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Joel and Amy’s Blog

Selected Photo

September 9th, 2010 by Joel in Abu Dhabi, Pictures | No Comments »

Iftar at the Grand Mosque with a few thousand Muslim men.

Font change

September 9th, 2010 by admin in Geekiness | No Comments »

I’ve changed the font on the title of the blog to the official font used by the city of Abu Dhabi for Tourism and Development. Quirky change. These short, meaningless posts are generally for my record-keeping and partially because design/development of the blog is one of the reasons I’m doing this. =)

Something I love about the UAE: Daily car washes

September 8th, 2010 by Joel in Abu Dhabi, Pictures | No Comments »

That’s right, I get my car washed every day here in the UAE.  Well, every day except Friday.  That’s the Holy day here and even my carwash guy takes the day off.  The bonus comes on Saturday though… if I leave the car unlocked the interior gets cleaned as well.

For 200 AED per month (that’s around $54 US) I get to have a clean car every day.  I love it!

There’s a reason for this daily cleaning though.  We may not get much rain, or snow, or any precipitation for that matter, but the dust and morning condensation will totally soil a car.  At night the humidity spikes, the temps drop a bit, and your baked vehicle that measures around 45-degrees C on the interior gets soaked.  Meanwhile, all the dust in the air mats to the condensate.  The result, after a few days without a wash, looks something like this:

So you see, I NEED to get my car washed every day.  =)

Something I love about the UAE: The Metric System

September 2nd, 2010 by Joel in Abu Dhabi, Geekiness, General | 2 Comments »

I used to think the metric system would be something I’d never get. What is so special about this “universal” measurement system that the rest of the world uses it? The lack of fractions is appealing, but beyond that the appeal was lost on me. I mean really, if the meter corresponds to a yard… and the centimeter corresponds to the inch… what corresponds to the foot? I was sure that the metric system would fall short without a corresponding intermediate unit like the foot.

I’m a convert. I LOVE the metric system.

Being an engineer with a lot of time on site where contractors are constantly measuring, cutting, digging, filling, etc. I’ve had to figure it out pretty quick.

But why the sudden “metric-love?” It’s simple. It allows for as much (or as little) precision as you need with minimal effort. It’s scalable. It’s adaptable. It’s flexible. It’s… universal.

When the rubber meets the road and you are out in the middle of an airfield trying to explain a dimension to a poor laborer from Bangladesh, who’s had no formal education in their life, metric is teachable. Even when they are speaking Bengali and you are speaking English. I couldn’t imagine trying to teach someone to work with Imperial units out in the field, especially across a language barrier.

Final thoughts for any “rebellious” American’s out there who are thinking “To heck with the global standard, we are America and we do it our own way!” What’s more individualistic and symbolic of our Yankee nature? Sticking with the Imperial system, so named for it’s universal nature during the height of the British Empire, or bucking the old ways (just like we bucked the POHM’s) and pursuing the most efficient and scalable measurement system the world has ever known?

Selected Photo

August 27th, 2010 by Joel in Pictures | No Comments »

An assortment of shoes lined up in one of the booths in the India section of Dubai’s Global Village.

Salam Street in Miniature

February 28th, 2010 by Joel in Abu Dhabi, Pictures | No Comments »

Saw a really cool video on the net, shot in tilt-shift photography style. This basically makes the whole scene look like it was shot while observing miniatures. Think a small model railroad for example. So I did some tinkering and came up with the following:

This is the late Salam Street in Abu Dhabi, shot from our first place of residence, Asfar Hotel Apartments. I say the “late” Salam Street because it is currently torn up as they are making it a tunnel road with interchanges.

Installing a doorknob

February 27th, 2010 by Joel in Abu Dhabi | 1 Comment »

Our flat (apartment) is part of a villa (house) that has had some random walls and doors installed so that the owner can lease it out in sections to multiple tenants. The main entry to the interior hallway/stairwell previously had no way of staying closed. It had a knob, but no latching mechanism. The knob didn’t even turn, it’s was just a way to grab hold of the door in the event you wanted to open/close it. The front door existing in this state for at least as long as we’ve lived here… over a year.

