Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn From ‘Twilight’

This list, directly copied from the article you can find here, accurately sums up what I was trying to get at in my previous Gaylight rant.
  1. If a boy is aloof, stand-offish, ignores you or is just plain rude, it is because he is secretly in love with you — and you are the point of his existence.
  2. Secrets are good — especially life-threatening ones.
  3. It’s OK for a potential romantic interest to be dimwitted, violent and vengeful — as long as he has great abs.
  4. If a boy tells you to stay away from him because he is dangerous and may even kill you, he must be the love of your life. You should stay with him since he will keep you safe forever.
  5. If a boy leaves you, especially suddenly (while telling you he will never see you again), it is because he loves you so much he will suffer just to keep you safe.
  6. When a boy leaves you, going into shock, losing all your friends and enduring night terrors are completely acceptable occurrences — as long as you keep your grades up.
  7. It is extremely romantic to put yourself in dangerous situations in order to see your ex-boyfriend again. It’s even more romantic to remember the sound of his voice when he yelled at you.
  8. Boys who leave you always come back.
  9. Because they come back, you should hold out, waiting for them for months, even when completely acceptable and less-abusive alternative males present themselves.
  10. Even though you have no intention of dating an alternative male who expresses interest in you, it is fine to string the young man along for months. Also, you should use him to fix things for you. Maybe he’ll even buy you something.
  11. You should use said male to fix things because girls are incapable of anything mechanical or technical.
  12. Lying to your parents is fine. Lying to your parents while you run away to save your suicidal boyfriend is an extremely good idea that shows your strength and maturity. Also, it is what you must do.
  13. Car theft in the service of love is acceptable.
  14. If the boy you are in love with causes you (even indirectly) to be so badly beaten you end up in the hospital, you should tell the doctors and your family that you “fell down the steps” becauseyou are such a silly, clumsy girl. That false explanation always works well for abused women.
  15. Men can be changed for the better if you sacrifice everything you are and devote yourself to their need for change.
  16. Young women should make no effort to improve their social skills or emotional state. Instead, they should seek out potential mates that share their morose deficiencies and emotional illnesses.
  17. Girls shouldn’t always read a book series just because everyone else has.
  18. When writing a book series, it’s acceptable to lift seminal source material and bastardize it with tired, overwrought teenage angst.
  19. When making or watching a major feature film, you should gleefully embrace the 20 minutes of plot it provides in between extended segments of vacant-eyed silence and self-indulgent, moaning banter.
  20. Vampires — once among the great villains of literature and motion pictures — are no longer scary. In fact, they’re every bit as whiny, self-absorbed and impotent as any human being.

Let it flow

Here are a couple of photos I received from the concrete pouring yesterday. As promised, here's our deputy program manager directing the concrete

Ah, that's a good lookin' slab

I think the estimated time of completing this first package of reconstruction is late next year. It's going to be exciting watching it all go up.

Super duper awesome Big Bangs update

I realised the other day that I hadn't had a Big Bangs update in a while. But I held out in the hope that I could share the following news with you today.

Last night, Pierre was named Young Australian of the Year for the Australian Capital Territory!!

Photo credit

I am so unbelievably proud of Pierre and his team. In the past 18 months alone, they've delivered their special brand of development to over 8.500 children and donated over $15,000 worth of equipment and resources toIn the past 18 months the BIG BANGS have catered to over 8,500 children and donated more than $15,000 worth of equipment and resources to deserving charities, orphanages and school aimed at youth.

Congratulations Pierre, so proud!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It Made My Day

When I get my morning taxi to work I ask to get dropped off at a hospital near our compound, which is probably only a 5 minute walk. Most of the time, the cabbies don't quite drop me off there, but a bit earlier so that they don't have to turn onto the main road. So this morning I was dropped off and soon after I started walking an UNRWA car drove past me and stopped so I jumped in with our Deputy Program Manager. He was so excited as he was just dropping by the compound to pick up the head of emergency engineering and then go to the camp to witness the first concrete being poured on Package I of the camp. He said he wanted to touch the concrete for himself, as if he couldn't believe this day had finally come...reconstruction has begun!!

It Made My Day is another great website that always brings a smile; it's self explanatory really, go and check it out.

