May 1, 2006

Saudi 19

Saudilogue 19

Semester is well underway. The classes are large, but enthusiastic.

Biggest bummer lately is the internet service. Expats keep in touch with the world
through the Internet and it has been down most of this week. It cut out when I was talking
to my daughter on Skype (a very cheap way of making overseas calls). Growl.

But, as long as it’s down, I moved my computer downstairs and have gotten loads of
work done sitting on the couch with my laptop on my LAP, Easier to use that way than a
small desk and I have lots of space to spread out my material.

It is very windy. I wonder if a sandstorm is blowing in. The breeze is cool, a nice touch
on an otherwise warm day.

Have gotten some interesting responses to my Saudilogues lately. One of them addresses
the issue to Saudi Arabia and oil. I believe the country is trying to expand its economy
because the King did say there was about 70 years worth of oil left. I remember that the
figure used to be 300 years left when I was in high school or early college. World wide
consumption has obviously gone up a lot.

Since the Al Quaeda attack on an oil installation in eastern Saudi Arabia, the police have
tightened up security. There was some other kind of shoot out with terrorists a day or
two later, with them all being killed.

Very stressful week at work. Wednesday I finally threw caution to the wind and ate the
last piece of chocolate cake in the cafeteria. The ladies there are wonderful cooks. They
not only make their own pasta, but they bake all desserts and finger foods. Yum. The joke
is that after you get here and eat the wonderful food, you fill out your abaya.

March 24

Other responses to the Saudilogues have required me to reread and edit them. Sorry to
those I offended. Live and learn.

Meanwhile, the wildlife has taken a dramatic turn. It is now late spring, early summer.
The large tree by my villa is full of ripe berries. I don’t know what kind of berries, I still
don’t know what type of tree, but the berries are a major hit among all kinds of birds and
fruit bats. Yes, folks. FRUIT BATS – which a wing span of probably 12 – 15 inches but
it looks wider when you see them for the first time. They are beautiful to watch (from a
distrance.) One can feel the air pressure change is they fly by, but you cannot hear their
actual flight. Among the many birds in the tree, I spotted what looked like a wild canary.
Never seen one before, but it was little and yellow. How scientific is that?

Geckos are back. Guess they sleep a lot during the winter (mid 70s low 80s). I did see
one of the big ones outside the day after I spotted the FRUIT BATS. It was very large.
The little guys I’ve seen in the house are 3-4 inches long. This thing was gray, had a head
that was over an inch long. The whole thing was probably 8=9 inches long. I realized that
the loud clicking I’ve heard since arriving here is probably from it – outside. The little
guys inside aren’t old enough to mate (maybe?) But I there has be a consistent clicking
from the front door area since I got here.

I have started learning Arabic, both written and spoken. Read my first sign a couple days
ago – not a big move, mind you. But I read the Arabic for "baba" which means father or
papa – and guess what! The sign was for Papa Johns Pizza. Hey, it’s a start.

We are five weeks into classes; I am feeling the mental exhaustion from teaching six
classes with five preps.

Gotta trot.


April 3

Still have internet problems. Am getting quite frustrated by this. I think I need a new
cable or something.

We are involved with a college fair today and tomorrow. The College looks quite festive.
One faculty member designed a very spiffy polo shirt graphic, then converted it to a gray
scale which looks good on the pens, mugs and notepads. Most of the student groups
coming through today spoke Arabic, so I handed out goodies. Luckily some students
came by and helped with explaining the program and walking visitors through the booth.
This was a very good experience for them.

April 13
The internet has been a horrible problem. They finally ran in a new cable. It has been
working much better ever since. It is horrible to not be able to contact people. I felt the
distance much more acutely.

I am being offered a new contract for next year and am taking it. I do like it here,
particularly when the internet is working. My students are wonderful.

We will be moving into a new wing of the building. The entire third floor will be graphic
design. The acting director has been asking for budget requests and furniture suggestions
for the new studios and offices. Unfortunately, no one thought about water when the wing
was built and here all walls are cement, so when I indicated a few months ago that sinks
were of primary importance in an art studio classroom, I was told no sinks. NO SINKS.

Somehow they have managed to get a sink into one studio. We sure do need the space. At
last report we have nearly 200 GD students. Wow.

The College fair was successful for the whole school. Our booth suddenly doubled in size
within the first 15 minutes of the show and it looked kinda disorganized for a while. I
said that could be a good thing since we already have more students than faculty can
comfortably teach. Usually a large class is 17 and they are rare. This semester I have 22
students in one class and the smallest is 12. Last semester, the largest was 17 and I had
two classes that were 5 and 6 respectively.

So, I have spent many hours revising my Saudilogues to protect the names of those who
do not want to be named. That’s only fair. David and Maggie (my scrabble buddies)
don’t care if they are listed. Maggie is currently on break in Ireland, so David and I have
been playing some one on one games. He has a dictionary of 2 and 3 letter words so these
games are getting rather technical. A colleague calls them cut-throat but they are not. In
fact, (sometimes without a comfortable lead) we help each other.

It rained twice this week. I teach a late class on Saturdays and Mondays, so I take a cab
home. The street were wet and in the distance it looked brown. I asked Mr. Khan (the cab
driver I always call) if it was a sandstorm or rain because it was brown. He said it could
be either one, which surprised me. I thought, also, that after the rain it would be less
dusty – washing off things, but it doesn’t rain long enough to do that and mostly it stirs
things up so there is sand in the rain (if that makes any sense).

So, gotta go. I am sorry it has been so long since I last wrote, but this internet thing has
been just awful and in the few minutes I was on line I barely had enough time to read
incoming messages.

Hope to be back in the US the week of July 26. Please keep Bush from attacking Iran…

S of a

at May 1, 2006 11:03 AM