Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taco Rice and Cheese Redux

I've blogged about this before, one of my all time favorite meals, taco rice and cheese. I found this in Kinville in Okinawa. Honestly, it's probably nothing but cheap bar food to fill Marines belly's, but we liked it.

The classic taco rice and cheese is a bed of sticky white rice, topped with a healthy portion of taco meat, covered in shredded cheddar cheese. Aside from the States we have yet to fully duplicate that recipe.

In Montevideo it was the cheese. There was no sharp cheddar anywhere. Only white cheese.

Here, we can get the ground beef, but it's frozen Australian beef and it's already salted. Don't get me wrong it really is good tasting beef, but a bit hard to get the seasoning right. Again, no sharp cheddar cheese, but the white cheese we used fit the bill. On a health kick we used red long grain rice. I didn't think I would like it but it was very good.

On the side we had a bean salad with chopped bits of pineapple, onion, red and yellow pepper, jabanero mango hot sauce and coconut oil. All that was missing was some cilantro, it was till very delicious.

Now go out and have some taco rice and cheese!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meat Sri Lankan (Expat) Style

Just finished eating a turkey burger, probably one of the few burgers I've had since I've been here.
We purchased it from the store at work, much like we purchase most of our meat. It comes from Australia, it's frozen and vacuum packed. There is a pretty decent selection, and the brats and other sausages are really great.

We had made an order for some meat and it was pretty expensive. The turkey burgers were individually sealed, nice, but they were also seasoned and had its fair share of filling. They looked small but surprisingly one burger each filled us up.

The grocery store does have a meat counter, but we have yet to purchase anything there. It's mostly chicken and mutton and ground mutton. The beef comes from Australia and again, it's expensive.

There are butchers at the local market, but judging by the smell we will never buy anything there, that and just walking through the place gives you the creeps.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Food Feast




So we were on the way to the Galle Face hotel for sandwiches by the pool and book reading on the their little beach, or so we thought. We both mentioned that we were really hungry and the lunch buffet was still a good option, we would look at that.

We arrive at the hotel and head towards the buffet and notice that it's done up much more festive than usual. Then we notice the selection was certainly not the usual fair, and then I realized, this was a special lunch buffet.

I knew that this was not going to be priced on par with the usual lunch buffet, probably closer to double that price, but worth it. Unfortunately the hostess was not able to seat us at our usual sitting area with great views of the ocean, in fact many of the tables had reserved cards on them. She had to seat us at an overflow section but that was okay as it was the dining room area of the hotels fanciest restaurant.

The food selection was so great it was difficult at best where to begin, but I found a way! Amongst the many stations was a prawns and calamari tempura chef, pasta chef, omelet chef, Mongolian bbq chef, shaved chicken schwarma chef (Not like any pita you've had in your life), lamb and turkey carving, cheeses, salads, juices and that's not including the hot plate items on the other side, the dessert display and the ice cream chef with all of the gooey stuff.

We ended up staying almost three hours! Two main course plates, ate fairly slowly, coffee and desserts later.

I thought we would need a tri-shaw ride home but we made it!

And here are the pictures: Dessert plate, bread display, orange mousse in shot glasses.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!!!

Christmas has arrived in Sri Lanka. It's a gray dreary morning so far. Happy Christmas? That's what they say here, merry conotates drunkeness, like Robin and his merry men etc.

I bought a Santa hat and wore it down the main road yesterday on my way home fom work. I got a few grins on the sidewalk that made it worth it. I had also bought some Reeses Pieces and chocolate covered marshmallow Santa's. When I got to the apartment I started giving them out to the guards who were very happy. Pretty much anything American is a neat thing for them. My guess is more than a few brought the candy home for the kids.

We went to a midnight church service and there was a brass ensemble that accompanied the pipe organ. They really made some joyful noise within the church. The church is very old with high ceilings so the acoustics were wonderful.

