Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Bad Deed Goes Punished

Those that know me have heard me say "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" many times. It has become my personal motto. I adopted it as such through the School of Hard Knocks where I am current earning my post-graduate degree.

It seems the Emirate of Abu Dhabi does not concur with my wisdom. The powers that be announced this bombshell today:

 "The Abu Dhabi police traffic department has slashed all traffic fines issued in the emirate by 50 per cent, officials announced on Tuesday."

I am not one to criticize the police haphazardly and I know they have a tough job to do, but in this case I have  to wonder what the hell were they thinking? Abu Dhabi is one of the most dangerous places in the world for motorists. This is because there is a toxic stew of driving styles on the road as everyone is from some other country. You have 200 KMH Prados competing for the left lane with rusty, overloaded Toyota Hi-Luxes at 60 KMH. Then there are the differences in training and culture. West versus East, North versus South, attentive versus not, aggressive versus non. I think you get my drift. All too often this is the result:

Real UAE, not a Hollywood Set

The Infamous Fog Crash Aftermath

Speeding White Toyota Prado Result

I see really stupid crap every time I drive. Defensive driving skills are really honed here, my head is constantly on a swivel. So I wonder why fines are relieved by half for the bad guys. Here is the official answer:

"The reprieve comes after the amended traffic law, which stipulates hefty fines for traffic offences, left many motorists heavily indebted to the government, a senior traffic official disclosed."

So, if I am to understand correctly, the powers-that-be determined that too many bad drivers with self-inflicted offences owed too much to the government to get their cars re-registered so fines they owed were reduced enabling them to go back out on the road and re-menace other motorists. That's just not logical, or am I missing something here?

You see in Abu Dhabi, there are speed cameras, drivers are rarely pulled over and issued a ticket by the police. You speed by one of the hidden cameras and see a brief flash and your photo is taken. You may never know you were cited until you go to renew your registration. Many drivers get "ticket shock" when a year's worth of fines need to be paid at annual registration time or they will not get renewed.

To me, the halving of the fines sends the wrong message. They should be doubled so that these inconsiderate, shitty drivers have to eat ramen noodles and take the bus for three months before they can afford to get their driving privileges back. Then maybe by then they will have learned a lesson. Making it less expensive to be a jerk just reinforces bad behavior.

Some other issues surface that indicate this was not well thought out, as typical:

"The decision has already taken effect since the past three days, although the official announcement was made only Tuesday."

OK, so what if I paid the full fine two days ago or two weeks ago, is it retroactive? Do I get a refund?

"For now, all motorists will enjoy the reduced fines but soon we will decide who should be given the reprieve based on the traffic record of the driver," Colonel Engineer Ahmad Hussain Al Harthy, Director of Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrols department, told Gulf News.

Sure to be a bureaucratic nightmare as every scofflaw comes out of the woodwork to plead his/her case. I can't even imagine!!! There are tens of thousands who owe fines and it looks like each case will be reviewed on an individual basis. Do they realize how long that will take?.

And this gem:

"After news spread about the decision, the traffic department was being thronged by thousands for renewal of vehicle registrations."

Geez, I wonder why? When you make it easier for assholes to be assholes again they will always jump at the chance!

If I was King, I would double or even triple the fines and get the dual benefit of keeping these effen idiots off the road for awhile AND maybe they will remember to drive in a way as to not endanger fellow motorists and/or themselves. 

I am certainly no prude and I like to cut-loose at times but I take driving seriously and when someone endangers my health and/or my life on a public road for no goddam reason but being stupid, I tend to take it personally!

All quotes in italics are from the full story in : The Gulf News

Drive safe, y'all!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Reserve Comment

An actual product being sold on American television. The science is sound but it looks.......well, you know!

I promise I will get back to Abu Dhabi stuff next time.

