Writing So Little

I know it's lame to write a blog post about why you're not writing blog posts, but that's where we are here at 13Months, so let's embrace our lameness and move forward.

Besides, focussing on our lameness takes us away from what we should really be focussing on: the not writing.

I am working at the temp/contract job again. This time, though, it's all data entry and no phone. That's a fairly good development.

Website design continues to move forward, but it's sporadic which makes it hard to rely on the money, but we're getting ever closer to that.

I have resigned myself to the fact that Angie and I are in the US for an extended period and I am trying to be okay with it. Maybe that's why the writing has waned. I wanted to keep people updated with exciting news from far away locales.

Columbus is not exotic.


The End of the Worst Week of 2010

On Thursday of last week, we drove to DC. The trip wasn't too bad, but going through the mountains in PA, we hit fog and rain which slowed us down. In Maryland, the rain got worse and, in DC, the rain became a torrential downpour. It made for a pretty miserable last couple of hours and an honestly almost undrivable final 30 minutes.

That night, we tried to get Nila to sleep in a new environment. It didn't go too well, which wouldn't have been a huge problem except that I had to get up at 5 am for the Foreign Service assessment the next morning.

I was up at 5 the next morning with about 5 hours of sleep and at the assessment center by 6:30 am. Thus began a 9 hour day filled with assessment (25%), waiting (75%) and anxiety (100%). I don't know why I felt so much anxiety, really. I wasn't uncomfortable with the assessments and I did ok. I think it was the waiting.

When I found out I hadn't reached the minimum cut off score, I headed home hoping for a high calorie dinner. That part of the weekend, at least, went as planned.

We started our Saturday well, with a drive through town, a trip to Target (obviously) and a visit to the Museum of Natural History on the National Mall.

On the way back to the car from the museum, however, Angie had a seizure. We were able to get her seated on a short (5-6 in) marble wall, but the seizure turned out to be of the "crazy-big*" variety and Angie ended up with her head in the bushes.

It was traumatic. For me. I'm sure it was for Angie, too, but I can really only speak for myself. Luckily, Nila was in her stroller, so I was able to wheel her to face the street and not her mother, although, I think I may not have moved fast enough. She keeps asking about the "frog in mommy's throat."

As Angie came back to, I had to go get the car. She was in no shape to walk even though she tried to prove she was by taking a couple of stumbly, drunken steps. I advised her to sit down and commanded her not to lay down again. She was still fairly out of it, but I got her to agree.

The last thing I told her was: "Sit there. Don't lay down again...and try not to look homeless."

Nila and I hurried off to the car and I prayed she wouldn't try to get up and follow, or worse, get arrested for public drunkenness. Nila fell asleep as soon as she hit the car seat and we rushed to get Angie from her seat on the sidewalk.

The rest of the week has been uneventful, except for another rainy drive on Sunday and Nila's first swim lesson on Tuesday.

This morning, I slept through my appointment with Mike, my fitness trainer. How embarrassing. I only hope that 7 full days of terribleness are enough.


State Department 3, Me 0

On Friday, October 1, I took the Foreign Service oral examination for the third time.

I took it first after I graduated from college and once more just after graduate school. All three times I have been unsuccessful...

One needs a 5.25 to pass. The first time I got a 4.9. Two years of graduate school and an MPA got me up to a 5.0, so I put it aside and decided to just go to Iraq on my own.

I did. So, seven years later, one trip to Iraq, a second foreign language and international work experience brought my score up to... wait for it... 5.1.

For reals.

I have signed a non-disclosure agreement about the exam, so I can't say much. Suffice it to say, I apparently don't work in groups well - I know some people from my time in Iraq who are probably not surprised- and I can't sell myself.

I have a pretty good idea of how I could probably get the remaining .15 points. The question is: Is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. I need to decide what my true motivation is.


International Burn a Koran Day = Bad Idea

Bad idea = huge understatement

Someone serving in the Middle East sent me an e-mail today asking me to comment on this whole Koran burning nonsense. She can't comment as she's currently living in a conservative Muslim country in which it would be unwise to even mention burning the Koran and Americans burning the Koran will only make her work harder.

I decided to go directly to the church's website to find out exactly what they were doing and why. The church is called Dove World Outreach Center, located in Gainesville, FL. I read through their reasoning. You can read it for yourself at their website: doveworld.org. Be sure to read "Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran" and "5 More Reasons to Burn the Koran."

Having read the website, I don't know what to say. It's so sincere. I guess that makes it even sadder.

There are probably thousands of Christians working among Muslims right now; giving a helping hand, rebuilding homes, rebuilding lives, teaching freedom - the freedom of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins - and giving a face to Christianity other than American materialism.

And then along comes this little band of Koran-burners fanning the flames of hate between the two religions. And of course, the media is all in a tizzy to cover it.

The best thing we could all do is ignore it, but it's too late for that. So perhaps instead we can focus on those thousands of other Christians who are making a positive change in the Muslim world. The best way we can fight this kind of madness is to support those doing it the right way.

