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6:39 a.m. - 2008-07-24
Who Knows If This Will Be Worth Reading?

I'm sitting at the keyboard wondering if this entry will be lengthy, short or boring.

I know there won't be anything profound, at least not with the early morning state of mind I'm in. I've been an early riser sometimes napping mid-morning to make up for it. I've been busy doing physical things in the garden. Yesterday, I had many plans and they all went off without much of a hitch.

A) Helped a friend get rid of some junk in his house. He rented a truck and we loaded stuff into it before heading to my house to add bits of packing material that's been sitting in the garage since winter.

It takes a lot less time to unload that's for sure. I did some dumpster diving as somebody threw out a microphone stand. It looks rather heavy duty but could use a bit of brushing with some steel wool. Can't have too many mic stands.

I needed to hurry home in order to meet up with a hemlock dealer and a guy who was to come to fix the tenants dishwasher. Trouble was we were stuck in traffic when the repairdude phoned. I asked him that if he had another job he could do first and thankfully he did so I was able to put him off.

It was rather funny dropping off the rental truck. First, he forgets to add some fuel so we whipped around to do that. Upon adding 1/8 tank of petrol, he heads East on Capitol Drive completely spacing out the rental place and heading for home. Even I didn't think of reminding him. I guess the conversation must have been engrossing. I said as we were more than halfway to his house (and my car): "May as well drop me off before bringing the truck back."

Good thing that happened because when I was ten minutes out, my tenant called saying the mulch guy was there. I told her to tell him I was nearly there and to hang tight. Good thing. I was able to have him dump half his load on the hill and the other on the driveway in back. Bill arrived a short time later and helped me get a lot of it shovelled where it needed to go.

The mulch guy has a bit of history intertwined with family and friends. He used to be a cop (I never knew) who worked with my brother from time to time (had nothing but praise for my brother btw), then owned a head shop / record store and rented to friends of mine.

I wanted to be a cop once. Well, wanted to be a mole actually but failed the physical when the knot in the rope climb whacked my family jewels. I never crumpled from ten feet so quickly. I wonder how my life would have turned out had I became a Mequon Constable? Probably not as good. I remember wanting to be one of those "good guy" cops where I let kids off for breaking laws that should NOT be laws. I heard those kind of cops get killed in the line of duty more often than pricks. There's no justice sometimes.

Loads of stuff going on this weekend like seeing the always fabulouso Detroit Cobras, going to another feasty drinky friends gathering and farmers market. Bleah! I need to go clear my head and garden. I also need to call my friend Bleah also known as "Bluh" or, Mark. 420: Out.


5:26 p.m. - 2008-07-07
How I'm About To Spend My Summer Vacation.

Arrived Bay View, picked up the ass kicker car (which is for sale) and began digging in the garden. I heard that a certain somebody LOVED garden work. I guess they like the hands off approach.


9:47 a.m. - 2008-07-05
Feelin' Awright!

It's been an orgy of eating and drinking here in the always pleasant Twin Cities.

Though I'm anxious to get to MKE, I also want to stay here longer.

BIG hoo ha tonight at Ron and Shelley's. Have managed to avoid puking thus far but am quite dehydrated from beer, wine, etc. Will I manage to maintain while staying with our next host family? The story continues ....


8:50 a.m. - 2008-07-03
Blimey, America's Top Model is in the basement!

During a stroll in London upon our arrival in SW20, I started pining for Ol' Blighty. It was hot, then cold; hot, and then, cold depending on whether the clouds obstructed the sun. I miss that Summertime over there. It stayed light until around 10PM; they were playing tennis until 9:30.

One of the reasons we were in England was to attend a birthday party for a friend of ours. They had games and a quiz and for some reason, I answered a load of questions correctly pertaining to movies that I've never seen and some that I've never heard of. I KNOW I test well but that was ridiculous. They also had set up petanque and horseshoes which used actual horse shoes. So English. It's akin to a Snooker table where the field is eleven feet long and the pockets are half the size of what the normal Brusnwick table would have.

I wore my Pakistani "git-up" while do-si-doe-ing / promenade-ing which is the last thing I'd ever thought I'd be doing, or wearing, OR wearing while doing AND in a world heritage site.

Lyra has ANOTHER boyfriend. She flung herself into his arms during our going away pictures.

Had a bit of time to meet up with friends old and new and before we knew it, it was time to head on out to The Cities.

The jet lag was pretty bad with me rising just a bit after 0400. Today at least, I was able to sleep a little bit longer due to some push-ups and reading a new novel I've begun. It's by Hosseni, the same dude that wrote The Kite Runner. I'm sure it'll make anything bad that's happened in my life seem all peaches and cream.

Was rummaging through my suitcase when this guy called out: "Ron?" I said, "No, Russ." "Oh hey Russ, is Ron around?" He was walking up the driveway with a friend of his; both had Corona and fags in hand enjoying the beautiful evening. I went out front to say hey.

It was the new guy who rents from Ron and Shelley and has set up his "pad" down in the lower unit of the house here in Minneapolis where we're staying.

They were heading toward the little seating area set up in the front garden. I was offered a beer and the woman asked if I wanted a smoke. I told them that I'd "quit" and would LOVE one! She said I was in luck as there were both regular and menthol available. The dude, Jake, said he had Parliament and I said that a "P-Funk" would be great. The woman liked that term so my niece's saying may very well become Manhattan if it isn't already because the woman is a recent winner of some show called America's Next Top Model and is living near The Chrysler Bldg! I have a feeling she'll be able to parlay that bit of good fortune rather well.

I looked her up this morning and sure as shootin' she's the real McCoy. Seems nice, grounded and real. I guess she and Jake are friends from Fargo.

I hope that I can bump into them again while we're staying here. I don't think I'll be able to but it never hurts to have a connection in Manahattan. I'll have to have my people get in touch with her people very soon.


2:01 p.m. - 2008-06-25
I Should NOT Be Doing This

We leave for London in fourteen hours and I need to pack, take the pets in, eat food so it doesn't go bad. Why DID I buy a one pound cake an hour ago?

I suppose it was to celebrate my certification as a diver. Whoop de dooo.

So feel free to come diving with me knowing that I am fully trained and can tow you if you get tired. I can also surface (sorry, emergency ascend) while saying AHHHHHHHHHHH!

Now I have things that I can request for presents because people always need to know what a person wants but are usually too worried about asking.

I'm going to look so COOL wearing a knife sheathed and strapped to my calf. I feel like Jonny Quest. Look for me outside the window of your diving bell.

I was stung at least four or five times by infant jellyfish. As soon as I lay in the water I felt one. Didn't hurt but I can feel little jabs of sensation even as I type this. It's like a body buzz but in tiny, one millimeter sections of my skin. I wonder what the after effects would be if a larger one stung me at the base of my skull. Would it feel pleasant after the initial searing pain wore off?

The gelatinous little buggers are difficult to see unless the light shines on them at just the right angle. The babies had 3cm tentacles. The instructor got a nasty sting on his hand from a larger (10cm?) jelly. I KNEW it was a good idea to wear a shorty wet suit!

Yesterday I asked for one and they said the water is ok and it was beautifully warm but I said "What about jellies?" and they got me one. No jellies yesterday but today quite a few. I kept a careful lookout. Sharp as a tack I am.

This area of The Persian Gulf has a thin silty bottom like the equivalent of marl. I wonder how much of it's from them dumping 16 quadrillion* tons of Iranian mountains into the gulf, building all those islands.

Plenty of fish, some impressive, were seen during my four "dives". For being sand flats It was pretty cool. Not much structure is needed for mother nature to start colonizing. Yet, we screw it up.

*Russ' estimate


1:57 p.m. - 2008-06-23
A Science Conversation With A 5 1/2 Year Old

The Scene: Picking up Lyra from her day camp

The Setting: Stepping out into the sun

Lyra: Ahhh chooo! Baba? I sneezed three times today without closing my eyes.

Me: Really?

Lyra: Yep. Here's how I went (she demonstrates sneezing while opening her eyes wide).

Me: Well, I'd like to get a video of that.

Lyra: Why Baba? Why do you want a video of that?

Me: Because it's supposed to be impossible (now I'm wondering if this is indeed a myth?).

Lyra: Not for meee! I was born this way!

We drive ...

Me: We need to catch a bug for your lizard (we trapped a lizard yesterday. We call her Lily sometimes but usually we call her "the lizard."

Lyra: I killed a fly today.

Me: Yeah? I don't think the lizard would eat dead bugs.

Lyra: Yeah. I hit it with a soft thing and it's wing was "bended" but it could still hop. Then I "crushded" it with the ear.

Me: The ear?

Lyra: Yeah. The rabbit ear

Me: Oh! So you killed it with a soft rabbit?


12:34 p.m. - 2008-06-23
R.I.P. George

Wonderful WI-NOHHHH !


9:47 a.m. - 2008-06-23
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense

Some drivers in Dubai need some lessons in manners. I've decided to help them.

