Thursday, October 26, 2006

White and Nerdy?

Okay, so I'm probably grossly behind the times, but I am very impressed. I noticed that Weird Al Yankovic had gained some press for impressive album rating of his latest. In fact, he cracked the elusive top ten. I have been a closet fan for many, many, many years. Okay, since the first time I heard My Bologna and Love is a Cattlefield. Weird Al has been around forever and apparently has gained the stature of a "pop icon". Man, back in the day, he was just a sub-culture or alternative (when the term had meaning) icon. I mean, what white and nerdy guy with an accordion could actually make a song I got to hear on the radio (subculture though it may have been)? I will admit that I thought he went seriously wrong with Fat (take off of MJ's Bad), but other than that, he hasn't done much I didn't get a kick out of. His satires of more recent hits have been awesome. I loved Amish Paradise and his take on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One of the Chili Peppers even said they felt like they'd make it when Weird Al did a parody of them. His latest White and Nerdy is absolutely awesome. I'm going to try and drop the You Tube in here (a first for me absolutely, but worth the shot (sorry it didn't work....)).

Okay, and the Donny Osmond cameo is tooo funny. Al has SO got the rap movements down as well. Anyway, enough of my enjoyment of Weird Al, check it out and enjoy it....

Happy listening and laughing

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Okay, so I've posted before about this interesting P and B thing here in the middle east. It's quite amusing the things that people will do in either overdoing the P (which they don't have) or going with their instinct and using the B. I discovered this the first time I visited the middle east. In college, I went on a study visit to Kuwait and found that the staple #2 cola in the US was Bibsi in Kuwait. However, in Jordan, I became far more aware of this. In part this is because I spent more time doing average things. However, a month or so ago, I made a trip into Starbucks with my Moms. I noticed that the flavor of the day was Peapeery. Peapeery, c'mon you must be joking. So, I snapped a pic with my cell phone. I asked the young man behind the counter, is it REALLY peapeery? He assured me that this was correct. Okay, I have to admit I didn't trust him. I got home and googled it. Here's what I found on Wikipedia:

"Peaberry is a type of coffee bean. Peaberry is technically a defect, and occurs due to factors such as insect damage to a flower, tree stress from drought/nutrient imbalances, or with cherries that grow at the tip of branches. The majority of fruit from the coffee tree contain two halves of a bean in a single cherry, which is called Type I. Due to the vagaries of nature, some fruit mature with only a single fused bean. This oval (or pea-shaped), solo bean is known as Peaberry, or Type II."

Somehow, I suspect that their Peapeery was Peaberry when it started out from the home office :). So, in the spirit of Peapeery, here are some of the favorites I've either seen or heard about:

1. In Baka refugee camp, there is a shop named after Will Smith's hit TV show: The Fresh Brince of Pel Air.
2. At Jabri, we had the opportunity to get some Plueperry ice cream (it was red by the way).
3. One of my blog visitors mentioned seeing the movie Dump and Dumper in Egypt (I agree with her, it does seem more appropriate).
4. At Pizza Hut, we were offered a very nice new pizza with a trible blend of cheeses. We opted to get the Pottle of water to go with it (Right in your home town Bakkouz).
5. Peapeery coffee available ONLY at the Starbucks in Jordan.

Happy Ps and Bs!

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Top Ten: Silly things people routinely do while driving in Jordan

1. Triple parking on both sides of a street that is marked no parking.
2. Honking and flipping off people who are proceeding the correct way down a one way street because now the person who is driving illegally can't get through.
3. Making three (or four) lanes out of two marked lanes with cars parked on the side.
4. Shoving and pushing their way to get into the long line of cars, then stopping to let someone out.
5. Choosing to go into a lane they KNOW is blocked with parked cars then getting angry when you won't let them in.
6. Jumping in front of you in a terrible rush, then going so slowly your blind grandmother could (and would) drive faster.
7. Driving 75 mph through the streets of a residential neighborhood.
8. Honking and honking and honking and honking to get the attention of someone they want to come out rather than getting their lazy butts out to press the buzzer.
9. Ignoring the U turn lane at circles so that they can into the circle and make a complete U turn around the circle.

10. The worst by far is what an uncle calls "I can't see you". This is closely related to the game very small children play. You know where they hide behind a leaf and since they can't see you, they think you can't see them. In the "I can't see you" game, people do anything at all that they want pretending that if they don't see you, you'll simply cease being in their way. Unfortunately, this week I had a very negative run-in with this behavior. I was going to pick up the kids and, in VERY heavy traffic, had gone into one of the circles. It was packed bumper to bumper about 4 lanes around the circle. I was in the next to the middle one. A woman decided that she wanted to be in my space and, didn't think there was any real reason to ensure I wasn't there... Needless to say, she ran into me. Oh, and then decided to tell me "Well, it wasn't MY fault." Now, since I was stopped, tell me, just whose fault could it have been?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Are you a tortoise or a hare?

