I was a little offended since you hadn't left me a comment, but had clearly left one for Angie. But it turns out she only knew you'd been checking in because she reads through her site statistics.

I usually don't stalk people that read my blog, but I checked my sitemeter and saw someone from Miami U had been reading. That must mean you! 

Or your weirdo roommate, I guess. Maybe she's the one checking in. 

So, how's it going? How's the room? Have you met anyone cool? lame? super? supercreepy? I am excited to hear what's up.




Dear Kate's Roommate,

Kate did NOT tell me that you were a weirdo.

I just made an assumption.

I hope this doesn't adversely affect your relationship with Kate. If so, feel free to use her irrational fear of zombies against her.


Robert, Kate's brother


Luggage Watch 2007

So, I'm fairly certain that you are all waiting on the edges of your seats waiting for an update on my luggage. 

Here's the good news: American Airlines has a tracking number for my luggage. This was up in the air for a while given the situation in Dubai; I didn't actually check in my own luggage.

Here's the bad news: That tracking number attached to my bags hasn't led to any actual tracking. It's still lost somewhere between Dubai and Columbus. 

I am getting a lot of use out of my Kurdish shoes, though, since they're the only shoes I have. I must say, though, they may not have been made with the modern world in mind. I bought the Iranian shoes rather than the traditional. The leather and fabric bottoms leave me sliding all over the place. It was worse when I was travelling the marble-floored airports. Now, I mostly walk on carpet and concrete so I'm good. 

I wanted to post pictures of my sister Vanessa's 30th birthday party last night, but I can't find the camera, so the world will have to wait. 



I am home in Ohio once again. 

Here's how the trip went down. 

Flight #1 - Unidentified Iraqi city to Dubai

This one was scheduled to leave at 6:30 pm, but left 1o hours later at 4:30 am. Luckily, I got to leave the airport, so I did a whole host of things while I waited: attended a birthday party, repacked my suitcase, ate dinner, got a haircut, took a shower, cancelled my hotel plans in Dubai. 

The plane was fairly nice and there were no chickens running up and down the aisles, so I was pleased. I got to Dubai with just enough time to run (ride a shuttle) to the British Airways counter in the other terminal.

Flight #2 - Dubai to London

When I got to the desk it was final call and the desk attendant gave me a "well we're a little late aren't we." Yes, 10 hours late to be exact I told her. They were very helpful, but unable to print a boarding pass; the printers wouldn't work. I had to wait half an hour for the pass which someone just wrote by hand when they finally gave up on the printer. 

Did you know it takes about 7 hours to fly from Dubai to London? I did not. 

Flight #3 - London to Chicago

Just before leaving London, I purchased a Coke. It was flavored with oranges and was disgusting, but I had to try it since I'd never seen it before. 

This flight was typical and uneventful except that the baby in the seat behind me made a sound like the villains in "The Grudge" only louder and she made it for almost 8 hours straight. I had to keep my headphones on to drown it out.

When I landed in Chicago, I had to collect my luggage for customs, except, ooops, I didn't have any luggage. The American Airlines agent was very unfriendly and told me that no one could help me until I got to Columbus. I tried to explain that I wouldn't fly to Columbus until the next day, but he dismissed me and my concerns. I was not pleased, but I was too tired to do much about it. 

I spent the night in the airport Hilton which was delightful. I really needed a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed by that point.

Flight #4 - Chicago to Columbus

This one was simple and fast; just over an hour. 

I came home and was greeted by Angie and Sis. Later we had dinner with Mom, Grandma, Vanessa, Hannah, Matt, Sam and Nikki. I surprised Mom, Grandma and the kids since the others knew I was home. Mom was super surprised, so I was happy.

I gave her a birthday card that said "Happy Bat Mitzfah!" but I inserted the word old before the words Bat Mitzfah. Get it? 


... and I Just Gave Up.

But, then! Three new posts in just a few weeks!

Sakes alive, y'all. Read my mom's blog here.

And wish her a happy birthday! The big 5-0 is Monday, August 12.


Bad Day

Ok. So I have been pretty busy lately; staying at the office until 1 am or later and getting up early for classes or trips to see gypsies or whatever.

I've been pretty tired for the past couple of days and today I feel just plain worn out.

I didn't know how bad things were until I made a trip to the bathroom today. I put my underwear on backwards this morning. Backwards! Seriously.

I think I need a nap.


Dear Anonymous,

I am nowhere near Tal Afar. That's over by Syria and I am closer to Iran. Closer to Kirkuk.

