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."**

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Expectations

Now I'm a guy who loves a motivational true story more than most, really I do.  However I'm also a guy who thinks that if a wall is painted black, it's gonna take more than one coat of primer to cover it, regardless of what the ad says.  Get my drift?

I think what people forget when they think of the "motivational true story", and their place in it, is that regardless of what Hollywood or the publishing company did or said, the reality is that their were losses, their were failures and the whole thing might have only been worthwhile because of the dream of it, not the actuality of the result.  What do I mean?  Or at least what do I mean in this context?  What I mean is that I have students that are learning, that are becoming good, that are improving their English, learning how to do real assessments. learning how to perform real skills, I have students that are kicking ass.  I also have students that aren't, I have students that are really sitting around doing nothing, hoping to graduate--and the reality I know is twofold.  First that the students who are good now are already better than most of what the country has to offer Paramedic or pre-hospital "physician" (i.e Quack) wise, and second that those other students probably will graduate, that's the culture here, they pay, they attend, they pass.  We've got a "faction in Riyadh" that seems to think neither is acceptable.  They have these dreams and ideas of a day when if you get hurt in the KSA, a fluently bi-lingual American standard paramedic gets off the truck and says, "hey buddy what happened".  Whoa! Reality check time.  That is not going to happen this time around...Whats going to happen, is that were going to bust our ass to get guys to a level that's as good as they can be until things change a little more.  Were here now, we graduate the first ones in another year, they'll be better than anything the Kingdom has ever seen, and as times goes on they'll help us make the next ones even better.  So basically what I'm saying is that the class of 2013 is what they are, we can improve them slightly, but pushing them harder and harder to speak a language they don't understand just yet, forcing them to learn the skills and theory in that language and expecting them to be able to test to an American Paramedics standard...a standard that plenty of native English speakers fail every year...It ain't gonna happen, not yet.  And its not fair, its not fair to push them this way, this hard and try to force them to adapt overnight.  Adapt?  Certainly, Overnight?  No way.  It seems that some of my expat brethren forget...this is their country.  That's right folks, its the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its a sovereign nation.  I'm a guest here, I'll be dammed if I'm gonna shit all over some Saudi kid busting his ass to soak all this up, and tell him that "nope, you fail, you misunderstood my English".  I'll train excellence, and my students will all be prepared for the day they are put into the position of saving another mans life, but the reality is that only the top 10% will really be qualified for those positions, the next 60% will be a shit ton better than what they've got now, and the bottom 30% will be basically what functions as an EMT-basic currently.  The reality is though, that even for the bottom 30%, they will have seen and performed the skills hundreds of times before I let them leave the school, they may not be able to pass an Americanized test, but they will be better than some guy off the street which might as well be whats out there now.  

I can't stay here forever, I'm willing to bet that 2-3 years is all that I've got in me, but if we start as well as we are with the class of 2013, I'm willing to bet that the class of 2020 will be the ones who really do it, the guys who really push the envelope and force the kingdom out of its comfort zone and into a modern day EMS system.  I dream of that day, the day when a Saudi Paramedic is just that...a Saudi Paramedic, he speaks decent enough English to communicate, his skills are razor sharp and he recognizes the things going on in the international medical community and applies them in his life his practice and his teaching.  More importantly, he is able to compete at the international level...he may not always win, but he can hold his own, in his own right as a professional.  What some people can't see about this is beyond me, they want it their way, right now, and I hate to be the kid with the stick running around bursting bubbles, but it just isn't going to happen yet.  I think that some people seek to legitimize their role in society and their accomplishments in life by making it exceptionally hard for others to achieve the same thing.  Barriers to entry in the field is a portion of the textbook definition of a professional (i.e. not just anybody can do it), that I understand, but lets not make it ridiculous OK guys?  Instead, lets turn out the very best product we can, identify the students with instructor potential, help them achieve that level of comprehension and leave this culture better than we found it.  It's already on the way to developing its own identity in pre-hospital medical professionalism, it just needed some help.

Oh and one more thing...If you're gonna quit, quit.  Students and teachers who threaten to quit every day, well all I can say is that you're lucky I'm not the guy with the BIG red pen, because by the second time you told me that, well lets just say that there wouldn't be a third...Pound sand buddy!

