Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Than Babysitting - Egypt, Trees, and Birds

Besides babysitting, we did get to stop at the library Saturday morning for a Great Decisions film and speakers on modern Egypt.  A former State Department official moderated and two Egyptian speakers - Marwa Maziad, an Egyptian journalist and fellow at the Middle East Center of the U.W. Jackson School of International Studies.

Marwa Maziad and Tarek Dawoud
Tarek Dawoud is a graduate of Cairo University Computer Engineering department, Tarek came to the United States from Egypt in early 2001 to work in the Software industry.  Tarek currently serves as the president of the Washington state chapter of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) and  as a board member of the Islamic School of Seattle as well as a member of the Interfaith and Outreach Committee at Masjid Ar-Rahmah in Redmond.

Larry Kerr, the moderator,  was a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service for over 25 years after leaving the US military.

Essentially, Marwa and Tarek  both felt that the video made the Mursi government seem much more stable, moderate, and capable than it is.  Both see lots of issues today, but were hopeful for five years from now.

The room was packed - about 60 people [It turns out there were 75 according to Kathleen Thorne who runs the program and supplied me the names and background information on Tarek and James.]  I don’t think there more than a handful (excluding the speakers) under 40.  I’m not sure what that means - I suspect that it has more to do with their time schedules and young families than their interest in the topic. 

We also drove out to Port Gamble.  A town whose architecture was copied from Maine where the settlers came from.  While it had a saw mill once, it seems to be mostly a tourist spot today.  Everything was labeled like this tree. But I see it's still hard to read, so here's what it says:

"It was in 1640 that the "Earl of Camperdown" in Dundee Scotland growing on the floor of his elm forest.  He grafted it to a Scotch Elm and it took hold producing the first Camperdown Elm.  The Scotch Elm is the  only root mass the Camperdown Elm will grow on.  The tree is a mutant and cannot self produce. Every Camperdown Elm tree in the world is part of the original and they must be grafted onto a Scotch Elm tree to get started.  When the graft starts to grow, the Scotch Elm branches are cut off leaving only Camperdown Elm.  This magnificent tree depends on humankind to keep it alive as a species."

A Tree A Day suggests it wasn't the Earl himself who is responsible:
"An astute head-gardener grafted it onto a Wych elm, or Ulmus glabra (there is some controversy involving Ulmus hollandica). What was produced was a sprawling canopy that gave rise to this cultivar's other name, the Umbrella elm."

We've also been seeing some birds we only see in the summer in Anchorage.  A few worth mentioning -  buffleheadsAmerican widgeons, and one of my favorites, the varied thrush.

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