Ink & Paper

Friday, October 01, 2004

A thought, dedicated to X, just cause you got me thinking.

If someone did actually have the phobia known as Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, which is the fear of long words, what do you think would happen when they were told of their condidtion for the first time? Chaos, that's what. I'd hate to be that doctor, "Oh no, not another case of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Nurse, get security on the line please."

This is why I need to be gainfully employed, these weekends have too much time for my constantly sprinting brain.....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:06 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Thursday, September 30, 2004

"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there."

Wow, that is pretty much it. Quote by Henry Miller.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:20 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


A wonderfully accurate quote: "When people ask why this election is so close, I can't explain it. It's like trying to figure out how Billy Ray Cyrus sold 10 million records."~~ Jeff Tweedy of the group 'Wilco'

It is all about the number 20.

That is how I'm living my life over here, based around the number 20. Specifically, the 20th day of every month. This is my main psychological over-the-hump date, as every 20th of the month is the end of my month. I know you are confused.

You see, I left on the 20th of August. Megan is landing in London on the 20th of January. I will be on a plane home to Canada absolutely no later than June 20th. It is all about the 20th day of every month.

On October 5, I will be at the halfway point of month two. This is easier than waiting until October 15, and I do think (obviously too much) that this is a better, more accurate way of counting down my time here. Plus it is a minor victory just with the passing of the actual 'real' month, so it kinda is like two wins for the price of one.

With regards to the homesickness, as always, it comes and goes, depending on how busy I am. I do want to give a shout out to Cadrin, who I don't think got enough praise for his solo trip to Africa for school/travel. Accolades for him, it took more guts than I first imagined.

I now have internet in my apartment, although it is not as reliable as anything in Canada, nor as cheap. But we have a quasi-legal router set up to offset the cost and so far it has been working fine. This means that I hopefully will not have to use the smoky internet cafe too many more times. But as always, we shall see, for electronic stability in this land are far from a sure thing. I'm going to buy access to the rest of the major league baseball season, so I can watch games on my laptop. Go BoSox! Boo Yankees! Little things, like CKUA on the internet, make things better.

That's all for today, hopefully the blog can return to its pre-travel status of regularity now that internet is more accessible. I miss you all, but I miss Megan most of all.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:20 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The lazy Dog Monday

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 12:52 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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The rather tiny kitchen. Note bug killer on top of fridge.

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The living room. The TV is strictly ornamental.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 12:51 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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View from apartment, looking onto the Persian Gulf

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 12:50 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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The origin of Dog Monday's name....

"There ­the train was coming­, mother was holding Jem's hand, ­Dog Monday was licking it­everybody was saying good-bye­. The train was in! Jem kissed Faith before everybody. ­Old Mrs. Drew whooped hysterically, ­the men, led by Kenneth, cheered­Rilla felt Jem seize her hand­"Good-bye, Spider." Somebody kissed her cheek, ­she believed it was Jerry but never was sure­they were off­, the train was pulling out­ and Jem and Jerry were waving to everybody.­ Everybody was waving back, ­mother and Nan were smiling still, but as if they had just forgotten to take the smile off­.

Monday was howling dismally and being forcibly restrained by the Methodist minister from tearing after the train. ­Susan was waving her best bonnet and hurrahing like a man­. Had she gone crazy? The train rounded a curve. They had gone. Rilla came to herself with a gasp. There was a sudden quiet. Nothing to do now but to go home ­and wait.

Nobody missed Dog Monday at first. When they did Shirley went back for him. She found Dog Monday curled up in one of the shipping-sheds near the station and tried to coax him home. Dog Monday would not move. He wagged his tail to show he had no hard feelings but no blandishments availed to budge him. "Guess Monday has made up his mind to wait there till Jem comes back," said Shirley, trying to laugh as she rejoined the rest. This was exactly what Dog Monday had done. His dear master had gone­ and he, Monday, had been deliberately and of malice aforethought prevented from going with him by a demon disguised in the garb of a Methodist minister. Wherefore, he, Monday, would wait there until the smoking, snorting monster, which had carried his hero off, carried him back.

Ay, wait there, little faithful dog with the soft, wistful, puzzled eyes. But it will be many a long bitter day before your boyish comrade comes back to you. "

From Lucy Maude Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside.

And, if my wonky memory serves me right, Dog Monday waited for four years at the train station, growning older and more grey, living off the kindness of people who recognized this dog as a loyal one. And yes, fair reader, Jem did return from WW2 and Dog Monday moved with such speed and happiness that Jem was knocked back by his loyal dog. And I thought to myself, that is the best dog in the world. And so, my dog became Dog Monday. And now you know the rest of the story.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 11:35 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

And another week in the Middle East draws to a close. I got paid this week, my first paycheck as a professional. It was rather nice to receive, glad to know I was not working pro bono for the last 4 weeks. It makes the stresses of moving halfway around the planet a little more tolerable.

Today, on account of getting paid, was haircut day. There are two places nearby, both of which charge 2.5 KD per cut, about 11Cdn. And my final conclusion is this. Very few experiences in life are as uncertain as getting a haircut from a guy whose English language skills are, shall we say, rather limited. I am sitting in the chair as he buzzes around me, watching as carefully as I can without my glasses on. Had he made a mistake, shaved a stripe down the center of my head, I wouldn't have been able to do anything about the lost hair. But I felt better anyway, watching him like an old, sight-impaired hawk.

