Thursday, December 27, 2007
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MAINE!

Yes, we're in Maine and not Cairo like where we said we were celebrating (see Christmas in Cairo).

I know, I know we totally lied to you - I apologize. If it makes you feel any better, we also lied to our parents, and we like them a whole lot better than we like you.

The whole thing was Liz's idea, truth be told. I got to pick our vacation last December (yes, Southern Maine) and that meant she got this go-round. At first we were thinking Thailand, and then Cairo. But we had a rough autumn (see Grandma Polly and Grandpa Don).

So somtime around Thanksgiving Liz decided that we should go home for Christmas. It took her all of two seconds to convince me. But of course we had to put her spin on it, which meant not telling anyone (well, I told my friend Charlene in Southern California, but I was pretty sure she wasn't going to ring up my folks or Liz's folks in Maine). It also helped that we found somewhat inexpensive plane tickets home, too.

So we left our apartment at midnight on Sunday, our flight from Dubai was at 3 am on Christmas Eve. We arrived in London at 7 am their time. Festive. Three hour layover in London, fly to Boston, got a rental car at 2:30 pm in Boston, which we'll have to tell you more about later.

We got to Liz's parents' house at 5 or 5:30 and, after a quick visit and a much needed shower we were on the way to my cousin's house, where we've been doing Christmas Eve celebrations for the last decade. That was a fun surprise ...

Like I said, more on this "Mission: Christmas" later.

Mission: Christmas


Since I know some of you are probably at work right now and bored here is an updated Greatest Hits of the last eight months or so. Enjoy!

11/28/07 - Films Set in Maine

11/21/07 - Maybach 62 Landaulet

11/20/07 - Pickup Trucks in Dubai

11/16/07 - Frugality and Beer

11/12/07 - The UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

11/11/07 - Not Newlywed in Dubai

11/8/07 - Quick Ski Dubai Trip

11/7/07 - DuBiotech and the Hydropolis Equation

11/5/07 - Portland Press Herald

11/1/07 - High School Equivalence Certificate in Dubai

10/29/07 - Red Sox Win the World Series. Again.

10/26/07 - Dubai Desert Rythym Music Festival

10/25/07 - I still hate Orbit ESPN

10/19/07 - World Travels

10/17/07 - Less Than Jake in Hatta

10/15/07 - The Kingdom

10/14/07 - Good Morning Baseball

10/11/07 - Dubai Cares? Maybe. But does the RTA ...?

10/3/07 - My Green Tea Popped!

9/29/07 - Grandpa Don

9/28/07 - Beer, Ramadan, the Hard Rock, and Dubai

9/27/07 - Our New Favorite Channel

9/25/07 - Grandpa Don

9/25/07 - And we're back ...

9/21/07 - The kicker

9/20/07 - Grandma Polly

9/14/07 - Dubai's Population

9/13/07 - Burj Dubai beats CN Tower

9/11/07 - September 11

9/11/06 - EA Rugby 08

9/6/07 - News: Dubai's Firefighting Corvette

9/6/07 - Blinking Green Light

9/6/07 - The Pink Life

9/3/07 - New Look!

8/30/07 - You know you're watching too much "Lost" when ...

8/29/07 - USA Rugby? Who knew?

8/27/07 - Dubai is not a "Global City"

8/21/07 - Gap in Dubai

8/18/07 - Celcius

7/19/07 - Die Hard 4.0

6/26/07 - Salik Toll

6/25/07 - Walt Disney Pictures Logo Change

6/21/07 - Dubailand

6/20/07 - The hottest I've ever been

6/19/07 - News: Hooters in Dubai?!?

6/14/07 - Unclear Windows

6/12/06 - Coup Fourré!!

6/12/07 - Funny Cat Story

6/8/07 - Gonu Gone

6/7/07 - Special Drawing Rights

6/6/07 - Tropical Cyclone Gonu Update

6/5/07 - My Thoughts on the Boy Scouts of America

5/31/07 - Dubai Road Expansion

5/30/07 - Story Idea

5/30/07 - We Got Lost

5/29/07 - That Cabbie Copped my Design!

5/28/07 - I Hate Orbit ESPN

5/23/07 - Weekend Photo Roundup

5/21/07 - Sorrow

5/17/07 - Cheney & Ahmadinejad

5/11/07 - Fujairah Tourism website
a/k/a Touristic Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Emirate of Fujairah

5/10/07 - Ryman-esque Painting

5/3/07 - Last of the Emirates

5/2/07 - Dubai from Space

4/26/07 - Overpass to Somewhere

4/25/07 - Dubai Diamond Heist

4/23/07 - Sox this morning

4/23/07 - That's not Baseball ...

