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.

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 is culture shock?

“Culture shock isn’t a myth.” Culture shock isn’t a clinical term or medical condition: thus, no drug, no 3-minute commercial with litany of may cause extreme hunger may cause sudden and prolonged lack of appetite, 12-red-bulls excessive energy marathons, iron heavy slothfulness weightloss weightgain increased socialness highway loneliness. But there is an app for it. Because apps are social, and social is the new drug.

From InterNations: “Anybody who spends more than just a vacation abroad has to go through it.”

“Whereas every expat will experience some form of culture shock, not everyone goes through all the well-known stages. While some skip stages or rush through them, others may experience certain stages of cultural transition more than once and in a different order. Culture shock is a rather nerve-wrecking phenomenon.” It does wreck the nerves. A stuffing in an aluminum can for a ride in the paint-mixing machine at the local hardware store. An untethering. A Ground Control to Major Tom. The opening sequence of Gravity.


Stages of Culture Shock

“Many people who have experienced it first-hand say that it manifests itself in a series of waves. ”

Anticipating Departure

Was marked by leaving a job heavy with history—it would be kind to say that 5 of the 7 years I was at this job were negative and unrewarding—at a company I’d given a total of 10 years of my life to. It was a separation that was so anticlimactic, pathetic, unpleasant, cruel, and not at all satisfying. It was packing a house—a much, much larger task than we planned for, an immense and endless undertaking, but had friends to help and help and help. It was saying goodbye. It was bon voyage parties and traveling to say more goodbyes. It was harder than I thought it would be. It was exciting. It was never definite. It never felt real. It was a town car ride to LAX and there’s no turning back now. Is this really happening?

The Arrival / Confusion

    culture shock

man at starbucks in dubai
In all honestly, Dubai is easy. There’s English everywhere. Starbucks, Burger King, Trader Vic’s, Fuddrucker’s, Macaroni Grill, Cinnabon, Cold Stone, Ikea—just like San Fernando Road, Burbank. Like home. Even if we didn’t go to these places, the names were the familiar. We tried not to compare. The best advice we got was from a friend—a British expat married to one of Alfredo’s classmate from UCLA Anderson (Go Bruins)—don’t compare. It’s tempting, but nothing will live up to what you remember from back home. Don’t do it.

So we didn’t.

If anything, we made things strange. We let small incidents turn into stories. We tried new things. We waited.

We let waiting exist for the sake of waiting. We compared waiting to literature; it was art.

We entered the Honeymoon Phase.


why haven’t you been posting?

I’ve been in mourning over the death of my Honeymoon Phase. How melodramatic-poet is that statement? Here’s another:

Everything Is Death, Dying, Dead

dead fish head

  • The fish carcases by the canal (future post)
  • Our friend’s beautiful cat, Princess Baby Lamb, who finally had to be put down after fighting cancer for so long
  • Our friend’s father taken off life support—and those complications
  • We’re decomposing as we go.” –Tom Waits
  • The California fires
  • The crushed bird by the shop entrance—look over there, said Alfredo, pointing in the opposite direction
  • Censorship is death
  • Some say language is dying. Some say movies killed the novel.
  • The flat road-kill tuxedo cat on the sidewalk corner because he didn’t make it across the street—oh, the wild cats here (future post)
  • The tiny desert mouse in the beak of a massive black raven that flew over my head—please don’t drop that
  • The suicides off the balconies at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)
  • The many recent posts on IG by long-time followees who have lost their pets
  • Thoughts of the death of my first cat
  • Thoughts of the inevitable
  • Thoughts of the death of my co-worker
  • Thoughts of things that can never be—how they end before they begin
  • The beginning of the end of weather on this side of pleasant
  • Yes, this list has a lot of dead animals. Dead animals make me very, very sad.

This is from a moment in The Plunge, a valley on the map of culture shock.

What is culture shock?