There are many times that fairly long lines will form waiting to make a turn at a light. Though the queue is stationary, that does not stop many drivers from going to the front and sliding their fenders in to tiny gaps between cars. They'll even cross those "painted islands" where the borders are both solid lines. I'll occasionally cut in myself, but it's always in a gap formed in front of a loaded truck that needs to wind it out in first gear just to build it's momentum. A large gap opens up and I'll sometimes take that opportunity to slot in there. I feel that's fair as nobody is slowed down more than they would have been anyway. I don't do that too often because it's not always there for the taking.

So when I'm in the queue, I fudge a bit and hang the car out, just a touch, to discourage the ladies and gents who feel they need to shave off a minute from their travel time. If that doesn't work, they better not jump directly in front of me because I'll give 'em what for with MY HORN! "Don't trifle with ME mofo! I'll beep your ass into next WEEK! Queue jumpin' havin' SOB."

I'm a badass!

(It's not been easy to keep from seasoning this blog with the colourful language that I would normally use in polite conversation.)

Lest you think that I myself am being rude I will, when it can be done safely, let any working vehicle in ahead of me. I'll let others in as well. My worst fault is zoning out in the "fast" lane forcing law breakers to overtake on the wrong side. This is NOT deliberate.

I'm an excellent driver. It has been scientifically indicated that I'd be a good bus driver! "AT-kin-son ... Aven-OOOOOO! Route Nine-teeeen!


10:37 a.m. - 2008-06-21
I Think I'm In Love

This vid is far better than the one I removed showing the invertebrate death match.


12:54 a.m. - 2008-06-21
Kegling and Nodding

Went bowling today as a sort of going away party with the English folks from next door. Each day, Lyra wants to call for them. She's needy. Has loads of toys but would rather hang with somebody and that somebody is usually me. But that's cool. I don't mind it and KNOW that I'll miss it once she tells me to get lost.

The bowling center was HEAVING and we had a two hour wait. Good thing there was a mall nearby (isn't there always?) that had an arcade thing with rides and such. The bowling center has well maintained lanes but crap alley balls. Still I managed a 179 after a 124. I don't like anything under 150.

Had a date last night. Julie and I went to The Buddha Bar and had a good meal and pretty good conversation that didn't center on the kid for a change. The bar was busy but as we needed to drive a LONG way back we didn't stay too long after the dinner. Maybe we should get into having apps at the bar like we have in the past.

I'm turning into quite the lightweight so don't push too much alcohol on me until I get my booze callous back. I'm at the point where I start to dread the hangover even before I have one, therefore I pace myself, a little. I don't like it but I'm sure it's better in the long run.

Indo/Pakistani folks, when signaling in the affirmative have this jiggly little head nod that, to a Westerner looks as if they are saying: "Um, I'm not too sure about THAT!" but it's the same as us nodding our head up and down. It takes some getting used to. Noticed a guy working out in front of the mirror who was probably working out some kinks or something but it looked like he was practicing the head nod and at like a million miles per hour. (MUST GET THIS RIGHT!)

It's not the same head nod that I've been told I get when dicked up and I know this because when I get that way, I supposedly look like a neighbour from the old 'hood who had this thing goin' on after receiving Holy Communion and is going back to his pew.

Don't want to jinx it, but the gardenia looks like it'll be in full bloom while we're away. Must train our plant sitter.

Played guitar for two hours today. Lyra drummed, a little. For somebody who wants to perform in Ralph's World videos, she's got a bit of performance anxiety. Maybe stage fright would be a better description.

I was playing the guitar while barefoot on the hard as marble floor. Ugh! Talk about plantar pain. They still hurt. Had I been wearing Crocs ...

I wish people would leave comments more. I'd like to know who's checking it out. So say hello or whatever.


9:24 a.m. - 2008-06-13
Summer Vacay

I'm going to be at my computer a lot less.

At least I think I'm going to. Lots to get done before we head home. For those that can contact me, let me know if you have a craving for dates. I'm hoping to bring back some consumables that I've not seen back at home. Nah! I'll be here plenty! I'm a net addict.


5:23 p.m. - 2008-06-12
Gin And Curry
I'm on a break from making supper. So I thought I'd pour myself a tumbler full of Tanqueray, munch on some Parmesan stuffed olives and do an entry.

Hopefully this entry will be better than the last few. I've had bloggers block, am missing cigarettes and am at some weird kind of low ebb.

Did you ever know anybody that pronounced it "par-MAY-zee-in"? I dated a girl for awhile and her worst "fault" was not Crohn's disease*, no, it was the way she pronounced Neopolitan. Neo-poe-lee-AA-tin. Yeah that was one of those "red flag" moments.

Mispronounced words irk me. And they REALLY irk me when I mispronounce them. Hyperbole. Like Superbowl (but faster!). Debut. de BUTT. But the debut one was when I was a little kid.

I wonder if Naples has the best Neopolitan ice cream, sorry, "jul-AH-toe". Gellato sounds like it should be just a tiny bit more than high quality ice cream. Like it should have a different mouth feel. Frozen custard though is still the best.

Tonights dinner for the grown-ups is cod jaipuri with cabbage and cauliflower and "free-form cooking" chana dal. Lyra helped peel the garlic. She's very thorough. I had her taste the tiniest piece of fresh ginger telling her it was a little bit sharp. She wigged mildly as I said "it's kind of a sweet hot isn't it?" She said "NO, just spicy" before dashing off for a rescue tic tac.

Want a cat to hork up a hairball? Buy Kashmiri karpets. (There. THAT'S the russface I've been missing.)

It's getting hot enough for me to have turned off the water heaters in my room and the kitchen. See, the water gets pumped up to the roof to a tank where it's heated up by the sun. Once it's averaging in the 100's, you turn the water heaters off and use the taps backwards. When you put a load of laundry in, if you want "cold" water, set it for 90C and your cottons won't shrink and your colours will remain vibrant.

The pool has not been appealing this past week. The water isn't too warm (yet) but the air has been so "sodden" with dust that the area around it really needs the once over. It's a good hour or so to swab the deck.

I'm making a list for things to remember to bring back with us. I just KNOW I'll forget the greenbacks I have stashed and the house keys.

These mini smoking things I've been having are worrisome. I MUST remind myself how GREAT it is to not have to wear shirts with pockets and to say goodbye to chafed left nipples! C'mom! Find the inner strength!

Time to stir the dal.

*Were she Shannen Doherty, who has Crohn's Disease, she may have lasted a bit longer.


5:34 p.m. - 2008-06-10
Toothy Piscine Veal

So we were over to Mohammed and Maria(m)'s home last night for supper. Lyra's friends with their daughter Meera. Nice place they have with some traditional aspects to the home.

The kitchen is detached from the main home and there is a majlis (a place for sitting) where, if Mo has some homeys over, they can go into that room which is segregated and Maria(m)'s does not need to be seen. I imagine that it's for his friends understood protocol "traditions" as I've been there a few times already when he's there and also when he's not. The dinner was a delicious specialty of baby shark.

Not that you'd even recognise it as fish, it was more akin to an addition to congee (now I'm just being confusing). Anyway, it's boiled, shredded super fine and mixed with loads of various spices, some onion, raisins and some lemon. It looks almost like a dehydrated camp food. I guess that's the best way to describe it. It gets mixed with rice on your plate, and has some lemon to squeeze upon it (though it was lemony anyway). I had THREE helpings along with some Pastitsio which is like a Greek lasagna. Then there were some oily lemony tabouleh sans the bulgar and feta cheese sides to accompany. Really tasty and Mariam worked her ass off to make it.

We had conversation and Lyra was super charming, so much so that they want to take her to Greece on Thursday for their Summer holiday. If she was a bit older, that could happen.

When I was thinking about the separation of the sexes with a "majlis" it made me wonder what MY majlis would look like? Well there'd be a bar, ashtrays, a bunch of guitars, stereo and internet access. Well. I suppose I've had many majlis in my day.


5:29 p.m. - 2008-06-10
June Thaw

Wow. Like for the last half a week it hasn't gone above 37.5, blood temperature i.e. 99ish F. Last night when we came home from our dinner, there were people milling about enjoying the breeze. It's been windy and warm. The sky is full of dust just in time for Lyra's miners cough to make a comeback.


10:31 a.m. - 2008-06-08

I had what I'd call a minor relapse into the peril pit of tobacco this past week.

After exercising, I went "daown ta poob fer a queeck poynt". On the way, I was really in the mood for a fag and didn't deliberate too long before getting a pack of Marly Lights. I had two trying not to inhale them with minor success.

During that time, a smoker of Marlboro reds sat down a couple of stools away from me. I took two additional fags for "later" and slid the pack over to him. I told him that I was recently off the cigs and please take them. He said no he couldn't and I reassured him that it was fine. I had my "fix" and we proceeded to have a chat. He's from Sussex and is in advertising. I gave him my number in case he hears of anything that I might be able to do for work.

I did enjoy the other two cigarettes over the next three days and have been tobacco free for three(?) days. So, I will re-adjust my days as a non-smoker (for life insurance reasons) to around June 1st.

I blame yoga for putting me at peace with these decisions. OMMMMMMMMMMMMM!


10:43 a.m. - 2008-06-06
Tell Me Somethin' Good.

