Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wagyu Hamburgers at the Crowne Plaza

If you have ever been to Japan you might be familiar with Kobe or Waygu beef. It is basically the most delicious thing in the entire encyclopedia of edible Mammals. You might have to mortgage your house or sell your children to afford it, but your taste buds will thank you, and when you think about it, you might actually be saving money because College is really expensive these days.

OMG, look at that marbling! 
Eat it once, and like an opioid addict you'll be chasing that original high forever. Every single bite contains the flavor of an entire ordinary cow, and the flesh is so tender that you hardly need to chew. It's my favorite thing to cook and to eat.

So Much Tasty Fat!!!!
Sultan Center reliably stocks Wagyu beef, and although it totally blows the budget, once or twice a month I'll buy some and bring it home to cook. And it's AMAZEBALLS. The flavor of Wagyu is incredibly distinctive. Seared rare with a little brandy and soy sauce it's like Beefy heaven. So delicious.

Thus, Imagine my delight last night when I saw Dukes bar has Wagyu burgers on the menu. I'd actually forgotten about it, but I had one there a few months ago and it was really good. I was feeling celebratory after a good day and out with one of my oldest friends so I thought why not, and ordered one of those bad boys up, Medium rare. After much back and forth with the wait staff regarding did I really want the burger medium rare or not, they came out and asked me to sigh the following :

Yes, there is such a thing as a "Hamburger Policy",  evidently...

This is the best picture my dining companion and I could take since it was dark. It's a FULL PAGE release indemnifying the crowne against future legal action should they poison me with poorly prepared meat. I have literally signed shorter indemnity papers for motorsport activities, bungee jumping, and medical procedures.  The whole vibe was not exactly confidence-inducing but YOLO! So I signed it and got ready to eat an amazing Hamburger and then possibly die a slow and horrible death from salmonella, hepatitis-B or E-coli.

Much, Much later, my burger arrived, and it was a thing of beauty. Perfect bun, perfect cheese, perfect beef bacon, perfect veggies, crispy chips, and a little tiny pot of roasted onion mayonnaise. The food at the Crowne Plaza has been improving by leaps and bounds over the last year or so, and my companion's steak sandwich* was a thing of beauty to taste and see. Seriously, guys, I was so pumped to eat that massive, bloody, fatty, wagyu flavored burger.

But then I ate it, and it wasn't made of Wagyu. The meat was lean, bloody bright red, no fat or grease, and had no flavor of Wagyu. What I had was a reasonably tasty burger made from grass-fed beef of some description. I'm figuring they either pulled a regular grass fed burger from the fridge, or ground up some fresh beef, or ran out of Wagyu but figured nobody would know the difference, or the Wagyu burgers were nearing the end of their shelf life so the kitchen knew they couldn't get away with sending out questionable meat cooked mid-rare.

And whilst I'm honestly grateful that the kitchen or management erred on the side of caution in order not to kill me or have to admit that the wagyu they were serving that night was well past it's prime, when you are charging just under 10 OMR (26 USD) for a burger that is made out of the most delicious cows on earth, I would like to buy a burger that contains pieces of the most delicious cow on earth.

I ate it, paid and left. It is hard to imagine a scenario where I would show them the burger and they would say "oh, gosh, you are right, we will go get you a wagyu burger now" What would have happened, inevitably, was me saying that this wasn't wagyu, and them insisting I must be mistaken or don't understand beef.

So, I guess I'll just go back to cooking my own Wagyu from now on, and leave the Crowne Plaza to serve up their legally indemnified liability-free mystery meat to others. Bummer.

* My companion's Steak Sandwich tho... I would eat that for my last meal, it was so good. Seriously. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

American elections, Sexual assault, and consent.

Firstly: On the subject of obtaining consent before one does something sexual to or with another Human being, one of my favorite Ex-boyfriends said it best:
"Consent is a good thing, Don't get me wrong... But personally I would hold out for Enthusiasm" -Ex-Boyfriend Matt, an outstanding human being. 

Is anyone else fantasizing about slitting their wrists if they have to watch any more of the American election? November 8th can't come soon enough.