4/22/07 - Baseball Tonight

4/22/07 - Earth Day Dubai

4/20/07 - Catching Up

4/19/07 - Movies in Dubai

4/16/07 - The Black Echo

4/13/07 - Pretty Love Machine?
 
posted by Josh at 4:59 PM | 1 comments
Sunday, December 23, 2007
we'll be back soonSo today's our last day in Dubai for 2007! Yep, we'll be leaving on a jet plane for Cairo, Egypt in fewer than 24 hours!

Who needs snow when you can have sand?

(Wait, don't we have sand in Dubai!?!)

The good thing, we'll have the laptop with us, so we're going to try and share some photos and stories from the road. So check back here mid-week.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas to all those applicable.

See ya real soon!
Christmas Sphynx
 
posted by Josh at 10:10 AM | 1 comments
Hey, Liz did it ... not me.
Buddha Claus
 
posted by Josh at 10:06 AM | 0 comments
Friday, December 21, 2007
RIT logoSo loyal reader DE in Bridgton, ME - okay, okay, my brother - just forwarded me this link "RIT to open Dubai campus in 2008".

Hahahahahahaha!

Apparently his alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology, is opening a campus in Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Silicon Oasis logo

Crazy!
 
posted by Josh at 8:53 PM | 0 comments
Fifty Cent LogoSo this is kind of big news, tonight rapper Fifty Cent is playing Dubai.

In fact, he's playing at Media City, which is mere feet meters away from our house. That's where P!nk played a few months ago (see The Pink Life).

Yep, tonight it looks like our apartment will be stuck "In da Club".

I'll let you know how the concert goes as it gets underway.
 
posted by Josh at 3:44 PM | 1 comments
DuckTales LogoSo last month I made a side reference to Disney's animated television series DuckTales that still is cracking me up to this day (see Maybach 62 Landaulet).

In reference to the new Maybach super-luxury car, I said:

This Landaulet is pretty sweet. It's a half-a-convertible, so your driver (in the front seat) is covered, and you (in the back seat) can enjoy the sun. Ironically it's kind of the opposite of Scrooge McDuck's car in DuckTales (the one Duckworth the butler used to drive).

Yes, I get all of my preconceived notions about wealthy lifestyles from 1980s cartoons. Doesn't matter if Scrooge was a duck, homeboy was richer than the Sheikh. I mean, does he have a ginormous Money Bin in which he can literally swim through gold coins?


For those of you who don't recall DuckTales, the premise was that Donald Duck went off to serve in the Navy so he left his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie in his rich uncle Scrooge McDuck's care. Scrooge lived in, and darn-near owned, the town of Duckburg. In fact, on a hill overlooking the town he built a huge warehouse for money that he called his Money Bin.
Duckburg

Scrooge's Money Bin from DuckTales

It was a total gaudy architectural monstrosity.

See, the thing is that Dubai loves gaudy architectural monstrosities. I can't even count the times I've written about them here. Rotating towers, iPod buildings, buildings in the shape of a man, buildings in the shape of fire, and of course the world's tallest free-standing structure on land and the one that will be taller.

A money bin tower might actually be too staid for Dubai.

Though I do see swimming in gold coins becoming the favorite sport of the rich and richer here in Dubai ...
 
posted by Josh at 3:36 PM | 0 comments
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Restless Planet DubaiSo by now I bet you've seen the screaming headlines "A REAL LIFE JURASSIC PARK COMING TO DUBAI!!"

Ugh.

I really hate to be the wet blanket -- well, no, wait, I acutally enjoy being the wet blanket.

I enjoyed the heck out of calling shenanigans on Dubailand in June (see Dubailand) and then last month I coined the phrase "the Hydropolis Equation" for all of those splashily announced, never built projects (see DuBiotech and the Hydropolis Equation).

And this whole "Restless Planet" thing stinks almost as badly as Hydropolis did.

To back up a bit the Restless Planet is a proposed $1 billion theme park in Dubai that will feature 109 animatronic dinosaurs of 40 different species in the entertainment and business development area called City of Arabia.

Oh, and it's supposed to open next year.

