Monday, October 15, 2007

i've been struggling with what to do with this blog now that my life has returned to normal. . .or mostly normal in the context of average american lifestyles. the blog was started in order to keep in touch with people back here in america while i was in saudi arabia and now that my life is in america. . .who wants to read about an average american person?

well. . .

i might have underestimated the relationships i established in saudi arabia. i assumed my quick and unexpected departure would have resulted in short disappointment and confusion, and that would be that. . .however in retrospect i can see the following scene completely played out in my mind. victor goes to durma. . .our friends in durma ask about my where abouts. . .victor explains i'm back in america. . .the saudis ask why? victor says, "you'll have to ask him". . .and this blog and my youtube videos are discovered. apparently virtually all our saudi friends have visited youtube to see the videos i created in saudi arabia. apparently at first they seemed a little disgruntled but the shift to "popularity" has become exciting to everyone except the 90 year old father.

ramadan, an islamic religious holiday where fasting is done during the day, is over. . .and eid, a bit of several holidays combined into one three day celebration, has begun. there are carpets put in front of the house on the street in durma. . .and people are coming to visit in the morning. . .starting at 6am. there are fireworks. . .candy is given out to all. . .and then there is a feast of sheep, chicken and several other delicacies. . .in the evening there is dancing (men only) and more food. . .what better time to take some pictures. . .for worldwide distribution.






















Monday, June 11, 2007

i guess i haven't been clear. . .i am back in indianapolis. i'm not going back to saudi arabia. i have experienced what i needed to experience there. i had lunch with ross baker a few days ago. he said, "a theocracy doesn't seem like a good fit for you." i'd have to agree with him.

now that i'm back safe on american soil i can share the following stories to help explain my decision. . .

i didn't hear from some saudi "friends" of mine for a few weeks. then. . .they called me one night out of blue. . .asking for "whiskey, black label." i told them i didn't have any whiskey. they said, "please, we've been very kind to you. tomorrow, black label, whiskey, okay?" i said i'd see what i could do. i called a friend. the next day i had the whiskey. the saudis called me again, "black label, whiskey?" i said, "okay, okay, i'll meet you at imam university, at gate 4." i drove over there. . .i waited in my car for 20 minutes with the bottle of contraband. . .i felt scared and terrible. . .like a drug dealer. they finally pulled up and parked next to me. i got out of my car and into their suv. they said, "how much?" i was confused. i thought we were going to hangout. they asked again, "how much. we want to buy it." i said, "500 S.R." ($130 USD). they said, "another bottle." i said, "no, this is all i have and it was hard to get. . .and i feel bad about it." "tomorrow, another bottle!! YOU BRING ANOTHER BOTTLE!!" "NO! i'm not doing going to that." "NEXT WEEK YOU BRING BOX!!!" i started freaking out. . .the demands were being shouted at me. i grabbed the money out of their hand and jumped out of the suv and into my car. they immediately followed me out of the parking lot. . .and started calling my cell phone. i sped to the compound. . .went through the security gate and never talked to them again.


(CONTENT REMOVED BY REQUEST)


today i'm 29. one more year and i'll be 30. . .

. . .i can see old man wrinkles on my forehead. i always hoped deep down inside wrinkles and hair loss would be caused by raising a family. . .but instead they've come from child like relationships with peers. it's disappointing. . .will i ever grow-up?

as a special birthday gift apple, inc. released it's new version of the safari web browser. why is this significant? almost exactly one year ago (june 6th to be exact) i sent feedback to apple through their website requesting they make web browser tabs "breakout-able or drag out-able". it's been implemented. however i didn't get invited WWDC to introduce the new browser feature. i also asked for a job in the same email, and they didn't give me that either. i guess i'll just have to be happy with the new drag out tabs. i have that same feeling that i had when i emailed white castle about garlic burgers, which also eventually came to fruition. when i sent the emails i felt like i was performing a selfless act, like contributing to open source or something. . ."knowledge should be free". . .but giving knowledge for free to corporations who turn around and profit from it feels. . .well like being taken advantage of, admittedly i put myself in the situation. . .why?. . .because there is also a sense of affirmation, self affirmation, but affirmation the same. . ."look my idea was a good idea after all."

. . .it's all very emotionally confusing.

Friday, May 4, 2007



'nuf said. . .

Thursday, May 3, 2007

i've been thinking and talking alot about the media lately. . .i thought it might be interesting to see what's in the local riyadh news paper. obviously since my arabic is poor. . .and most the people that read this blog probably can't speak any arabic at all. . .i've decided to post a few pictures from today's local news paper. . .









(remember arabic is right to left. . .so is this cartoon. . .notice the disapproving eyes in the background of the left hand panel. . .)



humanization of ahmadinejad. . .president of iran.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

i've had the worst luck with security the past two days.

over the weekend, in the restaurant/bar on the compound, i met a 30 year old half african half arab named sam from holland who spent 4+ years in london then went to surf in brazil before ending up here in riyadh. he has been calling me incessantly ever since. . .so last night i decided sure. . .man. . .lets hangout. we drove around the town and grabbed a bite to eat at chili's. . yes, chili's. . .because it made me think of the television show "the office". . .which is funny.

around 10pm we found ourselves back at the compound gate. only. . .the little security guy, who vic calls "rat boy". . .wasn't there. it was some new pump fellow who was followed out of the gate house by some guy in military fatigues. security always checks under the hood. . .looking for bombs. . .so i popped the hood to my corolla. the security guard then gave me the hand signal for "papers". i pulled my compound card from my pocket and told sam to do the same. . .about this time the security guard positioned himself to the right of the car, and the military guy was standing on the left. . .and now outta now where there were two more military guys. . .one of which was standing in front of the car and the other one behind. i thought to myself. . .what the f*ck?. . .i was starting to get nervous. . .i knew if i needed to drive away i was going to have to hit one of these bastards. the military guy on the left asked me with a hand motion to roll my window down. . .i did. . .he said in arabic "how are you?". . .i said back in arabic. . ."100%". . .he then pounded on my door and said in english. . ."open your door!". . .i said in english. . ."what?". . .then i spewed a string of both arabic and english. . ."no no no no. . .you better explain why you want me open this door!!" then the man said something to the others. . .and they all backed off. . .and waved us through. the whole thing wigged me out. . .i'm guessing its probably new security measures. . .something to do the recent news. . .but i'm not about to get outta my car for anyone.

as a quick side note. . .this is prime example of what i'm talking about when i say it's mentally exhausting here. . .i'm simultaneously thinking, "what is this guy asking", "how can i get outta this situation if i need to", "why is the happening", "is this new guy next to me doing the right thing", "how do i communicate everything is cool", "damn what is the arabic word for cool". . .thought processes like this happen. . .a lot. . .

this morning i pulled up to the security gate at work. . .the military security checked under hood. . .and in the corolla's boot. few meters after this manual human staffed gate there is a second gate that is automated by badge/access card. it's pretty much standard procedure to tailgate through the automated gate if someone swipes through in front of you. this morning i was third in a line of cars at the gate. car one swiped his access card. . .car two followed him under the gate. . .and i followed car two under the gate. i parked my car. . .opened the door. . .and got out with my briefcase in one hand and my starbucks in the other (i'm such a yuppie american). . .and up marched a military guard. he said in english, "card!". . .so i set down my briefcase and dug my badge/access card outta my pocket. . .he grabbed it and my arm and pulled me over to the automated gate (which is now about 50 meters away). he swiped my card for me then handed it back to me and said, "go!"

i left work today and found the outgoing gate which operates with the same protocol as the automated incoming gate. . .to be lopsided (i.e. the end opposite the hinge was on the ground). . .i certainly learned my lesson this morning. . .so i swiped my badge. . .the gate didn't move. . .so i swiped again. . .no luck. . .by this time there was a line of saudis behind me. . .and if you know saudis you know they LOVE honking those car horns. . .by this point. . .i'd just had it. . .with gates. . .security. . .my crappy luck. . .so i put the car park and got out to lift up the gate. . .it was dusty and heavy. only it didn't stop at 90 degrees like i expected. . .it did a full 180 degree rotation and smacked the ground on the other side with a huge "BANG!" i looked at the saudi in the car behind me who was laughing. . .i shrugged. . .and got back into my car. about the time i shut the door. . .out ran a guard. . .barefoot?. . .he was yelling. . .he told me to pull over. . .i did. everyone behind me just drove through the gate and waved at me in thanks. the guard went back into the guard house. . .i could see the guard fiddle farting around with his socks and boots (obviously he neglected to put his shoes back on after prayer). . .he started getting really frustrated as he was lacing up his boots. . .i swear like 5 minutes went by and the guy couldn't get his boots on. . .he gave up. . .poked his head out and told me to go. . .

