Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

**
"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The day that shall not be named, mentioned or celebrated

Christmas is illegal in Saudi Arabia...this bothers me, it always has.  Last year my boss, an amateur Mutaween himself took the liberty of calling me to remind that Christmas was illegal, that Dec. 25th was a work day and that he did not want to receive any reports of any Christian/Christmas behavior.  Aside from being disgusted by the man, I was also a little "hurt".  Had I really signed away all my rights by coming here, was I truly a "slave" to a nation that could tell me not only when to come and go, prevent me from leaving and confiscate my personal passport (which is actually US Government property) but now I was being told what to think in my own mind and do in my own private thoughts?

My time spent with that boss was pretty tough.  I learned that any more than 3 non Saudi's gathering could be broken up as they might be plotting or praying.  That speaking without being asked when I was in a group of Saudi's was rude (even if I was the subject matter expert).  And that while he stressed academic standards, it only applied to those students without any wasta.  He managed to also "teach" me that Shia Muslims are Iranian spies and have sexual relations with livestock, that Saudi's are superior to all Arabs, but that Arabs are superior to Westerners.  Oh and that the "Persian Gulf" is actually the "Arabian Gulf". 

I barely made it through with that guy, I almost turned in my resignation more than once.  The three other American's while I have my own opinions of them and their decisions individually, left because of this guy.  I almost told him what I really thought about him, and where I thought he might spend his afterlife, I almost called and told the FBI that this guy hates America, Americans, and Christianity yet flies in and out of the US at least a couple times a year...why?  If he hates us so much, that behavior is a little odd don't you think?  In the end though, I just dealt with it.

This year however, my department works under a different structure, that guy is gone (although he still somehow controls my housing allowance), my department head is great, my Campus Dean excellent and very understanding.  This year I was asked if I wanted a visa to go celebrate Christmas.  This year, many students actually said "Merry Christmas".  This year, I felt welcomed and appreciated by my Saudi hosts.  This year, I attended a Riyadh Christmas party thrown by a Saudi Arabian man and his wife, (Don't even think about it Mutt's, this guy's got more wasta than most of you).  This year I celebrated with American's, Saudi's, Canadian's, German's, Brazilians, the Irish, and a few others I can't think of to name.  This was one of the most enjoyable and special holiday seasons I've ever had, I spent it with good friends, ate good food, and had some great conversations.  I spent it reconnecting with old friends and meeting some new.  Above all though, I spent it with a lot of love.

What strikes me as ironic is that, here in a place where Christmas is illegal, I just had my best Christmas ever.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wadjda goes to the movies, but not here...

The 2012 Film Wadja premiers tonight at the Dubai International Film Festival.  The film is the story of a young Saudi girl who wants to ride a bicycle.  This of course isn't really "allowed" here in Saudi and as the story progresses it confronts some of the issues with women, freedom and society here in the Kingdom.  The film was shot in Saudi Arabia, and admittedly is not a harsh judge of the Kingdom.  Despite that though, a movie shot here in the Kingdom, about the Kingdom will not be shown in the Kingdom because cinemas are still banned here even in the 21st century.  I think what drives me nuts about that is that not only is it backwards, but all the same things are watched on TV and downloaded unedited. 

If nothing else imagine the potential revenue source cinemas would be, while at the same time reducing pirating and employing local workers.  The Kingdom could even show only the movies it felt appropriate.  But nope.  No movies...

Here is a link to the IMDB page on the film and a much better write up than I could give you. 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2258858/

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

13 Months and Fight Club...

13 months ago I got here.  A couple days later I started a blog.  Whatever the blog has become, it started as a record of the things I saw and experienced here.  Partly for my family, partly for me to be able to look back and reflect on when I went home in a year, and also because getting realistic information on Saudi wasn't that easy for me when I tried in the months before coming.  So in the spirit of those things, lets look at this from a "what have I done, how have I changed perspective"...and "why am I still here at 13 months?  Wasn't I already supposed to be home?"

I love the movie Fight Club, always thought it was ahead of its time and that maybe it wasn't bigger than it was because the world wasn't ready for it.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn't ready for it.  I think I always thought it was about-fighting.  Now, I say that a little jokingly.  I'm not an idiot, not a complete idiot at least.  I knew the movie was much deeper than that, and I appreciated it for its depth, its twists and its turns...not just the idea of fighting, but if I'd understood it then, as I understand the concept now...life may have been much different.

"You are not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

Does the above quote make any sense to you?  Don't feel bad if it doesn't, it took a while to mean more than a cool sounding bit of monologue to me to.  And depending on how happy you think you are, you might be better off if it continued to mean nothing to you.  What you need to understand though is that being here, being this far from family and the things I thought were important, and learning to live again after it all...these are the things that made it make sense to me.  If you aren't prepared to do that, DO NOT GET ON THAT AIRPLANE!  If you would rather NOT see the truth, would rather not find out that you wasted a good number of years chasing a golden ring you weren't ever going to get...stay home, seriously, stay home and be proud of your decision.  

Once your eyes are open, they're hard to close again.

Learning to start conversations with phrases other than "my wife and I" and learning that not everybody embraces or even has access to the "American Way" of life on credit was a good majority of the change and that could have happened anywhere.  It was an accelerated process here, but it could have happened anywhere away from home and lots of solitude.  

But a lot of it was being here.  Realizing that I knew so little about so much of the world even after traveling quite a bit. Having lots of time to read, meeting people so completely different than me and yet so very similar.  My pitiful attempts to try and fast at Ramadan, seeing the desert and riding a camel with an old bedouin guide who didn't speak any English, learning to look forward to a weekend with friends and some steaks and wine.  Months on my own and having Muslim co-workers and students befriend me, reach out when I was in trouble, sad and lonely...and wanting nothing in return-oh don't get me wrong, more than a few have tried to convert me, but that's another story in and of itself and its not nefarious in any way.**

A lot of it was really living here.  Rather than a compound, I live in an apartment.  I follow the rules of Saudi (for the most part), I don't live around other Americans and see girls at the pool.  I wear long sleeve's and long pants. I walk to work and have learned essential Arabic to get around.  I shop at local stores.  I haggle with cabbies.  

