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4:37 p.m. - 2009-01-26
Good Bye San Francisco

It's with fond memories that I'll be departing San Francisco in six hours. I've always loved The City and I wonder how long it will be before I return. I've visited now four times and always enjoyed it. Chinatown saw a lot of me this trip as it was the New Year of The Ox.

I met up with one of Julie's internet buddies and they're cool. They had a teacher from China with them and another freind with her two kids. We all had EXCELLENT Dim Sum. The reason for the meet up was because Julie bought some clothes for them for a gala with an Arabian theme that benefits their kids school.

Thay have it going on for their kids in a Mandarin immersion school. I was a little envious of that opportunity for their kids but they assured me that for us in Arabia, Lyra also has a great opportunity to learn about many cultures and, they're right.

I wasn't thinking before leaving for the afternoon only wearing a t-shirt under my light jacket. I'd have been ok if I had a scarf but I sought out sun and indoor areas fairly often. Funny that there never seemed to be a coffee shop where I could have warmed up. Eventually we headed all the way to Embarcadero where there was a Starbucks that was open. The Financial District dies at night and on the weekends because we passed a Peet's that was closed. We instead went to a pub that served London Pride and when the others joined us there, I said my goodbyes to some new friends.

I was hoping to get a cable car ride in but just missed it so up the hill I trudged. I have the hang of the hills again. They're steepness is always a surprise. Maybe my hot ass is a little tighter now.

Sue's neighbours were all pretty cool. There's one couple in particular that jumped through many hoops for her. We took them to Tadich's on Saturday after having a couple of highballs at their flat. They'll miss Sue and told us some funny, and also heartbreaking stories of their interactions with her.

Would YOU go to three different stores for YOUR elderly neighbour who insists on using various coupons? They became friends over the years and after Sue broke her hip and should have gone to live in a rehab or elderly facility they did ALL of her shopping. She probably would have died the minute she set a toe into a nursing home. It would have been nice had she agreed to move back to Milwaukee but I probably would not have been able to move with the family to Dubai.

So THANK YOU Matt and Wa-Wa.


3:30 p.m. - 2009-01-24
Great Evening

Had a brilliant evening after getting things sorted for our estate give-away for some of our aunts possessions.

The three of us went to a place called Plouf which is a French place on a little European style street full of restaurants. We toasted Auntie Susie with a few gins and wines. We chose to sit at the bar and shared a bunch of appetizers.

Earlier, I went out for a smoke break and noticed a young-ish couple who were moving in next door. I waited for them to come back down from loading their mattress and asked them if they needed any stuff. I escorted them in and they now are the proud owners of an 80 year old mirror, some hand bags and, this is the best part; they're coming back for the sofa and a lamp tomorrow. I was dreading leaving the sofa out in the rainy weather. It's a nice piece though stained. Hopefully, once they see the stain, they won't change their mind.

Edited to add: They did come back for the lamp and sofa. I helped them to move it, needing one breather as we took it up four flights after carrying it off the elevator and up the street. Turns out he's a furniture builder so he knew the quality sofa he was getting. Susie had at one time both her soft pieces reupholstered as we found swatches of material amongst all the stuff.


3:43 a.m. - 2009-01-22
Don't Call It Frisco

It takes 24 hours from Dubai to San Francisco via Frankfurt; where I got a hankering for a hot dog. But all I had was a glass of Becks.

I lost some Euros at an airport casino. I didn't play the way I usually do where I take any winnings and cash out.

The first of two flights on Lufthansa had very sporadic service. I wasn't even offered a glass of water. We got an omlette and coffee.

The second flight was a beer fueled eleven plus hour marathon. No individual screens and two movies that I already saw. Good thing I had reading material.

I'm writing this from the lobby of the Sheriff's department where my sister and I stopped to get the key to out aunts apartment. We had to catch BART and walk briskly to get here before closing time. I didn't want to take all my luggage, which is still with me, through the metal dectectors. So I'm typing from the shoe shine guys chair. I'd have a shine but they're off right now.

My keyboard is a little bit wonky. I think there's a piece of cat litter stuck inside.

So Mimi's back and we can start working on clearing out the house.


