Monday, December 22, 2008

A Haiku, just for you


No Gmail, No blogger for me thanks to the internet cable cut. I am dying. It's a blessing in disguise, since the kids who are in university are home for the winter break, so the house if packed with hungry adolescents.
 
Here is my top ten list of things I am doing instead of blogging this week.
 
  • Dreading the GCC conference
  • Hanging out with my neglected children
  • Working harder than a Sherpa because my boss is out of town.
  • Still totally loving my new car.
  • Writing offensive Haiku poetry text messages to co workers*
  • Having excruciating meetings with idiots and perverts
  • Contemplating a fishing excursion with the family
  • Dreading the GCC conference
  • bottle feeding the neighbour's goats
  • Cooking, A lot.
 
Would post via proxy, but it's too freakin slow!  Hope to be back in the new year.  
 
 
A selection of Haiku I sent to coworkers this week.
 
 
I think You're funny
But Not in a Ha Ha Way
Like bugs, you scare me
____________________
 
Task accomplished, yet,
like a bad smell, you linger
Get off my shit, man
______________________
 
Naked, once again
it's akward when you change clothes
so hard not to look
________________________
 
Neither you or I
have interpersonal skills
at least I'm pretty
 
More from here soon.  
 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now for something completley different

I don't know if any of you are following the news surrounding the big three US car makers. I don't know how many of you have driven a 1957 Cadillac, or a Old school dodge pickup, or a 67' Mustang. They are things Of Beauty.

If you have a list of things you must do before you die, can I reccomend that you add to it a private visit to the garage below the ATCUAE HQ in Dubai, and a quickie visit to the Rainbow Sheikh's place on the way to Liwa. Because the collections are amazing, and will assist you in understanding why the US carmakers should be bailed out, again, as long as they agree to start making cars like they used to. Things of beauty.

I Read this Blog religously, and the guy who writes it has effectively convinced me to move to Detroit with his pictures alone. He wrote a really excellent post about why the big three shouldn't die and it really resonated with me. Go have a read, because it's the sort of thing I wish I could write.

More tomorrow, and an explination about why Mac donald's play areas smell like urine.

I am a Zax

I spent a couple of hours at the ROP station last night, over something that was rather stupid.

Doing rather stupid things is what causes everyone to end up in an ROP station, come to think of it....

There is a narrow street near my house, only just wide enough for one car to fit through the choke point at a time. It's supposed to be a one-way I think, but the sign to that effect was knocked down years ago, and everybody uses it as a two way street.

The choke point is not a problem, because everyone takes turns giving way, depending on the traffic situation at the time. Usually, there is a wave, a smile, or a how's it going passed between the drivers of the cars. It's about as warm and fuzzy as things ever get in Ghubra.

Last night, however, I found myself in some sort of bizarre standoff with a woman who wouldn't back up to let me pass. I would have backed up myself, except that there were cars behind me, and the angle of the slope meant I couldn't see what I was backing uphill into / over.

I needed her to back up three feet to be clear of the choke point, and after which I could slip through, and we could both be on our way. She had no one behind her, a clear view of where she could back up, and could back up by pressing in the clutch and rolling backward, down hill.

After waiting a minute, I got out of the car and explained that I couldn't back up because of the cars behind me, and that I couldn't pass her because there was not enough room. I was really, really, really polite, and said please, and smiled. She scowled at me and said I should go around or back up to let her through, and I again explained that the laws of physics could not be altered to suit her whims. My car is wide, and requires a finite amount of space to pass, the cars behind me are unlikely to magically dissapear just before I collide with them. Could you please back up three feet and we can be on our way?

And then she jumps out of the car and goes " I don't need this Shit from you!!!"

And I was like "Wha? Wha? Wha? Did you just swear at me? "

At this stage, Stone hops out of his car, (he was one of the cars behind me) and Tells the lady to move her car back a little bit so everyone can get going. and she yells some nonsense at him, and says she's not moving backwards even if she has to stay here forever. Really mature.

I have lost my temper by now, and am contemplating running her, and her Dihatsu Cappucino or whatever, over. I tell her that she needs to move, or I'm calling the police, and Stone snaps three photos of her lisence plate and the front of our cars. Eventually, she moves her car forward and to the right enough for me to get past by putting the right wheels up over the curb, to the sound of wheel rims grinding on concrete. I get past her, hop out of the car, and because I am flaming mad, tell her she should be ashamed of herself, and that swearing at me was really unflattering.

On arrival home, I figure that this is not going to be the last I hear of this woman, so I phone the ROP and guve the basic debrief to one of the nice officers on the phone. He says I can file a report at the station, and I say it's not really neccicarry to make a big deal out of this. Could he be so kind as to remember my name and the conversation we just had. No problem madam, Eid Mubarak!

An hour later the ROP call and ask stone to please come to the police station. Sure enough, the woman wants to press charges against stone for taking Pictures of her. The woman was too much of a coward to meet with the us herself, so her husband was there to confront us with this "serious" allegation, while she hid in a back room somewhere.

Stone showed the ROP, and the husband, that the photos he had taken were of the lisence plates, and the situation, for the very reason of covering our asses if this woman decided to make a problem. There were no photos of her on the camera. The ROP called and spoke to the operator I had conversed with shortly after the incident, and he confirmed everything I had told him. I then underlined the situation as it had happened, complete with diagrams, and asked if it was OK to swear at strangers, obstruct traffic, and waste the time of everyone involved making false claims about "indecent photographs" .

Her husband was really embarassed, and after I demanded to see her in person, and not her Husband, I got to chew her out in person. Unsuprisingly she was totally unoppologetic. I'm hoping she thinks twice before expecting the ROP to belive a made up story about harassment so she can exact petty vengance on people she belives she can push around.

The ROP were, as always fantastic, honest, and not too busy to hear all sides of the story. Absolutley no Wasta was used or needed in this situation, Stone and I were just ordinary people, and so were the complaintants. Nice Job ROP.

In hindsight, If I were a smarter person, I would have set the parking brake, walked around behind my truck, and asked the cars waiting behind me to back up, Had Stone keep watch for anything I couldn't see behind me, and let the stupid cunt through. I am also a stubborn idiot.

Stone thinks the reason she wouldn't back up is because she doesn't know how.


For those of you who don't get the ZAX refrence, See below.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Laptop Review by someone who can barely work a calculator

I got a new laptop on Thursday. It will replace my beloved and sturdy five year old Acer. The purchase was a four hour saga of horror for which Stone should receive a purple heart.

As you may have gathered, I do not like technology very much.

My car is a great example of simple, usable technology. There is not a single feature on the car that is not directly related to the actual act of driving. Your desires may be different, but I don't want my car to be my office, rub my back, entertain my children, or suck Stone's dick. This is why I don't own a BMW.

My Phone is another good Example; it is a telephone. I use my telephone to call people, and have verbal conversations. I do not use my phone as a camera, a radio, a portable hard drive, video game console, or day planner. I have owned ten Nokia 3100's and they are fantastic. They are no longer available in the market though, so my New phone will be one of these, which come with a 3 year unconditional warranty.

A laptop should, in my mind, be a vehicle for checking emails, creating documents and building spreadsheets. My Laptop is not a TV, not a Multimedia communication device, and not for "low light video conferencing", whatever the hell that is a euphamisim for...

Here, for your reading pleasure is the totally non-technical breakdown on my new Laptop. First off, things I like;
  • It is an Acer, and thus somewhat indestructable.
  • It cost a pretty reasonable RO 380.
  • It is black with a keyboard a screen and a plug that connects it to the power strip.
  • It also has a magic leprachaun living inside it that allows it to connect to wireless networks.
  • It has a 350 gig hard drive, and 3GB of Ram, which means that I can now add drivers for the infinate number of printers and other shit I have to run when I am travelling on business.
  • It has a touch pad that is not as great as the one on my old laptop, but will suffice.

Things I don't like

  • It came loaded with the Insanely Annoying Windows Vista.
  • I had to pay another RO75 for a copy of the latest Microsoft Office Suite
  • It has a webcam. WTF am I going to do with that?
  • Internet Explorer seems to hang a lot. This is very annoying.
  • The touch pad is not as perfect as my old one, but good enough to spare me the hell that is using a mouse.

Touch pads are really really really important to me. I have literally lost weeks of my life to bad, slow, inaccurate, or fishy touchpads. A good touch pad is, for me, the critical deciding factor in the purchase of a laptop. No other detail is more critical, or will have such a profound effect on my long term relationship with my laptop. It's the reason I don't own a Mac, because thier touch pads are not perfect enough. Anyway, Important. Get the idea?

Thursday, with my paychecks burning a hole in my pocket, Stone and I went to EMax, where they have hundreds of different laptops on display. I had narrowed the feild down to three, one was RO 700, one was RO 800, and one was RO 1,100. Not cheap.

Seeking out one of the store asssitants, I asked if there was any way they could plug the three of them in so I could test the touch pads. Because I was about to buy a very expensive lap top right there and then. And they said.... No.

No, No, No. Not even for a teensy, weensie second could I actually try using any of the laptops, all of which exceed the value of every car I own. The salesman kindly suggested that I try one of the LG laptops instead, but Stone owns an LG, and I hate thier touch pads. Pleeease??? I begged. No. You can buy it and return it for store credit if it breaks, but not if you don't like it.

So we went to Carrefour where they would not let me test the computers either. The salesman was really, really, really knowlegeable and very sweet. The poor dude answered my questions for TWO freaking hours, and whispered in my ear how I could get a refund on the one I bought if the touch pad fails to live up to my expectations. The guy had the patience of a saint.

