Wednesday, August 30, 2006

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Everywhere I go! LMAO!! Well, in a way, it is! You see, the 1st of Sept. is a major holiday for Libyans. It was the day, back in 1969, that the current leader overthrew the government and liberated the country. "Viva le revoluccion!" (Did I spell that right? LOL) All over the city Christmas lights are displayed, hanging from all kinds of buildings.... riding through town last night made me feel like I was home checking out the Christmas lights.... I'm going to borrow one of the guys' camera and try to take some pictures this weekend.... if they turn out I'll post some here. :) It's made me realize that whenever I do leave, I will miss it like crazy. At this point I have been here 2 1/2 months, and it's gotten to be just as comfortable as home. Other than a few issues (no, I'm not gonna say, so don't bother asking) I really, really love it here! Even the heat wasn't too bad, especially since the summer was almost as bad back home. :P Part of me would love to find a reason to stay, but most of me is dying to get home to see everyone! I miss everything, hanging out at the bar, DRIVING, eating food that is safe... LOL, my cats, my apartment, FAST INTERNET, WORKING CELL PHONES, LOL The list could go on and on! I want to say thank you to everyone that has kept in touch with us here! You have no idea how much it has kept me sane while I've been here. I love you all, and miss you like crazy! Ok.... enough for me, it's Friday for us, so we'll probably be leaving soon. This means none of us will probably be around internet again until Saturday, but we all have cell phones, and the phone at the apartment is up and running, so if you're feeling froggy, give us a call! Just remember, we're 6 hours AHEAD of you, so if you call us at 10 pm, it's actually 4 am here! LOL Love ya, and I'll be back soon! XOXOXO

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Argh... no really

Yet another day spent sitting on my tookus waiting for a ride to a site.... Libya, land of no drivers! Ten million people,  five million cars, none that I can get to get off their butt and work...
Scooby Central Headquarters

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Sunday, August 27, 2006


My camera is gone!!! :( I was all set to go meet a blogger that currently lives here in Tripoli, and I start looking for my camera to get pics of the zoo and hopefully my fellow blogger..... and it's no where to be found!! We tore the house apart, we called the guys in the office and had them look everywhere, and we can't find it!! Now I'm out almost $400 of MY MONEY for MY CAMERA that was brought here to be shared for work and personal use. Now we can't do either!!!! We're gonna ask one of the guys here to let us check with all the people that work in the building, but the last time Tommy or I specifically remember seeing it was last Tues.... so there's not telling where it could be by now. :( I cried most of last night because I was so upset. I hope it was not stolen, but it most likely was. Hell someone tried walking out with one of Tommy's laptops the last time he was here, but at least it was big enough to be noticed immediately.... That's the ONLY cool gadget I have EVER purchased with MY MONEY and did it BY MYSELF! No help from anyone, no hand-me-down, no borrowing anything.... I bought it fair and square! Tommy's just as upset as I am, cause now not only can he not take the pictures for work he was accustomed to taking, but we can't take any pics of anything else while we're here. The other guys have cameras, and they're pretty good cameras, but none of them could zoom like that one could.... it was the SHIT!! Ok, enough for my rant..... I'll just hide in my office and cry a little more.... :(

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Guess what I did last night......

Won the lottery!!! Hahahahahaha Yeah, right, like that could ever happen. :P Actually, I had to spend the night at a hotel last night, cause when we got home from work we had no power in the apartment. No power, how's that possible with what we are doing here? LMAO! Well, evidently the bill had not been paid, and since that's not our responsibility, we didn't know to monitor the situation..... so, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing phone tag with everyone we could think of to try and remedy the problem. By midnight we were tired, hot, and ill, so we checked into the hotel down the street from us. Man oh man was that AC on full blast all night!!! :D Tommy and I both were wrapped in cocoons of blankets it was so cold. We didn't complain one bit. As tired as I was, I slept in the same position until 7:00 am this morning!! That rarely happens... LOL While we were trying to work on getting the power back Gregg and I decided to take a walk to fill the time. I swear we walked from one end of Tripoli to the other!! LMAO! Yesterday was the coolest day we've had in a few weeks, which means the temp was below 100, and there was a good breeze blowing, so we figured it was the perfect time to get out and check out some more shops. But, the breeze decided to quit about 1/2 hour into our walk, and we were walking down some of the busy streets, so there were too many tall buildings blocking what little we could have felt. By the time we got home (we walked for 2 1/2 hours or so), we were drenched in sweat and ready to relax. Unfortunately, the power was still out, but at least by then we found out why.... So, we decided to pack an overnight bag and head to the hotel to get some rest. Oh, I forgot to mention, while we were out window shopping, I decided to check out this little perfume place, see if I could find some of the intoxicating scents I've smelled around here. The shop was in a stairwell of an apartment building, and all the boxes were stacked against the wall about 2 1/2 feet high. I see one bottle I'd like to check out about 3/4 the way up, so I reach to pick it up, and wouldn't you know the whole wall came tumbling down around my feet!! Luckily I had worn my tennis shoes, cause I know I broke at least 2-3 bottles. :( I tried catching some of them, but it was useless. The store owner just started muttering something in Arabic and tried shooing me away. I felt really bad, but I was not about to stay and clean up. LOL Bridget, had you been here you would have hit the floor laughing at me.... I'm sure the look on my face was priceless! Well, I should run, I figured I'd just share the fun I had yesterday with everyone so they could get a laugh too. Hopefully the power will be back on by the time we get home today, or we'll just pack up and go back to the hotel. Today seems like another really hot day, so we won't be hanging out trying to "rough it" LOL Love you all, miss ya like crazy, and I'll chat again soon! XOXOXO

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dallas is playin' tonight and I can't watch...'cause I'm at WORK AGAIN!!!