Sometimes I feel like a total outsider here, other times when some new American is staying at the Sheraton down the street, and wanders out to test the waters at "Starbucks". Or when I meet somebody at a party whose never really been "off camp" or "off Compound" and we spend the first 30 minutes of our meeting talking about how I've survived out in "the jungle".  I realize just how much I've blended, how different I am than I was 13 months ago.  I'm still an outsider, but not as outside as I once was.   

Why am I still here then, I'm the last of us.  Four Americans came, one is still here.  Why?  Well first of all don't worry, I'll be home in another 8 months.  Mainly though, I'm still here because I live here.  It's not mine, and I wouldn't want it forever anyway...but for now, its where I live and where I learned to live again.  

I'll go home soon enough, but I don't think it'll be to the same people and the same friends.  Maybe not even to the same job or profession...At 35 I finally learned a lesson that has been eluding me my entire life.  I am not my job, I am not my car and I am certainly not my fucking khaki's.  If you think I'm going to go back to working two dead end jobs to buy shit that I don't need anyway-well, I guess we'll see.  I think when I go back I'll sell or give away a lot of junk, buy a nice motorcycle, get a new tattoo, get an old truck and take my dogs to the river.  My door will always be open to friends, couch always available.  I'm thinking about not even buying a cell phone, but suppose I can't get away with that.  Some will wonder what happened to the ambitious, over worked, stubborn ass they knew.  Some will wonder why I don't move someplace nicer now that I'm single and well funded from Saudi.  Some will assume that I couldn't pay my bills and had to get rid of my nice pretty cars and trucks.  Many will wonder what the point of Saudi was, can't I use it to get an even higher responsibility, higher paid, higher pressure job...Credit companies will weep.  

I think I'll be smiling though.  As imperfect as I am, and as much as I'll probably buy something I don't need, I have finally figured out that I'm not my job, car or khaki's.  That's the cost and the benefit of 13 months away. 

**If you're well liked, people will try and convert you.  Its that simple.  Don't be offended, its a compliment.  Muslims, devout ones especially, who care for you, want you to be saved, they want you to go to heaven...so they'll eventually broach the topic of accepting Islam.  I just gently and politely say that I'm happy as a Christian and go on.  Not really a whole lot different than all of the real Baptists I know!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I flew 10,000 miles to eat at McDonalds...

People bash fast food but I won't do any such thing.  I try and stay away from it, but it has its time and place.  Sure it's disgusting; saturated fat, stuffed with preservatives and additives, grease and ingredients that were last fresh sometime around the mid twentieth century.  It's also DELICIOUS!  Food isn't an issue when you get to Saudi, pretty much everything is available, and the local fare is familiar to the American pallet.  However, every now and then you want a fast taste of American home, and considering that Saudi's love American fast food...why not head over to Mickey D's!  What shocked me most the first time was the cleanliness of the restaurant, then despite the slight language barrier the friendliness of the cashier and the staff.  Quickly followed by the king of my pleasant surprises when I bit into my beautifully assembled, perfect temperature, better than I'd ever had "Quarter Pounder with Cheese".  That's right the 'ol "Royale with Cheese" of Pulp Fiction fame, the same burger I've been ordering since I was a kid and you guys killed the old McDLT.  I had to come to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to taste it the way it was meant to be, to eat it in a clean restaurant with friendly service.  To really enjoy it!  Over the next few months, I gained a few pounds discovering that it wasn't just McDonalds that was better, but Subway, Taco Bell, and Hardee's too!

This is why, I can't in any way shape or form support an American walkout of fast food workers.  I know you're not all teenagers working after school, but $15 an hour?  Really?  For crappy food and crappy service?  WTF guys...Maybe's its completely different on the East Coast, but in 2012 in the Midwest and the south, it hadn't changed one bit.  The cashier mumbles, the drive thru girls is high as a kite, the order is always wrong, the "manager" is sleeping off a hangover, and two of your shift workers didn't show up due to their incarceration last night.  Therefore, the floors are dirty, everything rushed, and the situation is generally just crap.  Long before I realized I was getting older and ought to start watching what I put into my body, I stopped eating fast food.  I did this because going to the place was disgusting, and everybody working had either taken a ride on my ambulance or was a probation client of my wife's. 

So instead of walking out and throwing a tantrum try this, take a little pride in what you do, whatever it may be.  Take a little pride in yourself.  Work hard and thank your lucky stars, God, The Aliens or the Great Spaghetti Monster that you were born in the USA.  That your version of "starvation" comes with an iPhone and cigarettes. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bad Behavior

Increased calls for Saudi-ization are all the rage, they have been off and on for years, but it seems to be reaching a bit of a fever pitch.  Companies now have to pay extra for the Iqama's of non-Saudi workers as an incentive to hire more of their countrymen.   Long discussed, especially by expats is the lack of a work ethic in the majority of the unprepared potential Saudi workforce.  I agree and disagree, I've seen lazy and I've also seen hard working.  I still believe that it can be pulled off, I really do.  However, how does anybody expect to instill a work ethic and teach skills when the most basic of social disciplines is lacking?  Work ethic can be fostered, skills can be taught, but until you handle the societal discipline issues its a moot point.  Take a look at the examples below.  These are just two examples from this week.  I do my best not to bash my hosts and this is no different, but these discipline problems must be dealt with.  I guess I'm a little shocked that in what is generally considered the most conservative Islamic nation in the world, these things are tolerated, and allowed to an even greater extent than ANY western nation.  That surprises me. 

Example one:
Last week in the College, a meeting was held between the Departments at both the Boys campus, and the Girls campus.  This meeting was of course held at our campus because it's not allowed for us to walk in the door at the girls campus.  The meeting time had been double scheduled with a make-up lecture by our Department Head.  About 15 min into the meeting, students began to wander in (15 min late as usual).  Normally finding us in a meeting they would retreat to the hallways to laugh and joke loudly, waiting for the meeting to finish.  However upon finding us in a meeting with women, they suddenly had large smiles on their faces, whistles from their lips, hand gestures defining the body of a woman and were generally jumping around and acting like...well like excited, horny monkeys.  One student even did the "Gangnam Style" dance in the middle of the hallway while looking directly at one of the female lecturers.  By this time, I was already on my feet and headed into the hallway, my face showed that wonderful "I'm going to hurt you" emotion, and I crassly said "Shut up and get out!".  My dancing student refused to go, so I took him by the arm (gently and without malice) and led them all out into the main hallway.  By now they had realized I wasn't joking, and they asked me seriously why I was angry.  I told them that they had embarrassed themselves and made us all look like idiot children.  They laughed, and said OK, OK, but Girls!!! I told them to wait or go take a break and come back in 15 minutes.  They headed for the break area laughing and talking excitedly.  The next day, I had the dancing student in my office, with another lecturer and my Department Head, I explained Simple Simon style that making sexual or pelvic thrust dancing gestures to a Doctor and Lecturer at the school or in General was highly inappropriate, and in most countries would constitute sexual harassment.   He said that he understood, but that I didn't realize he was doing the dance anyway and he didn't happen to notice their were women in the office.  If I would have understood, I would see that it wasn't his fault.  I looked at him incredulously and said, that's not the way I see it, consider this your one and only warning, get out of my office. He laughed and said OK.

