I've Been Too Wrong for Too Long

I learned something over the past couple of days: Curry is not a single spice.

Rather, curry powder is a mixture of a number of spices such as turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander and others. The yellow color comes from the turmeric

Why did I learn this? Well, yesterday Angie and I decided to make Indian food and have a party. Why did we decide this? I can't remember, but we found a bunch of recipes on the internet and headed out to the store to buy the necessary ingredients.

At the store, I found a box of curry powder. As I was looking it over, I read the ingredients list and saw  about 10 different spices. I said, "Well, they have this stuff, but it doesn't actually have any curry in it."

Angie was all, "Duh. Curry isn't a spice, it's a flavor. Everyone knows it's a mixture." And then under her breath, she said, "Everyone who just looked it up on wikipedia an hour ago knows, at least."

Why did it take 30 years to learn this?

So, we made curry for 13 people. 

I made something called chicken pasanda. It was pretty good. It was spicy, though, from all of the ginger than was in it. Otherwise, I thought it was a little bland. The recipe called for almonds, but I omitted them. Who has time to "flake" almonds? Not me.

Angie made some kind of kidney bean curry. I think I liked hers better, but I'd like to try the pasanda again on a smaller scale. 

I tried to pry my guests' true feelings about the food out of them, but you know hoe it is with most guests - always trying to be polite. "Thanks for the food. It was great."

I don't know if anyone would have gone for seconds because we didn't have enough food for seconds. One thing I do know, though. Everyone finished what was on their plates.

After dinner, I forced everyone to watch Atonement


Attention Ohio Voters

Just in time for next week's primaries in Ohio, I thought it was my duty to reveal the truth about Hillary Clinton.

Please click this link before you vote. (Be sure to refresh your browser to see more of the awful truth)

You will thank me.

Of course, if you vote Republican, you should just go ahead and stay home lest you accidentally vote for Huckabee

My Voice Sounds Funny

Angie and I are on the radio!

Click here to hear us on War News Radio.

After you've listened to our interview, watch the video below.


Turkey. Again.

I hope that the US press is covering the incursion by up to 10,000 Turkish troops into Northern Iraq.

Read more here.

The Turkish army's general staff said in a statement: "The Turkish armed forces, which attach great importance to Iraq's territorial integrity and stability, will return home in the shortest time possible after its goals have been achieved."

I'm sure.


"But it is extraordinary that the only people that have come out against this is the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq and that everybody else seems to have suddenly accepted that it is ok to do."


I don't believe that in all my many months of blog writing that I've ever recommended a movie. And, if I have, I've forgotten it. Therefore I can at least call this my first movie recommendation in memory.

Two days ago I found Atonement at the, well, at the grocery store, I guess. I had heard bits about it from television. I knew that Kiera Knightley was in it and that she was nominated for awards for her performance. It was $2.

I watched it last night and again tonight. It's fantastic.

I've done more than watch it twice. I've cried twice. 

That's right. I admit it. This movie made me cry. 

Vanessa Redgrave is in the movie along with Kiera Knightley and bunch of people I've never seen before. It's Vanessa Redgrave that steals the show, in my opinion. 

I don't want to say too much and give something away. I just want to recommend that you watch it. The sooner the better really.

For the record, other movies that have made me cry include:
  • Stepmom - "No one will ever love me like you do"
  • Forrest Gump - "He's not...?"
  • Backdraft - The flag scene
  • Patch Adams - Because I had just wasted 2 hours of my life!
I'm sure there are others, but these are the three that come to mind. 


The Golf

Thanks to everyone for your comments on my last post. 

I'd like to spend more time writing about important things on 13Months, but, you know how I feel about feelings and specifically about sharing them. I would much rather post a video of Fergie spelling things than write a post about my struggles, emotional or otherwise.

The alternative, I fear, is a whiny blog which morphs into some sort of creepy therapy. Although I know that'd be an extreme scenario, it's not what I want here at all. 