10:52 p.m. - 2009-01-19
I'll Leave My Heart

I'm going to San Francisco via Frankfurt which will take 24 hours of travel. I am meeting my sister and her husband where we'll spend some days clearing out our Aunt's flat. She died a couple of weeks ago. She might get her wish, of her at one time 'plan' of ending it all off The Golden Gate where we're thinking of sprinkling her ashes.

She was, at one time, very, very hip, or should I say 'hep' when she used to pal around with Basie, Ellington, Ponty and a bunch of other cats. I'll someday write something about her but probably not here.

Visiting her in San Francisco was always a lot of fun. I made three trips out there and quite a few 'firsts' were memorable for me.

It's the first place I ever had Indian food so the somewhat old school gulab jaman will always remind me of SF. I also dropped the incredible sum of $23.00 on my one and only dish of Abalone in Sausalito. It's also the city where I had my first oysters on the half shell. We plan on going back to Tadich Grill where I had them and, hopefully, will have them again.

I saw Nina Hagen on the 'Nunsexmonkrock' tour. She and her band were great and, to me, that's the only Nina album I'll ever love or need. The last visit there, Jules and I saw The Fireballs of Freedom backing up The Makers at Bottom Of The Hill which is my kind of place.

Maybe we can get stuff sorted in a hurry as I'd like to hit some sort of club, perhaps Saturday night after dinner. I fully expect to be on a bad jet lag so I hope I pull my weight.

I'm delivering some piss elegant, full-on, Arabic clothing to Julie's friend and her husband who'll probably look the coolest at their Arabian shin dig 'ha' thing they got goin' on.


6:58 a.m. - 2009-01-16
Pretty Script But I Don't Speak The Language

I noticed that when I'd get an email, it would be noted in the USA's Central Time Zone. To remedy that, I needed to put my main hotmail account to UAE settings. I could have set it to GMT but that would still require a little arithmetic. I never noticed that before, and, it really doesn't matter that much.

So now, along my right hand margin, I get targeted ads in Arabic. Now there's even less temptation to click there (not that I ever did).

Julie has something up her sleeve to celebrate my birthday. I guessed a helicopter ride (not that I ever expressed any interest in one) because she wants me ready to go at 1330. I also need to dress somewhat nicely.

Lyra knows what it is and has kept the secret very well. I don't know if she's excited about going to the neighbours for the day (and night?) or to see whatever is in store.

I better get some sleep. I've been awake three hours to early.


5:59 p.m. - 2009-01-15
HEY!!! Turn Down That Infernal Holy Quran Racket!

After driving home, I was getting out of the car and thought I heard the call to prayer. By the way, if you're near a mosque, not sheltered by being in the car with the radio on, and the Iman starts wailin' Keee riest! Talk about loud! It's a good thing I like the lilt otherwise I'd take it out on the family.

So, getting back to my story. It wasn't the call to prayer, it was some guy, dressed in a pseudo security type uniform with some loud ass words of Allah or some crap, on his stereo. He had his door open, getting out of his car and taking off his shoes. I thought he was going to get out a prayer rug and do the little bow to the ground thing. I didn't stick around but had the keys still been in the ignition I would have come pretty close to crankin' some Satan's Pilgrims to drown it out.

Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood, ya know?


4:33 p.m. - 2009-01-08
Rock Snob

My cool sister in law turned me onto Pandora radio which is kind of fun.

I like to play Stump The Music Genome Project' with it entering obscure acts and, usually it performs almost admirably. I've even learned about unknown bands from it. I also like that it gets a lot of its stuff from compilations that I've had for ages.

Obscure enough, if it identifies the band / artist I enter, I'll rename the station in a clever genre encompassing way. And it's fun to eliminate some of the selections that it 'thinks' belongs.

But I think that if one gives a song a thumb's up, it puts it into a rotation where it's played too often. And if you give it a thumb's down, it removes it 100%. Harsh. There's songs that I don't 'hate' but I don't love them either. Los Straitjackets for instance. What do I do with them? I think moving them to a station 'limbo' might be the ticket.


10:24 p.m. - 2009-01-07
Our b-Girl be Downrockin' an' Shit ...

Lyra had her first class of the new term with 'Kid's Theatre Works!' which seems to be a rather popular thing with the expat arty crowd.. This one involves song and dance (we remind her that SHE'S the one who wants to be in Ralph's World videos). It's being taught by a 20 something guy which is good because Lyra has a slight phobia about guy teachers.