We bought a much cheaper laptop than the one I had envisaged when we set out. Stone is thrilled, but has sworn that he will never, ever, ever again go shopping with me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

General update with lots of pilots

Was anybody else listening to Oman FM yesterday morning around 10:00 am? They were playing a CD that must have been titled "80's rock classics by Pipes of Pan". Featured Tracks included Another One bites the dust by Queen, and Easy Lover, by Phil Collins.

Stone and I couldn't stop laughing, imagingin the Music Video that would accompany the songs, as well as imaginging the studio staff at Oman FM. Surely they are taking the piss. " Hey Nawaf, Pass the Bong, Mate!"

(Pipes of Pan, for those of you who don't know, are wind insturments favoured by Kaftan-wearing Hippies and Wollen-Poncho-Wearing Periuvian bands that stand on street corners worldwide performing for spare change.)

I had a blast at work in Dubai last week, through I arrived home completely shattered due to an ill-advised short cut attempt on the last night that left us stranded and broken down in soft sand for the better part of four hours. Given that the guy driving was possibly one of the world's most talented desert drivers, and the other guy was one of the world's greatest mechanics, we were feleing pretty stupid.

We were ultimately rescued at Five am by a kind Emirati who appeared out of nowhere proffering beer in plastic cups and the oppertunity to use his truck to winch ourselves out of the pit of sand. Less than an hour later, I was at Dubai Airport waiting for the Perpetually delayed EK morning flight to Muscat. Shattered, I was.

Termanal 3 at DXB is pretty nice, or what I saw of it as I was dashing through it to terminal One, where my flight actually departed from. There is perhaps some room for improvement in the signage department.

I slept through the take off and up until we were on approach to Muscat. The landing was interesting. We were coming in nice and easy, wheels down, and about 300 meters off the deck and parallell to the auto club when the engines rev up to a howl and all of a suden we are going up, up, up and hard right.

It was pretty funny watching the faces of the flight crew, who were trying to mask thier mild terror with reasuring tight lipped smiles and white knuckles. Half an hour later, we were on Approach again, this time the landing was totally uneventfull, excepting an impressive bounce or two when we hit the tarmac.

That's never happened to me on a flight before. It was actually sort of reassuring to know that they guys up front were happy enough when they felt uncomfortable with the approach that they just took us around for another pass. Mind you, I suppose we could have been approaching against the Active runway or something. That happened to my father once in Saudi, and it was my dad who pointed it out to the rather embarassed pilots.

On other matters related to Avaition: I had an interesting night out with a bunch of ex RAF pilots. The poor dears now fly A380's or 747's and seem quite bored. I also had a ride in a Helicopter while moving equipment around the desert. I don't think I will ever get tired of riding in helicopters.

Work is insanely busy. My So-Called part time job is nothing like part time. I'm having fun though, and am generally left to do things that I'm good at (Logistics), while not having to do things I suck at (accounting).

I got a new laptop yesterady. Please excuse the numerous typing errors as I get used to the new keypad. Next post will be about what a total pain in the ass it is to buy a computer in Muscat, and how Emax lost out on the chance to sell me an 800 RO lap top. I will also discuss the importance of a good touch pad, and my profound hatred of mice.

OK. I am going to have a nap now, as we stayed out waay to late enjoying the company of a couple of lovely new friends. Thanks Guys!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Live blogging from Work

I'm back in Dubai for work this week. Having a blast, in case you were wondering. The level of Yackity-Yack and gossip is excellent, and the team for this week's boondoggle is really a strong one.

Last night as we were leaving the office, the skies opened up and heaved buckets of rain down. The sky was splinetered with lightning and for an hour it seemed like the world was coming to an end outside the truck. Did it rain in Oman?

More this afternoon, or tomorrow. I'm saving the priceless quotes for an overheard at work post.

Friday, November 21, 2008

When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail

*this post talks about my sex life, you've been warned*

Stone is back, finally, following a two week business trip! To say I have missed him is a total understatement. By the last day I felt like I was loosing my mind.

It's been a busy month, with me being away for two weeks, a four day overlap at home, Stone going away for two weeks, and in four days I am off again for a four night business trip. I am not sayig sex is the most important thing in a marraige, but it's pretty close...

A month and a half with only eight days in the same country, things were getting pretty dire on the Nookie front. Even the funny smelling night watchman who doesn't speak english was starting to look pretty good. When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

With my co-workers now temporarily free from sexual harassment, we can all turn to more important issues like turning a profit this month, maintaining the equipment, and forward logistical planning.

Did I fail to mention that I have a Job? Oh! hey! I have a Job! It is Awesome. I lovemy Job, and I really, really, really love my co-workers and boss. They swear at each other constantly, drink far too much, have a completley myopic view on the world, and seem hate everyone who is not One Of Us.

Truly, they are My People.

This is something of a suprise to me because whan I left my former life of glamour and intrigue, I honestly thought I could never be happy again. My life was over. (Cue: GNR November Rain)

Stone got so freaking sick of hearing me whine on and on about how there are no other people I could ever stand to work for, because "normal" people just don't get it. It had never occured to me that there are other feilds of employment where no one is normal, or even remotley sane.

My new boss and co workers are like family and I've only been with the company a month. I would gladly walk across hot coals for any of them, and I think they would do the same for me. The core team is a criminally insane French guy, and Omani guy who looks like an underwear model, An Omani woman who is brilliant and hard as nails, and an Antiopdean who tells dirty jokes and dances like John Travolta. I am home.

OK. that's all for now. More news as it happens.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crack houses are really under rated

because compared to my current neighbourhood, I would pay really good money to live in a crack house.

Honestly, I have lived in more civilised crack houses.

My neighbours:
  • regularly pick drunk fights in the middle of my street
  • have stolen ALL the logos from my husband's sports car
  • beat thier maids and think it's our fault
  • have stolen our turtles twice, and only returned 70% of them
  • cannot play soccer to save thier life
  • treat our street as thier own personal drag strip
  • own four fucking viscious dogs who bark all day and all night at totally random intervals
  • climb into our cars when we forget to lock them, and leave the headlights on.
  • Honk ALL THE GODDAMN TIME.
  • Cat call and hassle my teenage daughter whenever she leaves the house
  • throw rocks at my teenage daughter
  • Park in my driveway, blocking my access to the garage and the door.
  • After parking all over my yard, clean all the accumulated trash out of thier cars and leave it strewn all over my front yard. THe dumpster/ tip is less than five meteres from the yard.
  • Can't play soccer to save thier lives.
  • and break into my house.

Yeah, no joke. BREAK INTO MY FUCKING HOUSE.

Today I came back from work, and the maid and adolescent said that they had been hanging laundry (within the walls of our yard) , and returned inside to load more laundry / check facebook. The house maid returned to a fewminutes later and discovered two omani teenagers in our kitchen. IN OUR KITCHEN!!!!

Totally random teenagers.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! We dont' know these guys. She grabbed a broom, swung it at them, and they ran.

they could not have wound up there by accident, since they would have had to climb a six-foot boundry wall, walk past the front door, past the side door, and searched the backside of the house for the door that lead to the kitchen in an abviously private villa.

Before you ask... We've called the police, etc...

Anybody want to explain this one, and all the others?

More day after tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

We're back!

I am thrashed. Really, honestly, and I know I say this every year when I get back, but I am so. freaking. tired. Work was great, and I have returned to Muscat assured that I can still play with the big boys and keep my head above water. I've still got it.

Skills and work ethic aside, the trip featured intense social interaction, moderate public nudity, A (male) leg waxing session using sticky flypaper, coconut and grass skirt wearing Blackwater contractors, and the sort of aggregate sleep deprivation that makes things seem a lot funnier than they really are.

I was delighted to return to Oman in time to see that Barack Obama was elected President of the USA!!!! Finally, after eight years of insanity, maybe things are going to change. As a Naturalized US citizen, who spent 20+ years of her life in America, and who loves America with every single bone in her body, I cried when the result came through.

On a personal level, I would also like to send a few shout outs to the various tactless assholes who, on a daily basis have harassed me, sworn at me, collared me, and said the sort of hurtfull generalizations about Americans that I cannot fathom in my wildest dreams I would say to anyone aout thier race, religion, or country.

I will swear now, you've been warned.

Firstly, to the thousands of assholes who have tole me repeatedly that America could never, ever, elect a black president. Fuck You.

To Nathan, who I met one night at Trader Vics and who's second sentence to me was "I hate Americans." Fuck You, I hate insecure cunts with no manners.

To the many, many, many guests who have come to my home, eaten my food, consumed my alcohol, and spent the entire evening making gross generalizations about America, based mostly on what you have seen on TV. Fuck You. The Jerry Springer Show is NOT representitive of the 300 million diverse citizens of the united states.

To those of you who have repeatedly told me that America does not lead the free world, and neither does thier president. Take a look at the global financial meltdown, oil prices, and the global response to Barack Obama's election. Oh yeah, and Fuck You.

And finally, to the many, many, many of you who belive that Obama won't survive his first term in office, because Americans are just too racist to allow that. I also say Fuck You. Call me in four years, and oppologise.

More from here tomorrow.

P.S>- It looks like the neighbours with the barking dogs are moving!!!!!! It's like my birthday, Christmas, and Eid all rolled into one!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Vacation

Not really, in the Emirates for two glorious weeks of work.

See you guys in November!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Suck This Omantel

As far as I can tell, Blogger is blocked to those inside Oman who wish to access it in order to publish. Possibly intentionally, or possibly because Omantel is so staggeringly incompetent.  
 