Saturday, April 28, 2007

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6599963.stm

. . .i work for a section of the interior ministry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

i'm excited about arriving in the states on may 18th. . .i'm excited about getting some rest. . .not the "i need to take a nap" sort of rest. . .mental rest. i'm tired of standing out because i'm a minority. . .i mean everyone notices me. . .i'm tired of listening to every word someone says either because i'm trying to match it to my very small arabic vocabulary. . .or because i'm trying to figure out the broader concept from someone's very small english vocabulary. i'm tired of white knuckles always aware driving. i'm tired of being excited to get off work to remember that i have nothing to do at home and thus getting excited about going back to work. i'm tired of not sleeping well. i tired of saudis calling me for "black label" whiskey. i'm tired of wanting to leave work only to find the little indian man i paid to wash my car. . .washing my car (which i why i'm writing this blog entry right now).

i want to eat a gt's souths pulled pork sandwich. . .i want to eat a bazbeaux's sausage and banana pepper pizza. . .i want to drink a heineken beer. . .i want to drink some c-shaw/$2 buck chuck from trader joe's. . .want to remember was it was like to see women about. . .i especially want to see jen. . .want to breath deep some air that has humidity in it. . .and not have dust mud in my lungs or dust boogers. . .

. . .i want to just blend in and half listen. . .i want to be an american.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

a few years ago i went to new york city. . .i was staying on the upper west side of manhatten. . .and taking the subway to brooklyn every other day for theremin lessons. . .but one morning i got on the subway and i rode it toward "ground zero" of the world trade center disaster instead. . .only the train didn't go to world trade center anymore. . .so i got off at the stop before. i walked up the stairs to outside. . .and i saw it. . .the big hole. . .the one you see on tv. . .only it was bigger than i expected. . .it was huge. . .i'm sure i looked like any other world trade rubber necker. . .standing there with my month hanging open at the sheer size of the whole dibacal. i walked around the hole. . .there were some construction machines inside it. . .but no one was working. i don't know how many square blocks the hole is. . .maybe 2, 3 or 4?. . .i remembered seeing those dust clouds blowing down the street with people running horrified while the buildings came down. . .and i bent down and stuck my finger in some dust that was still gathered between a sidewalk and a building. . .it was soft.

i literally live right across the street from where some of the 9/11 hijackers went to school. . .and everytime classes get out and i see college kids going to their cars or getting in taxis. . .i try to imagine the hijackers being just a bunch of college kids standing in the parking lot smoking cigarettes like the kids across the street. . .they look so normal. . .and then i think about that eff'ing hole in new york. . .that is so outside the ordinary it rocked a nation and the world. . .that hole seems so far away from those kids. . .but just as i stand in the dust blowing in off the desert in saudi arabia. . .it was only a few years ago i was poking disaster dust in nyc.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

what's great about being overseas is things that would normally be a huge annoyance turn into interesting cultural experiences.

yesterday i came out of the grocery to find a right rear tire on my corrola that looked suspiciously low in air. i confirmed this with a few kicks of the tire, but decided it was still full enough to drive to garage close to my villa.

i pulled into the garage and in front of the area that looked like the tire shop (i.e. there were stacks of tires). an indian man came up to me and said something in arabic. . .my arabic is terrible. . .so i said in english, "more air", and accompanied it with a hand motion indicating inflation and a noise that sounded like air going into a tire. . .at this point the man grabbed a young saudi guy (a LOT of saudis speak english) to help him. . .only this saudi's english was terrible, but he was just a teenager so he probably hasn't been to school in the states yet. . .seems most saudis inevitably end up going to school in canada or the US . .so anyway the three of us are standing there looking at the tire. . .making noises, hand gestures and speaking two broken languages. then the indian man busts out a whacky looking gage and attaches it to the tire. . .he then shows me the gage. . .okay. . .the thing is EVERYTHING is arabic is backwards. . .they write right to left. . .and even the computer screens here are mirror images (i.e. the windows start button is on the bottom right). . .so when i looked at the gage the needle was in the bottom left. . .which as most westerners would agree means low. . .but it's also in a green "zone" as opposed to the yellow or red zones. . .which to most westerners would indicate okay. . .so finely i say in arabic. . ."problem or no problem?". . .and both the saudi and the indian say in arabic, "problem". . .yes!. . .we are finally on the same page. . .i need the tire patched. the indian man just takes the tire off and starts patching it. . .he didn't ask me anything, like, "do you want this patched?". . .i had no idea how much this was going to cost me. . .but luckily being in saudi and seeing has how it was being done by an indian. . .it was probably safe to assume it was going to cost me very little. (yes these thoughts would be considered racist in america. . .but it's the sad truth of saudi arabia. . .everyone is EXTREMELY race conscious). right about this time a SUV comes squealing around the corner into the garage and out jumps this 20 something saudi dressed in western clothes. he literally opens the back of his SUV and throws/rolls a flat tire into the tire shop. he then struts over to me and asks, "where are you from?" his english was perfect. . .i said, "the states." he said, "obviously, but were in the states?" i said, "indianapolis." he said, "i went to college in VA." explains his excellent english. . .anyway. . .he starts to tell me how i should go to some bar in bahrain and how i should go to his gym. . .blah blah blah. . .he was nice enough. . .he even bargained a decent deal on the tire patch for me. . .we exchange numbers.

later that night he sends me some text message that is some sort of joke. . .whose punch line i forget but it described penises as "===>" and vaginas as "( )". . .i was at a loss as to what to text back. . .so i ignored it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

. . .i'm considering an early return. . .any of you past co-workers want to work with me again. . .;-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

. . .dust storms. . .we don't have these in indianapolis. . .but they have them here. dust storms are strange. it's sorta like a thick brown fog. . .that sneaks up outta no where, but a flog with wind. . .and everything gets really dirty. . .and it sucks to breath. . .i guess you could say. . .it's like the earth sharted (i.e. fart where you sh*t a little). . .if you are into that whole al gore personification of the planet speak.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

i don't believe in static reality. . .i believe we are all subject to a personal reality in the context of our lives. the same action can have as many outcomes as the observers of the action. we all judge things based on what we've learned and experienced. . .this is why good intentions turn out bad. . .what's "good" in my context may not be "good" in yours. this is why morality bends between individuals. even solid in-animate objects are subject to what our individual brains interpret. . .so even the universe is subject to interpretation. racism. . .religion. . .all stem from contexts. . .all stem from experience and interpretation. . .

why is this relevant? i've done a bit of personal introspection. i've long understood that it's no use to fight emotions with logic. . .how you feel is how you feel. . .you can't change it. . .but why?. . .why can't you just recognize your emotions and decide not to feel that way? this is because you lack the experience to override your current perception of reality. i know i have trust issues. . .this is an artifact of my marriage to kristen rose graves, but why should i not trust others in my life?. . .because the damage done by kristen was so severe that it is the overriding and default interpretation of MY reality. i believe this is why depressed people are depressed. . .perhaps they lack the context to recognize "happy" events. what's worse is contexts can only grow larger the older you get. . .you'll never be rid of sub-contexts. . .i'll never be rid of the context of reality of the 3.5 years i spent with kristen. . .all i can hope is to grow the experience of trusting. . .so my context includes more incidents if trusting then distrusting.

i would also like to address the issue of patterns. . .patterns arise in contexts (i.e. you might try the same things over and over). . .i see this. . .i'm not stupid. . .i'm not blind. we can take the very obvious parallel of my time in vermont vs. my time here in saudi arabia. i believe this pattern has arose perhaps as a subconscious do-over. . .perhaps i am trying to cancel out the negative context with a positive one. . .will it work?. . .depends on the outcome, right? perhaps i re-enforce an already negative portion of my personal world view. . .perhaps i come out with a more vanilla world view thanks to perfect context frequency cancellation. . .who knows these things. it's a survival mechanism. you wouldn't believe the number of patterns i have counted in my life. . .but i'll leave them out here. . .because i might freak people out. . .i might freak myself out. . .but i suggest you try it yourself. . .

