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. . .