Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Impromptu Pool Party

Carol and I were chatting on Friday and it was going to be such a nice evening we decided to see if anyone wanted to enjoy it with us. So we started calling all of the neighbors, plus some friends at the Ritz and other compounds for an impromptu pool party. We took my little boom box, a cooler, a few bags of chip and some dip to the pool and it actually turned out to be a blast. The weather was kick ass. We had about 13 people show up and hang out. The weather was so nice that no one was leaving. It was that fun. Well, needless to say I had to run home (luckily I live 50 yards away) to refill the cooler later in the evening. Some people had a really good time. We had a Yoga demonstration (that was hillarous), very insightful discussions on the election process, and driving tips for Doha. There were a few good shots, but I will give you the highlights:

Early evening before more showed up. Relaxing by the pool.

Much later in the evening. This is Carol and her Brother Dave in the pool. I am in the back of the pool (you can see my shadow). Most of the party at some time during the night took a swim, some vountary, others not. It was an absolute blast...funny, I didn't hear from anyone on Saturday. Must have been that cooler refill....Hmmmmm.....

It's getting hot...

It was about 98 degrees today, with projections of 102 by Wednesday. It is not even May yet. No worries, I am getting very excited about my upcoming trip to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna. Temps there are about at the Morgantownish level. It is going to be 11 days of beer, pork, and some good old fashioned sightseeing. Heck, I am even meeting up with My cousin Erin and Aunt Betty in Prague for a day or so. Good times! I will have plenty of stories and pictures for you when I get back.

So about a week before Jordan I went to a huge Industrial city north of Al Khor (which is about 35 miles north of Doha. This city is huge. It is restricted access. They have a gate just to get into the city. Numerous companies have Liquid Natural Gas plants up here. Very impressive. Anyway, one of the companies had a emergency responder day and we were invited. I thought it was just a meeting, so I was expecting an hour of BS and then head home. Wow, was I wrong. I was attending with out head of Northern Operations and he was running late so we got to the meeting a little after it started. Actually, we missed the Majalis food and drinks they had for us before they started.

We were wisked into this LARGE boardroom, with all kinds of people sitting around. The boardroom table probably seated 30 plus. It was in the shape of a flame (whats that tell you). So today was a "this is how we respond to case you have to assist us" "Let us show you all we have" They pulled out all the stops because some of the other LNG companies sent people. This board room was highly electonic..very fancy. They hit one button and the lights went down, floor lighting and house lights were all that was left. Fancy sound system. The works. Wow. After a DVD presentation, and 2 presentations by their CEO and Chief of Fire Safety, we went out for tea. They had a tea and soda room set up with a VERY large table of sweets and assorted foods. The guide told us to not eat too much and save room for lunch.

We headed to the lobby and outside where a full size charter bus was waiting to give us a plant tour. We were driven around the plant and shown all the nooks and crannies. (Jarod and all the PhD boys would have been in heaven) We were allowed to get off the bus at the command center which is a windowless building in the center of this plant. It is like a bunker and a vault all in one. You walk through safe like doors to get in...about 12-18 inches thick. Then through a foyer and another set of regular doors and finally to the command center behind a electrial key card access door. Walking inside it was a pretty impressive system. The consoles were probably 20-25 feet long with about 20 monitors, multiple computers and phones...with one operator. They had 4 of those plus a few extra guys sitting around. They can control every facet of the operation from this room. I found out that we are behind so much concrete and steel not because of security, but because of explosion potential. Since LNG is odorless when mined, then the scent is added, sometimes you do not know if you have a leak. So if the plant blows up, they want to still be able to control things. Good thinking.

After the tour we headed to the fire station. They had a pretty good set up for what they have. The guys were training when we got there (I am sure that was planned) and the station looked like any other fire station.

After the fire house we headed back to the administration building, where lunch was waiting on us. Keep in mind there might only be 20 of us. This lunch was HUGE! They had a wide selection of all the typical Arabic appetizers (hummous, baba ghanous, etc) plus different types of chicken, fish, shrimp, lamb, camel, plus a huge table of desserts. Probably enough to comfortably feet 50 people.

We had a good lunch. After some parting words by the fire chief we were all handed gift bags which included a golf shirt, a hat, pens, coffee mug, keychain, notebook, plus some propoganda. Very cool. It was a heck of an experience. I love getting tours like that I learn so much about processes and stuff.

Anyway, I would have pictures, but cameras are not allowed on site. Actually, no lighters, cameras, matches, etc. anything that could spark. Gas cars are not allowed past a certain point.

I will probably do one more post before I head to Europe! Talk to you soon!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jordan 4

I am going to give a quick rundown of the itinerary and then follow with a bunch of picture posts.

We worked early so we could leave early and not take a vacation day. We left for the airport about 1:00. A cheap flight was found so we connected in Bahrain. Luckily the Bahrain airport has tasty beverages. On the flight from Bahrain to Jordan I walked back to the bathroom. The vacant sign was on so I opened the door. Guess what I saw? An Abaya. Oh NO! Actually, thank god she was changing her kid and not doing anything. That would have been bad news.