. . .beware of variable aggregations. . .one should be aware that the more variables that can be freely associated. . .the more your context will construct a personal reality. . .for example social websites. . .(myspace, facebook, etc). . .there are only variables there not realities. . ."friends", friend orders, self-proclaimed profiles of personal information, pictures. . .mountains and mountains of data that can be freely associated by your interpretation. this is why turmoil can arise from browsing information about significant others. . .etc. . .however this is only a warning. . .never ever underestimate the power of intuition, the power of interrupting your reality. . .you've learned your lessons for a reason. . .for survival. both variable aggregations and intuition should serve as a foundation for communication.

communication is the only means by which we can intersect contexts and world views. . .this is why diplomacy works for both nations and relationships. . .accusations and action serve no one in terms of changing world views. . .this is why iraq is failing. . .the united states has done nothing to influence the world view of the people of iraq. . .iraq only sees reality through the context of the rule of saddam and the religion of islam. . .they're reality doesn't include democracy. . .it's all we westerners know. . .of course it seems obvious in our context. . .

. . .or perhaps i'm going mad. . .heh.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

my mom emailed me today to ask a couple questions that probably would be interesting to address publicly. . .

Hey, I was wondering about the head gear the men wear. Is it all the same color and pattern or does it vary by family. In some cultures it does. So far it looks the men you have met are all wearing the same red.

all saudi men in general dress identical to one another. . .a white "thobe" and a red and white "sham'agh" (head covering). . .sometimes you see yellow, cream, brown or black thobes. . .or a plain white “sham’agh” but that's only when one really wants to standout. . .for the rebellious one can wear western clothes like me. . .blue jeans and t-shirts. . .but that's pretty much only for hanging out with young people. . .even my friends that wear western clothes wear the traditional stuff around elders.

all women look exactly the same as well. . .black "abyas". . .the head coverings are optional. . .depending on how "islamic" you are. . .the difference is women MUST wear black abyas. . .it's the law. women wear normal western style clothes under the abyas


Are you worried about the new escalations with Iran?

no. . .but only because i don't think it will go beyond diplomacy. . .that being said if there is a war with iran. . .i might come home. . .what i am afraid of is the us pulling out of iraq. . .now i am no supporter of the iraq war. . .and honestly i believe the us should leave iraq. . .but if the us does leave iraq the insurgents will return to saudi arabia. . .and it would probably be best to leave the area. . .

How are you? Really?

fine. i'm sorta getting home sick now. . .sad that i'm missing spring. . .i'd like to walk to bazbeaux's for pizza and wine. . .

Saturday, March 31, 2007



these are some guys i hung out with in durma on thursday. . .the guy in the middle sitting cross legged is the 92 year old father. . .whose name in english means "falcon". . .

Wednesday, March 28, 2007



here the music is done by bob. . .bob is software. . .software i wrote. . .you can download bob. . .at bob-music.soureforge.com

Monday, March 26, 2007

i'd like to start out by thanking those people who comment on this blog. . .i know i don't always respond. . .but it's nice to know people like damion, josh, beth, my aunts, my grandmother, ex-co-workers, etc. . .read/watch/listen all content i keep pooping onto the web. . .

i buzzed my hair. it was too long.

the last goodhands team recording session is posted at http://goodhandsteam.com/dancecomp.html (i played in that session)

aljazeera (the tv network spinned as evil in the us) is airing a tv show called "couscous and cola". near as i can tell it's about muslim teens in the west. . .(english sub-titles). . .they are in amsterdam now. . .trying to get to the us. . .it's like mtv's real world only they are dealing with issues like western perception of islam and mid-east politics instead of which roommate slept with who. . .i guess the most shocking statement in the show was when one of the kids kicked a soccer ball over the fence into the yard of the us embassy. . .and one of the other kids said jokingly. . ."watch out, bush might be in there. . .the biggest terrorist of them all. . ."

i saw a commercial by dove about ideals of beauty (perhaps this commercial is in the us too. . .i don't know). . .checkout http://campaignforrealbeauty.ae. . .the commerical is in fast stop annimation. . .it's everything that happens to a model's picture from the time she sits down to be shot to the billboard. . .including make-up too photoshop. . .now i'm not so naive that i don't think this is in the school of phillip-morris having a website to help people quit smoking. . .but it's cool nevertheless. . .

i guess some british soilders were nabbed by iran today. . .i really hope there is a "diplomatic" end to this. the arab summit is taking place in riyadh this week. . .iran will be there, so will iraq. . .and all the other arab nations. . .i get the days off. . .they are closing some roads. i'm wondering if there will be some alliances outta this meeting. . .i'm wondering if the reigion will decided to take care of itself for the sake of itself. . .this will be telling. . .the silence after the summit could be telling. . .

Sunday, March 25, 2007

ask and you shall receive. . .i'm releasing the first iteration of bob 3.0. . .uh. . .yesterday. . .you can find him and a new informative website at:

http://bob-music.sourceforge.net

. . .obviously this is the first release of this version so there are still some issues. . .but it's a start. . .the biggest piece still missing is phrasing. . .the support is there. . .but i left out implementation. . .why?. . .it needs some work. . .there is also a bug with compound time. . .it's doesn't play at the specified bpm. . .retro bob users will also notice the shell (i.e. bob prompt) is gone. . .all configuration is done through xml for the time being. . .this is because i hope to get a gui at some point. enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

who needs game when you have bluetooth? if you don't know what bluetooth is you can read about at bluetooth.com. what am i getting at here? i learned the fine art of picking up saudi girls from a new friend of mine named talal. . .now obviously this has no relevance to me. . .as i have jennifer. . .and it actually has no relevance to talal because he as well is engaged. . .but i bring it up because it's just so dang interesting. no booze, no clubs. . .so all the traditional american type avenues for promiscuity go out the window. here is how a saudi does it. . .

you dud up, and head to one of the malls or olaya st. suppose you see a girl. . .remember the women here wear abayas so you don't know exactly what you are looking at. . .but you make some eye contact. . .then maybe she will show she is interested. . .from winking. . .to something extreme like showing her face. . .then you show her your phone. . .she nods. . .then you send your number to her via bluetooth. . .then maybe she calls you. . .and depending on how "good" of a girl she is. . .you might talk with her a few times to a couple weeks then set up a time to meet. . .or "hookup". funny how people use technology in new in interesting ways. . .(i.e. circumventing islamic law).

. . .but again since none of this is relevant to talal or i. . .after he explained it all to me on wednesday night. . .we just went and played billiards instead. after billards we went to the garden or whatever he and his friends have(i have to learn what these garden/compounds are called). . .and i finally learned the rules to bellot (the euchre like card game i mentioned earlier). . .in addition to making some more new friends. . .another late night (3am).

friday i spent most of the day working on bob. yousef called me after the last prayer time (about 8:30pm). . .and i met him and his brother at kindom center tower. they wanted to take me to the top of it. . .first they showed me the mall at the base of the tower. . .which was virtually impossible to get into because. . .the mall only lets "families" in on the weekend. . .this means 1 man and 1 woman minimum per group. . . .(i'm assuming to combat what i talked about at the beginning of this post). the only reason they let us in (3 guys) was because i am american. . .and the security agreed i should see the mall as a tourist. . .but it took calling the manager of security to get it done. once we did make it into the mall and up to the top of the tower it was way too dark for pictures or video. . .so i don't have any. . .but you could buy a picture from a "professional" photographer. . .so i should be getting a copy of that at some point. the top of the tower is the tallest point in saudi arabia. . .99 floors. . .

