10:09 a.m. - 2008-12-17
Had a vivid dream where Julie, Lyra and I were at a childrens museum in Chicago and I was having trouble at the bar; because in my dreamworld, childrens museums do, indeed, HAVE bars. I think it was the fact that it was early on a Tuesday afternoon that the bar wasn't that open yet because I was having troubles getting what I needed. Yes, I had managed to procure and summarily down both a beer and a highball but, after ordering what Julie wanted they were confused over which of them on duty had the key to the wine cabinet.
There were at least five employees (all dressed in tuxedo shirts with black bow ties) and they were all concerned with helping me, but they were also a little worried at how schnockerd I became on so little intake. I myself was mesmerised by the great buzz I had then it dawned on me that it was due to my missing breakfast. They were also a little tickled at my behaviour.
Well, Julie, who was with Lyra in the A/V room, wasn't going to be getting her glass of red, so I ordered her a double Stoli. The ice hadn't been brought up either so I was waiting around for that. In the meantime, they asked if I wanted a soft drink to which I replied in a confusing slur but then blurted out "auranjge Fanta." They DID have ice for that and after schlucking down half the vodka and nearly all of the soda pop,, I poured the vodka into the remains of my Fanta and plotted that I was going to tell Julie that it was a Stoli Oranj.
Then I woke up and told you about it.
5:19 a.m. - 2008-12-16
I just stepped outside to throw something in the rubbish bin across the street. Yes there is garbage AROUND the bin too. Well it just started raining. It also feels cold though it's still 18 degrees celsius (64.4 Farhenheit). I tried to see if I could see my breath.
I opened the garage door to rinse it off but it'll probably just look like mud. The garage is open at the top for most of that carport space so it gets very dusty like all the world does over here. Many villas (most?) here have a maids quarters because they let poor people come and work as domestic helpers. We use ours as if it were a basement back home putting tools, holiday decorations and the like into it. It has a door but everything in there has a fine layer of dust on it. I'd need a few boxes of Swifters if I wanted to tidy that up.
I'm in the mood for a long hard rain and part of me wishes I was out near a wadi to see what one looks like after a rain. I hope it showers for the next hour or so just to see the world a little bit cleaner.
12:23 p.m. - 2008-12-15
When signing Lyra up for her next ballet class, I noticed they're now offering a Bollywood dance clsss.
I'm considering it ... for me ... but only if they use this song:
And with masks! I want to wear a Kato mask.
I've been wanting one of
10:54 a.m. - 2008-12-14
Ok, like this year I came a little close to thinking hard about buying an artificial tree. We did have to drive and look at two places for a fresh one because I didn't want to shell out a load of dough for a "quality" artificial that I'd want to unload upon our return to The States.
When in Milwaukee, I usually buy a short needled tree from Stein's Garden and Gifts ("makes ... the magic haa - pennnn") at their "any tree for $X.95" price. One year we popped for a Frasier Fir that looked awesome and had a price to match. This year, I went to Dubai Garden Center for the first time and saw that they had, maybe four trees on display in a dry-ish bin all bundled up with twine.
I didn't get to do much looking for straight trunks but the needles were quite pliable and, worried that they may run out, made a hurried purchase at an astoundingly high (for me) price of 175 bucks! Fwoar! Ouch! The one tree they had that wasn't twined up looked quite nice. My only regret was that it's only six feet tall where, at this place, we could accommodate a full twelve footer. Next year I hope.
I found out that they get them from Denmark. If you saw how much it had been wrapped up you'd realise how many hundreds they could get into an air cargo container. I don't think they brought these in any other way!
We shipped all of our decorations from home and have a large capacity stand that holds about a litre or more of water. I proceeded to saw a "cookie" off the bottom but didn't take any of the lower branches off. This was partially due to the fact that I thought the deep reservoir would push them up and out of the way (and it did). I put it immediately into a bucket with water and ate a sandwich before bringing it in.
I put an aspirin in the bottom before putting the tree into the stand and read soon thereafter that it isn't necessary. Whatever. I am hopeful that leaving those branches on the bottom is what's helping it stay it's beautiful self.
The thing needs as much watering per day as Basil needs walkies! Every time I check with a finger it is nearly dry. So dry, in fact, that I worry about it sealing itself back up again and not have it take any more water --- a death sentence for tannenbaum(s?).
We only brought out one box of decorations and they had our blue lights that I use outside at home so now we havva havva blue, blue blue Christmas ....
1:37 p.m. - 2008-12-13
When in Zanzibar, I signed up for a dive around an island off the main island Unguja. Julie tagged along, getting a rather sunburned back while snorkeling.
First dive went to 60 feet and the second one down only 30 or so. I've only dove four descents since being certified and I must say, I've done the right thing in getting my card while living here.
I'm not quite sure but I think I've done two of the top 100 places in the world thus far. Tanzania is worth a return. There are seasons where whale sharks, Humpback and even Sperm whales are migrating. Saw a pod of Bottlenose on the way back and tried to get in with them. I "think" I heard them clicking but didn't see them. The boatmen believe we all splashed a bit too hard in our haste to swim with them. Still saw an amazing array of species including turtles.
I need to practice the guitar to make up for all the down time. When I was playing Apache today (at one time, I was able to do it with my eyes closed), I was deep in concentration, when, drool, great gobs of drool poured from my mouth, brushing my shirt, sluicing over my rhythm pickup, down, down to the floor where it formed a puddle. Where this deluge came from, I'm not sure. I think it had something to do with the cold I've been battling. That part of the guitar is a little bit shinier now. I'm glad that this cold didn't happen pre-dive. I would NOT have been able to equalize my ears. I can't do it sitting here at sea level
12:21 p.m. - 2008-12-12
Have been using the English / French Google translator fairly regularly and I like the way it gets the "gender" or whatever incorrect at times.
I like the way the translator refers to specific proper pronouns as "it".
8:37 a.m. - 2008-12-12
Hey, did you know that in Nairobi, you can't smoke ... OUTSIDE?!?! That is unless you are in a smoking area. Yes, even in parks you can only smoke in designated areas. You don't see people smoking outside. It's strange.
The same is not true if you drive a smoky diesel vehicle. I can't stand the smell of diesel (or any other car smells for that matter).
There is a 50,000 KSH and six month jail term for breaking the law, which I did, on the sly one time.
