Friday, August 31, 2007

Another week in the middle east

So, service over here sucks. I will give you a small hint of that. So, they requested my phone be installed in my villa about 4-5 weeks ago. Since you cannot get a phone without a residence permit, they ordered mine under a co-worker's name. I called everyday trying to see when my appointment was set up, to no avail. A little over 2 weeks ago, I got my residence permit...so I went to the phone company cancelled my co worker's request and put my own in. (That will actually help out when it comes to bill time.) So, that evening I was called about an installation date and time. Awesome. Except that it was for Aug. 30, 2 weeks away. So I have been doing what I can to get everything else ready, its just a matter of moving in and saying...crap! I forgot a can opener! (I didn't forget that, thanks to a good friend) Anyway, the guy showed up yesterday and played with my phone for about 10 minutes, he went out to the main junction box and came back. Told me that there was a problem outside and that hopefully someone would be by to fix it Saturday...just to make sure I answer my cell phone on Sat.
The major problem with this is that Q-tel, in it's infinite wisdom, will only set up one thing at a time. You have to order phone service, get it installed, and after they come and set up your phone...you have to order Internet, they have to come back...blah, blah, blah.... So it will be another week or so past Saturday before I get my Internet installed. Bastards.
(Switch cameras...Carrie will Laugh)
In other news, my satellite got installed this morning as well. So now I have a decent amount of channels to watch. I am going to go through and block out the ones that are in Arabic. That will make my channel surfing much easier.

Well, in work news, my medical director who I have actually been talking with and in correspondence with since May arrived yesterday. I have not met him yet, but I am anxious to as he has been very helpful so far. We have actually worked jointly on some reports and presentations and have never met. The technological age is amazing.

Oh...and we have made some progress at work. I have some of the supervisors documenting the actions and positive and negative outcomes of some of their site visits. One of the supervisors even took his own time to update/create a new spot inspection form. How awesome is that? It has all the information you would want on the form, including date, time, location, positive or negative comments area, actions, etc. It even has a place for BOTH crew members to sign as well as the supervisor. It is very exciting to get them off their feet and get them running.

I told you about the staff (dis)satisfaction survey a few posts ago...but in expanding that idea I have created a EMS Workgroup. I have pulled field level staff from all walks of life to join a committee to discuss issues facing the department. We are going to meet once a month and talk about anything and everything. I am going to try and have one topic a day to actually talk about along with an agenda, but the more they talk the more issues we get out. They feel very comfortable around me and I hope that continues. I have pulled an Emergency EMT, Paramedic, and Paramedic II, Communications Officer, Communications Supervisor, Field Supervisor, Mechanic, Quality Staff, Store Staff, Aeromedical, Transport EMT, and office staff. I have asked that the department heads nominate someone to do this that is open and will discuss issues. I think this will be a good thing.

The last thing, I finally went to the Distribution company here in Qatar. Not a bad selection for a dry country. Anyway, I have been warned by numerous people to get as much as you can now, as Ramadan everything shuts down. No liquor is sold anywhere in the country. So, going on the philosophy of "It is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it" I did a pretty good first pass at the store. Good thing they have buggies. I am going to go back soon and get a few things I missed. Some of it seems excessive, but there is alot of 'parties' during Ramadan and people hang out together alot, so if anything happens in our neighborhood or people stop by I want to have a little selection. Also, I am going to be here another 10 months, so what we don't drink in Sept and Oct, I am sure we will get rid of soon. Heck Mom, Dad, and Sis are coming...so I will probably be back once Ramadan is over!

I will talk to you later...
Cheers

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Living Room / Dining Room Update

The new living room. Notice the color scheme...would you expect anything less from me? I hope whoever moves into this place when I move out hates Blue.
The view from the steps.

The dining room. You know, I don't care too much about furniture...only that it has function. However, I thought this square 8 seater dining room table was something cool and different, plus if you don't like it...I don't really care!

Another view of the living room.

This is looking into the dining area from behind the other couch. The entertainment center is on my right.