then we went to the restaurant on the 77th floor. . .where we had mocktails (i.e. cocktails without alcohol) and some cake and ice cream. i paid the bill. . .which was very expensive for what we got. . .but i felt like i owed these guys something for showing me around. . .but i think i upset them a little bit because they felt they should get the bill. . .so they forced me to agree to come to their house for lunch on tuesday. . .which will be a holiday. . .because the king just said. . .there is going to be a holiday tuesday and wednesday. . .i think it's because the arab summit is in town those days and they want diminished traffic. . .anyway. . .so i guess i'll be eating there tuesday. after the tower experience yousef, his brother and i went to eat dinner. . .again an extremely late dinner (1 am). . .at mcdonald's. . .ha.

friday. . .i worked on bob. . .and slept. . .and bought some food. . .made tacos. . .relaxed. . .it was a pretty long weekend i needed a day of down time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

well congratulations if you are reading this. . .you've figured out that my blog is posted a jamesbryangraves.blogspot.com and jamesbryangraves.com just forwards here. . .because something is wrong with my computer in indianapolis jamesbryangraves.com doesn't work anymore. . .

i've been addicted to the the television show "heros". . .lucky for you i've watched all the episodes to date. . .sooooo. . .maybe i'll be doing more frequent blog entries. . .like the good ol' days. . .like. . .last week.

aside from watching "heros" i've been working on bob. . .version 3.0. . .which thanks to the new maven build had a decent website coming together too. . .but again jamesbryangraves.com went down. . .so. . .you'll never see it anyway. . .at least until i get back to the states. right now version 3.0 just consists of a huge refactoring effort. . .which centers around two things. . .one a MIDI sequencer that conforms to the javax.sound.midi.Sequencer interface and the introduction of the concept of phrasing. the sequencer just makes my life easier. . .but the phrasing concept will be huge once the refactor is complete. why? two things. . .repeating of phrases so song structure is less random. . .songs can have more classic ABABCB. . .structures. . .and. . .of course cadences. . .which bob randomly created in the past. . .now he'll be smarter about putting them at the end of phrases. oh! i almost forgot. . .bob will also have functionality for increased "performers". . .the old bob had 1 melody, 1 chord comping and 1 drum beat. . .the new bob will have n melodies, n chord compings, n drum beats and n whatevers. . .so has much as a processor(s) can handle. i'm trying also to create multiple "music contexts" so the different performers operate in different contexts simlutaniously. . .so for example. . .you could pair 4/4 against 6/8 or a major scale against a whole tone scale. in the java technology realm in addition to a maven build i've also added the spring framework. . .so people can go really far into geek out land if they feel like doing scale definitions in xml. . .haha. once all of this is done i've been dreaming up a killer ui too. . .but since i hate ui programming i wouldn't hold my breath. . .

i read some koran tonight too. . .two things came outta that. . .one. . .everyone i've made a deal with. . .say for example like the guy that washes my car. . .or the guy i buy phone cards from (who by way is still alive. . .victor bought out his debt. . .which was a pretty cool thing to do i thought). . .anyway. . .these people always bust out a small book and write down the terms of the agreement. . .i thought it a strange coinicidence. . .but nope. . .it's in the koran. . .it says one should write down all these agreements. . .weird, huh?. . .the koran is very practical. the second thing to come out of it. . .jesus was not the son of god. . .it had a whole section about that. . .ha.

anyway. . .i might shoot some video tomorrow. . .i'm supposed to go hangout with yousef again. . .he wants to take me to the top of the tallest building in riyadh. . .the one that looks like a bottle opener.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

starbucks. . .guess what not everything translates around the world. . .i saw a saudi guy eating the starbucks "roasting process" display. . .if you frequent starbucks. . .you know what i'm talking about. . .the display shows four stages of how starbucks essentially takes cheap ass green coffee beans and burns them to hell and calls them "great coffee". . .(don't get me wrong i like burnt ass cheap beans coffee). anyway. . .i can see the dude's confusion. . .imagine if you can't read english and you walk up to a display were four containers of aesthetically different beans are laid out invitingly. . .you might think. . ."wow, i'm going to eat these".

so i have a mobile phone. the mobile phone thing works a little different out here. phones are not tied to providers. you can buy and phone and then pick a provider. there a few providers i use a company called "mobily". i buy pre-paid cards, so i don't accidentally pull a dave burford, i.e. pick up my grandparents phone just dial budapest and talk for 4 hours. . .then act surprised when my grandparents confront me with a $1k phone bill. . .typically there is a guy that rides a bike around the compound that sells phone cards. so when i need some more minutes i walk outside and wait for him to come by. . .i did this last night. . .only i didn't see the guy on the bike. . .instead i heard that one american took some cards from him and promised to pay him back. . .so the guy on the bike wrote down how many cards he took and came back a week later. the american owed the guy about 560 S.R. . .this guy only makes about 1 S.R. per card he sells so he maybe makes 5 - 10 S.R. a night. . .that's about $1 - $4 USD. . .anyway he comes back to get the money from the american who suddenly refuses to pay full 560 S.R. . .he just totally screws over the guy on the bike. . .i mean that's like a month of work for that guy. . .so the guy on the bike is now gone. . .i hope the pimp daddy of phone cards didn't bury him in the desert.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

okay. . .i'm not crazy. . .it really is getting hotter here. . .today it is 35 degrees C (95 degrees F). i guess it gets to about 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) in the summer. . .but when it's already too hot does it really matter if it gets even hotter?. . .and. . .does anyone know what the html unicode for degrees is?

the "party" last night was fun. . .but as expected it was pretty much the same ol' thing. . .bunch of dudes sitting around talking, eating and whatnot until very very very late. i thought i was getting stood up for awhile. . .but they came and got me at about 9:30pm. i met them outside gate 4 at imam university and followed them in my car. . .i was still alittle nervous so i felt more comfortable taking my car so i could leave if need be. . .i felt really silly. . .as i always do. . .for being nervous once i got there. . .everyone was quite young (i was the oldest person there). . .ages 17 to 27. . .with the bulk of people being 21ish. we sat around and talked about what i thought about saudi arabia. . .what i expected before i came. . .blah blah blah. . .then dinner was served about 12am. . .yes 12 am. . .then we talked some more. . .probably the most interesting topic for was about the banks. . .

i have to apologize for knocking the saudis for having all these foreign owned banks "because they can't run them themselves". . .the reason the saudis don't have many saudi banks is because it's not that profitable an enterprise. why? islamic law. . .they can't charge interest. . .if you take out a loan for 1000 S.R. you pay back 1000 S.R. no more no less the condition of the loan being your salary is auto deposited. . .the bank takes out a percentage to be applied to your loan payoff. . .then the rest is made avaliable to you. . .so you can't. . .not pay on the loan.

aside from eating and talking we actually watched an episode of the television show "heros", which i haven't seen. . .but actually sorta liked. so i'll probably download some more.

anyway. . .the night wrapped up about 4am. . .i exchanged some phone numbers. . .which hopefully means more new friends. . .and followed someone home. everyone was extremely kind.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

it's starting to get hot here. i noticed it first the other day, and really noticed last night when i went for a run. i realized it was too hot to run in pants anymore and i should probably run in shorts. . .and this was at 10pm. it's only march. . .which means it must get REALLY hot over the summer. . .which of course everyone knows. . .but i guess i'm going to live it not just know it.

i'm still reading this koran. the part i'm reading now really isn't that exciting. . .which is why haven't said much about it. it's just a lot of rules and regulations about marriage, divorce and death of husbands and wives. . .when one can remarry and all that. . .which is all very practical and reasonable.

i guess i've been invited to hangout with a guy named yousef tonight. he said he and his friends were having a "party" and he wanted me to come. i don't know what this means exactly. . .a "party". . .i mean i'm assuming there will be no alcohol or women. . .so what does that mean and how is it different than hanging out with the guys like i've been doing? he called me last night to verify i was still coming. . .and asked were i lived. . .i told him "romaizan compound". . .and he was like "okay. . .i'll find out where that is and call you tomorrow." then he hung up before i could explain. . .he can't get into the compound. . .it's not like he can just pull up at the front of my villa and ring the bell. . .there is pretty heavy security to get into the compound. . .and it's hard to get saudis in there anyway. . .so i'm not entirely sure how that's going to play out.

i'd be lying if i didn't say i wasn't a little nervous. . .i mean there is a certain level of trust associated with getting into someone's car you don't know and letting them drive you somewhere. i mean the assumption is since this guy knows some other guys that seem okay he is probably okay too. i hate to be class-ist or to stereotype, being the social liberal i am, but i know i'm probably safest by following general guidelines. . .like. . .the educated people are usually the safest. for example. . .since yousef studied in canada and has been a foreigner in a foreign land he probably understands the difficulty in establishing social networks overseas. . .he is also probably more tolerant to westerns since he lived among them. . .so therefore i will probably be safe. . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

this was my dinner tonight. . .



on another note. . .i got my OFFICIAL letter of acceptance to the Purdue MBA program today. so yeah. . .that's cool. . .i mean i guess i already had an unofficial you can go in the spring of 2008 if we still have the program and you want to letter. . .but this is the we are having the program and you are in it letter.