I do appreciate having a place where I can be honest, however. Even if it's only every now and again, so thanks for cooperating with me.

I'd also like to write more about my life here in Iraq, so I'm making it my goal to do more of that as well. I'm not making any promises at this point, but I think it'd be a good idea.

Here's a humorous story from one of my English classes today:

I teach four classes of the same thing. They all started at different times, so they hit the same chapters at different times. Well, yesterday one class got to the end of chapter 12. The end of chapter 12 is a reading assignment with three e-mails describing three different places. 

One e-mail tells the reader a little bit about Buenos Aires. My teacher's edition reads that Buenos Aires is the birthplace of the Tango and that I can see performers in the street doing the Tango.

While I don't beleive that the fine citizens of Buenos Aires spend their entire day Tangoing, I can accept this passage for teaching purposes. No problems.

Well, yesterday's class pointed out an error in their books. Instead of "tango" they had the word "golf." As in, Buenos Aires is the birthplace of the golf!!

I explained that there were many problems with this not the least of which is that no native English speaker has ever referred to golf as the golf. I also explained that Buenos Aires was indeed NOT the birthplace of the golf. 

No problem, right? I knew enough for today's class to explain this error before they read the e-mails. I said "See the picture of the two people dancing? That e-mail has some errors."

There were all "What two people?"

In my book, the Buenos Aires e-mail has a picture of Tango dancers - male and female - attached. In their books, the female tango dancer had been removed leaving just the man with his arms in an awkward upraised position. 

Perhaps this is why the word tango was replaced with golf. He didn't seem to have his arms in any golf position I am familiar with and they certainky didn't take the care to photoshop in a golf club, but still maybe...

I was shocked. I said, "Well, my book has a man AND a woman dancing. It's called the Tango. Do you know the Tango?"

They said, "Of course we do. These books come from Iran."

And, as we all know, they hate the Tango in Iran.

I hadn't considered that the books had come from Iran. Before today, we've had other errors in the book. In one conversation, the books tell us that a woman named Karen went to a restaurant to sing, while the audio CD clearly explains that she went to a Karaoke bar. 

In another conversation Tom asks Liz if she likes Rap music. His favorite singer is Eminem, you see. Well, the student books say that Tom asks Liz if she likes classical music. His favorite singer is still Eminem and the entire chapter is called "Do You Like Rap," so I'm not sure whether this one is simply an error or gross incompetence in censorship.

Just for the record, there are no discrepencies in the conversation about Celine Dion.

In related news, I heard a story about angry young Iranian women ripping off their headscarves and dancing on them in protest of the requirement that they must be worn. These protests, of course, occurr behind closed doors out of the sight of the police, but they happen nonetheless. Often, I am told, with expressive language which I will leave to your imagination.

In my imagination, these women tango on their headscarves and curse the golf.


February for 14 Years

I know I haven't said anything here lately, but the only things I have to say are things I don't want to write about, things I don't want to think about.

February is really hard on me. I talked to Sis tonight and we agreed that it just seems to get harder every year. 

On February 10, 1994 my dad died of a massive heart attack. I still remember how that morning felt even though I don't remember most of what happened between the 10th and the funeral on the 14th. It was cold. It was the coldest I've ever been and I can still feel the shivers in my stomach as we climbed into the car at 4 am to go to the hospital. I feel it everytime I get cold. I think about that morning every time I get into a cold car. The rest of the day, I can't really recall, but I remember how cold I was.

For the last fourteen years I've tried to find the silver lining in that black cloud. I have tried to make myself believe that I am a better person because of it and, while I believe that I am the sum of my experiences, I wonder about my life if I still had a dad. How bad could that really be?

I looked around and saw everybody crying in 1994 and decided that I need to be the one who wasn't and I don't think I ever really realized how hard that would be. I'm tired now. I don't really want to keep it up, but I don't necessarily know how to give it up either. 