A few weeks back the landlord (not to be confused with the owner) was sweeping out the hallway prior to showing an empty unit. He was complaining about the amount of dust that had come into the hallway during a recent sandstorm. I told him that the door needed a proper handle/latch so it could stay shut. He agreed. He said he’d take care of it after the weekend. Nothing happened.

Silly me… I thought maybe he was waiting until the next time he had work out here. He’s been out here countless times since. One of our “neighbors” even mentioned something to him. Nothing happened.

A week ago I was in Musaffah (that’s a whole blog post in and of itself) picking up a plumbing hose for under our kitchen sink (another blog post) and finally bit the bullet. I bought a handle/latch/lock assembly for AED 80 (about $21 US) and intended to take matters into my own hands. Yesterday I did just that.

There’s been pretty hardy winds as of late and the dust/sand has been everywhere except, I’m happy to report, the hallway of our building. It’s amazing how much gratification I’ve taken from installing a doorknob. Back in the States I’d have to build my own shed or change an axle-shaft bearing to get this kind of satisfaction. Now all it takes is a door knob. You know why? Because it takes as much effort on my part to get that done here as it would to get those other jobs done back in the States.

Things I Miss – #236

October 7th, 2009 by Joel in Faith | 1 Comment »

Picking a book of the Bible to read, jumping on Amazon for a commentary, and having my commentary in hand a few days later as a supplement to my reading.  Note, it’s the jumping on Amazon and having the commentary quickly part that I can’t do here… can still read the Bible at will.

There is nothing new under the sun: FASHION!

August 23rd, 2009 by Amy in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I was thinking for the thousandth time the other day, “My goodness! The eighties are coming back! What am I going to do?” I was a child of the eighties, just old enough to remember the fashions but not old enough to appreciate them, which is why I’m so confused that they are making a come back. I am taking a survey for Newport-News.com and they are asking who my favorite designers are and have given me a list to choose from. Instead of just picking at random just to get the $10 off coupon I decided to do my research. My thinking has only been confirmed. As I’m working my way through the fashion internet, I am seeing: leggings, leg warmers, puffy sleeves (super sized), tight pants (for guys this time), collars up!, pink is in! (for men), the colors are getting wild and comic book like (some reminding me of Oscar the Grouch), lace everywhere, oh and the shoes! The accessories! I’ve seen bright as the sun, glossy, yellow pumps, long necklaces and bangles, the thicker the better thank you.

All of this to back up a theory that’s been formulating in my mind. There is nothing new under the sun: Fashion repeats itself. It just seems to come back bigger and scarier than the last time.

CVS80s2Christian Siriano 1961 FW09 New York 02-19-09 Christian V Siriano (my favorite so far)

Fashion tip for the week: Looking for a cheap way to fit in this fashion season? Check out all the eighties fashions on ebay. Simply search under “1980” or “80’s” you might just find some wildly modern looks!

Desert Imprint – Intro

August 18th, 2009 by Joel in Abu Dhabi, Essay | No Comments »

No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.

- Sir Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands


It was a close friend of ours that first suggested we “move to Dubai!” as my next career move. It sounded exotic and adventurous, but I wasn’t sure I was ostentacious enough to hack it in the capital of exorbitant wealth and construction.

I had a contact whose company had a presence in Abu Dhabi (120 km south of Dubai) and I gave him a ring. One thing lead to another and within 6 months there’d been an interview, a brief visit to the UAE for my wife and I, and a signed contract. On December 1, 2008 we arrived in the UAE as residents.

The prevailing UAE-expat wisdom says that you come for one of two reasons; no one will hire you in your home country or… the money. We came for a third reason; we felt called to move to the Middle East, live among Arabs, and stretch ourselves. We are the silly, idealistic ones.

Over the last seven months I’ve become hooked on the mystery, solitude, and vastness of the desert. I’ve discovered a people of that desert who can not deny their Bedu past even as they struggle with their oil-rich future.

(this is the first in a series of posts trying to articulate the impression the desert is leaving on me)