Until this morning Gmail was blocked if you were accessing via Nawras, though most users accessing via Omantel could still see gmail. As you can see, since I am posting via email now, Gmail has been unblocked for Nawras users as well. My Guy at Nawras has said they will be making a complaint to the TRA, and I will be doing so as well, first thing tomorrow.
 
Omantel, can you hear me? You won't stop us. I can post via proxy, via VPN, via secure servers, via mirrors, via email, and if I have to I can post by calling a friend in a country with freedom of speech and a working telecoms infrastructure and DICTATING THE FUCKING MESSAGE DOWN THE PHONE. You guys are dinosaurs.
 
Thanks Oman, thanks Omantel, Thanks TRA. If anyone out there is compiling a report on (the virtually non existent) ffreedom of speech in Oman be sure to note this one.
 
Tomorrow I'll be moving the comments over to Haloscan, to allow commenting to continue unabated.
 
Suck This Omantel.  

 

Test



Suck this Omantel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blogger Blocked?

Quick post, before Omantel shuts down the secure connection I'm on.

Can anyone else there access Blogger or gmail from inside Oman??? I think it's been blocked. I neeeeed my email!!!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Digital Voo Doo

Every time I go to Bahrain, I find myself being introduced as "Suburban from Oman". Invariably, the next comment is something along the lines of Don't do any black magic on me!!! or Oooooh! Voodoo!


I don't mind in the slightest, because if they want to belive that I can curse them, great. I always get whatever I want when I'm in Bahrain, which is nice.


Which brings me to the fantastic web site http://www.pinstruck.com/ where you can send Personalised, anonymous, digital voodoo to your friends, coworkers, and loved ones. Here is some Voo-Doo I sent myself this morning!


I have been using pinstruck for seven years now, to great effect. I find it tremendously amusing to send personalised voodoo to annoying co-workers, and Ex-Boyfriends.
Have fun with it, and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thanks.

Thanks a lot for the comments on the previous post, everybody. Sorry to be such an ungrateful blog host and not reply to each one individually. Really, genuinely, thank you so much commenters for your thoughts on the issue.

I was really being a baby about the whole experience, but I have sucked it up and moved on, faith in Humanity intact. What's thirty bucks anyway?

I have not been posting because I have a slamming case of writers block, and the distraction of a slamming awesome new car that I am driving every chance I get. My new car is rad, and insanely fun.

Stone, (my long suffering husband) has once again indulged me in purchasing an unusual car. This man has suffered through fifteen different cars with me, not one of which has been normal, sensable, reliable, or occasionally street legal. This man, when asked by the guys down at the workshop what the hell he was thinking, he looked at them and said "because it's what she wants".

This man, who has suffered through the last two years of unreliable junk, who has forked over vast swathes of money for repair bills, who not only comes to pick me up when I am broken down on the side of the road but also manages to want to kiss me though I am sweaty and angry and covered in grease, saw the look in my eyes when I found the car and said, "Ok sweetheart, you can have it". I am such a lucky girl. I love you, Stone, and I will thank you in a most enthusiastic fashion this weekend. Repeatedly.

And me? I am happy! The whole world looks different because it is being viewed through the dark tinted windows and air conditioned comfort of a giant, sexy, reliable hunk of detroit steel.

Want to know one other thing I really love about the car? My new car has no accessories or needless "luxuries" to break. The windows roll up using old fashioned hand cranks, the mirrors must be adjusted manually, and the rear view mirror does not dim automatically when a car behid me has the brights on. There is no computer with a compass, and no three-dee-multifunction-heads-up-display, no traction control, and no bluetooth compatible communication system.

It does have two excellent cup holders. Performance wise, I am thrilled. The acceleration is comperable to a sports car, the braking and handling is awesome. The thing stops on a dime.

I am, the happiest girl in muscat right now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ramadhan Begging update

Do you guys remember when I talked about the care package we have put together for the various beggars who appear at our door during the Holy month of Ramadhan?

Day before yesterday, a nice lady with a girl who was about four rang the doorbell and requested Floos. When asked, she said she was from palestine, but her skin looked darker than any Palestinian I have ever met. She only spoke arabic to me, and while I am far from an expert on reigonal accents she sounded Khaleeji to me. Whomever she was, the little girl, named Manal, was really cute, and maybe a year older than my youngest daughter.

I asked her to wait, blazed inside, grabbed the prepackaged box of goodies, threw the frozen chicken in on top, and zoomed back out. The lady gratefully took the food, and thanked me profusely.

I have no idea what hapened after that, but I was able to close the gate with a clean conceince. Money can't buy a clean conceince.

Last night, I had an entirely different experience. I'll tell you what hapened, and then can you guys please comment, and say something nice because I'm feeling really sad about it at the moment.

Last night, I am in the front yard reading the papers and smoking like a chimmney. Ding dong, dorbell, then the front gate opens, and a guy walks through and heads toward the door of the house. The gate does not lock and swings open to the slightest touch, and the car gate is wide open so I'm not anoyed that he's let himself into the yard.

I step out of the shadows, and say Salam Alaykum and the guy introduces himself as Jamal (Jassim? Juma?) a neighbour from a few houses down the street. J is handsome, about 45 years old, slightly heavy set, and six feet tall. He is dressed in the dishdasha style of someone from Musandam, and has a neatly trimmed short beard with flecks of grey through it. J speaks almost perfect english, is clearly well educated, and has the accent of an Omani who studied in a good school. There is nothing about him that would make me think he is Indian, Egyptian, or Northern Arab. The entire conversation, after the initial greetings was in english.

He says he's sorry he never introduced himself before, but as everyone in this neighbourhood lives behind ten foot walls and locked gates it's no suprise. He says his dad is having pains in his arm and chest and he wants to take him to the clinic to check him but he hasn't got his bank card and can we loan him 50 rials. My scam radar is beeping wildly, but if I were in his situation I cannot fathom that someone would turn me down in my hour of need. I am always leaving the house with nothing in my wallet so I can see how this could happen to anyone.

No problem, I say and give him everything in my wallett. It's thirty one rials, and a few baiza. He thanks me, says he got twenty from the other neighbour and that should be enough, and promises to come back tonight to repay me. I honestly don't think I will ever see him ever again.

I couldn't care less about the money, but my faith in Humanity is so weak at the moment that it will be really hard for me to come to terms with his dishonesty if he doesn't come back tonight. I don't think he is a Neighbour, because with the exception of Hassan, Abdullah, Yahia, Mohamed, and one ROP Colonel, all my neighbours are total assholes, and few of them are educated enough to speak such perfect english.

Have you guys met this guy before? Did I get scammed? Did I do the right thing? Is he going to show up tonight and help to keep my faith in Humanity alive?

And on another note, what the fuck is wrong with me that I let little things like this tear me up inside so much?

More tomorrow, because I finally got my new car. Stay off the sidewalks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

General update with added Blah Blah

General update today, because I am really self absorbed, and can't think of anything else to blog about. This post is boring, you have been warned.

Item 1) I was invited to a sort of "Girls Night" a while back by a lady I really like. I tried really hard not act like a six year old who has been invited to the popular girl's birthday party, but I may have failed. Anyway, I went, and tried to remind myself not to say too much, or be a total ass, or get drunk and puke on the hostesses' Iranian rugs.

The other girls attending were a little older than me, and far, far, cooler. The sort of women who can balance checkbooks, look great in a ballgown, drive reliable cars, and respond to emails in under a month. The sort of women who complete entire sentences without using words like fuck, or jackass.

I had a great time, and for four hours, I felt like OK, maybe I am finally an adult. Breathe. I can do this! Breathe. I can hang out with normal people! Breathe. I think I almost blended in. Except for the swearing, which thankfully, didn't seem to bother them.

Item 2) Toddlers. My baby is driving me crazy this week. Can anyone tell me how you manage to not kill them before they become equally obnoxious but less energy intensive teenagers?

Item 3) I heard the New Menu is out at the Chedi, and that it's much, much, better than the one previous. I cannot wait to try every single thing on it. Look for a second, and hopefully much better review here in a month or so.

Item 4) I had a moment the other day, where I looked over at Stone and I was like; "baby, all that stuff I told you about wanting to be a wife and mother? I was Just kidding... Like What the fuck am I doing at the mother and toddler group sipping coffee, before doing the dinner shop and driving my Nondescript mommy-mobile home to my Non-Descript Villa in Suburbia!"

Stone, who could have told me to take my selfish whining and stick it up my ass, thought it over at work the next day. He came home with a certificate for a weekend at the Chedi, in a Suite, where we will do nothing but eat, shag, and read magazines uninterrupted for an entire weekend. He has booked me in for some sort of 3 hour beauty "ritual".

Stone likes to remind me that my new job may be less glamorous, but pays better, and offers better perks than my old one. And he's right.

Item 5) I've been asked to go back to work for two weeks in October. Can't wait. I'm considering live blogging it, but expect I'll be too busy. In addition to looking forward to returning temporarily to an environment where I am not married, and I am not a mother, I'm looking forward to testing my endurance again, Using my brain, as well as connecting with long-lost faces from the industry. Yippeeee.

Item 6) Some quick bullet points about all things Automotive in my family.

  • I am amazed at how much various used car places around here seem to not want to sell me a car. Broken appointments, tardiness, uninformed commentary everywhere.
  • And Car dealership dishonesty that makes me wonder if I really look that stupid?
  • We are not buying the car of my dreams. Yes, I am gutted, thank you.
  • We are looking for a Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Sierra, or Lincoln Navigator pickup. If you see any around town, please let me know?
  • Ramadhan. Not into it this year. I blame the driving.

