Thursday, November 13, 2008

Big Balled Salesmen

Basic logic tends to be thrown out the window when making purchases here.

We’ll start with a dinner I had at the “Golden Fork” restaurant.  After perusing the menu, I placed my order.

“I'll have the hot and sour soup, and the New York Steak.”
“And then?”
“Um, that’s all.”
“Nothing else?
“What else?  How much do you think I can freakin eat!?”
“So that’s it then, sir?” She gave me a look like "You big woose"
“Fine, if you want to bring me something else get me a doggy bag so I can take half of it home.”

A few days later I went to buy a power cord for my external hard drive.  I went to a small hole in the wall electronics shop and found the cord.  It was $5.  As I was checking out at the register the man actually asked me (and I'm not making this up!):  “Would you like a laptop with that?”

Would I like a laptop with my $5 cord?! Well sure!!! I mean its only 300x the price of the item I’m purchasing, why the hell not!?  This is like going to a Toyota dealership to buy some floor mats and the dealer asking “Would you like a Camry with your floor mats?”

Marina Mall

I was thinking about buying a watch.  As an engineer, when I buy fashion accessory items I buy the cheapest possible thing that gets the job done.  Thats called efficiency, and efficiency is like crack to engineers.  Anyway, I needed a small silver device that sits on my wrist and tells me the time.  I figured I could get a pretty decent one for $100.  After all, I bought a “Rolex” in Malaysia for like 4 bucks.

I went to Marina Mall and stopped at the watch kiosk to check out the watches on sale.  He showed me a nice watch that was on sale.  I kind of liked it, but I didn’t love it.  Turns out it was a $2,000 watch!  To buy a watch with a comma in the price, I would need to more than love it; I should want to sodomize it (however that works... but you get my drift).  I politely said “No thank you sir, I’m not really in the market for a financial-kick-in-the-balls time piece at the moment.  Besides, I can do what that overpriced thing can for free.”

He was intrigued, “Really?”

So I cockily asked my friend “Hey do you have the time?”

She quipped “Yeah, time for you to buy that watch.” 

I was pissed! Not to mention shocked with the quickness, “You ruined my plan, damnit!!”

The salesman, totally pleased with the proceedings, smugly asked “So shall I wrap this up for you?”

“Its going to be wrapped in your colon if you don’t shut the hell up.”


Marina Mall

There is a devious marketing trend going on in the Marina Mall.  They set up kiosks all over the place selling a wide variety of things and stock them with the most beautiful girls in Abu Dhabi (truly, they are unique geniuses who thought of this plot).  Naturally, you see many men wandering to them to see what they’re selling.  And let me tell you, men will fake interest in anything these girls are selling just to get a chance to talk with them.

“That’s a fascinating device, what does it do? Oh a testicular torture device?  Tell me more.”

“What you got there? Lehman brothers stock? I’ll take a thousands shares!”

I’m not exempt from this either.  A Lebanese girl pulled me into a real estate kiosk.  She explained the options:

“This 2 bedroom flat on the 30th floor is going for 1.5 million, but the 3 bedroom is only 1.75 million so it’s a much better deal.”

Rather than going “Holy shit!” and spitting my coffee all over her, I played it cool, “Hmm, well it looks good to me…  Let me get in touch with my accountant, Mr. Rosan…berg…stein and I’ll get back to you.” I figured if I had a Jewish accountant that meant I was successfull...  No sale.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cleaning Soap

I’ve always been easily disgusted, but I had an incident that made me realize I may be starting down a slippery slope toward OCD.  The bathrooms offshore are, for lack of a better word, compact.  (A realtor would call it “cozy”)  The shower is on one side, and the toilet is on the other (A whole 1.5 feet away).  There is no shower curtain, so the bathroom floor has a drain in the middle because if you can imagine everything gets wet.  The entire bathroom is essentially the shower.