One particularly rage inducing aspect of the election has been watching the backlash against the women who have come forward with accounts of being fondled or sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. Various snippets of the backlash show up on my facebook news feed, where several men whom I previously held in high regard, say that the accusations are all made up. Their rationale for this is that if these women were in fact assaulted or groped, why didn't they speak out about it sooner? Every time I see a comment to that effect, I want to scream, or hit something, or not be a woman anymore, or die. I am not alone in this feeling, as the hashtag on twitter #Whywomendontreport shows. Reading the tweets on that hashtag is therapeutic in a re-living every sexual trauma of my entire life sort of way. Which is to say: not really all that therapeutic.

What might be therapeutic is actually talking about my rape (It's all Mine! I'm so cool, so hip, so lucky that I have my very own rape!) and all the reasons I didn't report it, why I didn't tell anyone  about it until 11 years after it happened, why until now I have only told a handful of people in detail what happened, and then maybe examining why I can't bring myself to say this to my own family, or on facebook, or directly to the people I actually KNOW but instead have to write it down here in the safety of quasi-anonymity in blogland. Before that, I'm going to list a few of the responses I got from the people I DID tell.
  • Why were you even there? 
  • You shouldn't have put yourself in that position. 
  • Were you drinking?
  • Maybe you gave him the wrong idea. 
  • You are way too friendly with people.
  • He's not that big a guy, you could have fought back.
  • You are way to naive, you need to protect yourself more.
  • That doesn't seem like a "real" Rape-y sort of rape.  
And this was when I told the three closest men in my life, one of whom I am ACTUALLY MARRIED TO, about being raped. Do you really think that total strangers, the police, industry peers, or co-workers would be more sympathetic?

These responses above are a selection from three different and genuinely wonderful men: From my own husband, from a good friend, and from my partner at work. There were two notable outliers in the responses who should be thanked by name. Parmy and Mans:  You are both gentlemen above and beyond measure, and I'm eternally grateful to you both for listening to me, for responding so kindly and appropriately, and for loving me. Thank You, Guys. 

I don't know if I will follow this up with a post that details the HILARIOUS nitty-gritty account of my own rape. More to the point, Whilst I could recount to you every detail of that one time I was genuinely, definitely, and totally raped, I could not possibly tell you about the absolute countless times I have been groped or assaulted or fondled and had to brush it off as "flattery" "he was drunk" "he's just a bit like that" "You were basically inviting it" etc... I couldn't write that because that kind of shit has happened so many times the post would be like 20,000 pages long. You guys, it's fucking bonkers.

To recap the words of Matt, my absolute favorite Ex-Boyfriend, you can grope or assault a woman against her will, and hey, there isn't much she is likely to do about it, or you could beg and plead and guilt trip her into giving consent, but wouldn't it be better if she WANTED you to do that? Guys, hold out for enthusiasm.

More tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rant: Radio in Oman

Mr. Sythe, over at Muscat Mutterings is running a poll about radio in Oman, which you should go and fill out because I am asking you nicely.

Mr. Sythe sent me a facebook message today asking me nicely to fill out the poll. I did so and then replied with something akin to the following:
"There is not a space in your survey for me to put in how much I hate every DJ in this goddamn country except Faiq on the Mike and that Canadian guy they fired and also why in the name of god are there still expat people on the goddamn national radio station who cannot actually speak English please someone explain this because jesus fucking christ we have been trying to achieve Omanisation for like 20 goddamn years I mean what is this even. furthermore I want to light all the annoyingly chipper british dj's on fire and I will buy the petrol if you think we can get permission to do it in the interest of public service "
So Mr. Sythe said maybe if I had such strong feelings about the radio I should blog it. That is a good suggestion since I have little else to do with my time except for trying not to fall to the floor screaming in the grocery store because EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE and I feel like I am living in some sort of extremely boring expat housewife version of groundhog day.

What follows is a rant, where I am going to say mean things. If you don't feel like reading it you should go somewhere else now. OK?