(Once when I was much younger, my boss asked how things were going, I sat down, and began on my long list of the end I said "if things don't get better, I think I'm ready to turn in my resignation".  I expected him to fall to his knees and say "NO!  Not that, anything but that!  PLEASE...we need you!"...But that's not what he said...he waited about 10 seconds, and said "well then, 'I'm ready to accept it".  Let me tell you, You ain't never seen backpedaling that fast in your life, I wonder if he still laughs about that as much as I do...)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

They Moved My Cheese!

**If you haven't read the short and easily readable in one hour, incredible book "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson M.D. ISBN 978-0-09-181697-1 you've missed out.  If you did read it, but didn't take the time to reflect on how the book applies to your life, and which of the characters you might spend the majority of your time playing, you really missed out.**

They moved my cheese!  For weeks, maybe months, I've been going out of my mind with frustration trying to get an accurate handle on what exactly they want me to do here...They interviewed me and hired me as a program adviser/director, paid me a salary commensurate with that position and when I arrived, tasked myself and the others with exactly that duty...except they didn't...not really.  If you decide to come to Saudi Arabia to work, you'll meet many of the obstacles I'm about to cover.  Call it whatever you want, Racism, nationalism, home pride, job security...they aren't all the same thing, but they amount to the same thing...Rule Number 1 when working in Saudi Arabia: "An Arab should be in charge, preferably a Saudi"  This rule in part complies with the Kingdoms "Saudization" policy, which requires employers who hire foreign labor to also hire a minimum percentage of Saudi workers as well, but it goes deeper than that.  It goes to racial pride which can get scary quickly, it seems that the feeling is that none of the foreign workers should be capable of things the Arab's especially the Saudi's can't do.  So ok, not exactly national socialism,  but considering that foreign workers CAN do things that the guys from the GCC can't, it becomes a problem.  Another problem is that while I'm given a significant role and position of influence, I also have to play the "convince my boss that he came up with the idea game"...I don't play that game well.  If there is anything that I could learn to do better in my life, it's relax.  I can sit around and BBQ and waste the day away tinkering around the house, I can enjoy a day with the family, I can read a book, watch a movie and believe you me I can take naps with the best of them, in fact I'm willing to bet that I could win a napping contest...But I never turn off my brain, I can't seem to silence that voice in my head that says "we should be doing something", "we have important things to take care of", or lately "please get clarification on what exactly they want you to do!".  I need to stop pondering the meaning of life and remember that my first and primary job is to live my life...

Can I get a "JOBB De-scription!!! (In the style of an evangelical preacher....think Sam Kinison before he became a comedian).  I/We have been pushing this one lately, because were getting a little sick and tired of having every idiot around the campus decide that they're in charge today, and no I don't mean my bosses, not my Dean or Vice Dean, but idiots, morons, "those people" the guys who are most probably qualified to do only two things in life, rake sand, and regulate the American Financial Industry.  (Qualifications are about the same for both.)  I'm talking Lecturers with Masters and PhD's in Nursing, Medical Imaging, Lab Sciences etc...who have never in their life functioned in a clinical environment, not once.  These guys want a say in what we do, how we do it and the changes that we recommend and unfortunately I know why...they don't want to look stupid, or look like they've been collecting a salary for the past 5 years and haven't accomplished anything.  They are terrified of us, and that does not make for a good working environment. Quick thinking exercise:  It's Friday afternoon and your boss calls a meeting of the top brass, he says that corporate is sending out a team of consultants, they'll be here Monday morning. Within 15 minutes of the meetings end, the word has spread throughout the entire company, complete with ever increasing tales of what "they are really here to do".  Quickly answer the following question: Whats the first word that comes to mind if you're an employee in this situation?  Was it a four letter word describing dooky? I bet it was...Multiply that by the fear of loosing you job and being sent home to Syria, or any country in the middle of the early stages of a revolution...and that's what were up against.  Currently though, I am an adviser at a satellite campus, not the home campus, so people here get to see me every day instead of just one week a year!  ("Oh happy day!" I'm sure they all say).  Here's the problem though, when asked enough times for a written job description, something that describes what exactly it is I do, by both myself and the other employees (I had already written one, but like I said earlier it has to be "their" idea and it got ignored).  The boss finally capitulated and issued a verbal order.  "Mr. Geoffrey is in charge of training."  "he will teach, help, evaluate, and determine the training to be done".  Oh shit, he went there...within one day the other employees inside and outside my department successfully had me buried in a 15 hour lecture and lab schedule including 15 students that I now play academic counselor to.  Soooo I'm a teacher I guess...Now I have no time to complete my assignments from Riyadh, because I'm always in the classroom, I have no time to complete the other projects that I was working on for the local campus because I'm always in the classroom.  I can't evaluate the training going on because conveniently, it happens while I'm also teaching.  Most importantly though, I only have a Bachelors degree, (MBA candidate) which makes the guys here with a Masters degree suddenly feel big and bad, and gives them the stones to come interrupt my classes and speak in Arabic to my students for 15 minutes whenever they feel like it.  Damn it!!!!  That is not what I'm supposed to be doing!!!!  You hired me to help make a great program, not teach classes to only one group of students!!!!This isn't right!