The developers, the Ilyas and Mastafa Galadari Group, have released promotional videos showing a Tyrannosaurus Rex charging at visitors.

Um, haven't I seen this a few times before? Namely in 1996 at Universal Studios Hollywood with their Jurassic Park River Adventure. Or in 1998 at Disney's Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur (Countdown to Extinction) attraction? Or Disney's interactive Lucky the Dinosaur at California Adventure and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Or maybe we can go back four decades to the 1964 World's Fair and Walt Disney's Primeval World display (now a feature on the Disneyland Railroad)?

But Restless Planet is going to be a 500,000 square foot recreation of our planet at a time when dinosaurs roamed!

And these dinosaurs will contain embedded potentiometers and motion sensors so they can follow visitors with their eyes, track specific colors of clothing, regulate their own movements, and even lunge at them!

I ask, is "potentiometer" even a word?

But paleontologist Jack Horner, who had previously worked with Steven Spielberg on dino-movie Jurassic Park, is consulting with the developers!

He also, however, consulted on Jurassic Park III, which blows all his credibility in my book. That movie was horrible.

But no, the creators of the BBC's television series Walking with Dinosaurs are developing "the graphics" for Restless Planet!

What "graphics"? This is a fully themed environment! There are no "graphics".

Ugh. This thing stinks. I am so calling shenanigans on this new "Hydropolis Equation".

Here's the video from the Ilyas and Mastafa Galadari Group:

 
posted by Josh at 1:20 PM | 6 comments
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Chicken LittleSo maybe the sky isn't falling.

For a few weeks there, I thought it might be. See, we had a bit of a bird flu scare here in Dubai.

I didn't want to write about it because there wasn't much I could do and I didn't want to scare people (i.e. my parents and other family members who read this).

And I don't know about you, but the thought of a world-wide pandemic of a virus that kills 60% of all infected humans scares the living daylights out of me.

Apparently back in November our neighbors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia "culled" two batches of birds at poultry farms. I like how they call it "culled" and not "massacred" or "slaughtered" or "butchered" or even "exterminate".

Regardless, somehow I wasn't watching the news closely enough for the bird flu and I didn't know this.

Of course, Liz being overly protective of my fragile emotional state (think Chicken Little) didn't tell me, either. Thus I was on my own to discover it one day at Carrefour a few weeks ago. A customer was asking one of the workers where the eggs were. He gave her a blank stare, which I assumed meant he didn't speak English. True story - the employees all wear vests and shirts that say "How can I help you?" (in English) on the back, yet 90-something percent don't speak English. Seems a little foolish to me.

So anyway, to be helpful, I pointed the lady to the egg aisle.

She said, "they're not there, I checked."

Well gosh, how can a huge grocery store be out of eggs? I just shrugged and walked off.

But when I passed the egg aisle, she was right. There were no eggs.

Odd.

That night I mentioned to Liz, "Hey, I think Carrefour was out of eggs today."

Then she dropped the bird flu story on me.

See, the UAE imports most of its poultry and eggs from Saudi. And when Saudi "culls" a good portion of their poultry, well, we don't get any. Not that we'd want any, anyway.

I guess since Thanksgiving the problem has escalated, so much that Saudi has called a state of emergency and made the best Arabic website ever. Seriously, you have to go to it, even if you don't understand Arabic. It's got tons of photos of important-looking men in dish-dashes and lots of black and white photos of chickens. Oh, and a scrolling text bar of Arabic.

And I think the rooster in the banner is crying.

Yeah, he's totally crying.

Probably because all of his hens have been culled.

Because you know that's how they roll in Saudi - they "cull" all the lady chickens who might have bird flu, but let the boy chickens live even if they're coughing and wheezing, or whatever the symptoms of bird flu are.

Either way, just this week Saudi "culled" 13,500 ostriches, bringing the total of "culled" birds to 4.5 million.

Mmmm, all this talk of "culling" has gotten me hungry. Time to go make some Captain Crunch Chicken ... with a side of Tamiflu Creole Mustard Sauce.
 
posted by Josh at 5:36 PM | 1 comments
Nerf Nite Finder EX-3The other day I bought the coolest cat toy ever - the Nerf Nite Finder EX-3.

Last summer I intended to buy a Nerf gun that shot some kind of ball, I figured the cat would have fun chasing them around the apartment. But as our time in the States wound down I totally forgot to buy one.