Muppet Rhapsody

I love The Muppets. I would hate to think that there's anyone out there who doesn't love the little tackers. I also love Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. So when you put the two together, you get supreme awesomeness.

Happy Wednesday!

Endless entertainment

One lolly wrapper, hours of entertainment:
video

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Terrible news from Mindanao

Philippine poll attack toll rises with shallow graves

At least 24 bodies have been found in the southern Philippines and police say they have found more in shallow graves.

The bodies are from a 40-strong group of politicians and journalists which was seized in an attack blamed on clan warfare ahead of next year's elections.

The government has declared a state of emergency in two provinces, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato city. Read the full article at the BBC.


Preparations, scheming and positioning was already happening for the elections next year when I was in Mindanao. Many skirmishes were blamed on "clan warfare" in Mindanao, and many of them certainly were. But to blame the murders of so many innocent outsiders on clan warfare is a bit of a stretch. This was a dispicable act that will make the daily lives of Maguindanoans and Sultan Kudaratis, along with my old colleagues, much more restricted.

Super duper special anniversary shout out

Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. For the past two years, I've had the pleasure of being with someone who knows what I want, who's smart and goofy and completely modest.

It's me!!

When I wrote on my old blog two years ago about how I didn't know how I'd get through certain hurdles alone, I mentioned a few specific things:
- Who do I bore with my mundane complaints about my work?
Answer: the most wonderful housemates I've had so far. Lesson: it pays to have housemates who are intelligent, funny and fantastic women, so shout outs to Tania, Lily, Cathy, Monica, Emma, Nicole and Yassmin (Ahmed only gets a small mention because he's not an awesome woman and he doesn't like hearing me bitch about work).
- Who will help me with my tax?
Answer: no one, I've been quite capable of doing it all on my own and getting actual tax returns for a change! Lesson: barring the question "what is your occupation" e-tax isn't that scary.
- Who will make the cheese sauce for the lasagna?
Answer: it's not always perfect, but I've managed to whip up a bechamel sauce once or twice.

These little examples pretty much sum up how the single life has changed me. I know what I'm capable of, I know what I want from life as an individual. Since I've only had myself to worry about, I've worked in three countries, I've visited 17 countries (and about to add an 18th), I've made amazing new friends, and I've attempted to learn two languages (I did quite well with Bangla, we'll see how the Arabic goes...). Throughout all this, there have been certain moments where I've been struck how fantastic life is when you make the most of it on your own, and when you do the things you've always wanted to do, the way you want to do them.

Of course, I'm not saying that you can't do these things when you're in a relationship, but there's a certain freedom about being single that I've embraced and relished in. When I think back to this day two years ago and remember how absolutely retched I was, how absolutely pitiful I was, I can only hold my head higher and think how it's made me the stronger person I am today.

So, a special shout out to me, for recognising my strengths (and weaknesses) and embracing what life has to offer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sing-a-long

I've been hearing a very catchy song the past couple of months. I'd found out it was by Nancy Ajram, one of the most popular Lebanese singers, but no-one knew what the title was. I'd just hear little snippets of it; on someone's car radio, or when I was in a shop, but I just couldn't find out the song title. I'd tried singing it to Yassmin, but it's rather difficult to do that when you don't know any of the words, and the tune just doesn't come out right when you sing "la la la." Finally, the other day in a restaurant it came on, and the girl at the counter knew it. "Mashi Haddi", or "Walking By My Side."

On our shopping expedition to the souk yesterday (found boots, a beanie, and long socks for winter, yea!) Yassmin had to ask a couple of different CD sellers, and finally we found a guy who had Nancy's new album and assured us that Mashi Haddi was on it.

I was so excited to get home and copy it onto my computer, hoping against hope that I'd like the whole song, even the whole album. Mission accomplished! It's a very catchy song, that will put a spring in my step on my ipod.

The video is really cute too (except for the advertising that pops up). Enjoy!


These are the translated lyrics (in case you didn't pick it up from the clip!