When at a grocery, I used my Amex card to pay for our water and snacks. That entailed a separate trip to another desk to use the card. I took a little sheet of paper the cashier uses to keep tabs on charges and the other person runs the charge and gives me my copy and the one for the other cashier, along with the little sheet for the original guy. I jumped the queue thinking that is probably the thing to do in that situation. I apologised to the two people who were in the process of checking out and they seemed to understand. The Kenyans seemed to be really, really nice. Both Julie and I thought that we could live there; a thing we say when visiting somewhere new.
7:20 p.m. - 2008-12-05
Things are fine in Kenya.
6:59 p.m. - 2008-12-04
Is cool. Saw many animals and am drinking Tusker and store bought brandy.
Tried some kaat. No effect felt.
Rotting elephant carcass smells like ass.
9:55 p.m. - 2008-12-01
See you later. Hopefully will be able to log on over the next ten days.
11:31 p.m. - 2008-11-30
Slowly getting ready for our trip to Kenya and Zanzibar. Can't find my gym bag as we're hoping to do ten days with nothing but a backpack and carry-on luggage.
Where will I put my carton of fags so Lyra won't see them?
Ok. I'm about to down my second "loading dose" of anti malarial medicine. I'm washing it down with a brandy and coke. Ok ... here it goes .... whoops. Need to get it out of the car.
6:36 p.m. - 2008-11-29
Got some shopping done for Xmas. Can't say what I bought or else it won't be a surprise.
2:03 p.m. - 2008-11-27
When we were coolin' our heels in Atlanta a few weeks ago, we went to a children's museum that was as beat up as Betty Brinn but had some better contraptions. I played with the contraptions (balls and levers and tracks) while Lyra was enthralled with "Moonsand" a kind of play sand that stays wet.
Today we looked up on how to make it and Lyra's outside up to her wrists in the gritty viscous stuff.
It's one part water mixed with two parts cornstarch mixed with four parts sand. We went to the top of a dune to get the finest wind sorted primo sand, and quickly realised that a large bowl would be required. I forgot how hard it is to mix cornstarch and water 2:1. Our popcorn bowl came in handy. We put in at least a teaspoon of green food colouring and it's just the right amount of green/gray. We've been sprinkling small amounts of sand into it as it's still a little wet. I think once it dries out a bit, it'll be ok. The sand we used is really fine; almost like silt. Something about as large as table salt crystals would be better. This stuff is like thinset but heavier.
Now I have that Cat Stevens song as an ear worm. Please take it from me!
2:18 a.m. - 2008-11-26
Is there anything worse in this whole entire fucked up world than eating a crap hamburger while the employees are forced to do a "Night Fever" dance routine next to your table? NO NO NO! War is BETTER! I could SHOOT something at least.
I could not look at them. Momentarily glancing toward them sideways hurt me. I could not look them in the eye and felt embarrassed for them. And to top if all off I had to actually shell out over 30 Dollars for this utter shite experience.
It's pissing me off just writing this -- no catharsis whatsoever.
All I wanted was a cheeseburger!
4:18 p.m. - 2008-11-22
As the weather is becoming manageable, I finally went down to Al Jadaf to hit the plant souk. I knew that it's days were numbered but it's now pretty much gone with just two lone souls manning their dwindling supplies.
I bought a few things: Flame Tree, some shiny leafed vine and other little things that I don't know. Bought a dozen impatiens.
I guess the souk is moved to the area around Dragon Mart so that's not too far away. I hope it maintains some soul.
1:59 p.m. - 2008-11-22
Yesterday we were invited over to Mariam and Mo's house. They are the parents of Meera and Majid. Meera was in Lyra's class last year.
Also in attendance was the former office administrator of Lyra's school from last year and her husband. He's American and used to fly for an Arabian airline. They lived in Saudi for 25 years.
I inferred that he probably doesn't enjoy the occasional beer but he quickly said: "Not beer so much, but wine and whiskey!" Mike said that a bottle of Johnny Walker on the black market went for 100 Dollars so he didn't have much of that. Instead, he made his own wine and distilled his own whiskey. This is a bit of reality of life in Arabia that I would have never fathomed. I figured that there WERE people who imbibed, privately in their homes but to make your own? COOL!
He said "siddique" is also widely enjoyed. Siddique means "friend" in Arabic. It's made from sugar, yeast and water. He used to steep Jack Daniels brand wood BBQ chips and other oak woods into his. What a gourmand!
Lunch was delicious. Mariam made lamb, a fish and prawn stew and the usual ancillaries of tabouleh and hummus. I'm thinking of having them over for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. The trouble with having too many for dinner is our lack of a large dining table. We usually wind up having two tables of different sizes out by the pool which actually works rather well and, unlike the last time they were over, we now have chairs that people can actually sit upon. The old patio furniture had "caning" made of plastic that was not suitable for the climate at all. The plastic weakened in a little over one year and tore when one would sit in them.
Now I have these visions of Arabic moonshiners driving souped up cars to get away from American Sheriffs.
7:06 p.m. - 2008-11-20
I'm sitting here at our health club minding Lyra and waiting for Julie.
Lyra reminded me that she and I hoped to swim on Thursdays. So we needed to run back home, get our stuff ... you know?
Typing on my mobile takes long!
Met Julie for lunch at Turkish Flowers, a tidy little place near her office.
I arrived early and they placed a nice little assortment of meze and bread with a side salad on the large side. We shared a chicken and mutton mixed Iskender. It's a little like shwarma meat in a rich yogurt sauce.
8:36 a.m. - 2008-11-19
Well over a year ago, we bought a Siemans Surpresso Compact coffee machine. Not just any coffee maker, this one grinds the beans for each portion and has the "Aroma Whirl System" whatever the heck that means. Our German engineered coffee maker can be dialed in to make espresso or dialed out to make a less concentrated cup of Joe.
It has a steam arm so you can make cappuccino if you so desire. I'd been religious in running it's cleaning and descaling function when it tells me to although I've cocked it up a couple of times where the descaling solution was not concentrated enough. I always had a difficult time in finding the official tablets that the instructions tell me to use but I did find some for another brand that MUST do the same thing.
More than a few months ago, it acted as if it were clogged. The coffee would not come out save for a few dribs and drabs. To compound matters, I slid out the side bit to look for a clog but I didn't wait long enough for it to run it's cycle so I could not get that thing back in, no way, no how. If I had my brothers with me, we could have possibly made a project out of it.