But the other day I was in the Toy Store in the mall (yes, that's the actual name of the toy store in the mall - "Toy Store" - very direct, no?) and I had to buy the Nite Finder EX-3.

Kitty likes to chew on the nerf, that's fun, but the best part is the red laser sight light beam. Yes, it has a laser sight, this is the 21st century we're talking here, bub. This ain't no kids' toy. Well, I guess it kind of is. Either way holy crap does the cat LOVE to chase it around the room. Seriously, I could play with him for weeks and neither one of us would get bored.

Does that make us simple, or just fun? Or both?
 
posted by Josh at 5:06 PM | 1 comments
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Dubai International Film FestivalOver the weekend I saw one of the best movies of 2008.

Yes, that's right "of 2008".

What with finals and project I only got to one movie during the whole Dubai International Film Festival, but man, was it the right movie - Mongol.

It's about the early life of Ghengis Khan. And it's just friggin' epic.

It's better than "Braveheart".

Yes, 1995's Best Picture and winner of Best Director, "Braveheart".

Either way, "Braveheart" and "Mongol" share a few key similarities in the 'clan' mentality of violence. Keep in mind that this picture might be too violent for the kids or our more sensitive readers. There's a good amount of sword-fighting and while it's not gratuitous like a Hollywood movie (no flying limbs or lingering shots of downed warriors) of course there's some blood.

And that's the charm of this movie - it takes what I consider the best elements of Hollywood action movies: very well choreographed fight sequences, a rousing score, quality production values, and yes, the driving theme of "revenge" - but adds a nice big layer of indie cred. The fact that the dialogue is in Mongolian is charming, I love that we don't recognize any of the actors (no "hey it's that dude from _______") but they're all excellent performances, and the visuals of Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan are just amazing.

In fact, if Kazakhstan is smart at all they'll promote the heck out of this - while Borat might have made them a household name in the states, this picture will draw tourists in.

It's that beautiful.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this movie. I just can't wait until this summer when it comes out in the US. I'm dragging all of my friends to it opening weekend.

Until then, I have to find another movie or two by the director, Sergei Bodrov. He's a talented dude.

Mongol Movie
 
posted by Josh at 2:52 PM | 1 comments
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wow. I am positively livid right now. I have had it up to about here.

Remember how, about a month ago, I had to drive to Abu Dhabi to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to hand it paperwork for an 'equivalency of degree' as part of my application for my Masters Degree? (see The UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research).

It was exactly a month ago today, actually. They said the certificate would take a week, Insh'Allah.

They never called.

Finally today I called and do you know what they said? They said that I have to call the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC.

Well at 12:30 am I finally spoke with someone in Washington, DC.

And he's never heard of me.

My paperwork never made it from Abu Dhabi to Washington. In fact, it's probably lost. That freakin' certificate to prove that I went to freakin' high school that just about put me over the edge? (see High School Equivalence Certificate in Dubai)?

Well that's probably freakin' lost too.

So now the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Abu Dhabi is closed for the weekend. And next week they're open for two days, because of the Eid al-Adha holiday next week. And then Boston University, which has to prove to these guys that I went there and graduated and didn't take more than 12 hours of classes online, well, they'll be closed for the Holidays the week after that.

But I'm not going to be here, anyway, because we're on vacation.

Holy cow, I'm never going to get this freakin' certficate, am I?!?

I'm sorry to make this journal my dumping grounds for complains and bitching, but this is insane. I mean, they're making me jump through hoops on this, and now it appears that the hoops are going to be set on fire and I'll probably have to jump through them all again.

I so need a vacation from this place.
 
posted by Josh at 2:06 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, December 13, 2007
So you know me, I don't really get into the whole culture of celebrity. These folks, if they're famous for being in movies or sports or whatever, are just people. I've always tried to just treat them that way.

Sure, I've got a few celebrity stories from my time in southern California, but it seems nine celebrity sightings out of ten take place at either a fast food joint or at the supermarket. Seriously. Not particularly glamourous. You go to just about any In-N-Out Burger in Hollwood or the Valley at noon on a Tuesday and you'll see a celebrity.

Okay maybe that's an exaggeration, but still, they eat a hamburger just like you or I.

A tasty, tasty In-N-Out hamburger.

Sorry.

Of course Dubai sees "celebrity" differently. Maybe it's because, although the population is nearing one and a half million people, it still has a small-town feel. It seems that people move in very set social circles and stay in them. We're not all hob-nobbing with sheikhs out here on the weekends. But then we're also not hanging with the construction workers, either.