That pretty much sums up my mood. This is my fourth night in a row at work. Dallas is playing against the Saints, and I can't watch it. I know, it's only pre-season... but it's Dallas!!!! You can't even get real-time scores for pre-season games!! That sucks!! Mitch is going to be my hero and keep calling me and keeping me updated throughout the game!! So, what's new?? Well, school started last week. I even made the effort to go to class... but my instructor didn't!!! I believe that if I can keep an A in the class and only show up part of the time, then there shouldn't be a problem because I obviously know the material. Public speaking is not going to be like that... I fear. Not only that, but you have to interact with the other students. Ugh! I like to work alone, mostly because I don't like to delegate responsibilities. I don't trust anyone to do it as well as I would. If you want something done right you've got to do it yourself. The more I experience the more I believe that. Also, in a group setting, I tend to take charge and not take input from others. It's my way! Sound familiar?? Compromising is difficult for me, not all the time, but a lot of it. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that I'm rude or discourteous. I try to me nice to everyone, unless they are idiots. I have no patience for incompetence or ignorance. So, this is going to be a great semester! Well, now that I'm done with my rant... I had to drop my day classes and I'm really disappointed. Zoology kind of sounded fun! However, I am looking for an alternative means of employment. I am tired of being extremely under-appreciated, not so much by the doctors, but by the actual office staff. I really don't feel like getting into it here, but it has to do with the schedule and the fact that the new girl is the girlfriend of the admin asst's son. She's his baby's mama. Not only that but the admin asst's mom is the day person every other weekend for my shift. What's that word for putting family members in positions of importance?? I learned it a couple of years ago in history, 'cause that's what was happening right before the Catholic Reformation. There were all of these family members that were becoming Cardinals and Bishops. Well, now it's happening to radiology coordinators. Apparently history really does repeat itself. Anyway... I just got good news. It's the second quarter with 3min left and it's 17-0 Dallas!! I'm kind of disappointed that I don't have to do my trick for them to win though. I hope its going to be a great season. The only thing that really sucks is everyone that I used to watch games with last season aren't around anymore. :( I need new football buddies! (Preferably that are Dallas fans. I'll probably have to work on converting someone.) Meanwhile, Melissa and I are busy making plans. We have the Hank Williams, Jr./Gretchen Wilson concert on September 23, Toby Keith/Joe Nichols on October 14, and this Saturday we have a beach music festival and then Jason Aldean and Brian McComas. We also want to go to Busch Gardens sometime in October, probably closer to Halloween. It's really fun at that time of year. That way, you're not walking around sweating all day and they decorate the park for Halloween. They turn the Escape from Pompeii into a haunted house, of course I'm not necessarily saying that's a pro. The last time I went through the one at Busch Gardens I was holding on to the back of my friend Kerry's shirt with my eyes closed the whole time. Not to mention the one I went through with Rob in Vegas... and he got punched in the nose for trying to scare me. When Dana and I went last October there was a guy dressed up like a mummy that jumped out from behind the bushes to scare us. I had already heard something and I was going to warn Dana, but he beat me to it. Next thing I know, Dana screams and takes off running, but not before grabbing me. I don't know where she was planning on going, but she was taking me with her! She drug me all the way across a bridge. There's this huge black man at the other end of the bridge, bent over laughing and pointing at Dana saying, "That white girl got scared." We had a great time. I hope that we can get a group together and we can all go! I just wish that everyone could be here. :( Well, I miss you and love you all. **A special message for April: I know that things are hard and I know you feel singled out being the only girl, but don't give up. Don't lose that spit-fire country-ness that I KNOW you have, and most importantly, don't lose faith in yourself. You are a strong person and you'll get through this and when you do, you'll look back and be proud of yourself because despite all odds... you made it through it. I know you like the back of my hand and you don't let things get the best of you. If you ever need me, just send me a text message and I'll call you or I'll get on Google and we can talk it out, okay? I love you, and I want to be there for you no matter what. This distance makes it a little harder, but I'm always here, and you KNOW that. I love you so much, and I miss you, and I am so very proud of you!!! (insert big bear hug from me here) **

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Africa: Day 43

I compose this to you now from the corner office in the apartment at ten minutes to two in the morning on Sunday. As of late, my nightly ritual has been to awaken sometime throughout the night from either headache, toothache, heat, or just plain restlessness. I usually spend ten to fifteen minutes roaming aimlessly throughout out the solemn marble walls, listening to the sounds of the city interspersed with the shuffling sounds my ambling feet make while I lazily meander through the house in search of... something. Either active distraction from slumber, or direct return to it would be sufficient, but neither seems to be readily available here lately.

I'm hungry most all the time at night now. I've dropped from a 205 pound with a 34 inch waist to a 165 pound waif barely sustaining a 30 inch waist. I'm quite sure, somewhere, one of you women is saying how wonderful that would be, but you truly have no idea how miserable it is to lose almost 20 percent of your body mass, and healthy body mass at that. I don't seem to be suffering any visible side effects, aside from the constant hunger, but I can't figure what's causing it. I'm eating as often as possible and when I do dine, it's usually one and a half what the others eat, yet I'm losing weight faster than I fear is healthy. Not to worry though. I'll be home again in a few months and I'll be stocking up. The good side is, I'll never be so happy to see a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham as I will be this year.

I miss all of you. If my memory serves me right, I haven't told you all that lately, but it remains true nonetheless. I try not to be one to reiterate things that I don't feel bear repeating, but I'm of the impression that most of you are less than perfect mind-readers, so I'll say it again here. I miss my gang of friends, my family, my environment. I've hit the point in this trip where I'm beyond ready for things to come to a close and let me return home to my familiar surroundings, but I fear that time has yet to come. Even now, one of my crew returns home tonight to his family while four more make preparations to return here to join me in the coming weeks. After their arrival I'm expecting another three to four weeks of hard work before I can even begin to attempt to make plans to come home. This time however, I plan to be home for awhile. I make a decent salary, but not enough, not NEARLY enough, to compensate for the amount of time I've been asked to spend away  from my life. Having experienced this first hand, I can assure you, that there is NO monetary value that would make me volunteer to be away from you all this long again.