Whoa hold up...Slow your roll

Wait a tic...I get it

I see what they've done...They've moved my cheese...They didn't change my salary and benefit package, they didn't change my ability to renew or cancel my contract...all they've done is move my cheese...So instead of complaining that this new cheese isn't as good as my old cheese, I'm going to embrace new cheese, I'm going to become the best teacher I can be, Masters degree be dammed, You wanted excellence, you're going to get it.  And at the end of the year, when my students are kicking ass, and the others are sucking it, maybe we'll be able to sit down and have a talk...In the meantime...,I still like my job, I still have a blue passport, I still have a family that loves me and a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed woman at home (not literally at home, I'm not Saudi for Crissakes).  and maybe most importantly...I'm still the third highest paid guy in the building...funny, what a simple concept...cheese

"Image and Link courtesy of"

Geoffrey D. Horning
EMS Program Adviser/Training Supervisor
Eastern Region, Dammam Campus

has a pretty good ring to it wouldn't you say?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Of the few things you either can't have or can't often find in Saudi Arabia, Mexican food is one of the surprising ones.  I mean of course I understand why I can't have a BLT, or why I can't go order a nice American style Ice cold draft, but Mexican food?  I can walk down the street in Al-Khobar, Dammam or Riyadh and find Chinese food, Indian Food, Italian food, American Fast Food, American semi fast food (Applebees's, Friday's, Outback Steak House, Planet Hollywood) Turkish food, British food, Iraqi food, Lebanese food, some of the best seafood you've ever imagined.  But I can't get Mexican food?  Weird...There is supposedly a "Taco Bell" in Riyadh, although I haven't found it, and calling Taco Bell Mexican food is like calling the Pope a religious dude, I mean technically the definition is semi accurate,...but it leaves a lot to be desired.  I did however find "Old El Paso" brand (which is about the same as Taco Bell) salsa and enchilada mix in one of the ethnic foods isles...(haha I'm the "ethnic" in the ethnic foods isle now!), but that's all there was, a jar of salsa, and a can of red enchilada sauce (and everybody knows that green is the good stuff!), so not a whole lot of help in the "ethnic foods isle".

Since I've been here, whenever I order more traditional fare, it comes with a small cup of "salsa" that most locals either disregard or spread on their rice and chicken, it even comes with the meal at some kabsa restaurants, I even tried some my first night and quickly decided that they didn't know what they were doing.  Which brings me to the point of this post.  We had a very nice, very expensive employee dinner about a week ago, at this dinner, they're were two "cauldron's" of an off color almost brownish, watery, pico de gallo looking solution.  I ignored them until one of the guys said here try this Salsa you might like it, have you ever eaten Salsa?  I assured him condescendingly that growing up in California, and being stationed where I was stationed, and even living in Missouri I was a freakin' Salsa expert, and that no way was that "concoction" going to taste anything like salsa is supposed to taste.  Without asking, he suddenly plopped a spoonful down on my plate and said "try it".  The entire table of 8 was now staring, so I decided to humor them and gently put my spoonful of rice in the clump of salsa...I have never been so shocked in my life...It was Salsa!  Not only was it salsa, it was either the best or second best pico/salsa that I've ever had, it was awesome. My brain suddenly started trying to remember which store I'd been in when I had seen a bag of Tostito's, because a bag of Tostito's and a cup of this stuff would make a Friday (Wednesday) night almost complete!