More from here tomorrow, or the next day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Car Vin Number Checks, update 1

Thanks for the comments and emails!

lots of nice finds to report on, as well as some clean (ish) cars.


The first comment I got concerned a Mercedes that seemed too good to be true.

  • The carfax check revealed that it had been in a serious front end collision just twenty days after it was registered, and subsequently written off by the insurance company in the states.
  • Prior to being exported it passed a state mandated safety check before being issued a salvage title and being exported direct to Oman.

  • Because it passed a safety inspection, and was a direct export to Oman it might have been an OK buy, pending a careful check of the frame.

I was asked to check on Two Jeep Wranglers via comments and Email

  • Both checked out OK, they were never registered in the states, and were exported direct to the UAE within months of manufacture. Likely sold direct from manufacturer to dealer in the UAE or here.

  • Until recently, Jeep sems not to have gotten on the Arabic bandwagon with regard to rear view mirrors.

I got an email from a Dave, asking about two cars which are located at Cars Dubai near Lulu

  • First up a 2004 DODGE RAM 1500 , Vin #ST1D7HA16K64J289552

  • The car had one owner, and was originally sold and registered in Louisiania

  • No accidents, however.....

  • It was a victim of the flooding during hurricane Rita and Katrina, and declared a total loss.

  • Additionally, as with many similar cars the vehicle was issued a NAM or Not Actual Milage certificate.

  • This is because the flood would have wiped out the computer on the car, thus erasing the 10,000 Miles that were on the clock.

  • It was exported from Houston TX to Oman.

  • Hope the price they are asking is Low!

Also From Dave, and also at Cars Dubai,


  • A sexy little 2003 Nissan 350Z Vin # JN1AZ34D03T110738

  • Problems abound on this one as well.

  • The Car was first registered in Florida, and initially had a happy life as evidenced by regular maintinance records.

  • I assume the owner moved to Texas or Louisiana shortly after the last maintinance recorded, and it was there that the car was totalled in the floods related to Hurricane Katrina.

  • It has a Salvage title and a NAM title.

  • Buyer beware!

From Amjad, who is looking for a car to purchase stateside at the moment

  • Amjad is considering a 2000 BMW 750IL VIN# WBAGJ0344YDD73430

  • Can I start by saying that I hate those cars. Save Yourself Amjad! Buy a Pickup!

  • If you must purchase a horrible BMW, then this is a good one on paper, with only one problem that I can see.

  • The car was very lightly driven during it's first four years of life. 37,000 miles between Owner's 1 and 2

  • Owner 3 has had the car for 5 years, and has never missed a service. Very impressive!

  • 13 months ago the car was involved in a moderate front end colission. The colision was not significant enough for the airbags to deploy.

  • Verdict: a good car, pending a quick inspection of the frame and front end.

Also From Amjad, A sexier car with little background information

  • 1996 Nissan Maxima Vin #JN1CA21DXTT155510

  • The car was registered in a county declared a flood disaster area by FEMA. A full inspection for flood damage should be carried out.

  • There is no record of a salvage title, flood title, or NAM title being issued for the car. This could mean that it was not affected by the Hurricanes, or could mean that the Owner did not have comprehensive insurance and so fixed the vehicle himself.

  • The car was sold at auction, possibly to a dealer, and either sold on to another owner or stayed on the lot for the next 11 months

  • The guy Amjad is considering buying the car from has owned it for less than four months.

  • There are no service records available for this car via carfax, though perhaps the guy selling it has them.

  • Procede with caution, and ask for service records!

Later in the week, a report on a couple of cars I am considering purchasing, and an Honesty test for a couple of dealers who have been less than truthfull with me in the past.

Keep the Vin #'s coming, along with any details on the who where and what

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dish-Dash Deviants!

L_Oman has tagged me with the suggestion that we do a list of links to what we read. This dovetails nicely into the post I had planned for today anyway! Yippee!

The Omani Blogosphere has been talking about the Crraaaaazy dishdash designs, and the MOCI circular distributed forbuddubg tailors from getting too creative with the designs. My thoughts on the matter in a minute, but for now: a quick round up of the blogs that are talking about this issue.

First to blog locally about it was Blu Chi, who was rightly outraged that the Ministry of anything has the right to dictate fashon. His rant is fantastic.

Next up was Al Mawalli over at Be in Oman, who was more amused than outraged at this latest peice of stupidity from MOCI.

Omanymous posted a selection of photos of some really outrageous Saudi Dishdasha, think Gene Simmons from Kiss, or Elvis in his twilight years. Go look, they are really rediculous.

Leo Americanus posted a yet another thoughtfull and intellegent analysis of the knee-jerk reaction of the Saudi Muttawa et. all to the revised saudi thobe designs. I think it's equally relevant here.

TI3GIB posted the sole voice in suport of the Ministries decision. Go read his thoughts on the matter here.

Famous Saudi Blogger Saudi Jeans is talking about the new cool thobes that are maiing appearances in Saudi. His commenters are not too sure if they like the style.

My opinion in a Nutshell:

  • A bad, foolish, and ignorant idea.
  • Dictating something like this is the thin end of the wedge.
  • Next up maybe we should ban Non-traditional Toasted Shwarma.
  • After that we should relegate our Non-Traditional toilet paper to the Pork Room at Al Fair.
  • After that perhaps the government should look into the Non-Traditional Fast foods we are jamming into our gobs.
  • And from Now on, you are only allowed to drive the Traditional Camel or Donkey, or if you are really important you can drive the Quasi-traditional Abu Shenab.
  • Lastly, if MOCI wants to start attacking non-traditional choices of clothing, then let's start with the Abaya. An imported fashion statement (thank you Trickle-down Wahaabi Petro-dollar fashion!) which is decidedly not traditional to Oman.

End of Rant. OK guys, bring me some VIN numbers now!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Car search, Redux

First off, readers and lurkers, I need your help and Input. This is a fun project.

As you are going around town, or walking through parking lots, or shopping for used cars, or perhaps even driving your own car which was purchased second hand, can you do the following:
  • See if the passenger side "Objects in Mirror" message is in English
  • See if the speedo reads in Miles
  • If so, can you write down the 17 digit VIN number and email it to me or post it in the comments section?
  • You can find the VIN by looking through the windscreen from the outside. It's located at the front of the dash, in the bottom corner on the driver's side. It's 17 digits and/or letters long, no more, no less.
  • Best find wins a ride in my new car, which is too freaking awesome for words.

As you no doubt will have guessed by now, we are getting rid of the Jeep. It is so uncool. literally. Being uncool is one thing, but being uncool and unreliable is another thing entirely.

If I am going to drive an unreliable peice of shit it had better be a rocking awesome unreliable peice of shit and not some soccer-mommy mobile with the faded remnants of a Jazzercize sticker on the back windscreen.

Anyway, I found my dream car and we're in the process of what will be a truly epic negociation to buy the thing. It's a grey market American export, the kind I blogged about here and Here and Here , and which The Week ran an excellent cover story on last August.

In case you don't want to read all about it again, here's a recap:
  • Salvaged, Flooded and damaged cars are exported by the thousands to the Gulf from the States and Europe
  • They are often rebirthed in workshops in the UAE, registered on Export plates there and then imported into neighbouring countries to be resold as new or lightly used cars.
  • The dealers here are not to be trusted regarding the history on the Used cars they are selling.
  • I was told BALD FACED LIES by salesmen and owners at ten different small dealerships regarding the history of the cars they were attempting to sell me.
  • Twisted frames, unreplaced deployed airbags, damaged seatbelts and cracked engine mountings abounded. Some of the Cars they were selling were NOT SAFE TO DRIVE.
  • So it's Buyer beware, in the used car game.
Because the car of my dreams is Grey Market, and because I now have my own, personal american credit card, we have purchased a 30 day subscription to Carfax, the company that runs bacground checks on any car that was ever registered in the states.

You will be delighted to know that my dream car passed the report with flying colors, barring the fact that it's a 1995 and not a 2000 like the dealer told me.

One other car we checked was brand new, and had no reported history of anything in the states. Pass! Two other cars on his lot failed the check, both had been in serious accidents and were exported from the states on Salvage titles. Fail!

Ok boys and girls, go get the VIN#s and comment or email them to me! Otheroman (at) gmail dot com

we have 30 days, Let's see what's lurking out there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I'm Leaving

Reader Advisory: This post contains profanity. It also generalises people according to race. It criticizes and calls hypocritical the way the dominant faith is practiced here, and it's a fucking angry rant and rave. Thank you.

I realised three hours ago that I'm going to leave Oman as soon as possible. Things have changed here. I don't know it it's the arrival of Satellite TV, the trickle-down influence of Wahhabi petro-dollar Islam, or the gradual ascension of wastafarian youngsters who don't remember life before HM. Maybe I've finally opened my eyes enough to see that the other side of the baiza isn't quite so shiny. Mostly, I can't take the driving anymore, and it pains me to think about the underlying societal traits that the driving habits reflect.

Yesterday morning, my holier than thou, Uber-Pious Niqabi neighbour sat behind me at the local intersection and blared her horn while I waited for a safe gap to open up. I wanted to be like Maverick in Top Gun and jump out of the car, grab her by her super religious extra pious shoulders and shake the shit out of her while yelling that I will turn right when I am goddamn good and ready! Can you not see that my child is in the car and I'm not going to turn before it's safe just because YOU have failed to allow enough time to reach YOUR appointed destination???? I didn't though, I waved, and kept waiting. When she eventually overtook me a minute later, she shook her fist at me, eyes blazing.