Example 2:
2 Days later, I found myself stopping by Jarir on the way home.  I needed a new mouse for my laptop, but found myself straying towards the X-box games anyway (I'm a giant child).  I didn't stay long in the section though, because I couldn't get very close to the games without running into a group of teenage boys loudly discussing and arguing about the merits of the various games.  None of this was unusual and would have been found in any US store.  However what wouldn't have been found was what the boys were doing with the games...any game they found that didn't meet with their approval, they knocked off the shelf and onto the floor.  They did this about 10 times and then moved on.  A worker who had been watching came and picked the games up and re-shelved them.  Nobody in the store cared to stop them.  Not the women who were walking by, not the men with their children and families.  Nobody who worked in the store.

Later, as I was checking out, I was lucky enough to find myself in the same line as the boys I mentioned above.  They pushed and jostled, trying to push past me, bumping into me twice before I finally turned around.  I found myself looking at what at first glance I mistook to be a clown.  Gold Rimmed RayBan's, a Neon Giordano shirt of the tackiest style and skinny Capri pants.  I wanted to strongly tell the boys to back off, to wait their turn, to have patience...but if I'd have opened my mouth, I would have laughed.  I turned around and waited my turn as the boys laughed about the Ameriki in line and yelled at the cashier to take them first.  He didn't, so they yelled at another man to open a new register, he did and they ran over to that line.  They paid with 500 Riyal bills and left, getting into an illegally double parked waiting Mercedes.  I walked home laughing to myself and wondering what the future holds for the Kingdom when these boys are in charge.  When these boys are the cashier's, the waiters, the scientists, the doctors, the engineers.  The future looks bleak if you ask me.

Fix the discipline, fix the behavior and everything else will fall into place.  Just my humble opinion. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bangladesh is Burning

Just in time for US shoppers to hit up all the stores for Black Friday, "the high cost of low prices"* once again reared it's ugly head.  Factory Fires in Bangladesh have again given attention to the fact that you're only able to buy a $5 T-shit in Wal-Mart because someone else, somewhere else suffers.  These $5 shirts and similar low priced clothing are also available here in the KSA.

I don't have a whole lot to say on the issue, but I did think I would forward this link to a petition on Change.org.  Read it for yourself before you sign it, but it for the most part simply asks the major buyers to push for a worker involved fire safety plan, and the transparency to monitor such a program.  Every year, hundreds of workers die in clothing and textile factories in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Taiwan and elsewhere.  I'm not going to suggest that all of the workers should be paid US style wages, as such a thing is just obnoxious hippy dreaming, however fire safety and fire escapes are basic human rights that should be afforded to all. 

Here's the link to the petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/walmart-h-m-gap-join-fire-safety-program-fix-death-trap-factories

*"The High Cost of low Prices" is the Subtitle to a 2005 Documentary.  I doubt that they'd mind me using it in this case, but I have to admit...I didn't ask.  Here's a link to the Film's website:  http://www.walmartmovie.com/

**UPDATE**  Three managers have been arrested for refusing to allow workers to leave their stations when the Fire Alarm bells rang.

I'd also like to re-write an above sentence, since I fly solo without an editor (obviously!) I think that's allowed.  so:  "Every year hundreds of workers are burned alive in what can best be described as the inferno's of hell, many are overcome with smoke before the fire reaches them, but some suffer the much worse fate of having their skin roasted from their bones by temperatures upwards of 900 degree's Fahrenheit"   I thought that was a little more fitting, a little truer.  I spent a combined total of 9 years as a firefighter.  I think I have some knowledge on the subject. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Playing the "Fool"

The song goes that "everybody plays the fool" and that "there's no exception to the rule"...I don't know if it's exactly true for everybody, but I definitely have my moments in the fools spotlight.  A friend of mine took the time to point out that I'm currently not just playing the fool, but being played for a fool.  Her commentary was not exactly unexpected, she is hardly the only one who feels that way.  I see her point and the point and concern of a few others, however at the moment, I'm not prepared to change it.  This isn't because I'm in love or hope for some happy ending, on the contrary I want nothing more to do with the person pulling my strings.  I wonder though about the sentiment and the general feeling for the person "playing the fool".  Public opinion of the fool usually begins with sympathy and progresses to annoyance.  We wonder why the person can't see what we can see, can't see what is right in front of them.  Soon as our annoyance grows with the fool's refusal to take charge of their own life, we almost find ourselves feeling that the fool "deserves it".  Nothing has changed in the fools life though, only our perception of the situation and our interaction with the fool. 

I would ask this though, if we all have moments of uncertainty, of inability to do what is best for us, is the fool really the worst thing to play?  Is swift action always better than quiet reflection while we regain our footing, just to ensure that we don't unwittingly play the fool?  I'm not so sure, if  die tomorrow and the worst thing anybody can say about me is that I was a fool for a portion of my life, I'll count myself blessed.  Vigilance in not being the fool only leads to distrust and suspicion of all those around you. 

In closing, I suggest supporting the fools in your life, loving and caring for them.  The fools aren't the ones to fear and they aren't the ones who deserve your wrath.  It may also be prudent to ensure that you have no fools of your own.  People that support you more than you support them, people that are patient with you when they receive no self benefit from being so. 