Hiya everybody!

I've enabled comments to be posted on the diary. So feel free to post stuff. You may add a comment after each entry or even go to my old entries and comment on them. I'd like to hear from you.



8:04 a.m. - 2008-06-06
Three(?) Degrees Of Separation

Lyra and I were doing our fortnightly shop for non Muslim foods and the pork guy was re-stocking the Oscar Meyer bacon. I glanced at the packing crate thinking it would say something like Chicago, Illinois and lo and behold, it said Madison, Wisconsin! A sense of Badger pride welled inside of me and I told Lyra and the guy that the pigs came from Wisconsin, just 60 miles from where we live!

As a matter of fact, an old girlfriend's sister was/is married to a pig farmer and they live in Mineral Point so it was almost like dining with an old friend (although I had nothing in common with them except, perchance, a love of pig meat).


1:25 a.m. - 2008-06-04
Locust Street Festival

Milwaukee Festival season is well underway.

Ach, I'm so bummed! I hate missing the Locust Street Festival. I also hate missing the Center Street Festival.

I've not been to Pridefest so don't know if I hate missing that although for some reason, in our travels, we've happened upon similar LGBT festivities; I'll bet, at least six times. Is it something about early June? One of us would say: "Look! ANOTHER gay pride parade!"

Don't forget about Juneteenth Day a week later! Hang in an alley to get the full impact.

Get out there to my ancestral neighbourhood for good times and say hello to the Szalewski's from me.

Hey, you learn something new everyday. See if you're surprised by watching this video:

"Mooie, goede muziek, tegenwoordig weet de jeugd niet meer wat dat is..."


10:06 a.m. - 2008-06-02
Hey! She's Tryin' To Walk There!!!

Wife Shunted

Julie was hit by a car yesterday on her way into the office. I don't know if she'll blog about it or not but from her car to her building, she was crossing in the car park where people are coming around a corner and the person driving a large FUV totally misjudged her apex. At least that's the way I perceived it.

After she told me, there was a delayed reaction from the time I heard this to the time that it freaked me out a little. I guess it was the same for her even though she said she screamed and people came running to assist. It must have been quite the shock. She said she was more shook up well after the fact.

She didn't get knocked down nor bruised using her purse, briefcase and her yogini like reflex(ability) to offset the bonehead manouvre.


6:01 p.m. - 2008-06-01
I Laughed

I can find out how people stumble across my diary. Usually the results are rather cryptic and MAYBE I can kind of tell the area where they might live.

Somebody came here (anybody can read it) using a yahoo search where the key words were "Jelena Jankovic camel toe" and my diary was listed 7th! Amazing! I wasn't even being pervy yet, filth follows me.

I probably have mentioned camel riding seeing that I live in Arabia. I don't recall ever mentioning any dromedary podiatry aspects. Here's the pasted version of what turned up on the search page:

russface's Diaryland diary
I don't like greasy toe jam formations sliding my foot around ... seed Jelena Jankovic, she, with her jet black hair severely pulled into a dominant pony tail. ... - 60k - Cached

So welcome to all my upskirt lovin' sicko fans!


12:36 p.m. - 2008-05-30
More Kid Stuff

You can tell how my life is by it's constant revolution around Lyra. She's maturing rapidly. She's starting to "swear" at times.

Last night she said "Why the hell does she DO that?" Without getting too bent out of shape I said that she should probably substitute "heck" for "hell" as some might get offended. But the subject we were discussing outweighed word usage.

One of her friends was trying to power trip her out by running away when she would approach. Lyra is thinking very logically about the whole thing. Just now we're talking about it again:

Lyra: "I didn't even recognise her! It was like she was on a drug!"

Where does she pick up this stuff?

She tasted the N/A beer today but Julie's power of suggestion regarding the flavour of it swayed her. "Uhhhh, that SUCKS!"

Um, little overstated there Lyra.


2:36 p.m. - 2008-05-29
A Rather Classy Little Function

Went to a banquet and show today. It was at the Al Bustan Rotana Al Rashadia ballroom. There was a reception preceding the main function where we mingled with the others having coffee or tea. The music and singing lasted about an hour.

After the main event there was a brunch served. Light things like samosa, pasta, finger sandwiches with smoked salmon or roast beef, they even had chicken satay and paninni. Desserts were little tiny petite fours (schneken). It was like a cocktail reception without the booze.

Somebody we knew opened the proceedings with a welcome speech. I paraphrase: "Welcome to all the mommys and daddies to our graduation. We hope you have a wonderful time. We love you"

It was Lyra at her Gulf Montessori graduation ceremony.

We were told that Gulf was awarded "Best Nursury In Dubai" which was good to hear. They know how to throw a party and do have some rather stunning, and dedicated teachers.


11:34 p.m. - 2008-05-27
Cute Matters!

Upon admiring seven tiny ducklings and walking to the car Lyra said: "I wish I were a baby duck." She thinks that baby ducks are WAY cuter than children.

I told her that it's cleverness that's truly attractive.


9:07 p.m. - 2008-05-27
Home Schooled Racism Awareness And Building Technique

It's been a dry well as far as new entries go. I'd been meaning to talk about the new house that's going in behind our block of villas.

It's been under construction for at least three months. Back home, there'd be sixteen McDonald's built and up and running in that time. Or a fair sized Spawlsville USA subdivision would be close to cladding and ready for tornados to trash it before you can say: "WTF! I paid a quarter mil for this 2nd little pig's piece a shit?"

It's a single story villa I've been told. The way it's been going is rather impressive. First of all they dug out a hole about 12 feet deep (at least) and after laying the outline with cinderblock, waterproofing it, they then put in "walls" identical to the outer walls. It looked like it could be a basement (albeit with tiny rooms). This was the FOUNDATION! After putting that in and letting it set up for a bit, they buried all of it with much of the sand originally removed, let it settle, packed it, added water to get out any air pockets, packed it again and then capped it with concrete. They had also installed at that time, reinforced concrete pillars. Mind you, there's been no wood used as of yet. That's where it's at for now. This thing isn't moving anywhere until they tear down Mirdif which, if things continue to work out the way they do here, will be in 25 years. This is how homes should be built!. Fuck a bunch of 2X and OSB for walls. Spit on that and watch it swell before your very eyes.

Lyra had some time to kill before ballet class so we went to youtube -- again. I was trying to think of stuff she didn't see that was from my era and TA DA! Mr. Magoo! Why didn't I think of that before?

Indeed, why didn't I remember that he has a stereotypical "Chinaman" servant named Charlie? Why didn't I quickly cut it off upon hearing the first "Missah Magloo?" Lyra asked about the "Asian" guy and I tried to answer her honestly even going so far as to brush upon the subject of stereotypes. Naturally, I also didn't realise that Charlie seems to appear in EACH CARTOON! Talk about opening a can of worms. Maybe I should search out other "vintage" commercials to continue the "schooling".

Ancient Chinese secret huh?

I suck.


2:29 p.m. - 2008-05-21
Babysitter Included

Lyra has a playdate today at our house. I'm glad that finally, I've been able to host instead of just having Lyra go to a friends. I mean, c'mon; we have great toys, seldom used! Tea sets? Five. Games? Loads. Pets, popcorn (sweet AND salty) and two giant empty boxes (the best!) wishing they had a hill to roll down with screaming kids inside.

I'm downstairs blogging while they play. With Meera's nanny doting and checking each and every move they make it's like having them on a leash! I love it! Actually, Lyra is rather good at policing. Her only cock up thus far was getting a piece of gum without asking and without consideration for her friend who isn't allowed.

I miss cigarettes today more than any other since quitting 1 1/2 months ago. Probably had to do with the impending playdate and making a good impression. For some reason, I actually give a shit.


7:54 p.m. - 2008-05-20
I'm Not Getting Any

We've enjoyed the advice about Crocs. I'm going to put down some anonymous quotes that I've received.

"... they would be sort of cool if you get a pair designed for men. Won't the sand get in?"

"I, too, had the same croc issue. in LA ... didn't see anyone else with a pair."

"If you must get crocs, make certain that they are black." (This one made us bust a gut because we were just saying the same thing.)

"Do not get CROCS. I refuse to wear them because they are trendy and make
your feet smell because they're made out of plastic."

"Crocs are waaay too popular for Russ ... looks like there may be some health benefits."

"Step away from the Crocs or as Shakespeare would say 'to Croc or not to Croc
that is the question'!"

"Personally, despite their obvious comfort and practicality I think they are
horrendously naff - however, as your main concern is you may create the
impression that you are trying to be trendy - I say fear not!"

"Something I don't like to see, however, is dirty ones. Dirty pink, dirty light blue, etc. Usually worn by grungy females or equally grungy little kids."

"My mom has some bedazzled crocs if you want to jump on that trend."


5:46 p.m. - 2008-05-19
A Couch Potato Who Wears Sensible Shoes

We are now "idiot boxed" at our house. I received a free DVD player awhile back and it's been sitting around. Was getting rather tired of having Lyra hound me to watch something on my computer. Now she's royally chewing my ass out for blogging. Sheesh.