On top of my vulnerability to a bad haircut, there is this thought running through my head that makes me hate George Bush. A thought crosses my mind that if this old gentleman wanted to stick his scissors in my throat, some kind of Muslim vs. Westerner thing, I am pretty much at his mercy. Of course, this is about as likely as Monday cooking dinner for me when I get home, but the thought does flash across my mind. Doesn't get any better when he pulls out the old straight razor, and without asking, proceeds to shave my scruffy face. I appreciated it afterward, but I get nervous when someone has a razor pressed against my throat.

He asks, in broken English, if I want gel in my hair. I say no thanks, shaking my head side to side. He proceeds to grab a huge handful of gel and rub it into my shorn scalp. There is obviously more gel then hair, and he steps back to look at this situation. A look of puzzlement comes over his face, as if he thought a pound of gel would just disappear into my hair. He tries to hide it, but in the end, it ends up drying into a cement-like fortress on my head. I guess this concludes my haircut, as he moseys over to the cash register. Eh, if this is the worst that happens to me today after my 2-week string of bad luck, whatever, I can deal with it.

But he did a good job, my usual short style. No problems and I am feeling fine. So all is well that ends well. I tipped him, hoping that he remembers me next time. Probably not, all us whites look the same, I would imagine. But he seemed happy.

So the weekend is around the corner. Feeling healthier so I am going to hit the beach two times and chill. My grade nines were good today, no chaos, so perhaps I am winning them over. No, I lie. I am just burying them in work, but it seems to keep them from chattering too much. But when I see them again, it will be October, and that is a psychological checkmark for me.

Kudos for Jeff, my little goof brother, who managed to get himself another job, the previous one having not worked out. This one sounds professional, which leads me to think he lied a lot in the interview.

As well, best wishes to my cousin Shawn and his fiance Celina, as they are set to walk down the aisle this Saturday. Congrats to all. Dale, behave yourself.

Hope this finds you well. Monday says hi to you all. At least I think so, we are still working through the Arabic-English translation barrier. Apparently when I tell her to sit, this translates as "I order you to lick your crotch. Furiously." But we are getting there. Anyway, out for now, until later.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:27 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


The Devil, ladies and gentlemen, is always in the details

In Kuwait,

- Pop bottles hold 2.25 L, not the standard North American 2L
- You can buy long life milk which, if left unopened, can last for up to 3 months
- Keys are required to get into and out of apartments, as there is no deadbolt system, only keyholes to lock the door from either side. Subsequently, we always leave a key in the keyhole at night to allow for quick exits in case of emergency.
- Keys and locks for my closet doors
- Keys to my classroom are a nice way of making me feel professional. They do not, however, work.
- Toilets need a minimum two flushes before actually doing anything. Four to five flushes is the norm.
- Cold water showers do not exist, on account of the outside temperature
- My apartment has a variety of electrical outlet styles, of which my converter, which has ceased to function correctly, only fits one.
- Couches, no matter where you go, are about as forgiving as church pews.
- All floors are tiled and all walls are cement, including in my classroom, which makes for lovely echoes
- Cellular phones are called mobiles and scribblers are called notebooks. Failing to use the correct term results in blank stares and whispers about Canadian intelligence.
- One must only drink bottled water. Even the filtered stuff in my kitchen has a rather unsavory brown tinge to it. Dogs, however, do not care.
- In buildings, what is the first floor in Canada is deemed the zero floor here. An example. I live on the third floor of my apartment building, which when converted to Canada, means I am living on the fourth. As well, the basement in the school is not known as the basement, or B. Instead it is –1 floor. Hmmm.
- Motorcyclists never where helmets and in fact it is illegal for cops to chase them, after a son of one of the royals was killed in a high speed motorcycle chase with police. Logical hey?
- On Wednesday nights, which are the night before the weekend here, it is not uncommon to see quads or 4-wheelers, on the main roads.
- There are no parks whatsoever. None.
- While grocery shopping, one must weigh their fruit on a scale, punch in the correct 5 to 6 digit code, wait for the sticker to print, bag the fruit and apply the sticker to the outside. I have yet to do this successfully.
- If one buys 20 food products at the supermarket, one will receive 20 grocery bags in which to carry the products.
- People have roosters here. No shit, honest to god roosters, who crow at the crack of dawn. Except for the one that seems to live at the top of our apartment building. He is apparently inbred, and thus crows all day long. Marc wonders if it is because their is cock fighting.
- Liquor is smuggled into the country either by taping the bottles to ones leg, or by pouring the alcohol into 'bladders', which are apparently not noticeable when your bags go through the scanners.
- If one is caught smuggling liquor into the country, the liquor is confiscated, your name written down, and you are allowed to go. No idea what happens the second time. Also, before the first Gulf War, liquor was allowed, and many people are hoping the reigning prince dies soon, as it is expected that once he is gone, liquor will be permitted again.
- Construction on the roads is permanent, as according to returning teachers, many of the current projects near our apartments where well underway this time last year.
- Construction codes do not exist here. In fact (Al, you may like this) the scaffolding used to complete high-rise buildings is made out of wood and is re-used from job site to job site. I have also seen men welding without masks and cutting steel with sandals on.
- It costs 2KD, or approximately 9 Cdn to fill a Mitsubishi Lancer, a 4-cylinder car, from empty.
- Traffic fatalities average about 1.5 per day in the whole of Kuwait City, and never are reported.
- Riding the bus costs 150fils, about 50 cents Canadian, and requires one to flag down the bus, hop aboard while it is still moving, pay for ones ride, receive change from the driver, and sit down. Front seats are open, however, if a woman gets on, the man sitting in the front seat must move for her. As well, women and men are not allowed to sit together on the bus. Oh yeah, and you are always being watched.

More odd things to follow as I try to make sense of life in Kuwait. Until later, be kind to one another.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 2:15 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


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