I'm pretty sure there's a string of fools behind me somewhere, it seems it's my turn to walk a mile in their shoes. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blowing off a little steam

OK, the American political commentary is getting out of hand.  No, wait, its real F-ing far out of hand.  Its so insanely out of hand that I don't want to argue any more.  I want to cry, I want to hide under my covers like I did when I was 5.  I want to do what some people do and have a good long cry.  I want to get the girlfriends together, give each other manicures, watch Eat-Love-Pray and chow down on some Freakin Cookie Dough!!! WAIT...WTF DID I JUST SAY????  Oh well, F-it...THAT'S how frustrated I am, I'm having out of my mind experiences!

Lets get a few things about me straight upfront:

Age: 35
Education: Incomplete MBA, Undergrad Focus: Business and History
3 years Technical school prior to college (8 years in a classroom after high school)
Service:  Country: USMC Infantry Local: City Councilman, Foster Parent, Soccer Coach
Demographic:  Employed, 6 Figure salary, Homeowner, Whit-ish, Heterosexual, Divorced (Because she had to find herself)
Exposure to the world:  20 US States,  10 Countries, 4 Continents
Political Views:  Damn near a Libertarian on some things, Damn near a Humanist on others, but a registered Republican who has voted Democrat in the last 2 National Elections
Years unemployed since birth: 13 Years unemployed since coming of working age: 0
Years working 2 Jobs: 11 Days on Unemployment: 0
Weaknesses/Temptations:  Beer, Summer Dresses and the girls who know how to wear them, animals, New Orleans, Boudin, Tattoo's, BBQ's, motorcycles, good books, Rock and Roll, boats, The Blue's, beer, Jeans and the girls who know how to wear them, coy, snarky smiles and the girls who know how to wear them, girls not wearing anything who know how to wear it, beer...OK that's enough, sorry hopefully you now see that I'm a man with at least average intelligence, complete with dreams, hopes, ambitions and faults (notice the repetitive themes...) who for the most part has tried to do his civic duty for his entire life thus far.  

The American economy is in a shambles.  Our infrastructure isn't that far behind, and our current path is the very definition of "unsustainable".  OK, this I know.  I also know that the process didn't start during the term of the last president, it started a long time ago.  This isn't what I want to talk about.  Guys and Gals far smarter than me with entire lives dedicated to Economics and running models have beaten this dead horse until you could literally pour the poor bastard into a glue bottle.  I want to talk about the hypocrisy of the average American, of my friends and family.  Of any poor soul unfortunate enough to stumble upon this blog.  

Something has to change, we all know this.  But the cry from the rooftops for "secession" (Traitors) and the cry for the "end to welfare" are getting really stupid.   So I want to take a look at all the government bennies and government protections you and your family have taken advantage of over the years that you or your family have conveniently forgotten about.  Lets start with the boring stuff.

Student Loans:  If you've taken 1 penny of students loans, you've taken government money.  You didn't really think you deserved a federally guaranteed sum of money at 3%-8% interest and 30 years to pay it off did you?  You didn't really think that a BA in Psychology was going to get you anything anyway did you?  You didn't really think that "all nighters" over at the "I eta Pi" house was the best use of GOVERNMENT MONEY did you? You should have paid it out of your own pocket, joined the military or should have had to seek funding on the free market.  At 18, if you could have found any funds the interest rate would probably have been around 29%.  You're Welcome :)

"Scholarship" programs:   Scholarships, true scholarships are given by either schools or private industry (who probably take federal money) because of the outstanding academic performance of a student and the potential for that student to somehow advance their goal upon graduation.  Getting 2 years of college paid for (such as Missouri A+) by getting a 3.0 and doing 40 hours of tutoring with some hot chick is just not-quite-a-"scholarship".  So if you or your kid took one of these, guess what?  You're a TAKER!!!  You're Welcome :)
Tax Deductions:  You think Romney sheltered money?  Of course he did!  That's the system!  You do it too!  You write off mileage, home improvements,  children you chose to have, houses you chose to buy, clothes you need to go to work.  You hide every penny possible from the government and then blame us going broke on "the takers"!


Social services for needy families:  We all have a few of the less than stellar family members don't we?  We all have a few that made some poor choices or found themselves in unfortunate situations don't we?  Maybe it was us...How many of us moved them into our houses (I did once).  How many of us cashed out our savings to help them get on their feet?  (I have family who did).  Bottom line: Women's shelters, Children's shelters, Guardian Ad Litem's, sheltered workshops, programs for the developmentally delayed (hey I NEVER told you it was a good idea to have IVF at 40!).  If you or anyone that you don't want to see starve and die on the street has used these programs...You're a taker!!!  You're Welcome :)

Home Loans:  Did you have 25% cash down?  Did you serve in the Military and as such have VA eligibility?  NO?  Did you buy a house with less than 1% of the purchase price in the bank?  I bet you did...!  TAKER!!!!  You're Welcome :)

Morality:  OK this isn't financial, but its a subject near and dear to my heart that people have been screaming about, and some of you out there are the biggest morality hypocrites in the Universe and again as I said above, I do have my faults.  But, "Gay Marriage"?...you think it destroys the sanctity of marriage huh?  I think straight married people have managed to do that all by themselves.  Homosexuality is a sin, but Lesbian porn isn't? C'mon, don't lie...don't make me call you out on this one... Then we have coveting and lusting over your neighbors, co-workers, movie stars and sports hero's...that isn't just a little sinful in your eyes?  Seeing two men kiss in public revolts you, makes you say things like "faggot", makes some of you get up and leave, makes some of you complain and demand that it be stopped, but a man slapping his wife at an airport...where did your sense of morality go now tough guy?  Gay Marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage, but getting married 3, 4, 5 times that doesn't do any damage.  Having 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, affairs...sometimes 2 at a time.  That doesn't hurt it at all.  Abandoning your family to "follow your dreams" and oops finding a boyfriend 2 years older than your own kids...no damage to the sanctity of marriage there!  It's OK, I'm sure he's a great "conversationalist" :) That last one isn't actually about what some of you think it is...It's actually about a guy I met on vacation.  Poor bastard is so depressed that all he does is get drunk and cry, babbling on and on about the 25 year old dude on top of his 50 y/o soon to be ex-wife of 30 years.

You scream at the top of your lungs about Saudi Arabia and Sharia law, but some of you just want a Christian version of Sharia Law.  Sticks and all!  Some of you look in the mirror, see an ugly picture and assume that their is something wrong with the mirror, some of you just never look in mirrors I guess.  