Once arriving in Jordan and getting through customs, (which the x-ray guy was able to tell that I had a CPAP just on the visual inspection...pretty good!) We met a wildcat taxi driver who actually gave us a good rate to town. We rode with him into town. The Jordan Airport is outside of town about 20 minutes or so. Once we got to the hotel (which for some reason, they upgraded us to the executive floor), we scheduled our weekend with a driver. Not as cheap as a big bus tour, but not that much more expensive for side trips and “Hey, Stop! I wanna see that!” kind of stuff. Since we were up so early, bedtime came pretty easy.

This was our Petra Day. I really cannot explain it. It is now one of the 7 wonders of the world. You need to look it up online. Just amazing. We were paired with a driver by the name of Issac. He was Palestinian and he had a great command of English. He was very helpful, funny, and a great tour guide…also a very safe driver.

On the way to Petra (it’s about 3 hours outside of Amman) we stopped half way to get a drink and bathroom break. He offered to get us drinks so since I am not a coffee drinker, I ordered a diet coke and Carol got coffee. We were getting ready to leave and I noticed that Carol’s cup was still pretty full. I thought that was awkward, so I asked. She let me try her coffee without saying anything. WOW. That was the most bitter, strongest, worst tasting coffee I have ever had…and the guys at this place loved it. Ick.

We headed to Petra and paid 21 Jordan Dinars to get in. We paid the extra 50 Dinars for a private 4 hour tour. Mohammed (imagine that) was our guide. He was hilarious…he had been doing this or working at Petra for many, many years. He was very knowledgeable.

On the way back from Petra, we passed through many towns and I noticed something. Many stores had sheep tied up out in front of the stores on the way down. Now they have no sheep tied out front, just fresh meat ready for sale. Many times it was the whole thing, gutted, skinned, and ready for cooking. Really an amazing sight.

We headed back to Amman and luckily in Jordan you do not need a Liquor permit to buy alcohol. We stopped at a store and picked up some tasty beverages and soon after headed to a good restaurant (Houston’s) which actually turned out to be really good, even though it was some type of American chain. (I try to avoid them)
Friday we were up an out early. The breakfast buffet at the hotel we stayed at was awesome. If they had Pork…it would have probably been one of the best ever. Our driver was waiting on time and we headed for a full day. First stop was the Greek Orthodox Church in Madaba. This is where they found (through random chance) a mosaic on the floor showing an ancient map of biblical times. It actually was made sometime in the biblical era. Unfortunately for us, there was a service going on so we were unable to see it. We got back in the car and continued on. Next stop was the Church of the Virgin Mary. This is basically a working archeological site. They have built churches on top of churches here and they are continually finding things. They have found hundreds of mosaics in these sites that are just amazing.

Next stop was Mt. Nebo. I talked a little about this in my pictures, so check it out. It was really moving being up there. You can see so far and it just has a special feel.

After Mt. Nebo we headed to Bethany. On the way, we passed through a couple of checkpoints. Being so close to the Israel and Palestinian border, they try to keep people from causing too many problems. I got to see where they were digging the church up where John the Baptist worked. See the river where Jesus was baptized. Very cool.

Then we headed to the dead sea. What an experience. We paid a daily rate at the Movenpick and got pool and beach access. It is built like a traditional Arabic village.
Afterwards, we headed back to Amman to desalinate and hit the town for dinner.

Sat was an easy day. We were beat from so much touristy activities the last 2 days that we slept in. Then hit the buffet and since we only had a little time left we decided to get Massages before heading to the airport. At the airport, the flight was full so the ticket agent made me weigh my bag and it was over the limit. I pack small, but with my cpap and all it gets heavy. So I had to check my bag. I was so mad. Luckily, it made it to Doha.

What a great time in Jordan. It was a blast. I recommend anyone to check it out.

Jordan 3

The Dead Sea. This is a view from right in front of our chairs.

In case you didn't know, the Dead Sea is about 400 meters below sea level. How often are you going to be at sea level and still have 18 kilometers to go to the sea?

A graphic picture of what I was just telling you.
This is a viewing platform on the top of Mt. Nebo. Between the two trees on the left is the Dead Sea. It is hard to see in this picture, but you can see the other side of the dead sea, which is Israel. Over my left shoulder and up is Jericho, which of course is in Palestine. This is the view that God gave Moses of the Holy Land.

Although the water looks a little rough, it still was really neat being here. This is the Jordan River. This is very close to where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Due to flooding and natural events, the place where he was baptized is now about 200 meters to the west. They are currently excavating it and they found the foundation of the old church where John the Baptist spread the word. I am of course in Jordan. The vegatation on the other side of the stream is Palestine. You have no idea how many checkpoints, military, and watchtowers they have in this area. Wow. Until 1996 this was a Military Zone, and no tourists were allowed in.

The Dead Sea has many properties. You are extremely buoyant. The water is 10-12 times more salty than the ocean. You float. No matter what you want to do, you float. Do not get water on your face or in your eyes (voice of experience talking). Nothing lives in the Dead Sea. The mud is supposed to have some type of healing qualities. So you rub it on yourself. Then you let it dry. Then you get in the dead sea and wash it off or take a shower. There are many showers right near the water. You need to wash off soon after getting out, if not you get dehydated very quickly. The picture of me with mud on is not really flattering, so here is someone else covered in mud!