This afternoon, I sat, radiator boiling, Thirsty and hot, child screaming, awaiting my turn in the que for more than an hour while people overtook from the left and right. Reaching the intersection the whole thing was blocked with cars that wouldn't let me make a left turn, even though they were going nowhere. They'd look over at me, and just slooowly keep rolling forward, blocking the entire intersection. Every single one of them was Omani.

I finally was allowed out by a kind guy driving a Jag, only to be cut up by three more cars illegally overtaking on the left, against opposing traffic, and turning right in front of me. ALso, unfortunately, Omani.

I have never, ever, ever, intentionally blocked an intersection, boxed someone in while parking, or cut in in a que in traffic. I'm sure many of you are the same, but can somone, anyone, explain to me why so many people seem to think this sort of behavior is ok? Why, Excatly is my time any less valuable than thiers? Why is My child's comfort any less important than thiers?

First, on the subject Muslim drivers, and the holy month of Ramadhan: You can fast all you want, be a Self righteous twit about your hijab, wax poetic regarding the importance of caring for the greater community, and pray your heart out, You'll still be an Asshole if you fail to show kindness, charity and compassion when only god is watching you.

Secondly, to my beloved ROP: I know you are afraid to really enforce traffic law, or to ticket for minor offences. I know that there is a worry about the sort of resentment and anger from ordinary citizens would alienate you and make your work that much harder. I know your hands are sort of tied on this but I am telling you for the record: Citizens and residents are ready and grown up enough for you to start enforcing the traffic laws. Yes, it will make you unpopular for a while but the society is ready for some critical feedback on their driving habits, accompanied by hefty fines. Please, Please, Please start enforcing the traffic law. We're ready, it's time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ramadhan-Ding-Dong-Conundrum-Be-Gone!

Firstly, I would like to nominate myself for an award for best blog post title ever.

That accomplished, does anyone else notice that Door-to door begging increases by a factor of 1,000 during Ramadhan? I suspect that the beggars are mostly a hoax, or some sort of begging cartel that come into town during Ramadhan. Otherwise I would expect to have them ringing my bell year round, even if only occasionally.

But I feel really conflicted about turning them away empty handed. I try (though I often fail) to see the best in people, and to imagine myself in thier shoes. Things in my life would have to get Very, Very, Very dire before I could even imagine resorting to begging. That said, I would do absolutley anything, anything, anything, to keep food on the table for my daughter.

So it kills me a little bit to turn them away because what if one out of every ten is the real thing? What if that guy, or this woman really is trying to feed hungry children?

This year, finally, we have a solution. It's the Ramadhan-Ding-Dong-Care-Bomb. It's a box full of Food! It has:
  • One kilo of Basmati rice
  • One litre tetra pack milk
  • One brick of dried apricots
  • One small jar Kraft Cheese spread
  • One kilo frozen chicken
  • One sachet chicken stock
  • One can Hummous
  • 500 g. Sugar
  • Five Tea bags

It's a three rial value, and we are ready and armed to give these away to anyone who comes by begging, provided that they don't mind hauling it home. I figure the fakes are unlikely to want to haul the food around but someone truly needy would be able to prepare a small meal for thier family.

Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately?) we have yet to receive any beggars this year. I'll let you know how it goes when we do get one.

Stone took a picture of the Care Bomb, but I'll have to post it later because it's still on his phone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Because I guess Ghalfar can't afford any land of thier own

On thursday Morning at 06:17 the world came to it's end outside my bedroom window. Or at least thats what it sounded like.

Have you ever seen Japanise Aname where the gigantic robot with the death-ray blasters walks through the city crushing skyscrapers and people with each earth shaking step? Well that is what it sounded like outside my Bedroom Window at SIX SEVENTEEN ON A THURSDAY MORNING DURING RAMADHAN. I sat bolt upright in my shaking bed, all "Stone! Was that a Bomb?". I was thinking that the revolution had started, right here in Al Ghubra. (And why not, really? No big loss to civilation if this neighbourhood gets blasted off the face of the earth...)

The commotion outside was;
  • A giant earth mover scraping hard packed gravel off the ground of the empty lot next door
  • Three giant trucks emptying thier payloads of rocks and dirt into said lot
  • One giant truck with a stuck release gate surrounded by three guys in blue suits banging the thing with sledge hammers.
  • Outside My Bedroom Window at SIX SEVENTEEN on a THURSDAY MORNING DURING RAMADHAN

Ghalfar has, for the last month, been using the empty lot next door as a facility to mix dirt with rocks. There is one giant digger, and a procession of dump trucks filled alternately with rocks or dirt. The digger mixes the rocks with the dirt, and then loads the trucks back up with the mixture and they trucks haul it away. Seven days a week. Why the geniuses in the Logistical planning department thought it would be a good idea to set up a rock and dirt mixing facility in a residential neighbourhood, on a lot that does not belong to them, is completley beyond me. It does seem a less than commendable act of corporate citizenship, but who am I to judge?

The guys who work the diggers and trucks are adorable, and really nice to me and the baby. It's like having free daycare 12 hours a day. The kid will be a Youtube sensation once she can pilot one of the diggers herself, a feat which at this rate is less than two weeks away.

I don't mind the enormous, dark clouds of dust they kick up too much, although I have to wash my car once a week now instead of once a month. The house, and everything in it is covered in a layer of dust about 1 cm thick. We have decided to postpone further dusting until Ghalfar decides to move along, because it would be an act of futility given that the stuff just blows right back in ten minutes later.

I do, however, mind that Ghalfar is robbing me of an average of 10 hours of sleep per week. The noise is unbeliveable, and it seems to peak at seven o clock in the morning, and again right around afternoon siesta time.

I also mind that they have taken the local soccer pitch where the kiddies play, and turned it into a construcion site.

I mind that when they leave, they will leave nothing improved in the neighbourhood they have taken so much from in terms of inconvenience, collective lost sleep, dustfilled homes and cars, fasts invalidated by rage filled thoughts and threats of violence at Six Seventeen in the morning, and asthma attacks for the fat asthmatic kid adross the street.

The least they could do, as good corporate citizens is build a park for the children in the neighbourhood that they are imposing themselves upon. A safe, clean, park with grass and a swing and some trees for the kids in a neighbourhood with no park, and no public spaces.

I have tried to reach someone in charge at Ghalfar twice this morning, with no luck. I shall now apply some Wasta and attempt to reach the CEO directly through my own channels. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Zoo-Lu

Lulu has great prices. I have no idea how they sell some of the stuff there so cheaply. I also like that they don't seem to sell a lot of the expensive stuff I crave, meaning that I save even more because I have no oppertunity to buy the foigras and white truffle oil that might ordinarily catch my eye. Lulu is also pretty convenient to my house, even though the parking lot design leaves much to be desired. Thus, I shop at Lulu.

But quickly, I'd like to address a few issues with Lulu that are slowly driving me crazy.

  • Wonky shopping carts. I am telling you, I have never had a shopping cart there that rolled straight. I am a small girl, and by the time the thing is full, I look like some sort of comic superhero in blue jeans, feet sliding on the lino floors, body inclined to 45 degrees, frantically attempting to navigate the corner of the dairy isle.
  • The produce department. It's insane. I got elbowed in the tit yesterday while attempting to select onions. I have a bruise!!! (wanna See? kidding.) Last week some woman snatched a bunch of corriander from out of my hand. The sweet, wonderfull girls who do the weighing are a delight, but there are rarely enough of them. The Q's are chaos.
  • It is really time consuming to find unbruised produce. The guys who stock the apples, tomatoes and pears could not possibly put less care into setting them in the racks. They might as well grab a cricket bat, fast pitch them to each other and whack them into the racks from a distance of 100 meters. Seriously guys, what did that fruit ever do to you to be treated with such anger?
  • There appear to be inventory control issues with the rotation of fresh veg as well. Red peppers, cabbages, Sprouts, and fancy-pants tomatoes are often on display in a state so moldy that I hesitate to feed them to the turtles, let alone my human family. Al Fair is really bad about that too, but that's another post.
  • There appear to be some serious inventory control issues. 80% of the time I am unable to purchase an item in the trolley because the aforementioned item is not in the system. The cashiers are not empowered to take my word for what the thing costs. Contrast with Sultan Center, where the two times (in nine years!!) an item has refused to scan, they just asked me what it cost, rang it through, and made a note for the inventory manager.
  • The staff at Lulu must hold the royalty rights to the Phrase "I dunno" I have never, ever, ever, managed to get anyone to answer a question there for me. The guys who sell the TV's are fantastic though.
  • I had to buy some belts for Stone yesterday. There were no sizes on most of the belts. There was no order to the way they were hung. The poor guy who was attempting to create order out of chaos in the belt section was kind enough to try on a few for me so we could see what might fit stone. I really felt bad for him, having been assigned to organise something thathad no labels.
  • The parking lot of the Lulu Al Ghubra and Darsait was, apparently, drawn out in india, and did not account for the fact that we drive on the other side of the road here. Don't belive me? Check Google earth images and tell me if the layout would make more or less sense driving on the other side of the road.

OK. end of rant and rave for today. I'm a freaking ray of sunshine, huh?

Tomorrow, a word for the folks at Galfar who have turned the empty lot across the street from my house into rock and dirt mixing yard. Seriously.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ramadhan Kareem!

My Goals for this Ramadhan are to smile at everyone I see, pay as many sincere complements to strangers as I can, and to avoid getting into a varbal or physical confrontation with another driver. I have stopped smiling at people or speaking to strangers because I occasionally receive the wrong kind of attention as a result. Two Ramadhan's ago, I almost physically assaulted another driver. I blame the fact that I was 9 months pregnant, and driving the Abu Shenab, which is usually 25 degrees hotter inside than the outside air. But whatever.