Later

A very important message from India!

video

So, I have been teaching our driver some very important words during my time with him. Before he took me to get a car I wanted to get video evidence of his progress, since I won't be seeing him much anymore. Enjoy!

Updated Villa Office Pics




It is still a work in progress, but it will work. Why not have a nice office if Pitts burgh is paying for it and I have the extra bedrooms? In case you are wondering Cam, the curtains are green because the marble floor is green, not because I wanted to support Huntington High School.

Updated Bedroom Villa Pics

So here are some updated Villa Pics I am going to add them as the rooms look now. There will be continuing improvements. Notice my bedrom is now yellow and not pink anymore. Springer thought my office was the Alumi Center...what is this going to be?



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Proof of Work

So, there has been so much about me and my downtime...I thought I should put something on here that actually shows I am working. This is a group of EMTs, Paramedic I's, Paramedic II's, and supervisors. We were discussing the staff satisfaction survey. Wow...you thought MHS had problems. I found out today that HMC also got the Hay group (same group as MHS) to 'look over' their salary structure. They implemented their recommendations, which included taking away about 8 months of overtime from these guy's salaries. To put it in layman's terms...They promoted some of these guys, and they kept doing the job. However, when they finally got their raise 8-10 months later...payroll said that they were no longer entitled to the overtime they had worked since their promotion. So, payroll has been deducting the equivalent of $50-$200 US a pay from these guys to take the money back. So, just like home...one department screws up and by no fault of the employee, they get screwed. Sound familiar? (These guys did not know they were being promoted to 'exempt' positions at the time of their promotion.) Anyway...here is one of the work groups. I spend a lot of time in this conference room. Oh, by the way, this is the best picture out the group we took. We were supposed to look like we were in a meeting, but all of the guys except for me and John (Our Pittsburgh QI guy) looked at the camera.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Car

So, I got a new car. It's a Skoda...whatever that is...I don't even know what model. 5 Speed, small ass engine, and a tape deck...whatever. It was the cheapest they had....enjoy!






This was the other reason I went back outside to take pictures of my car. I don't have a dream SUV (mine is a truck), but this one surely ranks... Notice the Color...




Now look at the kick ass interior! I would love to have this one while I was over here....or even if I was home...oh well....



Cheers!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day at MY office...

So, our group meeting was cancelled at 1:00 and since I have a TON of computer work to do I stayed at the Ritz instead of going to the office. That sounds like a great idea at the time, but I have been on my computer since 7:00am and I just looked up and it 10:30. However, I do think I am getting a lot of work done.

Anyway, I have never been here when the cleaners were cleaning. I have always (6 weeks worth) either not been in my room or had the privacy sign up. Plus sometimes I get home and the turn down service has already happened, so I didn't even get to see the room since it was cleaned. Sorry, I digress....

This was something to watch. These 2 guys, only one of which could speak decent English put on a heck of a show. Unlike a cart that you see so much of in the US, these guys each carry a big basket and pull the vacuum behind them. They asked if it was OK for them to clean around me and told me numerous times not to move, but I had to get out of their way...it was too cool.
They were in the bathroom about 8-10 minutes. They pick up everything on the counter, wipe off the bottles (like of my shaving cream and deodorant), the mirrors, clean the shower and the toilet. They place all of my counter items in a row, they replace caps, etc. Then they hand clean the floor. Afterwards, they come out to the bedroom. The choreography of making the bed was something to behold. These guys could be in the Marine Silent Drill Team. They did the entire room and said about 6 words to each other. They actually pull the bed out from the wall, unfold the sheet on it and then bunch it up again. Then the one guy lift the sheet and spreads it out, as it comes down they grab it and you hear lots of pulling, tucking, etc. In about 15 seconds the sheet is on the bed fitted with hospital corners. Then the duvet (i don't know about spelling) is stripped and without dropping it totally on the ground, they put the new one on it with a very interesting 'snake' type motion. The cover is put into place, ends are lined up and tucked. This entire process maybe takes 2 minutes. Very impressive. Oh, and that includes 4 pillow changes as well.