I'm not sure what else to say. I find that the more I write lately, the more I delve deeper into this morose and somber frame of mind. It's hard to be exuberant when everything you want to be surrounded by is five thousand miles away. With that in mind, I think I'll head back to bed and stare at the ceiling some more. Maybe my audiobook will help me get some sleep. I'll talk to you all again soon.

Until then.

Africa: Day 41

Hello again world. It's another day in paradise for the Scooby team. It's currently 1:54 in the afternoon on Friday, which is one of our two days off here from work. It's been a really great week this week. Frustrations and stress levels ran high all week but in the end our progress outpaced my expectations for the week's success, so I'm quite happy today.

I've been watching the weather there back in the states and it seems you guys have been having quite the heat wave lately. It came to my attention yesterday when we were discussing the weather here. Apparently the heat here lately is not indicative of the norm for this area. Yesterday was supposed to be the end of our heat wave, or so I was told, but today dawned in no less than solar brilliance, once again breaking100 degrees before 9 AM in the morning. The high for this week that I've personally seen was around 125 degrees at noon, but I'm not sure what the actual record high was for the week. Speaking with Mom last week I learned that the world's hottest "recorded" temperature was 136 degrees, recorded 30 years ago, and guess where? Yup, right here in Tripoli Libya.

Hopefully, this wave of unending heat will dwindle by the middle of this coming week so we can pick up our work production. Our guys are having a little bit of a tough time with it, but the locals are much worse. Trying to get them to go take us to a work site when it's over 100 degrees outside is nigh impossible.

Well, since I have a few minutes to kill here, finally, I thought I'd take some time and catch you up on what's going on with us here in Tripoli. I've spent less and less time taking pictures lately, primarily because less and less seems to jump out at me. Familiarity with the surroundings, understanding of local customs, and learning the city have bred a sense of contentment in me, so fewer things strike my attention any more. I'm on day 41 of this trip, which means I've been here six weeks so far. If you couple that with the 12 weeks I was here earlier, then I've spent 4 and a half months in this country this year. At this point, we are only seven and a half months into the year. Spending over half the year here has pretty much made me learn to "live" here pretty comfortably.

This isn't to say there aren't issues to contend with. Diet has been a major problem here. On the PRO side of the list, the foods here, especially the fruits and vegetables, are not full of chemicals, pesticides, hormone treatments and all those other things that foods in the US are riddled with. On the CON side, they also aren't vitamin enriched, refrigerated, properly cleaned, regulated, or anything else. Eggs here that are great one morning will make you spend four hours being sick the next morning. We've all learned to live with a permanent sense of stomach cramps and digestive problems, due to sheer lack of time and money in which to properly deal with the issues.

I'm not complaining overtly, because I know I signed on for this tour, but no one planned for us to be here this long amount of time when our plans were first laid down for the project. Those in control of the finances and project outlines assume these tasks can all be accomplished in two to three months and I'm constantly telling them that it's going to take closer to one year, if not more, just to implement the physical side of the  project. 

The main problem this causes is a monetary issue. We're all making an adequate per-diem rate, though it's much less than the last time we were here. However, we're all also living like residents here. This means we wash all our own clothes, cook all our own meals, shop for our food, replace our appliances when they break down, etc. These things take time, not to mention money. Our team works about a ten hour day every day. After they are done, Gregg and I work about 3 to 4 hours more most nights. After pulling a 14 hour day, the mere idea of spending two hours to cook dinner for five people, spend one hour cleaning it all back up and washing the dishes, spending 30 minutes packing our gear and laptops back up for the next day at work, and then MAYBE trying to spend one hour trying to unwind, puts me pulling about 19 waking hours per day.

In contrast, the idea of staying in a hotel where my clothes are washed for us, food is prepared for us, cleanup is handled by others, paints a much more pleasant picture. My upper-management however, seems not to agree with that philosophy. However, he doesn't usually stay here with us, cook his own meals, and wash his own clothes. I'll just stop there on that train of thought. I'm sure you get the idea.

Ok. I think I'm gonna bring this post to a close. I just spent twenty minutes writing three more paragraphs and then I realized all I was doing was complaining about my money problems, so I deleted them. However, the subject is a sore one with me at this point, and it has adversely affected my mood. (Like that? That's my politically correct way of saying that I'm Pissed Off about our per-diem.) So, considering my less-than-shining mood at the moment, I think it best for me just to come back and write when I'm in a less combative frame of mind.

Peace be with you all until next time we meet.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Africa: Day 40 (Now me and Noah have something in common)

Greetings world. It's 1:23 PM here on August the 17th and I'm sitting in my office with Gregg waiting on an appointment that's currently 23.. nope, make that 24 minutes late. I figured I had a moment to write to you all while I was waiting. I'd like to take a moment to thank those of you who have been posting. I haven't had the opportunity to comment, but I've been reading them all. Collectively there are about 100 of us here in this building sharing an internet connection that's passing traffic at half the speed of smell... SLOW. That has made it all but impossible to upload any pictures, big emails, or anything else lately. I'm hoping they'll locate the problem and fix it within the next few days.

On the other side of things, we have achieved two major accomplishments this week. I installed my first DSL installation. Basically, its like installing a miniature Sprint Phone company in a building and then installing all the DSL modems in the client buildings that will allow them to join the network. Now, I successfully have microwave, E-1, T-1, DSLAM, DSL, dial-up, and fiber optic locations all talking on the same network. It's definitely been an amazing experience. I'd love to be able to share some of the details with those of you who understand the technology a little, but for the sake of client confidentiality, I'd best keep it as general as possible up here. I don't want my CEO getting upset because I revealed customer technologies to the outside world.... oooooohhh... *insert scary sound here*.