Walking next to me, and with your eyes your melting everyone around you
Looking around you and winking

And you forgot that I get jealous, especially if they smile back
And you become happy, they melt your heart

And others wish to go out with me
Not like you, you prefer to play around over having me, confused me

And if a robber waves for you, you follow her and leave me behind

Walking next to me, and with your eyes your melting everyone around you
Looking around you and winking

and if by coincidence I see a friend on the road and say hi to him
Right away you make a report, question me

Who? Where? How? and Why? you're friends for how long

Friday, November 20, 2009

Artistic impression of NBC reconstruction

A huge number of donors were in Nahr el-Bared today to see first hand the destruction, and also how UNRWA is supporting the Palestinian residents. There were a number of men outside the meeting area, holding up their artwork of reconstruction activities. I really liked this one:

Slow and steady may win the race, but I'm sure the residents of NBC would prefer more of a hare's pace.

Amazing footage

If I were an awesome photographer it would be my dream job to work for National Geographic. Check out this amazing leopard seal footage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh so cute!

A...H...Pleghm...or Arabic spelling for dummies

I had my first Arabic class last night, in which I learned the alphabet. Ok, wait, I was taught the alphabet. I think there are 28 consonants, 3 short vowels, and 3 long vowels. And there seems to be just one letter that I can't quite pronounce, the "aine" letter (which looks like the fancy E towards the top below), which has an "aeh" sound that you're supposed to make by choking yourself. Or something like that. Anyway, it will require a lot of practice from me.

I like the names that some of the letters have, like "wow", "lamb" and "yeah". That's how the names sound, they may (probably) not be spelled like that. I think it's going to be a very interesting experience...I just wish there was an alphabet song I could learn..."alef, bah, tah, thah jzeem" doesn't quite have the same ring

Gaylight

I have a couple of problems with the Twilight phenomenon that has swept the world, making teenage girls and grown women act like complete idiots. And full disclosure here, I'm a big Harry Potter fan.

I succumbed and read the series a while ago, and I will grant that Stephanie Meyer, like Dan Brown, has discovered a winning formula that makes these books page turners. That being said, they are terribly written and she only has about three adjectives in her vocabulary. I'm not a big book critic, usually I can read anything and enjoy it for what it is and not really take in whether the writing is good or bad, but these books really stood out as being bad writing. (And the reason I can criticize here is because I don't purport to be a writer!)

That's problem one. The series is badly written. The second, greater problem I have is the character of Edward Cullen and the insane attraction of grown women towards this character. I keep seeing facebook updates and quiz results of people I call friends who are "in love" with Edward, and want a man "just like Edward."

Ladies, in a nutshell, Edward is a stalking, over-protective, co-dependent, cradle robbing serial killer. Um, I'm not seeing the attraction. The whole Edward/Bella relationship also frustrates me, as now an entire generation of girls thinks a romantic relationship is based on having a man over 100 years old watching you sleep, follow you around and declare his undying love for you after about a month...oh and this is after he's repeatedly approached you to tell you that he's bad news. And you're underage.*breath*

That about sums up my issues with the Twilight series. This was inspired by watching the movie on tv last night. Yassmin and Ahmed hadn't seen it before, and what we decided by the end of the movie was:

Kristen Stewart looks exactly like Jughead.

Robert Pattinson (who compared to Kristen Stewart has an abnormally large head) reminded us of the main character of an old Cher movie that was on recently, called "Mask".

I'd like to include here a message that Dr J left on my facebook wall, I'm sure she won't mind me sharing her opinion:

"I thought Twilight was hilariously funny, although I am not sure that is the reaction they were aiming for. I did like the tone of the beginning before she met Cedric Diggory, in terms of being a well-constructed set-up filled with foreboding, but it all went downhill from there. Plus, Bella starts out being quite capable of looking after herself and then along comes the sparkly vampire and suddenly she needs him to rescue her all the time. I find that particular message to be a tad objectionable."

Big ups to Dr J for the Diggory reference, and also the point of Bella becoming (more of) a whiny incapable damsel in distress. Another point of annoyance for me.

To conclude, an interesting article, Buffy the Gay Vampire Lover has been published that provides an explanation of the popularity of Twilight: women desire sex with gay men. It sure as hell makes more sense that desiring a co-dependent stalker...

rant over.

Birthday Shout out

James hits the big 3-0 today.