I'm considering getting a pair of Crocs. Is this completely foul of me? Will wearing them sans socks gleeb me out? I DO NOT wish to appear trendy. Are they trendy? I understand they became de riguer in operating theatres due to their ability to cushion the feet and also because they're easily cleaned. Yes, I am thinking of buying some. I like the utilitarian aspect of them. They sure do look like the best shoe ever invented for standing in one place for a LONG time. I can hose off the dust and never need to polish them. Maybe I can get "jibbitz" that say "Bad Motherfucker". Will people REALLY think I'm a lesbian; I mean without my t-shirt that says I am?

I'm very torn about this. Please let me know your opinion.


7:32 a.m. - 2008-05-15
We Have Our Tickets

Was putting on some sandals today. I don't particularly like wearing sandals as evidenced by my bald ankles. I'm into socks. I don't like greasy toe jam formations sliding my foot around or sweaty stank. I dislike the feeling so much that I usually wear socks with sandals which makes me look all German and shit (Pure Po Polsku wyrób, Serdecznie dziękuję). But I've strayed away from my point (big surprise there).

Julie and I were both thinking that living here you can just slide on some sandals whereas back home it's boots, laces, buckles and velcro. Two things I like about living here. The high ceilings in the house and the shoe thing.

Lyra's off today and yesterday due to a fever. I smiled that before she went to bed (without a story - really knackered) that she still automatically went to the sink to brush her teeth. She taps her brush on the side of the sink to remove excess water that, once she's married will drive her spouse crazy or, cause a smile.

It's good to have just ONE dog in the house. It didn't help though, the daily faeces clean up.


6:59 a.m. - 2008-05-14
A Chorus Of Huge Furry Treefrogs

Last evening, we were with a couple who are getting a maid but don't have lodging for her. We're entertaining the idea of letting her stay in the maid quarters at our place in return for having her do some work for us. This way, we don't need to worry about Visa's, flying her to Sri Lanka once a year, health insurance blah de blah. We just want our place tidied twice a week and have the ironing done. The English couple were pleasant and we might arrange something conducive to each others wants and needs.

As our evening drew to a close, Juliette from next door asked if we could deliver a puppy to K9 friends the following morning. Some workers found the little bitch and brought her to Juliette thinking that she was the dog owner (no, that would be us in the villa next door).

We tried to place her in the VERY recently vacated travel crate where Clive had been sleeping. Such a cacophony has never before been heard by me. She sounded as if she were three dogs all tuning up their voices preparing for a weird canine tribute to the Andrews Sisters. Every few seconds you could hear some three part harmony. Well, that wasn't going to work.

So we figured we'd need to tether her near us, in our room and Basil, who picks fights with pups would have to camp downstairs. She didn't have a collar and would only manage to entangle herself so, it was into bed with us where she quickly settled herself down. Julie had walked her before we crashed.

I don't remember Julie saying that she didn't pee during her walkies, so surprise surprise in the morning. As usual, Russ gets the wet spot.

This development has really screwed my day. I was going to take my last two theory classes for scuba, actually, take them again as they are the important ones that deal with timings at various depths, residual nitrogen levels in your body, prevention of death; stuff like that. But Lyra's home today with a fever so I would have needed to postpone them regardless. Now I have to take the pup in this morning with Lyra in tow. I text messaged Juliette to see if she could do it but she's working at school today. I want rid of the dog as soon as possible. Though only 3-4 months of age, she's already bigger than Basil and if the fight gets serious, she'll win and I hate it when Bas has to take the submissive route. I've vowed never to have a dog and bitch together since I tried to take in Gidget, the toy poodle who was relentless in her play and would eventually fight with Basil. So I'm not in the best spirits today due to all of this plus I lost out on two auctions where I'd have had two investment grade gizmos that I was confident would have reaped rather large rewards. Instead, I need to entertain the baby, after feeding her AND after driving all the piss hell way to Al Quoz. Oh great! She just pissed all over the new rug!


3:30 p.m. - 2008-05-10
N am N's and Fruit Sucks

We had the neighbours over, Neil (who's feeling poorly), Juliette and the kids, Grace and the twins; Jack and Rose. Neil, Grace and Rose arrived on time but Juliette and Jack were at drum lessons. Clive nipped Neil's bum. He's going back to K9 Friends.

He's submissive generally, but if there's a stranger in his territory, he can be intimidating. I've seen this behavior in the past but it's unpredictable. I suppose if he were in his den and we waited until we were settled he "probably" would have been fine. But the heck with it. He chases Peter, sheds like crazy and is too into me. He's the perfect dog for a single, pet-less person who has a villa with a garden and feels safe with a watch-dog. I thought that perhaps we'd have him long term but it's too much work. Just another thing to keep me from doing stuff I like such as guitar or scuba lessons.

I'm beginning my open water certification course tomorrow and should complete my first three theory classes in the morning. Then, one more theory class, four pool sessions and two ocean dives and I'm certified. It's something that I've thought about but never bothered to do. My brother-in-law Greg has recently completed his, so maybe we can dive some wrecks when they come to visit and maybe spear fish carp in Lake Michigan. This school offers all kinds of diving classes so who knows where I'll take it. The equipment rental for after I'm certified doesn't seem too expensive so there's no need to really go hog wild buying that stuff; at least for the time being.

I like beer. I have been liking it four or five times in the last week or two with lunch -- something I usually try to avoid (makes me tired -- don't want to ever go to re-hab, blah de blah) so it's with some satisfaction that there's a N/A beer here called Barbican that's tasty. Actually, there are loads of choices in the N/A beer stakes. I'm going to score some for the fridge. I've been making Iced Tea and I like that but there's nothing like a tall and frosty after chores or time out in the desert heat.

I would have never thought it likely but I've adjusted a little to the weather. It's been like 107 the last few days and it's not always a dry heat. I still hate the heat but I was thinking that when it comes to traveling from one indoor place to the next, I like the heat better than bitter cold but when it comes to recreation, I'll take the winter over "too damn hot". For example: I'd rather shovel or make snow forts with Lyra than roast on a beach when it's in the 90's. I'll take a hike when it's in the 50's to mowing the lawn when it's in the 80's.

We found this trio of restaurants which specialize in seafood. It's near to Julie's work so I think we'll meet there on occasion. It's also near a Safestway super market that has a better than average USA selection of foods. We stopped as we're nearly out of Lawrey's Seasoned salt. We can live without it but we like it. They didn't have it but I think there's a good chance that Caffeine Free Diet Coke might be available.

Lyra donated 1/5th of her allowance to a charity box and spent 2/5ths on candy machines where she bought M&M's and Skittles. She call's them N am N's and she forgot the name of Skittles so referred to them as "Fruit Sucks" which we all thought was a great.


2:04 p.m. - 2008-05-06
I Support Them

This should be in all parades replacing the cringe inducing Lee Greenwood pap.


12:30 p.m. - 2008-05-05
Cantonese Cuisine

I am boring. But I made a really good stir fry last night. If you want the recipe, email me and I will blog it.


2:16 p.m. - 2008-05-03
I Lost

In the first round of the tennis tournament. I scored points, but lost 0-2.


9:31 a.m. - 2008-04-29
White Shrine Fever

Working vehicles; lorries, flat-beds, dump (or "tipper") trucks in India are very often decorated; painted in elaborate colours with little messages on them that are meant to inform, inspire or just cause a smile. I've even seen scary faces painted on the differential's. The trucks are almost always flat-beds (there's no way a tractor trailer is going to navigate Kerala roads).

Anyway, to increase carrying capacity, upon the roof there's usually a carrier, similar to something you might see for carrying luggage. On the front of these "luggage racks" there's a colourful marquee with the name of the trucking firm. Say, for example: Suthusanthrumphinon And Son's. As the area is very Catholic, you'll often see religious piety conveyed on these marquee.

But I had fun thinking that no matter what was painted on them, it was the name of the trucking company.




I kept joking with Julie that "No, those are the names of the trucking companies!" She'd say that they're the same as bumper stickers. "That's like saying 'Gas, Grass or Ass, Nobody Rides For Free' Trucking Company"

On our long drives between our hotels, I amused myself thinking of ordinary business' being named with religious terms.

"Jesus Christ's Sports Bar And Grill"

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph Painting Contractors"

"The Law Offices of The Most Blessed Sacrament L.L.C" are some that came to mind.

There were lots of church's in India and many of them were named for Saint George, who's that English saint; which was surprising as Kerala was colonised by the Portuguese before the Dutch booted them out.

Evidently, tea is in no danger from insect or disease damage. Talk about monoculture. Entire ranges of mountains were planted with tea. A tea plant looks like a shrub that one might see in front of millions of homes in the USA. I would have thought there would be some kind of aromatic nuance to a crushed leaf but nope. A privet hedge has as much character. I'll have to find out what plant "tea" is! This is the stuff that goes into your mass produced, bog standard cuppa.

There was a Hindi religious festival happening during the latter third of our trip. We'd come across parades of people with drums and many "piercings" and by piercings, we're talkin' about three foot long by a couple of millimeter "rods" with ping pong sized balls on the end. I'd hate to catch that in the doorway. Some guys had ten or more all through the skin of their faces. I'm sorry I didn't get photos of those guys.