The sad thing is, I have half a nation communicating and i can't even get my OWN DSL working in my apartment. We've been waiting for DSL now for almost four months! What a load of crap that is huh? And of course, no one is any help. All the english speaking people we deal with forget that we don't speak arabic. I had someone give me the internet settings a few days ago... the instructions are all in arabic! Ugh.

We are getting ready to change up the team a little here in the coming days. Tom and Gregg are leaving tomorrow. Tom is going home to the US and Gregg is going to London for three days to see a Rolling Stones concert. The remainder of the team will be joining us on the 27th if plans don't change *again* and then Tim will be leaving for home on the 7th of September to prepare for his wedding on October 21st, so I'll be without my head lan engineer for about two months. That's really gonna suck!

I know you all are wondering when we're coming home, but as of this date I don't know. You all know me and know how I am. Considering that it takes six weeks to get things processed to return here again, I'm hesitant to fly home and then get stuck there. It's late enough in the year that any major changes to my flight schedule could realistically have me here at Christmas. There's NO WAY I'm going to be here for Christmas this year, so my plan is to be the "go to guy" and stay here until every last thing we need to deal with is done. I'm tired. My diet is crap. I've lost 30 pounds since I got here, which is KILLING me. I'm eating every chance I get but it takes forever to get food here. Dinner out means waiting two hours for anything. Cooking in means I only have 4 stove burners, 1 pan, and 2 pots with which to whip up a meal that serves 5, not to mention that spices are non-existent here. Let me rephrase.... Spices that are easily identifiable are non-existent here. We've all run the gamut of diaharrhea, puking, cramps, fatigue, exhaustion, and every other thing imaginable. It's actually funny when you think about it. These guys act like a military barracks; when one gets sick the other four show up with whatever remedies they have on hand.. Pepto, Prep-H, Advil, Excedrin, Vodka... oops.. did I say that?

Well, the people are here for the meeting I was supposed to have, so I'll need to cut this short. I'll chat with you all soon.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hey yall Its Me

Hey everyone. Tommy and April I cant wait until you come home. Doc If you are reading the blog be careful and I love you, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Marisa Congrats Have fun at Disney World I love you. Bridgett lets go out sometime this weekend. I need some girl time. Jen, congrats on your baby e-mail me your address so we can talk and keep in touch Talk to yall later bye.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

On the streets of ancient Ephesus.

Ancient amphitheatre (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)
My Bulgarian/Turkish cohorts (Adi, Vulo, me, Ahmet - my buddy)

Back in USA...missing my Eastern Euro buddies.

Well, day two back in LA, and I am missing my Bulgarian/Turkish cohorts! I am missing the late nights at discos (what we call clubs, hehe), loud music, drinking, and dancing and...well...I know this is a family blog, so... Seriously though, my three week holiday was a blast! The first week I was in visiting friends in England and Ireland, and then the next two were just amazing. Really no plans, but visiting my friend Ahmet in his native country. Ahmet was out here in December so I had a chance to show him around LA, and he returned the favour in spades as we traveled through Bulgaria, went to the Black Sea, and then met up with some of his friends and proceeded on to the resort towns in Turkey! Wow, never thought I would end up in Turkey, but hey, they invite, how could I say no? I am not quite as advanced as Tommy, so as soon as I figure out the whole "Hello" pic posting, I'll show some of my trip. Hope everyone is well! Peace, Mykal (Shak)

Hey y'all! :P

I just figured I needed to stop by and say hi, break up some of Tommy's long diatribes... LOL Luv ya baby! :P If you can't tell from Tommy's posts, things are going ok here, same old thing with work and all. I've been a little under the weather, but I've survived this far, so I'll be ok. :) My only real complaint about being here is how much I miss normal food.... LOL It's not really normal per se.... but there is something to be said for all the laws and regulations governing food and food prep. Don't get me wrong, I am LOVING all the fresh fruits and veggies, but we have to check ourselves constantly, cause they just don't last as long as they do back home, and luckily produce is dirt cheap, or else we'd be throwing away a lot of money! The part that bothers me the most is not having real beef (cow meat-- eww gross, I know, but deal), whether it's steaks or hamburger, and PRE-PACKAGED, washed, cleaned chicken!! Mama, I can totally see now why you hated chicken so much growing up, if it's not already cooked I don't want anything to do with it here.... LMAO!! Gregg and I happened to try the Tex-Mex buffet one night at the Corinthia, and let me tell ya, if I could have that more I think I'll manage to survive a little longer... :P Not everything was "truly" what we'd consider Tex-Mex, but they did a damn good job of turning a few local dishes into something more my style. :) There is also supposed to be an Asian restaurant in the same hotel, so I'm REALLY hoping to try it pretty soon!! (One of the biggest things I've missed about home is not having all the variety in menu options.... only after a little snooping I've managed to find some to hold me over!!) I enjoy eating (entirely too much I should say), so finding these menus and restaurants has been a real treat! I'm not quite as homesick anymore. LOL We're slowly breaking in the apartment, making it a little more home-y. I don't even think twice when I say something about going home and meaning there. Tomorrow I will have been here for 2 months, and stayed in the apartment all but 1 1/2 weeks of my trip, so it IS home to me. I really wish I could bring everyone over for a visit, and show off the place and my favorite areas of the city. Maybe one day, when travel to Libya isn't so dificult, that can be possible. (Yeah, and when Tommy and I win the lottery and become filthy rich or something.... HA!) Ok, now I have a few specific messages I want to share, to say hi and a few other things... Marisa, darling, I am so proud of you and so happy in wishing you congratulations on your wedding! I would have loved more than anything to be there to share that moment with you! I also know how wonderful it's going to be with your new job, new home, new family, pretty much a whole new life. :) It's so great to see someone go after something they had their heart set on and achieve it, you are truly a hero to me! I love you girl!! I understand you won't be online as much as before, but PLEASE drop me an email or two and let me know how things are. I hope we'll get a chance to get together some once I get home and just catch up on everything. Take care sweetie! Bridget and Melissa, I totally thought about you on Friday, when I thought you'd be heading to the concert! We were listening to Tommy's Ipod and a Dierks Bentley song started, and I could just see you two belting it out at the top of your lungs wearing your cowboy hats and drooling like crazy!! ;) LOL I really wish I could have been there with you. Thank you so much for chatting with me some, it's the only "girl" time I get, and let me tell you, it's no where near enough!! Most of the time I don't mind being one of the guys, but I'd love to have at least one girl here that I could talk to. Thanks Melissa for keeping me sane during the day! I love you both and miss you like crazy!! Mama, I know we haven't had nearly enough time to talk on the phone, and I hope now that we have a "real" phone line that can change a little. I remember calling you at least once a day when I started ECU and left home, and even when I moved to Greenville on my own we still talked at least once a week. I LOVE YOU so very much and wish I could have been there to help you after your surgery, but I know Frankie did a great job of taking care of you! I know some of these pictures have to bring back memories of Germany, wow, how life has changed! :) Thanks for keeping me up on everything that's going on with the family, it means a lot! Tell everyone that I love them and miss them and hope that I'll get to see them when I get home! Jenn, it's nice to see you back around here, we've missed you. I can't believe you're moving to Kansas, but I hope everything goes great for you while you're there! Congrats again for Baby Beluga, I can't wait to see all those cute-sy pics you were talking about! ;) Love ya girl! Ok, I really need to cut this off, I'm totally turning into Tommy by just rambling like crazy.... LOL I hope everyone hasn't gotten bored and just quit reading a long time ago... :) If I left out someone, I'm sorry, but I still love you and miss you too! Please everyone keep in touch! XOXOXO