Hope everyone has a great day with family and friends.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Door



This is one of the neatest things for Christmas I have ever scene. Two men working on their own time wove coconut leaves together and created this wonderful nativity scene. You really have to see it in person, but alas you can't, LOL, so here are some pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Going to The Airport

I had to go to the airport today before noon, what a trip that was. The entire way is on a 4 lane road divided by basically a bumper strip. At anytime a vehicle could cross over and hit oncoming traffic. I know this is not unique per se' but it just adds to the madness.

Every hundred yards or so pedestrians are jumping out in front of you to cross the road. Some take their chances at the pedestrian crosswalk but here it doesn't make a difference.

Now add big smoke belching buses drifting into our lane the entire way.

Numerous dead dogs.

The occasional slow trishaw that's drifting all over the highway.

The army checkpoints.

Intersections without traffic lights with trucks and buses crossing the highway at will.

Add more pedestrians.

Add our driver who is constantly flashing his high beams and honking his horn every two minutes.

Maintain for one hour.

Yeah, even though I wasn't driving it is a bit overwhelming.

I get to do it again tomorrow!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas in Sri Lanka

The Christmas spirit is in full swing here, the malls all have Christmas tree's up, decorative lights everywhere, the apartment building put a small Christmas tree in our foyer and setup a larger tree and nativity scene in reception. Funny thing as they cover baby Jesus with a white cloth from head to toe. My guess is that on Christmas day they will uncover him.

The restaurant on the first floor has been entertaining many a Christmas party, there was one last night that had the music thumping till the wee morning hours.

I had been thinking about why all the Christmas frenzy in a predominately Buddhist country, but I realized this was a British colony and the tradition certainly was passed down.

Now only if they can pass down the price of the frozen turkeys! Around $9 per kilo!

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Cross Country by James Patterson
Fiction
Paperback 419 pages
Detective Thriller

By the name one can tell it's from the Alex Cross series, and I know, reading James Patterson, how cliche'. As with any James Patterson books it's chock full of murder and bloodshed and in the end Alex Cross saves the day.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Buddha's Back

Buddha's back, and he's back to his old gray self. Last month Buddha inexplicably turned a shade of yellow, I have no idea how other than the fact that the statue was replaced.

Well lo and behold he's back, he's bad and he' gray again. I'm curious if it's a plastic or concrete statue.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Buddha's Gone

There is a big Buddha statue as you enter the office building that leads to our apartment. Yesterday it was removed.

I have my theories.

Was it removed to be cleaned? Maybe? But, there are many Christmas tree's springing up throughout the office building. In fact I wanted to get a picture that would have shown Buddha and a Christmas tree in one frame. I wanted to show the irony more than anything.

So, is it possible that the office management removed the Buddha statue so not to conflict with one faith over the other? I don't know. Maybe it was removed just to be cleaned, LOL, who knows/

The Light Show

One thing I have to say bout living here is that good ol' mother nature does put on a good show for us. Although I haven't woken up early enough to see the sunrise apparently it' quite beautiful, I do routinely see the sunset which is always fantastic.

But when the sun comes down the new show starts, the heat lightning and just plain old lightning that lights up the sky. It's pretty neat as there are no obstacles out in the ocean to distort your view so you can see the lightning from one end to the other.

Sometimes you can see the ocean lit up from the lightning, it's pretty neat.

11:43AM Sunday, December 6th

I see that some snow had fallen in Northern Virginia today, and it's chilly back home in Virginia Beach. Stark contrast to the weather we have been having in Colombo!

Scattered clouds. Warm. 88 °F
Scattered clouds. Warm.
Distance:17 mi from Colombo
Description:Scattered clouds. Warm.
Temperature:88 °FComfort Level:94 °F
Wind:8 mph from 30° North-northeastDirection South-southwest
Last update:Sun 10:40 AM IST













Thursday, December 3, 2009

From a distance

So my wife tells me today she saw what appeared to be a fishnet out in the ocean. She described it as a line floating on the surface in either direction as far as you could see. She grabbed my binoculars to get a better view, it was trash. A line of trash floating along with the rip tide. She said that there was also logs bobbing up and down now and then.

If I need any proof that this was a third world country.

