Saturday, March 7, 2009

Today's Hefty Helping of Little Grumblings

As always, the ones that weren't witty, are the ones I didn't write.
  • How long until Facebook's friend finder takes the hint that I just don't want any more friends?
  • This is the first time in my life I have ever actively wanted to buy something from a creepy, dirty, Ice Cream Man, but alas I am in Egypt.
  • There is a rug downstairs with art work on it that looks like it is straight out of a Johnny Chimpo Cartoon.
  • I need to invest in a pet frog for the mosquitoes that pester me. Preferably not a poison frog, would be slightly counterintuitive.
  • Am I justified in my anger if the version of Photoshop that just crashed is a cracked version? Regardless I swore profusely.
  • I was just asked seriously on the street if I have one or two wives.
  • Now my refusal of all offerings of food makes sense, in Egypt food from a stranger can kill you.
  • I wish I had the skills of Arnold when it came to catching flies.
  • 96 degrees, in a tomb, wearing all black, with photo lights on......for 7 hours.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

On Equus Asinus (or Donkeys)

I actually took this photo, yes it's true.

Some time before coming to Egypt, Katy asked me if I had ever seen a donkey, to which I responded that yes I had (anyone who has been to a farm has). I would like to retract that previous statement, I have never seen a real donkey.

Real donkeys are the most pathetic animal there is on the planet, all they do is just stand there and stare at the ground with their half shut, droopy eyes. Now I know why Eeyore has such a defeatist attitude.

Besides just looking like they hate life they sound like they hate life. It seems as if I can not go twenty minutes with hearing a noise like this erupt from outside the window.

What I Am Reading: The Pearl

This book has since been learned, go here for thoughts on it.

I have never really enjoyed Steinbeck's writing, I say that having not read anything by him since High School. So in the name of retrying things I bought The Pearl, ta novella. I figure that if I am to try to read Steinbeck again a 89 page novella of critical acclaim is not a bad place to start.

I am still reading The Corrections, but because of it's rather large length and then the relatively short length of The Pearl I thought I should submit this post early because of the small period of time (an hour or so) it will take me to read this book.

As for the cover, being that I purchased a copy that is only printed in England, for more money than it is worth (in Egypt), when at Borders there are about 3 other copies of this book in stock (where I have a discount mind you) I believe that should tell you something about my opinion towards the cover. The spine and back cover, which can not be seen continue the theme of the front cover with Steinbeck's name being written in two different fonts on the spine as well.

I think in the future I am going to take my own pictures of the cover, spine and back covers and upload them, partially for quality as well as it is nearly impossible to find anything but the front cover online. We'll see how that goes in the future.

I hope to finish this (and The Corrections) before I fly back to Boston so I can leave it for Katy because she has never read any Steinbeck before.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Egyptian Grumblings II

For Part I navigate your web viewing thingymabobby to this page here.

Grumbling along....
  • The Egyptian Museum looks to me like what a WW II era government building should look like, complete with all the old wooden encasements one could desire.
  • Egyptians are incredibly friendly, but because of a select few of them (I'm being nice here) you can not trust any of them when it comes to their kindness and the guy we met on the street just after lunch is a perfect example. When at first he just wanted to talk to us about America it seemed perfectly normal, when he led us down a dark alleyway just to show us the front of his store it seemed odd, when he started shouting at us for refusing to have tea with him it was just down right scary. Surprisingly though he believed us when we said we would be back in two hours and we would then have tea. It should be noted that I did not have any tea that day.
  • Crossing the street in Egypt is like running across a minefield, you just close your eyes, run in zig zagging patterns and hope that you make it to the other side with all your body parts attached.
  • Stella in Egypt is not Stella in Belgium, more on this next week.
  • Khan el-Khalili is where the French Tourist was killed by a Grenade last week. How do I know that? No not because I read about it in the news, no, I know about it because whenever I told someone I was going to Egypt they said "Oh watch out that you don't get killed!" And no I didn't get killed at Khan el-Khalili.
  • Because I love everything public transportation I insisted we take it at some point during our stay in Cairo, something our Taxi driver found rather perplexing when we told him to drop us at a Metro stop. Most interesting thing about the Metro: the Women only cars.
  • Egyptian Traffic makes all traffic in the US look like 6 lane highway with 5 cars on it. Let's just say that when you have two lanes and you try to drive cars wide the end result is not often a positive one.
  • Cairo International Airport is a joke, and I don't use that phrase lightly.
  • If the fact that when you call Egypt Air you have to talk to 3-5 different departments to change your flight, or the fact that you need a print out of your online receipt to get your ticker, or that the plane makes a very odd buzzing noise during your entire flight, if those things don't bother your then maybe this fact will (because I was outraged), they are a Pepsi only carrier. Never flying Egypt Air again (lies, I am in a week).