I called the number for the service center many times here in the UAE but was always told to ring somewhere else. It didn't help that the woman for both numbers had very heavy accents. Months went by and the machine was put into the storage area where it sat and sat and sat.
Julie was told of a place that is dedicated to selling appliances, Siemans being one of the brands. I eventually went there and was given not just a card but a map to the service center. I procrastinated, somewhat happy using a cafetiere and a kettle that we had never taken out of it's box.
With Julie's always gentle (thank you for your patience sweets) encouragement, I took it in late last week. Not only did I get to see a very interesting and busy "working section" of Dubai but in only three working days and about $48.00 dollars later, we now have our machine back. It had a "broken" steam valve. I'll be able to find this place if it ever needs service again.
At the store, I purchased a different kind of descaler and cleaning tabs but am fairly confident that they'll work. If they don't, well, what's $50.00? Actually, the bottle of descaler and cleaning tabs cost the same as the repair did.
I wish you could just clean it with vinegar but the instructions say to NEVER do that. The potions you DO use have all kinds of warnings on them so they're probably quite caustic.
10:31 p.m. - 2008-11-18
On Tuesdays, Lyra and I drive 50 kilometres each way for her to go to her "drama" class. It's also a late night for Jules as she needs to conference with people on Central Standard Time. I asked Lyra if she wanted to eat at the Mall Of The Emirates, where the theatre place is located.
We need to pass The Magic Planet twice each week. Surely this is the largest arcade type place I've seen. It's a multi-level indoor amusement park that must be twice as large as the bigeest "anchor" store at an average mall. It's tempting to hang there but Lyra has a chore chart that she needs to fill up a bit before she'll get to go.
Inside there is a TGIF that overlooks Ski Dubai where we decided to garbage down some American food being served by Filipina Oompa Loompas with jester hats and suspenders with stupid pins up and down them. "Baba? Why are they wearing those silly hats?" "I'....m not sure ... Their boss makes them wear them. I guess it's supposed to be funny."
In the middle of our meal, she needed to go to the toilet. I had to ask six sets of people directions to them. They were a block away, next to the 'Dodgem Cars'. She took FOREVER as our half eaten food cooled. No worries, I wasn't eating a steak or anything; far from it, though I considered one. Along the way, I noticed a Johnny Rockets who, I've recently decided, has the best mass produced burgers in my opinion. Next week I think I'll be in the mood for one (had too big of one during our mega layover in Atlanta). So we're a little tempted by this place, and seeing Lyra sized kids flying past on the ski hill makes me wonder when Julie will get her out there. I'm not a skier. I'll have to inquire about reserving their eight lane bowling alley for Lyra's birthday party. The toughest thing would be to keep the kids near the alleys with all the flashing lights, rides and video games tempting them.
We're watching Sunday's "60 Minutes" with the Obamas. Exciting times! It's like an overdue break up with a mind numbing white trash chick who's wrecked your car and backed over your dog while mulling over the latest Jerry Springer episode, and taking up with a super gorgeous, super smart woman who does all matter of red hot nasty things for you.
6:38 p.m. - 2008-11-16
12:41 a.m. - 2008-11-16
I would have been able to flick a cig to Brian May. Saw a Mega Rock show last night and it was mostly good.
Here's two things I didn't like. Before the show, they had, like one CD playing the same songs over and over. As we were standing for a long time to save our "standing area" it annoyed my hyper focusing mind. At least they were mostly good songs and of the "classic hits" that were played, I'd purged myself for enough years now where I didn't resent their familiarity (much). The second thing I didn't like was there was a drum solo.
Paul Rogers sang well, the band was tight, the light show was expensive and the company was great.
I found and carried a concrete block early on for Julie to stand on. Some guys bring their girls flowers ...
5:55 p.m. - 2008-11-13
Two doors down from us is a Dutch Family. We forgot their names and we really need to have them over for drinks and nibbles some time. They have a Bitchin' Frise dog that gets along with Bas rather well. Dude and I will sometimes have small talk about the piggish rubbish habits that affect our bin across from our villas, the raising of teens in Dubai (they have two), stuff like that.
Their daughter is, how can I say this tactfully, um "pretty." She seems to have a fair amount of suitors and chick friends who seem to be rather well connected. I've "heard" about booze bottles and have seen puke, being left laying around outside the area around their place. Being the friendly sort, I have given my salutations to the kids who loiter with her and her equally, how can I say this tactfully, "pretty" teen friends.
Today, Lyra and I went to Ace Hardware, where I bought a carbide encrusted hacksaw blade (and the frame as well) to cut the piece of shit lock off of Lyra's bike in order to clean them up and chuck some air into the tires. Upon completing some test spins, we came around the corner to find a tall young man in a second tier BMW with the plate number reading 472. According to Julie, the lower the plate number, the higher up that person is in the Royal clan. Sheik Mo has number "1".
Whether this young man is destined for big things in the Dubai government is anybodies guess but he was calling for Hottie Van Dutchiness (knap hete jonge vrouw) this evening. Maybe she'll one day be a wife of the minister of Industry or who knows what else.
Or maybe he's just her brothers homey.
Baboon update: Ronel pulled up as I was putting the bikes away. She told me what a fuss Baboo makes upon her arrival. He is getting along with Stefan now unless Ronel is around. Then, he's on her hip and the little guys world revolves around her.
The Queen concert is tomorrow. I'm not worried about rain.
6:04 p.m. - 2008-11-12
As I let my broth come to the simmer, I have a few minutes to change the videos and put down a few lines. I like The Bloody Hollies so much, I'm going to post two by them and maybe even leave them up for TWO days. I'd heard them on WMSE a long time ago but didn't explore them until now. Typical.
For you international readers, listen to WMSE.org. My favourite shows in no particular order are: Dewey Gill, Buzz's Garage, Jerry Glocka, Saturday Morning Cartunes and, The Chicken Shack. If you like whatever is new, check out The Jules Show. I occasionally give time and money to this station, that's how much I like it.
Lyra's next door for her weekly playtime with "GraceandJackandRose" their names called out in her subtle English accent collectively. I texted for her to come home as it's nearly time for tea.
I learned a new form of punishment. (I know it's a strong word but I felt like using it to pad out the entry.) When kids misbehave, it's better to give them something to do rather then withhold a privilege. I'm having her write out a short essay (like three lines) and then she can use the computer again. She's been overly whiny after VERy short car naps. No biggie. I had her copy what I wrote BUT she put in in a letter to her friend Max rather than on the lines I left between each line.
