Sunday, July 30, 2006

What are the odds of THIS photo?

What are the odds that I'd catch this shot? I zoomed the picture in so you could see it, but I had no idea when I took the photo, what I was catching. I took a shot of this Waverunner because they were all running as fast as they could and then plowing their waverunner's nose into the water and spinning a 360, then turning to shoot back off in the other direction.

Well, this guy had JUST completed his turn and gunned the engine when his passenger apparently couldn't hang on any more. Not only is this guy flying off the back of the waverunner, but he's doing so at a slightly faster rate than his pants, which are starting to ride down.

If I'd taken this half a second sooner, I might could have showed you some African sea life... minnows!

What are the odds?

Taxi Driver to a whole new level!

When I first got to the beach I asked Ali, our driver, if he wanted me to call him later in the day to pick us up or something, since usually that's what cabbies do; they drop you off and head off to collect another fare. He laughed and gestured as he walked around the car, saying "no problem, no problem, I wait for you... today Friday, you my friend, no problem." After this, he summarily popped the trunk lid, grabbed a gallon of water, his towel, and a pair of shorts and took off for the beach saying "Come. Come. I find good spot!"

Later in the day he told me, in his broken english, that when he takes his three kids and wife to the beach, he doesn't get to relax and just enjoy himself because he has to watch for his family and make sure they are ok. He really enjoyed the chance to be with adults and just have fun.

When we returned, I asked him how much we owed him, fully expecting almost a one hundred dollar cab fare for the day. Amazingly, he patted me on the back and told me "Tommy my friend. Today, no work. Today for friends." We paid him a good amount anyway, simply because he was away from his family all day, but he was really and truly going to let us off for free, all in the name of having a good time with American friends.

Another shining example of the Libyan culture. These people are gracious to a fault!

Ali joins us for the day.

Scoobs Represent!

Well, another first! We are now the first two scoobs who can say they've spent a day chillin' on the Med. Technically, that may not be correct. I'm sure that somewhere in his history, Doc most likely has the honor of that one... but until we get a picture, we're in denial!

Did I mention that I love that you can wear bikinis at this beach?

Hi Mom! I Doo love it here!

The beach, up close

Umbrellas, rent-a-tents, boats, Seadoos, and TONS of visitors enjoy the sun and sand of Tajura.


These guys on the Seadoos are the only wave action you're getting on this part of the Med. Unlike the ocean at home, you don't have the large tide shifts here that we do, so the beach is almost always calm. No surfers to be found anywhere, but the crystal clear water makes it easy to drive your watercraft right up to the shores anywhere you want to.


By mid-afternoon the beaches were crowded pole-to-pole with visitors trying to find anyplace possible to plant their umbrellas and enjoy some of the water. Notice one difference here? They're Europeans.. they're here for the water.. NOT the sun!


These square covered areas you see below are what we rented for the day. They are 10 Dinar for the whole day and provide a nice place to get out of the sun. The thermometer on my bag was reading over 105 before we even got situated at a little after noon, so I'm sure it climbed to the 110, or 115 range before the end of the day.

Ok. Ten dollars to the first one who can spot the muslim person in this photo!

Can YOU spot the Muslim in this photo?

Africa: Day 20 (Holy Wet Jib Jab, Batman)

I wanted to take a moment to post some of the pictures from Tajura beach that we visited. Most of you already are aware that we are stationed directly off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, but Tripoli provides an exceedingly and ever-increasingly unsafe place for swimmers who wish to return without more contagion than a Hiroshima victim. The beaches of Tripoli are quite beautiful when admired from the viewpoint of our fifth floor veranda, but any up-close inspection will reveal a very unhealthy dose of refuse, flotsam from the sea port, raw sewage drainage pipes, dead sea-life, and a plethora of other nasties anxiously awaiting any victim daring enough to risk its waters. This is mainly due to the fact that the majority of the Tripoli beaches are interior to the man-made sea port walls that circumvent the northern border of the city. Seeking a much less infected area of beach, a place where we could relax and enjoy the water, we took a cab ride to Tajura, located about 20 miles east of Tripoli and directly on the coast of the unblemished sea.

The beach we went to is one of the sites here that is off limit to locals. To my amazement and surprise, the entire trip revealed cars, vans, taxis, and every vehicle imaginable, parked in every available spot on the water for miles and miles in both directions from Tripoli. Being Friday, the whole country was off work for the day and all 1.7 million of them decided to take a day at the beach with their families.

Tajura however is quite different. Still packed into every available spot, people crowd its shores, Seadoo's run rampant up it's beaches, but local Libyans are prevented from entering this beach. This is one of the sites known as a European beach, where visitors from anywhere except Libya are welcome to enjoy the sun without the local populace overrunning them. We were quite pleasanly surprised however to find a multitide of individuals who I am quite sure were local, enjoying the sun with us. It would have seemed quite rude to come to another's country and then ask "Where can I go that you all aren't?"

So, I'll begin my visual diorama here and let you make of the pictures what you will. As a forenote, I am quite aware that my tan has faded, so no whitey jokes please. I'm sure you sun-loving Americans are soaking it up over there, but I have been unable to maintain the quite impressive tan I was starting when I left the states.

Thus begins my story.


Yes, we finally found a place where a bikini is acceptable!

April at the upper deck coffee bar and restaurant.


Hey Bunch! I had to get imported from 5,000 miles away but I finally got my doo rag!

This I do in honor of Bunch!


