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Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

Last summer I started to take advantage of our housing association swimming pool.  Mostly, I brushed up on my treading water with what I hoped would be low impact exercise.  I learned how to tread water when I was living alone (before my family arrived) in Saudi Arabia (way back in 1998).  Back then, I would tread water for up to two-and-a-hours.   It’s not that I couldn’t go longer.   It’s just that it got pretty boring by then.
Anyway, last summer I got back up to 90 minutes or so just treading water.  Towards the end, I switched to a breast-stroke and I got up to about 90 minutes of that as well.  One problem I then had was the constant fogging of my swimming goggles.  (I didn’t wear goggles for treading water.)  Basically, I had to pause ever few laps and rinse out the haze in my goggles.  During the winter I did a search on cures and (lo and behold) I found one.   “No More Tears” baby shampoo / body wash.
Before going to the pool, put a drop in each goggle lens, smear it in with your finger, and then rinse thoroughly – or at least until it stops sudsing-up.  After that, don’t touch the lens.  Just put them on when you get to the pool and your off.  I don’t know how long the “de-fogging” lasts.   It’s worked for me for an hour maximum, three times now, so I’m satisfied it works.  AND, it’s a LOT less expensive than purchasing swimming defogging spray, goes a lot farther (you get more for your money),  and, no, I have no idea if the “real” spray does anything to your eyes.  (But I assume not.)  I repeat the process every time I go swimming, just prior to getting into the car.
I don’t know if it matters but I will mention our pool is fresh water (not salt-water) and is heated to 83°F.  If anyone tries this (or already does this), let me know if it works for you, too.
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On This Day In:
2018 Lost Time
2017 Are You Talking To Me?
2016 Here, Desire Is Purified
2015 Hopefully Just Visiting
2014 Fond Memory?
2013 Distress, Hope, Trust
2012 Creating Interlocking Fragility
2011 Four Stories And A Gospel
What Have You Burned Lately?

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The end of day ten and the start of day eleven…
Morning weight:  358lbs.  We went to bed late last night, so I ended up with a bit of a disrupted sleep.  Consequence:  tired and sleepy all day.  This is what happens when life gets in the way…
I wanted to start working out a bit today, but I was just too tired.  I ended up trying to do a bit of maintenance on our front door.  That tuckered me out instead of a workout.  For some reason the door’s started scraping the bottom against the floor runner.  I popped the door off and shaved it a bit with my hand plane.  It works better, but it’s still not right.  The problem is that it is a right pain to put the door back on the hinges to test.  The result was I’ll have to do a bit more shaving tomorrow when I have a better attitude.  (LOL)
My hour in the pool was better than usual.  I’ve been trying to add in a hip twist to my treading water, but I haven’t been able to get the coordination right.  Today it kind of just clicked and I was able to do it.  The sensation is a mix between doing a crunch and a crossover knee kick.  I managed to do two sets of 50 and one of 100.  The only issue is that occasionally it seems to tweak my side / back.  All in all though, it feels like a very good waist tightening exercise.  I’ve got a bit of a streak going on my pool work.  I’ve gone four days on the run now.  I’ve been averaging 3-4 times a week since the start of June.  I’m sure life will get in the way soon.  It usually does when I start these exercise streaks.  (LOL)
All out of my veggie juice…  I have to make a fresh batch tomorrow.  I’ll drink it even if I don’t continue the juice fasting.  Day to day…  As I learned in Saudi:  “Slowly.  Slowly…”
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On This Day In:
2017 Could You Repeat The Question?
2016 Still Busy?
2015 Why, Just This Morning…
2014 Just Kindness
2013 Now Shaking
2012 Absurdity, n.
2011 Minor Changes
Things I’ve Learned From Life – Nana Carter
Acting Out

