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."**

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'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 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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are you sure he's Saudi?

While I rarely run out of things to complain about in Saudi Arabia, the line jumping, the driving, the weather, the cheating, the denial...I occasionally have cause to pause and reflect.  Recently I did just that.  

Expats, much like myself, never run out of complaints, sometimes I think they complain just because if they stopped complaining, they'd have to face the fact that their lives are disasters by their own doing and have little to do with the Kingdom.  Therefore when attending an expat gathering you will hear many versions of the same old complaints story...Saudi arrogance, Saudi incompetence, Saudi stupidity, Saudi driving.  This is all well and good except that its not and its not accurate.  One of the many misconceptions that comes across through the media and entertainment industries is that racism is alive and well in the US the UK, Canada etc...Nothing could be farther from the actual truth.  Race can sometimes be an issue, but racism is hardly the enormous problem that the outside world thinks it is.  However, we do our accidental best to return to our old ways of thinking after we've been in Saudi for a while, you see it's common place here for people to be paid and housed according to their country of origin, and race is always an issue.  It doesn't take most expats long to be snapping their fingers for tea and expecting the man at the grocery store to take out the bags for a 1 riyal tip after all, that's his lot in life right?  His punishment for being born in Bangladesh or Indonesia right?

If you're a thinking person though, you occasionally have to stop and smell the "Bullshit" you're selling yourself.  When I paused to smell mine a few months back, I was a little disgusted.  I adjusted my behavior and began treating people as I would at home (to the best of my practical ability at least).  However, I did keep the dirty habit of still classifying people into country of origin and I still blamed Saudi's for just about everything.  However once again, some recent reflection due to recent events have caused me to take a step back and look again.  So I ask this question to the reader...Are you SURE he's Saudi?  There is plenty to get upset about if you really want to, and its easy enough to demonize the Kingdom's population if you so choose...but are you sure they deserve it?

The "Arab" man in the store trying to jump the he Saudi?  Or is he Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Omani, Yemeni, Lebanese, Somalian, Ethiopian etc...What about the driver who just passed you at double your speed?  Don't try and tell me that you stopped to ask him where he was from.  The incompetence seen at work, does that come from the Saudi's or the other guys below them?  My point is simply that you don't know...lately I've seen some pretty bad actions by other Arab first it pissed me off about Saudi, made me say things like "man I hate this place", or "why do these idiots act like this"...then I tried to figure out just what idiots was I referring too...To be honest, I really don't know.

There are surely some idiots here...who they belong to and how they should be classified seems to in reality be just as varied as it is at home.

Just some random thoughts for your weekend...I'm done for the week, I'm gonna go get drunk and dance with a woman legally.  Y'all have fun!  

P.S.  I've been working on this for a couple of weeks...and it's almost as if fate didn't want me to finish it...Last night my Saudi taxi driver tried to charge me triple, and today an entire class of Saudi students failed to show up for a final...But after some consideration I thought...seriously? Cab drivers, security guards, students...?  These guys are the same the world over, the best move on, the worst...well they're the worst and it's hardly fair to judge a culture by their example. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NLCS: October baseball baby!!!!


My team, The St. Louis Cardinals, defending World Champions, have again defied all the odds and made it to the NLCS. 

No, that's not the newest crime drama on television, sure to be spun off a dozen times, its the National League Championship Series...a best out of seven series featuring the two best teams in Major League Baseball's National League.  The winner of this series, will go on to play the winner of the American League series (the ALCS).  The winning team of that World Series match-up will be crowned "World Champions" and be awarded the "Commissioner's Trophy".  Fame and fortune accompany that title..."World Champions"  My team is of course the improbable winner from last year, The come from behind team who took it all to win their 11th World Championship...This year, coming from way behind and out of a less than spectacular season again....this year, we aim to make it 12.

Is this newsworthy?  Blog-worthy?  Even worth mentioning since the game is really only seriously played in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan and of course America...technically I think its still played up in our neighbor to the north...but It's probably ranked somewhere between Canadian cuisine, and maple syrup drinking contests...

Hell yes its blog-worthy!!!!