Africa: Day 21 (Minutae Rules My Days)

Greetings to all of you out there, wherever you may be as you read this. For myself, it is currently 11:15 PM on the night of July the 29th, 21 days into my second trip to Africa. It is currently the weekend here, though the morrow marks the genesis of a new round of mayhem and days filled with me trying to accomplish too many things in too little time, all while attempting some show of alacrity at the situation. Today finds me again still sans Internet and the phone situation also remains as yet unresolved. Apparently, since we live in a government owned building, the owner himself must present himself before got Gods of Communication and swear the blood of his firstborn on the altar of telephony, while swearing a jihad on the barons of domestic commerce and vowing never to use his phone service except in accordance with the will of Allah. All this must be accomplished under the blood red sky of a harvest moon, on a night when the hyenas lay on their backs and camels walk into coffeeshops to offer their lives in exchange for Nescafe. Only this and the blood of a virgin, sacrificed on an unpainted taxi whose driver is from Syria can grant us access to a PHONE! (My apologies... I'm a little tender on the subject. Actually, Tim is outside stalking hyenas right now while April prepares the foul-smelling brew that I'm going to use to drug the landlord while I carry him bodily to prostrate himself before the telephone company and beg for his life!) Ok. Enough on this matter. Durka Durka, Mohamed Jihad.

Yesterday was the birthday of my daughter, Hannah, for those of you who are interested in knowing. In case she reads this, No Darling, Daddy has not forgotten your birthday. I just have to wait until I get to a place where I can call. I'm writing this now, at home, knowing that I shant get opportunity to post it until at least tomorrow (Sunday). However, my first intention is to call you as soon as it is a biddable time for you on your side of the great pond. And, no, I also did not forget your birthday present... But the camel couldn't carry it ALL the way back home by himself so it seems I will be bringing your gifts in person whence I return. And in answer to your email you sent, yes you may certainly come visit me when I return once again to the Great Land of Pork.

This weekend, for me, has been a mix-and-match of frivolity and desperation. I did get to spend some valued time away from work. I ran across Ali, my old acquaintance from my first trip to tripoli. He recognized me walking down the street on Gregg's first day in-country while I was taking him on a tour of the local places that are in walking distance from the apartment. April has been dying to get a chance to visit the beach and escape from the confines of these thick, drab, manila walls, so we took a cab ride to Tajura and headed for a european beach for a day in the sun. To be more precise, we were seeking a day in the water, for sun is quite easy to locate in this part of the world. I'll update more on the beach trip in the next post, where I'll include the pictures to accompany the dialogue. Upon my return from the salt and sea, I immersed myself completely, to the exclusion of all else, in the creation of a document that my CEO requested of me and which will take most of a week to compile, even if I work every day and night at it and resuse sleep. I was in one of those super-productive moods however and was able to bang out most of 28 pages before calling it a night. Today marked my revisit to the task whence I resumed working on it for most of the day and then travelled to a local internet cafe to send it to my boss for his perusal. That task behind me, at least for the moment, I was able to begin to plan the next week.

This trip has not been the successful task-accomplishing, rapid-deploying, super-job that I had hoped it would be, but I'm going to try to put all that behind me this coming week and push ahead for the remaining 40 days or so that I have left and try to catch up to the pace that Tim and I set for ourselves on the first trip. Of course, for the most part, this means that we will be working days and most of the nights as well if we hope to achieve a level of desired accomplishment before returning to the states.

This evening was a nice break from the previous hours of labor. Tim and Gregg went off in search of undiscovered riches in Tower Fateh while April and I made ourselves busy with the task of preparing dinner for the crew. Tom went in to work today, so he got the well-earned benefit of relaxing on the couch. (Notice, Tom, that I have yet to make mention of your "steely eyes." Oops.. There it is.) Dinner was a resounding success I think. I found some local bread that faintly resembles a fajita shell except that it is cooked in some kind of oil that it retains once baked. Coupling this with some spices brought with us from home, some local chicken, and fresh vegetables, a dinner of Chicken Fajitas and Italian pasta salad were the course for the evening.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new day so I will bring this post to a close, having not much else to say worth repeating here at the moment. I will however attempt to begin on the next post, which I think I'll title "Oh My Gosh, a Dish Dosh."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

another life update

So, i figured i'd post, and give everyone another update on my life! The most IMPORTANT thing is that I am 16 days away from the wedding! Everything seems to have fallen into place. The last crucial peice was deciding on the food for the reception. Last night, Chris and I came to a decision. To HELL with finger foods...all out PIG PICKIN!! it will be a real redneck treat...BBQ & Bud Light! If anyone else feels froggy and wants to make the 1 1/2 hr drive, let me know! Since the wedding is only 16 days away, that means we are 18 days away from our Disney Vacation! Gosh, we are so looking forward to it!! Mickey and Minnie and Princesses and the food and the pool...I think our honeymoon/family vacation will be so crammed with things to do and see, it won't feel like much of a vacation at all!! i'm NOT complaining AT ALL though (although those who know me well enough might beg to differ). My birthday is tomrrow as well. This is the first year in 26 years that i havent' spent it my actual BIRTH day with my mom. But, that's all part of changes in life. I will be spending it with my 2 most favorite people...my future husband and daughter! I think the last big detail is that I start my new job on August 21, which is right after we get home from Disney. I will be the Mortgage Loan Officer for Souther Bank for the Greenville Area. I'm REALLY EXCITED!!! I know you will ALL come to me to buy your house...send me all your family and friends!! We are all moved into our new house and just about all unpacked. We got the remaining stuff from Chris's townhouse last night. So, once we unload his explorer, the will be ALL!! It's crazy how you go to bed one night, your life is one way, and you wake up the next day and it's changed forever (in a great way, of course!!!) LUV YA ALL!!!