S, recently one of our techie geek guys at work told El 3atal about a new site. It's called speedtest ( and you can use it to test the speed of your internet connection. To what end, you may wonder. Well, first it's just really cool. Second, if you're paying for a 512 line and only getting 110 download speeds, there's something wrong. And third, if you're having trouble communicating with someone, you can have them test as well and see how their connection performs. For instance, I asked Memebean to do this because we always ahve trouble with our Skype connections. We can't do video and El 3atal and I have been blaming it on her end. However, her speedtest was smokin'. We could only dream of having connection times like that (ours is a 512 and speed test had her connection at download speeds of 9000. Man, wishin' I had those speeds. So, now I have to come up with another scapegoat to blame for our lack of ability to video for her. Ahh well. Anyway, if you haven't tested your connection yet...

Happy zooming!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Hardest Working Guys in Jordan

It's interesting in Jordan. As the government has eliminated redundancy, streamlined offices, and generally improved its service delivery (yes this really IS better!), clearly people must have been worked out of jobs. It seems to me that one way the government may have been creating jobs is by hiring more people to sweep the streets. Yes, there are literally street sweepers in Jordan. And, I think they're about the hardest working and most polite people I've seen. Let me give you an illustration. In our apartment, we are on the ground level and are fortunate enough to have a garden. Jasmine grows along the top of the wall surrounding our place, smelling sweet and looking pretty. Unfortunately, when the flowers fall off the plant, they turn brown and fall off in the hundreds. So, we have the detritus of the dead flowers lying around, clogging up our walkways. All of this is inside our wall. So, one morning, I came out to open the gate for folks who would be arriving. I sat to take in the lovely morning breeze and noticed our street sweeper coming along. He smiled and greeted me (in Arabic, of course), and proceeded to reach around inside the gate and get the worst pockets of jasmine flowers. While his job is to clean the streets, he took a little extra time to clean up our little part of the world. There was no apparent thought on his part that this isn't his job. He always smiles when he sees you out and about.

~~ Warning, major tangent ahead! ~~
Sadly, his work must be frustrating. There seems to be a growing and quite profitable business in digging through trash cans and getting out spent coke cans. And, it must be very profitable. For those of you who may not be familiar, in Jordan, people do not flush their toilet paper (well, WE do, but... most people don't). Instead, they have little trash cans in each bathroom and the toilet paper is dropped into the can. These are typically put into bags with all of the other household trash. So, the guys digging through for coke cans are literally digging through a pile of refuse to get the cans. Yep, they're knee deep in poop, smelly diapers, rotted food, etc. Honestly, I can't imagine it. I mean one guy, maybe. But these guys drive up in trucks and have teams to do this. It's bizarre. The worst part about it is that in their efforts, they don't even attempt to ensure that the other trash doesn't escape. The sad reality is that ten minutes after our street sweeper has finished, trash is blowing down the street from the bags that the can seekers have ripped open. By the end of the day, our garden has a collection of newspapers, empty cartons, candy wrappers and other items that catch the wind and blow about.
~~end of tangent~~

Well, you are likely thinking, one street sweeper can hardly by called evidence. You are absolutely correct. Before the kids started going to school, I took the same path to work every day. There was a street sweeper who was in charge of this very large road. It is four lanes of busy traffic and prolific litterers. And yet, every day, before 8 in the morning he was sweeping up the refuse tossed casually out of the car windows by those who were never taught better (or choose to ignore it). One day, as I saw the sweeper, he happened to look up. Seeing me sitting in my car waiting on the light, he smiled and waved. Unprompted, he smiled and waved to me. So, again, as polite as can be.

Nowadays, El 3atal and I take a different route to work after dropping off the beans. And, on this route, you guessed it, we see a street sweeper. Every morning, we see him arrive at work and get right to it. His area of charge is an even larger limited access four lane with attendant bridges and tunnels. And, he gets tow work and starts cleaning up the trash. With the work ethic and attitude that we've seen, it's amazing that there's any trash left.

I think there are two things that would be helpful in cleaning up the streets of Amman. First, begin a recycling program (given how profitable it seems to be, I wonder if it wouldn't make enough money to offset the costs) and second, come up with a campaign that is as effective as Don't Mess with Texas. Few places have managed to get the entire state behind fighting litter, Texas actually makes money off of their products. Maybe that would help here. To give applause where it's due. In my Arabic class, we use a government textbook and it has a reading passage about taking care to pick up after yourself and value what you have. So, they are trying, but I'm afraid social responsibility of this sort may be a long time coming...

Clean streets.