We have a new favourite way to use up roasted chicken.
Julie just came home so you'll have to ask in the comments about the chicken.
8:43 p.m. - 2008-11-10
Our Mondays and Tuesdays are, frankly, fucked when it comes to getting around. I'm not going to write as if I'm telling it to somebody who lives here this time, but, suffice it to say, things are improved at least as far as today's journey is concerned.
Lyra and I made what is usually an hour long trip in half the time. Temporary "maxi roundabouts" are now lovely interchanges (if one can call an interchange lovely, they're that welcome!).
That's it for today. Boring I know but I have The Foundations songs going through my head and though I was miserable last night, my spirit is uplifted. Hope you saw the vids as they'll be gone tomorrow.
6:15 p.m. - 2008-11-08
Late this afternoon, I escorted Lyra around back to ring for Steffi, the 10 year old, to see if she wanted to swing by for an hour before dinner. When she and her mum Ronel opened the gate, Mimi the Dachshund came ambling out and, on Ronel's hip was a tiny infant, complete with a nappy and little shorts. "That's a baboon!" I exclaimed.
Apparently a co-worker of Ronel has a friend who got the baby from some guy in Sharjah and it wasn't doing well being constantly caged while they went off to work. They gave the baby now known as "Baboo" to Ronel without cost and without any fuss. They must have known they were in over their heads once they got it home.
Stefan, the guy next door can't really get near it as it goes nuts. I guess the former "guy" owner yelled at him and who knows what else.
We were invited in for a bit where we discussed this and marveled at how the dog and the baby roughhoused on the sofa. The baby is a total imp who looks you in the eye as he tears up plants and picks up stones and continues to dig into the cookie jar, just like a human. As long as Ronel was holding him we could stroke him.
They swung by to show him to Julie and along the way, we wondered how one initially acquires a baby baboon and guessed that the mother was probably killed or, there's a place that has a breeding pair nearby. Who can say.
I'm not sure which kind of baboon it is. Dr. Aziz thinks it's from a North Central African variety. I'm not skimming any more Wikipedia to find out but I hear it does have quite the red ischial callosities.
Dr. Aziz thinks that Ronel should take care of it for another month or so while remaining in contact with the Al Ain zoo. She's really good at animal husbandry so things should turn out well for Baboo.
Not a good story but something different ya don't see everyday. As you can tell from this entry, I'm not sure how to refer to this creature. I seem to flip flop between "it" and "he/him."
11:26 a.m. - 2008-11-08
I missed a few doses of Bupropion since our return from Florida. Lyra asked me, "Why are you so grouchy?" I told her that I missed some doses of my happy medicine; to which she quickly chimed in: "BEER"?!?!
10:44 a.m. - 2008-11-08
There was a story in the paper about how it's "cool" to be American again and how "yanks" aren't so quick to hide their passports for shame.
Yes, the world looks with a bit more kindness toward us thanks to the election results.
So, as it stands, Julie and I will put off our move to Canada, Mexico or, Panama. I must say, I'm happy not to be moving away, permanently, for now.
4:53 p.m. - 2008-11-07
In Florida, we went to a Japanese garden, rather, a collection of gardens that spanned a history of them. One could buy koi food to feed to the many fishes that we encountered. Upon the first bridge that we crossed we saw a young gator who was more than happy to come and eat what we threw out for the fish. Various turtles were also diggin' on the pellets.
After we dropped off my sister and her husband, we drove about 40 minutes to see some friends that we made in India who live down South a bit in The Everglades. There we went on an airboat ride through sawgrass and saw some massive aligators upwards of 11 feet long. At this business they also had some animals on display including a panther, some black jaguar and, a crocodile who was sitting very still with it's mouth agape.
There's a part of me that wants an exotic cat in the house, something like an ocelot or a runty little cougar. I think it'd be easy-ish but you would not want to miss feedings. It's one thing when Peter gives me a nibble on the ankle to pester me.
5:55 p.m. - 2008-11-05
I didn't hate Florida where we were in The Palm Beach area, Del Ray to be exact. I don't think I'd like it during the Summer though. I'm not into heat. The beaches were great if you're into that sort of thing. And there was a thriving bar scene along the strip.
I project ourselves living in places that we visit and about two blocks from that strip and the same distance from the intercoastal waterway would be the place. Not gonna happen unless I win a sweepstakes.
Lyra was a great flower girl for our neices wedding, a very classy affair. Much of our family and my brothers in laws were there. It was a great time.
I'm hagged and have writers block.
10:07 a.m. - 2008-11-01
I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my brother and his granddaughter at the Palm Beach, Florida airport, where there was a bit of a crowd gathering both in the waiting area and on the ramp coming up from the concourse.
Everybody was watching eight grieving family members, an honour guard, representatives from what looked like law enforcement and a lone bagpiper who were gathered on the tarmac awaiting their (son? husband? father?) who was traveling in the cargo hold awaiting a flag to be draped over his casket.
My somber mood was lifted as I saw my brother come toward me with his foam fronted "gun cleaning cap" complete with fake bullet holes.
The rehearsal dinner had great food and I ate three helpings in a scene reminiscent of my teenage years. I woke twice in the evening with heartburn. I should have anticipated that but we all slept through the night.
I want to lay down for a bit but the room is being cleaned.
4:10 p.m. - 2008-10-29
I hate to hear a moaning child that won't stop. It kept me child free for a long time!
I suppose 20 hours of travel can do that. Certainly doesn't help me be patient.
Cuddle time worked a treat.
11:32 a.m. - 2008-10-28
Before jetting off for Florida in TWELVE hours I wanted to wish you all a Happy Diwali which is the celebration of the victory of good over evil.
So wake up early for a nice hot 'n oily Ganga Snaanam and say a little puja for an Obama triumph!
8:16 a.m. - 2008-10-28
Ok, so the friendly security guard at Gate 4 at the school tells me I need a visitors pass; the kind you wear around your neck and a sticker for the car and has me go to admissions for more details. This is what I need to do:
-Furnish yet another photo of myself
Why they can't just copy down our plate numbers is kind of beyond me. Is every nanny / driver / other parent going to need to do this too? The school seems rather secure as it is.
