Sunday, September 30, 2007
This is my street in our villa. There are only 2, and they run parallel. My place is between the 3rd and 4th streetlight on the right. The places on the Left are 4 bedroom and mine and the rest on the right are 3 bedroom.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This picture comes out fine on my computer but I cannot get it to upload. This is the whirling guy. That is a huge piece of cloth he is spinning above his head. Really Cool. I will try again. Maybe someone else got a pic.
Mitch, Sarah, Carol, John and Connie. (John is Scottish, I love to sit and talk to him. ) The last time we talked I was talking about staying up late to watch the game. He leaned over and asked, "You Americans, Why do you call it football? Only one guy is allowed to kick it" Good point.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Anyway, we went to the Ritz last night for the Iftar dinner. They had every type of food, hot and cold, drinks (non-alcoholic), seesha, music, dancing, etc. The food was from Morocco, India, Arabia, Lebanon, Italy, etc, etc, too much to mention. I felt like it was thanksgiving dinner you are so full you just want to lay down. It was crazy. They even has a Whirling Derbish? If that is what he is called (I was told..so if I am wrong, sorry) This guy spins in a really heavy dress for about 15-20 minutes. I would be throwing up in a minute, but he does that and keeps going. I think he would win the game where you spin around bat then swing and try to go to first.
Anyway, I will tell you more later, but I need to get to bed. Here are some pictures from last night.
Ok the pictures are not loading and I need to get to bed...so stay tuned folks!
Friday, September 14, 2007
The rest of this is going to be a collection of thoughts from the last week or so. First of all, The Steelers were on here last Sunday. How awesome is that? (The TV station also likes to rerun games a lot, so actually I have seen it on the TV guide about 5 times this week) However, we did get to watch the Steeler game on Sunday night and it was live. I really enjoyed that. I took some pictures; if they are OK I will post them.
I am now 100% in my villa. I have TV, Phone, and Internet. Everything is working, although some things leak…but they are working on getting all of them fixed. The only non-human visitors I have had are a few ants by the front door. A weekly spray keeps that at bay…and I found a Gecko looking lizard upstairs on the wall. I am careful with the wildlife over here, as I don’t know what is poisonous…but he didn’t look it. They are fast…really tough to catch. I caught him and took him down to our green area. Luckily, he didn’t ask me about insurance so I avoided that awkward situation. (Insert laugh here)
Thanks to my buddy Dan Ward…he got my sling box up and running. So I do not have to worry about bothering my boss’s TV…I can just watch my own. Plus I got the box that has the basic cable option, so I can watch what I want and the people in Morgantown can watch what they want. With my boss’s box it is not like that…I have to watch what he is and vice versa. This is a great technology…especially during football season. The only down fall is the prime time game like Maryland last night. I went to bed around 11:00, had every alarm in my house set for about 2:20am…kickoff was at 2:30 and I went back to bed about 6:00am. That is painful, but I am dedicated so I would expect nothing less.
I have been frequenting our Gym and Pool at the compound. Not elaborate, but OK. I need to get some pictures of it for you. The Gym is a little small, but it has Nautilus, free weights, a few benches, a treadmill, bike, elliptical, and a rower. Enough to keep me content for an hour or so a day. The pool is really nice, especially since they have the chiller on now. When it is not on, the pool is way too hot. Unlike other more strict places, this does feel like home. We can access the pool 24 hours. Bruce called me the other night (like 9-10ish) and we decided to go for a swim. It was really refreshing and surprisingly security does not care. That is difficult to find anywhere in the states. We should have 24 hour access if we want…I mean, we live here. Of course, in true WV style I showed up with some beverages…
Work wise, Chaker (pronounced Shocker) is back from leave. He is the guy that I share an office with and I am supposed to be training the most. He is a smart level headed guy; I think we will do well. I worked with him for a few weeks before he left, so transitioning back to working together was easy. However, in another cultural experience for me when he first came in the office after being off 6 weeks I got the traditional Arab greeting. I got the hand shake followed by a kiss on each cheek (you see this on TV a lot). I see this all the time…but that was my first involvement in it. Definitely a stretch for a boy from the backwoods of West Virginia. Anyway, since he is back we had a bunch of things to do. We needed to go to Ras Laffan, which is a HUGE industrial city in the northern portion of the country. The actual ‘city’ is a bunch of different companies and their labor forces. Plus everyone is building. Jarod, Taylor, Ray, Chad, Cooper, Banes, etc. would have loved it up there. There were pipes and chemical plants being built EVERYWHERE. It is the largest industrial construction project in the world. You have to get though a main gate just to get on the property, and the property is probably close to the size of Washington, D.C. We had some meetings with some stakeholders, as the companies like to have ambulances on site and we provide that for them for a cost. We also staff an ambulance at the labor camps medical center. These camps are huge; they look like the camps you seen after Katrina. Long complexes that have rows and rows of temporary (trailers! Heck yeah) housing. These go on for miles. They have amenities, such as a communal shower that is located every so often. They also provide them with a pool and soccer fields. Each trailer has a light on top of it. In case of emergency you call for help and hit the button to activate your light. This makes it really easy for EMS to find you. What a really nice idea.