Doing what I did, where I did it, with the connections I had...I know a lot of your secrets.  I know what Doctors beat and stalked their wives.  Cops and Firefighters and Lawyers too.  I know whose wife tried to commit suicide over the affair her husband had.  I know what business owners took plea bargains so they didn't have to register as sex offenders after didling their "promiscuous" niece.  I know which women had affairs and with who and whose wives caught them.  I know why the principal at the "school I won't mention" decided to "change careers"  We've ALL had a hand in destroying the sanctity of marriage and weakening the American family unless we've doing everything we can to hold ours together.  There is no need to blame this on a group, unless we decide to blame it on "US".  I also know who stole money (you know who you are too! ;).  I know who lied on resumes, forged their credentials, exaggerated their experience.  Don't worry, I'm not telling-yet.  All I ask is that during this insanely negative time in American history you take a look inside, see some of your own faults and work on those.  If we all did that a little more, there would be a lot less wrong with the country.  




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1 year

My office in Dammam

365 days ago, I got on an airplane.  
Guess you might say I took a little trip-and "what a long strange trip its been".


 Well folks, it's here.  My one year anniversary.  1 down and who knows how many to go.  1 more 2 more, 10 more?  They say if you can do 2, you can do 10.  Some people don't make their 90 days.  Some people go screaming for the exits on week 2, and even more complete that first contract year and boogie on home, a little better off, a little more worldly.  Then there are the others, the ones who for whatever reason, stay.  It's way too early to tell if I'm one of those yet, but as of today I'm a quarter of the way through the second academic year and the first calendar year has been marked off.  Oh and I'm the only American still here with this company.  I understand that to some extent.  2 of the guys had good reasons for staying away or going home.  Long story short...I'm the last of the American's.  Not quite as impressive as being the last of the Mohicans maybe, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was at least a little impressed with myself.  Despite that though I can't tell you much about it.  I've told you plenty about it before, but for some reason I can't expand tonight.  Truth be told, I haven't been able to expand on it for a week now.  I've been trying to write this since the 10th, now its the 13th.  Hell the only reason I'm typing is because I'm tired of staring at the screen and doing nothing.  I think I know the reason, can't really be sure just yet, but I think it has to do with contentment.  Happiness, satisfaction and reflective writing don't seem to go hand in hand for me.  Except for school assignments, I didn't write for nearly 10 years.  I always blamed it on life, being busy, being a father and a husband, working all the damn time...I think it was something closer to contentment.  The scary thing is...its back.  So instead of writing some deep, slightly cheesy, hipster band-esque monologue about how much I've survived, suffered, succeeded and what I've learned.  I'll just post a thought and a few pics.  Enjoy.

At times in life we feel lost, we feel as though our whole world is collapsing around and on top of us.  We can never imagine again feeling the sun on our face and the spring in our carefree step.  The advice of friends and those around us falls on deaf ears because they just can't understand how lost we feel.

Tonight I saw a young boy standing in a grocery store crying, screaming really, balling uncontrollably.  He thought he'd lost his mother.  His world was destroyed, his life over.  he was more lost than he ever had been before and thought surely, this must be the end.  Of course his mother was simply in the next isle.  Right where she'd been when he wandered off.  She came to him, his cries ceased immediately, his eyes dried and his face showed the happiness that can only come from feeling that safe, and that loved.

Every time we feel lost, every time our world is crumbling down upon us, every time we think there's no hope...our salvation probably lies right around the corner, just like it does for the lost child.  We just can't see it.  We're somewhere we've never been before and were scared that it'll always be that way.  

It won't. 


Al-Hasa








Train Station, Riyadh
Graduation Night 2012



Rakha




A fatter me with my old Riyadh students
Al-Hasa
Giza, Egypt





Saturday, November 3, 2012

SalsArabia baby!

I thought that title sounded better than "My dumb ass on a dance floor"

"Men don't dance...at least not real men".  Yup, used that one before.  "I came to drink", yeah used that one too.  "I'm kinda tired from work", "my feet hurt", "I'm drunk", "I have a girlfriend", "I'm pretty good, I don't want to embarrass you".  All of these excuses have either seriously or jokingly escaped my lips when the topic of dancing came up.  

I don't dance, its just not in my blood...Had life continued on as it was, this might have been my future as well as my past.  However, life didn't go on as it was.  I found myself in a foreign country, divorced, looking at my options.  I'm not rich, I'm not that good looking, (although I am slightly devilishly handsome at times).  And I live in a conservative and closed society, so I have to make the best of my opportunities.  About 6 months ago, I found myself face to face with an attractive woman, first time in months that I'd even seen one, and this one just had to be an attractive, intelligent, dancing one.  Worse than that, she wanted me to come dance with her...I'm dumb, but not dumb enough to turn that down.  So instead of turning her down, I proceeded to the dance floor and managed to step on her toes about fifty times all the while proving I know nothing about dancing. 

The topic came up again a couple of weeks ago.  I was told that when I get a Multi-Visa, we can all go to Bahrain and dance until 4am...Shit, FML, now I had a problem.  I wanted the Visa, I wanted to dance with these girls, and here I am with the same old tired excuses I've always had.  Long story short, I decided to learn to dance, no more excuses, no more bullshit, it was now or die lonely.  Maybe that's hyperbole, but then again, maybe not.   

A friend forwarded me the info for a beginning salsa class and I signed up without hesitation.  Tonight was the first night, and what a night it was!  

First of all, let me tell you that that is exercise! Holy crap!  I had no idea! Second of all I love these guys, they are awesome, high energy, fun people who really know how and love to dance!  Thirdly they saw right through my "cool guy" persona...I'm their pet project now.  They've decided that in the next month, they can make me look something vaguely similar to a dancer...maybe-IF I practice.  

Want to know the biggest problem?  This is me relaxed...yep,same guy you saw at work.  This is me relaxed, with a face that looks like either the brain is doing long division or the body is taking a shit.  Maybe both at the same time.  That's just me!  I had a great time tonight, but my face showed intensity and determination.  It showed concentration and a desire for perfection, never did it show happiness, enjoyment or passion...Apparently those things are needed for dancing...Again FML, I don't have those expressions, hell, I barely have those emotions! The instructor told me to just relax for next week, I told him that this is me relaxed, he raised an eyebrow...I said oh you mean get drunk?  He said yeah, that might help. 