When the night finally wound down about midnight, we were encouraged to take as much leftover food as we could carry, nobody hesitated and cans of soda, bottles of water and plates and plates of rice, lamb, and chicken were swooped down upon buy our employees doing their very best impression of a pack of vultures.  I paid them no mind though, I had only one desire, to get to the cauldron's of Salsa that they were so foolishly ignoring.  I found a large cup and headed over, when I arrived and looked upon the gallons of near perfection it suddenly dawned on me that this stuff was fresh, really fresh, as in cut up from fresh onions, tomatoes, cilantro etc...And it had been exposed to air for a minimum of the last 6 eyes watered and my heart sank as I realized that this precious and impressive mixture would be spoiled in less than another 12 hours.  I took a little, and ate it with a plate of rice later that night, imagining what could have been...but the sunny side is that I now know it exists, it's here, I just have to find it again.  I need to ask the Dean who he had cater the meal...who knows maybe there's some crazy Mexican expat in their kitchen...Somebody knows how to make a proper Salsa though, and if they know how to make proper salsa, maybe they know how to make other things as well...and while its still not bacon or beer, a plate of pollo or carne asada enchiladas smothered in jack cheese and a bowl of salsa with some fresh oily and salty tortilla chips sounds like a little slice of heaven right about now...who knew I'd miss Mexican food?...maybe its time for another expedition...I'm Hungry!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why hasn't anybody paid the ransom yet????

So here's the 3 month proof of life photo.  You guys suck, still no ransom payments despite hearing that the check is in the mail many times. I thought I'd take my third month anniversary to do some 'splainin.  You see whatever the blog's original purpose, and regardless of what its become, I know that when somebody is considering taking the plunge and coming over here to work, they do a lot of soul searching, and a lot of internet searching beforehand to try and figure things out.  I did, and I got a lot of ideas about the country from firsthand accounts, some that held to be true, others that didn't.  So let me say these things in summary about coming here to work.  First of all, three months ain't nothing, my friend  Dave and his family said that after 2 weeks on the ground in Riyadh, I'd only been here for 10 minutes.  So by that scale, now I've been here about an hour.  An hour isn't very long, but its long enough to know if you want to stay until last call or not.  If last call comes for me, I sure as hell hope it ain't here!  Then again, things change quickly in this life.  So here's the summary (unless you're going to work for Aramco which is like working in a really cool part of Iowa--Hey! it could happen!):