A couple of parades had elephants in them. I don't think we saw this particular elephant, but one in Kerala ran amok, killing three people including one of it's "muquat" or, handlers. On TV they'd loop scenes of the attacks again and again and AGAIN like a storm tracked on radar. Let me tell ya, a guy swept by elephant legs is as benign as a booger flicked off a finger (but less sticky). This happened after our elephant ride.

You can see the picture of the elephant we rode in Julie's blog. It was a 22 year old young stud that could mess you UP if he wanted. His name is Srinivas Gupta. I looked into his eye a couple of times while holding a tusk and there was definite intelligence there. I tried not to quickly look away but also didn't want to have a staring contest with him either.


5:19 p.m. - 2008-04-16
Bit's of Email Conversation and Stuff

Probably stuff that people already knew but felt that I should post an entry.

Coming to grips with Dubai a little bit. It's very livable. But being livable does not make it cool. It is a large city, has loads of great restaurants, beaches, diving, offshore fishing, offroad excursion opportunities. I think that what I will always "hate" about it is the heat of the Summer. It is obscene.

Also, a lot of stuff is so corporate. There does not seem to be places that are not either A) Affilated with a hotel, or B) A little place, owner operated, that has a liquor license. I always think I sound like a real boozehound when I say things like that. It's not like I need to have a beer at everyplace I eat, I don't, but it would be nice to have, say, a George Webb's type place, or something that's a one off. Well, that's not true. There ARE tons of places that are independent, but they're not bars or clubs or even coffee houses. If I MUST go to a Chili's, I better be able to have a beer to deaden the pain of being at Chili's ;-) There's a Macaroni Grill here. Good place for being a chain but can I get a glass of Dago Red? Nope. Also, the music scene here is CRAP! I thought it was crap in MKE! Milwaukee is like Austin compared to here.

Went to a mall(yech!) today as I needed to investigate why our internet was not working and looked at some shoes. Came close to buying some pointy ones but didn't.

After looking at the "London Designed" pointy shoes, went to an Italian la di da place just to look. Feh! 500 bucks for shoes? Not for me! I laughed to myself a little later on noticing an all wood patio table and chairs that was cheaper than the shoes.

Skyped with Mike and Monica this morning. They're a dandy couple. It's people like our friends that make living here a bit tortuous.

Don't know how often, if at all we'll be able to post while in India. Hopefully, there will be an opportunity as posts should be better when fresh.

Got a lot to do tomorrow after dropping off Lyra. Need to take Clive in and drop the car off to get a roof rack put on and a skid plate. I was going to have a fabricated "child killer" steel bumper affixed with an internal winch but have not embraced the off road thing enough to warrant it. Maybe I'll have a lift kit installed. I'll bet these mods will decrease the fairly ok milage a bit but I've offset it by quitting smoking (it's been a week and a half). I'm saving the Earth, one tobacco plant at a time.

I've decided that all future furry family members will be named after cigarette brands, past and present. So don't go naming YOUR pet Viceroy, Chesterfield, Tareyton or Kent. Those are MINE!


8:09 p.m. - 2008-04-13
Lyra A True Milwaukean

Part of it's due to being five years old. But I'd like to think that the ghost of my dad is influencing Lyra's accent.

'Baba, 'dese are for dem over dere and 'dose are for dem right dere!"


3:06 p.m. - 2008-04-13
What Deadbeats We Are

Some of you may have heard that our net access at home was down. It turns out that our bill wasn't paid. It turns out that they didn't have an address to send the bill to. It also appears that they could not cross reference our "non working" phone bill addy and send the DSL bill there. And WHY aren't the bills consolidated? It was a ploy to get me to the mall! Really, it's easiest to go to their office in the mall and sort stuff out.

I came close to buying some pointy shoes but didn't want to drop 118 USD. I did buy some shoe strings, quinoa and seven pairs of black socks though.

On Saturday we didn't go to an air race thing in Abu Dhabi. I didn't think standing a crowd in sunny mid 90's weather was going to be worth it. Next year, if we can score hospitality tickets or something like that, I'd be up for going. It looked pretty cool but really, who cares?

The pool water is tolerable now. So come over and have a swim.

Going to India on Friday, I think. I hope to fish a little but mostly I'm worried about mosquitos and you would be too if you had my sweetly luscious hemoglobin.


4:23 p.m. - 2008-04-02
\"And they call it ...\"

Lyra and I are driving back from school today and I hear a suppressed giggle from the back:

ME: Did you have a funny thought?
Lyra: Yeah ... NEVER miiiiinnnnnd ...

Me: Ok but it would be fun to share your happy thought.

L: What did you say when the girls were following Victor? (this is from a Harry Potter movie)

M: Um, I don't remember.

L: YOU KNOW! It starts with 'fffff' (the sound of the letter "F')

M: Really, I don't remember!

L: You KNOW!!!!!

M: Sorry, why don't you remind me?

L: Ok, OK! You said the girls following Viktor "fancied" him.

M: OH! Ok, I remember now. What about it?

L: (giggling and mumbling) Well I have the same feelings for Sultan and Ahmed (pronounced "Sootahn" and Ach-med), so much that I might want to marry them.

I smiled and went on to explain that love is a good feeling and that you'll feel that way many, many times as you grow up. etc. etc.


4:27 p.m. - 2008-03-29
Shop (hic!) ing Trip

Had but two bottles of beer left so it was time to go to Barracuda which is 50 kliks from the house. When they use "klik" in a movie like "Apocalypse Now" I assume they mean kilometres. I hope I'm right, I don't like it when I use words incorrectly -- be all Norm Crosby and shit.

Anyway, we needed beer and were running a bit low on vodka so off I went after my 'non' practice tennis session. I'm blogging about this because I'm not sure what kind of 'deal' I get with booze. I spent $301.00 plus change and here's what I got:

Eleven bottles of red wine plus one bottle of gewurtztraminer (went with stuff that averaged about 15 bucks a bottle) two 750 ml of Stolichnaya, a cheap bottle of sangria (Julie and I are pining for a paella party with sangria), one case of Abbot Ale (nearly three bucks a bottle, it being the most expensive per unit), one case of Amstel (not the light), one case of Tiger Singaporean lager, one case of Efes Turkish lager and a six-pack of Savanna South African Cider (my heart burns in anticipation).

They threw in a case of Russian lager called Baltika (but in Russian Cyrillic it looks like "Bajitnka" with the 'N' backwards and the 'B' just looking weird).

So, in sumnation:

12 bottles of wine
5 cases of beer
2 bottles of Stoli
1 six pack of cider
1 bottle of Sangria

I think it was a pretty good deal. Supposedly it's tax free at this place.

Only downer was a road killed camel calf. Had it been a deer, it would have scored high on the Boob and Crockashit scale.


2:42 p.m. - 2008-03-27
Pissing Off A Poor Driver With A Kid In The Car

I was trying to squeeze into an opening that I knew a truck was going to leave for a left turn. Then a yahoo tries to come out of his lane (without signaling) right in front of me so I sounded the horn. I wasn't angry, just wanted to let him know that I was there and needed to swerve slightly. Well he got pissed as I think he was coming out of the queue to do what I had in mind.

I grabbed the gap that opened up and he just laid on his horn BIG time. I do admit that I WAS doing a dodgy advanced manouvre that bordered on the illegal, but I didn't compromise safety.

He followed me and, for some reason I went into the U-Turn lane that I usually don't use and he pulled up along side of me, yelling in a language I didn't understand. I mouthed 'sorry' which didn't seem to appease him at all as he then spat upon my car.

He is as poor a spitter as he is a driver.


2:22 p.m. - 2008-03-27
(B)Ash Wednesday

I've been meaning to blog about a curiosity that I come across from time to time. Occasionally, you'll see a guy who looks like he's been schmeared with ashes on his forehead. I've wondered if there was a similar ritual in Islam (after all, "we worship the same God") that the Catholics have but it turns out that those marks are either calluoused or bruised from devout bowing during prayer. Is that hardcore or what?

It's not like self flagellation ala Opus Dei (more like Hocus Duh if you ask me) rather they form from devout prayer movement. As least that's what I think. I wonder if they consider it a badge of honour. If in fact that is the case, I wonder if any take the short cut of whacking themselves or bashing into a wall. I doubt it because that would look quite different than the "not quite a scab, not quite a bruise, not quite a callous" thing their heads got goin' on.


2:09 p.m. - 2008-03-27
Tennis Tournament

I entered a 35+ men's tennis tournament but it was cancelled due to lack of entries. I've taken my entry fee and joined the men's singles draw; which I'll likely dominate because I HAVE hit it against a backboard for 10-20 minutes and one time even practiced serves where a good portion made it over the net on the first try. I also watched Nadal have a hitting session so I now know that I must hit the ball very hard. I'm also considering a new pair of Adidas but they don't have my "little bitch feet"* size. It's not easy finding all black tennis shoes!

*Courtesy of former co-worker and fuck brother, Maurice Hayes.


