June 3rd, 2002

krazy kat

Trufflescootems Boulevard

Video Gaming Pain is watching your brother play NHL 2002 (with all the graphics options turned on) on his poor old P133.

chunk... chunk... chunk... chunk...

Yesterday I went for another 6-hour walk in the sun. I love the sun, but there is probably such a thing as too much of a good thing. I'm sure that once of these days my body is going to make me pay for this. Not the exercise part -- that's all good -- but the whole "sunburn and dehydration" scene.

On the other hand, I have this kind-of lobster theme going. I think it goes well with my green shirt...

My dad finally caved in and got "real" TV installed the other day so that we could watch the world cup. He actually went with E-vision (ie: cable TV). Cable is new to the Emirates (been around for about 8 months or so); previously the only options were antenna or satellite. It's interesting -- the cable is actually run by Etisalat, the telephone company, and comes over the telephone conduit. As I understand it, it uses some kind of DSL-like technology.

So instead of 4 crappy channels that are on the air 5 hours a day, we now have 115 crappy channels that are on the air 24 hours a day. Uh, yeah. Satellite still has infinitely better content (like movie channels), but whatever. Although ministerphobia might be interested in hearing that we get no less than 8 channels dedicated to cartoons. Including 2 (Spacetoon and Jamini) that are specific to sci-fi cartoons. Uh, yeah.

A couple days ago, I took the bus into Al Ain. It's an inland oasis town about 100 miles east of here, and is where I used to live. It's pretty neat -- more interesting than the coastal cities, which are just plain old cities. I don't get much of a chance to get there these days; it's far easier to do from Abu Dhabi than from Sharjah, since it's in the same emirate. But the bus is cheap; a same-day return ticket runs about four bux.

So yeah, spent the morning wandering around the oasis and the camel market and the souq and stuff. Since it's a smaller town, it's nowhere near as westernized, and most people still shop in the open-air market downtown rather than go to the supermarkets. Although that's changing; a couple malls have been built in the last year or two. Including one built around an ice rink. Yeah. A huge ice rink in the middle of the desert, with a shopping mall built around it. That sort of thing is more common here than you might think.

Prompted by a recent discussion on tabnet, I went past the house where I used to live; it's really fallen into disrepair. Which is kind of sad. But not totally unexpected. Because only UAE nationals are allowed to own land or houses or anything here, the vast majority of buildings are owned by just a couple of landlords (like, 10,000 people own 95% of the buildings), who then rent them out. And the tenants aren't allowed to do any maintenance work on them; only the owner is allowed to do that. But some local guy who may own a couple thousand buildings around the country usually doesn't care much if one of them happens to be getting run down. So maintenance work is pretty much never done on houses and whatnot... they just get more and more decrepit until they're in such bad shape that they're just torn down and rebuilt. Kinda the way things work. So I think my old house is just about at that point now.

O well; c'est la vie.

Um, yeah. I think that's about all that's new. One more day in the life of mrputter.

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