Africa Day 35 / Marisa Married Day 1 (Wish I Was There)

Let me first begin this by properly making consideration for she to whom this day should properly belong: Marisa. I proudly raise my glass as I sit here tonight to Marisa, Agent M, Brown, and to the wonderful womann who has shared so many other monikers in my company throughout the years. Marisa, I was flattered, indeed honored, to be invited to be in your wedding and I wish more than anything else in the world that I could have been there to share what was I'm sure a wonderful day with you. The truth is, it's 8:20 PM here, so it's only two in the afternoon there where you are, so I guess at this point, you're still not married yet. However, by the time you read this, you will undoubtedly be sharing the world with your beloved as Mrs. Marisa Dawson. (Coincidentally, this inspires me to yet another moniker; (M)arisa (D)awson = MD = "Mad Dog Dawson") Of course, I'm sure this appeals not to the family lifestyle you are aspiring to, so I shall keep this one to myself and bring it out only on rare private occasion, just to get that "M" look from you and hurriedly put it back into my book of little colloquialisms until another day.

I hope today finds you happy, Darling. I hope you have everything in your marraige that you yearn for. I long to be there with you, for you know I would gladly raise a toast in your honor. However, it would probbably start something like "I'd like to offer a t-t-t... *Clear Throat*.. a t-t-t.. A SALUTE to you... etc." All things considered, maybe you're better off with me here instead of there. Regardless, I want you to know that I will always be here for you, here for your family, and always at your call if you require it. I know you have a great man now who will take care of you, but I hope you will let me have the occasional battle to fight, just for old times' sake. I wish you and Chris the best of love and of life. I wish you the happiest moments together and even moreso I hope that you're together for all of the hardest ones too, for those moments are the ones that will yield even more strength to your love for each other. Both happy and sad moments are part of life and you've always pulled through all of them with equal aplomb, although your aplomd traditionally takes a backseat to your dramatic representations sometimes *laughs*. I'll never forget those.

In return for all the happiness a woman should have, I would only ask that you not forget those of us who will miss you. I know you're not "going" anywhere any time soon and that you're not leaving town, but I ask you to remember that we all want to be a part of your life and to be as much a part of your family as your life permits. I know I speak for all of us in the "Scoobs" when I say "We love you, we're happy for you, and we wish you the most wonderful life possible!"

Secondly, I'd like to take a moment to let all of you in on a few updates. The primary update I have to offer is that we now have communications at home. For those of you who would like to, you can reach us at the following phone number:


This is our home phone number. Please remember that there are others that live here as well as April and Myself so you are liable to have someone else answer when you call. Additionally, we are 6 hours ahead of you, in case you haven't heard that a hundred times by now, but you can reach us any time as long as we're not at work. The easiest times to reach us are about 8 to 11 PM our time, so that's about 2 until 6 PM your time.
I'm hoping that we'll have internet at this location within the next week or so, but I'll update more as I know what's going on.
Love you all!

Africa: Day 33

I found myself unable to come up with a proper topic for today's post, so you may just have to bear with me as I plod along. Hey, where are you going? Stop! I didn't say it would be boring, well not THAT boring anyway. Hey...! *Shrugs to self*

I've been checking the logs out lately, seeing where our collective traffic is coming from. It's nice to see that we're getting traffic from all over the world now. Since blogspot is owned by google, the contents of these blogs are spidered daily by Google search engines, which means all the cultural posts that have been made lately have increased traffic from people outsite the regular viewers. So to those of you who are seeing this for the first time and who have taken a moment from your busy days, I'd like to say: "Saben el-Khier!" (That's good morning if you're interested.) Interestingly enough, I'm also seeing traffic from my old company web site, so Hi Computer Techs! Glad to see I'm still a source of interest... Lol

Well, if you're like most today, you're liable to be wondering what's happening with this airline bombing conspiracy. I'll tell you the unabashed nuts and bolts of the matter as best I can without too much embellishment. To make a long and convoluted story somewhat shorter, here's what's happened at this point;

British Intelligence, MI5, has been conducting an undercover investigation into a terrorist group of primarily british-born individuals who are bent on blowing up a bunch of innocent people. What many of the networks did NOT say, and I was only able to find this out by scouring MI5, CIA, CNN, BBC and almost every OTHER network I could locate, was that the suspects are all British at this point. This means that most of the anti-islamic sentiment that will assuredly arise from the USA is going to be targeted to the wrong people. It wasnt the arabs, so calm down and let's not start burning gas stations.

