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2:00 p.m. - 2008-01-09
Lyra's Birthday and Muharram

Today, Lyra turns five years old. I brought a cake and single use camera to her class today where she was moved to tears "it felt nice" she said. "What made my eyes start to tear was when I looked at Bashir." Why? "I don't know, it was just my feelings."

She's showing me her art from school. Liking the arms and hands coming out of the heads, but what's this? Lyra in rain with a "brolly" and a sidewalk with rain on it and an arm coming from her shoulder. That's a framer.

Julie has a surprise gift for her that even I don't know about (the way I like gifts, for me and for others).

She doesn't know this as I write, but she has a shiny new bike. I thought I'd go to Dragon Mart (huge sprawling outlet type mall of Chinese goods) but as I was near Wolfi's bike shop (a Time Out Magazine 'best independent shop in Dubai'), I went in. Came really close to getting her a 24 inch 18(?) speed bike. As it didn't have training wheels nor a chain guard, I didn't go for it opting instead for a 16 inch with full chain guard, front hand brake and rear coaster brake.

They have great bikes from Scott (Switzerland) and Stork (Germany) being the only ones that are carried. I looked at a couple of full size carbon fibre mountain bikes that cost $7,400 bucks. Not a bad price if you see them. Plus they're tax free. Lyra's wasn't that much. As she'll outgrow it rather quickly, it, more so than even her retro Radio Flyer tricycle should have some resale value.

Julie texted me asking how much hers was and I told her "cheap", which it was considering it's all aluminium.

Aaack! How did this turn into a boring kid centered blog! I'd tell you about a song I'm writing but that'll never happen until any song is done. I will say that it's a little influenced by a Danko Jones song. Not the style, rather, subject handling.

Tomorrow begins the Islamic New Year. The month of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic liturgical year. The Islamic year begins on the first day of Muharram, and is counted from the year of the Hegira (anno Hegirae)—the year in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to (funky cold ed.) Medina (A.D. July 16, 622). The new year in 2008 marks the beginning of A.H. 1429.

The Islamic new year is celebrated relatively quietly, with prayers and readings and reflection upon the hegira.

Well, I have some black and white pussy on my lap so I better pay some attention to that. "Come here sweetie". She's a drooler.


4:06 p.m. - 2008-01-07
Gay Metal Bits

Whew! I have the neighbour kids over all crowded on the sofa taking swirly, twirly photos with I Photo on my mac. The shot of me above (sans guitar) was taken with this rather remarkable program.

I need to learn to post more photos on this blog or whack them onto fototime.

It RAINED this morning; enough to moisten the streets and muddy the car. I even had to put my wipers on LOW. The last few days have been quite windy. The roof top pump rooms (we have three(!) of them) sheet metal cover was flapping, hanging by only a few paltry sheet metal screws. I weighed it down with some bricks. The thing is about 8 sq meters in a rectangular shape and about 7mm thick. It sounded like a foley artists thunder making device 'whukka whukka-ing" up there. It could guillotine a person.

Lyra's birthday is Wednesday and she and I went to the party store to get plates and napkins for her cake which she's bringing to school. We went from tropical design to cowboy design (horses) before I grudingly led her to the aisle that had girly horsey on them. I knew she'd like them so I "let' her discover them and try as I might, she didn't go for the super cool jolly rogers. The thought of the boys having to wear the princess-ie pointy hats was a consolation prize for me. Ain't I a stinker?

Many parents get the entire student body presents for their kids birthday, a tradition that will stop with us. One tradition that will continue, however will be the annual Bowling Party for Lyra and her friends.

Because, upon our return to Milwaukee, I plan on inviting many of the school friends, I think then, we'll need to rent out A) The entire Bay View Bowl or B) A good portion of another establishment that caters to keglers. Hopefully the kids will be good enough so as not to require bumpers and we'll be able to still have the B- jukebox available.

I have a feeling that by then, the kids will have the attitude: "Bumpers are gay" Hopfully that expression will be passe because bumpers are not "happy". indeed, they are non-living.

Why don't sharp 60's expressions return like, "boss", or "pounds cool"? No instead they use the Victorian "Gay" by jingo.

Kind of reminds me of the Flintstone episode where Fred, et al get transported into the future and instead of doing the Watusi, they waltz and foxtrot. Well, if the Right Wing stays in power (nope, not gon' a say it).