We also have to define "celebrity". Is it a famous Lebanese singer who I've never heard of? Or maybe a "footballer" from Europe or a basketball player from the States - would half of the town recognize Larry Bird if he were in the Mall of the Emirates? Would I recognize any soccer player in the world other than David Beckham, Freddy Adu or Pele?

And there are no real home-grown celebrities in Dubai. Heck, I wouldn't even recognize the anchor people from Emirates News if I bumped into them at the mall. And you know how I love me some anchor people (see Pat Callaghan on Hardball).

Dubai International Film FestivalThat's why the Dubai International Film Festival is so interesting. For a week in December Dubai gets celebrities - real live movie stars from Hollywood to Bollywood. Nevermind the fact that most of the movies in the festival are small films from other countries, the papers are plastered with photos of George Clooney and Sharon Stone and Gloria Estefan (yeah, I'm a little confused on that last one, too).

Seriously - and I love the guy - but I am so Clooney-ed out right now.

Television station Dubai One is even having a "George Clooney Film Festival" right now. Tonight? Batman & Robin - possibly the worst movie ever made.

It's bizarre and goofy and somehow seems quite bush-league. Can you imagine being George Clooney, walking around Dubai all day (okay, not walks - nobody walks - more like drives) and get home to the hotel at the end of the long day, flick on the television to find that the "George Clooney Film Festival" is on?

I'm embarrassed myself right now.

But since celebrity wattage helps brighten up lil websites here's a photo of George at the Burj al-Arab.

Clooney in Dubai


Also, I forgot to mention this but a week ago today Justin Timberlake played in Abu Dhabi. I was substituting for the Middle School that week, and boy, did I see some jealous little ladies when they found out that their friends were going.

MMC


Yeah, that's ol' JT back on his Mickey Mouse days. And see the goofball in the front row doing the magician hand? That's The Notebook's Ryan Gosling.

Huh.

Celebrities.
 
posted by Josh at 10:13 AM | 2 comments
Houston DynamoSo the other day I was talking about the city of Houston (not to be confused with "Planet Houston") and I said how I didn't have time to google the name of the Major League Soccer team there. (see Emirates to Houston).

My exact words? "We'll just let it stand that I have no idea what their name is, but I'm sure it's something dynamic."

The team's name is the Houston Dynamo!

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
 
posted by Josh at 10:04 AM | 0 comments
World Series TrophyNot to make this constantly about sports, but in case everyone in southern Maine isn't talking about this right now the Boston Red Sox are bringing the 2007 World Series Trophy to Portland, Maine tomorrow!

So Portland-People! Get over to Hadlock Field between 11 am and 4 pm. And take a picture for me, okay?
 
posted by Josh at 10:03 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Eric Gagne


I'm not being facetious, I was quite excited when the Red Sox acquired Eric Gagné in August. I mean, you might remember my ramblings about the dude (see Eric Gagné and I Jinxed Gagné).

But now he's gone, declining arbitration with the Sox and signed to the Brewers.

As you know, I lived in Southern California for six years that straddled the millennial. And while I was a moderate Anaheim Angels fan (I followed them closely in 2002 when they won the World Series) my true American League allegiance was 2,975 miles to the northeast.

My National League allegiance, however, was free. Thus I became a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. Now, I don't really bleed Dodger Blue like some of my friends, but I do like a good Dodger Dog now and then. And you have to admit that Vin Scully calls the best baseball on television. (All apologies to Jerry Remy, but it's true.)

Eric Gagne logoThe Dodgers weren't great then, however 2003 was when Eric Gagné won his Cy Young Award.

He was unstoppable. Between 2002 and 2004 he had 152 saves, the most in a three-year period in major league history.

That's like, Papelbon-good (for you Sox fans in the room).

This is why it pains me to see the Boston fans jump all over him like they have been this year. I know his ERA was way over 6 and he blew a few games. But if Papelbon or Timlin or Okajima or one of the other closers went down in September or October, Gagné would have stepped up.

I have no doubt right now in some alternate universe that Eric Gagné made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a key factor in the Red Sox World Series victory.

Anyway, here are a few photos from a game I went to in June of 2004 where Gagné and the Dodgers shut down the Yankees. Yes, that second-to-last shot is of Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui sullenly walking back to the dugout after striking the hell out against Gagné.

