Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Sunday Top Five: Five Highlights of 2010

This time, not in ranked order :

1. Birthday in Malta: Sunshine, parents, good wine & food, a great apartment and swimming in the harbour
Lunch in Malta
2.Roc Soc World Cup: 43 deg C, enjoying cold cider, good music and dubious sporting prowess

RocSoc World Cup
3.The Malta Hash: 4 days of fun, a superbly set hash run (if I do say so myself) with 2 beer stops and more on the beach

1st Beer Stop
4.Trip To Germany: From the first beer on arrival at the airport to the last one before I boarded the flight back to Libya, I enjoyed every minute of this much needed break. And a bonus OW swim.

Homo and first beer at airport

5.A summer of cycling: There was carnage over summer as we discovered new hills and the temperature claimed its victims.Pain & suffering, happy days.

Col de Nom Yai

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Sunday Top Five: 5 Ways Columbo will catch you

1. The phone records. Don't make a call, or say you made a call, or have someone call you or in any way rely on a phone call for an alibi. "The guys down at the phone company" will soon find you out.

2. The odometer. The extra mileage on your car exactly matches the return trip from your house to where the deceased was found.  Maybe take a longer route on the way back after topping off your victim.

3. Time. Altering people's watches to account for the missing hours you were away committing murder will always be found out. You will also give yourself away by asking people the time at a cocktail party in order to establish your alibi, especially if you've already asked 3 other people that night.

4. Relying on technology. Using any form of 'hi tech' gadgets (for the early 1970's) to establish an alibi is bound to result in a quick arrest. Forget your telephone answer machine, video tape recorder or CCTV system, they will be your downfall.

5. Leave forensic evidence. Long before CSI Where-ever came along and reduced crime solving to a test tube and a computer database, "The boys down at the lab" could match a bullet to a gun, a thread to a pullover or a hair to a head. They'd do it while the kettle boiled and wouldn't complain about people smoking in their lab.

And just one more thing....  Claiming you have 'pull' down 'at city hall' and that you'll have Columbo sacked if he doesn't stop harassing you is worse than wearing a sign round your neck with "Murderer" on it.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Every cloud...

Two and a half hours is how long it took me to drive to work yesterday. Normally it takes just twenty minutes.

We'd had some rain during the night, which has the same effect on the Libyan transport system as half an inch of snow does on the UK's. To be fair, it was alot of rain, a huge amount in a short period of time, even some hail and a superb thunderstorm. This combined with the fact that all of the drains are full of sand, means large lakes appear everywhere and the place grinds to a halt.
The Roundabout of Death Claims 2 More Victims
A local roundabout, known as 'The Roundabout of Death' always gathers a bit of water and yesterday it was resembling a boating lake. The poorly though out road design means that all traffic coming into town has to go through this point, rather than over it, combine this with the Libyan attitude of 'if none of the lanes are moving, make another one' and no one goes anywhere. The traffic jam was made worse by the fact that loads of Libyans had decided to stop their cars right next to the roundabout to look at the water and blocking one of the lanes of the highway.
Luckily I had a magazine to read while I sat there for two hours, unfortunately I had no empty water bottle available to make myself more comfortable.
Despite the inconvenience of getting to work late and having to sit in the car for much longer than my bladder wanted, it was absolutely worth every second. One truck driver had decided to try and cross the central reservation to escape the gridlock and had succeeded in totally seesawing himself, all 4 wheels clear off the ground. It was a classic piece of Libyan bloody mindedness and made my day. If only I'd got a photo.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Sunday Top Five: 5 People Not To Buy An Xmas Present For This Year

1. Leslie Nielsen
2.Gary Coleman
3. Clare Rayner
4. Tom Bosley
5. Norman Wisdom

United Nations

I frequent an on line Expat Forum, not surprisingly the Libya section. It can be a useful place to get the latest information such as what the police are stopping expats for this week or to give incoming expats help with visa requirements or where to live etc. However a lot of pointless and petty arguments kick off that invariably end up in expat Vs Libyan battles with biased and ignorant comments from both sides. It gets a bit boring and causes the moderators of the site no end of grief. They've even received threats from irate locals whenever religion is touched on! 
I posted the following thread under the title: How arguments start on the forum to poke a bit of fun at both sides and the various types of people that get involved. 

Guide: Moel is a half Libyan/American guy who although proud of his Libyan heritage, was brought up in the states and misses his home comforts.
Julien is the owner of the site who ends up closing arguments and banning people.
A schawarma is a type of kebab and is just a metaphor for anything expats complain about.