I can see getting a little sticker for the car and even a pass on a lanyard but why supply all the pictures, passports, etcetera? Let me show you my drivers license and be done with it. I think I'll try to take a picture of me rolling my eyes or looking menacing.
Lyra was invited to a "Princess" birthday party. Fortunately, I had a reason to send our regrets as we'll be at a wedding. I cringe about that stuff (I've filtered my language here). I'm all down with pretend things but I want my daughter to grow up to be a tough broad. I hurts my insides enough when she wears pink but I stay strong.
It said that "mothers and daughters" can wear swimming suits. "Mothers" was underlined.
Speaking of ladies, we have an awesome new park within walking distance. It's really nice but from Sunday, through Thursday, it's for women and children only. That is kind of annoying. I can see having it segregated, oh, ONCE a week? When in Rome ... I guess.
11:54 p.m. - 2008-10-27
I'm selling my Harmony Rocket soon. If you want in on it, message me or leave a comment.
Mon chaud ou non des avis me fait s'interroger sur Club des cheveux pour les hommes.
8:14 a.m. - 2008-10-26
Dubai Municipality puts dumpsters all around the neighbourhoods for people to place their rubbish into. They are emptied regularly and, in our neighbourhood at least, they seldom get full.
And one reason they don't is that certain people DON'T PUT THE RUBBISH INTO THE BIN!!! It's one thing to put something that somebody else can use, say clothing or aluminium waste that dumpster divers can re-use or re-cycle.
I can't tell you how many times I've had to put other peoples shit into the bins. And I speak about stuff like huge pieces of glass, near bursting, fly infested food (and who knows what else) waste. I've had to pull Basil out of broken florescent tubes laying NEXT to the bin? I mean, come on! There's trace amounts of mercury in those!
I'm sounding more and more like Kevin Klein in A Fish Called Wanda and the volume of my voice is increasing as I yell, ASSHOLE!
Any cool things about being here get outweighed when stuff like that happens. It makes me wish I were back home tuning up the snowblower instead of enjoying the pleasant winter here.
I stuck an old picture of myself onto Hot Or Not, or, as I like to call it, Hor Or Bore. I'm generally hotter than 60% of the blokes there and that's just not good enough so I edited a picture of me and an old girlfriend where we were at a friends wedding, shit, many years ago. It was scanned and sent to me by the bride. It's a good picture, especially of me, naturally. My dimples are huge, my teeth; not so yellow and I have a heap of hair in a pseudo quiffy pompadour looking thing. The hair kind of resembles what "Teddy" sported in the old Davey And Goliath religious program except I'm not wearing glasses.
I don't go to Hor Or Bore too often, maybe once every 8 months or so. I've found out that there are changes there and one needs to waste time and "rate" people in order to for themselves to be rated.
I attribute low votes completely to jealousy.
In editing the photo, I needed to block out surrounding bits (not only my date) so I used an oval black matting feature and it looks kind of like the kind of picture that might be on one of those funeral remembrance cards. Creepy! But my rating is now more at the acceptable "hotter than 70%" level. Here's the link if you want to see me looking a bit too much like a young Republican.. You can even rate me on how much hotter I was then.
Stuff like this is how I remain chipper without drugs or gallons of alcohol.
12:58 p.m. - 2008-10-25
Lyra has "My Weekend Journal" where she's to draw a picture and write about what she's drawn. As we were driving home today, I asked her what she was going to put into it. Here are some of the things that we did this weekend:
--- Made alphabet soup.
--- Spent half the day swimming and sunning at the health club.
--- Made two drawings for Rose and Jack's birthday.
--- Played in her fort made from a blanket over chairs.
--- Went to GraceandJackandRose's (she pronounces collectively, the kids next doors names) for tea and ice cream cake.
--- Drove 60km to The Barracuda for 854AED worth of beer, spirits and digestifs.
She drew her picture and dictated to me what she wanted to say to wit:
"This is my baba and me shopping at the liquor store."
I know. I SHOULD have left it at that but, for the sake of "increasing her word output," I asked her if we should lengthen it a bit and; because I'm telling her syllable by syllable how to spell, it came out:
"This is my baba and I shopping at the shop. We drove a long way and were stuck in traffic."
"Shopping at the shop." I am ashamed of myself for such terrible redundancy.
5:46 p.m. - 2008-10-23
Our preferred carpet guy Amhed came by today, just in time as I'm in the market for another rug and I need it toot sweet. He showed me one made from camel hair. It was modern looking and really nice but I'm looking for something that's reddish and more traditional.
He didn't have a lot of stock with him so I told him to come back tomorrow morning with more stuff. He left us with an 85 year old Iranian rug that's purplish black and, thus far I'm leaning toward that one although the other one he left here is also very cool. I sincerely hope that I can bargain as good as Julie does.
A friend of mine said I can get better deals on ebay but I think that there is higher quality with what we've been getting insofar as stitches per inch and all that jazz.
وبعد ذلك ، وانا ذاهب إلى البركودة غدا مع طفلي. ربما ، فقط ربما سنذهب إلى حديقة للألعاب المائية ، ولكن في الغالب أنا سوف يذهب إلى الحصول على البيرة والبراندي. أنا استنزاف آخر من الأردن المقطر براندي. أنا أيضا شراء بعض Kahlua كما أنا في الانهيارات الطينية في بعض الحالات.
Lyra and I whipped up some chicken vegetable soup with alphabet noodles this afternoon. As I was using up a cooked roasted chicken, I wasn't able to use the carcass in the stock. I suppose I could have chucked the bones in but I figured there wasn't much flavour to be had.
I used some organic "no salt added" vegetable cubes and boy, I needed to add, I'll bet, a heaping teaspoon of salt to a small pot of soup. We enriched it, too, with some anchovy and tomato pastes.
Lyra wanted me to say that last night, when I told her that she needed to eat something she said "No, I eat baba's blood." Har de har har!
I'm going to bid on a vintage pickguard for my Harmony Rocket. I'll still need to find screws and a mounting bracket but then, it'll probably go on the auction block. I love it but I want a different hollow body now and when I purchased it, it was with the full intention of making a profit.
8:46 a.m. - 2008-10-23
I have a facebook page but it's not my real name. I'll probably lose it for posting this.
It's fun ... a little, but I am not liking the quizzes and shit where they scan your profile / friends, etc. I'm not into giving out my info for nothing.
Market to me boyeee ...