Monday, March 12, 2007

i'd like to point a very important observation about this city. . .now. . .this is the biggest city in saudi arabia. . .guess how many homeless people i've seen here?. . .zero. . .not one. . .there are absolutely NO homeless people here. . .no one begs. . .weird, huh? i'm not entirely sure why. . .but i know if someone has money problems it's a family problem. . .i also know that people are willing to do anything for some cash (wash cars, pickup trash, etc). . .and on top of that the government (the kingdom) gives handouts of money, land and shops to give people a chance. . .only people don't pay taxes. . .so where does this money come from?. . .YOU!. . .hahaha. . .oil, yes oil. . .again every time you drive your car past a homeless person in the states. . .remember you are keeping the homeless off the streets in riyadh, or perhaps you could walk to grocery instead of driving and give your gas money to the next homeless person that asks for it. . .at least then you may be keeping the homeless off the streets in your own country.

on a side note. . .people don't beg. . .but. . .people will try to sell you stuff. . .i went to the computer market yesterday. . .you can buy pretty much buy any bootleg software for about 10 - 20 S.R. (about $3 - $7 USD). . .anyway. . .i got outta my car and there was a group of guys yelling "office 2007 for vista!!!". . .and i kid you not. . .some dude clotheslined/choked another guy to get to me. . .and i didn't even want that software. . .man!. . what i wouldn't have given to have catch that on video. . .it was the funniest thing i've seen in awhile. . .

Sunday, March 11, 2007

i created podcast style rss feeds for those who are interested in automatically downloading (i.e. subscribing) to both the videos and mp3s with itunes or other podcatchers. . .and of they are fully compliant with portable devices such as ipods or whatnot. i'll be submitting this to itunes as well. . .so soon you can grab the podcasts from itunes if you feel like it. . .

video podcast (itunes)

video podcast

music podcast (itunes)

music podcast

Saturday, March 10, 2007

this is the video from durma. 12 hours of life, 30 minutes of video shot. . .all edited into this convenient 1':44" movie.

"oh sh*t man". . .i start this entry out with this quote because A.) i wasn't sure how to even start in about this weekend because there is almost too much too tell. . .and B.) it's what one saudi i met would say before he would start into ANY story he was going to tell in english. . .

this was the first weekend i was initiated into true saudi culture. . .i've been an outside observer. . .but this weekend i participated. vic (who i've mentioned before, downstairs neighbor and co-worker) took me to durma (small town 80km from riyadh) to meet with some saudis he knows. four brothers. . .fahad, mohammad, saud and i forget the other guy's name.

we started off eating lunch at fahad's family compound with only fahad (i would guess fahad is 30 something). the compound is few small 1 - 4 room houses behind walls and watched by a hired egyptian also named mohammad. obviously when the whole family is there women all hangout in one house the men in another house. . .with children running in between the two. the compound grounds were surprisingly unkept. . .lots of debris. . .

the lunch consisted of roasted chicken on rice. . .we sat on the floor in fahad's main house. . .and ate with our hands. . .basically you grab the rice and ball it up in your hand and put it in your mouth. . .i tried to do my best to be polite. . but instead ended up being made fun off because. . .i was not "eating like a lion".

fahad took us to the ruins of durma. . .the ruins are probably 100 - 200 years old. it wasn't like a touristy ruins site. . .just some real houses that fahad's city lived in a 100 years ago. his explanation was that the young people wanted to build new houses but the older people like the older houses. . .so they moved to the new house and eventually just leave the old house. he said he wanted to show me these houses because, "we can have lives without america."

we then drove to fahad's father's house. where we met the rest of the brothers, some friends and obviously the father. the father is a very old (92) saudi man with striking blue eyes. . .which i thought strange. he was very friendly and told me he wanted a new wife from indiana. i immediately thought of hooking him up with grandma nikki. . .but he then stated he wanted her to become muslim. . .so i decided that probably wouldn't workout. we ate some snacks (this is probably around 7pm). . .dates, bread and tea. . .again sitting on a floor. the rooms where we hang out have a big carpet, cushions on the walls and a bunch of square pillows that you lean on. there was also a young boy. . .probably 8 or 9 that spoke flawless english from movies alone. . .it was amazing. it was during this time that mohammad one of the other brothers. . .invited to show me around riyadh the following day.

after the snacks it almost time for dinner. fahad, vic and i went to pick up some chicken and bread. we then all reconvened at fahad's family compound. we played cards. . .some game called hokm remarkably similar to euchre only with a much more complicated point system, while the egyptian security/servant mohammad made the chicken. we then ate the chicken with the bread and some onions from the garden on the family compound. they eat dinner very late, it must have been 9 or 10pm.

then starts the conversation. . .which lasts hours. . .of course they had all sorts of questions for me about politics. . .what's the us media saying, the war, about the mid-east. . .generally what i think about this or that or the other. . .finally. . .i turned it around on them and asked. . .okay, okay. . .america says al queda wants to kill democracy and freedom. . .i understand this is just rhetoric. . .what does al queda really want? this was most interesting to me. . .here is the paraphrase. . .

america was aligned with afghanistan through the soviet era. . .but when the soviets were gone and an islamic government arose (taliban). . .america was displeased. . .then came bin laden. . .and america tried to kill him with missiles in the 90's. . .then bin laden declared war. . .and then came the embassy bombing and the uss cole. further more the us setup air bases in saudi arabia. (i can see the problem there. . .the koran states this is a problem). . .which was very upsetting. . .and generally the us is seen as liars. . .we say one thing and do another. . .like hezzbolah. . .us wanted free elections in lebenon. . .but didn't like the outcome. . .so the us proclaimed the elections were no good. . .etc, etc. . .

. . .so it would seem if americans would just leave well enough alone. . .then. . .well. . .

we talked briefly about christianity. . .but got hung up on the concept of the trinity. . .and i totally understand the confusion. . ."see there are three pieces that make up 1 God?. . ."so three Gods?". . ."no one God, three pieces". . ."jesus was a god?". . ."no jesus was God. . .". . .blah blah blah. . .this makes sense when you grow up in the bible belt. . .but, uh. . .yeah. . .

. . .anyway we talked until about 1 a.m. then drove back to riyadh. . .it was a long day.

friday i met up with mohammad at about 5:30pm. . .we met at fahad's garage in southern riyadh. . .these brothers own like a million houses and businesses and i don't really understand who own's what or does what and if you ask the brothers what they do they say "businessman". . .for instance the garage was a garage, body shop, car rental office, tire shop. . .all in one. . .

mohammad then took me to old riyadh at city center which is basically an area where there are really old buildings mixed with really new buildings. he took me to a market and some other sites. . .places i would have totally not been comfortable had i not been with a saudi.

we then went to his "small house". . .which is a apartment where he just hangs out with the guys. . .basically a living room (again no furniture, just a rug and pillows and a tv). . .kitchen, bedroom (also a rug and pilliows) and bathroom (hole in the floor). . .one of his friends came over. . .which i was thankful for because his english was MUCH better. . .and we ordered sandwiches and watched some tv.

then we went back to the garage and sat in the office and drank tea. . .about 10pm. . .i said i was leaving. . .i did have to work the next day. . .so i drove home. i was tired. it was a looong weekend.

i have tons of video of all this stuff. . .i just need to edit it all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

people here love my name. . .i'm not entirely sure why. . .but one guy said, "james bryan? like james bond?. . .that's a good name." so maybe that has something to do with it. . .i bring this up because this morning at the security gate in front the guy looked at me. . .then my badge. . .then my paperwork. . .then at me again. . .and said, "James!" it sorta scared me. . .then he said. . ."good name.". . .and gave me a thumbs up.