How Arguments Start  On The Forum

Expat1 "I bought a schawarma today for lunch, it was the worst I've ever had"

Expat2 "I agree, the schawarmas here are terrible! Can't wait to go home and get a good schawarma. LOL"

Local1 "Sorry, you didn't enjoy your schawarma, but if you goto my friend's cafe, you will get the best schawarma. Not all schawarma's here are bad"

Moderator "This post should be in the Classifieds section"

Expat1 "Thanks Local1, will try it out "

Local2 "The schawarma's here are better than in your country. If you don't like them, leave"

Expat3 "All schawarma's are bad. Can't believe you can't get Tacos here "

Local3 "The schawarma was probably made by a non-Local, Local schawarmas are the best. We don't like non-locals who can't make schawarmas"

Local2 "You want Taco ? Go home and eat Taco. I ate Taco once in your country and I was ill. And so was my dog that I gave it to when I couldn't finish it. Even rats wouldn't eat your taco"

Expat3 "You sound like the dumb local did in the schawarma shop when I asked for a taco. As long as your country fails to provide meat filled snacks from two different countries, it will never be anything"

Local4 "My friend told me about this forum, so I've joined to make 1 post and to be indignant about the way Expats talk about our schawarma. I will never post again, so don't worry"

Moel "I prefer smoked salmon, cream cheese and fresh basil on a bagel"

Local2 "Mo, we know you don't like Local food, you like US food. Why do you have to always go on about it ?"

Former Expat1 "I'm glad I now live in <<another country>> where there are a plethora of meat filled snacks. I will keep reminding you of this at every opportunity"

Expat55(Expat2 pseudonym)"I'm going for schawarma tonight with my friend, anyone care to join us ?"

Local4 "OK, I'll make 2 posts, then leave. I'm going to tell all my friends to come here and slag off the meat filled snacks in your countries"

Julien "Please, no more food topics"

6 months later

Newuser1 "Hi, I'm new (and statistically, Canadian) where can I get a good schawarma ?"

and go back to the top....

** apart from the grammar and spelling being much better, I think that's about right **

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Daily Male

In the two years that I've enjoyed being a guest of the Colonel, I've seen various nationalities suffer from the results of international relations. The Americans got  punished when some minor diplomat criticised The Leader's speech at the United Nations. The Canadians were punished for something to do with demanding a passenger list of The Leader's plane before allowing it to land for refueling  (that's just 1 version of the story I've heard). The Swiss are still feeling the heat for incidents related to the arrest of one of his sons. At one point this year, all countries who are signed up to the Shengen Agreement were hit due to a tit for tat issue over visas. These diplomatic games usually affect the expats in ways related to getting news visas issued in home countries or trying to get back in to Libya with an existing visa. During the Schengen dispute, people returning from vacations were being turned back at immigration, families made up of 1 Schengen nationality and 1 non Schengen  nationality were being split up. One Dutch guy had to abandon his very pregnant, non Schengen, wife in Libya and he was sent back to Amsterdam on the next flight. Meanwhile businesses have to try and function with reduced headcounts, whilst staff rotations are scuppered and visits from overseas personnel are put on hold.

The freeing of Al Megrahi last year, was a god send to us Brits, keeping us out of the firing line for the time being and putting us at the top table, on 'best pal' status. Today's Wikileaks cables shows how close we came to being in the firing line, should  he have died in prison. 

However, since I came here, I  have joked that we're only ever 1 Daily Mail headline away from disaster: Getcher Daily Mail . Doh!

Hopefully he'll hail WikiLeaks as heroes, the US as the enemy and us plucky Brits as innocent bystanders. Or I'd better pack my bags. 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Sunday Top Five: Best concerts

1. Mark Ronson (Glasgow 2008). I'd seen the video(see why not watch some classy music ?), so was expecting big things. He didn't have the orchestra there, but the non stop line up of guest singers & rappers to reproduce 'Version' live was just superb.
2. Moby. (Glasgow 2004). I liked Moby's music but thought we'd get a dull performance by a man behind a keyboard. I wasn't expecting a full band, 3 piece string section, awesome backing  singer and a hyperactive bald guy who likes to rock.
3.Kylie. (Glasgow 2008). The X Tour, 3 rows from the front. She could smell my sweat! So what if the show was so long that the trains had finished and everyone walked back to town ? She still talks about it.
4.Wolfsbane. (Walsall 1989). The small rock club at Junction 10. I was probably the only sober person there. A stage diver left in an ambulance. I was never the same again.
5. Dust Junkies. (Aberdeen, 1997). You goto the monthly surfer.skaters' night, you meet all the skaters from the beach and have a few beers, an unknown band comes on. The next day your whole body hurts, your clothes stink of sweat. Was I dancing ? The band release an album, it is awesome.

Honourable mention: Rocket From the Crypt (Aberdeen 1997). I've never left a gig so completely soaked through that I was actually worried about getting hypothermia if I'd had to walk home in a Scottish winter.