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!