Speaking of dancing and the 60's. did you know the "Gorilla" is done to "The Monkey" and "Watusi" now?


9:29 p.m. - 2008-01-04
Hmm. Actually had fun!

Went for a first real desert dune cruise where we deflated the tyres and everything. There were nine cars which is probably twice what should be in a convoy. One guy kept getting stuck and we were stuck-ish one time but keeping it in first gear in 4-wheel high dragged us right on out.

Driving in sand is SO different than snow. There is no real comparison. Snow is easier. I brought beer along and seeing that we were with Julie's bosses and some co-workers, I waited to pop one open. As soon as the cool, into metal type Slovaks brought out their tallboys, I was there. Julie's boss Wilfred (cool dude that Wilfred) was drinking beer too. Waited to see how much they flouted the zero tolerance drink driving laws.

Julie's other boss locked he and his son out of their car so there were a few delays.

Not too much distance was covered but the FJ made it back in one piece.

Sand dunes have a 45degree upslope and a 60 degree or more downslope. There was a time where I counted my luck that the airbags didn't deploy.

Wilfred has a kind of a beater Jeep Cherokee that works rather well in the sand. It's light. I thought that my brother in law Greg would like to know this.

When I got stuck-(ish), the guy named Killian (has a lot of experience in this driving gave me the pointer to take it out of DRIVE and put it in first and keep it there.

If anybody comes for a visit, look forward to some dessert driving. I'm not keen on doing it during the hot months as the thought of getting out to push, pull, drag or dig abhors me.

I'm an excellent driver.


11:03 a.m. - 2008-01-01
Sponge Me

New Years Day and neither of us are hungover!

I think I'll go and be useful but probably will get sidetracked, instead, the day will go something like this:

Go upstairs.

Oh, hello Jet. (pet pet)

Open door to "The Boy's Room" sigh and drag myself into the shower.

Re-enter room, sigh and put on some music.

Pick up guitar and play along with what's on the stereo.

Hang up a shirt, leave others on the chair.

Re-arrange room, leave unfinished.

See? I'm better at blogging it than doing it.

What a boring entry.

Ok, here: I'm now going to luxuriously soap up my body.

No longer a boring entry. Think of me when YOU'RE in the shower ... Ha ha!


10:21 p.m. - 2007-12-27
Do Sheep Have Animated Googly Eyes When Slaughtered
Oh, that zany Eid Al Adha!

Segue on Egyptian telly where they wish a streamer-ie ballooned, Happy Eid Al Adha and a simplistic smiling sheep head animation goes all jiggly eyed. "WHOOPS! GUESS I'M THE DINNER!!!!" It seems to imply.

Lyra's hastily befriended six year old playmate asks: "Did you kill a sheep yesterday (brings finger across his neck)? We did!''

Yes, livestock was well in evidence all over the streets of Cairo on the eve of their demise. Sheep, goats (bawwwwww! My favourite!), steer, were all in transit on the eve of their demise.

IF YOU GO TO THE PYRAMIDS, SKIP THE SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW! Unless you enjoy laughing at the lame innanity of it all. How do bagpipes figure into this???? Why do they still bow to former colonialism?

Our guide, one of several Mohammeds, this one in particular going by his preferred: Mario; steering us away from a feasting dog pulling on the bowels of, probably a cloven beast as Lyra asks: "Is that sausage?" And I reply: "Yeah, in a matter of speaking" on our way to dinner.

I'll write more about this trip later on. Read Julie's blog for a more "fair and balanced" report. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of fantastic antiquities that we loved and Lyra could care less about. But hey, she had a grasp of heiroglyphics which is fun even though she has no idea what they are or how to say: hi ron gli picks.


12:24 a.m. - 2007-12-13
Why Our Four (and 11/12) Year Old Cannot Live On Her Own

I drive Lyra to and from school five times a week. There are those mornings where she's quiet and I'm quiet. Sometimes we listen to Holly Golightly or The Talons or other quality garage rock; maybe Bossa Nova.

Then there are days when we speak as if we're both tripping our brains out.

Lyra: I had a dream.
Me: Tell me about it.

L: I dreamt that you and Mama lived in Dubai and I lived in Milwaukee.
Me: Really! How did that work out.