I won't post how here, but I can hook you up with some ways to make positive change by supporting those involved. Just ask me.

Lastly, I would encourage those of you who are reading this who happen to be followers of Jesus to be careful how you respond to the Koran burning church. Don't be fooled into thinking that demeaning them and/or showing hatred towards them sets you apart from them. It doesn't. It sets you on the same wrong side of the debate.

They're not idiots, they're not morons and they're not some sort of lunatic fringe. They are just like many of your neighbors. This is the view that most of the world has of us. Making fun of them doesn't change this opinion. Only giving a positive alternative example can do that.

(Photo: from http://www.doveworld.org/the-sign)


Unofficial Guide to the 5xNW Pizza Crawl

For the first time, my hood, 5xNW aka Fifth by Northwest, is having a pizza crawl. Seven local pizza shops will offer slices for $1. All I have to do it walk from shop to shop eating pizza. The event is Tuesday, August 3 from 6 to 9 pm. Sounds easy enough. Here's my guide to how to do it right.

Start at Kroger on Chambers -
The 5xNW Pizza Crawl is part of the National Night Out events put together by the Fifth by Northwest Area Commission. The Kick off for all of the events will be at the Kroger at 1375 Chambers Rd at Northwest Blvd. There will be police cars, fire trucks, Sparky the fire dog and other activities, so it's a great place to begin.

Bono Pizza - The first stop for pizza is Bono Pizza at 1717 Northwest Blvd. Bono is attached to a carryout and that building is practically attached to the Kroger parking lot, so it makes sense to head there first. Bono is known for unique flavors and high quality pizza. Bono is a Columbus favorite, so, if you've never been, this is your chance to try it out and see what everyone else is raving about.

Sparano's - Next up is Sparano's at 1724 Northwest Blvd. IT is right across the street from Kroger and Bono, so go there next. At the 2009 Slice of Columbus competition, they placed second for the People's Choice Award and the Wags and Elliot Award. They'll also be participating in the 2010 event which helps raise money for Nationwide Children's Hospital. Sparano's has award-winning pizza and a friendly staff and I think their first store was on Hague and Westsiders know good pizza. Sparano's was also the first pizza shop to sign up for the crawl. Buy two or three slices from them.

Mama Mimi's - Now let's slip through the fence behind Kroger and cut to King Ave. Sure it sounds a little ghetto, but it gets us to Mama Mimi's faster. Mama Mimi's is at 1565 King Ave and is the best take-and-bake pizza in Columbus. For the Crawl, they'll bake it for you and you can buy a slice or two!

Check out their website to see what to expect. I have to admit, I always burn their pizza when I bake it myself, so I'm looking forward to eating it without the blackened crust...

Mama Mimi's will also play host to 3 Babes and a Baker. Who is that, you might ask. It's only a CUPCAKE TRUCK! 3 Babes and a Baker were recently featured in the 614 magazine (picture credit) and offer great cupcakes from their mobile store/truck. I know it's a pizza crawl, but I am so excited that the cupcake truck will be here in 5XNW if only for a few hours

Minuteman - Minuteman is the newest addition to the 5xNW pizza scene. From Mama Mimi's, go south on North Star, then east on Fifth Ave. Minuteman is behind Giant Eagle next to WG Grinder's at 1453 Ida Ave. Minuteman has a ton of local locations and great pizza. I hope pizza fatigue won't have settled in at this point! There are still three great stops left! Power through. You don't have to eat tomorrow.

Cowtown - Cowtown is just down Grandview Ave from Minuteman at 1359 Grandview Ave. They make a Hawaiian pizza with almonds that is surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because I typically dislike Hawaiian pizza, but the almonds do something to it and make it really taste great. I don't know that they'll have that on Tuesday, but try whatever they're selling.

Panzera's - Across Grandview Ave from Cowtown at 1354 Grandview Ave. is Panzera's. I have to admit this is my first pizza love in 5xNW. Their pepperoni pizza is so good, I don't even hold it against them that their other store is in Arlington! It's the kind of pepperoni that curls up and holds little pools of grease - the good stuff. They also have an outdoor patio at a great location - Third and Grandview. You can sit and look at everything you thought was in Grandview!

Grandad's - The last stop is straight down Third back to Northwest Blvd. Grandad's pizza sits at 1254 W. Third Ave. It's your last chance for pizza, so go ahead and spend the rest of the money in your wallet/purse/bra.

While it isn't part of the National Night Out festivities, save some bra money and finish up your crawl at Byrne's Pub attached to Grandad's. What better way to end an evening of pizza?

All the Important Info:
5xNW Pizza Crawl
August 3, 2010
6-9 pm


A Racist Tea Party? Picture Unrelated

I read this morning that the NAACP passed a resolution at their convention condemning elements of the tea party as racist and calling on the Tea Party to repudiate said elements. The following is a portion of the Tea Party response as reported by Fox News:

St. Louis Tea Party organizer Bill Hennessy wrote on the group's website Tuesday that the Tea Party stands for smaller government and fiscal responsibility, and accused the NAACP of abandoning black America.