Then one guy goes outside, dusts and sweeps the entire deck. He then cleans the outside of the windows (are you kidding me?) and uses a spray bottle of water to clean the chairs AND floor OUTSIDE by hand! The other guy basically lifts EVERYTHING up and cleans inside. When one is done outside they both just do everything to work together and get it done. They picked up all my books, computer, papers, etc. and cleaned then put them back in exactly the same place. They cleaned lamps, pictures on the wall and on my desk, phones, trashcans (yes they wipe the inside and outside of them...very few trash bags at the Ritz) nightstands, tables, etc. Everything you can think of. They even moved the TV, cleaned it and cleaned under it. This was followed by a quick vacuum and they were gone. Keep in mind these guys did it in a very professional, showmanship type way. I don't think they were trying to, but it sure looked good. I think they just work really well together like a good EMT/Medic team. They did all of this in less than 20 minutes. VERY impressive.

Just thought you would like to know. Later! Gotta get back to work!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hot as Hell!



So...the middle east is freaking hot. I know you in the states are having a 'heat wave'...blah, blah, blah. It is very easy to see why so many people leave this country in July and August (the middle east for that matter). I hear that starting in September, the traffic is bad for a few weeks until everyone gets back and settled in (ahhh...just like the students). Anyway, other than work not much has been going on. We did have another party, but I will get to that in a bit.


I really have more respect for educators when you have to walk in their shoes. I am in the process of designing a course from scratch, and its a pain. I want to develop a good course, plus I want them to be able to take what we learn from it and be able to offer it every year. So I have to walk a fine line. Add in there that English is most of these people's second language, the cultural issues of many different countries, plus being in a Muslim state of mind...it is very difficult. However, I do like the challenge. I will gain so much when I get this completed. Then, at my next job, I will make SURE they hire an educator.


I have been working on the villa. I spend a few hours a couple of days each week over there, cleaning, putting stuff away, organizing (me...really?), etc. I did my room painted yellow to go over the pink that was in there, I thought I picked a more light shade of yellow...but it is in your face yellow. So, of course I had to get Navy Blue curtains. I think it looks awesome...however I get a lot of "Wow, that's yellow...." When I show it off to friends and co-workers. I don't care. I think it rocks. I did get curtains in the whole place. Navy blue in 3 rooms, Green in 2, and Red in the other, plus I put blinds up in the kitchen. I was only going to get window length curtains, but others that got floor length talked me into doing the same thing. I am glad they did because in a total concrete building, you need all the sound dampening you can get. I will include pictures as soon as I get moved in and get some more stuff on the walls. I did go buy a 32" flat screen TV along with a surround sound system that kicks ass. It was about $2000 for both, but Pittsburgh is paying for it and I have to use the money or give it back. They should have thought about that before giving so much money to someone that only needs to furnish a couple of rooms. Plus, whoever moves in after me will love me!


This past weekend we had another party, this time however it was at our place. Le Majestic Gardens. I did not get many pictures, so I will include what I have. If I get some more sent to me, I will put them on here as well. It was again a pot luck affair, we had karaoke, a singer, and plenty of beverages. My ETOH connection (I can't buy it until I get my liquor card) went to the store. Jack Daniels was on sale so she got me 2 bottles instead of 1...I loved her at beginning of the party and hated her on Friday. Actually, the entire Pittsburgh staff was not heard from Friday. I think with the heat plus the large amounts of drinking...everyone was just so dehydrated...it kicked all of our asses. Once again, it was a good time.


One last thing...I think I told everyone that I am now a Qatari resident with a residency card...now I get to one up that even more. I now have in my possession a Qatari driver's license. So, now I get to join the madness on the roads. I am probably going to get a car this week as sharing a driver and dealing with his schedule and everyone else's schedule gets old. Actually, you know I might be getting a little tired of the Ritz. Camped in the same room, same food every 7 days, kinda out here in no where, etc. I am sure I will miss it when I am gone, but every once in a while it is nice to have some more rooms than just one. Well, I guess drinks are free on 23...so wait, I LOVE THE RITZ. Just kidding. It has been a great experience. Who else can tell everyone that they lived someplace like this for 2 months?


