Welcome to My Room

This is a video tour of my room.

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more about "Welcome to my room on Vimeo", posted with vodpod


August 14, 2008 at 2:56 am 1 comment


This week has been crazy crazy crazy, with the U.S. history presentations to the students going to the US and the public speaking and the confronting students who cheat and the realization that Obama is in fact a mortal (and a politican) and the oooooogle.

I’ve been playing around with this non-Photoshop photo editing program. And I’ve been waxing (in a way that is quite nostalgic) about the Minnesota State Fair.

Here is a photo of a ride there, remixed. I’m so dang tired.

July 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

In case you didn’t already know

Here’s (approx.) where I live! 

July 17, 2008 at 5:04 am Leave a comment

More Photos from the Jewish Cemetery






July 12, 2008 at 12:32 pm 8 comments

A Jewish Cemetery in Aden

A Jewish cemetery in Aden

The following are pictures that were taken in what remains of a Jewish cemetery in the Ma’ala district of Aden, Yemen.

I have never taken any photos of a cemetery before, so I don’t know if doing so is offensive. I’m sorry if it is.

I don’t know much about Aden’s Jewish population, but there was a substantial Jewish minority in Yemen before 1948. Most emigrated to Israel or elsewhere after that, although a few Jewish communities stayed in Yemen, mostly in the north. There was a Jewish community living in tumultuous Sa’ada district, north of Sana’a, until quite recently. But they were pushed out of that area by the Houthi rebels, and relocated to a gated community adjacent to the American Embassy in Sana’a called Tourist City. I saw a few of them there when I was looking for a Russian bar.

The cemetery is situated on a slope, in between two roads, one that goes up and through a mountain ridge, and one that goes towards Ma’ala, along the sea, towards Tawahi, which was the seat of the British occupation. There is a tall brick wall separating the cemetery from the street on the lower side, and a flimsy guard railing separating it from the street on the higher side.

Like many other large, open spaces in Aden, this one is frequented, and seemingly inhabited by homeless men. On the far edge of the cemetery, which borders an area that is in the initial stages of some sort of development, there is a shack made of stones and cardboard. In that shack there are two or three more cushions, a radio, and a bushel of roses. The first time I went to the cemetery, there were a few men resting there. Next to the shack is a stone-enclosed area with a patch of grass (and a few cats).

If you walk from the shack towards the main area of the cemetery, past a deep and dry well, around a corner, you will find a crude two parallel stacks of cinderblocks which are used as a toilet. In between the stacks is a pile of feces. 

I used all caution and respect when walking around the cemetery. I didn’t move anything or in any other way alter the landscape. Most of the cemetery has been reduced to piles of rock, although some graves remain intact. One of the stones in the picture dates back to 1905, so it’s safe to say at least some of the damage has come from neglect. There are also signs of looting and vandalism throughout the cemetery, from stones that were obviously stripped of marble to marble engravings that were clearly smashed or desecrated for symbolic value.

I wrote this and took these pictures not to judge any one or to make a point.

So please don’t assume that these photos or words are meant to promote some socio-religious, politcal, or cultural idea or notion. Like the rest of you, I grew up with ideas and assumptions and all the rest. But I have tried my best to temper them. I try my best…





















July 11, 2008 at 6:58 am 11 comments

Cemetery in Blue

 A dry well.

July 10, 2008 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

fourth of july fAkE lIfE

Fourth of July    fAkE lIfE    Fifth of July


Sometimes I think, wow I’m really in Yemen. This is real, for real, and I’m living a very tip-of-your-fingers-taste-of-your-tongue for real life. Yes, I can taste it. Yes, I can feel it. Yes, but no.


fAkE lIfE is so really fake and extremely fakely real.

Now, I’m not much of a patriot, but I do miss those quiet nights in the land of the relatively free, sipping tall boys while others do in kind, quietly but openly, a bit hidden but not veiled.


I spent Uncle Sammy’s birthday eating eggs at a fish mokhbaza, sans booze of course, and driving around Sheikh Othman with my friends so that the other American, Sam Sam from Alabama, could see a camel (yes, yes, there are pictures). Plus, I was bummed because my hard-wrought love letter was read its rites even before it was D.O.A.


So the day after the fourth rolled around, and I decided that I really needed a slew of red, white and blue brew.


But the closest PBR tall boy is bobbing up and down in the surf outside of Jersey, so a Georgian (the state) friend and I settled for Heines at the bar here in Aden. I don’t know what this bar is called, but it’s about two city blocks beyond the Seaman’s Club (a wildly decadent, neon red nightclubish relic of the British occupation) in the Tawahi district of Aden.