8:13 p.m. - 2008-03-17
Dry Cleaning Budget Increase

I am sitting on a bench at Uptown Mirdif while Lyra knocks herself out on a rather impressive bouncy "city". Uptown is an outdoor mall with living units above the stores in a plaza. It trys to mimic Europe but ya know without dogs and bars it fails miserably.

Went camping one night in the Hajar Mountains. Dogs loved it.
Clive`s been pissing on our drapes. He gets four walks per day, so its due to scent marking. I think he will have to go back or be banished to the garage soon. I think that I`ll have to pressure k9 friends to "market" him a bit more. The thought of walking him during Summer abhors me.


7:55 p.m. - 2008-03-12
Review Of The Two Cd's and Junie B. Jones

I'm in love with a rock and roll whoa!
Not in love with Junie B. Jones.

I mentioned a couple of cd's I purchased a few weeks ago and said I'd let ya know what I thought of them.

They were both great! Some garage rock, a touch of psychedelia and another touch of glam.

But I just wanted to use that as a segue into a book Lyra received as a gift on the recommendation of the senders friend.

Here is my book report of "Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus" by Barbara Park:

This book is aimed at middle beginning readers, say 3rd to 5th grade. It tells the story of "the world's funniest kindergartner" and her first day on the bus.

What a punk ass four year old! If she isn't hating somebody, she's describing them as P.U.(read--pee yewwwww!), stupid or about to punch them. We needed to edit as we read it aloud to Lyra. Junie B. as she likes to be called, needs intervention along with all of her new classmates. Hey Bab's, have you heard of the Ophelia Project?

Hey, I have an idea. Why not just spoil all children and turn them into monsters, then write a book about it and win a Parent's Choice awards? Yeah, that sounds GREAT! This author is gearing up children to be fans of Anne Coulter while they're still young. Funny? I'd say it's a sad indictment of the world we live in and bring our children into.

Upon boarding the bus, she immediately get's dissed by not being allowed to sit next to a girl who she now "made a face at..." and then a boy gets on and she started playing with his backpack. He gets all huffy about it and now she "hates him".

She uses the word 'stupid' a lot! We've taught our daughter that stupid is a bad word.

Junie B. (don't forget to say the "B" lest you have a major grudge held against you) and her day go downhill from there.

The author glosses over the good stuff that happens in school favouring the things that a kid might bitch about. In other words, she encourages pessimism. I remember those days but she never resolves the scary bits of a new experience. She prefers to use name calling and real negative words like 'dumb' or 'hate' about every third page. As her first day comes to an end, rather than ride the "stupid" bus again, she went and HID.

She had merry adventures going into the teachers desk, digging out clay without any sort of permission practicing voyeurism, pretending to be a nurse and shooting up the boy she hates. Her playing with an electric pencil sharpener seems tame by comparison.

She gets herself into trouble with a pair of crutches and a rolling desk chair and quits her "stupid" pretend nurse job. She mentions running through the empty school and laments the "stupid" locked door and wonders who did all this "dumb locking".

She needs to pee and "that stupid door" was locked too so she calls 911. So loads of cops and fire engines come to look for her.

Her mom was all "grouchy" on the way home. She thinks it'll be much better tomorrow.


9:50 p.m. - 2008-03-07
A Test. A Test That Made Me Laugh A Lot

I was reading this great blog by Mimi Smartypants and she had a link which I include here. Garfield Minus Garfield Perhaps I'll hyperlink a bit more but don't count on it.


4:35 p.m. - 2008-03-06
Ain't He Un-Glamoray?

We don't own a television (he said all self righteously). We don't have one but we MAY get one. If we happen to get just the right kind of shelf unit (not just anything will do) we'll turn the landing by Lyra's room into an home theatre cum echo chamber (see post about the house and it's reverb). What we do have to fry our brains is access to youtube and the vintage cartoons I'd like Lyra to experience.

Lately, she's been enjoying Hanna-Barbera's 60's era The Incredible Hulk (Marvel Comics). I'd forgotten how little animation was done in those. The artwork is solid comic book that is subtly set in motion.

There is quite a lot I'd forgotten from these, like EVERYTHING except the song, I'll always remember the song. I don't remember Rick Jones, "Doc" Bruce Banner's teen sidekick who had no life until Banner saves him thus exposing his own self to the gamma radiation. Putting aside the USA jingoism for a moment, what really makes me think is what a jerk the general is. And what a knee jerk reactionary he is. I'm not sure if Bill and Joe and their writers were all that prognosticatory or it was a sign of the times. Actually, even today, the military commanders would not act like that would they? I suppose they might if they were in those situations. Nah. The general doesn't have money as his mission.

I know one thing that hasn't changed is the use of the catch-all terminology "National Security" even if it has nothing to do with that all important, and now, watered down need.


7:22 p.m. - 2008-03-03
heh heh heh HA ha. Bitches be all jealous.

Went swimming today and was chatting with a band that Barclay's Bank hired for the tennis tournament. Two weeks in Dubai playing three 45 minute sets per day and the rest of the time they get to sit around the pool or whatever. They're from Milton Keynes and I was going to go and check them out tonight. But Julie's not home yet. Pat Cash played with them last night. I guess they did a bunch of cock rock; Stones, et al.

This ones for the laydeez:

When Lyra and I were in the locker room after her swim, I wasn't the only hunk there. There were at least 20 tennis pros milling about including the Federer Conqueror, Rafael Nidal. He was the only one I recognized because he looks like my brother-in-law. I DO wish all of my women friends were in the locker room with me today. I think you would have scored some autographs.

Lyra's now into Woody Woodpecker: "more! More! MORE!!"

And for the lads: Loads of "Tennis Bettys" wearing next to nothing were around the pool. I think that I'll go back earlier tomorrow. Fashion aplenty by way of that "bra-less nipply thing" which is always appreciated.

We have another dog at the house. We're fostering him for K-9 friends. He's a smallish shepherd mix, clever and quite submissive so Basil's the boss. The former J.D. is now known as Clive.


12:26 p.m. - 2008-02-28
Love - Flirty

Lyra and I went to the Dubai Tennis qualifier round where Julie met up with us later on.

We found a good shady spot from where we saw a "cracking" match between the statuesque 4th seed Jelena Jankovic, she, with her jet black hair severely pulled into a dominant pony tail. While trying to explain etiquette and the rules a bit to Lyra, I appreciatively watched her masterful stroke, sending it screaming across to the Indian and Asian number one, Sania Mirza.

Femme Mirza is being submitted to the Indian media for her apparel choices and her careless disregard of her country's flag (there was a picture of her cute little piggies propped upon a table that had a little Indian flag as part of the decoration).

Though showing respect and devotion to Mistress Jelena, it was difficult for the partisan crowd to not cheer for Sania. There were times when Jankovic needed to scold the crowd due to their misbehaviour. I remember learning to only cheer for shots that are winners and never to cheer for unforced errors. There was a time when cheers went up during a point -- naughty naughty.

The match went the full three sets before Jankovic finally prevailed.

For the evening match we witnessed world number one Justin Henin have a tough time before winning in three sets against a woman with the space race sounding name of Katarina Srebotnik. The second set went to a tie break and it looked like the third set might before finally ending around 11:00 pm.

There was another match that happened after that one but weariness spelled the end of my stay there.


2:11 p.m. - 2008-02-25
Good Thing There Were Pictures

Lyra and I went to Mushrif Park yesterday and upon paying our AED10 admission ($3.67) we received a flyer from a group called Giant International in association with Dubai Municipality telling of something coming to Safa Park for

"The first time in the Middle East".


What could this mean?

Well, I could write what weirdness pooped (whoops!) into my head but people think I'm creepy enough without getting all scatological.

Oh what the hell:

Pooping real ice outdoors?
Pooping outside on real ice?
Identifying different animals scat while on ice in the out of doors rather than indoors? Safa Park DOES have a zoo.

Whatever they meant, I am unsure how this "Let's(sic) the Fun Begins(sic)"

Maybe that last quote only required the one "sic" at the end but with two grammatical errors, I didn't want anybody to miss it.


1:03 p.m. - 2008-02-25
Review Of The Lounge Bar

We have a Time Out Eating And Drinking Guide that has a section of back street bars and I finally went to one last night.

It's on this rather happening looking boulevard called Al Muteena and it MUST be happening judging from the dearth of parking spots (it's also in an older section of town not surprisingly also called Al Muteena which also limits parking).

So Time Out, as is usual, was fairly accurate in their description except it didn't have "MTV approved" music --- which, is a good thing. But they didn't have music that was all that good, nor loud enough. It COULD be an ok place. It has what I like in a bar: old fixtures, cheap drinks and a pool table (I didn't check out the condition of the sticks -- see Omani turtles entry), but no jukebox. It would help if they had round tables or, at least smaller tables dotted around the small place rather than long rectangular tables better suited for a buffet line.

The only chicks were two waitresses that didn't give me free popcorn probably because I ordered from the bartender. One AED10 Heineken later and I was gone. Strike one off the list. I'll update on the others as I hit them up. So now I'm on a mission.


