Monday, March 24, 2008

New Orleans!!

I had a wonderful time in New Orleans attending the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) annual Corrosion conference. It provided me with a chance to reconnect with colleagues, learn new technical information, attend some interesting papers (as well as endure a few really boring papers), have some nice meals and pick up a few "gimmies" from the exhibition area!

A VERY rusty pipe symbolizes the goal of the NACE Corrosion Conference - namely, corrosion prevention!!

No - I really did not gamble! I just passed by Harrah's every day on my way to the New Orleans Convention Center.

A New Orleans street car. Actually, this one runs past the "Riverwalk" mall. The famous St. Charles street car (the one memorialized in the movie "Streetcar Named Desire") is about a mile away from this line.
PS: I stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel - it is an EXCELLENT hotel! Expensive, for sure, but it has some very nice rooms. Suggestion: get a room on the city side - NOT the river side.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

Well, I've ben home now exactly one week (I am just about caught up on my jet lag from the trip to Kuwait) and am already getting ready for my next trip. Thankfully this next trip will be domestic (within the USA) and will be close to home. It is supposed to last about only 4 days.
I am still plowing through all my accumulated mail (Email and 'snail' mail) and have just completed all my expense acounting. Also many digital pictures to edit and show my colleagues and friends. And, lastly, time to pay a lot of bills that had sat unpaid during the past five weeks I was away.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Looooooong Road Home!!

Well, it finally came!! The time to return to home-sweet-home. I departed Kuwait International Airport and flew to Dubai on Wednesday morning. Only one small problem .... thanks to heavy fog in Dubai, my flight from Kuwait was delayed two hours. Thankfully, I arrived in mid-afternoon and checked into the new Intercontinental Hotel (Festival City) - the same hotel I stayed at following my flight over to the Middle East at the end of January. The following day (Thursday, March 6), I then boarded Emirates 211 and settled in for the 16 hour-10 minute flight from Dubai to Houston. A long time to sit and do nothing but it sure beats having to go through Heathrow or Frankfurt! Our plane (Boeing 777-200 LR) took an unusual polar route which started over the mountains of Iran, then over Moscow, and continuing over extreme northern Norway, northeastern Greenland, the Northwest Territories in Canada, the central USA and finally into Houston. Lastly, a slow, 1.5 hour ride by taxi through a heavy rain shower and I was finally home!!

Now I must rest a few days. The older I get the harder it is for my body to adjust to the time shifting. It takes me about one day for every hour of time shift. Since Kuwait is 9 hours ahead of Texas time, I need about one week to fully recover from the dreaded effects of 'jet lag'. But at least I am home and in my own bed, eating out at my favorite restaurants, visiting with friends, hanging out at all my favorite places, etc. As Dorothy said at the end of The Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like HOME"!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Getting a Haircut

The premise of getting a haircut seems simple enough - almost not worthy of mentioning in a blog. In the past, I've been going to barbers who are located at major hotels. Nice enough but moocho expensive (8 - 10 KD!!). Thanks to a colleague's recommendation, I ventured into Fahaheel and stopped at a barber whose shop was near the huge Al-Ghanim electronics store. The barber shop was modest but appeared to be clean so I went ahead and had a haircut there. We have several barbers in the village of Al-Zour near where my company has its headquarters. HOWEVER, a colleague who had his hair cut in Al-Zour complained bitterly of catching lice in his hair, a malady that required a medicated shampoo from the doctor to eradicate! YUK! Not what I want - hence the hunt for a decent (i.e., hygienic and clean) barber!! Once again, a lesson: things we take for granted at home are not so simple elsewhere.

Weekend 4 - The Friday Market

For my last weekend here in Kuwait (Friday, Feb. 29), I decided to visit the Friday Market. I hadn't been there since 2002 so it was worth another visit. The Friday Market is basically a flea market with a lot of stuff for sale: clothing, matresses, carpets, brick-a-brak (fancy word for miscellaneous trash!), watches, furniture, etc. etc. [It's located on the Fourth Ring Road in-between Hyws 60 & 55.] A great place to sample the local culture and pick up some great bargains. But buyer beware!! Everything is negotiable and all sales are final (and as far as I could see, in CASH only)!

A nice improvement was the construction of huge coverings that help provide shoppers with some badly needed shade from the blazing sunlight. Now one doesn't have to risk heat stroke or sunburn when visiting the Friday Market.