Who am I?Where am I?

28 August 2008

Live from Al-Ain

I'm sitting at my school right now here in Al-Ain waiting for the bus to arrive to take me back to my flat. I'm so glad the weekend is here. I'm tired. I'm happy though because I had a really productive week with my teachers. I actually think that the English teachers are competent and understand the problems facing the school better than I have been led to believe. I'm not sure though. I shall see once school gears up and I can see them in action. I was led to believe that they would be uncooperative and not willing to embrace new ideas. I have found my English teachers to be exactly the opposite. They are willing to sit and discuss business and are very cooperative thus far.

School opens on Sunday and Ramadan begins on Monday so not a whole lot will happen during the first month...however, I'm looking forward to the challenge of this job.

What else? I don't really have any weekend plans. I opted not to take the trip to Abu Dhabi tomorrow. I just want to relax a bit. Anyway. I'm getting a kick out of watching the DNC on Al-Jazeera International. Then switching to BBC, then to CNN, then to the French station. It's all quite interesting to see their differing slants. I like Al-Jazeera's coverage the best so far.

I've developed some sinus allergies. I'm in the desert for goodness sake. This shouldn't be happening. It started the day after we had a deluge. Oh man, watching Emirati (and ex-pat) drivers trying to cope with rain-soaked roads was akin to watching a Floridian highway during a blizzard. Erratic would be an understatement. I saw two accidents while walking home and I only live about 600 meters from the mall where I was walking home from. Anyway. I digress. I have some allergies so I'm taking it easy. I want to explore Al-Ain some more...maybe check out the camel souq and definitely check out the vegetable souq.

Signing off from Al-Ain,

Richard the Nomad


Disposable Diapers

Did you know that 3.5 million tonnes of waste each year in the United States is from dirty diapers and it is estimated that approximately 1.4% of US landfills are comprised of dirty diapers? Furthermore, 250,000 trees are cut down annually in the United States to provide the filling for diapers. Use cloth diapers.


Democratic National Convention

As I sat here watching coverage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), I'm struck by how ridiculous the 4th Estate has become. Pundits are analysing the comments as they are made without really knowing how they will play. What I was struck by was how little Americans make decisions on who to vote for based on real issues. The issues in this election (in no particular order) are quite clear. 1) The economy 2) The War in Iraq 3) Health care 4) American foreign policy. How one can even conscience voting for any Republican candidate at any level is beyond my ability to comprehend. To put it simply, I'm flabbergasted. Where do the Republicans find these troglodytes from? How do the Republicans convince millions of working class Americans to vote against their own economic interests and for them? Anybody earning less than $500k per year should read the book "What's the Matter With Kansas" before deciding to ever again vote for a Republican.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.7 million Americans have no health insurance. Almost one in five AMERICAN children live below the poverty line (18%). That is happening in the wealthiest country in the world (and perhaps the wealthiest country in world history). It is simply absurd. As much as I like(d) John McCain in the past, after doing some research, he has voted with the "mainstream" Republican Party viewpoint in over 90% of his votes since 2000. The translation: he agrees with Bush.

Bush is a failure as a world leader and has not taken America in the direction we as a nation needed to go. How did we go from a budget surplus under a Democrat (Clinton) to a huge budget deficit in 8 years? How did we as a nation on 12 September 2001, wake up with the entire world feeling sympathy for the biggest most powerful country in the world, and proceed to dispose of this sympathy in record fashion with a ridiculous war? How can we justify the billions spent in Iraq when we have 18% of our own kids living in poverty? The answer is simple: the chthonic reign of George W. Bush. McCain has shown by his voting record that these nascent policies would continue. Is this what McCain means by leadership when he questions Barack's leadership credentials?

Recently Barack stated that the Republicans would try to make the American populace afraid of his last name, skin color, big ears, etc. This is precisely what has happened. We need Barack. We need a leader with resonance on the world stage.

Theoretically, the part of the world who dislikes America would love for us to vote for McCain, not Barack. Voting for McCain will vividly illustrate to the world that the majority of Americans agree with the disasterous course of American policies over the past few years. This action will only serve to alienate America further from the rest of the world. Electing McCain will be the waterloo of American influence. We need a fresh face with fresh ideas.

Make a smart decision in this election and ignore the media. Vote based on knowledge and on the candidates records. In short: ignore the soundbites. If you don't know the issues, go to www.glassbooth.org and you can find the candidate that best reflects your own views. Okay...I'm going back out into the desert night.


Richard the Nomad


27 August 2008

27 August 2008

Okay I'm trying this out. I just figured out how to change the language from Arabic to English so now I know what I'm actually typing. Today, I'm still feeling a bit punky but I'm going to be fine b/c tomorrow is my last day of work before the weekend. I had a weird day at work that was very fulfilling. We began working as usual but after about an hour of the training session, the principal of the school came in and interrupted my director. He politely asked all of the SABIS staff to leave the room, which we did. The teachers then had a meeting without us. It was weird. Before that happened, I had made sure I had some space next to me in the meeting room and some of my English teachers actually sat with me. That was cool. They really aren't intimidated, which is a good thing. After their meeting, I was in the English Club room and all of the English teachers came into the room and sat and we talked politics. They were free to go, but we weren't. However, they stayed for about 45 minutes. We had a great conversation about Palestinian, Jordanian, and Sudanese politics. All very interesting. This afternoon, I relaxed a bit and then found the post office finally. Sent some letters. Later, Will and I met Katia about our flat situation and the fact that we haven't moved and aren't moving and that I have a ton of stuff in my place...it's like a furniture warehouse now. Katia took us over to what is supposed to be our new place. It's new, nice, but far away from the center of town, and in a building. I don't like the last two things so I will have to see what I decide to do. Anyway. I need to go. Signing off from Al-Ain. Richard the Nomad