Dodgers v Yankees
Dodgers v Yankees

Dodgers v Yankees

Dodgers v Yankees

Dodgers v Yankees

Dodgers v Yankees

The series in 2004 was notable also because the first time the Yankees had played in Dodger Stadium since Game 5 of the 1981 World Series - which didn't turn out so great for the Bronx Bombers, either.

Anyway, good luck to Gagné.
 
posted by Josh at 11:38 AM | 1 comments
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Emirates Airlines logoLast week posh airline Emirates started non-stop service from Dubai to Houston three times a week, with a plan to go daily in February.

"Houston?" You might ask.

"Really?"

Yes, Houston, home of the MLB's Astros, NBA's Rockets, NFL's Texans, MLS' ... um, well, I know they have a team after they beat the New England Revolution for the MLS Cup (such a clever name, by the way) but I'm just can't be bothered to wikipedia it, which seems silly since I could have done it in about half the time that this took to write. Oh well. We'll just let it stand that I have no idea what their name is, but I'm sure it's something dynamic.

Oh yeah, Houston is the former headquarters of that there Halliburton company there, too (see News: Halliburton Moving to Dubai).

Wonder if they'll get any traffic from that?

Anyway, the advertisements they have up around town are really horrible, though. It says "Houston, no problem" and has a dude in a spacesuit. At first I was really confused, like, yeah, there really had better not be a problem with the flight there, chief!

But then I got the whole Apollo 13, "Houston we have a problem" reference.

Ugh.

Then again, you have to feel bad for the agency tasked to make that ad. I mean ... Houston. What do you think of?

Honestly, I think of Yao Ming of the Rockets. I mean, who do the Astros even have? Oh, they did just get Kaz Matsui from the Rockies. But who in Dubai would know him? As for the Texans, I'm pretty sure they have a quarterback, but again, I can't be bothered to wikipedia him.

So where does that leave us? Besides a Chinese basketball player and a Japanese baseball player, I've got nothing.

Sorry Houston, but maybe you really do have a problem ... with your image.
 
posted by Josh at 9:33 AM | 1 comments
Monday, December 10, 2007
I was going to put this over at the other website but I'm about stressed to the max with the end of the semester and only have time to write one real post today, so here goes.

On December 7th I turned one billion seconds old.

Why do I know this?

Well, see I haven't really talked about it much here, but when we came back to Dubai from Christmas at home eleven months ago I went ... well, a little loopy. Seriously. It was about as off-kilter as I ever have been. I didn't leave the house for days, I didn't do anything other than watch TV and read books.

If Liz wasn't here, well, I don't know what would have happened.

(Granted, if Liz wasn't here I would be here - in Dubai - but that's another story altogether.)

Anyway, one day for some reason I don't even recall, I calculated when I was going to turn a billion seconds old. Sadly I received the memory genes from my father (not that it was a total wash - I also got his love of pizza, popcorn, beer and the Red Sox, which are really some of my more charming features) so I don't recall just why in the world I did this.

But, like I said earlier, I was more than a little out-of-my-gourd.

First I did the simple math:

1,000,000,000 seconds
/ 60
16,666,666.67 minutes
/ 60
277,777.7778 hours
/ 24
11,574.07407 days

So when do I turn 11,574.07 days old?

11574.07407 days
/ 365
31.70979198 years

That means 31 years and 259 days.

But we can't go back exactly 31 years and 259 days counting each year as 365 days - we also have to account for leap years. A total of seven between 1980 and 2004.

So in 1976 I was born on March 30, thus alive for 276 days.

Year Days Total
1976 276 276
1977 365 641
1978 365 1,006
1979 365 1,371
1980 366 1,737
1981 365 2,102
1982 365 2,467
1983 365 2,832
1984 366 3,198
1985 365 3,563
1986 365 3,928
1987 365 4,293
1988 366 4,659
1989 365 5,024
1990 365 5,389
1991 365 5,754
1992 366 6,120
1993 365 6,485
1994 365 6,850
1995 365 7,215
1996 366 7,581
1997 365 7,946
1998 365 8,311
1999 365 8,676
2000 366 9,042
2001 365 9,407
2002 365 9,772
2003 365 10,137
2004 366 10,503
2005 365 10,868
2006 365 11,233
2007 341 11,574

(See, this is pretty freakin' crazy!)

So what's the 341st day of 2007? As far as I can tell it was December 7th.

The day I turned 1 billion seconds old.