You're potential employer is probably telling you the truth about the salary and living conditions, for the most part they're pretty darn nice.  Don't expect to find a whole lot of info about you're employer on line, the internet here is for facebook, skype and gaming.  They're probably not white slavers (hint: this is the racially insensitive term used prior to human trafficker).  You really can find any and all types of food, just no pork and believe me, I don't care how much you ignored it at home, 3 months without bacon, sausage, a hotdog or a BBQ pulled pork sandwich is something very close to hell for an American, after a year I'll be ready to shank a fool for some bacon.  My in-laws would have already laid down and died.  You can find booze, but you're going to have to be pretty careful about that, it could easily land you in jail, and customs will find it!  It's all homemade except at the embassy, and some of it is pretty close to freakin' incredible (or so I've heard...).  The people are...well they're people...try and accurately sum up all the people in your state or region of the US in one sentence, can't do it can you?  It's the same here, some people here not only speak great English (probably better than you do), but have been to the states and are very open minded, others here think that we all have a beach in our backyard and that life in the states is something akin to a pornographic version of the O.C., some are not only willing to talk to you, but more than happy to do so and invite you into their homes, others give you looks that could kill from a mile and aim their cars at you.  Some folks understand what changed in America on Sept. 11th and will actually go out of their way to apologize and even clarify that Islam is not terror, and will tell you the men that did "that thing" are in hell.  Some folks understand what changed in America on Sept. 11th and danced a jig celebrating, and then there are those who think that we did it to ourselves, and some who think that the "Jews" (not Israelis) did it to us.  And just like many of our kids their are kids who don't really know what happened.  It's weird.  I've been told to shut up and get out for speaking English, I've had a total stranger bring his kids up to practice their English with me, the place definitely has its moments.  The driving is insane, you tube doesn't even begin to cover the stupidity on the road here... mainly though, I think its about you, I'm here for the money and the adventure, so I'm a little bit of both worlds.  So far the Money's good and the adventure is, well without a car...lacking.  I have a much different life than many westerners because I don't live in a compound, I don't walk in my shorts and my t-shirt down to the pool, where the women sit, I don't watch the girls jog by dressed in their summer clothes (10 points for that one), I don't always eat American food served by a Pakistani or Indian waiter who calls me sir, I live the life of a Saudi for the most part, I wear suits or conservative clothes, eat and shop local and even watch Saudi TV, I don't have a driver, I haggle with cabbies or take SAPTCO (the shame train) most of all though I just miss my family and my little comforts, it would be better if we were all here, but that's not an option.  So if you're thinking about coming, prepare yourself for the mental strain you'll be under, trying to work at your normal productivity levels (which is why you'll be making that salary) when you have none of your creature comforts or relaxing rituals is tougher than you think, and as I've said before if you haven't lived in the middle east, you don't know the middle east, and you don't know shit until you've lived in Saudi.  It's a different world folks, practically alien even when things are good, unfortunately you're family probably doesn't get that, they think you're just someplace else...hence, my ransom hasn't been paid yet!  You'll be laughing when those signs say 24 months!  I hope I still am!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lets talk about sex!

(Note:  I lied, this post is edited, I cut it down due to removing things that I couldn't verify, deciding to completely leave homosexuality alone (because it "doesn't exist" here)  and generally trying to make sure it came across with the right amount of truth and humor...still felt it was important, still wanted to write it...

WHORE:  This word is thrown around here like it meant nothing...

What's more important?  The reasoning, the intent? or the reality of the situation?  Women in Saudi are required to be covered when in public, the intent is (from what I've been told) to protect their virtue and to protect them from other men as well as save their beauty for only their husbands once married.  This is often taken to the point that even cousins have not seen their female counterparts, that boys have not seen their aunts, or even older sisters in extreme cases.  I've also heard of a mans second wife being shielded from his children.  OK, so the intent is to protect the virtue, save the beauty, and that by covering the women, the boys will concentrate on matters of business instead of being tempted into the wicked, lustful ways of the west...yeah, yeah, yeah...Lets talk about the reality.  The reality is that the entire culture appears to be a pent up sexual powder-keg ready to blow at any minute.  Some of the "men" run around like sex crazy 13 year old boys ready to hump anything that will hold still for ten seconds, the mall cops who manage and enforce the segregation can't take their eyes off of the girls, and even though it changed in January, some lingerie shops still employ only men who stand at the door and try and entice women in... the boys follow the men on these points and learn from their fathers, older brothers and friends how to catch a peek.  So lets take a closer look at the disastrous state of sexual understanding in this country and maybe most importantly:  The "accidental" sexual objectification of women.  You can't see them because its dirty if you do...If your wife shows herself to anyone other than you she's a whore, sex is for men to enjoy and women to submit to, if she likes it she's a whore, if she doesn't like it enough, you should get a second wife, or third, or fourth because it is a woman's duty to satisfy a man...Real men have more than 1 wife.  All of the following statements are not only seemingly considered true in this society, but are much more pervasive than you might believe.  And although the polygamy thing is in the Q'uran, the rest seems to pretty much be made up and is only very pervasive in Saudi.  What this ends up meaning is that women are for sex, so when a boy has a female teacher, he spends his time thinking about sex rather than learning, when he has a nanny (often until 18) he spends his time thinking about her in a sexual way.  When he meets a doctor who is female he thinks of her as a woman to be sexually conquered, or in my case when I write a report and state that the female campus is drastically understaffed, and under-equipped and that possibly with an escort we could teach some classes for them...I'm an American sex fiend trying to get close to Saudi women...yeah that's the last time I'm bringing that one up (even if KSU is doing it too!).  My point though is that everything is about SEX!  Whoa what?  Not love, not family, not happiness or children, but SEX?  I thought that was an "American problem".  Yeah.  I call bullshit!