Anyway, I digress. Here is some pictures from the party.



We were having some issues with everyone looking at the right camera.

In the back its Nurse Carol, April (A guy's name in Indonesia) from 23, Nurse Bruce, Some random person I have never met. I think she or her boyfriend work at the Ritz as well...

Beside me is Levy from the Philippines, and Robert from Indonesia. Both of them work on 23.

Carol, me, Rachel (From Mauritius), and Loid (Ethiopia)

Both of them work at the Ritz. Rachel in Guest Relations and Loid at the Pool and 23.

As you can tell, we think the staff from the Ritz enjoy hanging out with the Pittsburgh crowd. They now call us when they go out and vice versa. I think they will gladly come to more Pittsburgh parties.

So, that is all I have, but when I get the others sent to me I will add more. I will talk to you later! Cheers!

Monday, August 13, 2007

So much like home...better even?

So, in the last week on Dubai Radio (in English) I have heard Sweet Home Alabama AND The Ballad of Curtis Lowe. Who says the Middle East doesn't know good music?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ok...

So I know I already put it on here and something happened to it. I was working the field the other day, and it turned out to be a bad day in Qatar. A court case did not turn out how the families wanted it, so a couple people ended up stabbed (thobes with blood are really interesting). Then across town, another family member ended up shot. I was on both calls and it was wild. The guys need a little help in the back of the ambulance, but in defense of them, they don't see this kind of stuff much.

Anyway, while we were on the stabbing, Mansour (the guy I am working with) and I grabbed the elevator and were heading down with all of the equipment. As the doors were shutting, I heard a loud pop and saw the doors were not all the way closed and actually they were off their track. Now, we were in a elevator that 6 people would barely fit in, so it was tight. It was hot as hell (you know, the middle east) and their civil defense (fire department) is not as highly skilled nor motivated as some volunteer departments in Mon County. Anyway, we figured out after about 10 minutes, that if we held the doors together AND held the button we would move. So we got to the basement and I forced the doors open. I barely fit out of the doors. The guy I was with was like.."this isn't our floor" I was like..."Yeah, and I am going to take the stairs." So he reluctantly handed the equipment out to me and we headed to the steps. We were only in the basement and had to go up 1 floor.

So, I have been busy as hell. I have missed the gym about 2 of the last 6 nights and it really sucks. However, I am getting things situated in my house. I got a 32" flatscreen along with surround sound hooked up today. So now I can play music while I am getting things working. I put together my Vacuum, Iron and Ironing board, a new phone for the house, plus started unpacking all of my kitchenwares and such before my driver came to get me. I hope to do a little bit each day so I can move in as soon as my internet is available.

I hate to be very short, but I have a bunch of crap to type for work....so I don't feel like typing all evening. Don't worry, you are not missing anything exciting. Anyway, Talk to you soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Someone help me...

Did I not put a post on here about the stabbings and gunshots? I was looking back and didnt see them....

I think I lost a post somehow...

Let me know if you know what I am talking about...

Friday, August 3, 2007

2 more things...

So I am cranking these out today...I forgot to add a couple more things.

1. I am thinking about taking some tennis lessons this weekend at the Ritz. Its not too expensive, it would be a good learning experience, it would take the place of my workout for that day, and maybe one day I can beat Reshae and/or Cam at tennis. I doubt that very seriously, however.

