Overseas Voting: Do It Before 10 Oct


Absentee Voting Week is September 26-October 3
Be an Active Voter by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2016 U.S. elections and participating in Absentee Voting Week!

In many states, the voter registration deadline for the November 2016 elections is October 10.  For some voters this might mean their paper voter registration and absentee ballot request must reach their local election officials byOctober 10.  In order to vote in the November 2016 elections, all overseas U.S. citizens need to have completed aFederal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2016.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must complete an FPCA each year to ensure you are able to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

If you have already completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2016 and requested electronic delivery of your ballot, you will be receiving your blank ballot or instructions for how to access your ballot soon if you have not already received it.  If you are not sure about the status of your absentee ballot request you should contact your local election officials in the United States or check the status of your registration via your state’s voter registration verification website.

You can get voting assistance from the U.S. Consulate in Dubai or drop off your completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, during the following hours:

SundayThursday, 9AM – 4PM. Our dropbox for Federal Post Card Applications is located at the entrance to the consular section. Normal transit time from Dubai to the United States is 14 days.


Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting.

If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late. The process is easy ­– just follow these steps:

  1. Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, complete an FPCA to receive your ballot this fall.  It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA.  Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.

The online voting assistant available at FVAP.gov is an easy way to complete the FPCA.  It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible.  No matter which state you vote in, we encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery.  The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print and sign.


  1. Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

You can submit your FPCA at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai at the FPCA dropbox which is located at the entrance to the Consular Section.

If it’s more convenient for you, you can have a friend or family member drop off your FPCA on your behalf or you can send your FPCA or ballot directly to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.


  1. Receive Your Ballot

After submitting your FPCA, most states allow you to confirm online your registration and ballot delivery selection. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election (on or around September 24) for federal office (President, U.S. Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives) to any overseas U.S. citizen who has completed an FPCA.


  1. Return Your Ballot

As with the FPCA, you can return your voted ballot to your local election officials free of charge via the nearest embassy or consulate or mail it directly at your own expense.


Your Vote Counts

Many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline (differs by state).

Be an educated voter.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.   You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, and search the Internet to locate articles and information.

To receive information by email about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov).  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact Dubai’s Voting Assistance Officer at 04-309-4000 or at voteDubai@state.gov.


I have a few windows open in my web browser, and a ton of tabs in each window because I’m working on a few different projects and this is how I’m attempting to keep the projects, thoughts, process separate—a way to organize, and possibly focus. (Did I include enough qualifiers?)

To navigate between the windows, I was going to the Window tab at the top of the screen, and selecting the window I wanted. But then, when trying to switch between apps—from Firefox to Excel—I accidentally hit the wrong keys (or more accurately, hit them at the wrong time), and found myself switching between browser windows.


Shortcuts make me happy.

Keyboard Shortcuts

to switch between open apps / programs:

  • cmd ⌘ + Tab
  • click the Tab key to move forward through your apps
  • after you’ve clicked cmd ⌘ + Tab, can see your app icons and have moved forward at least once in your list, you can also move backward by clicking
    cmd ⌘ + ~


to switch between multiple windows in Firefox:

  • cmd ⌘ + ~

See how the accident happened? See how happy I am?


(The tilda / backtick / grave accent key is usually found under the esc key, but mine’s next to my Z; I have a French UAE keyboard. Took some time to get used to, but all’s good now.)



what’s in a name? pt 4

I remember the first time someone heard my name and knew how to spell it. I was 10.

My family took a cross-country summer vacation to see as many US states as possible. We also spent half a day in Tijuana, Mexico. I think my mom still has bruises on her arm where my older sister hung on from fear, just like she did the first time we went to NYC.

Me, I was happy to be there. My most salient Tijuana memory is seeing a street vendor, an elderly man, and his cluttered table / workshop—small metal-cutting machine, a collection of files, boxes of chunky metal rings,  and a hand-made sign: “Your name on a ring.”

Not sure why I wanted one, and don’t recall all the details, but I do remember telling the man, Dina, and he said, D-I-N-A? And said, yes. Yes!

The man found a ring that fit me, carved & filed away the negative space around each letter until my name appeared on the ring. Way better than a pre-printed personalized mini license plate from a gift shop.

Years later…

I learned why Dina might have been so familiar to that man: the name Dina has etymological roots in Spanish/Latin, plus DINA is a manufacturer of trucks and buses (the Mexican equivalent of Mac trucks)—Diesel Nacional (DiNa), which later became Diesel International, but name changes can be difficult to make stick.