Part of me hates to say this stuff, but I also don't want to avoid what I'm feeling. 

I miss him terribly. I don't know that I've admittted that to myself really, but it's true. I realized that this week. I miss being loved by my father. A lot. 

There's nothing I can do to get that back and it breaks my heart. For fourteen years it's broken my heart and I think it always will. 

Grandma Rosie died in 1997 and I remember the feeling when I realized she was going to die. I left her hospital room and felt my heart break. I mean that literally. I could feel it. My heart broke for losing her, but all the more because this time I knew what death meant. I never knew that someone would just stop being in my life before my dad died. Do you know what that's like? I truthfully pray that you don't.

And how is a person supposed to deal with that? Please don't really answer that one. As well-intentioned as your response will be, it'll be offensive to me. So, it's probably best to consider the question rhetorical. After all, I'm not really looking for advice or your approval of my emotions. I just want to say what's on my mind.

Then Aunt Che died in 2002. I've been thinking about her lately, too. She was really sick when she died and I prayed for her a lot.

I prayed for her to die. I thought that was the only way for her to be healed. I thought it was the only way that she could be free and happy.

I wish I could have had enough faith to believe she could be healed, but I didn't. That makes me sad. I remember thinking that maybe people would just keep dieing until I got it right; that it was all a test to see if I could learn the lessons of life.

I thought I had it right that time. I thought that by accepting her death before the fact and being unselfish enough to put her needs first - and in fact pray for death which would be hard on us, but freeing for her - that I had done it right.

I don't really want to go into it too much, but I thought I'd share it, too, while I'm being open and honest.

Please don't comment on this one either. If you've never been in this position, I don't want to hear your trite reminders about the nature of God. I have no need to hear from inexperienced theologians, thank you.

But, thanks for reading it anyways. 



My Favorite Cafe

Still no internet.

Angie, Nila and I have been at our favorite internet cafe for 5 hours. We were just on our way out when a Kurdish family abducted Angie and Nila. Now, they're chatting at the next table and it seems as though they may be at it for a while.

So, I decided to blog.

A few days ago, a guy I work with said "Hey, my blog was featured on Blogger's 'Blogs of Note.'"

I thought that was great, but I didn't really know what that could mean for him. He didn't really either. Well, I checked his blog a few minutes ago and it means huge readership numbers.

It's a really great blog. You should go check it out. Here's the link.

If you don't check it out, you'll be the only person on the internet who hasn't. Do you really want to be that person?


All Quiet on the Western Front


Our local phone company cut about 1000 phone lines a couple of days ago. Lucky for me, my house was one of them!

They're working dilligently to fix it, but we may not have phone (and therefore, internet) until Sunday at the earliest

That means evenings at one of our local internet cafes. It's all very exciting. If we're a little slow getting back to you or posting on our blogs, this is why.


One of us Just Won an iPod

and it wasn't you.

That's right. First I won a tv, then I won a car and now I've won an ipod nano. 

Well, ok, I know that might seem like a step backwards, but I'm pretty excited about the ipod. 

If you remember a few months ago I wrote about MyQuire, an online project collaboration tool. If not, it doesn't matter, but I think it's a great site. A few weeks ago I took a survey which promised the chance to win an ipod nano. I didn't really think I'd win it, I just wanted to take the survey and put un my two cents.

My two cents, by the way, is that, if they'd only add a bulk uploading tool, MyQuire would be the best website ever. Even better than 13Months; I don't have a bulk uploader either.

They even want to interview me for their blog. Security guidelines dictate that I'll have to be pretty general and not mention my company by name, but I'll post the link here once it's up. I know you can't get enough of reading about me and my life. And my unique gift of winning things.

I think this bodes well for the car giveaway at one of our local supermarkets. 

Soon, I'll be cruising the city in my Peugeot listening to my ipod - because there are no laws against such a thing here!