T G I T !!!!

TGIT?! What the heck is TGIT you ask? THANK GOD IT'S THURSDAY!!! :D You see, for those of you that don't know, our weekend here is Friday/Saturday, so today is my last day of work this week!! Yay! If you call it work, at least this week anyway. We've not had a whole lot we've been ABLE to do, since the PM for the company here was out until yesterday, and one of our employees has been off all week, and he holds some key info that is needed for the rest of the team to be able to complete certain tasks.... so we've had a nonproductive week (until yesterday and today, where we finally were given things to do) LOL I'm not complaining in the least, cause I've enjoyed the down time. :) If anyone wants to try and reach Tommy today, he's left to pick up a coworker from the aiport. He may be online some later tonight, he has a big task he's trying to finish and may spend a large portion of tonight working in an internet cafe. (So much for enjoying my weekend....) :( Anyway, he said just to send an email to him if you want, or wait until next week.... it's up to you. I have a special message here from Tommy and I going out to Agent M, since we won't be working tomorrow, and as well as to Tommy's lil girl: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! We love you both and wish we could celebrate with you! M, I hope your shower goes well, know that I'll be there in spirit since I can't be there in person. Give me some ideas of what you need, so I can figure out what Tommy and I can get for you.... Gidge and Culligan (I'll have to think of a cuter nickname for you), :P thank you so much for the emails!! I start my day off everyday getting online at work and checking to see if anyones has sent me mail, written on the blog, or messaged/commented on my Myspace page. With a crappy cell phone and signal, it's the ONLY access I have to life at home. Mama, I hope everthing is going better for you now, have you started back at work? If so, how's it going? I can understand trying to save money and not being able to call, as long as I can talk to you here and through email it's fine with me. If I get the chance I might try to call you sometime this weekend, just depends on our plans. Ok, I better cut this off, it turned out to be a little longer than I had originally planned, but that's ok. :) Tommy and I love you all and miss you like crazy!! We're in the process of extending his VISA, and making sure it's ok for me to stay with him. As soon as we find out more info we'll let everyone know. AND PLEASE, WE WANT TO SEE PICTURES!!! :P There is a small pic up top on the page where you can create posts (looks like a outdoor scene) click on it and it will walk you through posting pictures. Once they're added to the post then you can drag them to place them anywhere you want. I don't really know how to add pics to comments... so I can't explain that to you. Luv ya! XOXOXO

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

more pics

tommy and april hope ya'll enjoy these will try to get some more up later lee

New Logan Pics Recent and Honeymoon Pics

This Is Logan's first flight over Pigeon Forge Tn....also Nicole's and My very 1st flight also

this was logan chillin in the great smokey mountains....more to follow

see tommy i do post...after i get taken off the side.....j/k something for you and april to bring ya up hope all is well with you both

England, Ireland, Slovakia, Bulgaria...Oh MY!

My holiday began on Mon, Jul 17 as I landed at London-Heathrow. Immediately to the Car Hire for my rental, then the adventure...driving in the UK..other side of the street, steering wheel in the "wrong" place and ROUNDABOUTS...we have two of these in the Los Angeles area..so they can be rather intimidating! Traveled to Portsmouth (Southern area) to see my good friends who were celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary...fun was had by all. Thu, Jul 20...Cork, Ireland Arrived at Shannon airport, Car Hire, then drove down to the Southwest, to a beautiful seacoast town named Baltimore. When I get a chance, I will try to post pics, but my friends' house is in an idyllic setting...huge picture window overlooking the harbor...awesome! Sat, Jul 22...Dublin, Ireland New city, old friends..and a shite load of craig (no, not a man, but the irish word for great fun). Visited with Colm's brother and his fiancee....it was good to see family again. Walked up and down O'Connell Street, the site of Irish Uprising of 1916. Then went to another friend about 90 mins outside Dublin to the west. Passed through Tara, the home of Celtic Kings! (Similar feel here to the Salisbury Plain with Stonehenge, and also the more powerful Glastonbury Plain.) Tue, Jul 25...Bratislava, Slovakia Why? Because it is there...no seriously, history is an avocation of mine, and I wanted something more than English/Irish history...so Eastern Europe was the next choice. Downtown Bratislava is undergoing a major renovation now that the Slovak Republic is a part of the EU. Opulence right next to poverty is everywhere. People are friendly, and the younger crowd seem to speak English quite well. Fri, Jul 28...Sofia, Bulgaria The remainder of my holiday will be spent in Bulgaria. Visiting a friend who has promised to give me the grand tour of his country. He was in L.A. in December, and I got to show him around my town. I look forward to seeing a country on the verge of EU acceptance...altho they are still recovering from way too many years of Communist oppression. Tha is all for now...I am trying to rival Tommy in length of posts...so... Anyways... Peace! (Tommy, thanks for the brain start...I remembered that I have to do this from my profile area. Doh!)

Sleigh Bells Ring...

No, it's not a Christmas post. These are a few photos taken later that afternoon. April wanted to try to go to the Dolphin Restaurant that she had been seeing from the road ever since she got to Tripoli, but it's location inside the edge of old city makes it a little bit of a hike to get to. We arrived at 5 PM to have an early dinner. We had been walking since shortly after noon and were famished, however the restaurant didn't open until 7 PM, so I decided to utilize the time and fulfill another of the items on her Tripoli Wish List of "Honey-Do's." So, we took a carraige ride.