food. . .everyone wants to know about food. . .my mom asked for it. . .jen asked for it. . .the only reason, to be honest that i haven't wrote about food is. . .i've ate out only twice actually three times. . .but the first time was a quizno's. . .so that doesn't count. . .i don't even like quizno's. . .but i decided i'd drive around until i found a place that looked popular. . .and there where a bunch of people sitting outside at this one place. . .and it ended up being a quizno's. the second time i ate out i ate at the restaurant at the compound i had chicken biyani which is an indian dish it was good. . .but that only really half counts because it was on the compound. the third time i ate out was 2 days ago and i went to a turkish place with 3 guys from work for lunch. it was really good typical mediterranean/middle eastern place with hummus and kabobs. there was a really interesting place near there where they were cooking all over coals i want to try. . .but i haven't yet. eating out proposes a couple problems. . .number one. . .one usually likes to find people to go with them. . .this is difficult. . .and two. . .there are a million restaurants so it's nice to have recommendations to go off of. . .not only because i rather get good food then bad food. . .but it's not like the states where everyone HAS to conform to some board of health standard. . .here you just have to have enough money to rent a building and start cooking. . .

i mostly cook for myself. . .i eat peanut butter and jelly virtually everyday for lunch. . .i make whatever for dinner, spaghetti, chili, hamburgers, chicken, steak. . .and i usually make a batch of cookies for the week. . .i've made 4 batches of chocolate chip already. . .the first 2 were horrid. . .the latest has been the best. i might try to make oatmeal this week. little things are different here. . .for example alcohol is illegal so you can't buy vanilla extract. . .you have to buy this vanilla crystal stuff. . .it took me a minute walking around the store to figure that one out. . .it's funny how the human mind works. . .i'm walking around thinking why is the vanilla not with the cooking stuff. . .and i remember some story someone told me. . .about an old woman that drank vanilla to get intoxicated. . .and i was like ah ha!. . .there is no vanilla. . .that's why i can't find it. . .sorta like when i was choking to death on the fish bone all i could think about was how saint peter choked on a fish bone. one just gets stuck virtually alone in these weird situations. . .alone because i can't just ask someone where the vanilla is. . .so i have to comb my mind and figure it out. . .unfortunately in the case of the fish bone it took a miracle to save saint peter. . .so i figured in that case i was just outta luck.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sogeti/CapGemini bought Sark (Software Architects) my former employer.. . .what's that mean. . .i don't know, but they have a spade for a logo. . .that's weird. i guessing i dodged a bullet there. . .by a month or so. . .sweet.
this guy i work with, tom, just proclaimed he was having heart attack. . .they sprayed some nitro in his mouth. . .elevated his feet. . .and called an ambulance. he was giving some direction on this portion of the project i'm working on. . .i realized this might buy some extra time to get my stuff in order. . .but quickly dismissed the thought because it made me feel like a jerk. . .
i've been having the WORST sleeping problems, and I'm not talking about stress rated insomnia or insomnia in general. . .i'm talking about sleep apnea and what seems to be heart palpitations. i wake up gasping for air convinced that if i wouldn't have woken up, i would have died. . .it freaks me out and the more freaked out i get the worse it gets. . .i first i thought it was related to drinking which makes it worse so i don't drink, then i thought it might be stress. . .so i tried relaxing, meditating. . .no luck. . .but i think i may have actually discovered what is causing these sleeping issues as of last night. . .i hope anyway. . .i bought a wireless network router last night. . .so i can sit anywhere in my house and access the internet. . .i've had that luxury back home in the states for years. . .but with all the online chatting with jen. . .i really thought i would be nice to kick back on the couch wireless here in saudi arabia. . .i noticed early into the night last night i wasn't having the usual anxious feeling in my chest. . .and that's when it hit me. . .i had noticed when i got here that something about my ungrounded aluminum laptop plugged into the US standard 110v outlet and connect via ethernet cable to my DSL modem plugged into the 220v european standard outlet (i have both in the villa) created a weird circuit. . .i could feel the electricity on the surface of the laptop. i live on that laptop. . .usually i'll spend an hour talking to jen, 2 - 3 hours making music and video and about an hour just surfing the web. . .every night. . .that's like 5 to 6 hours of usage. . .and 5 to 6 hours (recently) of receiving electrical charge. . .i think that might be the source of the apnea and heart palpitations. . .i slept like a baby last night. . .we'll see what happens tonight.

as long as we are talking about near death experiences. . .they don't remove the bones from salmon steaks here. . .my first bite of my dinner last night resulted in 10 minutes of choking on a bone lodged in my throat. i finally coughed that dude up and it was all bloody. . .it really messed up my throat. it's terribly painful today. am i doomed/cursed to die alone in that villa?

i mean i having the worst time establishing a social life outside of work. . .there is no hangout scene. . .and the only place people do hangout (coffee shops) you walk in and no one really wants to talk to you. . .because you are white. . .just yesterday i was at the computer store getting my router. . .and the sales person. . .who spoke great english. . .actually struck up a conversation with me (which is rare). . .we were waiting for the checkout person to come back. . .he was like "so how's it going". . .i said "pretty good, i just moved here." he said, "how long have you been here?" i said, "about a month." then he said how do you like it, "i said, it's hard to find things to do." he said, "where are you from?" i said, "the states." and i kid you not he just stopped right there turned around and walked away. just like that. i mean it's not that people are mean. . .because they are really nice. it's that they are scared. . .they don't want to be caught talking to americans. they don't want to be ridiculed or whatever. i'm sure that dude started talking to me thanks to my lebanese look. . .he looked lebanese too. it was the first time i was really temped to lie about where i'm from. . .because someone was actually talking to me. . .that wasn't on the compound or in the office.

i went to the bank yesterday at prayer time. . .like an idiot and was stuck waiting for them to open back up. . .(everything closes during the 5 prayer times). . .i was waiting with 4 saudis. . .none of them said a word to me. same thing happened the other day at an electronics store and i actually tried to talk to those guys. they didn't speak english well. . .and my arabic is sh*t. . .so they just walked 5 feet away and sorta pointed and laughed. . .at me, or with me. . .or what. . .i don't know.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

btw. . .i'm building a record. . .if you haven't noticed. . .i post songs on http://myspace.com/jamesbryangraves. . .but. . .if you want all the correct ID3 tags and the whole record. . .find it at http://jamesbryangraves.com/music. . .and eventually there will be ipod compatible videos for each track as well at http://jamesbryangraves.com/video. . .again this is all a work in progress. . .
i've officially just had it. . .it's not like i didn't know this day would come. . .the day were i look at myself and say. . ."what the 'eff am i doing here?!?!" i know that before i left daniel derksen said. . .you'll think it's cool and different for a few weeks, then about 4 weeks in you'll hate it. . .luckily he also said things will eventually just be routine. . .well the routine better be right around the corner. . .

i've been going insane all day waiting to here from jennifer. . .my initial stresser. . .i know she went to bloomington to see my old band play. . .which i feel a bit left out of. . .I KNOW. . .i chose this. . .and like any relationship, even bad ones. . .you'll miss a band when you leave it. . .but in any case. . .i am worried. . .not that i don't trust jennifer. . .but life happens you know. . .so i couldn't take just sitting and working anymore. . .so i decided i needed to get up from my desk. i got paid yesterday (the only reminder of why i am actually here). . .i needed to get my check cashed (i don't get to have a bank account. . .YET, it's a long explanation why). . .and i'm not at all excited about walking around with what would probably be an insane amount of cash to most people in the country. . .but what the 'eff am i supposed to do with it? anyway i FIGHT traffic all the way to the bank (quite literally). . .to discover that "the system is down". . .why?. . .who knows? as my co-worker eric explained. . .probably because no one wanted to take the risk of making the decision to turn it back on. . .because they could be wrong and be fired. . .so they had to pass it up the chain. . .5 managers later. . .maybe they will turn the system on. . .that's how it is here. . .people get fired when they are wrong. . .so no one wants to risk being right. . .so places like banks have waiting rooms like the BMV/DMV. . .so i have to fight traffic back to work. . .