So, Radio Listeners of Oman, here is everything that I wish there was a space to put in Mr. Sythe's survey about English Language Radio in the Sultanate:

  • What happened to that Canadian guy on 90.4? He was the best thing that happened to radio here in Oman since 2003 or 2004 when there was a very funny lady who would sometimes co-host the morning show with Faiq.
  • When you really really really think about it, Faiq on the Mike is an incredible DJ. I will love him until the oceans dry up and the earth is a cold, dead hunk of carbon circling a burned out star. 
  • The music is the worst, presumably chosen by a 12-year-old girl. 
  • The music is all the same. I suspect the director of programming at all three stations is the same 12-year-old girl. 
  • How can there be so many annoyingly chipper people who sound exactly like a narrator in Minecraft videos and how did they all get here and are we paying them ACTUAL MONEY and are they all mildly retarded because I think they would have to be in order to engage in chatter as banal and mindless as that and lastly how can we persuade them to please go away? 
  • No, really, the chatter is so vapid that I feel it is an insult to the intelligence of the entire nation. 
  • Actually, the best thing that ever happened in Oman radio was back when HiFM didn't have any on-air talent and they were just broadcasting music from Eihab's iPod. The mix of music was great except for one day when the Electric 6 song Gay Bar came on. It played for almost a minute before somebody managed to skip forward to the next song. THAT RIGHT THERE, was the single most entertaining minute of radio in the history of the sultanate. 

  • Finally, can anybody explain to me how it is possible that we have not fully Omanised 90.4 FM, and if we have failed to Omanise it why we have thus far been unable to staff it with expats who can actually speak English, or who are able to provide more entertaining content than asking questions my kindergartner can answer, and reading shit from Wikipedia verbatim? Why? Why? Why??? 
  • Slightly related to the point directly above, I give you the real, actual, very best moment in Omani Radio History: This happened on 90.4 FM in maybe 2006 I think. I was driving home from work late one night and the DJ was asking questions and callers were calling in to answer the questions live on air. 
    • DJ: A, E, I, O, and U form what part of the English Alphabet? 
    • Caller: Those are Vowels.
    • DJ: I'm afraid not, would you like to guess again?
    • Caller: VOWELS. A-E-I-O-U are vowels. 
    • DJ: I'm sorry, but that's still not right, Would you like to know the correct answer?
    • Caller: Um, I guess? 
    • DJ: It's Waavvles!  A-E-I-O and U are WAAVLES!!!!
    • I ran my car off the road and nearly into a tree because I was laughing so hard. 
  • OK, that was the ACTUAL best moment in Oman Radio History. 
I feel surprisingly better having got that off my chest. Thank you, Mr. Sythe! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Economics, Omanisation, Brain Drain, and a Blog you need to follow

Sorry if it's been a bit quiet around here lately. Local & international politics have put something of a damper on my desire to write, and lets not even talk about their effect on my desire to continue living. Cough (Brexit, ISIS, MSF Hospitals Being Bombed, Oman Arresting Journalists, Donald Trump) Cough... Ahem.. Moving on.

A Real Live Economist Returns to the Omani Blogosphere and Talks About Omanisation!

Back when I first started reading blogs there was a small but vibrant commuinty of English Language Omani Bloggers. What was cool about the community was that it really was something of a community, and over time I came to think of my internet "friends" as real friends. One of my favorite internet friends to bounce ideas off of, was this guy Abdullah who was studying to be (or perhaps already was?) an economist.

Like the rest of us, Abdullah moved on from blogging to twitter, and then eventually lapsed into silence. I suspect his reasons for stepping away were similar to mine, in that the internet is less fun once everybody has the internet, and careers, marraiges and kids get in the way of sitting around late at night typing things for your imagainary internet friends to read and share with thier imaginary internet friends.

But, I have the Best News EVER: Abdullah started blogging about Omani issues again last month! He's doing it now from the USA where he works as a real live Motherfucking* professor of economics. His Latest post, "Understanding the Omani Labor Market" is well worth a read, and I'd reccommend following him on twitter, or subscribing to his blog if you have an interest in Economic policy presented by someone better looking and smarter than me, who swears a lot less.

You can follow Abdullah on Twitter HERE
You can read his whole website HERE
You can listen to an interview with him on a website called EconomicRockStar.Com (yes, for real)  HERE

You might wonder why a guy like this is slaving away as a professor of economics in the USA and not working here in some sort of cabinet level position or heading up a team of Ass-kicking economists at the MONE**. I don't know, but I would fancy a guess that there are a number of compelling microeconomic and sociological reasons for that. Abdullah, an article I would LOVE to see in the future is the impact of Brain-Drain on Oman's economy, and how do we measure the economic impact of the many highly qualified Omanis who go abroad for work, and how the government is or is not incentivising those folks to come home.

*probably not actually fucking your mom...Economists can get way hotter chicks than her these days.