In response to this, british intelligence surrounded and captured a number of the terrorists that were getting ready to attempt to board planes today. Does this mean they are guilty of ALMOST letting it happen? (This is where my opinion enters, not fact) No. Most likely, they were trying to watch and determine how far this network reaches and only stepped in when they did to stop an obvious terrorist threat. To do so before now would only have blown the cover of the investigation and likely would have sent the group further underground where they would have been much harder to catch. (end of my opinions)

So, what has happened? Well, for right now, international travel is a complete mess, especially going in and out of London and the rest of Europe. You have to understand, the last time this happened to them was in 1983 when two Libyans destroyed American Pan Am Flight 103, so this hasn't happened to europe in 23 years. They are on COMPLETE lockdown. Further, as far as I can tell ALL airports in both Europe and the USA have upgraded their flight restrictions to state that NO electronics can be carried on in the plane's passenger compartments, no liquids, no iPods, no remote control key chains, NOTHING that could contain any chemical or electronic agents that could be used to bring down an aircraft. This too, happened back in 1983 when the Pan Am flight was destroyed. The last time this restriction was put into place, it only lasted one month until the governments were completely sure that they had alleviated the threat. This time, I have no projection, nor do the networks, as to when this stringent restriction will be lifted. For now, the only thing allowed into the passenger compartments of most airline planes are your wallet, passport, tickets, prescription drugs, and any child or feminine related materials. They're even going so far as to say that all mothers carrying formulas for babies must taste the formula in front of an airline officer to make sure it's not toxic or chemically dangerous.

So, how does this affect our team and our staffing? Well, basically it really doesn't affect us except for convenience. We can still carry everything we could before, but it's got to be carried in the cargo hold of the plane, not in the passenger compartment. Anything you carry on your person must be carried in a transparent plastic bag and stay with you in your seat. So, aside from the additional cost of putting two more bags in the cargo hold, there will really be no impediment to our traveling. Of course, that costs about $150.00 US per bag, but that's unavoidable at this point. Further, the preparation time has been dramatically increased. Basically, our guys can plan to spend HOURS waiting to get in line at the air ports. All of this however is just part of what traveling entails. It's no worse or better than anything else that happens in the world on a daily basis.

Other than those issues, nothing much has been accomplished this week. I've spent most of my week dealing with beauracratic red-tape, wading through political mire, offending local inhabitants (yeah, THAT was a big oops.) and otherwise attempting some semblance of forward momentum when every other person I meet seems content to move like molasses when moving forward at all and more often than not they seem just as conten to actually get further behind. Anyway, I've made an attempt these last 24 hours to try to reclaim my former-self a little and put my temper at bay.

...I had to end this post early due to an impromptu meeting with the client and one of our representatives... So I'll just begin a new post later.

Y'all won't believe this...

Ok, it's 1am and Melissa and I are home and ready for bed!!!! Yep, you read that correctly. We went to the Kenny Chesney concert last night and I think we covered a whole weekend in one night. We decided that since we had a shuttle to and from the concert that we would make the most of it... and we did. By the time Kenny Chesney began to play Melissa and I had already had 96ozs of beer a piece... and of course we decided to go out later. We went to that City Limits Saloon and it was awesome. Of course our Russian van driver tried to kill us, but don't worry... Melissa set him straight. (Oh, and 3-2-1 night is $3 well drinks, $2 imports, and $1 domestics... so disregard that part in the last post!) We got to people-watch all night and we thoroughly enjoyed watching an inebriated hoochie do her thing on the bar... bless her heart! We got back to the room around 3am and decided that Waffle House was an excellent idea... haha... we didn't know it was goth night though. When we first sat down some big motorcycle guy sat down with us and refused to leave. Someone from his table came over and told him that his food was ready, so Melissa proceded to tell him that what he really needed to do was go eat his food. The highlight and end-all was when a couple walked in handcuffed to each other. Melissa told me that I better hurry up and finish my waflle because we were gettin out of there! When we got back to the hotel Melissa decided to take a dip in the pool... but I'll let her tell that story!!!! I have a bruise on my thigh from trying to scale the fence!! I've never laughed soooo hard in my life. We didn't go to bed until after 5am. Needless to say, we weren't very happy campers when our alarms went off this morning. We didn't leave the hotel the first time until 11:30am... went to the gas station and then I decided that I didn't have my cell phone with me so I MUST have left it in the room. We go BACK to the hotel and I proceed to frantically search the room because we're already running late. I called the front desk and asked them to walk out to my car and ask Melissa to call my phone. I get a call back a couple of minutes later from the front desk woman saying, "Ma'am, your phone is in the car!" .. NO WAY!!! I walk out the front door to the hotel and Melissa has my trunk wide open with my suitcase on the ground flapped wide open with her tail in the air saying, "Bridget, your phone was in the VERY BOTTOM of your makeup bag in your suitcase!" So we hit the road AGAIN at 11:45am. Keep in mind, I have a 3hr drive ahead of me to go to Marisa's wedding in Hertford. The wedding starts at 2:30... you do the math! Not to mention that a truck pulling a huge trailer decided to cut us off... so I had to go a little off road and show them my Ricky Bobby!!! We only got lost twice... but we got to the church at 2:20!!!!! Not bad timing!!! Marisa looked beautiful!!! She even pulled a Bridget!! When Chris was taking the garter off he must have gotten a little carried away 'cause the next thing you know Marisa is on her tail, dress sprawled out, trying to keep her legs together!!! The best part is that after all that work, there weren't any single men to throw it to! Anyway, the story doesn't end there. As soon as we leave the wedding, Melissa had decided to relieve me from driving and so I'm chilling on the passenger side and I feel something crawl down my arm. It was a yellow spider that JUMPS! I start screaming, "It jumps, it jumps!" Melissa said, "What jumps?" I said, "The spider." She looked at me and said "Get out!" Meanwhile, the car is still going. She tries to drop me off in knee high grass so that instead of having a spider bite I could replace it with one from a snake. We pull off in front of a John Deere store so I can jump out and freak out a little. I never did find that spider. Anyway, we got home, chilled out a little, and went out to hear Ed play. That brings us up to date. It's now 1:3oam and Melissa and I aren't out doing our thing, we're in just being worn out together. Well, that took enough energy.... pics to follow later, promise... I'm out. 'Night all!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Just a few more hours...