Did you know that employers will look at your facebook page to find out about you.
7:39 a.m. - 2008-10-21
We had our first PTO meeting last night (a real yawnfest) and as long as Myla was coming over to mind Lyra, we waited til after the meeting to grab a bite. It was like an impromptu mini-date.
I'd been in the mood to hit the Belgian Beer Bar at The Crown Plaza for awhile. I was hoping we would be seated on the patio overlooking The Creek but that waiting list was very long.
I dropped Julie off to snag a table and thought, because Basil was in the car, I'd just self park it, avoiding the valet service but that's not allowed. I was about to leave it in the fire lane (how Emirati!), but then, the valet approached me. Basil is a good boy, albeit a little stinky at the moment so I'm not worried about him tearing up the attendant, I just don't want them to be afraid. Well, it wasn't the first time, so I let the guy know that there's a dog in the car but he's friendly. He waggled his head and off he went.
I dare say that the designers did a fairly adequate job with the interior of the bar, because once you're inside, it does resemble an aged eet cafe of sorts. It's not like one is transported to Clermont-Sur-Berwinne, but they do have a fairly extensive (bottled) Belgian Beer menu and, something I'd been craving for the last month. Mussels.
Yes, big pots of steaming mussels cooked in varying styles. I had two bottles of Moorgat Maredsesous 6 and mussels Meuniere, loaded with celery and onion cooked in their own juices whereas Julie had them Thai style in a coconut milk infused sauce and loaded with vegetables. The mussel pots are served with a more-ish paper cone of thick-ass pomme frites and a side of mayo for dipping.
I devoured all of mine while Julie left a fair amount of those succulently luscious, vaginal shaped morsels for me to polish off, and, as she's watching her diet, there was even some mayo left in her dish for me to dip into, my few remaining fries.
Though we weren't outside, Julie got us a table, upstairs with a great view and, as a dhow slowly cruised by, I enjoyed staring across the table with teary eyes, saying nice things to her.
As a different valet returned the car, he did a little double-take toward the back seat. I smile when I think of what little nasal groan caused him to quickly look behind him.
8:08 a.m. - 2008-10-20
It's getting close to winter and that means that camping is right around the corner.
You can't camp without a fire so, when I see felled trees, I take saw in gloved hand and collect firewood.
There was a tree which I could not possibly lift onto the rack atop our car so I took the only thing I have which is a bow saw to trim it up. The trunk is about 36cm in diameter and the wood is quite green. The humidity was hovering around 75% and I quickly decided that I wasn't going to saw the thing up in those conditions.
I had locked Lyra into the house while I went around the corner to get this thing and when I came back I asked her if she wanted to help drag the thing back using the car. She was down with that idea! I taught her how to fix the frayed end of a nylon rope using a lighter and she was very helpful in untangling it when needed.
I also snagged a 2x4 board as well. The thing is LONG! It's almost too good to cut up for firewood but I have no other use for it. At least it won't go into a landfill.
I'm like my dad sometimes.
1:53 p.m. - 2008-10-17
Am I swearing enough in my entries? A simple "heck yeah" or "fuckin' A" will suffice.
10:00 a.m. - 2008-10-17
Or, how to be passive aggressive with one's colon.
Ok, for brekkies today, I had two slices of bacon, not drained, two butter basted eggs, two slices of multi-grained bread fried in bacon fat and two small bowls of Heinz baked beans all washed down with a big glass of cold skim milk.
Fortunately, I drank a half bottle of Pinotage last night with our whole wheat Rigate en brodo with chicken and artichoke.
I better let another bottle of red start to breathe as tonight's vein drain serum.
8:30 a.m. - 2008-10-17
I was glad to see that both published letters were on my side, so to speak.
I think that a reason I don't pursue more in the music scene is because of the stories I hear about needing licensing, and the anecdotes about having to play only covers (yeah, like I'm a wellspring of original material).
I'll write back to the paper hoping to improve the scene here in my own little non-paying way.
8:30 a.m. - 2008-10-16
We get a free newspaper each day called 7Days. For a little paper, it is not such a bad little piece of fluff to pass the time for 15 minutes in the morning.
I especially like the "letters" section where people moan a lot about the state of living here. They make it easy to send a letter to the editor through a simple email.
I've had one printed in the past and for the life of me, I don't even remember what it was about. I'll have to try to find it. I think it's in this blog somewhere.
Yesterday's FRONT PAGE(?!!!) headline was: GEORGE TO PLAY PALACE which told the story of George Michael coming to play Abu Dhabi. And that prompted a little diatribe from me:
I usually spew the written word out and don't censor much, proof read except for a cursory glance or, take the time to really consider what I'm about to say before I press the send button.
It was the "featured letter" today, October 16th, 2008 in a little blue boxed section of the letters page. I was a bit miffed that they shortened my signature from Dubai Dick to DD. I should have signed it Dick Satan.
I LOVE the way the heading and the link "exclaims" "Rock ... Fan .... Doesn't .... Think .... Much"
If they only knew just how much I truly do "think."
Feel free to stick up for George Michael or, better yet, agree with me and get the powers that be to contact me for my research services in some booking agency or something like that:
6:02 p.m. - 2008-10-14
We have 45 minutes to make this journey but if there's a fender bender, look out! Even with clear sailing, the Um Suquiem is usually chocka as one gets within a km of our turn off past the Lulu Hypermarket into the Mall of The Emirates where we need to go all the way up to the roof just to look for parking that is fairly assured near our entrance.
Then, because Lyra takes a catnap that lasts JUST long enough for her to wake up clingy and grouchy, we need to almost run (me carrying her if she has HER way) to make it TO the washroom (where she needs to pee) in order to change OUT of her uniform and get her into class.
If we're lucky, she's a minute or two tardy. Last week we aborted even going into the class as we were so late. At least there's a little library there so we can pick up some books for her. Anyway, back to our trip today.
I was peeved that I took this different way but it was going along rather well until we got to the second or third roundabout where, you guessed it, there was an accident. Delay number one. That added five minutes. She decided to take her normal napski but I said to her that it might be worth it just to stay awake as the ski hill was in plain view. Then delay number two. Yes, the chocka block near the end of our journey -- ten additional minutes.