Do any of you guys set goals for personal self improvement over Ramadhan?

Having spent two hours in traffic today, while my radiator boiled over and my A/C quit working, while my two year old daughter cried and sweated in the boiling hot back seat of the car, many other drivers were doing thier utmost to test my resolution on item # 3. I am not sure how the month will work out. Give me strenth.

The Smiling and Complementing is going great, and on the roads today I let lots of people cut in front of me, used my turn signals religously, and never blocked intersections, and waved at everybody who pushed in front of me from the "emergency" lane. I even waved using my whole hand!

I did these things while trying to remind myself that I cannot know thier motivations for driving in such a mindbogglingly selfish manner and it's not for me to judge them. But inside my head I was still calling them Ass-Clowns. I just judged them, called them assclowns. Not nice. This is hard.

I'll be blogging intermittently over Ramadhan, because my beloved ( 5 years old!) laptop is going into the shop for a Rebuild.

Wishing you all a blessed Ramadhan. I hope it's filled with a spirit of compassion, empathy, kindness, service to others.



An Afterthought: I saw six accidents today, and just heard what sounded like a really big one as I was typing this. Huge crash, followed by squealing tires, and three other smaller crashes. Drive safely this month. Please, Please, Please, Please drive safely this month.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

103.2 FM The Coast!

Did you know you can get UAE radio here?

103.2 is the only thing I've listened to for the last week. It kicks ass. Lots of classic rock, and so far not a single boy band or Brittney Spears wannabe.

Masalama Hala, Goodbye Hi, and farewell Radio Sultanate of Oman.

This is a short one because I'm blogging from my mobile phone today.

Our internet is down. Something's wrong with the router. There is pretty much nothing in my entire house that is not broken. Aaaargh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a Poll! It's Random!

Ladies, Gentlemen,

Over there on the right there is a poll asking which side of the bed you sleep on. This question is for married, or Co-habitating couples, or single people who sleep around a lot. If you have not shared your bed with anyone, don't answer.

Please answer as if you are lying on the bed, not looking at it.

Thank You!

I'll let you know my theory next month. It's groundbreaking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Five quick Reasons I love America

More from The Great American Holiday!!!!

  • Parking: In America, there is always enough parking. The parking spaces are big enough that an entire car can fit inside them and still leave room to open the doors. The paking lots are planned by people who have given the matter due thought, so the traffic pattern rarely results in everyone from the right lane needing to turn left, and everyone in the left lane needing to turn right as we have at City Center here. People in America are very polite when they park, and don't crowd you, park behind you, or park crooked.
  • Home improvement and repair: Giant, 24 hour hardware stores that have everything in stock, and are staffed by helpfull people who will sell you what you need. Handymen who arrive at roughly the appointed time, and repair your broken widget to an appropriate standard, and conforming to saftey codes.
  • Public transportation: I can take the bus day or night, from any corner of my chosen city to any where else. Taxis that come when I call them, charge me fairly, and never, ever, try to feel me up.
  • People: Holy shit. People are so courteous there. I have never heard the words "excuse me" so much in one month.
  • Customer service / staffing: In America if you suck at your job, you get fired. Honestly, I used to fire people like I was blowing my nose. This leads to a national work ethic and customer service mentality somewhat superior to what I often see on display here.

Tomorrow or the next day, ust to keep things balanced, a rant and rave about the American Embassy here. My greivances are great, and varied.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Omanisation of Wadi Kabir?

I read with some dismay the recent decision to ban further employment visas for key professions here in the Sultanate. Before I get onto that though, let's rewind a little bit and examine how well some of the other recent Omanization laws have worked out.

1) All Omani Tow Trucks: The end result has been very good for the bottom line at AAA, and perilous for the consumer. Given that my cars are all rolling hunks of crap, I utilize a towing service fifteen times a year or so. An average wait time for a non AAA towe went from two hours to ten for me. Three weeks ago, it took two days to get a truck to Qurum, where the Jeep had broken down.

2) No Expatriates allowed to own Abu Shenab or other Two Door Pickup Trucks: A firesale of Two door pickup trucks, followed by an explosion of four door pickup trucks.

3) Omanisation of fruit and vegitable sellers: In our neighbourhood, this caused the immedaite closure of twelve fresh fruit and vegitable stores within walking distance of my house. A five minute walk to get fresh fruit and veg for dinner has become an hour-long saga at lulu, where shopping for produce is the closest thing Oman has to a full contact sport. This brilliant initiative has turned out to be a total pain in the ass for everyone in my neighbourhood, a catastrophy for the small Omani businessmen who owned and worked at the shops, and real boon for foreign owned mega stores like Carrefour and Lulu.

Read the report from the Times of Oman below.

From the Times of Oman:

Ban on visas for several professions
Anita Joseph Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Ministry of Manpower has announced that it has stopped issuing visas to companies engaged in the following activities: Import and export, cleaning, barber shop, laundry, electronic repair, garbage cleaning and selling, textile shops, mobile GSM shops, health clubs, workshops in aluminium, iron, wood, car repair and all related activities, tailoring shops and beauty parlours. As per the new rule, companies engaged in these activities will not be eligible for visa clearance. Accordingly, existing companies cannot bring in new expatriate recruits, nor can new companies be set up. However, those currently employed in these activities can renew their visa.

Ministry sources say the objective of the move is to enhance Omanisation and bring more local talent to the fore. “There is plenty of local talent but there’s very little space available for them,” said an official. Ministry sources also revealed that the visa restrictions apply only to small, grade 3 and 4 companies and not to those that have been awarded the ‘green card’ for compliance with labour laws and Omanisation targets.

(The Bolding and Italics are mine.)

Before I get really vitriolic about this let me say that I am really relived to note that they have decided to implement this by allowing the renewal of visas for workers currently in country, and simply banning new issuance of visa. This appears to be a stroke of genius from a Ministry not usually known for such things.

If correctly implemented, it will serve to gradually inflate the Salaries of mechanics to a level where Omanis would be tempted to take the jobs. It will encourage shop owners to treat thier foreign and skilled local labour well, because in the short term they will be totally irreplaceable. I can forsee a 3-5% reduction in foreign workers in these feilds each year, a rate that I think is sustainable.

It sounds too good to be true, and it is. Because the authourities, in thier wisdom, have decided to exempt big companies (Zubair, Bahwan, OTE etc..) from the mandate. They are welcome to bring in as much foreign labout as they want. A Good, if somewhat optimistic, Omanization plan becomes a subsidy for big business at the cost to hundreds of small Omani Business Owners.

These big companies have the facilities to train literally thousands of Omanis each year. They have the air conditioned service bays, and the Human resource staff and the logistics in place to make an omanisation mission of this sort work. The little Guys in Wadi Kabir have none of these things. They are struggling to compete in a market where even new spare parts are sold acccording to monopoly rules. You want Genuine Chevrolet parts? You can Only go to Chevrolet. * See note at bottom

The giant companies can point to thier entire corporate rolls and say "Look!!! but we already have Omanis working in corporate, sales, marketing, and paperwork positions." Good for you. THe small guys don't have HR, Sales, IT or accounting departments. They have mechanic departments, and that's it. There is really noweher to stick a non mechanic Omani except maybe as a guard or to answer the phone.

Regarding the Story in the Times, and professions other than mechanics; What the fuck is the ministry thinking saying that there is plenty of local talent for these positions? Garbage cleaning? Laundry? Wood Working? I think not.

OK, actually there is plenty of local talent who are qualified to do garbage cleaning, but I seriously doubt you'll find many willing to do it for anything less than RO 600 a month.

And no space? ANY workshop in Wadi Kabir would be delighted to have a hardworking, mechanically minded Omani on staff. Every single Wadi Kabir workshop I frequent asks me if I know any Omanis who are interested in learning the automotive trade. Every time I visit.

This is a foolhardy decision, and one which I think the Ministry will come to regret. It smacks of Wasta and big corporate influence at the expense of hard working Omanis and small business owners. To exempt the big corporations is unforgivibally short sighted.

* One man is trying to break the Monopoly on New Spare parts. Tariq al Kiyumi became so frustrated with being over charged for spare parts by Bahwan Toyota that he started his own Spare parts business in Wadi Kabir.

Toyota won't sell to him directly, because they have an agreement to deal only with Bahwan. So he buys the spares at bulk prices from the toyota dealer in DUbai, and brings them down to Oman to sell at a discount in his shop in Wadi Kabir.

Two years ago, Bahwan opened a toyota spare parts shop next door to Tariq Al Kiyumi spare parts. He's still in business, and is forcing Bahwan to lower thier prices to be able to compete with him. I'd like to see more stories like this in Oman.

I'd like to see Tariq's story on the cover of the week, actually.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Overheard on My Vacation

Before I get all funny, I've posted something regarding the passing of Sheikh Saud Bahwan and the advertizing bonanzi that follows the passing of anyone seen as important. It's over at our much neglected Oman Community Blog. Please go over and comment, because I hate to see that blog dying.

Overheard on Our family Vacation

Grandma Doesn't like to talk about the sixties, dear.
(Scene, at dinner at the home of another family. We are discussing the recent bust of a large drugs shipment reported in the local paper)
Uncle A: It's hard to belive that America Jails so many of it's citizens for posession of Marajuana.
Grandma: Sweetheart, Does Marajuana have any psychoactive properties? Like Hallucinations?
Uncle A: Come On, Mom! Next you'll be asking about bong protocal. Like " Dear, is it hit, hit pass? or Hit, Hit, Hit, pass? "
Rest of family bursts out laughing, teenage grandchildren look uncomfortable


We can't wait until she can pronounce the letter R
Adolescent: Are those your Crocs? Your Feet are so big! Those must be Huge Crocs!
The Baby: Huuuge Cocks!!! Huge Cocks!!!!
Adolescent: That's right! Huge Crocs!
The Baby: HUUUGE COCKS!!!
Adolescent: and your shirt! It's enormous! What a Huge Shirt you have!!!
Stone: STOP IT, ADOLESCENT. It's not funny.
The Baby: Huge Shit! Huuuuge Cocks!!!