On Mummy Dust

ARCE Menna Tomb

The Underling has taken another job as a minion, as a photography assistant in a dust ridden tomb in Egypt. How am I qualified for this job you may ask? The answer is, I am not, in a photography sense qualified but Katy is and as her boyfriend I am of course inclined to do as I am told. So since it was in my best interest I agreed to take on yet another role that my name alone qualifies me for.

Though this job is indeed interesting and ranks up there with some of the more interesting things in my life (oh who am I kidding, I think second on that list is a meeting at the EU) I do believe it may be hazardous to my health. I mean yes I am helping catalog a 3,500 year old tomb but the more important thing is that I am inhaling thousands of years of Mummy dust as I work.

More commonly known as "Zift", Mummy dust is basically very fine sand and dust sprinkled with a very small amount of the remains of exhumed Mummies. Now this Zift is everywhere inside the tomb, including my lungs while I bend in all different positions to place the color chart or light meter while at the same time avoid interfering with the photo or the lights, but I perservere and do as I am told like the good little Underling I am.

So if in a few years I suddenly collapse and die and the autopsy comes back with a bunch of rag fragments and millenia old chunks of body parts in my lungs, you will know why.

And yes those are my spider like fingers pictured above.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Today's Hefty Helping of Little Grumblings

As always, the ones that weren't witty, are the ones I didn't write.
  • Nothing like inhaling Mummy dust all day.
  • The call to prayer may is starting to get old fairly quickly. I mean one can only take wannabe Egyptian Idols for so long.
  • Mummy Dust definitely takes the creative ability out of you. It's looking like no blog entry today.
  • How many donkeys have you seen today? I'm at 4.
  • Realized the problem with my shaving, I have not been using scalding hot water. Just sears the hair off your face. Seriously, close shave.
  • Just spent a hour ride alone from Luxor 2 flat with a guy who knew no English and I know 5 words in Arabic. "Alatool" only gets you so far.
  • Egyptian coke is equal in deliciousness (spelled correctly on first try) to European coke.
  • Not having a PC for 6 months has really changed my opinion of them.
  • I need to install a Twitter program in my brain.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Egyptian Grumblings I

Photo by Katy Kobzeff

After a day of flying, two days in Cairo, another flight, and my first day in Luxor I finally have time to clue you all in on what I have been doing. At first I had a couple individual posts in mind to write up and publish over time (the plane, first day in Cairo, Second day, etc.) but it has all sort of just tumbled into one constant day in my mind that spans four actual days. So what I have decided to do instead of a bunch of separate posts I am going to just bring back the "Grumblings". "Grumblings" are basically like "Ramblings", Underling style (therefore tweets are Little Grumblings). What follows then is the past 4 days condensed into a series of "Grumblings" brought to you in two parts. Enjoy.


Where: Cairo International Airport
When: Last Night

After being hassled by security (twice mind you) and being shuffled around by the god awful airline known as Egypt Air, I found myself sitting at the gate, waiting to board, staring at this man at a small computer. Now he obviously worked for the airport or airline, that was plain to see, and in the end that really doesn't matter in the slightest. What matters is that after clicking a few buttons on the computer he proceeds to take 30 minutes combing through each and ever last piece of information that is printed out. Now of course this is not your typical printer paper, this is early 90's printer paper with the holes on the side and each sheet is connect to the next. What resulted was this man surrounded by a pile of computer paper with God knows what on it, and there I was trying to read my book but all I could do was turn around every few moments and start laughing uncontrollably at this spectacle. And after about 30 minutes he obviously found what he was looking for, ripped the one sheet he wanted off and sauntered away leaving a pile of paper littering the floor.