We parked the car, made the 1/4 carried run down the escalator, moaning kept to a minimum as I explained the need for speed and dashed to the loo which was slippery and wet as it had just been mopped where she did her duty and we changed her into a tee shirt and jeans that are as tight as Iggy Pops which force her panties into a bundle and she bitches about it the entire 60 steps to the studio where, thankfully, they're still taking attendance.
This was after a day spent sitting for three hours at the Mazda service center where I was getting what I thought was a xenon bulb replaced (it WASN'T fucking xenon, I could have replaced it myself ... grrr).
I'm glad I asked because I was considering getting some scheduled maintenance done but THAT takes 2.5 DAYS! I'll make sure to A) NOT take the hour it takes to go there just before the techs take their lunch or B) NOT GO THERE! or C)Kill myself.
Seeing that I had Julie's somewhat shit hot saloon, I took it upon myself to do some deviation to the ride home by detouring to Manama Road rather than going to Tunisia Road. That led me to Academic City Road where the speed limit is an unenforced (with speed cams) 80kph. I averaged about 140 on that bit and was being passed like I was standing still. Before you think ill of me for driving like that with my precious cargo in the rear, do not. She was asleep so I wasn't getting back seat driven.
I've always wanted to take that way to decrease tedium and discovered that is where a waste water treatment plant is. Lined up were well over 200 tanker trucks queuing up to dump their loads.
I can "almost" appreciate a few of them dumping their tanks down the storm sewers where they contaminate the beaches. Yes, this is what's in the news lately.
Even though I had the fan on re-circulate, I was still getting whiffs of raw sewerage. I switched to the semi-manual mode in the car and attempted some high speed roundabout power slides. I wussed out though because of my passenger.
I finally got to Tunisia Road and the end was in sight; until I took the right onto Algeria. FOCK! I'd never seen it so backed up!
Because Dubai sucks, they generally have intersections that would alleviate things like that blocked off with cones with rope and streamers. This would be a case in point, even though the road that WOULD take the traffic is open from the other side of the dual carriageway. I made an illegal U-Turn using the U-Turn lane that is dedicated to the OPPOSITE direction. Illegal (but safe) manouvres are a joy to deviant me.
Aside from a beautiful sunset with the iconic Burj Dubai just to the right, the only thing good about today was being able to watch cuddly animal shows on the telly in the waiting room at Mazda.
I need a drink.
6:51 p.m. - 2008-10-13
I'm not sure what can compare in levels of cute-ness than the voice of a five year old singing along with Johnny Cash emanating from the rear seat. I remember being told of her friend Clara singing along with Cash more than two years ago so that was probably pretty gosh darn cute but I had not heard it with my own ears.
I think that Lyra's learning a bit about the cruel, cruel world from her accompanying some of her favourite songs: 'Don't take your guns to town son. Leave your guns at home Bill! Don't take your guns to town ... chik chikka chik chikka chik ...'
Then again, she's also learning about remaining faithful to the one you love. 'Hollywood could offer more, so she left the boy next door, working at the candy store ...'
Encouraging her empathy with animal rights: '... kill just one more! Remind Anita, you're the greatest -- matador!' I smile til it hurts and resist adjusting the mirror to watch her lest she feels self conscious.
I think that St. Nick will have to consider a box set of Johnny Cash or at least the somewhat recent American Recordings series that he did a few years before his death.
10:44 a.m. - 2008-10-13
Did you know that South Africans drink brandy and Coke? I find it interesting that SA has this in common with Wisconsin. What other similarities are there between say, Milwaukee and Johannesburg? Maybe they can be "twinned" as sister cities.
KWV Brandy, the five year old kind anyway, is pretty much on par with E&J, but I'm not sure if it is on equal footing with Korbel.
Happy 90th birthday to KWV Brands!
I have a new favourite non-alcoholic malt beverage. It used to be Barbican, made locally in the UAE but now it's Moussy, made in of all places, Switzerland.
I've been formulating a jingle for Moussy as I drive around running errands. But it hasn't come to anything as of yet.
4:30 p.m. - 2008-10-12
When I was quite skilled at this:
8:13 a.m. - 2008-10-12
My diving date was yesterday. I woke up at 0400 and came downstairs to wait for my drive all the way to Jumeirah to catch the bus which comes BACK nearly to our house on it's way to Fujairah, on the East Coast of the peninsula.
It's more than two hours to get there and I might be inclined to drive there next time but then you don't get to meet up with fellow divers nor sleep on the journey which is what I was able to do a bit.
The dive center has a branch at The Meridien Al Aqah and has at least three 50+ feet boats with twin Suzuki 225 Four Strokes powering them. They are basic and purpose built for just this type of thing, with tank holders, hatches, medical emergency equipment. Waivers had been signed on the bus journey and it made me wonder if I SHOULD get dive insurance. If I get into it, I will because I don't think my life insurance would cover me were my lungs to explode or were I to drown. I cut up one shin and one knee getting on board and bled on the journey out.
The first dive was at "martini island" which is supposed to look like an upturned martini glass. It doesn't and why are they naming stuff after alcohol related things anyway. I wonder what the locals used to call it. Probably, "al rock". Saw loads of different fishes in rather large schools and went down 17 meters (over 55 feet).
I had to come up a tiny bit while I was equalizing my ears during the descent. That first dive was to last 45 minutes but my air hogging ass started to run out after only half an hour. Divemaster Ronald 1 had me go to a safety stop for three minutes and after surfacing, I paddled around as there was still a lot to see with all the fish. It was also kind of cool to see just how deep 55 feet looks as I could see the others still down there.
Besides at least 15 species of fish, we saw some very purple corals and a four foot moray eel. I wasn't going to touch anything as I wasn't wearing gloves and it's not a good idea to touch coral at all as it kills it.
You do deep dives first when having more than one and the next one went down 7 meters (23 feet). We floated over a field of rice corals seeing three sea turtles and (I saw) three black tipped reef sharks about four feet long. I think I saw at least three varieties of parrot fish and pretty much each of the fish one might see in a coral setting. If I were to guess, I'd say that I saw at least 50 different species of fish and invertebrates. I asked other experienced divers how this dive rates amongst their other dives and they said they've had better visibility in The Red Sea but none really compared with the diversity of species that this dive had.
When you're down there with all these schools of fish, certain ones seem to emit a kind of static, I'm guessing, to confuse predators. Some people saw cuttlefish which I didn't notice so I guess I'll have to look at them for the time being at the fish counter at Spinney's.