USA Leaves World Cup

And by Ghana!!!!
Switching back to "Not Giving a Shit" mode.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Its So Bad, My Mad Would be Wasted

I know this has nothing to do with Abu Dhabi, but it has a lot to do with me.

Here is a link from the local newspaper of the town where I was born and raised.

It depicts the fouling of the local beaches from the BP petroleum leak.

Northwest Florida Daily News

I never thought I would see devastation  like this in my hometown. The Northwest Florida Gulf Coast has survived many hurricanes and has bounced back. Hurricanes are natural and are nature recovers, but this oil leak is not natural and it promises to foul these sugar-white sands for years to come. Even if BP capped the leaks today, there is enough oil out there to wash up on the shores for years to come. You can't put toothpaste back in the tube. The deed is done.

Scroll down to my previous post. I took those beach photos two weeks ago because I knew the tar-ball juggernaut was on its way and they would never look unspoiled like this again.. Well it is there now in all its shit-brown glory. I wanted to capture the pristine beaches before the onslaught of goo rendered the beaches closed. They are now.

I don't know who to blame. Offshore oil wells have been in the Gulf of Mexico for decades. They have survived hurricanes almost every year during that time and not a drop of crude was spilled. Oil wells might have "just blown up" in the 1930's, but you would think they would have it figured out by now. Somebody farked up badly.

I currently live in the third most oil producing country in the world. There are hundreds of offshore oil wells out here in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf and yet not a drop of goo has washed up on the talcum powder white beaches. The water is still a pleasing aqua. They have been pumping crude and transferring it to tanker ships since the 1960's without incident.

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico? Hard to say given the state of technology to prevent such things, Someone had their back turned, Government officials or BP guys wanting to save money. The blowout preventer didn't work. Fail safe....didn't.

For the conspiracy theorists out there, the explosion occurred a few days after President Obama signed a bill for more offshore drilling. Radical environmentalists, I wish I could put it past them but they have been caught doing crazy shit in the past, like spiking trees. I even read a theory that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the rig. Maybe the tree-huggers hired a North Korean submarine to blow-up the rig. Again, they just don't blow-up on their own.

I don't give a shit at this point. All I care about is that the beaches I hold near and dear to my heart are ruined for the foreseeable future. My only comfort is that my fellow locals are pissed-off and will mobilize to intercept any more sludge that threatens the sugar-white sands of the Emerald Coast.

Wish I was there to help! I can't even bear to watch the news anymore, much less the live "Leak Cam".

Good Luck, Guys and Gals! Thanks!

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End

I arrived back in Abu Dhabi a few days ago after 3 weeks of annual leave in the U.S. This time I had severe jet-lag and it took a few days of uncontrollably nodding off at 11AM and not sleeping at night before I started to feel normal. Travel has its cruel side.

I had my first horrid "Workday after Vacation" yesterday and had some trouble remembering all my passwords while getting into the swing of things again. I felt like I was swimming through molasses for most of the day.

My Itinerary

I already covered New York, the parties in St. George and the general debauchery in Las Vegas in previous posts.

My next destination was to see Mom in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the place I was brought into this world and spent most of my formative years, for better or for worse. FWB is a lovely resort on the hundred mile stretch of sugar-white beaches in Northwest Florida known as the Emerald Coast. Hand's down the very best beaches in Florida and maybe the world. It is also known as the "Redneck Riviera" for the hoards of visitors from the other Southeastern states that visit in the summer. The people are friendly and fun loving. World-class fishing, nightclubbing and golfing are favored activities. Cold beer is a breakfast food.
Fort Walton Beach,  Florida

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Wayside Pier

Sugar Sands and Sea Oats

Massive Dunes look Like Snow at Night

No One was Hurt in the Filming of this Scene

Weathercock at AJ's Bar & Grill, Destin, Florida

The Land of the Free??

