"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Compression Bags, Writing So Much, Swiss News, Big Houses, Writing Arabic & Such

Incredible! December is here again! I guess this means I need to haul the Christmas decorations out of the attic and put up the tree at some point. Hmmm!

Last year at this time we had recently sent our visa applications and passports to the Syrian Embassy and were waiting to see if we would be given permission to visit Syria. I believe I mailed it on Black Friday and our visas came about four weeks later. I'd have to check my calendar to be sure though. So last year we were anticipating an upcoming trip. A pretty major one for us. (To put it mildly!) This year seems a bit of a letdown in comparison. At least I'm not busy trying to find flights and arrange for travel insurance and properly-sized suitcases and carry-on bags. Yesterday I went into a store and saw the luggage. It reminded me of last year when I'd go into various stores seeing what we might need. Of course we ended up using my inlaws' luggage and it worked out well. By the way, those compression bags work great! We used them to pack our things and we really liked them. On the way home we stuffed a couple of them full of our dirty clothes before we packed the suitcases. Figured if customs was all gung-ho about searching our luggage they'd just have to deal with a compression bag (or two) full of dirty clothes. Thankfully it never came to that at all. :-)

So ten months ago we were in Syria. I like thinking back trying to remember what we did on certain days. I hate that memories fade over time because there are so many great things that happened and conversations we had that I'd like to recall better.

The book I made on Snapfish.com with Syrian pictures came last Wednesday. I'd just ordered it Monday night. However, the other book I purchased five minutes later still hasn't come. Standard shipping says 3 to 5 business days (and we had Thanksgiving and a weekend in there) so hopefully it will come soon. The first book arriving so quickly spoiled me though. It turned out great. I'd been wanting one of those and when I saw Snapfish offer them for half price, I decided it was time to make one.

In case you wondered why I wrote so many posts last month, I was trying to do this thirty-posts-in-thirty-days thing that some bloggers do in November. Not that my posts were original since so many of them were quotes from books, but still. I often find quotes interesting or thought-provoking and I like to record them. Speaking of which, I have some from the book I finished Monday that I need to record about Arab women speaking of their lives in Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian refugee areas outside of Palestine and Algeria. I copied down what a few women said about Western women because I found it quite unflattering, but maybe true.

In other news, I was a bit surprised to read the Swiss voted to ban future construction of minarets in their country. I always think of the Swiss as open-minded and liberal or neutral anyway so this was quite surprising. As one Florida lady said on Twitter this morning "Minarets don't kill people, Muslim terrorists do." (And terrorists of other faiths or non-faiths do as well, obviously.) Not allowing minarets is kind of like not allowing church steeples or bell towers, isn't it? I think the Swiss stooped to the level of the Saudis. Well, not quite that bad since I understand the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia doesn't even allow the building of churches. At least the Swiss did not ban mosques.

Something else in the news: American houses are no longer the biggest in the world! The Australians now claim this distinction. For those interested in these things, in Europe the biggest homes are in Denmark, followed by Greece and the Netherlands. Homes in the UK are the smallest. American and Aussie homes are about three times larger than those in England, for example. (For those who care, my house is more in line with size of the average German home - about half the size of the average American home. It's just me and Andrew here. We don't each need 1250+ sq. feet...unless he is getting on my nerves. ;-) Hehehe. It's just more to heat, cool and clean, right?)

In news closer to home, November 2009 was super-wet. Typically November is our second driest month just after October. But last month we had about 9.5 inches of rain at my house. By contrast, normal is between 2 and 3 inches.

I need to order some books very soon. I've been procrastinating on this for about three months. I finally finished my Arabic writing book and have been practicing names. So I think it's time I ordered another book so I can learn something besides recognizing the Arabic script. I wish I could show you my name in Arabic. It's siin, waow, zay, 'alif, nuun except you have to read and write them right to left instead of our way of reading left to right. Oh, I just found a way to show you my name. Arabic Keyboard. Hopefully it will show up.


The siin and waow connect, the zay, 'alif and nuun are in their isolated forms in my name. Cute, huh? The hardest thing for me is not trying to think in the English spelling, but rather recognize the sounds. It's especially difficult when you have non-Arabic names with sounds that they don't have. For instance Arabic doesn't have the "p" sound at all. And as far as vowels go, they have only 3 short and 3 long.

If I did it right, here is my sister's name. ستفاني

I think this post is long enough. Talk to you later!


Amber said...

Arabic keyboard is fun, but there's no 'e'. I can't write my name!

Susanne said...

Ha! Glad you liked it. Actually you wouldn't write the "e" because it's a short vowel, right? I guess if it were long, you would pronounce your name "Ambeer." Hehehe. Short vowels are often not written and if they are, they are just diacritical marks written over the consonant. Yeah, fun.

Here is your first and last name. I hope I remembered your last name correctly.

امبر فريمان

From right to left:

'alif, meem, baa, ruh

faa, ruh, yaa, meem, 'alif, nuun

(yaa as a vowel makes the "ee" sound)


Amber said...


Arabic is a weird looking language (to me).

Susanne said...

Me too! It looks like fancy scribbles. What I hate about it, is that it's a totally-cursive language and you know how people's handwriting varies so greatly, right? At least with English, we have the print version which most anyone can read. So although I have learned the Arabic alphabet and the forms of each, I still have trouble reading some signs and texts because of how they "fancy it up." And with all those dots....*sigh*

Maybe that's a sign that this is a waste of time. :)