So, no big deal, whatever, it's not how we do it in the states (or how they do it anywhere but here), but hey, to each their own and tell amnesty international to take a flying leap.  Except for the fact that we have an even bigger problem. If all we had to contend with were the men and their dirty imaginations (which can get pretty darn imaginative believe you me!) no problem.  But no we've got something better than imagination.  We've got TV!  FM TV out of Beirut, and mainly in Arabic is like watching soft core porn, trust me I know, I watch it daily.  The video's on this channel as well as many others portray beautiful, Arab speaking (or singing rather) girls and women in the most suggestive of positions, wearing the skimpiest and sexiest outfits including push-up bras that make a Bavarian beer maid look flat chested, in videos that would make Katy Perry and Nikki Minage sandwiching Rhianna look tame.  Yes folks, that's right TAME.  TV and videos here are about lustful women in lingerie who croon on about how they need a real man to fulfill their needs...WTF?  I actually had my students translate some of the songs for me.  Does anybody else see a problem?  Saudi man's outlook:  I never see a real woman, I'm not allowed to talk to a woman, women on TV are hooked on sex and want me to come and get them...Oh shit.  Think I'm exaggerating?  today my students took their free time to ask me about EMS calls with girls.  I took them seriously, since they were serious and were genuinely perplexed.  I figured we would be talking about when to intervene without waiting for her fathers or husbands such luck.  Instead I was asked about what to do, if a woman calls 997, just because she's "horny".  I told them that first of all, that was an inappropriate question, that second of all social lives and work in our field are never mixed, and treat every patient like you would want your mother or wife to be treated and medical ethics and blah, blah, blah.  Thirdly, it would never happen, that real life wasn't some second rate porno that they watched where all the women in the world were secretly nymphos and just waiting for a chance to get you alone.  I also briefly went over the stance I take on "If I think you're going to do harm to a patient or the world, I'll find a way to fail you".  They weren't dismayed in the least, they went on and on about how I just don't understand, and that girls in Saudi are like this, they are "super horny" for a man because they are kept locked up for so long, and that the medics at the SRCA have told them about calls they went on and had sex with the girls...are you fucking kidding me?  Where do I even go from here?  Is this real?  I doubt it, I don't think its a case of twisted individuals bragging about rape, I think it's a case of twisted individuals bragging about their sexual fantasies, but still WTF????And these idiots are the same ones telling me that its the women who are "horny" (their word)..."Hello Pot!", "Oh hello Kettle", "my my kettle you sure are black today"  "Look whose talking!"

The attached pics were taken with my iPhone over a 10 minute period...If I remember correctly they mostly came from 1 video, but I could take these all day...wait...oh...damn it!  You know what I mean!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Everybody's got one!

So, I've got a couple of blog posts in the oven, but they're still cooking and their really tricky recipes, so...I'm leaving em alone until I get them just right.  As you, dear reader know (Mom. Dad, Bill and a few others-all are welcome) I use this blog a lot like a diary..hmm sorry "Journal".  It doesn't sound quite so girly.  That being said, it just felt like it was time to write.  And since while I was doing some research on a few topics today, I discovered that blogs, newspapers, political websites etc...were really just a bunch of people airing their assholes...Hmm..oops I mean opinions, I thought I might air some of mine.   So without further ado..."Geoff's unsolicited opinion on stuff that seems important in the news today".

On Gun Control:
Guns don't kill people, people do, but you don't see "stupid people control" legislation do you?  Really I'm less concerned about having a weapon than I am the consequences of using it in self defense.  In the US (and were really liberal on this) the intruder has to be in your house, you have to have no way out, and you have to be in fear for your life.  Oh and you can't have had any medicines, cough syrup's, or alcohol...WTF?  If that's the burden of proof for self defense, what the hell is the burden of proof on rape?  "well you see your honor, after the unknown man penetrated me while holding a knife to my throat, I ascertained that he quite possibly did in fact intend to rape me". again WTF?