Well one day I dropped the soap.  Let me stop you right there before your mind wanders– it’s a private bathroom.  The problem with this particular soap dropping incident was that the soap landed right in front of the toilet.  Given that this bathroom has been used by many men before me, and the front of the toilet being the most likely place for drippage (aka dribbleage) to occur, (and also that I’m pretty sure I once saw the maid scrubbing the floor with the toilet brush) I wasn’t about to take any risks…

So I did what any OCD person would do – I washed the bar of soap.  This seems fundamentally impossible (not to mention ridiculous). Can a bar of soap even get dirty? And how do you clean a cleaning agent? Simple! 
With Comet. Comet cleans everything - even other soaps.  Comet could even clean Kevin Federlines nasty ass.  

So there I was, scrubbing my soap with Comet until I felt safe enough to use it again.  I eventually scrapped off an entire layer before I deemed it worthy to touch my arm pits.

I should note that I was covered in grease and the liquified remains of dinosaurs that hasn't seen the earths surface in over 150 million years, but none of that compares to human bodily fluids.  Gross.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Women in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim nation. While it is not nearly as strict as Saudi Arabia, its still a long way from being Los Angeles.

The UAE has done a lot to liberalize their laws to cater to foreigners. Considering that expats outnumber the locals 4 or 5 to 1, they almost have to. But recently the police have been on a campaign to remind us all that it is still a Muslim country, and as guests in their country we must respect that.

The local men and women wear traditional Islamic dress, to varying degrees.  The older they are, the more they usually cover up.  The younger Emirati guys sometimes will wear the white robe, but to cover his head he’ll switch to a baseball hat.  The local women get the option of going with a head wrap, veil with a slot for their eyes, or a complete veil.  I can understand the typical abaya (which covers just their hair), but in my opinion, the complete veil is way too extreme. How on earth is a man supposed to find his wife in a crowd of women?

The expatriate women can wear whatever they want, so long as its appropriate. No miniskirts or excessive cleavage, obviously and unfortunately.  The contrast with the local attire is strongest on the beach. Foreign girls are wearing bikinis, and the local girls are fully covered.  The following picture gives you an idea of how ridiculous it looks to me.

A Saudi woman enjoying the sunshine.

I was talking with some Muslim women about their clothes.  Some of them wear the abaya (full length black dress) with their hair covered, some just cover their hair and wear regular clothes. They understand that the western world thinks they are being oppressed by this, but they disagree.  The purpose of covering up is to keep men from gawking at them when they're out in public. The only man they want ogling them is their husband.  And their husbands feel the same way. Something else to keep in mind is that the Muslim men wear pretty much the exact same thing, except in white.

The UAE shares a border with Saudi Arabia, which is a country that really needs to wake the hell up and get with the times. I just read about a woman who was raped by 7 men, and SHE was imprisoned for 6 months and received 200 lashings. I don’t know what kind of fucked up logic they used to justify this crap, but it has to stop. When the woman appealed because she felt her punishment was unfair (I think she has a case), they doubled the sentence.  The men received no punishment.  

These laws and behaviors should be internationally condemned.  What kind country would be friendly and supportive to a government that does such terrible things?


The UAE has had its problems with screwed up laws but is slowly getting better (better being a matter of opinion.  My opinion, more specifically).  It is, however, still technically illegal for me to have a girl in my apartment who isn't my wife (hasn't stopped me yet!), and its illegal to be gay. Sodomy holds a minimum sentence of one year in prison. Still, its better than parts of Africa where they will kill gay people.  Interesting side note: Sir Elton John just held a concert here a month ago…

A recent case in Dubai was made a big deal to try to raise awareness. Two British folks were apparently having sex on a beach (NOT the drink, although they had consumed plenty of them earlier) and were caught by a police officer.  He was lenient with them at first and told them to get dressed and leave immediately.  He came back later and they were still there.  The woman got violent (apparently she didn’t like being interrupted) and struggled with the officer as he arrested her.  She was hit with a 4 year prison sentence.  The newspaper didn’t mention anything else about the man – I’m assuming he was let off with a stern warning and a high-five.

These kinds of things make me appreciate America.  But its important to remember that America had sexist (not to mention racist) problems of our own, so its just a matter of time before these Middle Eastern nations come around to figure it out.  Maybe being a democracy would help speed things up, but that’s also up to them - you wont see the USA involved in any nation building anytime soon.