Anyway, our first meeting was cancelled which is a pain in the ass because we drove about an hour to get up there. We also had meetings at other places so I got a quick tour and then we went to them. Afterwards, we went to lunch at the employee cafeteria, which is nice. They had 2 lines with a very nice buffet of food. Breads, dessert, coolers full of soft drinks and juice, etc. They even have staff in traditional wait staff attire cleaning up after you and keeping the place flowing. I would say thanks to people like me driving a truck, but these were Natural Gas places. Afterwards we went to another company’s site and saw our ambulance guys. This location for the ambulances was a little more inside the grounds so they had to come pick us up. You are not allowed to take a gas powered vehicle onto these sites; everything is run by diesel power. Going into the EMS base, actually all the doors we went into were heavy…and there was always a foyer. I was told that all external doors and glass are blast rated. Since they work in the middle of a natural gas plant and true natural gas you cannot detect (the companies put the odor in it), that they have to be ready for an explosion at any time. That is stuff you do not think about. On the way home we stopped at the new Northern headquarters for EMS. It is still being built, but very nice. They have a nice administration, education, operations building, plenty of covered parking. They have a 4 bay mechanical workshop that is detached and they also have about the same size building as a store (supply) building that is also detached. It was a very nice place. I hope to have some pictures from that soon after the first of the year…they are supposed to be finished, but this is Qatar.
Also work related I got kind of mad this week. Actually I got really mad and I had to use some of my well perfected Mon Health System diplomacy skills. Basically, we are rolling out new protocols country wide. We need to get all staff through this training, however you can’t train in the summer because no one is here, you can’t train during Ramadan (I’ll explain in a minute) and this is a very ambitious project. The problem is that I scheduled my training a few weeks ago. I have a location, have instructors lined up, have dates, etc. My medical director comes in and basically trumps my whole educational plan. What’s the point of reserving educational space when they give it to someone else? Anyway, my guys are going to have to go through his training as well, so it is going to be a scheduling nightmare. If I still want 2 dedicated weeks to train, I would have to wait until about March. So now, I am basically going to triple my workload to compensate for this. I am going to start teaching classes 3 days a week every other week for a few hours on the same topic. The supervisors must attend one of the sessions; this works out better for them, but kind of defeats my ‘boot camp’ idea. So now instead of teaching the class once or twice, I get to teach it 3 times a week! Awesome… I am not bitter at all!
Ramadan is here. I am anxious to see it in its full glory. There are some awesome things going on around town. It makes the workday difficult. Muslims, who are fasting from daylight to dusk, work from 8am to 1pm…well they are at work during those times. “Work” is up for debate. If Muslims work past 1 o’clock they get overtime. If non-Muslims work past 1 o’clock they get regular time. (Overtime laws here start at 48 hours instead of 40) Stores and shops are closed during the day. Hours now are usually 8am-11am and 6-7pm to about 12-1am. Since Muslims can’t do much during the day, they do everything at night. It is different. However, I am excited to go try the Iftar feast, which is the meal they have to break their fast every day. The Ritz puts on a heck of a spread and they include music and other things. I heard it is a blast. There will be more on this soon.
Ok… I am tired of typing and I just realized that I have typed about 3 pages worth of stuff, so I am going to let it go for now. Cheers!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Anyway, I am out of the Ritz. I moved out officially on Friday the 7th. It was kinda sad. I have spent more time there than I did in Italy, at HCOP, almost anywhere except Morgantown. However, I do have a funny story to end my tenure at the Ritz. My second to last night I had just turned off my computer and was heading to bed. My Doorbell rang, which is odd, because if I am in the room, my Privacy sign is always out. (The service at the Ritz is a little too good, you never get to take a nap or anything without being bothered.) Anyway, I headed to the door and opened it up. There was a beautiful Filipino girl dressed pretty tellingly standing at my door. She said, "Mr. Jones?"... I of course was not prepared for such a visitor and before I think of something like "Well, have I already paid?" or "Maybe, I forgot the price, tell me again?" I said No. She got really red faced and said sorry and was down the hall before I got "No" out of my mouth. It was hilarious. Who calls someone for a "Girl Friend Experience" and then does not make sure they know the room? Oh well...
So, on checking out, I get copies of the bills to turn in, plus the amounts I have to pay. These figures are in US dollars. ( I converted for you, thank me later.) My bill was $109.77. That is pretty good staying at the Ritz for 3 months. It also highlights my cheapness. I always ate the free food, rarely put anything on my room, and tried to save as much money as possible. Now, on the other hand, Pittsburgh's bill came to $20,271.07 Keep in mind they get a discount. Just that figure alone tells me that I am very lucky to be here. Very few companies in the US would pay just for room and board for 2 months that much money. Plus, I can now say I lived in the Ritz for 2 months...who else can say that? Thanks Pittsburgh!
Anyway, since I am out I am sharing my neighbor's internet (he doesn't know)...but it is a very weak signal. My internet is supposed to be here on Tuesday, so then I can get back to normal operations. I tried using my V-phone tonight, but the signal is so weak it is not letting me make a call. So, email me for the next few days and I will get back to you when I can.
I will talk to you soon. Cheers!
Monday, September 3, 2007
The laundry guy got on the elevator today and asked where my laundry was at. He told me that I usually send stuff down on Mondays and they were wondering. Are you kidding? The laundry staff knows when I send stuff down? I don't even know that...I just send it down when I have a pile.
Watching WVU football (or not watching...in my case) in Qatar is not fun. I had a little too much fun and paid the next day. Do not be dehydrated in the Middle East...painful. I did have slingbox access, but they didn't have the WVU game on. Dang it.
Erin, my wonderful cousin, is a host on a college show at WMLU from 3-5 on sundays. I was talking to her and she gave me a shout out. How cool is that? They have a web cast, so I got to listen to it live. I loved it!
Last, the supervisors are making good progress. They are coming to me with problems and asking what to do. Awesome! I even had one supervisor from last night turn in a shift log (which I make them do) and it had positive comments for a crew on it! I told him to document the positive actions and turn back into me officially, so we can recognize them. I loved it.
This post is alot shorter than the previous one, but since the blog messed up and lost it, I was not in the mood to be as funny as I was in the last one. Sorry.
Lets Go Mountaineers!