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The Message (1976 / 1977) — movie review
Today’s review is for “The Message” (originally titled: “Mohammad, Messenger of God“), which was released in Arabic in 1976 and in English in 1977.  The English version of the movie stars Anthony Quinn as Hamza (the Prophet’s uncle), Michael Ansara as Abu Sufyan ibn Harb (the leader of Mecca), Irene Papas as Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife), Johnny Sekka as Bilal, and Michael Forest as Khalid.  Although the movie is “about” Mohammad, the movie follows the Muslim tradition of not portraying the Prophet or his voice.  Therefore, the movie has a few awkward scenes where the camera appears as the Prophet’s view and his lines are said (or rather repeated) by one of the actors on screen.  The movie depicts the historical drama (biopic) of the Prophet from his conversion until his death, and the birth / growth of Islam as a religion.
I first saw this movie almost twenty years ago when I was working as a contractor in Saudi Arabia for their national steel company: Hadeed.  A co-worker of mine, who became a friend, was trying to convert me from being Catholic into a Muslim (Sunni).  This may sound a bit strange, but I found almost all Muslims felt it their duty to Allah to try to convert all non-believers.  This was never a pressure-sale kind of thing, it was simply an attempt to share the joy of his / their faith.  In any case, my first viewing had the benefit of having an English speaking Saudi there with me to elaborate on parts of the movie.  Obviously, I didn’t have this luxury for this second viewing.
To start off with, the movie is just under three hours long.  I think this is partly an effort to stay true to the story and partly for the production value of making the film into an “epic” like “Lawrence of Arabia” or any of the Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood Jewish / Christian epics.  Due to life getting in the way, I had to break up the viewing this week into chunks of 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes.  I don’t believe the viewing (or this review) suffered from this as I now do this quite often.  The nice thing is the movie is free on YouTube, so you only have to write down where you stopped and you can go right back to that spot or a couple of minutes earlier with no problems at all.  I must admit to finding viewing of older movies (particularly made for TV movies) on YouTube to be a lucky fortune for me.
So, is the film any good?  Is it accurate?  Did I learn anything about Islam which I didn’t already know?  Yes, yes and yes (well, kind of).  This is not a “great” movie in the sense of great cinema.  It is a great movie in the sense of relating God’s will for mankind.  I don’t mean God / Allah seeking to turn everyone into a Muslim as much as God’s will to have men live in peace, respect women, help the poor and those less fortunate, and most of the doctrines of the other two religions of the book (“the Bible”).  Given the length, the movie has slow parts, but it also has some fairly well done battle scenes (for its time and special effects).
Is the movie accurate?  Not being an expert on Islam, I can’t definitively speak to this.  I can only say my friend felt it accurate enough to recommend to me (and view with me) and to relate that Wikipedia says the historian advisors worked on the entire filming while the religious experts did not.  The religious experts quit before the movie was completed.  It should be pointed out the film took over half a decade to get completed and was shot with two different casts (one for Arabic and one for English).  Part of this delay was due to the difficulty of keeping funding and part was due to location issues – some of the countries involved in shooting pulled their permissions over religious grounds.
Did I learn anything?  Yes, but not really anything “major-new”.  I was reminded of things and certain parts were emphasized in this second viewing (and background reading), and I think that was a good thing.  My Saudi friend either wasn’t aware of the political issues, the funding / duration issues or the multiple version issues, or if he did know about them, didn’t feel they were important enough to mention them to me.
I would say, that if you are coming into Islam blindly by stumbling onto this film, you will certainly learn a lot about the faith.  However, it should be recognized the similarities between Islam and Christianity are cherry-picked to hi-light the beliefs most closely aligned, and the differences are virtually ignored (unstated).  I don’t have any problem with this because I am aware of some of the differences.  They might be more problematic for someone less informed.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended movie.  It is an older movie and it shows in the production values.  A historically based epic, I think the movie faithfully relates the story-line of the beginnings of the Islamic faith.  As such it is recommended viewing for anyone interested in comparative religious studies, Middle-Eastern history or, more specifically, the Islamic faith and its origin in Saudi Arabia.
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On This Day In:
2017 Not Yet That Well-Organized
2016 Probably Whatever Was Sought Yesterday
2015 What We Choose To Divide Us
2014 Peace With Honor
2013 Dangerous Systems
2012 Useful Science
2011 Say It, But Please Don’t Make Me Listen

