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.