If you don't watch baseball, or worse have caught a mid-season game or two on television, all of the hoopla can be a little hard to understand.  Normally 2.5-3.5 hours of some of the most mind numbing "sport" is enough to turn anybody off. I've heard it compared to watching paint dry. In fact the only ones who make it through the mid-season are the diehards, the sports writers and the players themselves.  I think even their wives turn the game off after a while, settling for mobile updates, and occasionally congratulating their hubby's on twitter or facebook.  All of it though is worth it.  All of that blistering hot mid-season, summer baseball is practice for this.  For people like me, baseball season starts in September.  I check on our stats, our injuries, see who's been brought up from the minors to stay, and whose had to go back home.  I get a read of how the season went, and what our prospects for October look like.  I do this because this is what it's all about.  Baseball in October is post season baseball.  Baseball in October is what the dreams of little boys who one day woke up to be men are all about.  For the players, especially the newer ones, this journey started some 15-20 years earlier...Saturday morning T-ball games, to their first little league night game.  Seasons upon seasons of practice.  Seasons upon seasons of success, failure and heartbreak.  Time and time again they've had to say "we'll do it better next year".  Now here we are in October and in 4 stadiums across America, the proverbial next year is finally here.  

How you got here is of no consequence.  The fact that you got here says it all.  Fans angry about their teams disappointing performance often blame "bad luck" for their lack of a postseason appearance.  They quote stats, blame umpires; criticize and berate coaches, managers, owners and even their fellow fans.  They do this simply because they're ugly people and they fail to understand that all of baseball, All of baseball, from every single gorgeous spring day with clouds and hotdogs and fireworks, to every sweltering hot summer day, so miserable that you can barely stand it...all of it is practice for playing in October.  How you got here is of no consequence, the fact that you had the skill, fought hard enough, battled enough adversity, fatigue, injury, rain delays, personal problems and had enough dumb luck to get here puts everybody on an even field.  Nobody here is playing for second, nobody here wants to go home and everybody here is at the top of their game.

Make no mistake, somebody will win this series and advance, celebrating and cheering the entire way.  Somebody else will go home on a quiet flight.  Somebody will cry tears of joy, somebody will cry tears of mental anguish so excruciating that it could only come from failing after a 20 year journey.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what it's all about.  This is October baseball.  

 If I close my eyes, I can smell the grass, the hotdogs, the sweat, the excitement.  I can hear laughter, and cheers.  I can taste the first sip of cold beer hitting my lips, I can see the pretty girls walking to the stadium.  I can see fathers pointing and sons nodding, I can picture the players signing the autographs, nothing short of 10 foot tall giants of herculean status to their fans both young and old.  I can feel my wife's hand in mine gently saying I love you with a squeeze.  Most of all I can feel the hope, the hope that gets reborn every year, the hope that this is maybe "our year".  For the next three hours, I have no bills, no mortgage and no worries.  
Busch Stadium, St. Louis Missouri.  I've sat here on the edge of my seat many times. 

For the St. Louis Cardinals and their rookie manager, we again hope and pray that this is our year, our 12th year...

For my non-American readers, the movies below may help if you're interested in trying to figure out just why I go so nuts in October...

Movies, there are more, but this will get you started. 
  1. The Natural (1984)
  2. Field of Dreams (1989)
  3. Bull Durham (1988)
  4. The Rookie (2002)
  5. Major League (1989)

Join us on October 14th as the Defending World Champion, St. Louis Cardinals meet the San Francisco Giants

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One more time, and you're gonna call me an attention whore

That's the second time in the year that the blog has been running that I've talked about giving it up due to perceived political more time and it's officially "crying wolf". Even worse, people could argue that I'm just trying to draw attention.

I assure you that neither are true, and neither are my intentions.  In fact I think I'm gonna stay again, but this time, I want to take an extra second and explain.

First of all, stopping something pre-emptively is...well preemptive.  And preemptive can be good, but it can also be a knee jerk reaction to paranoia.   I hate knee-jerk reactions!  But its more than that...

When I came here, I knew NOTHING about Saudi Arabia, I thought I knew very little, but knew even less than I thought...which in a roundabout way proves I knew nothing.  After a year, I do know something, even if its just a little bit and some of the folks that read this blog now know something too, even if its just a little bit.  This is a good thing.

Whether everybody is in agreement about that or not, sharing knowledge and experiences between cultures IS a good thing.  Especially where the East and West are concerned.  If for no other reason than the last time we had BIG world fights we were using less dangerous weapons.  The stakes are a little higher these days.  Understanding a little bit about the people you share the world with is a good thing. Remember were trying to pollute the world to death...not destroy it in war.  (you never knew I was such a dirty hippie did you?)