The bar is situated along the busy thoroughfare of Aden’s port. You can look out from the rickety tables arranged on a gravel ground, beside the water, towards giant tankers and barges that have come in to drop this off, or to pick up that. Across the bay is a series of large cranes, which drop and pick up shipping containers. Nearby, there is a structure that looks like an inverted L. This is where the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in 2001.


But we didn’t sit outside. We walked into the bar / restaurant area and sat down. Groups of mostly middle aged men and a few women gazed at us as we sat down.


Like the Seaman’s Club close by, this bar is a hang-out for Yemeni and Saudi men, who never stopped drinking after South Yemen ceased being a socialist republic and came under the control of the more conservative / traditional north.


Women come here too. They are mostly prostitutes, according to expats, who may or may not really know (sexpats?). A few women came in fully veiled. They sat down and threw their niqabs back over their hijabs. Two of them were wearing a remarkable amount of foundation, which gave their cheeks a chalky pallor. The other woman, who was a bit bigger, had a black eye. All were chewing qat.


A few stray cats scurried in between the tables. My friend thought they were rats at first.


We ordered the beers and cheered to this and that. The Prince came up quite suddenly, but he made sure to kiss both of our hands and welcome us and to pledge his help for any problem we might encounter. He was drunk, and animated. He made sure we understood him when he said, ‘I am a prince from southern Yemen.’ And he was insistent that ‘we are all…from Earth.’ ‘This,’ he continued, pointing at my heart, ‘this is the most important! Surprise. Surprise.’


One of the uniformed guards outside, who had been checking bags and even looking under some men’s shirts, noticed the Prince talking to us. He walked in, and the Prince seemed to know why. He yelled something at the guard, then turned towards us. He said something in English, with emphasis on the word ‘surprise’, and then something else in English, or Arabic. Then he cursed the guard for grabbing his shoulder, but he seemed a bit relieved to be leaving.


Then the Californian came up to our table. He was a middle aged man with a stylish limp. He wore khakis, a black pin stripped shirt with the first four buttons unbuttoned, a New Era hat with a big $ on the front, and a belt buckle in the shape of a .45. “Excuse me. I’m sorry. You have to be careful.’ He patted my friend’s hand. “Yemenis, they aren’t good. Of course I am from Aden” he continued, now patting my hand, “you must be careful. They will…I’m from California.” He took out his wallet, and showed us his California driver’s license. “You see? I will be sitting over there. You need anything, you come over.”


Thank you. He nodded, and sat down with his friends.


My friend and I drank to this and that, shared some stories about Addis Ababa and love and hearts and minds, oh, and we surreptitiously discussed Jerusalem and its claimers using letters such as P and I.


The Cousin, who had been looking at our table as he slowly made his way through his own bottle of Gin, stood up at the Californian’s table, shouting and gesturing at the Californian. The Californian looked around anxiously, but didn’t stand.


The Cousin moved to another table, then came to our table. ‘Excuse me,’ he started, ‘you are American?’ Yes. ‘I was in argument with him,’ he said, pointing towards the Californian, who was anxiously watching him. ‘I was talking to the embassy today, in Sana’a. I talked to them today,” he continued, as the guard outside started to gesture towards him, “they…they transferred me to the Yemeni official,” he said incredulously. “I called them…my cousin. He owns a shop in New York. Very successful. Lots of money. He owns a shop. He bought trucks, you know, like to transfer gasoline. I found out accidentally. I’m drunk.” My friend excused herself to go to the bathroom.


“He’s going to drive the truck to the United Nations. He will use it as a weapon. I have a guilty conscience. I found out accidentally.” He started to weave a bit. “I want, I called the embassy. I tried to tell them.” By now, the guard was opening the door and looking towards the Cousin. “There are too many people in the United States. Innocent people. I have a guilty conscience. I don’t want to watch this on the news.  I swear on my mother’s grave…will you, if you please, will you give me the number of the FBI or the CIA? Or I give you my number, and you tell them, the CIA or the FBI, or Homeland Security?”


My friend came back from the bathroom. The guard gently patted the Cousin on his shoulder. He looked a bit embarrassed, but a little relieved to be leaving.


Then the Californian came up. “You have to be careful,” he started, looking around, “just be careful. You need anything, you come to my table.”


We thanked him. My friend shot me a what-did-I-miss look. I shot her a you-really-really-don’t-want-to-know look, and we both raised our glasses quietly.

July 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm 3 comments

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