** Is it not the most Ballin' coincidence that the Ministry Of National Economy's Acronym can be shortened to MONE???? 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Unsurprising News: Oman Air suspends Sohar flights

Today, in news that shouldn't surprise anybody, Other Oman reports on the announcement from Oman Air that they will suspend flights between the Sultanate's capital Muscat, and Sohar, a thriving port city located a vast 190 kms from Seeb Muscat international airport. Certain members of the Majlis Ashura are apoplectic  Somewhat concerned about the cancellation of this thrice-weekly service and the loss of vast economic benefits that the service, which averaged ONE PASSENGER PER FLIGHT was bringing to the city of Sohar and the surrounding region.

Those were outstanding run-on sentences! Thank You.

I don't think anyone can or should be upset about the cancellation of a glaringly unpopular service that served basically nobody. On the other side of the coin, I don't think the criticism that is being heaped onto the Authorities for building a decent airport in Sohar is justified. The airport might be a few years ahead of its time, but I do think it's an asset to the North Batinah region and the northernmost suburbs / outlying areas of the capital.

Look at our national carrier's blue, silver, and gold livery!
 I was a skeptic at first, but now I think it's so pretty.
 Photo credit: Muscat Daily

So what's the back story on the Sohar airport? How did we get here?  I'm not 100% sure, but below is my understanding of the situation. Perhaps our resident aviation experts Muscati or Muscat Jet Driver would like to chip in with better facts of data? Your contributions are most welcome, Gentlemen.

Anyway, back in early 2008 or so, the government decided that Sohar needed a proper airport to handle cargo (great idea) and lots of passengers (not such a great idea). Tenders were issued, speeches were made, everybody I think was patting themselves on the back. Whether this had anything to do with the hubbub surrounding the now dead Blue City development, or the high hopes for Shoar's future as a port and industrial city is unclear to me. Perhaps both, perhaps neither.

At any rate, the Airport in Sohar opened sometime in maybe 2014 /2015 with the fancy-ass jetway equipped passenger terminal still unfinished and a quickie temporary terminal in its place. One assumes that the government was initially unsuccessful in getting international carriers to utilize the airport and so Oman Air was basically strong-armed into starting these flights in order to test the feasibility of using Sohar airport as a commuter hub, or something...

The problem with this is that one can drive between Sohar and Muscat in 1.5-2.5 hours for significantly less than the cost of the ticket. This might be useful if you are travelling onward to an international destination, but again you'd need the arrival and departure times to jive, otherwise it's faster and cheaper to grab a taxi between the two cities. Oman Air even went so far as to give away FREE flights from Sohar to muscat for passengers travelling on their connecting international flights. Sadly, No dice. The flights averaged a single passenger per flight, and must have caused the airline and Oman Aviation services to hemorrhage money trying to keep the service afloat.

BUT, BUT, BUT, I don't think it's a bad idea to have a good airport in Sohar, and I think there is likely a lot of viability to using the airport for charters full of Russians or tourists from Europe, or low cost reigonal airlines, perhaps offering a connection to muscat via bus. Kind of how Sharjah airport used to be (still is??) back in days of yore.

I think it is likely that Air India could operate a couple of international flights a day out of Sohar, given the number of Expatriates working in the region.

The other thing that MIGHT be viable to float the idea of a commuter service using tiny or smallish turboprops that would run a commuter schedule a couple of times a day up the coast from Duqum to Khasab, with stops in say, Qalhat, Sur, Muscat and Sohar on the way. I've used similar commuter airlines that fly from small towns in the American northeast into larger cities like Boston and New York. You don't even buy regular tickets, you buy a coupon book and use the coupons to exchange for flights. Lots of (usually pretty wealthy) people use these services as a daily or weekly commuter service, like a Mawasallat bus, but with wings. My daughter have taken a few thrilling flights in little 8 seater planes between Boston and elsewhere, and when I am not busy thinking about the ways I am going to die from the turbulance, the views are amazing, and an hour or so in an airplane saves me 5 hours of driving.

And Cargo, we could ship a shit-ton of Cargo out of the airport, and it would make great sense to have a robust airport cargo hub there since the port in Sohar is now handling all the cargo that used to come into Muttrah.

Anyway, there's my two cents on that matter. Your opinion or understanding of the background may differ from mine. Please feel free to set me straight in the comments below!

