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BY old dog

02/01 Direct Link
Four hours split between two baseball practices at two different fields last night. I have some philosophical differences with the other coaches about how the catchers should be trained. I think they are being babied and coddled. Martha was in a rotten mood, a foul mood. The boys had been whining and difficult, but I was yelled at for the whole thing. I want to live alone. The school accreditation meeting was ok, but I was late. Ali Ghamdi's meeting ran on forever - talk, talk. I bought an external hard drive. Martha's pictures for the yearbook now have a home.
02/02 Direct Link
A schmall. I don't know how it is spelled. It is a condition here in Saudi Arabia in which dust is suspended in the air to such an extent that the light from the sun is muted and breathing is difficult. The air is stagnant. I think it begins with wind, then the wind stops and leaves the dust. I had a cold and was feeling ill already. Now I must stay inside as much as possible. I can't breathe well outside; I cough, sneeze, sniff - no way I can go with the scouts to camp in the jebels tonight.
02/03 Direct Link
The dust obscured the rays of the sun. Far from being their typical cheerful selves, the rays were vapid, lifeless, depressed lights. They couldn't even be described as glowing. Still, there was life and activity in some quarters; people whose stronger zest for activity wasn't paled. However, in one house the pallor of the day was deeply felt. The inmate moped about from room to room, not bothering to switch from jammies to clothes in which one could unabashedly be seen in polite society. From time to time the shriek of the telephone interrupted his inactivity. He hated the telephone.
02/04 Direct Link
Bad air still. Took Maxwell to a scout activity. A foreign worker, hired to do the dirty work at slave wages, found a Saudi girl's wallet while sweeping a parking lot. He wanted help talking to a Saudi security guy. We worked it out. The worker would take no reward - seem to be tightly controlled. I saw his supervisor, from India I think. I thought I was in the X-files. He had one thumb that didn't grow straight and end with the fingernail. It curved at the away from the fingers and split into two separate thumbnails at the end.
02/05 Direct Link
84 Charring Cross Road - a wonderful movie, but, to me, a very sad ending. I would be thrilled to be lost in a bookstore for much of the rest of my life. too many people with too many conflicting schedules. I'll never be able to join the ice hockey league over here. it takes too long to get to the rink - just the playing time might not be bad. But then again, the four boys have too many places to go. Martha, too, has places to go. I've nothing I want to write about today. It was just another day.
02/06 Direct Link
it seems that the only people I've been able to talk to today are those I don't have time to talk to. those I need to talk to aren't available. this is like no other company in the industry. Saudi Arabia is a different world. these idiotic auditors take it all too seriously - in this case. Ethan's first soccer practice - the only blonde spot in a scrum of very dark hair. a stop at the baseball equipment shed, dinner at the Hobby Farm. I need to sleep; Miles keeps me up - won't sleep; Martha continues to talk and ask questions.
02/07 Direct Link
information that doesn't inform, or isn't where it is said to be; advisors and technicians who simply don't know; evangelists of dopey causes who don't know what they believe; informally authoritative people who, asked a question, will talk about something else for hours; the opening day of American baseball, little league baseball, in Saudi Arabia; the dedicatory first pitch thrown by a Saudi, a senior vice president of the company that built the town; two abbreviated games played by the boys; the even younger boys who just want to run - just want to play using only the rules of friendship.
02/08 Direct Link
He noticed a flickering movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head quickly to see what was there. It was nothing extraordinary – just the lamp’s electrical cord in the next room. He saw nothing moving anywhere in the room. No insects or spiders ambled along; no mice dashed about. “Must be nothing,” he said to himself. He continued to wash the strawberries, thinking that when he was finished he would look for signs of roaches. As he washed the last strawberry and tossed it into his mouth he remembered that it was time for the webcast.
02/09 Direct Link
He stepped out of the shower, towel around his waist, still somewhat groggy from a restless night's sleep. He scrutinized the face that stared from the mirror; frowned at the hair. He gave it up as a lost cause; forced a brush through the hair, rubbed some lotion into the face, and took one last sour look. A blur of movement appeared behind him in the mirror. He turned quickly and saw nothing that didn't belong, nothing out of place, nothing animate. Holding his towel, he raced from the bathroom. He ran into the hall, then from room to room.
