May 15, 2006

Saudi 20

Saudilogue 20

Day 4 of my 5 day weekend. We are on spring break. Having reread all the Saudilogues, I thought I might bring you up to speed on positive changes here. Remember I said there was no recycling? Well, the LIFE club at school started a paper recycling program at the beginning of the semester. Two weeks later they had bins out for plastic by all the water coolers. I started putting my spent water bottles in them also. The funds received are going into the student scholarship fund. Because recyclers only pay 10 SR per ton, the money is minimal, which is why the administration of the school wasn’t interested in this project. But the club is doing it – so that is great and it is being supported by students and faculty.

Internet troubles have gotten worse. This time it is the major provider, not just the local provider. It is now Friday and internet has basically been down for three days. Seems better this afternoon. At least they say it is the problem of their supplier…. My computer is fine.

Tomorrow marks the second half of this semester. I gave a written midterm to one of my classes and half the class flunked it cold. Great. They have a project due tomorrow. Hope they do it on time and with good craftsmanship. I know. Don’t we all. After bombing the midterm, my attitude is sagging. The other classes are doing very well. I am just surprised by this one.

I’ve been here nearly 8 months now and can report that we have had a nearly 100% turn over in cats. Their numbers have increased because enough females remained to produce even more litters, but at least the current crop of cats is quite feral and therefore don’t walk right under you feet.

I see President Hu of China is in the US and is coming here next. The general rap on TV here about all this is that Americans need to recognize that China is waking up, has a 10 to 1 ratio of engineering graduates to the US and in the US 50% of engineering grads are foreign students. As more Chinese people drive cars and motorcycles and build companies which require energy, that 70 years of oil here may only be 35… (that’s my thought… nothing scientific. Just logical. I’ sure he’s here to make sure China and Saudi Arabia are on good terms. KSA provides 485 million barrels a day to China. I think that was the figure. Man, that’s a lot of oil.

March 10, 2006
Probably a month since I started this. I finally saw a construction worker wearing a hardhat. As I mentioned none of them do and some even wear sandals when they work. No steel toed shoes here, maybe tennis or leather shoes… Anyway,, this guy was sitting in a lawn chair watching some other fellows working. He had on the hard hat. My Mom called them sidewalk supervisors.

I created my first oil painting in years for a fellow who teaches at a local elementary school. He wrote a musical about the origin of weathervanes. The main character is “Half chick.? The play is set in Spain, so he decided to have two painters working on stage, painting away. One is supposed to be Dali, the other Picasso. So, I painted the Picasso (sort of) half chick. This was so much fun and so good for my soul, that I bought an easel and more canvasses.

I am scheduled to teach a Digital Imaging class this summer, then back to the states for a 35 day vacation. By the time I get back, the new wing should be finished and I will have my own office. I’ll miss my roommate, but the extra space will be wonderful. Currently we are teaching 12 classes between us and you can’t see the floor or walls because of the influx of projects.

No matter how fast I grade work and return it to students, the incoming is faster than the outgoing.

I’ve been taking Arabic classes from a teacher at the compound and can now read most of the Arabic alphabet. I try to read signs on the way to work, though I admit I can’t read very fast, but if I can identify the first 4 letters in a word on a sign, I feel rather proud of myself. I don’t know what the sign says, but Arabic is phonetic.

A new Panda store has opened near the compound. A HyperPanda, the biggest Panda,, the biggest store in the MiddleEast… I will go there Thursday morning. Some of the other ladies from the compound say it is toooo big. I’ll wear tennies.

This week I was invited to a restaurant premier. A new very high end Italian restaurant is opening and the manager asked a friend of mine to invite three others to attend and eat a 7 course meal. Lucky me. Wow. We ate in a leisurely fashion from 7:45pm to 10:15 pm. I didn’t eat again for nearly two days. We did get some pictures. Hopefully I can get some copies. David and Maggie are my Scrabble buddies. I have no idea howmuch the meal would have cost us. Bet it would have been over 2000SR. ($500 US) for the four of us. Maybe more. The desert was fabulous. So, I decided when it officially opens, I’ll have the bread and sauces (free), two crab cakes on avacados with other additions and then the to die for chocolate… ooooooo

Scrabble is getting very interesting as David collects Scrabble dictionaries – the ones with two and three letter words acceptable in international competition. Friday mornings are still pancakes and Scrabble at Maggie’s house.

Oh-the play I told you about…. Said teacher asked me to play in the band accompanying the kids. Since I got to Saudi I have been playing my guitar more and played it in public twice (blush). David did get a banjo, but it doesn’t tune well. Don’t know if I’ll bring mine back from the states next trip.

Seems like I remember what I want to tell you when I’m no where near a computer. Then I draw a blank – oh

On the Mom bragging front, my daughter is graduating from St. Scholastic with a degree in social work and has at least one job offer to date. My son has also landed fulltime employment and took third place in a strongman competition held recently in Chicago. MY SON, son of slug, pulled a 25,000 semi truck 72 feet in 37 seconds. I am impressed.

May 13
Two days ago I went to the new HyperPanda, a store the size of two football fields – they sure had lots of stuff. Bought some double-sided tape and found jeans that actually fit.

My daughter graduates Sunday and landed the job of her dreams working for the court system in Mankato. What a thrilling time in her life.

Proud Mom signs off.

at May 15, 2006 11:34 AM