11:19 a.m. - 2008-02-25
Garden Of Rock

We've been back to the plant souk and purchased a yucca, a palm ("Livingstonia???), some red thing and, a gardenia. If anybody has tips on keeping a gardenia thriving and blooming in a desert environment, let me know. I've read some stuff about it: Don't over water, don't under water, put it in a tray of pebbles. Water only from the bottom, feed it with azalea food.

I've done the pebble thing with some clay spheres that hold the water but could not find ericaceous (sp?) soil at (disgr)Ace hardware nor acidic fertilizer.

Lyra has a play date today so I'm keeping this short to hopefully get some stuff done, mostly play along with some new cd's I got: "Back To Peru" The Most Complete Compilation Of Peruvian Underground 64-74 (Vampisoul 2002 ... I'm so behind the times!) and "Hava Narghillie" Turkish Rock Music 1966-1975 Volume 1 (Dionysus, 2001). This is yet more "new old stock" stuff that's new to me but old. Most is from in my opinion the best era of rock. The fact that some 70's is included is worrisome but I'm banking on it that those countries were behind the times with rock and roll. I'll let you know. Skim listening has been pretty good thus far.


4:59 p.m. - 2008-02-23
Mall That Jazz

I miss the old Kooky Cookie House at Fabulolus Capitol Court at times like these.

We went to an act at the "Jazz" Festival last night. It was outside along a canal where boats with tourists ply the waters. Listeners were sitting in bean bags smoking shisa, hearing the singer and her band actually playing jazz mixed in with some pop.

Yes, this Festival City is a better mall than the Emirates mall. I laughed at how me, Russ, Dick Freakin' Satan, smiles in appreciation that he's at a "better" more "fun" mall. I wonder if the two bottles of beer and two double shots of frozen Absolut (schluked down right before leaving) had anything to do with it.

Both Julie and I were dressed better than the band. By that I mean we looked like we should have been on stage. We're quite the handsome couple.

Lyra's off all this week so I get to amuse her daily. Maybe we'll do a water park, playground or ride horses.

They have great playground equipment here. It's amazing how a normal piece of apparatus becomes the "in-escapable whirling chair of death" simply by offsetting it's gimbal and axle.

It's not ALL bad. Six months out of a possible 36. I wonder when I'll figure it all out.


8:54 a.m. - 2008-02-14
Basil Plays With Another's Supper

Lyra's school is going to the zoo today so I kitted her out with two flavours of of Goldfish snacks mixed with Cheerios. I encouraged her to share with all the children and teachers and hopefully to get her to say to them: "It's the quintessential U.S. toddler snack". I hope they are allowed to bring their backpacks because her sunglasses, hat, tissues and a sippy cup of juice was put into it.

I wondered why she was hinting at getting juice boxes at the store yesterday. I only buy those when there's a party. Perhaps it was because Meera brings them to school, something she mentioned this morning. I let her know at the co-op that we don't get those because there's too much packaging and it's more expensive. I did buy a new flavour of Ceres brand juice. Lychee (mixed with other juices like pear) and can't wait to try it. Maybe I can come up with a delicious new rum concoction. The only name that pops into mind is "Lychee Wheee!" Stoopid!

Basil's crapping is for shit lately (ha!). I took him out for a whirl without a leash mid-afternoon and a guy's walking by with a goat on a rope. It's kind of surprising that this is a first. Hmmph! Suburbs. Naturally, Bas goes right up. The guy used his "goat lure / snack" bushy, leafy bouquet to discourage Basil from causing havoc. He also gently pushed using his foot. I apologised. How rude of me to subject such a dirty animal such as a highly groomed and not stinky at all dog, to somebody who was quite possibly Muslim. I felt a little Abu Ghraib there but I'm getting away from my point. The goat would likely have ran circles around dude or tried to butt Bas. All ended well but am not so sure if it did for the goat.

I always feel a tinge of inner vegetarianism when I see livestock, especially for devilish, "Capricornian" brethren. I'm not too into goat consumption. Tastes fine but it's always bonier than it's worth in my experience.

Later I watched Jamie Oliver (interestingly a card carrying "slaughterman") electrocute a chicken and bleed it out on YouTube. It was from a show that he'd done preparing dinner for a bunch of guests on a television show. I guess he wanted to let people know where their dinner comes from. Still it made me think back to earliest stage czarnina preparation in the basement of "Stella's" (I think this was before the name change -- inside reference to family readers).

I'm not ghoulishly intrigued by such things, but you know how stuff goes when surfing the web. One thing leads to another and another. It must have been late because I didn't try and link to any pictures of his " very edible" wife, Jules. But then again, why WOULD I? I'm not some ANIMAL! (Yes I am. I'm a damn dog.)

And the animal thing continued this morning. Pulling up to school, there was a truck with a pony and a donkey in the back and three (four?) guys plus a falcon in the cab. I took Lyra by the driveway to put on her sunscreen and so she could look at the animals. I put my hand by the pony's nose for it to sniff me but when I tried to stroke him a bit, he flinched.

Naturally, Lyra had to ask why he did that and what "flinched" means. I'm not going to introduce the "Made You Flinch" game like the "Guess what? Chicken Butt!" game. Why open that can of worms?

We did get to stroke the falcon, and, like so much child nurturing, led to hastily asked questions ("Why's he wearing a hood?") and nearly as hasty explanations. I love that stuff when I think back to it.

This entry is very much 'con carne' isn't it?

I suppose I should mention then, when at the co-op perusing the meat counter, I jokingly asked Lyra if we should get those cow's feet. She said something like, "Why is there only three?" Horrid thoughts of broken cow legs flashed through my mind for a nanosecond before I said: "Someone must have only wanted one".

Sorry for the uncomfortably squirmy entry, but I was on a roll.

A thing I like about Dubai: Days like that.


8:46 a.m. - 2008-02-13
It's Blasphemy I Tell Ya!

Since Julie's folks have been here, we've used the evening call to prayer as the signal for cocktail hour:

Alcool Akbar, Alcool Akbar, Alcool Akbar, Alcool Akbar
(alcohol is the greatest, alcohol is the greatest, alcohol is the greatest, alcohol is the greatest)

Ash hadu an-la ilalcool ilalcool (2X)
(I bear witness that there is no alcohol but alcohol)

Ash hadu an ha hi 'bo 'il (2X)
(I bear witness to a highball)

Hayya ' alas tav 'ernn (2X)
(Come to the tavern)

Hayya 'alal coq ta 'il (2X)
(Come to your cocktail)

Coq ta 'il s Akbar!
(Cocktails are the greatest)


10:07 a.m. - 2008-02-12
Watered Down

I read something in The Idependent about blogs being used against you.

I'm feeling paranoid today so from now on, you'll need to read between the lines instead of me spewing forth juicy stuff (not that anything I write is especially juicy).

We electronically received our absentee ballots today and have but one week for them to be delivered to City Hall on Wells Street. So we have to pay a pretty penny to have them overnight delivered. I'll be including a letter. They shorted me my bartenders license renewal form but were thankful when I mentioned their oversight. I even paid twice and they sent the check back to me when they realised I already paid over the web. I'm still waiting for the license. They usually do a good job in local government from where I see it.

Did anybody read the article about road / rock salt in The Bay View Compass? I meant to write about that one day but only wrote letters rather than an article. Hopefully, they'll limit it's application a bit more. I've "harvested" it from intersections where it was HEAVILY applied in the past. Whoops, what am I saying? I'm admitting online the obtaining of city property? What's wrong with me?

I better not mention this other thing I did while the road was under construction.

I'm ready to move from Dubai as soon as possible.


8:51 p.m. - 2008-02-10

I was going to talk about a flat tire but was just admiring the moon. It's a perfect crescent shape and looking all Islamic.

Lyra's tyre has a flat due to a thorn. I told Neil next door and he said something to the effect that "It's always thorns" like it happens all the time. LIke it's tailor made for flat bike tyres. I'm writing in English because I like to and like the word "tyre". I also like neighbour as if you couldn't see that by now.


8:20 p.m. - 2008-02-10

Hello! Did you miss me?

I was playing guitar tonight and this house sucks for calling down to family but rocks TOTALLY for room reverb. You see, I have this Laney amp that I got in England that has a Jensen speaker that I added. I was playing along with Satan's Pilgrims "At Home With" album (funny how one can quickly resume where one left off). I have also resumed my love affair with the song "Petty 43" but not NASCAR which has sucked since David Pearson, et al raced on skinny tires in Plymouths.

I had a letter published in the daily free paper here. It's all about dog shit and being blamed by my neighbour for other peoples dog shit. The letter is rather happenstance but I did write the word "s***" which is how you write "shit" in the Middle East". But I like in my blog I can write 'shit' three times (four if you include <-- that one) in one paragraph.

We went on a 'family' (read, try and not be bored and pine for a holiday) outing to an Aussie Rules footie match. I'm joking about not having fun on family outings. As long as I can sneak away for a cigarette, I'm ususally ok. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the football match. Rather entertaining sport but they take too may steps before drop kick attempts. Why take 15 paces when two works?


5:14 p.m. - 2008-02-04
Sirocco, Shabooti, Schwalla?