But America is the other extreme.  Millions of women have eating disorders trying to reach an unattainable level of “beauty” (if you call showing off your rib cage beautiful).  I can imagine that a lot of them would have much higher self esteem if it were socially acceptable to wear a full black abaya and not have to worry about trying to fit into a pair of size 2 jeans.  Or getting breast implants, nose jobs, and I’ve even heard of some men getting peck and calf implants!  It is disturbing that people in our country are that insecure about their appearance, to which you must put a portion of the blame on our society.  But just because society dictates something is good, doesn't mean you have to follow it!  Well, in America at least. I wouldn't recommend trying that in Saudi anytime soon.

I assume that, like always, the best social model is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I have a problem.  I’m insensitively curious when I meet people from other countries.  My problem is that when someone tells me where they’re from, the first things I usually ask about are national tragedies…  Mostly because that’s either all I know or all I care about their countries.  For example, I had a Sri Lankan driver a few days ago.  I waited a few minutes into the conversation then had to say it…  “So, that was one terrible tsunami you had 4 years ago.”  His immediate response was pretty typical to my insensitive questions, “ohhhhh… very bad… very bad.”  He was lucky enough to be living in the hills at the time but had a clear view of the carnage below.  At the time he worked for an NGO that was helping drug addicts and alcoholics at some retreat up in the hills (let that be a lesson to you kids: crack addictions ultimately save you from tsunamis).  Being the good guy that he is, he ran down to help people who were trapped.  But most of the damage was already done by then and he described a pretty terrible scene which I’d rather not talk about due to my sarcastic setting here...  I think that would be even more insensitive of me.  He said he took pictures of the devastation and I nearly asked him to send them to me, but again, I think I’d been enough of an ass for the day.

The next day I had a Pakistani Shiite Muslim driver who was very talkative.  He wasn’t so good with the listening… But he could sure dish it out.  After his 5 minute tirade about how all Sunni Muslims were evil and aggressive ‘modder fawkers’ with big ugly beards (and the Shia were perfect, of course), I tried to reason with him (mostly to defend my boys Waz and Naz).  “Well most of my Muslim friends back in the States are Sunni and they are very nice guys and they wouldn’t hurt--”, I was cut off.  “No no no, sunni no good, Shia good.  Sunni no good.  Very bad and mean, Sunni”.  (I’ve learned that many of the Pakistani and Indian guys around here like to repeat themselves when speaking English to make sure I caught what they were trying to say because usually it takes at least both times to get it.)

He continued “Al Qaeda is sunni, America fight al Qaeda, so shia and America are same same. You, me, same same.  You see?”  Actually I did not see (as flawless as that argument was)... Again I tried with the reasoning, “But Hezbollah is Shia…  Iran is mostly shia…  And Hezbollah shoots rockets into Israeli cities at civilians.  That’s a little aggressive don’t you thin--”, I was cut off again, “no no no, al Qaeda bad, America good.  We same same.”  At this point I realized logic was not going to be present in this conversation, so I just smiled and nodded in agreement with the angry, bitter driver.  Unfortunately though, my polite nodding led him to think we were buddies.

“My friend, my friend, you help me get Amrika visa!”
“Uhhhhh..  I’m not really allowed to do that.”
“Very easy, very easy.  You tell embassy I’m good guy.  I’m good guy, no?”
“Well you seem good to me, but I don’t think it works that way.”
“You think I’m bad?” He actually had a sad face. :(   <-- like such.
“No, no.  You’re good.  You’re good.”
“I get tourist visa to states, you find me girl to marry and I get green card. OK?”
“…Yeah….  You’re gunna have to take a rain check on that.  I don’t know any girls that I could just call up and ask to marry you.  Not that you’re not a great guy or anything.”
“Fine fine, you just tell embassy I’m good guy.  And your family can tell I’m good guy too.”
“Well the thing about it is, I’m actually not on good terms with the department of Homeland Security.  I’m probably marked as a terrorist suspect so I don’t think I can help.”
“Ahhh you very funny.  Very funny.”
“No I’m serious!  George Bush is a paranoid asshole.”
“Noooo.  George Bush very good.  Same same.”
He could tirade about Sunnis all he wanted, but this wouldn’t stand.  “Actually, George Bush is a very bad man.  Almost as bad as Dick Cheney, who should die of gonorrhea by the way.  Very big asshole, George Bush.” (I started talking like him!)
He just stared at me in the rear view mirror because he didn’t know what to say to that.  Either because he didn’t understand what gonorrhea was, or why the hell I wished my own vice president would die from it…  We arrived at the mall and I pulled out my wallet.
He asked with a slight smile “So, no visa then?” :(
“Sorry, I guess not.”  I felt kind of bad.  I was crushing his dream of moving to the United States... to drive a Taxi. (true story)
“Ok, 6 dirhams then.  Thank you my friend!”