I had 200 bars of air in my second dive tank so I was able to stay down the entire hour but I was well into the "red zone" of less than 50 bars so had I run out, I would not have had to share with a buddy but just go up. It was cool.
I was talking with a Swiss guy (thanks to him, I'll know where to go in Egypt if we do a beach holiday while here, NOT Hurghada, but Sharm el Sheikh), and he dives in the cold water lakes in Switzerland in water that's pretty much just above freezing. I heard one needs special regulators for that kind of thing. Regular regulators (heh) have a piston inside whereas cold water ones have a membrane type thing. No small matter if I'm going to be the carp spearfishing king upon our return to Milwaukee.
I'm kind of tired while writing this, so, if you comment with your questions, I'll answer them.
9:21 a.m. - 2008-10-10
Well they probably aren't a walk in the rain if you're a woman but I'd just be guessing.
Lyra went to a birthday party for a classmate of hers. Coincidentally, it was at the same hotel (Grand Hyatt) where we had the brunch last week. They have a "Kidz Club" area with a specialty pool just for the little 'uns.
I was shown who the parents were by the party organizer chick and I introduced myself to the dad. He had a shiny artificial arm and just a thumb and either his pinky or ring finger on the other arm. I shook his real hand (thank Allah that it was the right one as I always feel weird having to shake the wrong hand), thanked him for the invitation to the party and, as it was still slow, asked him how he lost his bits. He said, in an aww shucks manner, "the war" and I asked then, "which one?" He was in the Afghan war with the Soviets. He had a chair brought over for me and we started to have what turned out to be intermittent conversations about stuff.
Well, I'm practically a professor of recent Afghan history aren't I? Yes, it's been about two years since I read "The Kite Runner" but I just recently finished "A Thousand Splendid Suns" (kind of a heavy chick flick in book form) and saw Tom Hanks in "Charlie Wilson's War" while flying back from The States, so don't EVEN try to tell me I don't know a thing or two about these regional clashes.
I think dudes name is something like Rrrr(trill that "r)tia but can't remember for sure. He spent some time living in New York, was married to a Michigander for awhile, had his green card but regrets not getting citizenship like much of his family did.
He seems like a good egg.
Part of what we spoke about was his ex's half Polish heritage (stay with me here). I guess HER family were "barons" in Poland before totalitarianism took their lands. After Solidarnosc' and all that stuff, they went back to Poland and got all their lands back! Lucky ducks!
I was telling him that I've been in discussions with MY Polish family as of late, learning, quickly, bits n bobs about our recent generational history.
I guess that his family in Afghanistan were also land owners, and after the war with The Soviets, The Taliban took over. Squatters had assumed control of what was originally theirs. He was able to show true documentation of his / their ownership and was able to get it back.
He has business interests in Kabul, Bejing and, I think some other places. His business does a fair amount of stuff for the U.S. Military (I think mostly physical security). Naturally, I learn this after some "mild" rants about war profiteering. DOH!
His brother, Rashid, who looks as much a brother as my brother Steve and I do, was also pretty fun to speak with. Mind you, the conversation was pretty spotty. After all, we were at a crazy children's party.
I dissed my governments history with interventions, as I am wont to accurately do, and expressed my disdain for nearly ALL media and Rashid told me that the U.S. really isn't to blame so much in this instance. It is the Afghan government. I countered with something blowhardy like "Yeah, but who put THEM in charge?" I forgot what he said to that exactly but was then told, after I tried to ask "Isn't Afghanistan made up of many different (and I used the term) "tribes(!)."
He told me that it is 47% Pashtun and the rest minority and that Karzai, a Pashtun, screwed it up by not taking into account the needs of the minority.
Or something like that.
Mansur's (the birthday boy) mom, told me that some mum's were speaking about some concerns that they were having about Lyra's teacher. I was glad that they included me and told them so. What they were concerned about seemed pretty mild to me but I let them know that I would maintain my vigilance in this matter.
I find Lyra's broadly spread "cheekboned" teacher mildly and interestingly attractive so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
10:20 a.m. - 2008-10-08
I've been in a lot of contact with family thanks to reconnecting with our cousin in France.
The conversation moved to that side of the family's roots up in Northern Wisconsin and I started surfing the web looking for bits of info.
I found a video that reminded me of a great, but too short of a trip, my only time there in the winter. It was a bunch of people snowmobiling in that same area. It inspired me to take 10 minutes to compose this:
I miss home. Home where the trails are sweet. Where the women you meet, love to eat and eat and eat. The diet beer, from out of state(!) still goes down, right down to their seat.
Yes, I miss my home, smoking in the tavern with deer sausage and cheddar. Can't wait to get back, 'cause nuthin's better.
Ok. So it took five minutes. Sorry.
8:28 p.m. - 2008-10-06
I need to start reading my dive manual again to refresh my lessons as I'm going on Saturday, bright and early.
Went out for Mexican tonight. I enjoyed my shrimp a LOT. Would have been nice had some tortillas come with it just because I'm used to that. The guacamole was prepared table side. They started with a rather warm mortar that had a good amount of olive oil in it then added onion, tomato and chili's if you wanted them. Really good margaritas that I had them blend with some tamarind pulp. A little on the sweet side so next time, I'll smuggle some tequila to put into them. Yes, it was non-licensed which is no real whoop (as I type with shaky hands).
I'm talking about food a lot lately. YAWN!
When at brunch on Friday, there was a Chinese family from Hong Kong. The grandparents were visiting their son and their newish grandchild who is a real cutie. Our adoption agency classified babies by calling them peanuts (tiny) or buddhas (chubby). This one was a real cutie who's cheeks were so fat that they almost closed her eyes. Lyra was making "Chinese" eyes and commenting on them (in her open, honest and somewhat loud way). We told her that her eyes are beautifully almond shaped as well.
I wonder if it's kind of a high yella thing?
8:25 a.m. - 2008-10-04
Not much to report. Went to brunch yesterday where we caught a nice buzz on a tasty Italian sparkling wine plus a smooth Sicilian red. We idled away hours there, getting course after course of food.
Tried to get Lyra to like some sweet crab meat but she chewed and chewed, asking what it was before spitting it back on MY dish! She could have used the bread plate that was sitting idly by.
The early drinks had the two of us grown-ups napping after coming home while Lyra watched some strange cartoons in addition to classic Pink Panther, or, rather e' Pantera Rosario. Either way. They're funny in both languages.