We couldn't leave out Chris... so he flirted with the driver while we rode in the carraige.

This is an outdoor cafe we passed on our way throughout town. There are hundreds of these little coffee places situated throughout the city, serving coffees and tea all day and very late into the night.

No photo diorama would be complete without a snapshot of our noble steed. This fellow pulled us all over Tripoli for the better part of an hour.

Finally, we went back to the restaurant to eagerly await their opening at 7. As always when you eat here, one of the appetizers is Arabic Soup, not to be confused with Libyan Soup. This is cous-cous, with vegetables, chick-peas, and some sort of beef broth. It's often served with small pieces of beef or camel, very much like a vegetble-beef soup you would eat in the states. Even if you aren't a fan of the soup, it's the only thing that makes the bread chewable!

And now we bring our day to a close, fat, happy, and TIRED as can be.

Africa: Day 16 (Twiddle De Dee)

Well, it's Monday, the 24th of July. Today has been ok so far. I've spent the last 48 hours trying to play catch-up on all the email and project management updates I haven't been able to do while I was away from the Internet for the last week. To make matters more complicated, my personal mail server got updated last night, so when I connected this morning to the internet, all the email I have received since March 13th got sent to me again... WHOA that was fun on a dialup connection. It took me four hours to download all the email and clean the server up, but things are right with my digital world again.

The internet here just "took a dump" about 30 minutes ago. [For those of you who aren't into the IT lingo, that's our technical definition that means "we're down and don't know why."] You see there is a slight difference between taking a "dump" and coming down for maintenance. When we are working on something goes wrong, we call just cover up and say "oh yeah.. that's ok. I'm just performing server maintenance." However, when the janitor down the hall slops a mop bucket on the twenty thousand dollar switch, we call that "taking a dump." (Could I shorten that to a TAD error and coin a new buzzphrase?)

Hey.. the Internet's back up... So, what do we call that process? Server Flush?

Well, the entire reason I took this time to write you was to inform you all that I've fixed the posts that were all screwy and I've resorted my last 15 posts back into the order they were supposed to be. I'll be back later for some real commentary...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hell Explained by Chemistry Student

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following: First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.This gives two possibilities: 1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. 2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it?If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God." THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A"

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Look: New Updates, Small Glitches

Hi all! I guess, if you're reading this, then you've seen the new look on the site. Any opinions, feedback, etc? I decided to create something that would expand or shrink depending on the width of your browser. Many of my posts of late have been rather long, and I'm also trying to include more pictures in the posts; well, the old format didn't allow any decent picture sizes without squishing the text up. So, play with it a little and give me some feedback. New Posts: Today I uploaded the last 22 posts I've written since I was last online. Yeah.. I did a lot of writing in my down time with No Internet... ugh. On a technical issue, there is a problem with the program I'm using. The "quote" character was being converted from a typographical quote into curly quotes, which causes them to look very strange on the browser. So, if you see that the posts look a little funny have no fear. I'll fix all of them tonight and upload them tomorrow when I get back to work. I'm back online now so I expect email!!!! Write me... cause I've sure as hell been holding up MY end of the bargain! lol. Talk to you all soon.

Africa: Day 14 (Home Again... sort of) July 22

Salem Alaikem everyone. I write these words to you having just returned to the comforts and familiar sights of my second home here in Tripoli. My day today began one thousand kilometers and 18 hours ago. I awoke in Benghazi this morning ready to get to work and get back to Tripoli as soon as possible. However, I should have known that no one knows how to rush anything, so I was delayed by four hours while the locals decided to have breakfast, then have coffee, then drive to work, then wait to get my equipment, THEN finally get to work at 11:00 AM this morning. Regardless of the delays however, I made the decision today that I was returing to my apartment tonight, to April, and to my team regardless of whether the job was done or not. I have spent entirely too much time this week waiting on others who aren't qualified to even have opinions on the decisions they have been levied with making. In the end, however, the day was a success. Tim and I completed the data center racks by mid afternoon, and moved the two completed racks into the data center room (closet). I then left Tim to complete the wiring at that location while I went two floors below to complete the wiring closet installation. By 1600 hours we were done and getting packed up for our trip home.

Jimal, my driver, was sent to Benghazi three days before we arrived there so he could transport us while we were there working. He took us out tonight to Pizza Hut, locally called "Pizza House," on our way to the airport. It's definitely interesing to look at an American Menu written in Arabic with the appropriate foods substituted for local varieties. In america of course, everything on a pizza is pork related. Considering we are in a Muslim country, that option is completely out of the question. Instead, we were greeted with options such as Prawns Pizza (shrimp pizza), Tuna Topping, Beef pepperoni, Beef bacon, Harisa sauce (YUCK), and even a salad bar. I almost got the salad bar just to see what was on it... then I looked; Their idea of a salad bar is green olives, black olives, dates, chick-peas, tuna salad, harisa sauce, and some other stuff I can barely recognize. As you might imagine,if you know my palette, I skipped the salad bar in favor of garlic bread.