I’m working with a Syrian man named Zeyad.  Zeyad is a very entertaining and tough guy.  While offshore, he survived a helicopter landing on top of him!  Not only once but it bounced 3 times pinning him on top of a generator.  Because of that I allow him to take all the rest he needs when he says his back hurts... After his incident, they decided it wasn't safe to lift equipment with choppers anymore. 

He told me a very bizarre story (in between his rants about American foreign policy, which I will also be forwarding on to you) that I wanted to share. 

Many years ago Zeyad’s grandfather died.  Before his death, he asked his son (Zeyads father, Mohamed) to never ride a motorcycle again because it had almost killed him before.  Mohamed promised his dying father that he would never ride again.

Years later, a 10 year old boy showed up at their house.  The boy greeted Zeyads father and said “Hello son!  How have you been?”  Obviously, Mohamed was confused what the hell this kid was talking about.  They brought him inside and talked with him.  The young boy claimed to be Mohameds father, and he wanted to come back and see the family and see how they were doing.  As people entered the room, he would greet them by name.  To prove he was the grandfather the boy began recalling stories from years past, way before this kid was born, and stories that only the family and the deceased grandfather would have known.

This was obviously weird and disturbing, but they didn’t know what to make of it.  So off the boy went back home (The boys parents were confused as well).  A few weeks later Mohameds brother fell ill at home and had to be rushed to the hospital.  Within an hour of his hospitalization, the boy showed up at the hospital to check on “his son”.  No one called this boy or informed him that his claimed son was hurt, he just said he sensed it.  The boy called the rest of the family, who promptly drove to the hospital.  Most of them had no idea who this boy even was that was calling them.

As the family started arriving the boy was waiting outside with most of them.  Mohammed arrived a little later, jumped off his motorcycle and came toward them. When he got there the boy reached up and slapped him across the face.  Everyone froze and had no idea why this random 10 year old kid would slap an old man.  Mohammed asked him what he did that for, to which the boy replied “What did I tell you about riding that motorcycle!?”

Freaky…  They still dont know what to make of it!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sad Day

No joking today.

Last night one of the helicopters that regularly ferries me to the offshore rigs crashed.  While lifting off the rig, whether from pilot error or strong winds, the tail rotor collided with one of the legs. With the rotor destroyed the helicopter spun out of control and fell nearly 100 feet into the sea.  All 7 on board were killed.

This is the same type of rig as the one involved.  It’s a jack up rig so in shallow waters the legs rise very high in the air.  Notice how close the helicopter landing pad is to one of the legs…

I feel terrible for the family and friends of those onboard.  Luckily none of the helipad crew or anyone else on the rig was hurt.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Picasso Exhibit in the Emirate Palace

The Emirates Palace is one of the most over-done and over-priced places in the world. I can’t imagine a place more extravagant and pretentious… Well except the Burj al Arab hotel an hour away in Dubai which touts itself as the only 7 star hotel in the world. Service is uncompromisingly excellent. There’s an attendant in every bathroom who immediately dries the sink when you’re done using it, hands you a nice hand towel from the huge towel pyramid, and I suspect he’d wipe your butt for you if you asked him nicely.