Later in the week I think I want to write about my newest addiction: Waygu Beef.  If you guys are not eating this beef, you need to start. It is so amazing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Automatic Car Wash and other staggering failures in Omanisation

I am a really really really lucky girl. Whilst you all were here starving in the oppressive heat and humidity, I opted out of Ramadhan for a week and instead attended a conference on critical care medicine in Ireland. I don't care how much you love the holy month, there is absolutely NO WAY any of you guys had a better week than I did. Here are some ACTUAL presentations and workshops I attended

  • The magic of remote ischaemic preconditioning.
  • Rethinking adrenaline in cardiac arrest.
  • Acute care of the elderly.
  • The Aorta will F*!&K you up.
  • Neurosurgeons are not idiots, honestly.
  • Oh SH^*T! They're bombing the hospital. 
Match that sort of academic / intellectual content with Dublin's amazing restaurant and bar scene, 2,000 of the smartest people in critical care, a handful of old friends and you have a recipe for AWESOME.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, so last night I returned home brimming with optimism and full of  ideas and motivation to improve patient outcomes here in Oman. I am going to be a catalyst for positive change, dammit. 

Then this morning Stone took me to the petrol station and decided to run the car through the carwash. During the 37 minutes we were in line / going through the car wash I realised that my local car wash is a pretty good analogue for why a lot of things in Oman are so totally screwed up. My views on this may have been somewhat coloured by the fact that I was hungry, Jet lagged, Hungover, and hot, but bear with me here and if you disagree you can have you say down below in the comments. 

Here was our "Automatic" car wash experience this morning: 
  • Pull up to the car wash, we are third in line. 
  • Watch time grind to a halt as each car ahead of us takes a full 10 minutes to make it through the wash cycle 
  • Arrive at the front of the que. 
  • Communicate with understandably surly car wash attendant via various hand gestures and broken Hindi / Arabic that we would like a quick wash, just the outside.
  • Surly car wash guy confers with the other car wash guy, takes 2.5 Rials from me, and goes to a window where he communicates with yet another carwash guy who slowly accounts for the money, produces a hand-written receipt, and sends Surly guy back to us. 
  • The receipt is placed on the dashboard, and we are motioned into the car wash. 
  • The car is now on the rails where the automatic car wash will drag it past various fixed and moving nozzles that will spray water, soap, or whatever onto the car, making it clean. I figure we will be out of here in under two minutes now. 
  • Not So! First, the guys use a manual powerwasher to pre-wash the car.
  • Next, the car is advanced 8 feet past the "Automatic high-pressure wash" and the "Automatic Soap" 
  • The line grinds to a halt and two guys appear out of the mist to manually scrub the car using the automatically applied soap. 
  • The line starts up again, dragging us past a genuinely automatic rinse, and the automatic dryer nozzles.
  • Stone can see the look of murder in my eyes and politely declines the hand drying stage of the "automatic" car wash We are free to go. 
  • It is 38 degrees outside, we merge onto the highway and the car is completely dry within 10 seconds. 
Photo credit: Times of Oman

I think, first and foremost that if you are going to call something an "Automatic Car Wash" then it should involve automation, and therefore efficiency, in at least some elements of the experience. It's not like this is a revolutionary new technology that's just in BETA testing.  Automatic car washes have existed at least since I was a little girl, and have been tried and tested in various climates worldwide to effectively get the grime and grit off dirty cars in an expedient and cost-effective manner. I cannot imagine that our everyday dust and dirt is that much different from anybody else's dust and dirt, and therefore requires the addition of 3-6 brown guys from poor(er) countries in order to get my car to an adequate state of cleanliness. 

So here's the crux of why the automatic car wash guys matter, economically, to Oman: We are paying armies of imported workers to do jobs that should probably not exist at all. It's not just the carwash guys: How about the guys who pump gas? Let's assume, conservatively, 4 guys pumping gas per petrol station, and 600 petrol stations nationwide, with a salary of OMR 80 per month. That's OMR 2,304,000 per year in salary payments alone, before we even account for accommodation, healthcare, flights, visas, etc.. I do not know how much they spend on remittances, but I would expect the vast majority of the money earned is remitted elsewhere. 