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Thomas Robert “Tom” Laughlin (August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013)
Before Steven Seagal (all three word title movies), before John Rambo (“Rambo” series), before John McClane (“Die Hard” series), before Paul Kersey (“Death Wish” series), before Kwai Chang Caine (“Kung Fu” TV series) – there was Billy Jack in “Born Losers” (1967).  Tom Laughlin brought to the big screen the start of the modern vigilante movie genre with the character of Billy Jack.  It seems strange how a little martial arts on the big screen, mixed with some social awareness and righteous indignation can affect people’s lives.
As a twelve year old kid I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve got to learn how to do that!”  What I was looking at was Hapkido – a Korean form of Karate (open hand fighting).  Ten years later, I found a Hapkido dojo in Germany and studied it for almost a year during my off hours (I was in the Army).  That was set aside once I returned to civilian life…  Until I found Judo, while I was in college.  I took that for a semester, too.  When I moved to England in the ’90’s, a friend from work (who was a black belt in judo) said he’d love to get me on a mat and asked if I was interested in going to a dojo to learn Aikido.  My friend (Dave) and I found a local dojo and began our lessons.  We continued on with that for about two years.  It was great having someone who was a lifelong martial artist as a co-student because he could explain things in much greater detail than I could ever have gotten (except in one-on-one personal lessons).  For his side, he got someone who was bigger and heavier who he could throw around for a couple of hours twice a week.  We both moved on and I stumbled on to a Philippine “combat” style of Aikido while I was in Saudi Arabia which I tried for another year.  And then finally, once back home in America, I was back to traditional Aikido at a local dojo for several years (until I developed AFib and went on blood thinners).
Practicing martial arts, of course, lead me to read about martial arts, which in turn lead to me reading about martial philosophy and then philosophy in general.
Did I ever “become” a martial artist?  No.  Did I ever learn how to do that?  Not hardly.  I never took it seriously enough to be more than what I was – a novice and a bit of a dojo sampler.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, very much.  Did it affect me?  Yes!  And for at least some small part of that, I have to thank Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin).
Beyond the enjoyment of playing Aikido itself, I learned timing, balance, grace, philosophy, and I gained a certain amount of inner peace.  For all of which, I will always be extremely grateful.
R.I.P. Tom
Signed,
KMAB (A Fan)
[Please also go check out the song lyrics to “One Tin Soldier – (The Legend of Billy Jack)” on my poems page.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 All Aboard
2011 Sail On, Sailor

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Today, I’m adding five song lyrics from four songs I fell in love with and one I rediscovered back during my days in Saudi Arabia.  My family wasn’t with me for almost seven months so I ended up buying and listening to a lot of CD’s.  Here’s a couple from Savage Garden, one from country artist John Michael Montgomery, one from Ronan Keating (formerly of the boy-band Boyzone), and a signature song from Billy Joel.  All of these also have tremendous videos!  If you’ve not seen them recently, you really should check them out, too.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
I Knew I Loved You
I Can Love You Like That
When You Say Nothing At All
Piano Man
As usual, enjoy the poetry in the words, then go and find the songs on your favorite song site, buy it if you like it as much as I have – or better yet, go see the artist live the next time they are in your area…
And now, off to watch “Hamlet” with the wife.  I’ve never seen it, so I can hardly wait…  Who knows, maybe a movie review tomorrow…
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Here’s the seven photos Hil and I keep on the dressers in our bedroom.

Where your treasure is, there also is your heart…
Luke 12:34

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Back in 1998, I took a contract for work in Saudi Arabia for Hadeed – the Saudi national steel company.  The first weekend I was there, I bought a boombox and some CDs.  One of them was by Garth Brooks.  The first cut on the CD was “Standing Outside The Fire“.  Needless to say, it was love at first hearing and I played it over and over and over.  This is one of the songs my kids can sing in their sleep.  Despite all influences since, they are still Garth fans (and country music fans too).  They also listen to a lot of other types of music too, but when they hear this, I know they think of me (too).
We spent two years in Jubail, KSA and they were good times for us.  I will forever be grateful to the people of Saudi Arabia for hosting us and giving me a chance to work there, live with them and get to know them.
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