02/10 Direct Link
The flashes I see just briefly have been coming with more frequency - increasing at an increasing rate. I'm not sure what to think of them. I never really see anything - just a flash, a glimmer, perhaps a vibration of some sort. I always see them out of the corner of my eye. I've never seen one directly. The ophthalmologist who examined my eyes said that he could see nothing wrong. I can still read the smallest line on the eye charts. He said that I might need to see a neurologist. He gave me the name of one he knows.
02/11 Direct Link
the annual father/son cake-baking contest for cub scouts. perhaps we just didn't think about it enough. this is the first year we didn't win something for our cake. I must admit to being disappointed, but it may have been a good thing for Alexander. I wasn't particularly surprised that we didn't win something, but for Alexander it seemed to be a bit of a rude awakening. he seemed to be quite hurt. perhaps we'll give it more attention next year. the cakes are used as desert after dinner and the end of the program. none I sampled was very tasty.
02/12 Direct Link
I don't recall much of what happened today, and I don't want to think about it. Much of the day was wasted - couldn't do research because tools weren't available. I had a doctor look at my right knee, along with an x-ray. It seems to look ok in the x-ray, but it still hurts - something else to nurse into my old age. the time of Alexander's baseball practice was changed. Now it conflicts with cub scouts. That will be a problem. Miles cut his foot today. A baby-sitter watched Ethan and Miles while Martha and I were at different activities.
02/13 Direct Link
I should write to my parents - can't make myself do it. I feel myself shrinking from communication with other people. I'm tired. I haven't slept well for weeks. attended a dry-run presentation of the findings of a committee I've worked with. The presentation ... could be improved, but only by a thorough re-working. I feel bad for the guy tasked with putting it together and delivering it. Arabic is his first language. I've made language suggestions and content suggestions. I can't re-write it - take something over from the Saudis. Ethan got his soccer uniform tonight after practice. He is happy.
02/14 Direct Link
Saudi Arabia has banned valentine's day. Even the writer of the article in The Arab News thinks that the people behind it should be able to find something better to do. To me, valentine's day is among the least of "holidays"or celebrations, but I don't feel the need to try to confiscate items that people have purchased to give to others. People, as a species, are idiots - freaks. As Bertie Wooster might say, actions such as the banning of valentine's day cause me to wonder about the status of Man as Nature's last word. Maxwell's baseball practice was ok.
02/15 Direct Link
I hadn't seen her for a few weeks. She had been out of town, then our schedules had simply been such that we hadn't crossed paths. When I finally saw her on that late afternoon, she was instantly transformed in my mind. I couldn't utter a word for some moments. I remembered her as a calm, dignified woman. What I beheld was one of those high-strung, absurdly coiffed, yippy-yappy, snippy-snappy little canines. I say canine, not dog, because such tiny brutes are not proper dogs - different mentality completely. Instead of radiating calm dignity, a savage, high-pitched squall emanated from her.
02/16 Direct Link
what silly things we do; to what unrestricted lengths we stretch our imaginations and schemings. Thousands of hours are spent (wasted?) in an attempt to give meaning ... purpose ... a sense of importance to the tasks given to thousands of employees of a corporation. We dream up new titles - human resources, human capital - to attempt to give people a feeling of worth. All perfect rot. I'd much rather be part of "personnel"than a dispensable "human resource-. That title, along with the nauseous moniker "human capital-, gives me visions of a warehouse bursting at the seams with interchangeable bodies.
02/17 Direct Link
I've lived in Saudi Arabia for three years now. Dhahran is a tolerably comfortable place to live. Martha and the boys seem to be reasonably happy here. They've been here six months less than I have been. A strange weekend - all baseball games were cancelled because of the heavy rain of Tuesday evening. The infields are all red, clinging, staining mud. It seems that I've just arrived here. Time passes quickly, and I've swiss cheese for a memory. That project begins in two days. I'm not sure if volunteering for it was such a hot idea. We shall soon see.
02/18 Direct Link
Finished the third Patrick O'brien historical novel in the Aubry/Maturin series. Fascinating books. I wish I could understand more about the geographical and nautical stuff. It would also be nice to understand French, Spanish, and Latin. Phrases from those languages get tossed around in those books. German is the only language besides English I understand. Silly of me, but I always want a description of their activities between books. Perhaps if I practice for the rest of my life I'll be able to write about one-tenth as well as he did - about the same for PG Wodehouse, another favorite author.