Emirates Palace in front of fake sunset

I went to see the Picasso exhibition in the Palace. I have to say that only one of Picasso’s paintings impressed me in terms of artistic quality. The rest were just bizarre mixtures of paint strokes that begs the question “what the hell drug was this guy on?” Seriously, if you ever get a chance to look at a Picasso painting, get really close to it and look at the individual paint strokes. They all look as if he started the painting 2 hours before a deadline. Most of the strokes are very heavy and blobbed on the canvas with seemingly little regard for quality. His genius was his unique view on the world, not attention to detail.

My favorite part of the exhibit was seeing the reactions of people. Some people thought they were experts or connoisseurs (BTW, it took me 3 minutes to spell that word close enough for the spell checker to even realize what I was trying to spell). You’d hear phrases such as “I think the emotion he was trying to invoke was….” Or “Ahhh, what a delightful reference to…” Whereas I was mumbling to my friend “What the f*ck is THAT supposed to be?! Seriously, is that a tree or a woman?”

Picasso may have been an inspired artist, but he lacked inspiration when naming his pieces. For example, the following is called “Woman With Cigarette”:

No shit, Pablo.

And yet some pictures were titled the same way but were not as obvious. The following is called “Woman in armchair”:
(I’d like to do an experiment to see how men and woman view this picture differently, because I immediately noticed breasts in the picture way before Welsh girl Liz did. And yes, I did giggle.)

The following is the recreation of my analysis process:

(Poorly photo-shopped on purpose! If I ever run for President you know this would turn up)

Ohhhhh! Of course!

Its funny that I was trying to be all high class and civilized at the Picasso exhibit at the Emirates Palace, but the night before I was getting drunk in the club on the other side of the building. I joined my friends group and got a nice table by the dance floor and we purchased a delightful bottle of Vodka - for $300. Most expensive hangover ever. (note to self: own a club in emirates palace, 95% profit margins).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hilary Duff?!?

I thought everyone knew that when you have headphones in your ears it’s the international sign for “piss off and don’t talk to me!” Apparently not. The woman on the plane next to me was seemingly unaware of this rule, nor that I could not even hear her for the first part of her attempted conversation. After grudgingly pausing my song I conversed back with her (half assed, I might add), just to be nice. No matter how many times I tried to bail out by picking up the iPod and headphones she’d fire the conversation back up again. Look lady, you seem nice, but I really don’t give a crap about your childhood trips to Delaware. Yes! I’ve seen cows before! You don’t have to tell me about them. I’ve seen a cow give birth and then subsequently eat the placenta as if it was a nice chocolate cake – but you don’t hear me talking about that, do you! Maybe I should have, that might have shut her up faster, or got her to say “Well I never!” which would have made my day.

I’ll let you in on a little secret… Sometimes when my iPod battery is dead and I don’t want to be bothered, I’ll just stick the headphones in my ears and pretend to be listening to something. It’s a great excuse to ignore people without being overtly rude! I almost got caught once though. After ignoring someone I pulled out the earphones and said “Oh sorry, didn’t hear ya there! (snicker)”

He said “So what are you listing to?”

Oh shit. I’ll let you in on another secret: I’m a terrible liar.

“Hilary Duff??” I semi said/asked back, because even as I said it I thought “why the hell am I saying this??!” I actually said it as a question, as if I was on a game show taking a shot in the dark answer to the question; “Name the number one song you could be listening to right now that would lead me to question your sexuality.”

I’d have won.

I wish I said that!

I’ll start by bitching about the set up on airplanes. They board first class passengers first, then subsequently march those of us in coach through the first class cabin so they can all glare at us over their latest issue of The Economist. It’s the airline walk of shame, and I absolutely hate it. I put on a sad face and hope for one of them to throw me a gold trinket. No luck yet.

During my latest trip, I was sitting on the plane from London to Chicago. It’s a looooonggggggg flight, especially when riding in coach (So nice they don't call it 3rd class seating). Due to the tight quarters and duration, any little annoyance from the people around you is amplified to tortuous levels. Someone chewing on potato chips might as well be a jackhammer banging on my skull. And you know you either have to put up with their obnoxiousness or try to escape the plane from 35,000 feet.