Like, for a very brief moment in the early 2000s, I had the nickname (the only one I can remember having) of Diesel. I think 3 people called me this for a few months, and then the nickname died.

In Dubai

When I meet people in here, after the usual game of Where Are You From?, we exchange names. I get the same response:

You know that’s an Arabic name?

I started asking, What’s it mean?

If there are many Arabic speakers in the group, they’ll speak in Arabic. Discuss. Look confused. Discuss. Return to me and say, it doesn’t mean anything, really.


I asked someone, got the answer nothing, and told her about a Syrian guy I met at the camel races who said, It means the sun and earth. It means everything and nothing. She said, Typical Syrian.

whats in a name camels at the start line

On the Internet…

Home of all answers & misanswers, says, Dina—Hebrew—means avenged, judged and vindicated.

From Dinah:

  • The name Dinah occurs only once in the Bible, as the only daughter of Israel’s arch-father Jacob (Genesis 30:21)
  • The name Dinah is the feminine form of Dan and both come from the verb דין (din), meaning to judge or plead or govern
  • The feminine noun מדונה (medina), meaning province. BDB Theological Dictionary submits that this word is an Aramaic word, but perhaps it was so readily incorporated into Hebrew because it expresses the smallest unit of governable area larger than a single city; i.e. a jurisdiction. Note that this word also exists in Arabic, where it also became applied as the name of the famous city.


What does Dina mean?

  • (Celtic) seaman, mariner; (Germanic) brave as a bear; (Hebrew) vindicated; (Latin) steadfast, constant
  • Dina is unusual as a baby name for girls. Its usage peaked modestly in 1969 with 0.089% of baby girls being given the name Dina. Its ranking then was #199. The baby name has since experienced a substantial fall in popularity, and is today of very light use.
  • Dina is also a variant of the name Murdag (Scottish).

Call me Murdag. Maybe? Call me maybe? Maybe?

what’s in a name? pt 3

Mini license plates that you hang on your bike seat, key chains, mugs, pencils, tote bags, bottle openers—any personalized item in a gift store—will have variations of my name: Dinah, Dianna, Dana…. but never my name. I’ll look, hoping. But no.

So, I get excited whenever I see my name. Anywhere. Even as part of a typo.

Thank you, IKEA!

whats in a name plant gardina

Which, of course I had to buy.

whats in a name gardina gardinia

It’s finally about to flower. I’m very excited. (Polar bear hat and camel bone in a box, if you’re wondering.)

Excited, like when I was walking around Alserkal Ave in Dubai (or Dubayy)’s Al Quoz area (home to art galleries; work spaces; warehouses; industrial plants; an antique museum that has few antiques and isn’t a museum; car repair & modification garages), saw my name on a discarded cardboard box, and took a picture. Woo hoo! That’s me: Performance without Sacrifice.

whats in a name dina


Update on Siri’s struggle with my name:
She has started spelling it right, but has stopped saying my name at all.
Half a win!

what’s in a name? pt 1

Imagine a multi-layered burst of bright red at the end of a stem of green. What is this?

Ceci n’est pas une rose.

C’est William. With a name like that, he had it easy. Will. Bill. Billy. Willy—someone must have. Will.I.Am—he thought of this first, no doubt.

If people see my name, they can’t say it. If they hear it, they can’t spell it. I’ve spent my life correcting them. In the same way James Dean’s Jim from Rebel without a Cause couldn’t let it go when someone called him chicken, I let these mispronunciations & misspellings get to me.

In my family, I was known by my relative labels: sister, daughter, or by generic terms of endearment: sweetheart, dear. The family as a unified entity with a single direction, one voice, was favored over being an individual. My DNA didn’t get the memo.

I want to be separate. I want to have an identity. I want people to get my name right.

A salesman once told me there’s no way, with that spelling, that’s how you say it. Dude, did you seen The 40-Year-Old Virgin? Not because I think you’d relate, but because of this exchange:

While we were in Paris a couple of weeks ago, we bought new iPhones. Went from 2009’s iPhone 4 to the new iPhone 6—(not the 6ridicuplus). This is my first experience with Siri.

A few weeks before we moved to Dubai, my computer died. I took Alfredo’s old one, which got connected to all my devices—iphones, ipods, etc, meaning in the digital world, I was Alfredo.

