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!
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 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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And, We're Back!

The holiday was great, but not nearly long enough.

I'm going to virtual live blog some of the highlights here over the next few days, if only to make a change from my usual self absorbed bitching. Upcoming entries are likely to include:
  • No, you may not have a mortgage, Mr. and Ms. Scary Foreigner
  • The Gay Rodeo and the surprised adolescent
  • Why the afterlife undoubtedly looks like Home Depot
  • Can Stone eat Steak and Eggs for thirty five consecutive breakfasts?
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  • Wyoming, Where nothing happens
  • Ample Parking, and twenty other reasons why America is So. Fucking. Fantastic.

Tune in tomorrow kids, Same bat-time, Same Bat-channel.