I thought it highly appropriate to post the most unflattering photograph of him. Don't worry James, apparently 30 is the new 29 (but I wouldn't know about that, because that's really quite old...I jest, I jest)! Hope it's a good one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anniversary shout out

It's hard to believe that exactly two years ago I watched my dear friends Emma and Ean finally get married. So a big special anniversary shout out to Em and E!!

Which causes me to realise that a big something else happened around this time two years ago, but I think I'll reflect on that in a few days time.

My Shameful Arabic: resolution

Yesterday's post about my lack of Arabic was somewhat prophetic. It was inspired by a post from Tales from the Hood, about those foreigners that like to make out that they're "from" the place they're working. When you bring that down a notch, it means learning what you can of the language (I remembered a few words I forgot to include in yesterday's list) and dressing appropriately.

Well, I'm taking the much belated first step of learning Arabic with my first lesson tomorrow evening. Yea! I will not, however, be doing my best to dress like the locals here...even in Tripoli, a conservative city, (or in Nahr el-Bared) most of the young women I see around here wear skin tight pants and equally tight tops. And those who wear the veil tend to match their brightly coloured clothing to their veils. So, language learning yes, clothing no.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cat play

I've had a very productive day at the office today. I started clearing out my inbox...

but only ended up moving stuff from the inbox to my lap...

I'm so jealous of this little kitty and his cat napping...
video

Let it snow

I realised this morning that I've never lived in a place where it snowed. In Canberra, the snow was a good 3 hour drive away (though there was that one time where it snowed for about 30 seconds). I don't think they've heard of snow in Bangladesh or the Philippines. I was shocked to see snow on the mountains this morning on my way to work. Well, shocked isn't the right word. But it's strange to look in one direction and look at the Sea, and then turn around and see snow on the mountains. I don't think it actually snows in Tripoli, but the mountains aren't too far away.

This is the (zoomed in) view from the front of the UN compound....


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

My shameful Arabic

I've been here for slightly over four months, and disgustingly haven't learned much (really any) Arabic. It shames me. By this time in Bangladesh I could happily converse, haggle and argue with anyone, and could understand even more than I could speak. I was a very confident Bangla user. The difference here is that I haven't had a single lesson as the teacher UNRWA uses doesn't have any openings until the new year...which of course is no excuse for not going out and finding my own teacher....

So here is the list (potentially not exhaustive - it's still early) of Arabic words I've picked up through osmosis so far...

Mahabar - Hello
Shukran - Thank you
Tikalafi - Thank you (literally means something along the lines of thank God for giving you the ability to work)
Afwan - Excuse me
Ki feq? Ki fiq? - How are you? (men/women)
Alhamdula - Good
Fatah - Here you go (used when handing over money to cab drivers)
Wahad - 1
Alf - 1000 lire
Nien - 2
Moustachfe - Hospital
Dowra - circle (roundabout)
Abu - father
Ibn - son
Kelb - dog (the only curse I've learned is Ibn kelb - son of a dog)
Anjad - really
Walah - I swear
Yanni - a filler word that people use when thinking, like "I mean"
Durkadurkamohammedjihad - ok, I may have picked that one up from Team America...

This week, I'm going to learn to count to twenty...

Sunday feast

Yassmin got all Betty Homemaker on us yesterday and whipped up a Sunday feast.

The eggplant that was saturated in garlic was amazing...as was the view we enjoyed while eating on the balcony...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Limerick

A couple of readers expressed their appreciation of my poetry attempt, but thought perhaps a haiku was a bit high brow and suggested a limerick instead.

So here's one that is inspired by a certain neighbourhood hoon....

There was a boy who thought he was Top Gear
Whose loud music was something to fear
While dreaming in bed
I threw a rock at his head
And woke up and thought "what an idea!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Haiku

I've been home sick with a nasty head cold the past two days, not a lot of fun. I looked out at the Sea this morning and this sprung to mind.

Mercury water
Turned bright blue after the rain
I preferred silver

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chasey Chasey

I purchased my ticket to Istanbul this afternoon - thank you all so much for your thoughtful contributions to the poll on where I should go...the unfortunate part about writing is that sarcasm isn't immediately obvious - that was sarcasm people, no one responded to my poll. Boo to you all.

