Friday, April 30, 2010

Neighborhood Wildlife.

In the event that I haven't pointed out the inherent contradictions of life in a desert metropolis enough, one more example today.

On the way back from my run I rounded the block to my house and startled a small falcon, resting in the shade of a Mercedes SUV parked outside a large villa. The bird didn't fly off, but took a few steps back from me and ducked under the car. We looked at each other for a moment, and then I figured it was best to leave it be and continue on home.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The Arabian Peninsula is hot. Very very hot. Like, 100+ degrees for months at a time hot. For this reason, most people spend much of lives in heavily air-conditioned houses and offices and cars.

A pretty typical view of an air-conditioner covered rooftop.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ponies.

Big hats, polo ponies and a fancy golf course at the end of a garbage strewn dirt road?

The only thing that could make this day any weirder is if they served bananas and sticks of gum in plastic bags at the brunch following the polo match.

Bonus points: The polo match was sponsored by Almarai fruit juice and Redbull.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Little Things. (II)

Most awesome mistranslation of the day: The source, who preferred animosity, told the UPI that the conference would cover a variety of topics.

I prefer animosity too, but I try and tone it down when I'm dealing with the media.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Little Things.

The headline in Thursday's paper, Lebanese Magician not to be Beheaded.

Of course, while the threat of magicians or sorcerers being beheaded is real (just like it was a real threat for witches to be burned in the U.S. at one point), seeing a headline like that in the news really never stops amusing me. Besides, it's good news right? He's not going to be beheaded. Hooray, right?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big Rocks

While the rest of the group milled about below, I couldn't resist scrambling up the loose bits of sandstone to the top of this rock formation. The climbing was, for the most part, pretty easy and the view at the top was worth the few scrapes along the way.

One of the joys of exploring outside the U.S. is that there are rarely anything like ropes or barriers telling you where it is permissible to go or not.

Why do they call it Elephant Rock?

Monday, April 19, 2010


Muzzle Control (noun) - The act of controlling the muzzle of a gun so it does not point at a person unless you intend on shooting them; especially when your friends are busy taking pictures with their camera phones.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I don't know much about falconry, but it is part of a strong cultural tradition here that is still practiced by the very wealthy.

My friend in Khartoum said that he boarded an Emirates Air flight to Dubai and the man in line in front of him carried two hooded falcons onto the plane; they rode on his arm for the whole flight.

I've also heard that trained falcons are used to hunt wild oryx, a relative of the antelope. The falcon will scratch out the oryx's eyes which allows the hunter to come in on horseback and finish the kill.

Here is a falcon that I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with, he was incredibly calm even without a hood. As you can see, they are beautiful birds.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Riding my bike in the warm evening air as an electrical storm thunders overhead; spider webs of lightning arcing through the sky. I know this is not the safest way to spend a Saturday evening, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Nothing particularly clever to say. I just thought the view was nice.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This sign makes the complete public separation of genders sound a lot more fun that it is.

You Spin Me Right Round.

I really appreciate that they include the head as part of the slowly rotating carcass display in the shop window. It gives you a much better appreciation for the meal they're about to carve up for you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Just Doing My Job.

Who me? I'm just keeping an eye on things to make sure there's no funny business on this here dam. And if I happen to look badass while I'm doing that, so be it.