L: Wellllll... I don't think I can live alone.
Me: Go on.

L: Well, I can reach things in the fridge ...
Me interupting (a habit I constantly fight with) What happens when you run out of stuff in the fridge?

L: I can go grocery shopping.
Me: Yeah. You're good at that. Especially avocados.

L: But the most important reason that I can't live alone is because I can't reach up to the high things because I'm still little and I need you to reach.

We've been telling her, no, gearing her up for her taking care of us when we're old (about ten years off?). She isn't always receptive to this.

Lyra: I don't need to do that.
R or J: Oh yes you do. We changed your poopie diapers and you might need to do that for us!

Lyra: YUK!
R not usually J: You might need to feed us with a spoon. But you'll be happy to do it because we teach you so many cool things. In China, it is the duty, no the HONOUR to take care of the elderly.

L: How come?
R or J: Because the elderly are wise.

L: What's wise?
R don't know what J's answer to this is: Wise is all the things that you learn during your lifetime. It's kind of like being clever.

L: Will my children do that for me?
R: If you teach them well. But don't have kids untll you're at least 30.

L: How come?
R: Well, some people don't wait and then they later feel that they miss out on a lot of fun.

L: How come?
R: When you're in your 20's it's usually a lot of fun. It's also fun when you're in your 30's too.

L: How come?
R: (thinking) You can drink, whore it up, play nine ball (R gets wistful).

"Ok. Backpack. Look left. Look right. Look left again. Look Right. ching ching! (kiss) (Russ hawks hottie teacher at the door but not Miss Emily...) see you at 1:30. Caught your kiss, put it in my pocket."


10:16 p.m. - 2007-12-10
I bought a snowblower
Well, had a lot of help getting it.

Have been considering getting one for the past few years as I enter heart attack age and now that we have two petite flowers holding down the fort on Pryor Avenue. They being busy party gals with lawyer problems convinced me to quit my favourite form of winter exercise.

I've been gently explaining to Susan the proper way to clear the unlikely ice jams and how to use Sta-bil when storing it off season. She's so smart but being the worrying uncle, do not wish her to lose her violiin virtuosity. More importantly, I want her to dazzle blokes at bars with her knowledge of preventing varnish formation on carbuerators and seals.

Nope. Don't expect many ice jams with this machine:

Honda HS928WA Snowblower

• Honda's GX270 Engine
• Meets EPA and CARB Standards
• Self-Propelled Wheel Drive
• Infinitely Variable Speed Control/Hydrostatic Drive Train
• 28" Clearing Width, 20" Clearing Height
• A Single Lever Accurately Adjusts Ground Speed Without Affecting Auger Rotation Speed
• 210Ί Adjustable Discharge Chute Easily Controlled From Operating Position

Julie was just explaining to Lyra that she's going to get a really great guy when she gets older due to her hearty cucumber burps. Lyra asked what that meant. Julie said that when she gets married she'll get a real great guy, just like baba. I say: "How true."

Lyra is having the first Harry Potter book read to her. We suppress laughter remembering learning at Fernwood's reading "workshop" to let them ask whatever they want during reading, which happens oh, about every half paragraph. With this, we remain remarkably patient.

Congrats to Transistor Royale's first gig at Cactus Club and Happy Birthday to Ric Satan - Royale. Make sure to look for them. RIYL The Dick Satan Trio with an organ and a drummer who ENJOYS practice.


10:42 a.m. - 2007-12-09
If I Hunger Struck
So the French aid workers jailed in Chad for trying to get children out are on a hunger strike. "They have begun their hunger strike, but are continuing to drink water and smoke."

I used to think, while waiting for the Number 14 bus. "I have bus fare and my pack of Kools; no worry!

I'm trying to come up with a cheap way to water the containers on the patio while we are gone for 10 days. Thinking of milk jugs with tiny holes punched into them but am afraid of clogs. Oh well whatever. Maybe I'll score a drip irrigator and hook it to the shower head.

Speaking of plumbing, I need to get under the sink and tighten the faucet assembly. May switch the water supply lines so they won't be bass ackward. The sinks overflow leads nowhere except under the sink. I discovered that without too much flooding a couple of months ago. I BETTER not need a basin wrench. I think I left it in Milwaukee (just my luck).

Ok. Time to be 'handy'.


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