The recent "Innocence of Muslims" trailer on youtube makes a good learning point.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a cheap, poorly made movie designed to offend.  Allowing yourself to be offended and reactionary is the crime, NOT the movie.  HOWEVER, I now know that my completely reasonable friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers and people who have shown me kindness in this strange land...they who happen to be Muslim, have a totally different opinion.  I'm not saying they're right, and I'm not saying they're wrong, but I am now aware that to them...insulting the prophet (PBUH) IS a big deal.  Its a thing that they want classified as a crime, yes, even the non-violent super majority want it classified as a crime.  They now know that I think that's overreach and I now know that its more than off limits, its WAY off limits. 

So maybe, I'll tone it down a bit.  Maybe I'll make sure that I don't do any insulting of religion or politics that I don't understand.


Maybe I'll warn readers that I'm a heathen westerner and should only be used as an example of what not to do!

Maybe I'll say words like Bullshit less,

and I'll not talk about Rock and Roll like Led Zeppelin, Bob Seger, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, (all available on in case you were interested...)

maybe I'll talk less about the beautiful girls down on Bourbon Street (you should visit if you're ever in NOLA) or the lovely women all throughout the South (that's Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina in case you wondered...some people say Texas and Florida, but most of us don't think they count! and wikipedia claims that it applies to Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia and a bunch more...I disagree)  At least as far as women and food go, I say Mississippi down to Louisiana and over to Georgia.  But who cares!  I'm just some asshole blogger with stupid opinions!  (I'll try not to say asshole anymore).

I won't talk about those golden pilsners and hearty wheat's that we make so elegantly back in the US and that my students drink in Bahrain.

I certainly won't discuss the scent of a woman (Thanks Mr. Pacino) or that feeling you get after a first kiss.  I would never even think about mentioning afternoon delights (hmm...nice :) 

The main reason I'm staying though is the original reason, I knew nothing about the KSA when I got here, and I want to keep learning and keep sharing.  If you are seriously against someone sharing your culture, you are a closed minded, idiotic, child who does your people a great disservice.  I want to keep sharing and documenting my experiences here.  Every time a student threatens me, every time someone asks for grades they didn't earn, every time someone is kind, every time someone goes above and beyond my expectations.  Every time these things happen, I want to write about it, and I think I will. 

And if you hate me...just think about all the publicity getting kicked out of the kingdom for blogging will get me?  I might turn a stupid little blog into a book...I might be on Letterman, The Today Show?  Fox News?  You never know...but you do know that turning some stupid little blogger into an actual author might be counterproductive...and considering that my writing is stored on a computer in may just be something to think about.  Your Kingdom, your rules.  My life, my freedom, my prerogative to write. 

Yep, think I'll stay. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stop Blogging?

I had a good weekend, spent time with new friends and old, and am actually beginning to have something of a social life here in the Kingdom.  I'm sure there are some blogging topics in there somewhere as well, some of the ideas have already been hatched, but aren't quite developed enough to stand on their own just yet.

However, when having dinner with the friend of a friend, someone who has been here for 14 years and oversees a workforce of nearly a thousand, the topic of blogging came up.  This person stopped suddenly and said "you blog?"  I replied that I did, they then told me quiet matter of factly, and without emotion that I should stop immediately, delete whatever I could and deny that I'd ever had anything to do with it.  I was shocked to say the least.  I was told that since the invention of the blog, more good employees have been kicked out of Saudi than you know, and that often the blogger spends a couple of nights in jail, their apartment raided, their bank account frozen and their belongings confiscated and is finally released to a one way ticket home, never to return to the Kingdom.  I found this a little hard to believe.  But they insisted that you should make a choice, work and money or blog.

As an American, I find this disturbing.  I'm a free man, a citizen of a free country, I publish what are clearly opinions or document the source of anything I call fact.  Could I accidentally cross some lines?  Could I accidentally cross lines that can't be uncrossed?  Does blogging and writing about my experiences here in the Kingdom put me at risk for being booted?  I don't know, and I don't know what I'll do about it, maybe tone down some of the political stuff, maybe be extra sweet instead of critical, I just don't know.  I'm curious to see what others think.  So if you stop by and read the blog from time to time, let me know your opinion on this topic.