There is some data to support this idea: did you know that Oman is in the top five for countries losing GDP as a result of remittances by foreign workers? 12.5 percent of our GDP here in Oman is sent home by temporary workers. That's like, roughly 2and a half billion dollars a year leaving Oman and never coming back. Here's the link to the article in Times of Oman  

It's not a made up number either, it came from a world bank report which you can read in its entirety HERE

The only graph I am aware of where Oman is in the same league as Luxembourg

To take the idea a step further: How about the little corner stores and restaurants where you pull up outside and Honk to get service? There are armies of imported workers who's only job is to take things from an establishment to your car, basically because you are too lazy to find parking and walk. 

How about the guy who sits at a desk at MCC and QCC renting out shopping trolleys shaped like cars? How about the guys who bag your groceries and then push the trolley out to your car, and then load the groceries into your car? 

Are there Omanis who would do these jobs? Probably a few, if we paid them enough, but in reality, these are jobs that should not exist, or should not exist in such great numbers. We are not a rich enough country to afford these sorts of luxuries, and this sort of dependence on expensive imported labor to do all the very basic things we can already do for ourselves leads to a culture of helplessness / apathy. It also Fucks up the already dire ratio of Omanis to expats in muscat and elsewhere. 

Whilst gradually reducing or eliminating the totally unnecessary Expat jobs would not do much for creating jobs for Omanis, I do think it would do a lot for starting to normalize the ratio of Omanis to expats, as well as  reducing the impact of remittances outward from Oman. 

More from here soon. Hope you all are well. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Suburban Reviews Things: An Inexpensive Burkini

Today on Suburban Reviews Things, I'm going to tell you all about a 3.8 OMR burkini Conservative Swimsuit that I found last week in Carrefour. Having never tried one before, and intrigued by the competitive pricing, I grabbed a large and threw it in the cart. For a mere 3.8 OMR this burkini Conservative Swimsuit comes in a variety of sizes, a variety of hideous floral prints, and includes a matching hideous floral swimming cap. Ever wondered what it's like wearing one? Read on, and be enlightened.

You can have it in Black with Flowers, Black with Flowers, or Black with Flowers. 

Great, but why exactly do you need one of these, Sub?

I'm glad you asked! My daughter adores swimming, and given the choice would only leave the water to eat and sleep. Unfortunately for her, I do not much like swimming. There are several reasons for this:
  • Swimming pools are disgusting. You are swimming in a bath of filtered chemically neutralised urine. Add to that the boogers, drool, dead bugs, bird poop, fecal matter and long stray hairs floating around. Ick. Ick. Ick. 
  • The ocean is full of seaweed and other floaty things and possibly raw sewage or toxic contamination.
  • Fish are unpredictable and scare me. 
  • Jellyfish
  • The water in either the ocean or the pool is almost never the right temperature, so I am either too warm or too cold. 
  • The whole swim suit thing. Think about it: You are basically wearing your underwear in public, except it's ok because this underwear is made of lycra. Weird, right? 
Anyway, almost every afternoon I suck it up, put on my skimpy-ass swimsuit, grab the kid, and face the horror that is the ocean, unpredictable fish and all. I take her snorkeling because when you are snorkeling, it's impossible to talk about Minecraft.

With Ramadan in full swing, I wasn't sure how I wanted to address the snorkeling / skimpy swimsuit issue. The beach we go to is part of a private facility where western beachwear is the norm, but conservative dress is recommended during the holy month. What's a girl to do? Enter Carrefour and the 3.8 OMR imitation Burkini. The first thing I noticed was that the size LIES. I'm somewhere between a medium and a small size, but I bought a large to ensure it would be extra baggy / conservative. The large size just barely fits me, (defeating much of the point of modest swimwear) and is a struggle to get in and out of. That however, is really the only major drawback I could find with the swim suit. Below is a list of Pros and Cons of the imitation Burkini. 

  • No more awkward moments when you run into your kid's teachers or husband's boss at the beach and you are like, basically in your underwear. 
  • Excellent value for money
  • Protects against jellyfish stingers 
  • Protects against other floaty crap and seaweed in the water that might drift past my skin and freak me out.
  • Provides some protection against sunburn
  • Has little padded disks over the breast area to prevent pooky-outy-nipple issues if the water / air is cold. (If you are my husband Stone, this lack of nipple potential would go in the "cons" category)
  • Since it completely covers your armpits, legs, and V-Jay, you may never need to shave or wax again!!! (Stone also thinks this should go in the Cons category)
  • Enables me to avoid having to hear about Minecraft for at least an hour every afternoon, even in Ramadan
  • New awkward moments when you see your friends who are used to seeing you in a bikini and they are all like " WTF is wrong with you? Why are you wearing that? You look like the curtains in my auntie's house."
  • Slows you down when swimming. Lots of drag. 
  • Terrible sizing
  • Hot as hell outside of the water. I don't know what sort of cheap-ass fabric they made it out of but it's like a magnet for humidity. Everything except the flowers is black, which makes it like, crazy hot in the sunshine. 
  • Difficult to get into or out of. Would benefit from a zipper. 
  • Not really as conservative as I had hoped due to the scoop neck and aforementioned sizing issues. 