Big dust storm going on here. Woke up this morning and the garage area is full of dust. Pockets of sand on the edges of the cars, and the cover that I fixed onto the water pump is whipping in the breeze again.

The dust storm; Julie tried to come up with the Arabic name (Sirocco? Schwarma? Schowalter?)

This entry, like so many may be confusing.

Yeah, well, it's the next day, Saturday, which works like a Sunday back home.

Yesterday after coming back from the vet, we went to brunch (it's Friday Brunch here, not Sunday brunch). I think I found out where the hipsters hang. It's a restaurant (not liquor licensed) that looks like a place out of the Third Ward or Brewer's Hill. If I find out it has Wi-Fi, I'll probably work from there a bit. It's a little like City Market but less North Shore (no offence). Then we took a drive (in a sandstorm) to Abu Dhabi, the capital of The UAE.

We drove around a bit and wound up at a piss elegant hotel called the Presidential Palace where we saw what in my opinion was probably the most impressive art exhibit I'd ever seen. It was called the Art Of Islam. What was really crazy it was all from an individual collection. I thought that it may have belonged to a Sheik or a government, but it was a professor who collected it.

There were aspects of it that looked familiar. It turns out that some of it was at The Milwaukee Art Museum.


8:21 a.m. - 2008-02-01
Dust storm.
So this dust storm was like a blizzard. The sand blew and drifted. Sastrugi formed outside of our garage and I could have used a snow shovel. I think that I'll look for a leaf blower, electric and cheap for these times. I have an air compressor but not one suitable for blowing sand. It rained a bit this morning so we didn't try to go into Sharjah where Larry and Susie want to look for rugs. Turns out that it didn't rain enough so we could have went.


6:20 p.m. - 2008-01-27
Manic Cologne

I have a bottle of cologne called Armani Mania. I actually thought about the final dispensation of this product today. I have been waiting for at least two years. When it was nearly new, I dropped it over a hard floor, missed with the foot save, and it's spray tip was broken. My Armani soldiers on.

I've never taken such great care of something like that in my life. Though trying nearly every day to use it up, making sure I don't smell like some greaseball* while doing so, the little spray head seems like it's about to come off at any moment, yet it hangs on tenaciously to it's little draw tube though it's completely severed from it's neck.

I admit that on occasion I'll opt for the Givenchy** (I MUST pronounce it guh-VIN-chee, like the first time I read it), or even some of Basil's Old Spice when I'm in that Teeter mood ("a man wants to smell like a man"), but I really am trying to use up the Armani.

On that aromatic note. The neighbour just stopped by to ask that I don't walk Basil on her villa's lawn. Fair enough, but I always clean up his turds, the only time I don't is when it's dark where I come back the next day, sandwich bag in pocket.

I'm not sure that she believed my explanation about the poo. I WILL try not to walk him around her property again. I've heard too many horror stories about dogs here.

*I know the term greaseball was used in the film "Goodfellas" when describing admittance to La Cosa Nostra; but I do not wish to offend any person of Italian heritage. It just seemed the right word.



3:58 p.m. - 2008-01-26
Drink Gluuo!

In Arabic you read from right to left.

There is a brand of water called Masafi (printed on the label in English). But on the other side it's printed in Arabic. And when read from LEFT to right, the way we're used to reading, it looks like gluuo!

So that's the way Julie reads it when she sees the label and it had me giggling for a good hour this morning.


12:29 a.m. - 2008-01-25
Incoherent bits of emails
We have visitors! Always a good time. Going to desert drumming tomorrow evening. Camel rides, henna, food AND a bar. It's a good time.

Had the ubiquitous carpet sellers ringing around and thought Larry and Susie would enjoy seeing the spiel. Julie and I bought three new rugs. They're a good deal and Julie is pretty good at haggling.

What remains of this entry is a few bits from emails I've sent recently.

Weather is great here. Cool at night! Lovin' that.

I like the architecture.

Went to a bar after (Lyra's) bowling (party) for a little bit. Full of Arabs. Yes, there are plenty who drink and smoke, just like Catholics. Didn't interact as Jules ran her car out of gas. It was a chill bar. First bar that I've been to that seemed to have at least a little bit of independent vein.

I've been an early riser so I don't go out much. That and I drink at home, get tired and spend a lot of my energies during the day.

The rain (that has broken records) seems over. The city was quite parylysed from it even after the rains ceased. It wasn't that unusual a rain by what we're used to (a few days of soaking light stuff but it added up to a couple of inches and for having a sandy base, there is still some standing where you think it would have been gone.

I AM digging the weather temps I must say. But I'll hate it in a few months. Julie's dad and Susie are arriving on Wednesday. Korbel on the way! They're always fun.

I was cursing these horribly designed roadways last night. Took an hour to get five miles. Why can't we turn left? I was in a traffic jam going the opposite direction and thought it ridiculous, so I whacked it into 4-wheel, went over the median and was on my way.

I like the homes built here. Concrete block and stucco though they skimp on caulking I believe judging from the dust fallout that blankets the floors after only a few days. I KNOW it's not just coming in on our shoes.


6:03 p.m. - 2008-01-14
Benevolent Dictator

Message from HH SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM Vice President and Prime Minister oF The United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai

Thanks Sheikh Mo for the contribution to my blog.


1:06 p.m. - 2008-01-13
Red Tape For A Blue Car

Half a week ago, we test drove a used Mazda 6 that we liked. It tracked straight and true with no hands on the wheels and all the gears worked automatically and manually (it has a tiptronic deal). What else can one look for at night?

We agreed on a price and tomorrow we should get it. There has been a fair amount of red tape. So today, I need to get it insured even though I don't own it yet.

No putting LAF on cars here. I don't think they'd LAF about it. Dude I know who's name begins with a "T" has been LAFFING with his motorcycle for years now.

Thing I like about Dubai: Floor drains in the kitchen and all of the bath rooms.


12:31 a.m. - 2008-01-11
Dick Satan Dusts The Local Boys

The family finally visited Global Village here at the still under construction Dubailand. It's very much like a State Fair with food booths (a good shwarma place called Al Mallah was where we ate), a midway and semi permanent structures which resemble a bazaar / souk / market.

Lyra was very patient waiting for the midway while we ate and browsed the Czech, Iranian and some other countries (usually axis of evil states of course). Purchased half a kilo (1.1.lbs) of big pistachios (my dad called them "love nuts" and so that's how Lyra knows them) for eight bucks. No sign of Julie's fave pickles but they had loads of nuts, snacks and other nibbles the weirdest being dried cheese and the most interesting being a kind of bean / nut thing that tasted like an almond extract flavoured soft nut or hard bean ... thing.

When we finally made it to the midway, there was a go-kart track that was fast enough for me to want to have a go. The track was wood planking, polished from traffic with rubber bumpers on the track walls (rollers on the inside corners) and on the outside of the karts too. I purposefully took the last kart of the group for the challenge of overtaking the competitors. I passed all of them in about 3-4 laps and then let four of them pass me by pulling over so I could do it again. I got a couple of them but when getting an inside fender, dude shut the door on me and I got stuck on the inside rail of turn one. The planks made the karts swerve on the straights like rain grooves do with a motorcycle, which added a bit of drama to the dicing.

But it was cool hearing Julie, Lyra (and others) cheering for me. When I got out of the kart, Lyra was there to greet me in the pits. A guy wearing a racing leather, Lucky Strike jacket was giving me the thumbs up and he and about four of his buddies were shaking my hand.

The karts weren't racing karts but they had a seat belt. I rule!

The various pavilions had "some" stuff from the countries they represented but also had stuff you can get from any souk here -- the perfume, the bling, the frankincense, etc. One thing the Czech booth had were "unique shishas". They looked like something out of a Doctor Who episode more than an ad in High Times.

There was this tricycle track for kids that were, ostensibly, porta-scoots with toy motorcycle bodies on them. Lyra had a go but I think hers was losing it's charge so she got to get an extra ride from us. We all went on a wild mouse, the trad kind not to be confused with The Crazy Mouse which has pivoting cars. She needed to be held close and though I told her to keep her hands on the bar one hand reached toward mine (Julie and her were abreast in the front seat). I asked her to put it back where it belongs but she said she was scared so I placed my hand upon hers. Julie and I were whoopin' and hollerin' because it was fun and also to let HER know it was fun. When we got off, she said that she'll never go on those again. We lauded her bravery and I made the baby sign "more" which she's recently resurrected for fun; and she said "ok, ok" but we said next time.

She had chosen the baby swing a round ride but then decided to go for the big one. Unfortunately she was too small, though I thought she would have been ok. But once it was going it looked like it would have been too much. It whipped around and had a rocking dipping thing going on that would have likely made me want to hurl so we were glad that she was not allowed to ride. When looking at the seats, she may have been able to worm her way out if she DID freak while it was going on. That would have been quite deadly. Instead she went on a trampoline which is always a good deal and fun for her.

So it was good clean family fun with no real queues to speak about. Worth going back to with visitors with kids who come between mid December and March 1st.

I'm going to try and put at the end of each entry, something I like about living here.

A thing I like about Dubai: Big steins of fresh watermelon juice.

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