"When you look at the crime and poverty and family breakdown of the African-American community ... you see a half-century of failure by the NAACP," he wrote. "None of those persistent problems was caused by the Tea Party movement, yet the principles of the Tea Party are exactly what's needed to wind down the multigenerational destruction in the African-American community.

"The NAACP was once a vital weapon in the war against segregation and oppression. All that's left is a bigoted and malicious shell that does far more harm than good for people who need a break," he wrote.




New York Times' Coverage of Osman Killing

The New York Times publised a nice article on the killing of journalist Zerdesht Osman.

Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times

"Now his death is underscoring the limits of free expression and igniting angry debate about what issues could cost journalists their lives. Many question whether true democracy can take hold in this corner of Iraq that has been spared much of the violence and instability that has plagued the rest of the country over the past seven years, allowing it to be considered a haven for business and investments. "
Full text here.


Enough to Die For?

What follows is a satirical poem written by the late Zardasht Osman, a young freelance journalist from Iraqi Kurdistan. He was kidnapped and murdered in Hewler a few days after its publication. 

Most Kurds believe he was killed for writing it. 

I am in love with the daughter of Masud Barzani, the man who appears here and there and claims he is my president. I would like him to be my father-in-law and also I would like to be a brother-in-law with Nechirvan Barzani.

If I become Masud Barzani's son-in-law, we would spend our honeymoon in Paris and also we would visit our uncle's mansion in America. I would move my house from one of the poorest areas in Erbil to Sari Rash [Barzani's palace complex] where it would be protected by American guard dogs and Israeli bodyguards.

I would make my father become the Minister of Peshmerga. He had been Peshmarga in September revolution, but he now has no pension because he is no longer a member of Kurdistan Democratic Party.

I would make my unlucky baby brother, who recently finished university but is now unemployed and looking to leave Kurdistan, chief of my special forces.

My sister who has been too embarrassed to go to the bazaar to shop, could drive all the expensive cars just as Barzani's daughters do.


How Cute is Nila?

Although the question was rhetorical, the answer is super. Super cute. This picture was taken by Biwi last week and it's my test picture for posting via e-mail.


Taco Truck Tour 2010

Remember last year when I, Angie, Nila, Vanessa, Kate and the kids did the Taco Truck Tour?

Well, here's the link (http://13months.blogspot.com/2009/04/exciting-weekend.html) if you don't and shame on you for not remembering the minute details of my life. Seriously.

Anyway, we did it again this year only this time, we took Sis and Duke instead of Vanessa, Kate and the kids The kids were with Rob and Kate is still at Miami, so they couldn't make it.

This year we checked out two new stops that we didn't last year; one in front of of the old Rainbows on Sullivant and the other just off of Georgesville near the ghetto apartment complex whose name I can't remember.

The food was great again this year and Nila was old enough to handle the event. So were Sis and Duke, but barely.

It rained on us at the end, but it was a great time.

Heres's the link to the official site for the tour. If you look closely, you'll see familiar faces in the flyer pic:



All Good Things Must Come to An End

I have decided to end my run here at 13months.blogspot.com. The whole kit and caboodle are moving over to thirteenmonths.wordpress.com.

I finally caved to Angie's pressure.

13 Months is dead. Long Live 13 Months

***Edited: 04/24/10***

Just kidding. I'm back.


2009 Year in Review

January: Angie convinced me to answer a bunch of questions about something. I turned it into an acronym which I think stood for "Kindle Your Manifest Destiny." I decided to expand from sea to shining sea. Obama was inaugurated and I wrote him an open letter which still stands up a year later and I boycotted Donato's.

February: I didn't write it, but I can only assume I spent the entire month being much too cold. I got a job and we were all crazy about Octomom.

March: I realized I didn't have to observe Earth Hour until 4905, I made a stuffed bunny and I remembered Halabja. And Nila was cute!

April: Angie and I visited the Deep South: Cincinnati. More importantly, we toured Columbus' finest taco trucks. I also had a birthday, but I failed to mention it on my blog. Poor me.

May: I was super crafty in May. I made hummus, yogurt and (planned to make) various types of flavored waters. I also got into an argument with the lady at the towing company. Didn't mean I didn't have to pay...

June: Iran protested the government, but we were more concerned about a fly killed deftly by Sasquatch.

July: Angie and I went to the UA 4th of July parade before heading to the ER, the Kurds held elections, I yearbooked myself and most importantly I seen Beyonce at Burger King.

August: Good Lord this year was dull. In August, I made fun of Shakira's english and had a bad morning. (and Mom turned 52. She gets mad when I don't mention her birthday in the yearly review)

September: I gradually stopped blogging in the last half of 2009. The only things to report from September are than Patrick Swayze died and NPR covered the closure of the Jungle of Calais. It was also Nila's second birthday and my third weddign anniversary. I did not comment on those events at the time.

October: Exercise tried to kill me.

November: Angie went crazy for Naked Slanket.

December: I told you I hadn't abondoned the blog, but clearly that's not 100% true.