More from here after the weekend. Hope yours in great.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Things to do in Muscat with small kids, part 1

For the first in a series of unconventional things to do with your kids in Muscat, Other Oman presents The construction Game!!!!


One of the side effects of living in a perennial construction site is that there are some awesome machines to look at, or if you are a cure little two year old girl, to ride in.

Photo removed.


Look at my amazingly cute baby up there driving the giant freaking front end loader.

You can just see her head behind the wheel. the guy holding her is letting the loader roll forward across the empty lot while the baby steers it in a zig-zag pattern. I had no idea those things had power steering.



























We are relatively certain she will be a civil engineer when she grows up.

In addition to the front end loader, the kid has has the oppertunity to "drive" an asphalt paver, a giant dump truck, a jackhammer thingy that rolls along on tank treads, and a giant digger. She is absolutley crazy about the worker guys, and they are totally smitten with her. Honestly, they are never too busy to give her a ride, even if that means that she wants to "help"them five or six times a day.

You should take your kids to visit construction sites too. It's our favorite daily outing, and something uniquely Oman. You would never, ever, ever be able to treat your kid to this experience in America or Europe, the HSE boys would freak.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Goodbye, Anwar.

I fired my handy man on Friday. I am happier than I was on my wedding day.

Anwar, the Handyman who is incapable of understanding the concept of time management, personal hygene, or the importance of fixing it right the first time. Anwar, the handyman with a pathological aversion to tape measures.

Never again will his stinky, sexist body darken my door four hours after it was supposed to. Never again, will I sit around for an entire day waiting for him to show up, only to have the wrong parts. Never again will it take him six trips to the hardware store and three weeks to replace a hot water heater because he was too lazy or stupid to measure the thing.

From now on, everything in my house will work, exactly the way it is supposed to, because the person doing the repairing will have a brain, and the motivation to do it right the first time. The new person will use measuring tape, and make neat, ordered lists to take to the hardware store and return with everything on the list. The new person will replace broken things, instead of repairing them so badly that they break again within a week. That person is me.

Goodbye Anwar, and don't come back.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I love the dancing Fillipino prisoners

Honestly, if I could only pick one nationality to work with it would be people from the Phillipines. I found this Youtube clip via the excellent Kuwait based 248am blog. I've been watching it over and over. The dancing inamtes do a bunch of others, the Macerena, and Michael Jackson's thriller are the best. OK, here's the clip, more thoughts below.



First off, What a fantastic project for prisoners. Wouldn't this be even funnier if we did it in the prisons here? Or at the Galfar Labour camp? Fat chance, but really fun to imagine.

I used to work with a mixed team of folks, some Brits, some Aussies, and a bunch of Fillipino guys. I absolutley adored the Fillipino guys, in part because they were always singing. They did a great version of "Mr. Lonley" and really kicked ass at "Hotel California". James blunt and the Bee Gees were the only two albums on a long drive from Dubai to Doha, it was hilarious.

The guys could find a kereoke bar in any city on earth. Honestly, it was like they had an internal radar for Kereoke places, be it Turkey, Jordan, China or even here in Oman, the guys could find one in about fifteen minutes flat. And they could Wail. Even Lito, who stood about four feet tall, was 70 years old, and had no teeth would get up and sing, or drag me out onto the dance floor for a totally embarassing boogie.

Of all the people I used to work with, I miss those guys the most.

Mein Jeep, Mein kamf

A Jeep update, that may or may not turn into a commentary, on the recent ammendments to the employment law, whereby no new mechanics may be hired from overseas by small automotive shops, but which alows tha gaint car sales monopolies to continue hiring as many foreighn workers as they want, therefore putting them at an unfair advantage and threatening the livelyhoods of many small omani business owners.

I am Suburban, godess of the run-on sentence.

After having the Jeep in the shop for a little more that a week, half of which was spent just trying to find a towe truck driver who was not too Lazy and useless Busy to come round and pick the damn thing up, ( thank you fabulous Omanisation laws!) we got it back just in time for me to run the thing into another car. It was a really minor accident, and I fixed the fender myself within about a day and a half, after much strugle to obtain the correct parts.

Stone took the Jeep into work the following day, and called me on the way home saying that the engine had cut out and the temp guage was running hot. He let the engine cool for about ten minutes, and the started it up and was able to make it to within three blocks of the house when the thing cut out again. It appears that the oil we found in the coolant, blocked the in gauge to the the Brand New Thermostat, thus rendering the brand new water pump Useless. The thing was hot, and blowing the tell-tale blue smoke that is the surest sign that you've just cooked your rings or warped your block. We are somewhat certain that if the engine wasn't toast before, it is now.

Fear not, I have not lots all sense of perspective. I love cars, and I am trying to look at this as an oppertunity to do a good deed for a much beloved, though totally unreliable older car. I shall have the engine replaced, the transmission rebuilt, the electrics fixed, the computer replaced, and the front seats replaced and repaired so that when I get the thing back, it will be better than a new car, assuming one can ignore the horrednous body damage on the outside.

I will have this work done by various shops in Wadi Kabir, all of them owned by small Omani Businessmen, and staffed mostly by Indian, or sometimes Bangladeshi mechanics. They are generally just as good as the big dealerships and have much better customer service. It is worth adding that the smaller workshops seem happy to have me wandering around in the back, fiddling with tools, and chatting to the mechanics, the bigger dealerships absolutley won't let me be hands on with my own car, which makes explaining electrical gremlins, or smallish problems mind bogglingly difficult.

Actually, I sort of want to take a nap now. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow to talk about the new Omanization programme, for which I have both lavish praise, and scathing criticizims.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Context free Highlights from posts I won't be publishing

This post contains some profanity, Adult topics, and refrences to drug use. If you are uncomfortable with any of these, don't read it. Tomorrow, local news. Maybe.

It was to the bathtub that my attention was immediately drawn, because inside it is none other than MR. Very Important Jordanian Journalist Who Can't Type, and two moroccan hookers. Naked. His entire torso covered with icky black hair that looks like a wet, dirty sweater. I oppologise, and leave. I feel really sad for the hookers. Helluva party though.

No matter how many ways I explain it, The Juice refuses to belive that I cannot just "Call Bill Gates" and that No, the American Embassy won't have his mobile number. Sheikh X told him that Bill Gates reads every single email and that he'd be totally happy to fiance whatever project we have in mind. I need to call X, stat.

Because the only crazy people we have here are government employees, and they're crazy in the pathetic way, not the entertaining way.

Doug is leaning out of the bathtub, drunk as hell, attempting to snort another line from the lid of the toilet seat. Cut to a year later, four AM. Doug's at my door, he needs a place to stay because he's too fucked up to drive. He's telling me how he's cleaned up and working for a chef for the rich and famous, how he totally has his shit together. He climbs into bed and asks if I mind if he smokes, and I say go for it, thinking cigarettes, or maybe pot. He pulls out a glass pipe and fires up a load of Shibu, pure crystal meth. I rollover and go back to sleep. Cut to five years later, and he's dead. Motorcycle accident, he ran into a pole. Everything I know about cooking I learned from him, Everything I know about work ethic, I learned from him, a lot of what I know about men, human nature, and what it really menas to live above reproach, I learned from him. What a waste.

After much consternation, and having given the matter some thought, the only conclusion that Stone and I can reach is that people who shop at Whole Foods have really small dicks.


Also, I am feeling much happier today, despite the fact that the Jeep is in the shop again. Thanks for all the moral support on the comments. Sometimes you just need to vent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It sucks to be me right now

Not like in the way it sucks to be an opposition supporter in Zimbabwe, or a political dissadent in Saudi, or an orphaned street kid in the slums of Mumbai, but for me, on a personal level, this week sucks. If it gets any worse I'll have to get all "Stars! Why do you defy me??" a'la Romeo from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Because that's how much my week, or at least today and yesterday, Suck.


So, here is a rant, and I"m going to swear a little so you've been warned. I just need to vent, and this is my spot for venting, ok? In chronological Order: here is what's wrong with my life, today.
  • I have burned the crap out of my arm, while trying to diagnose a problem with my cousin's truck. I didn't want him to feel bad, so I remained silent when I did it, but I look like a leprocy victim right now, and it hurts.

  • My phone is Broken

  • Everything in My house is broken, and the lazy Pakistani Fixer guy can't seem to ever arrive in anything that resembles the agreed upon time. Ten AM becomes Five PM.

  • I cannot drive my husband's flash car without immediately being surrounded by thousands of of testosterone laden mouth breathing boys who look about thirteen and are determined to get my attention in any way they can. Yes, I have a vagina and I can drive the shit out of a high powered sportscar. You should see me drive a race car you little fuckers. Obviously, I should run them off the road, except it's my husband's flash car, and we only use my car for that sort of thing.

  • My Jeep, everything is broken on it. We have it back, but it needs a new Engine, and possibly a transmission rebuild. Stey tuned, we'll know in 1,000 kms

  • I had my first (minor) accident yesterday, which the other driver and I agreed was mutual fault. I feel like a Total. Fucking. Moron. and it's going to be a real pain in the ass to sort out the paperwork.