I always make sure to have some battery power on my iPod in reserve so I can block out the sounds of people who chew with their mouth open (A capital offense in my book). I maintain just enough power to crank up the volume long enough to block out 3 bags of airplane pretzels from the guy next to me. But I wasn’t prepared for what was coming. And thanks to the uncivilized man sitting to my right and his industrial sized bag of what can only be described as “super-mega-crunchy petrified” chips, my battery was at critical levels.

On top of all this, the cute little girl behind me, bless her heart, was at the age where she is learning how to count. And her mother - bless her heart as well – who, based on her enthusiasm must have lost her mind years ago or is jacked up on some wonderful drug that she really should be sharing with the rest of us. Cough it up woman!! The little girl would count from one to ten and attempt to go higher until she got stuck. Every time she hit her numerical ceiling, her mom would enthusiastically congratulate her and tell her the next number in the sequence. At which point she would start over again from one. I didn’t expect this game to last very long, and I actually found it cute at first. But after 20 cycles I didn’t think it would ever end. I was not prepared at all for this unexpected sequence of events. After her 30th or 40th round (its hard to keep count in a countless counting-situation like this), my iPod battery expired. At which point I immediately had the urge to strangle Steve Jobs to death. Damn you Apple and your 3 hour battery life!!

And on and on she counted, “One.. two.. phree.. fowr.. fife.. sick.. sefen.. ate.. nine”…

“Fuckingggggggggg ten,” I added under my breath.

I should mention that I do a lot of day dreaming when I fly. The following is one of the scenarios I played out in my head, which made me smile and brought me back to sanity. I really wanted to do this, but when I looked back, it turns out that crazy hyper-enthusiastic mom was kind of a milf. So I refrained-- I couldn’t yell at a hot mom, no matter how insane her daughters counting made me. Also, as much as I’d like to be, I’m not an asshole. But man – it’d be fun if I was!

Girl: … “13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20!”

Milf: “Very good!!! You made it to twenty!! Good job sweety. I’m so proud of –“

Out of nowhere a head swings around from the row in front. They both immediately spin their heads forward and stare at this stranger with the look of death on his face.

Me: I’m not freaking impressed little girl!! 20! big fuckin whoop! You want to impress me, tell me the derivative of ln(x)???? HUH? ?!

(Blank stares, jaws dropped.)

Me: "That’s what I thought. And YOU, (pointing to the milf), Hey, hows it goin? Maybe we should hang out later..."
Milf: "Go to hell!"
Me: "That sounds about right..."

Man that would have been sweet!

The UN Finds a Dive Bar

That picture was the first night we went to this dive bar. A week later I went back with 3 other guys for some drinks. After the first round a band was setting up to play. I should mention that I am being very generous with the word BAND. It was actually two 70 year old guys with a guitar and a tambourine. I decided they needed a name for their band, maybe a punk band name, something like The Raging Colonoscopies. Also, keep in mind that this bar has only 9 people in it, including the waitress and the crack-whore fiendishly searching through her cell phone (more on her shortly). Before the Raging Colonoscopies started the concert, the "lead guitarist" felt it necessary to fine tune his amplifier as if he were about to kick off Woodstock.

... (tweek the gain)
...(tweek the gains)
... (tweek the gain)

And just when you think he was done..


-- Oops, too loud.

And it went on like this for 5 whole minutes!!! I don't have any idea how he felt it necessary to make such fine adjustments in that setting. First of all, the bar has the acoustic qualities of a bathroom in a cave (let me say, that joke would KILL in an acoustical engineers seminar). And more importantly, the entire audience is within a 10 foot radius!! Yes, we can freakin’ hear you!

After the 5 minutes of adjustments they started to play their first song. They made it to the second chorus and then just stopped.... to take a 10 minute break. Guess all that checking was exhausting.

During this break we all started talking again, and from out of nowhere a woman snuck up right next to me and asked "You guys got any shit?" A long awkward pause ensued... No one else at the table wanted to say anything so I took a stab at it. "Define shit," I said back to her.