On The US Presidential race:
First of all, the whole world acts like they don't care, but they follow this like it were the World Cup, it gets better ratings OCONUS than the Olympics.  So...hahha shut up!  You love us, you know you do. 

Second of all was this all contrived by Dr. Seuss?  One guy is named "Mitt", the other is named "Newt".  This is a first graders dream isn't it? and were all just stuck in it.  Mitt and Newt?  Are you f-ing kidding me?
Knock Knock
"Who's There?"
Mitt and Newt

On The paradox of the tree hugger:
"I want the world to be natural!  Hey does anyone have an iPad power cord?  Oooh, never mind, the iPad 5 is out!  I'll just buy it!" or my favorite, "we could live like the Native Americans" except without meat, hunting or fur...have any of these people read a book?

On the occupy movement:
WTF?  Whats your point?  Is that it?  Is that the point?  Is it like Twin Peaks and I have to watch it to figure it out? (btw, I'm still confused about twin peaks)  You might have a good cause, but you look like a bunch of unemployed school shooter wanna-be's that had nothing better to do.  A day in the life of an occupy protester: "Dude what time should we make the rally for?  I dunno, but my mom said I have to mow the lawn before I leave, or she won't give me gas money"..."fucking capitalist", "yeah dude I know but don't worry man, were gonna change the world tomorrow"  "sweet, here let me hit that, lets play some x-box".  I don't know if this is you people or not, you have had an epic fail of getting your message out there...maybe that's the point though---what message.

The next morning:  "Mom!  Did you wash my Che Guevara shirt?"  "Yes honey, it's in the wash now", but mom!  It's cooler when it's dirty and I need it for the rally!  Sorry honey, you're just going to have to wear the DK shirt you have, whatever that means"  "Ahh mom, Jello's such a sellout!".

That was kinda fun, maybe more of that some other day...either way "JOURNAL" (it's not a diary!!!) complete for tonight.  Sleep soundly world.  Try not to anything too stupid OK? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Well it couldn't hurt...

When you work for a foreign employer in the Middle East, even as a teacher of life saving techniques, you have to wonder if your blog ever comes to the attention of intelligence agencies.  No I'm not paranoid, I'm serious, since the days of James Bond wanna-be's and the cold war is over, some of the most productive work done by intelligence services is done by analysts sitting at a computer.  Not to mention it just makes sense considering that in many conservative circles in many Middle Eastern countries, the web is considered the second great Satan (right after the US).  And on the flip side, I would call the US intelligence services remiss if they didn't occasionally check up on those of us outside the borders making money...especially those of us who decide to blab about everything we see and hear.  I only bring it up because I hope that if they ever do find their way here, they read this!

So last night there was a 1/4 page ad in the Arab News (one of the English language papers, that offers world and local GCC news).  The ad focused on the Kingdom's attempts to end corruption and was directed at Expats!  The ad contained an address and a hotline number for reporting corruption in your workplace, luckily for me, were not really a corrupt workplace, just a screwed up, lazy one with some real pieces of work thrown in for good measure.  I thought it interesting though that some of the Kingdom's problems are not only well known, but are openly aired and attempts are made to combat them...pretty cool.  So I thought I'd give my two cents about some real easy problems to solve that would go alooooooong way to wards making things better in the Kingdom.  I'm serious about all of them, none of them are vulgar, and none of them go against the teachings of in no particular order, here we go.

Number 1:  The police, ambulance, firefighters and their lights...
Responders in emergency vehicles are important individuals who occasionally have very important places to go on very short notice, with no time to lose.  Because of this, they are given the privilege of using lights and sirens to make their way through traffic, and ask drivers to let them through.  This works great in most parts of the world.  It fails here in the KSA because police officers, firefighters and EMT's (along with a cadre of the least qualified doc's who have no business on the street) use their lights and horns and sirens to go everywhere!  To go to lunch, to go get cigarettes, to just drive down the street.  This isn't good.  It would take a royal decree and 1 year of NO lights or sirens and an education campaign to turn things around.  Think about it.