What follows was a series of questions I had pertaining to this particular event, all of which I find myself asking every 5-10 minutes here;

  1. What the hell is he doing?
  2. Why is he doing it?
  3. Why is this process so odd?
  4. Why is he not doing it my way
  5. Who the hell is he?
And so on and so on......

Just keep those questions and questions like them in mind while reading the follow Grumblings, because you know I was.

Grumbling along....

  • You know when Ron Jeremy is sitting across from you in the terminal your day is going to go well.....
  • I really do not like airport food (though I do like beer), especially at JFK,
  • Thanks to about 4 beers I successfully fell asleep before take off only to wake up while we were still over New Brunswick, I remained awake for the rest of the 11 hour flight.
  • On Southern People: You guys are far too nice, cheery, and slow talking. I can not take it. Flying with a Southern flight attendant, and a pack of Alabamians was far more trying than it needed to be. Let's lay down some ground rules so it never happens again; the civil war ended over a century ago therefore no more calling me a Yankee, no cackling, just because I talk fast does not make me elitist it just means I have better developed motor skills, lastly if and when you talk in and around foreigners please tell them you are from the South of the US (not to be confused with South America) because they always get confused when I don't have a drawl and say y'all like you, best to say that you consider the Northeast a different country all together. Grumbling forward!
  • Delta lied to me, their website showed a picture of an airplane equipped with a television for each passenger. What I got was a partially obstructed 17 inch 15 feet away.
  • I can never remember the name of Dennis Quaid, not to be confused with Kevin Costner.
  • Drinking 4 beers, taking a 1 hour nap, feeling irritated, and being next to the bathroom is not conducive to reading.
  • I apparently can not go an entire flight without spilling a liquid of some kind on myself, the lucky liquid this time: Hot Tea.
  • In Egypt certain individuals are allowed in the arrival terminal, so they can assist you in getting a Visa, your luggage and getting through customs. I feel as if this lends itself to corruption and terrorism, but hey what do I know?
  • First of all, Egyptians drive like crazy people, but that's neither here nor there. What is truly disturbing is that there is a cop position every 50 - 100 yards on the street armed either with a Kalashnikov or a Radio. They appear to be glorified traffic cops but then you see cops with "Traffic" on their chest. I think this is President Mubarak's way of preventing and better responding to the eventual car bomb in Cairo. Disturbing yet reassuring at the same time.
  • Pyramids = Very large
  • The Menna House was everything I expected and more. The pyramids were about 400 yards from our window, need I say more?
  • Watching Katy haggle with Taxi drivers is very amusing. It's something about them initially treating her like a stupid American woman, only to realize that she speaks Arabic and lived in Cairo for a while so she knows their ways. And taxi drivers are scum.
  • We went to dinner in what is considered the best Egyptian food restaurant in Cairo, and it lived up to its reputation. The clientele was that best part though
  • We went to bed at about 7 PM local time and slept until 7 AM the next day, no I am not kidding. Though I was briefly disturbed from my slumber around midnight when Katy couldn't sleep and wanted to go check out the Disco.
Part II will follow tomorrow, stay tuned....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Today's Hefty Helping of Little Grumblings

As always, the ones that weren't witty, are the ones I didn't write.
  • Somehow a Miller Lite Cap made it's way all the way to Egypt with us. I'm looking at you Mumkin.
  • I meant High Life, I don't drink crap like Miller Lite.
  • Packs of dogs howling outside the window. Melinda referred to them as having Dog Wars. I need a camera, a flashlight and a gun (protection).
  • Blog posts shall begin tomorrow. Be there or be square!
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