Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hiatus in Publication ...


Our Egyptian trip (Luxor is pictured) was canceled due to the long aftermath from Susan's asthma attack.

We are also taking a brief hiatus from weekly publication, and entries now will be occasional. If you would prefer to receive these occasional entries by email, please let us know.

Thanks,
John

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Egyptian Etiquette ...



Were it not for illness in the family, we would be returning from Egypt tomorrow. (Pictured is King Tut) Here is some of what we learned in our research for the trip.

The following is adapted from Frommer’s Egypt Travel Guide:

Appropriate Attire -- To avoid harassment, women should wear skirts or trousers that reach below the knee, and sleeves that cover the shoulders. At beach resorts, clubs and very upscale restaurants, the dress code is much looser, and young, rich women can be seen in skimpy skirts and tube tops. In mosques, women are expected to cover their hair, and not expose any skin other than their hands, face and feet.

Men should always wear shirts that cover their shoulders and refrain from wearing shorts unless they're in a beach area. Both men and women should take their shoes off before entering a mosque. In general, it's a good idea to wear closed shoes if you expect to do a lot of walking, since Egyptian streets are often muddy, or strewn with garbage and broken glass.

Gestures -- The most useful gesture is placing your right hand over your heart, which expresses gratitude and humility, and is often used as a polite way of saying no. For example, it can be used if someone is insisting that you enter their shop for a cup of coffee, or trying to hand you a gift that you don't want to accept.

Holding your hand in mid air, palm down and tipping it back and forth means "so-so" or a "little bit."

Stretching your hand out with your palm facing out is a way to ward off evil, and is offensive if you do it in someone's face. If you want to indicate the number five, make sure your palm faces you.

It's impolite to show others the soles of your feet or shoes. If you're sitting with your legs crossed, always make sure your soles are facing down.

Avoiding Offense -- Egypt's complex behavioral code is all about maintaining honor, saving face and skirting touchy subjects.

The formality of relationships between the sexes is one of the most important differences you should be aware of. When greeting a member of the opposite sex, a handshake is sufficient, as only members of the same sex hug and kiss. Aggressive flirtation, whether it's eye contact or touching, should be kept to a minimum. Especially if you're a woman and engage in this kind of behavior, you'll be considered "loose," and your advances will be interpreted as an invitation for sex.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

FEMA Assistance in Seeking Grants …


From L’Observateur, Laplace:

Many Louisiana parishes have greatly benefitted from grant information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has its own funding and resource development team that specializes in finding possible grant opportunities for recovery projects throughout the state.

Great recovery work is being done by parish and municipal government agencies and by nonprofit organizations in Louisiana, said Jim Stark, director of Louisiana’s Transitional Recovery Office. In addition to providing FEMA Public Assistance funding, we are happy to help facilitate recovery efforts by providing both technical support and aid in the identification of potential non-FEMA sources of funding.

To date, FEMA has developed and maintains approximately two dozen databases, identifying funding programs by sector, including fire departments, affordable housing, libraries, schools, economic development, parks and parkways and a number of other entities. This information is available to the public upon request.
Many resource development professionals now rely on FEMA because it saves them a tremendous amount of time in terms of research.

When I found out that FEMA has someone who searches and sorts through grant announcements, then puts them in a database and sends them to Congressional and other government entities, I was thrilled, said Holly Sibley, staff assistant to U. S. Rep. Charles Boustany. The information I’ve received has been an enormous help when I’m assisting constituents who are trying to locate grants for specific programs.

Smaller agencies and organizations often lack resource development capacity to secure the additional funding that is needed to fully implement their recovery projects. FEMA’s funding and resource development team addresses this need and supports the recovery efforts of these entities as they work to secure grant funding.

Since FEMA programs like Public Assistance are supplemental in nature, the grant opportunities we find help fill in holes for improved or alternative projects, said Paul Bratton, a funding and resource development specialist with FEMA.

FEMA staff typically receives up to three or four dozen funding opportunity announcements a day, information that is readily available to anyone who has access to the Internet. Staff evaluates this information to determine whether certain funding opportunities can benefit Louisiana agencies or organizations. When such information is forwarded, all significant data is highlighted to facilitate quick reference by the potential grant applicants.

If a government official or representative of a nonprofit agency would like assistance from FEMA in obtaining information on potential funding opportunities, please send a detailed written request to Paul Bratton via e-mail at Paul.Bratton@dhs.gov. Paul is also available for one-on-one meetings or for presentations to small groups.

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