For a nice surprise, the airplane from Benghazi to Tripoli was on time tonight; actually a few minutes early. We left Benghazi at 9:02 and arrived here at 10:00, caught a local taxi, and was greeted with the cutesy baby voice saying "Heeeey Baaabby!" (complete with miss-you-hugs). To my credit, I warned her that I most likely stunk! I've been working for three days in no air-conditioning and I've been eating pure crap all day, smoking cigarettes by the pack, slopping down the local idea of coffee at an amazing rate, and generally not shaved since I left Tripoli 4 days ago. It was good to get home and see the familiar sights and smells of Tripoli. I have been here long enough now to know by scent when I'm nearing the water, and to tell what part of town I'm in by the smell of the area. I don't know how to describe it, but in an environment where every building looks just like every other, it seems your other senses kick-in automatically to help you orient yourself to familiar areas.


It is now 1:07 AM on Saturday morning and still I sit here. I have stopped writing from time to time to perform some of the necessary mundane tasks; unpacking, taking a shower, making coffee, stopping to smoke. No day here is complete however, until I have heard everyone complain about the lack of internet, how I should fix the issue, why we are being "screwed around" about it, etc. I have to admit though, the lack of internet has really dampened my spirits about this trip. I originally had access at the hotel but I was forced by my the PTB (Powers That Be) [There's that reference again Bannag] to abandon lodging there and to move here to save money. Personally, that's a stupid reason. I was paying my own hotel bill, paying for my own internet, and basically living the way I did before when I was here. In the name of "equality" for all the staff, I was asked... no.. I was ordered to move here and now I spend at least one hour everyday listening to the same dreary litany of problems caused by the lack of connectivity. No one can communicate with their families, pay bills, chat, or anything else they consider vital aspects of overseas travel and somehow I am expected to be able to snap my fingers and fix the issue. I'm going to spend tomorrow trying to find a way to get something figured out on this side since no one back home seems to be able to get things done, so I hope by the end of the week that we will have Internet access at the apartment. If not, I am afraid that this team is going to be just as upset as the last team they sent over here.

My attitude on this trip, from the point of an outsider viewing this blog, probably resembles a bipolar rant. One day is great and the next is miserable. [To be honest, I deleted my last post because it was a little over the top. I was a little upset that day when I wrote it.] Every day is really about the same. The difference is, from time to time, I run out of energy and just simply find it impossible to maintain the "everything will be ok" outlook that I try to keep up. It's easier on days where I get something accomplished or achieve some personal milestone that I set for myself. Other days when our driver is late, or I can't get anyone to get us lunch, or we can't get supplies delivered, or the stupid DOOR is locked, (that's another story ALL to itself.), it's harder to maintain the emotional motivation I need to thrive. Most people who know me are well aware that music is the heartbeat that pushes me through life. As such, it has become common for me to live with my iPod attached to my hip most all of every day. That seems to be the only way to make sure I avoid being thrown in a Libyan prison for killing someone in a murderous rage over here.

When I want to get motivated, some good ol' Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, and lot of other new country from this year will keep me bopping along, oblivious to everyone else in the room. When I'm "working," just plodding along on a task, some of the older country like Randy Travis, George Jones, Alan Jackson, Eddit Rabbit, and others puts me in my automaton mode, where I just work ceaselessly for hours on end with no food, no smokes, no drinks, and as long as I'm not distracted by anyone I can maintain that pulse for extraordinarily long periods of time. It's really helpful on days when I have to perform the same repetitive, mindless task for hours on end. You can only punch down so many patch panels in a row before you start to feel like a little chinese kid in a shoe factory. The music helps me avoid that mental part that would slow me down.

I've found mornings lately to be the hardest time to "find" my mood... so that's when I turn on my Hard playlist, crank the iPod as loud as it will go and pretty much push pure adrenaline into myself for about two hours. The only problem with this is, I develop this "semper-fi" attitude; raging and aggressive and ready to do some serious work. This is usually fine unless I get molested by some geek who wants to waste my time asking for some asinine report, or a new implementation plan, or some other such useless drivel. Those poor people learn quickly to leave me alone when I'm all raged-up. April can hear the music from three feet away and usually takes it on herself to warn others away from me until I get calmed down. I'm not necessarily angry, but it's what I refer to as my anger music; the same stuff I listen to at home when I work out; Limp Bizkit, Nickelback, Tool, Primus, etc. It puts me into a major physical state of mind and I'm not the best person to ask stupid favors of when I'm like that. Sometime throughout those days, I'll usually work my own way back down to a normal state within a few hours, all on my own. That's when I take my headset off for awhile and talk to people... just to be sociable so they don't think I'm mad at the world or anything.

Now that given it thought, I think I'm going to take a few minutes right now and find me some new music for my iPod lists... I need new stuff.. especially hard stuff. I'll be back in a bit, maybe. I may just go to bed without continuing this, but I guess you'll know either way in the nex paragraph.. lol.

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Wow... it's now 3 AM and I've just finished a massive iPod rewrite. I need more hard music, but in the process of hunting for it, came across some of my old... umm... let's just call it Mood Music... so I rebuilt that playlist from back in 1997... you know how impressive/sad it is that I remember that playlist that well? Suffice it to say, it's a GREAT playlist. lol.. My cousin and I used to have a saying, that if you could make love from the beginning to end of that playlist, you must be a god. It's about 7 hours of, well nevermind what's on it... that is and shall remain my secret.