. . .and i did. . .and i almost died because there is no concept of working together for a common goal. . .if someone has to stop all traffic on the entire road to get 5 feet closer to only the next traffic cluster f*ck. . .they will. . .and kill you in the process if necessary. . .and it's scary. . .i'm not kidding. . .really scary. . .and people that know me. . .i can be a pretty crazy driver. . .there is no auto-pilot here. . .i can't even comfortably listen to music while i drive. . .driving is a 100% always on. . .always alert. . .activity.

so why am i here?. . .because this country can't run a bank, can't run an airport, can't run security, can't run computer or cell networks and certainly can't drive. . .it doesn't have the infrastructure. . .like 50 cent said. . ."they call me new money because i have no class because i came up from the bottom i came up too fast". . .but they need those banks, airports, security, government. . .why?. . .because the west needs this country's oil. every time you and i drive in america we are supporting this country and it's policies. . .the good and the bad. so i'm here. . .getting paid good money to put up with sh*t infrastructure.

Friday, March 2, 2007

. . .bloody hell. . .this weekend about drove me mad. . .wednesday i decided to socialize at the restuarant. . .had a couple of beers. . .then the BIG boss came in, the boss of like all CSCA (which apparently is incredibly strange). . .so i stayed around. . it ended up being a late night. i slept in and almost missed the oppertunity to go with vic out to visit the saudis he knows. . .but luckily that was post-poned to next weekend anyway. so i stayed in. . .watched a bunch of movies. . .worked for a bit. . .then just walked around the compound.

i woke up today. . .and drove around. . .moped around. . .i was just really bored and a bit lonely. . .i got a copy of windows vista and installed/played with that. . .then watched "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" which just made me love sick. . .jennifer sick. . .so i went for a run. . .

. . .i shot this footage both right before i left. . .and obviously today. . .waiting for the bookstore to open. . .it's a few clips i like to watch when i'm missing jen. . .and again obviously my big dumb mug. . .



you might notice my car in this video too. . .the white corolla. . .it's clean. . .you know why? because it was really dirty. . .and one of the tea boys at work asked me if he could wash my car. . .i said how much. . .he said SR 100 for a month. . .i thought to myself if he washes it once a week for a month that's SR 25 a wash. . .which is about. . .$7 or $8 a wash. . .that is reasonable, right? no. . .that dude washes my car now. . .EVERYDAY. . .i'm not kidding. . .even if it doesn't need it he washes it. . .

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/world/middleeast/27saudi.html?ref=world

yes. . .three french were shot today. . .but they were in/near like a muslim only part of the country. . .not that that justifies the killings. . .i'm just emphasizing. . .i am in no danager. . .the day i get in my car, drive toward mecca/medina, stop on the side of the road in the middle of the desert and start eating a sandwich. . .then you should worry about me. not only because i might get shot. . .but because i've obviously gone insane.
this is my fiance jennifer and i. . .(special thanks to my parents for the picture)

Monday, February 26, 2007

work, religion and politics. . .you shouldn't mix them. . .but i'm going to in this post.

sorry to talk shop for a minute. . .but. . .i'm going too (geeks read this blog too). i hate micrcosoft .NET/Visual Studio. i'm a novice for sure. . .no doubt. . .but my experience with it thus far sucks. visual studio 6, 7, 7.1, 8, 2003, 2005. .NET 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 2.1. . .what 'eff is all this stuff other than different compilations of the same .dll and lib files? I'm trying to control devices. . .iris cameras, finger print scanners. . .all have 3rd party SDKs dependent on this or that .dll. . .and i have different .dlls at different sites. . .i mean. . .you just can't guarantee anything about the machines this software is going to run on. . .but. . .the software still needs certain things to be there to work. give me a java style *.*ar file. . .please. . .all self contained. . .that i can just poop on to a box. . .and it works. (if you are at conseco enter your ATG joke here). . .at least with java if i have a jdk 5.0 project i can have it built to run on jdk 1.4. . .i can't do that with .NET 2.0 to .NET 1.1 (again as far as i can tell). . .time and time again microsoft's solution to all it's problems. . .UPGRADE! that's just not as feasible on WAN. . .true client/server. . .with external devices. . .type of situation.

concurrency management. . .on the java side we've been using maven. . .it's awesome. . .no more jars in source control. . .and you never have a doubt which jar version you need because it's in your build. . .freaking awesome. . .

politics. . .i guess the new yorker is publishing an article about movements in the us government towards war with iran. . .yeah yeah. . .that's been going on for awhile. . .but the spring time frame. . .i guess the article says bush will not leave office without doing SOMETHING about iran. prior to taking this position. . .my only "i'm might be in danger scenario" included a war with iran. here is why. . .iran is shiite and saudi arabia is sunni. . .the bush administration is aligning themselves with the sunni side. . .in fact there may be unappropriated covert operations where sunni's are receiving funds (possibly from/through saudi arabia) to mess up hezbollah and the shiite leadership in Lebanon and Iraq respectively. Iran of course being a shiite nation is accused of sending funds and arms to Iraq. Iran also is working on nuclear weapons. so. . .if the united states being aligned with the sunni decides to bomb Iran for doing EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE DOING (i.e. funding the side of the Islamic faith we like better). . .wouldn't iran want to hit one of our allies. . .perhaps a sunni nation?. . .perhaps saudi arabia?. . .this is of course after they obliterate the first obvious target Israel. . .but honestly. . .is george w. bush stupid enough to start a bombing campaign against iran. . .after a bombing campaign alone failed both in afghanistan and iraq. "fool me once. . ."

i read some more koran (qu'ran) last night. i came across a verse that sorta contradicts the all jews and christians are going to burn in hell. basically anyone that serves god. . .the correct way. . .will go to heaven. . .what's the right way? well islamic monotheism of course. . .so the statement is a contradiction in itself. . .but. . .it did say it is possible for jews and christians to get to heaven. why do muslims hate jews? because according to the koran the jews changed the word of god to fit their needs. in fact. . .the koran was dictated to mohammad to reaffirm the exact words of god. . .to correct what was bastardized. i can see the appeal of the koran in that respect. . .'cause i've often wondered how much of christian scripture was changed or removed to fit the needs of first the catholic church and later the protestants. keep in mind that the koran came to mohammad about 600 A.D. This would have been significantly after the initial gospel writings and early christian arguments about the trinity and whatnot. . .which were the first, second and third century. . .however also keep in mind that the oldest koran ever discovered was writen in about 800 A.D. . .which is 200 years after mohammad died. . huh. . .anyway. . .so all three religions as i mentioned before lay claim to abramham and his sons and jacob and the 12 tribes. . .and the israeli nation. . .however where as jews think they are still god's favored race. . .and christians believe jesus was of that jewish nation. . .the koran states the nation of israel has long since pasted away and now it's up to individuals to live a life pleasing to god. . .which isn't too far from christianity in that respect. . .the big difference being. . .christians believe god is available only through jesus. . .and muslims believe god is. . .well just available. the koran states "some believe god has a son", but why bother with the son when you can speak to god directly. . .after all god is the one who controls everything.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

here is a new video i shot last night in downtown riyadh. keep in mind it is technically against the law to shoot photos or videos. . .so it all has to be done very discreetly.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

okay. . .so rory dickinson requested the ability to post comments. . .etc. . .and i'm not exactly one to totally geekout with my website/webserver. . .i've moved the blog to blogger/blogspot. . .so feel free to comment. . .let others know who is reading the about the magic saudi kindom's experience with jbg. . .i am honestly surprised how many people actually are reading the blog. . .i sorta figured it would be my parents. . .and maybe jennifer. . .but have been really surprised to hear not only from rory. . .but lori bailey. . .and various others i would have not expected. . .this is actually pretty fun.

i went down for a beer and then sat down and read some koran (qu'ran) after last nights post. . .i figured i should do something very un-islamic. . .to assert my non-conversion. . .anyway. . .apparently god forgave adam for his sin. . .which is a direct contradiction to the biblical story of the original sin. . .and eve's roll was pretty much left out. . .pretty freakin' interesting. . .because it actually falls more in line with god's ability to forgive and his grace. . etc etc. . .but there was still tons of stuff about fearing god blah blah blah. . .and few good lines about jews and christians being plain wrong and burning in hell. . .so. . .pretty un-sunny on that front. . .
so. . .i grew this beard. . .and between that and my big nose. . .everyone thinks i'm lebanese. . .which is cool because i'm not immediately considered american. . .and i'm less likely to be in any danger. . .(again not there seems to be too much danger). . .but people always start busting all sorts of arabic on me. . .and i have no idea what they are saying. . .and the truth comes out.