  • The aforementioned accident, knocked off the fender from the Jeep, which was already held on with duct tape. I'm off to the spare parts department this afternoon, since none of the 10,000 local garages I checked this morning had the little clippie things I need to re-attach it.

  • While looking for the spare part I need, I will no doubt go through Parking hell, and have to park like ten miles away and walk with my wiggling toddler, nappy bag, fender, and purse in my arms. Why, Why, Why, can we not seem to build anything with enough parking here?

  • The princess is being a horrible monster right now. Her overwhelming cuteness is a defense mechanisim to prevent me from murdering her.

  • Yesterday, immediately before I had my little fender bender, there was this guy who pulled up and parked his custom painted light blue (like the blue that's on your windows start bar if you use XP) Porsche boxter or 911 or something right in the handicapped space out front of Starbucks. So I asked him in a verry sweet voice weather he was handicapped and he said "I'm just running in to get something and I'll be right out, anyway there is no other parking" Although I could count five other spaces really close by. The guy was young, fit, and obviously, wealthy. An hour later, when I had finished with the paperwork for the accident, his car was still parked there. My thoughts on that matter, as follows--- 1) What a dick. 2) why didn't he have the accident instead? 3) Why ME? Is there No Justice?

OK. I'm done now. Here's hoping I will find my sense of perspective some time soon. Tomorrow, humour, and possibly an overheard in muscat family edition.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

You are incorrect, I am flattered

We are at a news stand in Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport. Stone is paying for some junk food, an economist, and a Guardian. I'm following the princess around in circles in the shop.

You know how the brits have a lot of really trashy magazines with pictures of girls with great bodies, straight teeth, and enormous breasts right on the front cover? The baby wanders over, looks at a magazine appraisingly, points to the scantily clad girl on the cover, and says "Mommy!"

My Delight was short lived, because the guy we were standing next to took one look at me and then laughed out loud. Hmmph.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Disclaimer: Our title today refers neither to the excellent Vonnegut Novel of the same name, beer for breakfast, or Wheaties.


Day Two of America! Virtual Live blog.

Excepting our brief journey into the dark heart of Wyoming farm country, we ate breakfast at the same Diner every morning of the trip. It's an old Pre-fab railcar diner that's been in continous operation since the fourties I think. Every booth has it's own jukebox, where you can pick from a selection of classic country, or classic rock tunes. The service is amazingly fast and the prices astonishingly cheap. We had our food three minutes after ordering it every single morning, and we could feed six people for less that 20 rials, including tip.



For those of you who have not had the pleasure of eating in a diner, this is what they look like.






I mean, goddamn, don't you just love all that shiny stainless steal?








I had eithe Biscuits and Gravy, or eggs with pancakes and sour dough toast every morning. Wanna know what Stone ate every single morning? He ordered the Buckaroo Breakfast, a smoking deal at under four bucks, consisting of:

  • A Sirloin Steak
  • Hash browns
  • two eggs cooked any way you want them (Over Light Please)
  • Three Pancakes with Butter and Syrup
  • A bottomless cup of coffee

Yeah, it cost less than two rials. Amazing.

The kids ate everything, from Chicken fried steak, to enormous breakfast burritos, to lemon merangue pie, to Huevos rancheros. They were completley awed at the idea that they could have a hot breakfast every single morning, served by someone nice, featuring eggs cooked to precision standards, that would arrive in front of them in a matter of seconds. Honestly, they were absolutley gobsmacked by the concept.

The waitresses were fabulous, and exactly like what you would imagine a diner waitress would be like excepting that not one of them was named Betty. THey were effecient, charming towards the kids, and took a particular shine to Stone, going so far as to occasionally tousle his hair when they walked past, which of course cracked the kids up.

Also worth listing are the names the waitresses called Stone each morning:

  • Darling
  • Sweetie
  • Sugar
  • Honey / Hon
  • Sweet Pea
  • Babe
  • Pumpkin
  • Buddy / Bud
  • Sweetheart

The kiddies found that to be super hilarious as well. Stone thought it made a nice change from the names I sometimes call him.

America. Land of the free* home of the finest breakfast anywhere on earth.

Also, in Unrelated but Interesting News, Khadije Heather Jones has lost her most recent appeal for Custody of her children here in Oman. I'll post a full report tomorrow, with the background, and some of the interesting and totally vitriolic comments I received when I blogged it earlier. This report should dovetail nicely into a later report on the utterly pathetic US embassy here.

*depending on your definition of free

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stone Goes Cowboy, and The Gay Rodeo

As promised, the first of a series of reports on our fabulous holiday in America.

Although I lived in the States from when I was a young girl until my early twenties, my Husband and children have spent the bulk of their lives here in Oman or in Stone's case, Europe. America to them is something strange and exotic, the place where wonderful things like MTV, Ford Mustangs, and Gangsta rap come from.

The trip was fantastic for me because I got a chance to look at the place that I now realise will always be "home" with a new set of eyes. For example:
  • I think of Crack Heads and Crazy people on the bus as a nuisance, the family thinks they are the most entertaining thing ever. One of the adolescents even had a slow dance at a bus stop with a forty something woman who was so high on Crack that we were not entirely certain she was speaking English at first. The kids were like "Wow! Mom! we love Crack Heads! Why don't we have crazy people at home?"
  • Old people, out and about, on their own, chatting to the kids from the next table over at breakfast, or pointing out books the kids might enjoy in the book store. The kids were like "Mom! there are so many old people here! And they're soooooo Nice!"
  • Fantastic divey Jazz bars. Hole in the wall places where the Budweiser costs a buck a bottle and the Jazz is so good, so authentic, so fabulous, that Stone was literally clinging to my ankles begging not to ever leave America, or that particular Jazz bar ever. Ever. Ever. Pleeeease.

More about that tomorrow, but for now: One of the Highlights of the trip, and a story that the Male Adolescent will be telling his therapist about in twenty tears time, was the Gay rodeo. Or ROWDAYO (as in Rodeo drive in Hollywood) which is how Stone was pronouncing it until I clarified.

Stone and the kiddies wanted to see a Real Rodeo (Cowboys! Cows! Horses!)while we were in town. Before you can go to the rodeo you need Cowboy duds. We went to a Huge western wear store, and spent slightly more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia on Cowboy hats, Boots, Wrangler Jeans, Checked shirts with snaps, and crazy belts with buckles that could be mistaken for hubcaps.

I need to add here that Stone looks So, So, So authentic and absolutely fantastic dressed as a cowboy. I mean goddamn, my husband is hot. I will post a picture of his ass in Wrangler blue jeans next week for the benefit of my female readers who might be contemplating Wrangler Jeans for thier men. Seriously, you will be awed. Sadly, the Awesome Cowboy Authenticity only lasts until he opens his mouth and calls somebody "mate"or says "Blimey, it's hot!"but whatever.

Where was I? SHopping. OK, so having attired the family in the Cheeziest Western Wear I could find, we set off to the Rodeo. Here is the best Part. The only Rodeo that was on while we were in town was the local round of the US gay rodeo. (Given how homophobic a lot of rednecks and cowboys are, it is no surprise that Homosexuals have thier own rodeo, it's just like a regular rodeo, except everyone there is gay) The Male Adolescent didn't know it was a Gay Rodeo, because we decided not to tell him and just let him figure it out for himself. Keep in mind, that the kid has never been to or even seen a real rodeo, so he doesn't know what to expect.

We arrived, and were welcomed by a number of shirtless guys with multiple body piercings who take our money, stamp our hands, and give the adults paper bracelets. Everybody gets a gay pride Rainbow sticker, as well as a bumper sticker for the local country music station. I take the Baby to go look at the horse trailers on display, while Stone takes the big kids to go get refreshments.

At the refreshment stand, Stone and the Adolescents are greeted by three six and a half foot tall guys in over-sized women's Lingerie, who have deyed thier Chest hair fluorescent colors to match the wigs they are wearing. One of them Asks the Male Adolescent if he wants to See his "Beaver" The Kid says sure, (Beaver? A woodland Creature? At aRodeo?) and the guy flips up his skirt to reveal a picture of Beaver, from leave it to beaver, the famous TV show from the 50's. Stone Almost choked on his drink laughing.

Still, the penny has yet to drop. Drinks in hand, we mosey up to the grand stands to watch the barrell racing, Steer wrestling, and Pole bending competitions. From the stands, everything is just like in a normal rodeo except the demographic makeup of the couples in the crowd. There are lots of guys dressed as cowboys, walking side by side, hands in each other's back pockets. There are small families with two mothers and a couple of cute kids, the women sitting holding hands as the kids watch the action in the ring below.

We watch the action for almost half an hour, and the kid looks baffled, but seems accepting of this weird but quaint American Tradition. Even the banners advertising a website called homorodeo.com have not tipped him off. We're well into the Pole bending when the Announcer says over the loud speaker

"I want you all to know that this is the Fifteenth Annual, State Gay Rodeo here, It's a big anniversary for us"

There is a pause, and then the kid looks over at us and says "Gay???"

Another pause, and then "So that's why the men in underwear were serving us drinks!"

I don't know if I have fully captured the moment, you really had to be there, but even the people sitting around us laughed for like five minutes. The Kid Laughed too, in case you were wondering.

After the Rodeo, there was some musical entertainment, and Dancing. Stone took the baby out on the dance floor and watching him dance with our beautiful, beaming, squealing daughter was gorgeous. As We were sitting there watching them Dance, the Male Adolescent turned to me and said, "I'm really glad you brought me here. I like this better than anything else, because I can just be myself and not have to worry about impressing girls.... Because the girls here are totally not interested in me!"

True, my man. True.