I'll let you know how it goes, I paid for the month and intend on attending the entire month.  Really, I intend on attending until I have it down, even if that's 2 years from now.  If I have to look like the most technically proficient, miserable faced dancer in the world, by God I'll do it! 

One of these days I'll be chatting up a lovely woman and I'll start in on my "Indiana Jones, I've traveled the world" schtick and as the night goes on, the laughter comes naturally and the wine flows, I'll find myself saying, "why yes, I would like to dance". 

The folks at SalsArabia are great, send me a message if you'd like their info for salsa classes in the Dammam-Dahran-Khobar-Bahrain area. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Settling in

WooHoo!!!!!  I've been adopted!!!!  That's right folks, I'm off the foster list and in a home!
If you're thinking about coming to work in Saudi, this is something your going to want to pay attention too.  3 weeks ago, this was a place I had to be to make good money.  Today its a place that I have the chance at a life while I make really good money.  See the difference?  You will if you come here.

Saudi Arabia is a hard land.  It's hot, it's filled with sand, and the wind can blow something fierce.  When the sky opens up with rain, cities flood, wadi's fill with swift moving deadly waters and sand pits can "quickly" turn into quicksand.  But this isn't the half of it.  You get paid well here because its also a hard land to adapt to.  Its a closed and conservative culture.  You will spend the majority of time alone and at work.  I read 14 books my first 10 months here.  I watched seasons 1-6 of a bunch of shows I never bothered to watch in the states. I spent 5 1/2 months not knowing a single person whose native language was English.  I also spent 5 1/2 months without a sip of beer or wine.  I spent 2 months missing my family, 4 months preparing for the divorce and another 3 basically just waiting to go home. Be prepared my friends, this could very likely be you too. 

When I finally did meet people, I loved it!  People to hang with, people to legally drink with at the consulate or embassy, women to talk to (LOL, you should have seen that disaster...there I was, drunk, depressed, recently divorced...yeah none of those meetings panned out!).  I still like doing these things but it's not life.  It's some kind of piss poor, watered down version of life.  You wanted Cheerios but got rolled oats, you wanted a Ferrari but got a Pontiac, you wanted James Bond 007, but got Maxwell Smart.  Its just not quite what you were looking for, you know?  For me, I wanted a family and friends.  What I got were heavy drinkers who didn't keep a girlfriend longer than a month and women that cared more about your looks and your wallet because they had no intention of being around longer than a month anyway.  (Now I must say honestly that there is a little of that in me too.) I'd be lying if I tried to say that pretty girls and cold beers didn't just trip my trigger...but all the time?  C'mon guys, that's not life, that's a low budget 80 minute movie.  I want my life to be more like a Saga!  Maybe think Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lonesome Dove, The Godfather...Something better than American Pie or Porky's! 

Now it seems that my prayers have been answered.  I have a family that cares for me.  They feed me, entertain me and maybe most importantly are open to me.  I tell them things and they listen, they tell me things and I listen.  We laugh, joke, and have fun together.  Did I mention that they FEED ME!  I love being fed.  But the most important part is that they do it because they like me, and I do it because I like them.  It's a refreshing change in a land that has very little opportunity or desire to be social outside the family, especially with foreigners.  

How I met my new found family is a funny story, one that maybe I'll tell you some day, but not today.  As of now, you need to know that I read aloud with their Grandson.  He reads, then I read and so on and so forth until were done for the evening.  Then I get to eat dinner and drink tea.  It sounds simple, but try not doing it for a year and see what you think then.  You never thought you'd miss playing X-Box with a 10 y/o did you?  You never thought you'd miss the sound of a mothers voice and a fathers quiet contemplation.  Maybe it's just me, maybe your're different, we'll see.  

So if this interests you here's a couple of tips.  Be yourself.  Be the disaster that you are if that's what you are.  Tell the truth, nobody likes a liar and nobody trusts you once they figured out you lied.  Figure out some stuff that you might have to offer or want to learn.  If you can teach, offer around to teach or tutor.  If you can play music, offer around to play or teach.  If you want to learn something, ask everybody you meet where you can learn to play music, speak Arabic, dance etc...eventually someone will pass your name along, and eventually you'll meet a greater diversity of people.  One day, you might get adopted too.  Otherwise you'll live an empty shell of a life until you burn out and go home, where you might find that it wasn't the place so much as it was you. 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pyramids, Sphinx, Papyrus and Lightshow (Egypt Pt. 3)

So on my second full day in Egypt, I headed out from the hotel with my private guide and we struck off for the Pyramids at Giza.  I had almost forgotten where we were going until suddenly there they were, looming huge on the horizon, hiding right behind the large housing buildings.  Perfectly visible from the highway, incredible even from 10 miles away.  We arrived and our driver negotiated the army of peddlers, tourists, and citizens on the road.  Before I knew it, we were standing in the parking lot waiting to go in.  Buying a ticket in would have been a little difficult if my guide hadn't been there, the line itself was full of hustlers and tourists, everybody pushing and trying to either get ahead in line or get a hold of your money.

Arriving at the base of the Cheops Pyramid, I had a little moment of doubt, standing tiny in front of this monstrosity, I couldn't believe I was finally here.  I'd dreamed of this moment for 30 years or so, and here I was Thursday the 25th of October, 2012, actually standing at the base of the largest of the 9 Great Pyramids at Giza.  Overwhelmed is an understatement.  My guide told me everything I needed to know, showed me around, took my picture standing in front and on the base, and then I proceeded in.  Up a ramshacle wooden stairway I climbed for what seemed like forever until I reached the Burial chamber.  I stood in the King's tomb, touched his cold granite coffin and just thought for a second again about where I actually was.



We headed next to a second site, past the Khufu Pyramid and one in which you can rent a private camel or horse tour around the backside of the pyramids, here there were hardly any tourists.  We mounted up on our camels and headed off.  5 minutes later, I couldn't hear the voices anymore and looking around, found myself in the desert, riding a camel, with the 9 Pyramids as a backdrop.  Overwhelmed again, we stopped at the perfect place so that I could get some touristy pictures and soak it all in.