It's being held in a good space at a 'for profit' 'edufun' centre or some such shit. It's really an indoor playground with an art room and kiddie casino. You know, the thing where you play games of chance for tickets that you can exchange for rubbishy toys.

She nervously went in and I went off exploring the mall looking at a krazillion things, none of which I needed or liked. I swear, besides Ben Sherman, there's not a stitch of clothing that appeals to me. I couldn't even find brown socks that I liked (and need).

As the hour came to it's conclusion, I spied on the class for a bit. I quickly found out that they were playing a dance version of musical chairs where, once the music stopped, anyone caught out still moving was eliminated. It looked like Lyra was first out.

I watched them practice some steps following the teachers moves and Lyra seemed off balance which I can understand as -- she's my daughter but mostly due to the fact that she had her hands folded in front of her.

Then they must have been told to dance however they feel. Lyra immediately sat down and ... spun on her ass. Round and round she went varying nothing but her speed.

I attribute her "butt spin" move to her two year old self seeing breaks performed at the Wisconsin quarter unveiling and, just a few weeks ago, seeing an urban dance troupe lightnin' it up during our search for Santa.

We then went for dinner at the food court where she polished off twelve pieces of sushi.


9:22 p.m. - 2009-01-07
RIP Ron Asheton

I just heard Ron Asheton died at age 60 so I put a couple of Stooges vids up.


7:58 p.m. - 2009-01-05
Frustrating Nipple Needs

So the piece of junk pig metal spigot for our hose broke over a month ago and today, I finally fixed it except when I screwed the nice new brass part into the house and tightened it, it pointed up! So tomorrow it's off to Ace to get a two to three inch long, half inch pipe nipple. I may need a new nozzle for the hose because that's all screwed up too.

The trouble with fixing it stemmed from me not being able to find the shut off point. It's down the street on the corner of the building. I walk past it everyday. The outside connection is turned on or off there. The rest of the house works off a tank on the roof.

It should not be this complicated and I think my pipe wrenches are in MKE.

While at Ace, they had Makita chainsaws on "sale" and the one I would have bought would be less than 500 dollars. See? I collect logs. I'm the log man. I like to build fires sometimes and so I collect trees that people cast away.

It's not easy sawing trees with a bow saw!


1:17 p.m. - 2009-01-01
Good Time Last Night

Didn't expect much last night as far as a New Year's celebration was concerned. But we were invited by our neighbours to a gathering they had.

Growing up, we enjoyed family time, usually with my mom and dad, sister, brothers and their husband, wives and kids. We'd blow off firecrackers, bang on kettle covers (one in particular rang resoundingly well), wear vintage New Years hats amassed from years past and make a bunch of noise at midnight. My dad would sometimes play accordian. We have a smelly old coronet that was my grandpas where I'd get a massive head rush trying to play Auld Lang Syne. In my younger adult years, I'd sometimes go out as the family party was winding down as bars in Milwaukee can stay open all night on January 1st. But the family gathering was quite sufficient and always enjoyable.

New Years eve last year and by that I mean 2008-2009 was fun. They had their teen son and his friends down near the pool where they were smoking shisha and we stayed up on their patio. Later on the teens put on some HARDCORE rap and were dancing "a little" to it. It made me realise that, unless it's crap pop pablum, I'll have to keep an open mind to music that Lyra will be getting into lest I breed resentment.


5:11 p.m. - 2008-12-31
Party Tonight

I was going to look at images from Gaza at Al Jazeera youtube site but I was distracted by "Wargasm" and "Shitlist" by L7 live from Rio.

Lyra and I popped out to get her birthday party supplies where I discouraged anything having to do with princesses, commercial conglomerate related things or, acceptable (to me) toddler related stuff (Sesame Street). She chose dogs and cats wearing sunglasses and looking like they're ready to 'hit - it' looking quite festive. I almost bought a ton of heart shaped sunglasses but they were not UV rated so I'm thinking of getting some for the kids who RSVP.

When we were leaving the party supply store, there was an Audi R8 parked in the lot. Sweet. Giant disc brakes as sized like a large pizza, carbon fibre panels and a clear engine cover. We popped over to the Irish Village where they are (were?) setting up for a large New Year's eve party. However ...