"You know, crack, cocaine, whatever". Oh, snap! After another awkward pause I tried again "Look lady, I just got back from Bible school so I really don’t--" She cut me off because she apparently didn't believe that I was the Bible school type. Probably because what I actually said "fucking Bible school". Me and my damn foul mouth... She eventually got bored with us and moved on. Its a good thing crack heads have shorter attention spans than Golden Retrievers.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Communication Problems

One of the engineers I work with is Japanese:

Tomohito: Can you bring me a cramp?
Me: You have a cramp? Well take a break and stretch it out.
Tomohito: No, bring me one.
Me: How the hell am I supposed to bring you a cramp? And why for that matter!
Tomohito: A CRAMP! A CRAMP! BRING ME A CRAMP! (Makes hand motion of a clamp)
Me: Ohhhhhhhhh, Ok! I’ll bring the cramp.

Just a friendly warning for the future: if a Japanese man tells you there is an erection coming up, don’t get disgusted - it means he’ll be voting in the near future.


A conversation between me and a Pakistani taxi driver. He was asking me about my job:

Me: We had a lot of problems last week... It can be a real pain in the ass.
There problem with seat?
What is hurting your ass?
(thinking....) Ohh! No no, I meant the last trip to the desert was really hard. Pain in the ass is just an expression. I’m not in any pain.
Ahh I see, my friend. Yes, my job also provides me ass pain as well.
Well sitting in a car all day would do that to you I suppose.

One of those days...

You ever have one of those days where you just didn’t want to work? Of course you have, we all have. I had one recently. I just wanted to read the news and surf the web that day. But in case someone came and asked me to do something, I had an internet explorer window open to our internal server and ready to ALT-TAB to so I could say “I’m busy!” Sure enough, the situation occurred, so I hit ALT-TAB and looked up expectantly. The other engineer asked if I was busy and what I was doing. I said "yes, as you can clearly see I’m writing reports on the hub webpa-–" SHIT!! The page timed out an hour ago!

Uhh… So apparently I’m free…. What the hell do you need?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wu gets a dose

This is a quick story. One day Conyang Wu (just call him Wu, although its fun to try and say CONG-YANG) was picking up an RSS tool. An RSS is a tool with a minitron in it – which is a device that is highly radioactive when turned on. It stays “hot” for a long time after use, so it still emits neutrons even up to 24 hours after it is turned off. It is safe so long as you stay at least a few feet away when its cooling down (Radiation safety is all about time, distance, and shielding!). But Wu, who was being absent minded as usual, picked up the RSS with his right hand directly on the minitron… I yelled at him to put it down, but he told me the tool was cool and it wasn’t a problem… After a quick argument, he put it down and we agreed to get the Geiger counter to check. Sure enough, that minitron was still plenty hot and the Geiger needle shot to the top of the scale. Wu thought for a second, looked at his right hand, then said: “I guess I’ll just use my other hand to pee for the next few days…” Problem solved.

“Bob”, the mentally challenged engineer

I’m going to be nice and call this guy “Bob” so as not to hurt his feelings. If he sees this blog and recognizes the stories, he will be too stupid to recognize that I’m talking about him. Alternately, if he does recognize the stories are about him, he’ll get confused and think his name is actually Bob, at which point a lengthy search for his birth certificate will ensue. Either way, I’m in the clear.

Whatever college it is in Florida that gave this guy a degree in engineering should be bulldozed to the ground and replaced with a higher quality institution - such as a crack house. Whoever hired this guy should be fired immediately and banned from ever making a decision for the next 12 months so he can think about his actions.

After failing every test we took and taking way longer than anyone else in the class to “accomplish” any task, Bob was fired for poor performance. And even more amazing than his lack of engineering skills is his lack of common sense. Bob actually called the man who fired him and asks if he could use him as a reference for his next job interview… THAT’S going to go over well…

Interviewer: Hi, tell me a little something about “Bob”
Matt: Well…. We fired “Bob” for poor performance and basic douche-baggery. Also, he once asked what the area code was for 911 (and I’m not making that up).
Interviewer: Great. Thanks.
Bob: So did I get the job??

But there is a happy ending to this story. Bob has found another job, and we’re all happy for him. He is now the lead design engineer at Boeing in charge of securing the wings to the fuselage.