  • Siri: What can I help you with, Alfredo?
    Me: I’m not Alfredo.
    Siri: I’m sorry. I do not understand, I’m not Alfredo.
    Me: My name’s not Alfredo.
    Siri: I’m sorry. I do not understand, My name’s not Alfredo.
    [Google: Siri calls me by the wrong name]
    Me: Call me Dina. [Siri spells this as Dena. Click to change. I change.]
    Siri: Ok, I shall call you Tina. Is this correct?
    [Google: Siri difficult name to pronounce]
    Me: Siri, how do you pronounce Dina? [Siri spells this as Dena. Click to change. I change.]
    Siri: Which one? [Siri gives me a list of all my contacts named Dana.]
    Me: Call me Dina. [Siri spells this as Dena. Click to change. I change.]
    Siri: Ok, I shall call you Gina. Is this correct?
    Me: [redacted]
    Me: Siri, how do you pronounce Dina? [Siri spells this as Dena. Click to change. I change.]
    Siri: You have no contacts named Dinah.
    Me: Call me Dina. [Siri spells this as Dena. Click to change. I change.]
    Siri: Ok, I shall call you Dianna. Is this correct?
    Me: Dina.
    Siri: I’m sorry, I do not understand, Denna.
    Me: [redacted] [redacted]
    Me: Siri, how do you pronounce Dina? [Siri spells this as Dina.]
    Siri: Which one? [Siri gives contact info for a few Danas and for me. I click on my name.]
    Siri: Ok, how do you pronouce this name?
    Me: Dina.
    Siri: Select one. [Siri provides 3 sound files. I listen. Dina. Dana. Dina. I chose the first one.]
    Me: Siri, what is my name?
    Siri: Why are you asking me, Din-nah?

Can you hear me above the din?
Would you like some gin?
Is that made of tin?

  • Me: Siri, I give up.
    Siri: I do not understand, I give up.
    Me: Ok, Siri. What’s in a name?
    Siri: Here’s some information. Input interpretation: A name means nothing.
    Me: Thank you, Siri.
    Siri: You’re most certainly welcome.
close up to center of flower
This is a rose.

dubai or dubayy?

Noticed yesterday that Gmaps changed Dubai to Dubayy. Wikipedia says Dubayy is closer to the Arabic pronunciation.

Dubai Dubayy is new & old. Things changes. Things stays the same.

If everything is a circle, I’m living at the point where the snake’s teeth & tail meet.





what do you miss?

At a meet-new-people event the other night, a guy said to me, So, you’re new in Dubai—how do you like it? It’s… fascinating. What do you miss? I miss seeing things that have history. I have a small collection of vintage typewriters at home, and I miss having them around, looking at things that are older than I am. Everything here is so new. Yeah, he says, but history—too much history—can get in the way sometimes. What do you mean? Well, he says, I’m German.


dubai and the big apple?

The biggest. As in, the largest Apple store in the world. ‘Cause Dubai only does superlatives. Rumored to be coming to a mall near me.

I’ve found it funny to leave LA & SF where 99% of everyone (’cause exaggeration, as I do) has iPhones, to be here where 99% of everyone on the Metro holds Samsung…. (I had to look this up, Galaxy) phones.

Occasionally, I’ll see iProducts. Like this guy, thinking he could take video on his iPad without anyone noticing.

ipad video on the dubai metro

But there are Apple fans here. Once, I saw a woman on the Metro who had a large Apple logo, made of many gold sequins, on either arm of her abaya. (aka aba. men wear a thobe, kandura, or—I’m not fond of this name, especially when said by Westerners—dishdasha.)

I tried to get a picture of the woman and her American-branded traditional-Arabic dress, but was so concerned about being caught and insensitive (unlike the guy above), I ended up with this. You can see the cuff of her garment in the center of the image.

apple logo abaya on the metro obscurred by thumb

All this is to say, I’m excited for an Apple store here. And very excited about the iPhone 6. Soon. September soon.

happy 4-year cativersary to #ourkittyboys!

Four years ago today, July 20, we brought home 2 nearly-5-month-old kittens, brothers, who were in a Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter foster home where they went by Dillon & Bij. They had the best foster mom—and, in the last 4 years, we’ve raised many glasses to Brittany.

A full week after we brought the kittens home, plus a spreadsheet, plus an important trip to Starbucks, Dillon & Bij became Del & Finn.

On July 17 (a few days ago), the four of us celebrated our 4-month anniversary of arriving in Dubai. Since then, ourkittyboys have forgotten & forgiven us for the few weeks they needed to be boarded while we found an apartment.


Ourkittyboys got many treats today. Including, their favorite, tuna juice martinis straight up. Because they’re macho cats.

No they’re not. They’re spoiled. And they’re very photogenic. And we love them. And I may have said to Alfredo when we were discussing the possibility of Dubai, if the cats can’t go, I don’t go.

So, here we are: the four of us in a one-bedroom apartment, 27 stories above the city. Settling in.


Brotherly Love