i survived another weekend. i didn't do much. . .i worked a bit. . .and when shopping. i discovered the locoste store. . .which might be problematic. . .because the stuff is about as much as it is in the states. . .and i do love locoste. i also got some sunglasses. . .which i'm an idiot for coming to the desert without sunglasses.

it's pretty cool here, but i miss jennifer terribly. i get lonely from time to time. the restaurant/pub has agreed to have a mock wedding if she comes out. . .people here are so kind.

my washer is currently seeping bubbles outta every seam. i must have put too much detergent in there.

i bought a Koran (Qu'ran) today. again. . .i'm not turning islamic, but i do want to understand what these people are all about. . .and i think this is a good way. since everything here is based on it. plus i've read the bible. . .and i hear there are quite a few similarities. . .and i want to compare.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

the weekend here is thursday and friday, so i just survived my second weekend here. i spent the weekend doing three things driving, reading and i went to a cookout.

the driving is best summed up with the following video clip.



i did get outta the car and i walked past a chili's and applebee's. i also
walked past not only a bently dealership but a bugatti dealership as well. . .
if you don't know what a bugatti is. . .it's a car that starts at 1 million
dollars.

i read about islam. apparently the arabs where spawed by Ishmael, Abraham's older son who was cheated out of his inheritence by Issac (who spawed the jews). This is interesting to me because it's proof we are all talking about the same God. the rest of the literature was pretty silly. the koran says something about man coming from the mud and looking like a chewed substance, and then it showed a picture of a weeks old fetus next to a chewed piece of bubble gum and was like "see absolute truth!"


the cookout was nice. . .lots of homemade alcohol. . .and some black market alcohol as well. . .which is totally cool behind compound and embassy walls. . .but i've been suffering from some sort of weird sleep apnea related to drinking. . . which is really weird. . .i noticed before i got here. . .but i'm still having that problem. . .so i might lay low on the drinking for a while. otherwise the people are extremely kind and there is an awesome sense of community at the compound. i heard a few horror stories from people who left the city and went into the desert so i'm not sure i'll be doing that. . .

Friday, February 16, 2007

okay here is the inside of the villa. . .to a pseudo-original music score. i say pseudo-original because it's really just tricked out apple garage band stuff. . . but i have gotten pretty decent at tricking that piece of software out.



work. . .so work is. . .well normal. . .the people are really kind. . .a lot of americans and arabs. . .and the rest is just really random: brazil, australia, brits. . .etc. The work culture is very similar to any IT shop in the states. . .
people probably write 10 useful lines a code a day and the rest of the time
people stand around and talk. . .surf the web. . .and i interupted some guy
playing minesweeper yesterday. on the upside i'm compiling c++ code that
controls bio-meteric devices (finger tip scanners, retinal scanners, etc) which
IS way cooler than writing insurance applications as i expected. i got proselytized to yesterday by a muslim at work which was weird. . .because A.) i've
never been proselytized to by anyone but christians. . .and B.) i was at work
. . .which obiviously you can't really do in the states. i guess the view is
i'm here. . .in the KSA. . .because God has chosen me. . .the KSA being the
location of Mecca. . .it's a HUGE islamic center. . .the center. so. . .
obviously. . .being here, chosen by God. . .i'm supposed to become islamic. i was given some books
that say on the front. . .for the seekers of truth. i thought that was funny. . .because the rhetoric sounds so "christian". you've probably heard alot about
sunni vs. shiite in regards to sectarian violance in iraq. the KSA is sunni. . .and they HATE the shiite. near as i can tell they regard the shiite as equivalant to evangelical christians that preach the message but drive expensive cars and live in large houses. . .however. . .people do that here as well. . .so
whatever. anyway. . .i really sorta want to go checkout a mosque. . .but i guess
i shouldn't go by myself. . .eventually someone will probably ask me to go. . .again. . .to convert me, but i just want to see what it's about. don't worry i'm
not about to trade the US state religion for the KSA state religion . . .heh. . .


btw. . .my villa. . .it across the street from the university. . .it's the same
university where most the 9/11 hijackers went to school. this is just an interesting fact. . .it doesn't make me any less safe. don't worry about me!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

i have a car. a toyota corolla. . .which is a new measure of freedom. . .i even stopped at the local starbucks before work today. it tastes awesome. . .like home. i can't hate on the starbucks global domination anymore. . .because when all you want is home on the other side of the world. . .starbucks is pretty damn close to feeling at home. here are some videos of my villa and yard. if you don't have quicktime or itunes from apple you'll need them.



Note: i brought the wrong inside video so you will have to wait until tomorrow to see it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. . .i arrived safely and with any problems 3 days ago. the flights were long and so were the layovers. i had to leave jen at the airport in tears and i was feeling pretty horrible about it, but i held it together pretty well with two exceptions one was during the layover at dullas airport in D.C. and the other the first night. which i think worked to my advantage because the guy that lives underneath me, Vic, a 50-ish year old gentleman from VA in the states, came up to introduce himself and invited me to the grocery store. i was dying of hunger. i would guess i've already lost 5 - 10 lbs due to 2 days of intestinal distress. i seem to be doing better as of yesterday. i spent the majority of the weekend sleeping and watching television.

my initial reaction to this place is i'm both surprised how similar it is and how different it is. i know this doesn't make alot of sense but i'll try to explain. it's not nearly as conservative has i expected. it's not completely unlike living in the states, the grocery store was like going to wal-mart or target. the woman thing is blown way out of proportion most western women do not cover their heads, most non-Saudi Islamic women do not cover their faces, and only saudi women do the whole deal. no women can drive or work. most men wear whatever they want, except shorts (although i've seen shorts on the compound). . .and there are the guys the that wear the traditional red and white "towels" with black tied ropes, but i haven't worked exactly what whose those guys are about. . .but some of them work with me. everything is supposedly a deal. . .even the guy who scanned my groceries gave me a pack of gum because i was friendly. driving here is ridiculous. . .i've never been anywhere where driving has been so crazy. . .and i'm serious. . .people LITERALLY do not pay attention to lanes, turn left from right hand lanes in front of people not turning, run stop lights, and there are major intersections (i.e. two 4 lane roads intersecting) with no lights, no signs no directions. . .just people trying not to hit other people. i can't wait to get my license. . .which i will. . .and a company car.

it's really safe here. . .i don't know what everyone was so worried about. there has been only one moment which really made me nervous. . .i arrived here wednesday at about 8pm. . .and a driver from the company came and picked me up. he drove me to the compound which first of allis is currently behind some construction, so the dude just pulls off the road into a construction area which was scary enough. . .then we came to a gate with some twenty somethings holding AK-47s. . .we don't have a permit to get into the compound, because i'm new, and they start yelling in arabic and asking us to pull off the drive way. . .then the driver opens his door to get out and explain who i am, and i'm thinking. . .omg. . .just stay in the car. . .they eventually waved us through. . .which has now happened three times. . . once then, once this morning when i was trying to get into work and at the airport. . . i never have the right permit. . .and i always get pulled aside. . .until they just wave me through. . .for no reason. . .it's not like i suddenly have the right permit. . .it's not like someone ever explains who i am or what i'm doing. . .they just give me a hard time for a minute. . .then. . .let me go.

the weather has been amazing. it's in the 70's with blue skies. i guess summer is when it gets hot. . .really hot.

the internet situation. . .is CRAPPY! it's basically. . .uh. . .no where, and where it is. . .it's slow as snot. i had all these visions of webcam chats, voice over ip, video blogs. . .LOTS of communication. i'm downloading a 5.5 MB file now. . .it's taking 30 minutes. . .that's slow. . .like 1995 slow. hopefully i can get something faster in my villa. . .but only time will tell.

that's all i'm going to say for now. . .i'm sure there will be more to tell.