2. Also, I know I haven't really told anyone, but I am seriously considering going back to school after this whole thing is over. I am very interested in getting my PhD. Since Donnie and Jarod are Doctors now, I guess I need to complete the trifecta and keep the 'second generation' gang going. Actually, I have been thinking about this for a long time and after living abroad...I am thinking about making it a reality. Dr. S from Pittsburgh is trying to get me to come do my PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with emphasis in Emergency Medical Services. I am so interested in Management theory and it practices and procedures, that I think I might go that way. There has been very little study on Emergency Medical Services Organizational Behavior. Now with that idea let me tell you what I am thinking. I am seriously considering shooting for the top if I do this. I might apply to Harvard, Kellogg School of Management, Cornell, maybe Oxford, and one of my favorites the University of Vienna in Austria (most of the classes are taught in English, and I can do my Dissertation in English). I know that telling this to Mom and Dad might give them chest pains, but who wouldn't want to come visit me in Europe? So this is in no way set in stone and I have a year before me before I can plan my future, but its an idea that is gaining a lot of speed with me. Just wanted to put that out there...

I am going to chill and finish my book now...You all should read it.."Ghost Soldiers" It is about one of the greatest rescues in WWII history. A group of rangers needed to liberate a POW camp with leftovers from the Bataan Death March before the advancing US troops got there. This was because the Japanese plan was to kill all the POWs before retreating...Great book....

Lebanese Restaurant Photo


Just got this in my email, thought I would pass it along. It was from the Leabanese restaurant from last week. You have me, Heidi, Mandy, Sara, and Dr. Greg. Their baby, Taylor is right behind sara, you can see her foot. The hardest part of this place was eating on the floor, very difficult for big guys like me. Food was wonderful, however. Enjoy!



One more week of catch up....

So, this is probably going to turn into a weekly column, because it is difficult for me to sit down and write in the evenings, especially if I have been on a computer for some of the day. Anyway, did have a few stories this week and I will try to portray them the best possible.

So, the big story of the week is how small a world it really is. I was walking to another supervisor's office at EMS and one of the Philippine EMTs stopped me and said "Mr. Forest, are you from West Virginia?" (They all know my name, I really only know the supervisors and department head names. I don't work primary with the staff, mainly just the management so it is unrealistic that I will remember or even learn everyones name.) "Yes I am" I replied. He said "Well I lived in Logan County for about 4 years with my Uncle." "You have got to be kidding me.." my response. Turns out his Uncle is a dentist or doctor of some kind in Charleston, and they lived in Logan. He lived with them for a few years. So we talked a bit and then when on our ways. What are the odds of running into a Philippine in Qatar that lived in LOGAN COUNTY, West Virginia? Pretty low, I think.

So, the week started off somewhat on a high note (at least with work, anyway). I got to work Sunday and was doing my normal rounds and beginning of the week stuff. We have a senior department head meeting at 9:00 every Sunday. The secretary told me that the director just called in and cancelled the meeting. The assistant director was out of the country for a few days, so I guess she thought that with no direction the meeting could not go on. After the secretary had sent out an email and called everyone, I told her to re-call everyone and tell them the meeting was still on. What a great opportunity to really see what is happening. So when everyone showed up, I talked to them about having ownership in their organization. A meeting of this magnitude does not have to have a director to be productive. I told them that they know the issues and they know what is going on, for them to communicate and discuss. If they need an agenda, they can use last weeks minutes and check on action items. I told them that anyone in this meeting could run it without a problem, and that we would be doing that very soon! I got to also talk about some leadership issues, communication issues, setting the example, etc. I also got them to open up about some things that they would not normally talk about to management. You see, they view me as a 'safe' person so they feel like they can talk, which is a good thing. I got a lot of good information, and we really started to get them thinking.