In a show of solidarity because of the war in Gaza, Sheikh Mo has called off all parties for New Years celebrations including the giant parties that have been planned (for months, probably) by all the hotels. Nice. I don't know if it'll have any effect on peoples thoughts or lack thereof regarding the ridiculousness of war.

I read that Al Jazeera is "banned" in the USA. I THINK there is availability on youtube for those that care to peruse real scenes and not the sanitized versions shown on even the better media outlets that the USA gets to see.

I think it's fair that I balance the stuff shown in the USA with other views. Do you?


7:25 a.m. - 2008-12-30
Not Constantinople

Some friends are coming for a visit and want to do Turkey. We've been to Istanbul and I regretted not buying some cymbals so here's my chance.

Have been reading a history of The Ottoman empire so will have to look at Istanbul with a different perspective. It'll be good to get into some cooler weather.


4:35 p.m. - 2008-12-29
I Need Nyquil

Fever, aches and pains, gut aches.


4:53 p.m. - 2008-12-28
Greetings From Steven Hawking

If I leave the computer open, our cat Jetgirl likes to lay upon it in order to warm herself. It must be very comfortable having the keyboard conform to each little contour of her belly, elbows and knees. Depending on what programs I have 'open' it can have some interesting effects which I then need to remedy.

When we came home today, she had managed to turn on the voice for the visually impaired and type .... and type n type n type, the number '7.' So, in a computer voice, quite like Steven Hawking's we heard: Quintillion! 777; Quadrillion! 777; etc, etc. I didn't wish to listen to how long she was typing the number 7, but I'll bet it was for 777 Quintillion milliseconds or so.


6:46 p.m. - 2008-12-25

Some of the booty I received:

'Our Dumb World' Atlas by The Onion

THREE(!) Monty Python movies.

SCUBA shirt.

Season II of 'Weeds'

'Why We Suck' by Dennis Leary

Portable DVD player

'Mad Men' Video

I'm psyched about my telly fix.

Thanks family.


5:11 a.m. - 2008-12-25
Holiday Greetings

To you and yours.

Christmas eve dinner was very rich ... ugh! I made a quick steak en croute (too slapdash to call it Wellington) and some nice little lobster tails.

Last night we tracked Santa with Norad. The videos they feature have this pseudo military radio chatter in the background that appeals to me for some reason.

Before bed we watched "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and read "Twas The Night Before Christmas." Having a little kid has made Christmas fun for me again.

Dubai has had a white Christmas this year: When I woke early this morning, there was white fog blanketing the neighbourhood.


3:25 p.m. - 2008-12-24

We bought for Lyra a Harry Potter spells and potions thing. I was opening the shipping packaging and discovered that Dubai Customs ripped into it big time. I'll have to ascertain the damages.

Making Beef Wellington and a couple of small lobster tails. Didn' see any artichokes but didn't look that hard either. It's been YEARS since Julie and I have had our customary surf and turf Xmas dinner. Perhaps when we're empty nesters we can resume that with some regularity.


6:43 p.m. - 2008-12-22
Pigs And The Bees

One of the many snippets of child rearing knowledge that I remember dealt with sex. "Talk to your child about sex when you feel comfortable with it."

Lyra: "How do baby pigs look?

Me: "Like little pigs."

Lyra: "How can you tell a boy pig from a girl pig?"

Me: "Do you mean if you were a pig? Probably from the smell."

Lyra: "Noooo! If you're a human!"

Me: "You just look. A girl pig has a vagina and a boy pig has a penis."

NB: I didn't feel it pertinent to explain about corkscrew shaped pig schwangs.

Lyra: "Can you see them?"

Me: "Yeah. I think you can tell from a distance."

Lyra: "But if you can't? Won't they be mad when you look?"

Me: "Not when they're babies."


7:53 p.m. - 2008-12-21
Presto! Change-O!

Over here you'll see these little stands or carts selling cups of corn. I like corn just fine but never ordered any thinking 'weird ... corn.'

When Julie's sister Amy and her Aunt Mary visited, we went down to the souks and, I was famished and finally, as we made our way back to the store, ordered a cup of chili flavoured 'Magic Corn.' It was like kernals from heaven! I had them spice them up with some butter and chili. I KNOW! Sounds good doesn't it?

I let Lyra try some and even though it was a little spicy, she loved it. I let her finish half the cup; suffering for my daughter.