Happy flying!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

World Future Energy Summit 08

I would like to inform you that the summit in Abu Dhabi to discuss the future of power generation for the human race, which if improperly conducted could lead to the end of human civilization... started nearly an hour late.

Because the host of the event, the crowned prince of Abu Dhabi, didn't bother arriving until 5 minutes after the opening ceremony was supposed to begin, and then proceeded to tour the facility for 45 minutes. Apparently King Inconsiderate didn't care that there were over a thousand people waiting for him.

I was annoyed after the first 20 minutes of waiting, because (silly me) I expected this important summit to actually start on time! I even arrived an hour early to get a good seat! As he finally approached the theater they actually announced that the "V.V.I.P." had arrived... I'm sorry, but if you need an extra V then the last 3 letters stand for "Very Insecure Person". When he finally came in the auditorium, the crowd jumped to their feet and stood in absolute (and awkward) silence:
That is not muted, you have to turn the volume up to hear anything. You can tell the guy who was coughing next to me was trying to muffle it. I actually thought we were going to clap when the crowned Prince arrived, what a fool I was.

Finally - Let the games begin! The opening speech was nothing less than a holographic Prince Charles.

The video is just the ending of his speech. Even though I thought it was a great speech, I found a tech website the next day with an article titled "Prince Charles delivers speech as hologram, still manages to bore."

His speech was followed by his brother the Duke of York, the President of Iceland, the President of Djibouti, and some other great speakers I've never heard of.

President of Djibouti

Duke of York
The depressing news is that the overall theme of the conference was that humans are undoubtedly changing the composition of our atmosphere and threating the capacity of the environment to support human life. We're not necessarily threating the Earth, because it will purge us and then fix itself over millions of years, but the human race is currently on a path toward destroying ourselves. As we all know by now the problem is climate change, and the source is emissions from power production. Unless we change our methods of power generation and stop the harmful gases we release into our atmosphere in the next 10-15 years we may permanently destroy our fragile planets ability to support our lives.

I left the conference depressed and a little angry. And yet, when I saw this car later on in the parking lot all my worries went away. The driver saw me taking a picture of it, got out and told me to hop in. Nice dude!

I should mention that this thing has a V-12 engine capable of sucking down a gallon of gasoline in only a few short minutes. I know this is just another sign our self-inflicted apocalypse, but when it looks this cool its hard to care.

I should also mention that even though I'm joking about all this I really do take it very seriously and am very, very concerned about our futures... And as soon as a renewable energy company pulls their heads out of their asses and hires me, I'll start helping fix the problem.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arabian Night (clubs)

For an Islamic nation, the night life is surprisingly westernised. I brought my camera out on the dance floor in one of the clubs on Thursday night. Please accept my apologies in advance for the chaotic filming. Its very hard to hold a camera steady while dancing to techno music. Its difficult to tell whats going on because there is barely enough light to see anything... But, hey, at least the song is pretty cool.

Warning: may cause seizures!

The girl wearing the “I am a rock star” shirt is Nayana. She's from Lebanon, and the guy standing next to me is Eihab from Sudan. And I am, of course, the goober from America at the end of the video when it stops.

We were leaving about 15 minutes before the club closed and there were some local Arab girls coming in, covered in black from head to toe, as is the custom. They looked around suspiciously, and then proceeded to take off their local clothing to reveal the (for lack of a better word) skanky dresses they were wearing underneath. It was obvious they wanted absolutely no one to know they were there due to their extremely late arrival and suspicious attitude. I just found it interesting because I had such a strong impression that all the local girls were very conservative. Now I don't know what to think!
I met an Australian architect one day while walking down the street. He was in a taxi from Dubai, and they were lost and looking for the Marina. Since I was walking that way anyway they gave me a ride in exchange for directions. His friend was in the UAE wooden boat racing championship that was going on that day so I went to check it out with them. (And now I have access to the construction site of one of the biggest developments in Dubai! You gotta love being in the right place at the right time...)


Lastly, we spent New Years on the gulf. My friend from work invited me to the party boat they had. Its basically a barge with 2 bars and dance floor. Very fun. I just chopped together some of the video from that night real quickly to give an overall impression of what it was like.