I'll try and keep in mind that at age 63.41958397 I turn 2 billion seconds old ... but my memory is a bit fuzzy. Can someone remind me on August 15, 2039?

Thanks.
 
posted by Josh at 8:34 AM | 0 comments
Friday, December 7, 2007
rise over runRemember algebra?

I know, I know, it was probably a long time ago. But think back for a minute. Remember the X and Y axes and graphing a straight line, then trying to calculate its "slope"? You know, the change in Y over the change in X? Rise over run?

The formula: y=mx+b?

Yeah, that sounds familiar, right? Where 'm' is the slope of the line and 'b' is the intercept on the vertical axis? Right.

Well not in Dubai.

Yep, I kid you not, even the slope-intercept form is different here. Well, to be fair, it turns out that kind of the US is different from the rest of the world on this one, too. Similar to how we don't use the metric system and think that the war in Iraq was a good idea. In that vein.

See, instead of Advance Placement that the US uses, the rest of the world has the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, or IB for short. And they, meaning everyone else in the world, call that familiar formula y=a+bx.

The first time I heard this was in Econ class last spring, and for a minute I was really confused. I mean, sure I haven't taken a math class in the better part of thirteen years, but was I that wrong to think that the formula was y=mx+b?

Luckily the American who was sitting next to me had some international math-type experience or something, and clued me in. If not I might still be confused to this day.
 
posted by Josh at 3:14 PM | 0 comments
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The other week MTV finally hit the Middle East with the launch of MTV Arabia.

Well, to most people, I guess. Our satellite television company, Orbit, doesn't provide it yet.
MTV Arabia

As you can imagine, it's reported to have fewer scantily clad women, drugs, weapons and profanity than real MTV. And obviously they're not showing music videos, as MTV stopped that practice sometime around 1992. Seriously, that's when the first Real World premiered and the first MTV Movie Awards were broadcast. I'm not kidding you, both of those video-killing shows came out in the same year! Google it! I have a whole theory on this that I'll annoy you with later. Well, pretty much it's "MTV died in 1992". Yeah, that's about it.

Anyway, the flagship show on MTV Arabia is Hip HopNa, which is some kind of hip-hop Star-Search hosted by some Saudi Arabian rapper.

Seriously.

They're also going to make a local version of the car makeover show Pimp My Ride - but I don't think it's going to feature West Coast Customs - who yes, has a branch in Dubai (see Middle East Coast Customs) - as I think the local Discovery Channel is all over that show. But speaking of, did you see today that Pimp My Ride host / rapper / really genial guy Xzibit is going to be in the next X-Files movie? Mulder, Scully, and Xzibit. That's hilarious.

Anyway, if I ever do catch MTV Arabia I'll let you know how it is.
 
posted by Josh at 4:15 PM | 0 comments
Forgot to mention the other day that we put up our little three foot one meter tall Christmas Tree.
Christmas Tree

And yes, that is Buddha is looking down on it.

We're cheeky and clever, aren't we?
 
posted by Josh at 4:15 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Boston Red Sox logoIf the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury for Johan Santana or Ben Sheets or Dan Haren or even Wally Schang or Stuffy McInnis I might never root for them again.

Ellsbury is going to be the Rookie of the Year for 2008, I just know it.

Holy crap it's difficult to be a Sox fan right now ...
 
posted by Josh at 11:03 PM | 1 comments
It was a pretty bustling weekend around Dubai, what with the National Day holidays making it a 3 or 4 day long break from work for most people.

The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens seemed to be the most popular activity with the expatriate community. Fans of rugby were excited, because they got to see their game live, and non-fans like it because of the social atmosphere and, well, the drinking involved.

Now I profess to know well, nothing about rugby, but our neighbor is from New Zealand, where rugby is the national sport and their team (the All Blacks) is ranked the second best in the world. I asked him what a "Rugby 7" was and he told me it's where the teams each play with only seven players instead of the traditional ... um, amount of players, and each match is only fifteen minutes long instead of the traditional ... um, length of gameplay.

I'm still a little fuzzy on the details.

I'd know more about the specifics of the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but we didn't go. Yeah, right now we're a hair away from the end of the semester, and next week I have two projects due and a final, then another final the week after. So I spent the weekend trying to figure out mergers and net present value and just exactly why I thought an MBA would be fun.

Thus I was studying one afternoon this weekend and I heard this ... well, bizarre noise. Quite honestly, it sounded like someone was podracing like they do over in Mos Espa, you know, on Tattooine.