And Beach Music! Ooh... talk about memories! I can't think HOW many memories I've made with the Scoobs and some good beach music. I have about 30 CDs worth on my hard drive, so I put those on there too. Then I made a new top 40 playlist, etc... two hours later, I'm finally done and now I just want to play them all. lol. I SHOULD be in bed, but tomorrow is my day off so I'm not really sweating it. However, I think I'm gonna wrap this up and let you all get back to your regularly scheduled lives. I'm sure you have better things to do than read all this. If you don't, I would suggest taking some time alone, sitting down, and really seriously evaluating what in the hell you have going for you in life... get outside.. go for a swim... get some sun.. go do one of those hundreds of things that I'd rather be doing but can't due to the fact that I'm stuck in Africa for the whole summer. What a bummer. I'm a huge fan of summer and I'm going to lose my whole summer season to networking in Africa! Next year I'm rescheduling this crap for a part of the year that's NOT my favorite part of the year. I don't make enough money to want to give up my whole summer every year. Come to think of it, I don't think there IS enough money to make me want to be away from my friends and family for the summer. If I were home right now, I'd be crusing down the Tar River, pulling Doc on a pair of skis, and I'd have at LEAST three beautiful women on the deck of the boat. Instead, I'm in Africa, no boat, no river, the most beautiful woman in the world (you thought I was gonna slip up on that one didn't ya? Yeah, you did. Admit it.), but none of my friends from home to share it with. I think I'm gonna go rent a jet ski tomorrow and see if I can get some sun. See you all soon.. whenever I get online to post all this.

Later.

Africa: Day 11 (Benghazi Installation)

Greetings world. This will likely be one of those discontinuous posts as I am waiting for the team to join me for dinner. Today was our first working day in Benghazi and I would call it a resounding success. Against the odds, most of what I needed was handled by the client and my work today with Tim went fairly rapidly. It helped that we had a large staging area in which to disperse all our equipment and tools. This drastcally assisted in the inventory process. One of my Libyan assets, M

Large Staging Area: NICE!

ohamed Torshi, led a client team on the certifiation of the building, which is a major part of our contractual obligation during this entire project. Due to Libyan working customs, the employees left for home at 2 PM, so we were unable to complete the entire certification, but we did complete the entire first floor of the building, so that team was able to end the day with a feeling of accomplishment. As for Tim and I, we purely rocked all day. The client kept coming into our work area to thank us "americans" for coming to help them. They are very very receptive to American influence here.

Wow... fun huh?

My actual work day consisted of what we call "racking equipment" which basically mean breaking it all out of its boxes and physically securing it in the rack. Later, we will install the cabling to make it all work and connect it to the main national backbone that runs under the Med. It seems some of our team that prepared the gear for us forgot some fairly important pieces, but the client was very helpful in assisting us securing overnight shipment from my main base in Tripoli, and we also had plenty more to do, so we were able to complete the first task as far as we could and then shift our attention to the second task.

The second task was a nightmare. We had to completely disassemble a working environment, rearrange the rack, and then reassemble it all before we left so it would still work when the client comes to work tomorrow. Truthfully, the hardest part of my entire job is making sure that no matter WHAT we do, the client can still work as if we're not even there.

I have to give credit though when due; since this wasn't as important as the main site, we did take them down for a while this time... so we really appreciated the Manager allowing us to do that. That shifted this phase from a 4 day phase to an 8 hour phase... much nicer on our hands and feet. Standing in one place on a marble floor all day, most of the night, and working over your head for most of it will quickly wear out even the strongest tech-head.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day for us. Everyone patted us on the back today and said "Ok, we're going back to Tripoli... see you later!" We don't exactly know when "later" is...

Yeah.. this is what one section looks like when it's done properly. Much better!


I'm writing you now from the post-dinner and post-three-more-hours-of-work part of the day. It's almost 1 AM, but I'm really enjoying this blog program, so I want to write while I'm motivated to do so. I tend to write a lot more, I've noticed, when i'm in hotels. are fewer distractions to pull me back to regular life, so I get some "me" time to sit and compose my thoughts more than when I'm around others.

Tonight was an interesting evening. After all the upper management, except me, was gone, I got to spend some time with the "guys"... the real workers. I've known a lot of these guys for almost seven months now, but it's different when you're in the environment with them. Usually, they all go home to their families and their own lives. This is the first time we've all been together in a hotel. We had dinner around 9:00 PM and spent about an hour just hanging out. Sammy has taken it upon himself to teach me four or five arabic words every day. I think they do this just to hear how badly my southern-american dialect can really "mommick" up their language. (yes, that's a southern "word".. if you don't believe me, ask Mom.. it's in the same dictionary as "presney" and is most likely available in the Bertie Country Public Library in the I-Sleep-With-Relatives section of the non-fiction aisle.)

The "Crew" From Left To Right: Nizar, Tim, Murad, Jimal, Mohamed, Sammy, Khaled, and Aziz.

Well, I truly would love to sit here and converse with you all, however one sided it may be, for hours. I miss having the chance to hang out with my friends and tell stories about our lives, so this is my only way of sharing them.

I'm not sure WHEN everyone will read these posts. I've been writing them for the past 3 days now, just trying to catch up on the last week, however I haven't had internet access, except through the proxy server, in the last week so it will be a day or so before I can post any of this. This program uses FTP, which won't work through the... nevermind... you don't care one whit about the details. Sorry, got a bit tecno-weeny there for a moment.


While I'm thinking on the matter, does anyone have any opinions on the new blog formats? I think this program really lets me show a lot more than when I have to do it ALL by hand. I can type all the formatting manually in the blogger post feature, but April can tell you how annoying it is to be halfway through a long post and then lose your internet connection and have to start all over again, especially when you want to include pictures in the post.