Saturday is the big day and this is my good bye....sadly, today is my last day of work at Home-A-Loan. So, this is my last day of public computer access...I'm sure i wont be able to surf the web at DSM as i do so freely here. Yes, I said it...DSM. I will be starting there when i get back from my honeymoon as Mrs. Chris Dawson. OMG...2 more days till the wedding!!!!!!!!!!

London and CNN News Break

Ok. I'm quite sure that some of you are also the type of individuals who make efforts to track world events outside your own back yard, so I thought I'd make a pre-emptive post before anyone freaks out on the blog.
In case you aren't aware, I am posting the information from the CNN site below.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- British police say they have disrupted an apparent plot to blow up planes in mid-flight, prompting authorities to raise the nation's threat level to "critical."

The highest possible alert level, raised on Thursday by the British Home Office, means "an attack is expected imminently," and authorities have said no hand luggage would be allowed onto planes from UK airports. (Full story)
Major delays are expected at key airports around the world, with Brussels Airport in Belgium among the first to cancel flights to the UK, news agencies reported. London's Heathrow airport was closed to most European flights Thursday morning following a heightened terrorist alert, officials said in a report from The Associated Press. London's Metropolitan Police said a months-long intelligence operation by the anti-terrorist branch and security service resulted in several arrests overnight, according to a Scotland Yard news release. The aim of the alleged plot was to explode devices carried aboard planes in handheld luggage -- especially on flights from Britain to the United States, according to Scotland Yard. "This is a major operation which inevitably will be lengthy and complex," Scotland Yard said in a statement. Britain's Home Secretary John Reid called the alleged plot significant and said it was designed to "bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life." "We are doing everything possible to disrupt any further terrorist activity. This will mean major disruption at all UK airports," Reid said, adding the move to raise the alert level was "precautionary." Hand luggage will not be allowed into the cabin of a plane and passengers will only be allowed to take a wallet, travel documents and other essential items in a plastic bag. "All passengers must be hand searched, and their footwear and all the items they are carrying must be X-ray screened," a BAA statement added. (Full story) Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised its alert threat to the highest level of "severe," or red, for commercial flights originating in the United Kingdom and bound for America. Meanwhile, the threat level has been raised to "high," or orange for all commercial flights operating in or coming to the United States, a DHS statement said. "Due to the nature of the threat revealed by this investigation, we are prohibiting any liquids, including beverages, hair gels, and lotions from being carried on the airplane," the statement said. Investors were quick to dump airline shares when markets opened on Thursday, with British Airways falling 3.5 percent and Ryanair skidding 3 percent. The alleged terror plot comes more than five years after Briton Richard Reid attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his sneakers on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, only a few months after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. Passengers thwarted his plan, and the plane landed safely in Boston. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in October 2002 and is serving a life sentence at the nation's super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. In Washington, FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko said the agency is aware of the "ongoing situation in London" and will issue a statement later. [Link]

So, now that you've heard about it, how does it affect us? Well, not too much actually. The only big deal that's going to cause trouble for our team is the fact that I have a team flying over in the next week and now it's going to be REALLY tough to get them here with all their gear. As a precautionary measure, LHR (London Heathrow Airport) is on Uber-crackdown and isn't letting ANYTHING on board their planes at this point. Basically, no tools, no liquids in containers, no solvents, no high-tech equipment, etc.

None of us, with the exception of Tom Hadry, were planning on flying home anytime soon anyway, and by the time we get in the air again, this incident will be long past. Tom was going to fly home to spend some time with his baby on his birthday, but that might be a problem. Gregg was going to fly to London for a vacation for 3 days, and I can pretty much bet those plans are nerfed at this point, but ALL of us are fine over here and in no danger. No one's throwing bombs at us, threatening to blow us up, or causing any other problems for us.

I'm not sure what we'll do for travel arrangements to come home at this point. It seems that LRH is going to be impassable for a team like us for quite awhile because of all the gear we carry, but we'll most likey be ok on Alitalia Airlines, since they depart to the USA via Milan, Italy rather than London. I'll update you as I know more. I just don't want anyone's friends, parents, loved ones, etc freaking out about us over here.

Hope you're all doing well. I'll do some more research on the issue and post more later as the news reaches me. The advantage to getting news on the Internet from this location is that we usually get directed to the European news sites, which are much less "flavored" than the American news and usually contain much less propoganda. Updates will follow.

Love you all.


Message from a lost Scoob... 'Cause Tommy told me too!

Hey all, it's Jenn one of the lost Scoobs. As some, none or a couple of you know I am currently in VA Beach, living the beach life and enjoying things. As probably less of you know, I am preggo! Yep, I have spawned. I am almost at 23 weeks and thank God more than halfway through this purgatory, I mean pregnancy. I have pics of Baby Beluga but they're Ultrasounds so not quite as cute as dressed up like a chicken and sitting on a tractor or the sweet eating a first birthday cake or even the hilarious 21st birthday toilet diving. The news, beside the other news for those not in the know is I am sadly leaving the beautiful shore of the East Coast and moving to... Kansas. Yes, the God-Forsaken vortex of the center of the good ol' US of A. I shall be heading off into the wild blue in maybe another month. I will be stopping into G-Vegas for maybe a day before kicking the doors down and asking where this stupid Dorothy person is and where I can get a rockin' Margarita, Virgin of course. I miss all of you terribly and hope to see any of you when I pass through. I hope everyone is doing well. I'm sorry that I've lost touch with frankly everyone but I do show up eventually when things go South. :D If anyone needs me, e-mail me. Oh yeah and by the way, this is a rockin' blog, delays or no. Big wet kisses from me and nice kicks in the belly from Baby Beluga who shall be debuting 12-8-06.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Whoo Hoo to this weekend!