Our caravan of camels dropped us off at the temple in front of the sphinx, we explored and pushed, shoved and jostled our way through. Back in the middle of the noisy throng of tourists we found our way up the ramp and I suddenly found myself face to face with the Sphinx himself.



We went shopping at an old bookstore after leaving the Sphinx, away from the crowds and the junk.  I bought as much of the store as I could afford and carry and we headed off to dinner.  Most of the tourists were eating at the KFC/Pizza Hut, while we instead proceeded to a local restaurant called "Caviar" which is above the "Cafe Cairo" with a perfect view of the Great Pyramid in the distance.  Great service and a great meal of shrimp, calamari and fresh fish were the order of the day.  All the while I just stared at the great monstrosity I'd been climbing in just a few hours earlier.

Our last stop before the evening lightshow was a papyrus institute.  Now these are touristy, and pricey, but in my opinion worth it.  A young man who spoke excellent English showed me how papyrus was made, showed me how to tell the real from the fake and described the importance of the scenes I was seeing.  Again, I bought half the store, (hell when am I going to be back in Egypt?).

The sound and light-show at the Pyramids was as expected a tiny bit cheesy.  However, the light that they apply to the sphinx, showing it in its original form was incredible.   And the show only lasts an hour, if you can get at least 20 minutes of inspiration from it, you've gotten your money's worth.  I did.



Fighting our way back to the hotel through traffic, I thought of everything I had done.  I thought of the places my feet had been and realized that they were the same places the feet of the Ancient Egyptians had been 4000 years ago.  I realized that an entire civilization, one I knew almost nothing about, had lived and died here for close to ten times as long as my own country and homeland (as I knew it) had been around. 

Arriving back at the hotel, I tipped my driver and 10 minutes later was relaxing with a nice bottle of red wine over a late supper.

I didn't get to see everything, I didn't get to go everywhere, but all in all a successful and satisfyingly busy day packed with dreams and ambitions I've carried since childhood.  Somehow having finally accomplished them, I felt older. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Citadel, Muhammed Ali Mosque, Coptic Churches (Egypt Pt. 2)

For the most part, these pictures speak for themselves.  I had originally thought about doing some of these trips by myself, just taking a taxi and such.  Glad I decided not to.  My guide was incredibly knowledgeable and awesome and I'll talk about her in detail in another post, but I highly recommend you get a guide.  All of the tourist places in Egypt are just bursting with really pushy peddlers hawking cheap crap, your guide who speaks Arabic can help you negotiate past all of these. He/She can also show you things you would have easily missed by yourself.


Now I'm a christian, probably not a very good one, but a baptized Christian all the same.  You won't often find me in church, however I do read, do study and do pray.  Since I've been in Saudi, There has been an air of hostility towards this.  Legally I can't gather with other Christians, legally I can't read the bible except for my own personal copy and I can't share it with anybody.  However, this isn't even the worst of it.  Their is a feeling here, at least with certain people I've met (and a few that I work for) that revealing anything about my faith will get me fired, or get me sent home.  A feeling that if I actually said aloud that I pray daily, I'd find my job and my welcome here in question.  This and distance does something to you.  For me, it renewed my faith, it caused my weekly prayers or prayers of convienence to become daily and sometimes twice daily prayers.  For me, it changed the way I felt about some things. 
Seeing these scenes, seeing these churches, in a country run by the Muslim brotherhood no less did something great for me.  Number one, I felt very tied to them, felt as though I'd kind of gone on a little pilgrimage of my own, but more importantly, it changed the way I had begun to feel about Islam and the Middle East.  Here, in this primarily Muslim country, Christians and Jews lived and worshiped.  Egyptians could choose their faith, Egypt while still a conservative Islamic country was somehow able to deal with the idea of churches and synagogues for those who chose something other than Islam.  To me this realization began to push back the slightly negative view Saudi Arabia had given me.  Maybe I dared to think, there is hope for the faithful of the world to live in some sort of peace.  In one day, I toured Mosques, Churches and Synagogues.  It was to say the least, nice. 





Friday, October 26, 2012

Cairo Marriott-Zamalek (Egypt Pt. 1)

First off this is going to be short...You see I'm still here, so sitting in my room blogging when I could be out experiencing Eid and Cairo is just stupid.  Second of all, I'm still here, so who knows a mugger might attack me as I try and check out tomorrow which would of course cause me to add to this post...But as of now.  This is what I think of the place. 

How do you know you're in love?  You just do.  Well I'm in love with Cairo, but it can get a little busy, a little crazy, a little dirty.  None of that is a problem here, because this hotel is a fortress and a sanctuary in the middle of Zamalek, a more upscale part of Cairo, and an Island in the middle of the Nile.  

I love this hotel
I give it a 5 Star rating hands down, no question.  And right now, because Egypt's tourism industry is still in the toilet, it's only operating at 50% capacity or so.  BOOK IT!

Hotel and facilities:  5 Stars, originally a palace from the 1800's, the Hotel is sprawling, luxurious and just...awesome.  Do yourself a favor and spend the first day getting lost for an hour, it helps you appreciate the splendor.  

Staff:  5 Stars, If they were any friendlier they'd be hitting on you.  From the bellman to the housekeepers, to the front desk staff.  All are exceptional.  The Concierge is nothing short of incredible.  Book your tours through her when you arrive.  

Banks:  5 Stars, 4 or 5 different to choose from, ATM's that accept your cards, money changing services etc...

Casino:  3 Stars, If you've ever been to Las Vegas and gambled at the MGM Grand, or the Luxor, or Caesars Palace...you're ruined for life.  I've never been to casino's as nice as those ever since I left the West Coast and stopped going to Vegas.  As far as I'm concerned the casino here is a small smokey room in which to gamble.  Not really a whole ton of fun.  I won $60 which was kind of cool, but other than that...you pay for the drinks, the women aren't beautiful, and none of the other patrons are particularly friendly.  Arabs are funny gamblers, they don't seem to be having a good time.  they gamble like they're trying to make money, rather than have some fun.  Last night a large and opulently dressed Saudi man was sending an army of people to place bets on different tables simultaneously...all the while he stood back, stoic, watching and occasionally collecting his winnings and sending out another bet.    There are a few well dressed and highly made up women floating around, but they don't play much nor do they stand by their husbands much.  Generally they sit back near the wall or the entrance and talk to each other.  They seem to be in the 45-60 range if that's you're thing.