So anyway, I'm super duper excited about spending 3 days in Istanbul, the 4th day will be spent travelling back to Tripoli. It's still a couple of weeks away yet, but it's nice to have something new to look forward to. If any of you have any tips I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beirut is back...and it's beautiful

"In Lebanon," says Khaled, leaning back and spreading his arms out in an expansive fashion, "we have everything. We have the Mediterranean. We have classical ruins. We have..."

"Religious extremists," I say. "Armed militiamen."

"Exactly. If you want religious extremists, we have religious extremists. If you want mountains, we have mountains. If you want lingerie shows on the ski slopes of Mount Lebanon, we have lingerie shows. We have everything. Everything."


Check out this fantastic article by Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian.

Attention Queenslanders

Check out the Escape section in the weekend News Ltd. newspaper...you might just see someone you recognise...

Dear Tim Wheeler,

You don't know this yet, but you have a 50/50 chance of being my future husband. We met once, in 2001 at a record signing in Briz Vegas. You signed my poster with a love heart, which you didn't do for the two people I was with (yes, they were both guys, but I still think it meant more than that). I think we'd make a good couple - you could write me gorgeous love songs, and I could play you the songs I wrote as a 15 year old which would make you laugh at how ridiculous the lyrics are (even though the chord progressions were extremely mature...you might even recognise the Esus4 progression I used.)

Anyway, I wanted to compliment you on your latest single, Arcadia. Just last night, I had a stack of ironing to do, and it was you, Mark and Rick who got me through that huge pile. I started off with the new songs and then went random with the back catalogue. It totally made the ironing fun. I only wish that I'd had Arcadia to bop along to as well, because it's another fantastic offering. Tell me Tim; how does one band keep coming up with such awesome songs??

So Tim, to sum up, you're amazing. You write beautiful, moving songs, you write songs that are good to belt out along to when I'm feeling a bit angry, you - in the words of Barry Mannilow - write the songs (emphasis my own). And I love you for that. And I love you for giving me a new song every 2 weeks. Marry me?

Love Carly.

P.S. If you can't marry me right now, do you happen to have contact details for David Tennant?
:-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lazy Sunday

There's not a lot to do in Tripoli on Sundays, and Oli and Sara came up with the most fabulous idea of brunch.

Carrot cake, Apricot tart, fresh fruit and juices, spinach and ham (!!!!) quiche....*homer drool*

Tomato soup perhaps?

Nay, Bloody Marys (eeeeeewwwww), which were very popular and brought smiles to all those who partook.

My contribution was a banoffee pie...of course, after all the other wonderful sweets and savoury treats we were all extremely full and lazy, so only a tiny bit more was eaten than shown in the photo.

But that means we get to enjoy it for the rest of the week...mmmmm, delicious!

Baddest DJs on six turntables

With some funding from the Japanese Government to do recreational activities for kids in the camp, we (being UNRWA, no credit goes to me whatsoever) got a Danish DJ we know in Beirut to come up, along with some friends of his, to do a workshop. I thought when we went to the camp last night, we would be seeing the kids show off what they'd learned.

First we had to kick out the wedding reception, with a very young groom and bride who looked like she was struggling under her ginormous dress.

I was wrong about the kids playing. Well, there was a young rapper who was pretty cool
video
but otherwise it was the Danes putting on a show...3 guys on 6 turntables. It was awesome storytelling, and unfortunately cut short by the leadership.

The kids seemed to enjoy it though.

I was very impressed with the hairstyles in the audiences

and how really really ridiculously good looking some people were! :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Plie, chasse, grapevine, brraaaaiiiiiinnnnsssssss

I just checked my analytics to see how the traffic to the blog has been of late (down 16.89%, though One Year in Bangers is up 80%!!) and to see which sites people have been referred from, or what search terms they used (nothing is sacred on the interwebs!)

While "chasing carly" and "chasingscarly.blogspot" (to the 58 visits that did this - you could just type that into your address bar instead of google and find me a lot quicker!) remain the top two search terms, the third place is a bit of a concern.

3 people have visited the site (or perhaps it's the same person three times) after searching for "cannibal jazzercise classes".

Sure enough, if you type that into google, this blog is indeed the first one to appear. Now I'm wondering why on earth these words would be searched for together, and am imagining a very interesting jazzercise class...