So, there you go. I think that as far as swimsuits that cost less than 4 Rials go, it's an excellent value and a great weapon for your summertime wardrobe. I like mine so much I'm going to keep a lookout for a really nice one that I can make a permanent part of my ocean-phobia toolbox. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Round Two

So, We're back. 

We got back late last year and have been catching our collective breath, trying to find our place in the newer, larger Muscat that grew up around our house while we were away. It's one thing to come home for a visit a couple times a year, but completely different to move home and readjust to a changed city as a changed person. I would like to think Muscat and I have grown for the better, but only time and hindsight will determine if that is indeed the case. 

Anyway, it's good to be home, and we are all doing OK. None of my children are taking their clothes off for money or selling drugs, so as a parent I feel I am meeting my Key Performance Indicators and am unlikely to get fired anytime soon. Stone is happy in his work, but counting down the last few years before he can retire and do something other than be a nerd all day. The baby has grown into a frighteningly smart child, and I rarely contemplate selling her into an arranged marriage in Saudia anymore, though I have not yet informed her of that. I am surviving here, although it is very weird not to be working. 

Since I have a lot of spare time I joined a craft group, which has been a great way to meet a lot of amazing people, and learn now skills. It has also been an adventure into the depths of expat wife politics and drama, and only a few short months in I already have enough material for a dissertation on unmedicated social and psychological disorders in the ageing western female expat population. If anyone would like to fund or co-author my paper hit me up.

On matters relating to Local Journalism: You might have had to be dead to miss this, but the Times of Oman ran what was probably the single worst piece of English language writing in the history of English language writing. Entitled "Oman's Image of Pacific Grandeur" and authored by Gautam Ghosh - Dastidar, it was thesaurus spaghetti. I'll paste a couple of highlights below, but feel free to go over HERE and read the whole thing in its entirety. 

"A branch of physics and engineering coated as electronics rather microelectronics reached us pretty ahead of our times.

Indebted to informatics we are well-informed today; we are yet to know whether and when we are well-off, though. Anyway, most factual information we proudly take into custody today are but the worst examples of heartlessness against ourselves. They rather cause discomfort to us. They are those intentional but irrational irritations of ours.

Some theories ascertain that the unearthed fossils of Neanderthals were mostly the leftovers of what their ‘comrades in arms’ had in a banquet. This may be prehistoric anyway, but our history says, the survivors of the Andes Mountains (South America) plane crash (1972) ate their dead companions."

I mean, Jesus christ, what is that? By the fact that this was published, and front page, I can only assume that there a company in the Sultanate that is paying this guy actual money to do a job. Maybe he's your boss? 
Not that I am going to win a Pulitzer or anything either, to be fair.    

Anyway, the plan for the blog is what it always was, part personal diary, part highlighting the extraordinarily terrible standards for writing in the Times of Oman, partly public sounding board for unanswerable questions, Diatribes on our ongoing failures at Omanisation, and rants and raves. Whilst my spelling and English has improved immeasurably after five years in the states, my swearing is still problematic. You've been warned. 

This blog will be 10 years old in November, and it has been really interesting for me to go back and read the archives. The insecure 20 something struggling with a new marriage and a new baby has been replaced by a fatter but more self-assured 30 something struggling with marriage and children. I thought about starting a new blog, and wiping the slate clean, but I think that it is more transparent and perhaps more interesting to let the archives stand, warts and all. Should your life be so boring that you choose to peruse the archives, remember that the young person who wrote those words is gone now, replaced by a smarter but more wrinkly adult. Be kind. 

Next week, Would you like some healthy vegetables with extra pesticide? Are you an Entrepreneur or a Parasite? And a review of a very fast Mercedes.