Fridget and Culligan, thanks for the pics you posted. Those were cool. When you get a chance, email me the originals. I'd like to have the full size photos to show the guys here what we do back in the states. They really haven't ever experienced a concert, band, or any other live music like we have in the states. To most of them, pictures of you guys dancing is completely foreign. They think we all dance like an MTV video. Can you imagine that people think that all americans dance like the backstreet boys and britney spears? Wow.. there's a stunning visual. If that were the case, we'd all be slim and very limber I suppose... but I don't think I could afford the backstreet boys choreographer...

Whoa.. ok.. I've disturbed myself now. I'm having a dilemma as to which disturbs me more; the fact that

    1. I just made ANY reference whatsoever to the backstreet boys.
    2. I've become so out of touch that when I thought of MTV, that's who I thought of.
    3. That I actually considered the thought long enough to think about their choreography
    4. That I even know anything ABOUT their choreography.
    5. That it took me two sentences to even realize what I was thinking.
    6. Or that propecia might be in my future...

    (Yeah, that last one was just to confuse Bridget and Marisa in case they're still reading by this point...) That reminds me, THANKS to Lisa Respess for making a comment on the blog. Most of you don't know her, but she's one of mine and Tim's favorite clients. (Shouldn't that be Tim's and mine?... or Tim and I's.. that particular piece of grammar etiquette escapes me at the moment.) She's the manager for Loretta Barrow and Associates, an independent group of realtors in Greenville. You couldn't PAY me enough money to have her job. No way, no how. She's really cool though. She's one of the customers who followed me when I left the "last job.... dum dum dum! (slow evil drum roll goes here).

    Well, it's absolutely freezing in this hotel room now, so I think I'm gonna call it a night and crawl in the covers with my book. Yes, I'm aware that I can turn the AC off, but it's about 90 derees outside right here at 1 in the morning, so I'm gonna get as much of it as I can, when I can. I hope you're all having a good night and that you all enjoy the posts... and write back.

    PS: Where did "call it a night" come from? Either it is a night... or it is a day... and what matter would "calling" it make anywho? I guess maybe the reference originated from people who went to bed early, thus the term was meant to refer to doing what others do at night?... ok.. again... too much thought. You see how analytical this job makes me? I dissect all kinds of stupid **** in my head at random moments. Ok.. enough... to bed...

    April: Love you honey.. don't get all used to having my pillows! I'm coming back in a few days and I want my half of the bed back! (I've GOT to take a picture of her sleeping for you guys... it's so cute. She sleeps with her feet out from under the covers because she gets hot. Well, the floors here are all marble and they are always dusty, no matter your cleaning habits; so when I go to bed at night, there's this beautiful girl there beside me, but these two dirty black-soled feet sticking out the end of the bed... it's really really cute. I've laughed at it every day since I've been here. Watch.. now I'm gonna get hit for that when I get back to Tripoli.)

    "See" you soon.

    Tommy

    Africa: Day 11 (Early AM)

    This journal entry will take a brief hiatus from the virtual tour aspect of my recent blogs, to update you all on what's going on now. I write to you right now from Benghazi, Libya; very near the easternmost border of the country.

    Benghazi at 1 AM, Looking out from my hotel balcony.

    The picture above was taken about 15 minutes ago from my balcony, overlooking a man-made lake that's fed from the Med to the north.

    The decision to come to Benghazi was probably a good one with respect to customer relations, but the effectiveness of coming early remains to be seen at this point. Considering the client had already purchased the tickets and made the reservations, I felt obliged to at least attempt to get the job done in this rush-state, whlie still preserving my time line to get tasks accomplished. To assist matter, my equal for the client company is also here with me. Having him here will make my trip vastly more successful than the trip that my last team took to a remote location. I mean no slight to my men at all, for they did great work in a bad situation, but having the client's head Project Manager arrive with you ensures that all the small details that plagued the last trip most likely won't cause us problems. (Of course, the threatening I did earlier in the day probably helped matters along a little.)

    As of this date, I can't tell you when I'll be returning to Tripoli. I'm sure it will be less than a week, but I'm expecting that I'll be here until at least Monday unless I get really surprised and the client has the site prepared for my arrival.

    The 5 Star Hotel Across The Bay

    oming in to Benghazi for the first time was an experience. The airport was unremarkable for the most part; which goes to say that I've become quite accustomed to the proper habits of international travelers and don't have to rely on the signs that I can't read, or the customer service people whom I can't speak to. Having no language capacity means that you start to pay attention to the general details and helps you quickly conform to the proper habits that will generate you the least amount of attention. That being said, I was searched by a security guard tonight, patted down by another, asked by the Pilot and another guard where my guns were, and asked by a stewardess where I was going on Safari. Apparently, the distinction that westert american culture makes between a Fedora and a Stetson Cowboy hat are lost on these people. The safari reference was quit proper I suppose, given that I was wearing cargo pants, a fedora, and my travel vest filled with pockets of various shapes and sizes which I never leave home without.

    My first analysis is to say that it's built much like the surrounding areas of Raleigh, North Carolina; at least this is the only comparison I can make that you could use for reference. The streets are lighted with poles between the lanes and businesses are set off the road in a systemic pattern, spaced fairly far apart, and complete with parking lots in most cases. In Tripoli, a parking lot is non-existent and the businesses are usually scattered in front of, behind, and on top of each other in a completely hodge podge fashion. You can see from the photo above that this has much more "flash" to offer than Tripoli.