Since the morning went so well, you can figure that something would go wrong in the evening. I called our driver to take me to a hardware store and then the villa, so I could install some brushes under my door to keep sand out. Well Dr. J, Ms. D, and Dr. A, all wanted to go as well, but had other stops. I wanted to get a Ritz car and go by myself, but the insisted I go with them. So before our driver was supposed to be there, I went to the bank in the hotel to get my check cashed from the hospital for furniture. This was the 2nd time I had my check, as someone else tried to do it earlier and we had to take it back to the hospital because of a missing signature. So tonight, everything was still good to go. I headed to the bank, and because they didn't sign in the right place, they could not cash the check. I had to take my check back to the hospital one more time. So that started everything else off great! Our driver was uncharacteristically late by almost an hour. (He is usually 5-10 min early). So there is whammy 2. So then, traffic is usually worse here in the evenings so it took us a while to find the shop that Dr. J and Ms. D wanted to go to. We finally found that, and then headed to a hardware store so I could grab a hacksaw. I was in there about 5 minutes and we were on our way again. Dr. A wanted to get a haircut and massage, so we were going to drop him off on the way to the villa. Except, he liked this place 'a few roads over' which ended up being a good ways over. On the way back to the villa I realized it was 9:00. I had been driving around for 2.5 hours. I was in no mood to start installing things. So I got my driver to take me back to the Ritz...and that was the end to a greatly wasted evening.
(I was able to get my check cashed the next day after one more trip to the Finance department...thank goodness)

So, apparently it is against the rules to work at the Ritz and also have outside employment. However, some eager young Indonesians and Filipinos have latched on to the UPMC crowd and have started a side business. The cleaning staff here have worked with us to give all of us at the villa a weekly cleaning crew. 3-4 of them stop by a week and clean for an hour or so and go to everyone's place. It only costs about 20-25 US dollars a week , so why not. Being the employees they are, they do an excellent job. Actually, I have not been to my place yet, but they were there last night giving it a deep cleaning. Wiping down all the walls, cabinets, bathrooms, etc for the first time. I have seen some of their other work and have been impressed. It doesn't cost us much and it is one less thing to worry about...so I will probably keep doing that...

So, as you saw before I got my check from the hospital and I also got my allowance from Pittsburgh. So I have started furniture shopping. I have so far got a dining room table, Couch with 2 love seats (That is how they come here...either that or a couch, love seat, and 2 chairs), and a bedroom suit. I think I found a desk, and I have to keep looking for a entertainment center. Plus I need a TV, along with some carpets, kitchen stuff, etc. All kinds of shopping left. Those of you that are worried, don't be. I am doing a very tasteful blue and gold theme.

That sparks another tirate for me. I am not trying to be distasteful, and I hate people had to die. However, I knew it was coming and it got here today. Today on Sportscenter they started talking about how difficult it was to get back to football practice for the Hokies, and how all of their games are going to be played with all this emotion. This is like the Saints after the Hurricane. There is only so much I can hear about this. I am sorry people died, I do not nor ever will like the Hokies and I hope they have a 0-12 season. I hope that every year, not just this year, so for me it is status quo. I just hope that this reporting will go away sometime, however I think that is unlikely.

So, to end on a good note. Yesterday I was having breakfast and the GM asked if he could join me. We talked about numerous things including college football. He is French, and does the head bob and shake when he talks, but he lived in the states for many years and is a big college football fan. (although it is USC, it was still good to get that out) Anyway, he told me that he had a rough day planned and that he would be up late and then be up really early this morning. Apparently some corporate big timers for the Ritz were coming to visit. So I told him good luck and went about my day. So, this morning I get up and on the club lounge level we really don't have to look great to watch any Muslim customs. So I rolled up for breakfast this morning in shorts, sandals, and my HAIL WEST VIRGINIA t-shirt with a huge flying WV on the back. As I got off the elevator and was walking around the corner I met the GM followed by 10-12 guys in suits taking notes and looking in every freaking corner. So much for trying to help him out. I just used my Yes sirs, and no sirs...and tried to go hide in a corner until they were gone. (Not that they would say anything to our about a guest, but I like to be a team player.) You could tell that someone was coming this week, as the usually perfectly cleaned hotel was really getting a cleaning. They had new flowers everywhere, more food on the buffet this morning, carpets were getting shampooed. etc. All that fun stuff.

Anyway, I am getting tired of typing. I am going to work out and then I am supposed to go shopping with Nurse C tonight. Hopefully I can find an entertainment center and start checking off some of the other stuff. We will see...

Talk to you soon!