Hey guys! I know I haven't posted in a while, but I have a tendency to get very frustrated with computers... among other things. Well, Melissa and I went to see You, Me, and Dupree last night. It was really funny. Funny enough that when I had a mouth full of Sprite I almost spit it all over the people in front of me. Luckily there was no one sitting beside me, so the floor was convenient! Fun, fun, fun!!! Anyway, Melissa and I are really looking forward to the Kenny Chesney concert on Friday... well, I'm really looking forward to Dierks Bentley! *hold on, I may need a second* Okay, I may wear a bib for his show. We'll take lots of pictures, but I have no idea how I'll get them up here with dial up at my house!!! The only thing I'm really disappointed about is that the Longbranch is still closed for "renovations". Whatever! But, don't you fear... I've found an alternative. It's called City Limits Saloon. Anything with "saloon" in the title sounds okay to me!!! It can't be too bad they have a mechanical bull and on Fridays they have a 1-2-3 night, whatever that is. Maybe it's something like: 1. Act single, 2. Drink double, 3. Sleep.... oh nevermind. We'll stick with 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor. Well, that will be fun, but we're not done! The next morning we're getting up to drive to Hertford (which is like a 3 hour trip) to see Marisa get married. We'll hang out at the reception for a little while, I'll hide from any bouquets, and then it's back to Greenville to get ready for our Saturday night out. Ed is playing at TieBreakers. That's all we've got planned for right now. I may try to talk Melissa into going with me to see that Talladega Nights movie! Depends on how she feels on Sunday... Anyway, I can't think of anything else right now... so, I'm out. XOXO

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pics from Benghazi, Libya from July 19, 2006

Well, it turns out that I have a minute at the end of the day that I can spend catching you up a little on our exploits. I'm going to finally upload the remaining photos I've been trying to remember to get to for a few weeks now. The first night we went to Benghazi I took a few pictures. It's a beautiful place; very reminiscent of what I think most American metro areas are like at night.

The city is beautiful at night. The vantage point I'm shooting this from is the 5th floor of Hotel Uzu, looking out across the man-made lake. One of the major improvements they have made to the local geography is the addition of a 4.7 Billion dollar man made river.

I'm not quite sure HOW the water is cleaned, but this is supposed to be the cleanest water in the country. So much so, that there is a brand of local water called "Man Made River" water. They're not much for creativity and branding yet apparently. Capitalism hasn't fully caught on here yet in some areas and I would definitely NOT suggest this as a locale for new businesses hoping to expand into marketing!

This last shot was just neat to see. That's not a trick of the camera. The night sky here is a burnt amber color.. And the moon is a pale cream hanging in the night sky. It's a really beautiful place to see.

I think I'll be going back again soon, so I'll get more local scenery the next time.

Pundit Puns

In response to my comment to Jonathan about Africa being a god forsaken country, I was rewarded with this little tid-bit.

"God hasn't forsaken it... He's just staying out of the sun!"

I love it.

I've been meaning to try to write more lately, but the days get longer and the nights get longer, and my time in which to do things seems to shrink in direct double-proportion to the amount of work asked of me. I'll get back to you soon with "real" content.

Yet another funny

Yes, you all know I hate to start the trend of once more flooding the blog with superfluous inane material, but this one was sent by Fridget last week and it made my day, so I thought I'd share it here with you.

Subject: Drugs

In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also call Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen. The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin. Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink". Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO. Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Tee-hee from me...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cowboys and Congressmen (Yes, I posted a joke... sue me)

I just thought this one was cute, so I'm posting it. This reminds me VERY much of what it's like trying to work over here. I needed the laugh. Hope you enjoy.

A Wyoming cowboy was herding his cows in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud Towards him. The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?" The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored.

He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says the cowboy. He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

You're a Congressman," says the cowboy.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows....

Now give me back my dog!!

(ba dum dum bum)

Africa: Day 30 (Shisha!)

Ok.. I did it.. I bought a Shisha pipe. Gregg didn't leave the porch for about 4 days. I don't even think he got dressed for two days...

Gregg and Salem, our facilitator for Shisha!

He literally stared at the screensaver for 40 minutes after this.. Lol.. And there's NOTHING in Shisha except Tobacco and fruit.

The Steely Eyes of Tom (aka "The Hitman", "Space Ghost,"

The Steely Eyes of the Hitman are watching you...

Ok.. I just couldn't resist...
This is for Tom and his wife.... Apparently my "steely eyes" reference caught his attention. Here ya go, Tom.

I really wanna caption this "Whacha talkin' 'bout Willis-Kareem-Mohamed-Al-Shufta-Ali?"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I hate spam comment!

I'm gonna try this in an effort to get rid of those annoying spam comments I keep getting. I tured on word verification in an attempt to stop them, which just means you have to type the word you see on screen when you post a comment. If this works, I'll keep it up. If not, then I'll get creative. Got to run.. duty calls... will write more soon! POST POST POST!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Africa: Day 24 (Just a quick note)

Well this is just a quick note to update you on some pictures while we wait to go home for the day. A few of the team have been out in the field all day and need some time to check their email and stuff, so I thought I'd make good use of the time.

These are the photos of our apartment in Tripoli.

From My bedrom balcony at dusk.

This is our “red” room.. the living room.

The Dining Room: which usually becomes the office as well.

Our Kitchen: definitely NOT what I’m used to, but not bad.

This is my neighbor: The personal home of the British Ambassador: Ritzy Neighborhood.

Looking over the city from the front balcony.