    Room 503 in Hotel Uzu

    When I first arrived, the first sense that was assaulted was my sense of smell. The salt content is sufficiently higher here that I can almost feel a sense of nostalgia for home. The naturally occurring salt in the water and air here is different that in the US, but the general sensation is the same to one who was born on the water. I can smell ocean breezes within one hundred miles of the coast and that sense was strong here. What also was inebriating, however, was the general scent of... not decay... but maybe a pungence of general unwashed metropolitan society. As with most places, the public works department is not a high priority and the scent of refuse and dying things are always slightly prevalent in the air. After being here for one or two days, I'm sure I'll cease to notice, but for now it's ... umm... an awakening experience.

    Left to Right: Nizar, Tim, Murad

    Tim and I had steak for dinner tonight here in the room and spent some time with Murad and Nizar before splitting up for our independent projects. My personal project is going to be unpacking my suitcase, setting up my iPod alarm clock, and writing to all of you.. not necessarily in that order.


    In the interest of being able to work tomorrow without falling asleep inside the rack, I'm going to cut this short (really? short? Wow.) and call it a night. I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you who read this; it means a lot to me that folks back home care enough about my life and what's going on in it to take time to see what I post and to leave comments. Please feel free to write, ANY of you... I'd love to hear from you all.


    Bannag: I know you're lurking out there in cyberspace somewhere... it's been awhile since I heard from you and I miss our talks.. email me.. you know where I am. I know you're busy with school and work, so I won't push you, but any time you get to drop me a line would be cool.


    Fridget and Culligan: (The Ultimate Icewater Team!): Wasn't one of you supposed to be sending pictures? You both have accounts, and you both should know how to upload pictures by now... you're sitting in my house surrounded by thousands of dollars of the most high tech gear known to man... push some buttons until it does what you want. You know what, forget I said that. I'll come home to find my computer smoking and my screens as fish tanks. Just send us some pics and tell us what's been going on. I was getting used to those emails that kept me abreast of daily life... now you've slacked off. PS: Are the cats ok? And did you water the plants?


    April: All my expenses are paid for here, including phone calls from the hotel, so I'll try to call you tomorrow. I didn't want to try too late tonight, considering that I didn't get in the room until after midnight. Also, please email our boss and ask about permission to acquire that microwave and dryer we've been promised. I'd like to get the apartment finalized this week if possible. Tell Tom to stay out of trouble and don't burn the place down. See you when I get back.


    All the rest: Well, I'l try to post as often as I can. As it is now, I have about 10 entries that I'm waiting to upload when I get to internet, so I'm sure that will keep you guys busy for at least 30 seconds or so. I should have email during the days while I'm here, but I'll be working most of the time with the gear instead of sitting behind my computer where I can chat, so email me instead of sending instant messages.

    Talk to you all soon... Ma Salem!

    Cathollic Church

    Yes, you heard right. Right smack in the middle of old Tripoli is a huge Catholic church. I'm not sure of the history of this one, so I'll just let you see it.

    This is the clock tower on top of the church.

    As one always fascinated by ancient technology, I couldn't help but get a close up of the inner workings.

    Dar Christa...and Other Things of Interest

    This photo makes me feel like I'm in a western libyan movie; standing in a dirt street with a church on the left, a prison on my left, and a pharmacy in front of me, all on the same block.

    The door you see is a Turkish Prison that has undergone some reformations throughout the years. The plaque that April and Chris are standing in front of reads:

    This building was constructed in 1664 A.D. during the reign of the Turkish governor Othman Pasha Al_Saqiele (1649-1672 A.D.).

    It was aimed to be a prison for the christian captives, and there is a great possibilty that the prison was erected on the ruins of Turghut Pasha's palace. the prison consists of 86 cells accomodating 672 captives.

    The building was exposed to a series of changes. Among these a part of it has been utilized a dwelling for the Spanish counsel in Tripoli, another part has been utilized as classrooms of the school of male priests, while the remaining part was used by the city police as a prison. In later time, the building was assigned to the Department of Antiquities which used it as a store for documents, while a section of it was used as a place for mummifying animals. The building's last utilization is that the peoples committee for culture and information used it as a bureau for arts and heritage.

    Embarking from and within the frams of the fulfillment of its goals to conserve and rehabilitate the historical building the protect for the organization and the administration of the old city of Tripoli had carried out the works of restoratios and conservations of the building in the period between October 1995 to September 1997.

    However, in order to rehabilitate the building it is dedicated as a child library in the name of


    DAR CHRISTA
    FOR CHILD CULTURE

    (the above excerpt is word for word with no grammatical changes on my part except the use of apostrophes to affect possession.)

    s

    An average Street in old city.

    Streets of Ancient Tripoli

    I'm not sure if anything I can say would better explain this city than this photo does by itself. The following photos you will see will mostly be without description, being provided just as a way for you to see it as we did. Consider while you look at these that some of these walls are over one thousand years old. Old and new are brought together by necessity into whatever conformity the people have been able to create. Electrical wiring and telephone take up space on fifty year old desks inside what might be a 800 year old room.

    Fresh Water Anyone?

    This photo was one I took looking down the cistern. Below is another shot as seen from the Arabic Room.
    Rain water that would collect throughout the hotel would be filtered to the cisterns below the hotel and would be used for periods of drought when clean water was scarce. Though the hotel is only five-hundred yards from the Mediterranean Sea, drinkable water can't be found that way and often it would be stored for months. This also provided a way to wash floors, water plants, and other necessary tasks for which water is used in this country. Someday, I'll have to write about how they clean things over here. It would seem strange to an american, but after trying it in our villa here in Tripoli, I have to admit that it's very efficient.