Carly in a Box

I realise I haven't been writing much about aid work recently, and though I mentioned how proud I was to be considered a Doom III aid worker, I haven't really felt like it lately!

For example, today I sat in my container and did such important and life saving things as:
  • finally getting the last submission for our monthly report to the Beirut office (which I should have received last Friday) so I could finish off the report
  • finding out exactly how many staff work at the NBC Clinic II and how many days each person works per week - (for someone in the Beirut office - why this person couldn't make a simple phone call and find out for themselves I can't understand. I would love to see what would happen if I asked someone there to do my work for me!)
  • going through the comments made by a nitpicking HQ person on a report I submitted before I went on leave, most of which he would have realised were completely redundant had he actually looked at the budget breakdown I'd already provided, wasting someone else's time as well as my own. This is after the financial statement I'd specifically requested to be dated to 14 October as that's when I'd done all my calculations was issued to the 30th of October, so I had to redo all my financial stuff.
  • played with the kitties...a lot
So, not particularly glamourous aid work!

"Never get involved in a land war in Asia"

Truer words were never spoken than those above by Vizzini in The Princess Bride, with the one exception of playing Risk. After much empirical study into this, a select group of people involving myself discovered that whoever conquers Asia usually conquers the world, but only if they've got an army substantial enough to defend the many borders.

I was surprised to read that Sony is planning to release a movie based on the classic boardgame. How on earth will they turn such a variable (indeed, the first non-linear boardgame) game into a movie? Will it be an epic tale of warfare, following many armies as they gamble their lives to take new territories, or will it be an American-centric gung-ho adventure? Or perhaps a Jumanji-esque undertaking? Will they base it on the traditional game, or go for one of the spin-offs like Lord of the Rings Risk (which I played in a hostel in New Orleans this time last year)

...they could just cut and paste bits that have already been filmed and save some money!

Hmmmm, we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Transformers: Former Secretaries of State in Disguise

I followed a link from someone's twitter to the St Andrews Face Transformer. You upload a photo of your face and then you can transform yourself into a Botticelli painting, or an Afro-Carribean or a Manga cartoon. I transformed myself into a baby:

and ended up looking like Madeline Allbright...

Today's horoscope

Perhaps my grand gesture was making Yassmin a nutella sandwich this morning. Perhaps I am stressing out a bit, but I wouldn't say I'm feeling vulnerable or lacking confidence. But it's a relief to know that I can regain my power by being myself, I was a bit worried about becoming Mr T to regain it...

Daily Horoscope



Leo
Leo
You may be very magnanimous with your grand gestures today, but you aren't so inclined to show any weakness, even if you're feeling very vulnerable. You might even cover up your current lack of confidence because you don't want anyone to know what you're feeling now. Keep in mind that once you're finished stressing out, you can reclaim your power by simply being yourself.

500

500 posts on this blog, and all of them academically challenging, world changing musings...

To celebrate this milestone, I thought I'd share the latest official and important news from the UN compound in Tripoli:

KITTIES!!!

There are three little kitties hiding under the prefabs between UNDP and our M&E unit (Ingebjorg can look out her window at them all day) and they're very adorable.

Now, you see this tray of milk and automatically think that that was all me right? Not this time kiddos, one of the architects has taken a real shine to them and plans on taking at least one of them home in a few weeks.

They make for a very entertaining break time. The runt is surprisingly the least scared and runs around, sun bathes and plays with stuff...with the crap work I'm dealing with at the moment (two reports due for the EC and one for Japan this month plus the two from last month that are still going back and forth), it's nice to just take a few minutes to watch something cute and happy.

It's very much a case of TGIF today. Yassmin and I took Julz down to the airport late last night, which was very sad. In another hilarious instance of mistaking my name, our taxi driver last night thought my name was "Skala." It then became "Skarly." We didn't get home till 2:30am and then my grand plans of getting in early and achieving the greater part of my workload for today by 9:30am were dashed with the discovery that the server was down. Le sigh.

I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend, cleaning up my room after Hurricane Julie, perhaps going to the camp tomorrow night to see some kids DJ (we've got a DJ spending the day with them teaching them how to mix) and then a brunch on Sunday. TGIF people, TGIF!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This better get picked up!

