Saturday, 29 March 2008

man-eating mozzies

There are giant man-eating mosquitos in Al Ain. I've never seen such big ones. They're quite easy to see and swat, but there are sooo many of them. We had to leave the classroom the other day to get it fumigated because we were all chatting away and simultaneously swatting mozzies. Apparently the college is being fumigated over the weekend and the surrounds are being 'fogged.' I hate to think what 'fogged' might mean. It conjures up visions of giant DDT clouds.

I keep wondering what diseases the beasts are carrying. I'm told that malaria disappeared from this area in the dim and distant past, but I'm also told (lots of rumours flying around in Al Ain) that if you are diagnosed with malaria you are refused treatment if you claim you got it here. However, if you got it in another country, you'll get treatment. I've heard of problems being legislated out of existence and of unemployment queues being substantially diminished simply by redefining terms. Simply refusing to acknowledge a disease as being away of getting keeping the records clean is another lateral thinking approach!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

bizarre news stories today

A story I spotted in a Brisbane paper today about an incident in Florida, USA - Stingray leaps on to boat killing woman. Stingrays don't leap out of the water and attack people! That's just ridiculous! What was the ray thinking? They're only supposed to attack when they're under threat. A woman sitting in a boat shouldn't be a threat. How bizarre.

And one from a Melbourne newspaper - Infected Australian computers fetch top dollar. Say what? Apparently if you infect 1000 Aussie computers with viruses, you can score $100 USD from Russian bad guys. UK computers are worth $60, US computers $50 and Spanish computers $25. Why is anyone paying for this and why are Aussie computers worth more? Apparently the computers are being hijacked for mass-mailing SPAM. Aussie computers are hot property because Aussies are the slackest when it comes to protecting their computers so it means their computers can be hijacked longer than UK, US or any others.

And finally, Perth man sells life on Ebay. A man in Perth is selling everything on Ebay including his home and all of its contents as well as his car, clothes, introductions to all of his friends and even a trial at his work place. Apparently he's recently separated from his wife and he's not happy with his life. He's going to sell everything and start again.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

road to Fujairah

We jumped in the car with the duo (T & C) yesterday without any particular plans. The car took us to Fujairah where we visited an old fort. The drive off the main road and up to the fort was a bit hair-raising given that it was a narrow road with lots of blind corners and we were armed with the knowledge that others are quite happy to do 140 kms on roads like this based on the assumption that there couldn't possibly be other cars around. We managed to get to the fort and back without mishap. The road took us past a new village that noticeably had one mansion and lots of dorm-like housing for workers. We continued along the road to the fort and ducked around the back where we were greeted with stunning scenery. There's a wadi rich with plant life and a hillside opposite dotted with caves.

Furjairah itself was interesting to see. There's a really weird seaside picnic area with multiple drive-in booths with individual shelters for cars alongside seating for 8 - 10 people. It was a little reminiscent of drive-in movie theatres back home. The place had a forlorn feeling of a bygone era. It looked like it would have been a happening thing in 1963. Other parts of the town were quite modern with high-rise buildings and international hotels.

On the trip home we headed back on a new road that is totally unsigned. It runs from Kalba through to Al Madam. It's a regular freeway with two lanes in either direction and is fully paved; an easy drive. There are a couple of tunnels along the way and some wonderful mountain views. Parts of the road have attractive fencing and footpaths which is quite strange given that it's apparently in the middle of nowhere.
There are a couple of government buildings and some very swish looking housing dotted here and there, but otherwise nothing.

One thing noticeable on other roads on the route was the free roaming camels. There were many on the sides of the roads. Two steps to the side and the'd be right in front of the car. From what I can gather this used to be quite common all over the Emirates, but it is unusual now. Rumour has it that if you hit a camel, you are liable to pay the owner the price of the beast. Rumour also had it that this was a bit of a racket in the past when unscrupulous owners would lead their old or sick camels onto the road and wait.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

two things I hate about Al Ain

The weather is beautiful again today. I've got the windows and doors open and there's a gentle breeze. I live close to a small store which is very convenient at times. However, I've got a couple of gripes about it all.

1. Why do delivery people turn up to the store at all times of the day and early evening leaving their truck engines running for up to half an hour at a time? The noise is horrendous and the contribution to excess engergy use and to air pollution can't be good! Not to mention noise pollution ... even after closing our double glazed windows the noise is disturbing.

2. Why do customers think it is reasonable to drive up to the shop and hoot their horns? When he's there the guy working in the shop rushes out to assist them. Is it really too much to get out of your car and take 6 steps into the store? Why do people think it's reasonable to have the shop guy at their beck and call? The hooting is annoying especially when the guy isn't there (he's often out on his bike making deliveries of water, gas or other items.). It seems that a locked shop door isn't enough of a signal and people sit there hooting for several minutes before they finally give up and tear off down the street; often at break neck speed.

The delivery truck that prompted this entry has been making a racket out the front for 40 minutes now.

Just as I hit publish, the driver got back into the truck ready to take off. I caught the culprit on camera albeit through the flyscreen!