02/19 Direct Link
Why do I continue to work in accounting? Only because I've no other way to earn enough money. I am completely tired of daylong meetings about "re-engineering"processes and procedures. I've been involved in such meetings for at least fifteen years. They are all the same - some goofy consultant shows up and spouts off buckets of jargon and meaningless phrases. It is primarily because people don't do their jobs. If they did, needed changes would be seen and made. I say again, people, as a species, are idiots. I wish we would simply leave each other alone. Leave me alone.
02/20 Direct Link
This cold simply doesn't know when it isn't wanted. I have had it for days. I stayed home today to rest and try not to get anyone else sick. I got a bit of rest in the morning. The little boys were home in the afternoon and wanted to wrestle. I am tired of being sick; I have had enough of being sick. One way or another, something always seems to be wrong with me. I could die and feel good about it. My family would be fine - they would find a replacement, an improvement. I am tired of life.
02/21 Direct Link
The paint fumes were noxious, nauseating. Sitting, talking, wondering what the guy over there could possibly be thinking because of what he is saying. It is hardly germane to the concept. Head compressing. Let's get away from here - leave each other alone for a while, breathe in some air. Now it is baseball. First the practice for the second, mud around third base. Second the game for the first - when will it begin? When will it end? Will it ever end? The second and the third are restless, bored rigid. Mud still gurgles around third base. Slide the boys home.
02/22 Direct Link
The fourth-grade program was quite good in general. The playing of the recorders, at least 75 kids playing recorders, got to be a bit much from time to time - squeaky and screechy. Ethan stood and fidgeted most of the time; Maxwell fidgeted, too. Miles was sick. His coughing seems to have been getting worse so I took him to the clinic. The diagnosis, which I had guessed, was bronchitis. We picked up the medication; went home to inflict it upon him - not tasty stuff. I hope he'll sleep tonight. I hope the scunge will cease to run from his nose.
02/23 Direct Link
Another night that I haven't been able to fall asleep until about 2:00. Part of it might be Miles' coughing; part might be Martha's snoring (albeit relatively lightly). Was asked to attend a meeting off-compound. I knew nothing about the subject; the guy who knows was out sick. At least it was interesting. I worked on the new project - continually interrupted. I want to be left alone. Ethan had said he felt sick this morning - missed school, so he wasn't allowed to go to his soccer game. Maxwell baseball in RT; Alexander baseball in Dhahran - they played like a mess.
02/24 Direct Link
Frank had just described what this new concoction was supposed to do. I considered it - a small glob of gooey stuff sitting on a plate in the middle of the table. All of us looked at it and wondered if it would ever catch on. If you squinted just right, you might think it was a small piece of candy. Just after we all began our silent deliberations on this thing, Ellen burst through the door. I knew Frank wouldn't be happy. I looked at him and almost began to laugh. I stifled it. "What are all of you doing?-
02/25 Direct Link
Another bad night for sleep. Ethan was coughing frequently and intensely, drifting in and out of sleep. Martha asked me to take him to the emergency room to make sure nothing is drastically wrong with him and to get something to help him. We were gone for a couple of hours. We were told that it was something viral. We were given medication that included codeine. That helped him sleep. I stayed home from church with Ethan and Miles. Spicers came over for dinner. They are dear, dear people and very funny. We all laugh together for a long time.
02/26 Direct Link
Rain fell from time to time today - enough to cancel all baseball practices. It feels as if more rain has fallen this year than has fallen during the previous three years combined. Interesting. I met with the tax consultant today and turned in our absolutely simple tax information. It is good to have that done. I worked late. The new project demands more time. I needed to visit some friends who have health problems from time to time; next was a meeting about the cub scout soap box derby. Too many meetings, too many meetings - not enough time. Need exercise.
02/27 Direct Link
She decided to take a bite just because she thought he didn't want her to. I watched his eyes light up with glee while he strained every nerve to make his face look angry. She took a bite. Her appearance turned from one of cold satisfaction to one that looked as if her mouth had just bit into a tart lemon stuffed with onion when it had been expecting creamy milk chocolate. She did her best to compose herself, but it didn't last. She spewed forth the bite she'd bit off like Old Faithful giving one of its best efforts.
02/28 Direct Link
February is over - in a few hours. I don't know why I so desire this month to be over. Is it because I get paid at the end of the month? No. I don't particularly know why. Perhaps I simply want time to pass quickly so I can grow old, die, be done with it. I worked late tonight so I missed Alexander's baseball practice. Maxwell was in Bahrain with his school class so he didn't go to his baseball practice. However, the head coach wanted me to help with a couple of parts of the practice so I went.