(That's a Star Wars joke, in case you didn't get it.)

Turns out it wasn't little Annie Skywalker competing in the Boonta Eve Classic at the Mos Espa Grand Arena (brought to you in part by Jabba the Hutt) but rather the 2007 World Professional Powerboating Association Class One World Powerboat Championship.

See, and I had to look this up on that map of Dubai we found last year, but where we live is only six or seven hundred meters (less than a half a mile) from the water. Specifically from Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. Apparently the race was being held at the 'Marina" part of the Mina Seyahi.

So what I heard wasn't floating anti-gravity pods propelled by turbine engines, but just big-ass powerboats driving in circles about 2000 feet from our house.

Good to know.

Now if I could only figure out the after-tax weighted-average cost of capital, we'd be in good shape.

Oh, and for the record, New Zealand won the Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Here's a clip from Gulf News about the win. I have no idea what half of these sentences even mean:
    World champions New Zealand took advantage of Fijian indiscipline to record their first win at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens since 2003.

    The islanders had a player sin binned early in both periods and New Zealand ruthlessly made their extra man advantage count on the way to romping 26-0 clear.

    But that was merely the signal for Fiji to launch a breathtaking comeback, rattling up 21 points without reply in just three minutes.

    Yet just when the mother of all shocks appeared to be on the cards, Fiji made a hash of the restart and handed possession back to New Zealand who eventually worked a match-winning try for Steven Yates despite the suggestion of a knock-on.

Huh. How about that?
 
posted by Josh at 12:22 PM | 0 comments
Monday, December 3, 2007
Well that's good.

I mean, besides the NINE DAYS IN A SUDANESE JAIL.

Can you even imagine?!?

CNN
Sudan pardons Briton in teddy row
updated 13 minutes ago

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir pardoned a British teacher convicted of insulting religion, presidential palace sources said.

Gillian Gibbons is expected to be freed Monday afternoon, sources told Time magazine's Sam Dealey Monday.

She will then leave Khartoum on a flight later in the day, along with the two British lawmakers who arrived there Saturday to secure her release.

Gibbons, 54, was sentenced to 15 days in jail last Thursday for having allowed her students at a private school to name a teddy bear "Mohammed."
 
posted by Josh at 2:22 PM | 0 comments
So yesterday was National Day here in Dubai, and boy do people pull out all of the stops. This morning I saw a car that had the UAE flag spraypainted on it. Seriously. Is there any way that it's not permanent, I mean, do they make water soluble spraypaint? Because as fun as it is to have the ol' red, white and black and green on your car on National Day, on December 3rd you might regret the decision.

I'm just saying ...

Anyway, one of the buildings in Media City went with a slightly less permanent although very noticeable decor:
UAE National Day


 
posted by Josh at 10:41 AM | 0 comments
Orbit News LogoWe get this channel on our satellite cable called Orbit News that shows a whole host of news programs from the States. Things like NBC Nightly News, ABC World News, the PBS NewsHour, Dateline NBC, Today Show, Meet the Press, Keith Olbermann, etc.

Anyway, the other night they were playing Hardball about the whole Hillary Clinton campaign office hostage crisis in New Hampshire. And who did they turn to for the reporter on the street?

None other than Pat Callaghan from Portland, Maine's WCSH!

Pat Callaghan


For those of you who don't live in Southern Maine, Callaghan is the co-anchor of WCSH's news, and just ... I don't know, The Man when it comes to local news.

I don't know what it is, he just seems like a nice guy. I am biased in thinking that everything's just more friendly in Maine?

Either way Callaghan doesn't fall into any of the local newscaster cliches - he's not pompous like Ted Baxter or stuffy like Jim Dial or as sensational as Kent Brockman or heck, or even as unlucky as the Muppet newscaster.

It was good to see him, even if Chris Matthews has the propensity to talk over everyone on his show. Lord, at points it seems like Hardball is only a half step away from devolving into The View.

Anyway, and I should also mention that although WCSH is the best station in the area, for weather I personally prefer WGME's Max Riseman because well, we were in Boy Scouts together. Hey man, you wear the same color neckerchief as another dude and that bonds you for life.
 
posted by Josh at 10:36 AM | 1 comments
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Happy National Day to everyone in Dubai.
UAE Flag
 
posted by Josh at 12:39 PM | 0 comments