Jordan 2

For those of you that do not know where I was at, Jordan borders Iraq on it's west side. I thought this sign would help you guys figure out where I was at.

Mt. Nebo (no, not the one near Summersville) is where Moses ended up. He is buried on this mountain, as the story goes. Anyway, God let Moses get here and see the Holy Land, this was as far as he got. He did not actually get there.

A view coming down from the Monastery at Petra. How amazing are the views? Don't worry, I was safe. This is a bit of camera trickery.

Guys they still have shepards here. These guys are everywhere. All day long out in the field they are tending to the flock. Really amazing. I am still trying to figure out what these guys graze on.

Amman, also known as the "white city" due to many of it's buildings being white. This is due to the limestone that many are made of, which is readily available near the city.

Jordan 1

So here is a series of posts about Jordan. Wow. That is all I can say. You need to go. It is incredible. If you don't know about Petra. Look it up. You will be able to follow along much better.

This is a view into the actual incorporated city of Petra. A few hotels, common shops and restaurants. All in a small city build on a hill.
This is the Treasury, which is the main focus point of Petra. This was amazing. Something you really need to see in person.
As you can see behind me, these people build so many buildings and infrastructre into everything. There are thousands of buildings and much, much more. They have only uncovered about 10-15% of the city so far. Look how much you can see behind me. Wow. They were even able to separate rainwater and well water as it came into town in ditches.

This is the Monastery which is at the top of one of the peaks. It is over 800 steps plus a good amount of walking to get to. Well worth it I think.

This is the view very close to the Monastery. How cool.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So, A real post this time....

So, regardless of what you may believe or what think, I am actually working over here. Even though I will put pictures of me not working in the same post. Oh well...enjoy!

As many of you know, there is always issues between EMS and the ED. Well, in Qatar, the EMS guys and the Head Nurses did not even know each other. So we facilitated a meeting between my EMS guys and Carol and Connie's nurses. The first meeting went great. They initiallly wanted to have the meeting once a month, but near the end of the meeting there were so many issues on the table that they decided to have it every fortnight. Starting in the front and going clockwise it is Alice- Head Nurse; Abdul Nasser-Southern Operations; Chaker - Northern Operations; Enaam - Head Nurse; Mansour - Transport Division; Connie - Pittsburgh Nurse; Carol - Pittsburgh Nurse; Yours Truly; Julien - Lifeflight; Omar - Doha Operations; Naomi - Head Nurse; (Not Pictured - Maurita, Head Nurse)

The instructors at EMS wanted my leadership course for themselves, so we scheduled it last week. Plus, some of my guys did not attend it the last time I offered it. So, we had a great class and I am getting really confortable teaching this stuff now. It is almost seemless. Front row(l to r) Houcine, Desmond, Julien, Joel. Back row: Hatem, Carol, Nader, Kamal, Mohamed, Ray, Alan, Sunjay, Jason, Sonya, Myself, and Ali.

Not that all that I do is work. Since I have only a few months left I have been trying to get some social stuff going on. I talked a few people into going to happy hour at Garvey's which is a UK style pub. It was a blast. Those brits can drink. (l to r) Marc - EMS Medical Director, Paul - CEO of Rumailiah Hospital, Rich - Pittsburgh ER Doc, Carol, Myself, Mike - Director of Pharmacy. Mike and Paul are brits and hanging out with them is an absolute blast. They start drinking and they slur their words and I cannot understand what they are saying. Too funny.

We talked Connie and John into cooking again. John can cook amazingly. Hard to believe a Scotsman can cook such a variety so well. We had traditional chinese fare complete with chopsticks. No utensils were provided. You had to finish one course before he brought out the other. You have no idea how good that food was. (l to r) John (the cook- Connie's Husband), Marlene, Skosh, Connie, John, Mary, Dave, Carol and me. The dog is Robbie...

There should be more soon. I am going to Jordan this weekend and Eastern Europe the first of May. Should be good times. Talk to you soon....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sorry Guys

I have been a little lax lately and I apologize. Let me give you a couple of updates. Baltimore was awesome. This international experience did wonders for me there and it was great being able to meet some great names in the EMS world. I made some really good contacts and hopefully made some in-roads on some jobs. As a side note, I was almost totally disconnected from the world for more than a know what... you need to try it. I had email in my room, and a landline phone, I had a calling card I could check my voicemail in the room or call mom and dad, but that was it. While I was out and about in the city I was totally disconnected. It was like being young again. I went where I wanted, did what I wanted, etc. It was nice not to be at arms reach by anyone for a few days. Now, it might be difficult to do that for a long period of time, but one day leave the phone at home. Leave the IPOD in the car, the laptop in the case and just get out. Get out in the city and NOT be is a refreshing feeling in our overly connected world. (Ironic now that I blog about this on the internet...)

I am planning some trips and doing many things at work. I hope to give you guys a good update very soon. Take care.