Unfortunately, these pristine beaches are helpless in the onslaught of the giant BP oil spill. Diarrhea colored masses of crude oil are spreading to this area from the west. You can't put toothpaste back in the tube and even if the well is capped tomorrow, there is enough of the stuff already in the Gulf to spoil this area for months to come. My sincere gratitude to the army of volunteer residents who are dedicated to defend the coastline and wildlife from harm. I wish them luck and regret I can't be there to help in the fight for our beautiful home area.

On a lighter note, I reconnected with some good friends. Brad, Kay, Jan and Mary, it was my pleasure and hope to see y'all again real soon.   

Then my mom and I drove up to see my brother and family in Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville is the home of the Redstone Arsenal and is historic to the U.S. space efforts as Werner Von Braun and other German rocket scientist defectors (POWs?) established a research center here after WWII with the "urging" of the U.S. government. The city has strong NASA ties and is home to the Space Camp and is an international center for astral innovations and  global contractors. I am proud to say my brother, Rick is an actual Rocket Scientist.

Huntsville is hilly, green and an All-American city. 

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

So instead of exploring all this outer space history, what did my bro and I do? We went to a Little League baseball game and spent time drinking beer and playing his vintage pinball machine in the basement. Boys will be boys!

Nephew John at Baseball Game, They Won Big!

Pinball Machine

My Brother Kicked my Ass but he had Practice

I have to mention my niece, Holley and my other nephew Austin. A special thanks to my Sister-in-Law, Suzee who was a perfect hostess despite recovering from a painful shoulder surgery. She was a real trooper!

My mom and I had a nice drive back to Florida through the small towns and verdant scenery of the Southeast.

On the way back to Abu Dhabi from JFK, I scored big with a Business Class seat and slept most of the way which is always a blessing on a 14 hour flight.

Final Thoughts:
As much as I was happy to see my family, friends and country again, I was equally sad to leave them all. I guess that is how life balances out. Bittersweet.

I also have my profession, good friends and a different kind of what I consider a cool international life here in Abu Dhabi. I guess that is the best of both worlds but I regret not being able to be both places at the same time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sin City

I spent three days in Las Vegas last week. I think that is enough for anyone. It wore me out! 24 hours each day of gambling, eating and drinking takes its toll.

One of the pleasures was taking to the open road in my Mustang GT convertible. Nothing is more American than tooling down a desert interstate highway in a V8 powered Ford at triple digit speeds. It was a fix I needed. I love that car!

One of the first things I saw in Vegas was this:

 Architect's Wet Dream

I don't know if this is a functional office building or a work of art. In either case, I think there was a lot of public tax money wasted.

I stayed at the Golden Nugget hotel downtown on Fremont Street.

 Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino
It is the nicest place in downtown Las Vegas. I like staying downtown versus The Strip because everything is close. You do not have to walk far to other properties.

 The Golden Nugget Hotel's Claim to Fame on Display

 Golden Nugget Shark Tank

My first night I met up with some good friends for dinner. I had a much needed Filet Mignon! We all caught up and it was a good night!

 Mike, Christi and Linda, New Yorkers!

The weather was perfect even though the presenter seemed to be having a bad day.

The next day I kind of slept in but that night I ventured out to Fremont Street.
Here are some scenes from Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas!

 Don't believe for a Moment This is Free!

Ask me how I know!!!!

Sassy Sally

Vegas Vic who is Perched Right Across From Sassy Sally

Mmmmm...foot long dogs, chicken sliders. chocolate covered bananas and deep fried Oreo cookies

I really don't get the last one!

What it is all about

You don't want to be broke in Las Vegas. 

The Las Vegas Club

Above is the LED screen canopy that covers Freemont Street. It can show most any video.


The Plaza

Golden Gate

Used to be the Horseshoe, now it is just Binion"s

The Fremont

I used to look forward to go to Las Vegas for a few days, but something has worn off. I am not much of a gambler so my losses were capped at $100. I had a good time and will be back in the future, but I am just not that excited to go there anymore. It gets old after awhile, just like me.Dammit!