Number 2:  The animal issue...
Money isn't a problem here, it hasn't been for a long time.  Unemployment of the emerging Saudi Middle class is however a problem.  Well, where there's a problem, there's a solution.  Stray animals, especially cats, but dogs also can be found everywhere.  How about putting some of these unemployed folks to work as workers in animal shelters.  This would help encourage and improve the "kind Saudi Arabian" image that the Kingdom is trying to push and at the same time make one or more groups in the "international commentary business" smile and write some nice things about the Kingdom.  I'm willing to bet that you could even get expats to do most of the work while the new Saudi employees served in indoor roles as "supervisors, managers and directors".  It breaks my heart to see so many stray and starving animals around the streets, especially the way the locals treat them.  Isn't there an important book in both of our cultures that says something about respecting all life....Hmm maybe I'm just crazy.

Number 3:  Stop the racism
Yeah, you heard me.  The racism here makes the US deep south look like a beacon of shining light.  Highly qualified Filipinos and Indians are forced to be subservient to the stupidest Arabs out there.  Once again "yes, you heard me correctly".  A Filipino who speaks 3 languages should not be subservient to a Jordanian manager who can barely speak proper Arabic.  I'm going to leave it alone for right now, but I plan to have a long talk with some Arabs I know when I get back to the states...I'm going to ask them in plain language, if after a year in the US they still think they're better by birth than the Asian races...if they say yes, I'm kicking their asses American style.    On a funny note, people here commonly refer to themselves as Arabs...weird, in the US calling someone an Arab would be in pretty poor taste, in our culture it would be better to identify the actual country and or region they were from, such as Saudi, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, etc...

Number 4 Lines are Lines
They're called Queue's in Europe, lines in the US, they're the things we stand in while waiting to get things done.  They apply to everybody.  Here in Saudi though, they apply to everybody but the Saudi's and the Yemeni (Ok, Ok, I know I just bitched about racism, but so far, I hate these Yemini guys, and dammed if they don't all look like Osama Bin laden.  I know how bad that sounds, and its probably just my untrained eye, but damn people!).  Whats worse is that the store clerk will sometimes say something to the man, and the man will begin shouting and screaming and pointing his finger, the few words I do pick up include "wasta", "Pakistani", "Bengali","American" etc...The way these nationalities are spoken is with a true hatred and disgust.  I actually spoke up once about 2 months ago and said "hey where do you think you're going" did I get an ass chewing from this guy, he got right up on me with his finger flying, to which I returned the favor, the other Arabic speakers in line helped me out and told him to leave me alone and then forcefully yet gently pushed me back into line.  I quickly realized the wisdom in this and let the man buy his juice first as is his birthright for being Saudi (that last statement is called sarcasm).  So how about we turn the tables...I'll go home to the US, cut in front of all lines and then when somebody tries to stop me, I'll start screaming at the top of my lungs: "oh hell no, I'll be dammed if I'm going to wait with a bunch of smelly damn flips, punjabs, chinks, limeys, camel jockey a-rab assholes.  I fucking know people!"  Ugly huh?  You should hear it with the Arabic "ack"!  It's actually a crime in the US to do such a thing, and wouldn't be tolerated in any way shape or form, in fact so far the only place I've ever sen it here.  CHANGE THIS!  And by the way, the bank is even funnier, because in the bank, the teller is Saudi also, so the line jumper can't pull this shit, so no kidding, he begins to beg, and cry--yes to CRY!!!, about how he is Saudi, and he has "wasta".  Crying is only manly in certain situations, this isn't one of them, but I'm going to try and get it on film next time I go to the bank...look for it on YouTube.  

Number 5 Lanes are lanes
Bowling is popular here, you know how you're supposed to roll the ball down the lane without going in the ditch?  Well the same applies to driving a car.  You're supposed to keep your car in the lane.  Enforce some basic traffic laws, make drivers ed mandatory and quit killing so many of your young people on the road.  This one isn't even mean or funny, this is the worst driving I have ever seen, which means the Americans, the British, the Germans, the Japanese and the Mexicans all do it better than you...if for no other reason than not wanting to be inferior to all those groups, can we please think about improving the driving situation?