David Tennant to make US TV debut

David Tennant is to make his US television debut as the lead role in a pilot for a comedy legal drama.

The former Doctor Who will star as a top Chicago lawyer who suffers from panic attacks and coaches his clients to represent themselves in court.

The NBC hour-long show is titled Rex Is Not Your Lawyer...

What to wear

Not sure what the weather is doing, or what you should be wearing? Check out Obama Weather, to see what Obama, Angelina, Bender (from Futurama) and Dr House suggest you wear...I know I'll be taking my Tripoli fashion cues from Angelina this winter...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bibs and Bobs

A couple of random things:

I got a mention on this post at Tales from the Hood...I must say, it's an honour to be considered a "Doom III" aid worker, and to share line space with Pyjama Samsara and Itinerant and Indigent!! (If you haven't checked out these blogs yet you really should!)

Did you know that Zimbabwe's 79,600,000,000% per month inflation rate was not the highest ever? According to this Marginal Revolution article that record belongs to Hungary (1945-1946) at 41,900,000,000,000,000% per month. I can't say that I actually comprehend what that actually meant for Hungarians at the time (though I'm imagining old Renauts filled with paper bills, because at 41.9 quadrillion percent I think you'd need more than a wheelbarrow full of notes to go to the supermarket) but I'd say it was pretty extreme.

Poll: I get a loooong weekend (4 days) at the end of the month for Eid.
Should I go to:
(a) Istanbul
(b) Cyprus
(c) Morocco
(d) Somewhere even cooler that you'll suggest (that won't be cold and rainy like it is here)

Leave your suggestions please!!

Super Duper Special Birthday Shout-out

To my wonderful Mum!!

*mwah*

iRoad Trip 2.0

Today was another awesome day. We headed off early, back to Jeita Grotto, and were very happy to find it open. Unfortunately, the lower cave was closed due to the high water level from all the rain, but at least that meant a discount on the entry price.

Photos weren't allowed inside the cave, so the photos below were stolen from around the interwebs. It was a truly incredible place, I think it's made it to second place behind Petra in the coolest, most awesomest places I've ever been!




It was hard to believe that it was actually real, it could have been a Hollywood set, from The Goonies or something! And it just went on and on and on. The bottom two pictures are from the lower grotto, so I'll have to go back in summer to get the full experience.

We'd made really good time up to that point, and headed further towards Beirut to make the turnoff to Baalbeck. Unfortunately, our day was marred by a carload of stupid boys that ran into us.

There goes the security deposit. :-(

The drive to Baalbeck was hair raising to say the least. At one point there was a total white out and we could barely see more than a couple of metres in front of us. But we made it safe and sound, and Baalbeck is just as impressive in the day time as it is in the evening.



and the weather even cleared up while we were there.

Yep, cool.

We also made really good time coming back over the mountain and it was a happy, but exhausted trio that got home in one piece (or three pieces).

After all this excitement I really, really don't want to go back to work tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The best laid plans...

Ahmed, Julie and I hired a car for today and tomorrow and set out for Baalbeck. The weather was again, pretty atrocious, so we took it slow, enjoying what little of the view we could see. We came to a junction in the road, a checkpoint in fact, and carried on up the mountain, or so we thought. We soon came to a dead end, and went back to the checkpoint. It turned out that the mountain road to Baalbeck was closed due to the weather so we couldn't go any further.

We stopped a bit further down the road to take in the scenery...


Snow!!


Since it was still only the early afternoon we decided to cross off another thing on the list of things we wanted to see, the Jeita Grotto. So we drove and drove most of the way to Beirut and made our way down another amazing valley to the grotto. To find that it was closed on Mondays. AAAARGH!!!

Since there was still a little bit of daylight, we decided to salvage the day with a cruise through Byblos, an extremely old city full of ancient ruins.

On a warm summer's day, Byblos would be fabulous to wander around, unfortunately it was cold and rainy and miserable, but the view of the ocean was still pretty cool:


Even though our grand plans didn't quite work out today, we all agreed that it was an awesome day. And hopefully tomorrow we can actually achieve our grand plans (taking a different route of course)!!

Oh, and Julie says, "hello to the world!"