In fact, I'm probably closer to Baghdad than Tal Afar. I can actually hear bombs when they explode in Baghdad. And sometimes armed men patrol the streets and we all have to hide inside until they pass so they don't kidnap us or steal the children.

Plus, when we go the market we have to keep our eyes open for truck bombers, or car bombers, or suicide bombers or snipers and the like. It's pretty stressful. Especially since so many of our friends have died in the past few years. It's been pretty hard on all of us.

My neighbors have even started moving away. The ones that can afford it have left the country and many have gone north to the safer regions, but the ones that can't afford it have gone to the refugee camps up north or in Syria. I hear it's pretty rough there.

But even more than the ones who have left are the ones who stay behind. I don't know if they can't leave or they just have hope for the future, but they stay around like us; afraid everyday.

Of course, this isn't really true for me. I walk around the city without fear and I've never heard a bomb, but it is true for millions of people in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq (like Tal Afar). So, I thank God everyday that I don't live there and I pray every day that they would know peace like I know peace.


Terrorism Strikes Close to Home

Three nights ago my city was without power for an entire night. This means that across town fans and coolers were deadly silent and the citizens of our fair city sweltered in their brick*-oven homes

Two nights ago, we learned the truth**. Terrorists had cut the power line that runs from Baghdad to Kirkuk and our local dam couldn't produce enough electricity to give us our usual 6 to 8 hours of power.

We were also warned that the following night would be just as bad as crews frantically*** tried to repair the damage.

To my fellow foreigners I said: "Well, it was fine when the terrorists were just killing innocent civilians, but now that they've attacked my electricity, I am angry****."

Oh, and the picture has nothing to do with the post, but she does seem angry about the power situation.

*Of course, I mean cinder blocks
**Total unsubstantiated rumor
***No one here works frantically. I mean frantically in the slowest and most lackadaisical [btw, I totally had to run that word back through the spell checker. I am convinced that this spelling is incorrect, but dictionary.com agrees] manner possible.
**** Allegedly


Don't Take Sides

Ok, I read this article today which suggests that the US government is planning to assist the Turkish government to attack the PKK in Iraq.

As you may know, the PKK has bases in Northern Iraq (aka Southern Kurdistan) from which they attack the Turkish military across the border.


You know how I hate to drag up politics on the old blog.....

But, give me a break GW! Your willing to risk the peace and stability of Kurdistan on Turkey's anti-Kurd campaign of oppression and would-be genocide? Really?


I am appalled at my government.

In other news, Turkeys recent elections saw the first openly Kurdish candidates elected to the Turkish parliament - twenty of them to be exact. This is a big step in a country where being Kurdish is in fact outlawed. How do you outlaw a race of people?

Of course, the Kurds have their own issues. As previously noted on this (high-quality) blog, Iraq won the Asia Cup final a few days ago. This led to much hoopla, flag waving and literal dancing in the streets. Unfortunately for about 50 people, they waved the wrong flag. The Iraqi flag is illegal up here in Kurdistan, so eager Iraq supporters hoisted the hated flag and landed themselves in jail.

I saw at least 200 individual Iraqi flags on the street that evening just between my house and the place we watched the game, so I know most people were not hassled by the fuzz, but it's ridiculous that even 50 were.

Speaking of the fuzz, Todd and I got stopped at a checkpoint yesterday and had to hand over the registration and his ID (he was driving). Our registration is expired (long story) so they told him they'd keep his ID until we could prove we had a new registration.

I wasn't having any of that, so I got out and argued with the officer. He ignored me, so we went to speak to the officer in charge of the checkpoint. I had spoken to the lesser officer in Kurdish, but I wanted to be as American as possible for the leader; i knew I'd get farther. I again explained that it wasn't Todd's car, so they shouldn't keep his license. He didn't care. He said that's just how it's done.

I used Todd to translate, by the way. I think he secretly loves to translate for me when I argue with Kurdish people.

The officer told me I could go ahead and pay 7000 Dinar and get the ID back right away. I told him it sounded like bribery, but I am pretty sure Todd did not translate that.

So, I asked him for a copy of the traffic laws. You know, something written down that I could study to be sure that I didn't break any more laws. He laughed and said that this wasn't America. I said "Well, YOU must have learned these laws somehow since YOU know when I have broken one. Can I get a copy of what you used to study?"

I am pretty sure that Todd translated all of that. The police officer just shook his head and laughed.

And totally caved. We left with Todd's license.

Oh, and we have a thermometer at the office now. It's currently only about 106 degrees. Feels great!