For the second straight day, we went looking for Santa. We found where he was to be -- at Lamcy Plaza, a multi (five floor?) level mall. He wasn't in yet and, his 'grotto' if you can call it that was in an amusement area that has an admission, it looked tacky and though, I would have come back, did a little more research and let Lyra decide she'd rather go and see him at another place called Mercato.

Three shittin' days of hunting for Santa ...

The reason it's tougher this year may be that Christmas is very close to the Muslim Eid. Whatever.

And, for the second straight evening, Basil, Lyra and I went out dune bashing and campfire building. We ate a bit before heading out and brought water and nuts to eat. I DID bring a lot of small and medium kindling and four little logs plus a tennis ball to keep Basil occupied. We went further in, away from the road and found a great little patch with a dead shrub that was handy as we had a good strong wind and what I brought would have lasted all of 45 minutes. I scrounged around and found some very decrepit and buried remains of fence posts to lengthen our burn time.

Basil does not really need a leash if you have a ball for him. He digs after that ball occasionally squirting it out of his one dog scrum but, eventually, he dug out a more than foot deep crater that kept him on one spot. Hope his paws aren't hurting him. The sand was soft but imagine how your hands would feel after 18,000 (at LEAST) digs.

I decided to rent a film for us to watch and got Shaun The Sheep and the Kite Runner for after Lyra hits the bricks. When leaving the store, there ... a Magic Corn stand! I wanted some! I ordered Lyra's with butter, cheese flavouring and chicken flavouring. Mine had chilli and sour cream toppings.

She didn't like it because the kernels, this time were 'prickly' and I have to agree. I want to see the machine that pulls kernels out of the cob rather than slice them off. How do they do that? It was sharp on one end, like popcorn would be. I ate hers and though prickly, it was tasty.


10:00 p.m. - 2008-12-20

Lyra, Bas and I went out to the desert this evening after driving fuck all looking for a Santa for her to visit. As we were in the neighbourhood, we stopped at Wolfi's bike shop to get her a new bike helmet. She's grown out of the old one. Good thing too. I hated that piece of junk from the get-go. The new one makes so much sense and it would because it's made in Germany. It has an adjustable headband on the inside like one would see on a welding helmet. There's a knob in the back that allows some flexibility there. It looks comfortable and the "non product placement" cartoon penguins decorating it is just a bonus. I had the guy adjust the straps because those things perplex me to the point where I just want to smash the whole thing into a million pieces.

We also went and got the groceries. I put it off yesterday because today (and every third Saturday) everything at the Organic store is 20% off. Not bad, we saved nearly 140 dirham.

After getting home, I loaded up the car with the air compressor (letting air out of the tires is one way to help get out from being mired in sand), some kindling, logs and some sand toys. Lyra changed her clothes and got the flashlight while I went and changed. I text messaged the neighbours to see if they wanted to join us but they were off to celebrate Jacks first "gig." He's been taking drum lessons. Upon our return home, I left a lot of the stuff in the car because we think we want to go tomorrow. I'll be better prepared. I'll bring extra wood along as we almost loused up the fire when adding some "found" charcoal from previous fires. Lyra found some metal tongs and they came in handy. We left them there thinking it just might be the Bedouin thing to do. I don't know. She also scrounged up some partially burned and buried logs. Well done to her. It kept us out an extra 90 minutes.

Where we went, it's very busy. Barely on the outskirts, two or three miles from the house, many people are dune bashing, running RC dune buggies, sitting around their own fires and just being chill.

If we finish the stuff that we've planned, we'll go out when it's still light and bring some food along. Maybe I'll drive away from the road just a bit and check out some softer (but easier to get stuck in) sand.

*Thanks to The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown for today's heading.


9:09 p.m. - 2008-12-19
Hello Snow Friends

I was watching the Milwaukee snowstorm and in a chatroom with others doing likewise..

I was banned from the chat room for saying ass. Sheesh! I tried to clear my history /cache, etc. and turn on my VPN but it didn't work. Too bad as I was having fun watching the storm with other homesick people and my lively banter made for a much better chat.

Leave a note if any of you who were there come here.


6:14 p.m. - 2008-12-17
A New Page

It's been two months since I've put a "new" page in this weblog diary. If you have not been here for awhile, you may wish to hit "older entries" over there to the left and catch up that way.


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