Restaurants:  5 Stars, The food is excellent, the patio perfect, the Steak's cooked to perfection.  However it isn't cheap.  One of the highlights is getting a bottle of wine with dinner and having it sent back to to your room when you're finished.  Menu's and selection go from Asian, Italian, Western and Middle Eastern. 

Bars:  4 Stars, You can drink in almost all of the restaurants, but "Harry's Pub" is to my knowledge the only "Bar".  If you're coming from the west, give it 3 stars.  It serves any and all liquors, has a few specialty drinks and most importantly for me has Ice cold Stella beers a plenty.  Free little munchies come with your drink and they're not bad.  Ladies of the night frequent the place though, however they're pretty upscale and will leave you alone if you just politely tell them you're they're to drink.  I've stopped in to this place 3 times now, and last night was the first time I had any trouble.  A young, drunk Arab man (I believe Egyptian), came over to me at the bar, ordered a drink and asked where I was from.  I told him Saudi Arabia, he looked confused so I explained that I'm from the US, but work in Saudi Arabia.  He asked where in the US, I told him St. Louis, again he looked confused so we tried to sound it out and explain where it was.  Eventually, I mentioned Missouri (which he seems to have known) and he angrily said "why didn't you just say that!"  "Why did you try to trick me!".  I asked him where he was from and he said "Queens".  Queens, New York I questioned? and he puffed out his chest and loudly said "NO!  The land of Queens".  At this point, about 3 minutes in to the conversation.  the manager who had been watching attentively suddenly appeared and grabbed the mans arm.  He began quietly yelling (?) at him in Arabic and was very animated.  The man looked down at his feet, apparently ready to cry.  The manager reached out and took his glass of scotch away, and roughly led the man back to his table.  He then apologized profusely to me.  I was just about to go over and tell the man that I would gladly kick his ass all the way back to his "Land of Queens", but reason got the better of me.  The two 6' plus European men behind me, who had according to their shirts attended the Royal Military Academy and played polo there had noticed the occurrence, but otherwise the bar patrons were clueless, and carried on having a good time. 

Location:  5 Stars!  PERFECT 30 min from the airport, 30 min from the pyramids, 10 minutes from the Museum, ON the Nile.  5 min walk from Bodega and Deals bars. 






In Saudi, this young lady would be told to cover up...



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Orderlies, Kitchen Staff, and Janitors

Waaayyy "back in the day", as in, New York Circa 1869 or so...Bellvue Hospital was running Physicians and Surgeons on horse drawn ambulances.  This didn't last all that long before running low on physicians became a problem.  The hospital then tried using untrained staff to go out and get the patients.  These staff were often times orderlies, kitchen staff and janitors.  Death rates soared.  As time went on, training was added, and ambulance crews became "dedicated" crews with one orderly in charge of driving and one in charge of patient care.  Surely even in this the dark days of EMS, that orderly in charge of the patient sometimes spoke to a physician about what kind of basic level treatment they expected from the responders. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of EMS, this is where you came from, this and the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars, the US Civil War, World War I and II field hospitals and ambulances, Korea, Vietnam, and maybe even as far back as the Crusades (firefighters did at least).  The US model of Civilian EMS system, which is what were trying to duplicate here, really got cooking in 1969 in Miami, and then Los Angeles, Seattle, and Columbus Ohio. 

OK, now that were done with the really basic history, lets get to the point...

I give my students hell, its my job.  Some days, maybe I take it to extremes, some days, maybe I'm a little too serious and surely some days I'm a little too pessimistic.  I say this, not because my students have done anything fantastic lately, far from it, they're on vacation either relaxing, preparing for a pilgrimage of a lifetime, or getting drunk, chasing girls and doing all those things they're really not supposed to do.  3 or 4 of them have cracked a book, the rest are otherwise occupied.  So why do I write this then?  Simple, because today I was reminded by a facebook thread of all things, that US EMS "professionals" who learn in their own language, and have had the benefit of excellent hospitals and ambulances to learn on and have had experienced nurses and physicians to learn from are capable of being and are perfectly WILLING to be dumber than my students who come from a completely different culture, learn in a second language, and often have to "make do" with supplies and trainers that happen to be available. 

So I'm going to make my point perfectly clear to my USA EMS brethren.  Medicine at any level is a profession not a job.  You should advance to the highest level your tiny, pea sized, dinosaur brain and your wallet can achieve.  At that point however, you don't stop.  You must continue reading, you must continue studying, you must continue perfecting.  As you progress in your professional development, you become responsible for teaching as well. Whether formally in a classroom or by example in the field, your knowledge, skills and abilities need to be top notch so that you can set a proper example of how to treat patients and practice medicine (at whatever level) in general.

In today's world of social media, you are responsible for setting some kind of example or providing some form of encouragement to those trying to learn and eventually take the reins from your old, liver spotted, arthritic hands.  When they ask a legitimate question, try providing them a legitimate answer, not an idiotic opinion.  Try encouraging them to do some additional research, point them in the direction of studies that have been conducted, try explaining the reasoning behind certain procedures.

BUT PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY (can I say that here?) Stop spreading and regurgitating the same old non evidence based crap that you were taught, just because someone told you and you never bothered to research it!

So I leave you with these thoughts.  

Q:  Why do we backboard every patient who so much as hurt his wrist in a "trauma".

A:  Because we started as Orderlies, Kitchen Staff and Janitors who regardless of intelligence level were given a very specific set of instructions to follow.  IF A, than perform B.  IF C than perform D.

No empirical evidence exists showing the benefit of non specific back-boarding of all trauma patients.  In fact, it exists to the contrary, that we actually do damage this way.  In modern prehospital medicine, we are not Orderlies, Kitchen Staff or Janitors, we are now capable of and responsible for study, thorough assessment, research, and evidence based practice approved by our medical control physician. Don't like it?  The old jobs are hiring and probably pay better. 

Q:  Why is the Square Root of PI 1.77245xxxxx?

A:  I have NO CLUE!  I'm a Critical Care Paramedic, and Paramedic Instructor.  But you can bet your ass if I called myself a mathematician, I'd know the answer.

You want to call yourself a medical professional?  Act like one.  Do your research, stay current, learn a little more every day, perfect your skills until the day the good Lord turns you back into dust and your time on this earth is over.  

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