Song Birds

As I walked to work today I heard something different, pleasant, almost out of place. The sweet tunes of a songbird, drowned out by the caw caw caw's of a raven.
I guess you just had to have been there!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Cat Dog Experiment

A new country and a new dilemma with cat food pouches. Those yummy delightful bags of cat joy that brings at least one of our cats, Cricket, running into the kitchen to the sound of anything that even crinkles like a pouch bag.

In Montevideo the cat food pouches just disappeared off the shelf never to return. Here they have 2 different flavors of Whiska, both fish, and both not entirely favorable to Cricket. Hard to describe what it looks like in her food bowl, not so appetizing.

Well I had noticed dog food in pouches and wondered a little bit about trying it. So the boss (Chris) went shopping with me and we both mulled over the dog food, the pouches were larger and the prices was better but the most important part, it was chicken flavored which both cats enjoy.

Bought two pouches and tried it on our feline friends.

The verdict? Two paws up! They ate it up well.

An no, they're not barking yet and unless you want your hand bit you better not rub their bellies!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Broken Window: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffery Deaver
Paperback
417 pages
Detective/Thriller

Its been awhile since I can say I read a book I liked, and here it is. Seemingly a pretty long book but I was able to put it away fairly quickly.
As a geek I felt that some of it was a little overboard, but enough to be interesting.

This has been another typical Doc Report book review.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Big Shopping Day

So today was the big day to go out shopping, for Chris. We were going to Odel's which is a big fancy clothing outlet with some eateries and household stuff.

Spent five minutes trying to find my BlackBerry when I realized I must have left it at work, but that didn't matter as it hasn't been working lately. Obviously not so important to me. What I really needed from my BlackBerry was the number of a trishaw driver I wanted to call.

Decided we would just grab a trishaw from across the street as there is a trishaw station srand there. As we walked across the street there was the guy I was looking for, he was happy to see us.

He took us to Odel's, it was a short ride if you know how to get there.

The place was a mad house, wall to wall people. Lots of clothes that's for sure!

I finally broke down and bought some foo foo cologne, got to do it sometime, Hugo Element.

We had sushi at a sushi bar and cold coffee and a doughnut at the doughnut place.

Had the driver take us to a shopping mall. Three floors of shoes and clothes. I picked up some great linen pants, they had the tag removed, my guess they were Banana Republic pants. Great price, about $17.

Came back home to relax and I went out to get some curry to bring back to the apartment. I also got some chocolate mousse but after reading the ingredients not sure if I can eat one again. Creme, eggs, chocolate, oh my!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The trip to the airport

Had to go the airport to pick up some items for work. It was this big orchestrated affair beginning with the mucho important faxes. Got to send faxes out to a whole bunch of folks at the airport who in turn have to send return faxes. The Sri Lankan guy who was helping with the faxes had me redo them at least six times. On my way to the airport I get a text message from him "Do you have your copies of the faxes sir?"
More on this.

I have a special badge that gets me access to all areas of the airport. Funny thing as I walked around all of the secure areas of the airport nobody looked at me twice or asked to see my badge but when I was leaving I was stopped twice to check my badge.

I had to meet the plane at the tarmac and it had to have been the craziest and most dangerous tarmac I had ever been on. I threw on my reflective vest very quickly. Forgot my ear muffs, it's loud on the tarmac.

Everything worked out, got what I had to get and not a glitch.

Came back very early in the morning. There were dogs lying in streets everywhere! That and must have run into eight army checkpoints.

Nobody asked for any copies of the faxes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Worst Flight Ever!

My beloved is on her way from the States to Camp Colombo. She departed yesterday from Norfolk, VA.

We have this challenge game of sorts we play, being that she or me had just completed the worst flight ever.

I had held the record previously for my 3 day jaunt from Norfolk to Montevideo via JFK and Miami. That mission resulted in long delays in New York, a canceled flight resulting in a overnight stay in a run down Ramada in New York followed by a glitch of sorts starting the plane in New York resulting in at least an hour or more delay at the ramp followed by mechanical problems in flight to Buenos Aires resulting in rerouting the flight to Miami followed by hectic crowds at gate trying to rebook our flights resulting in a overnight in Miami (Okay, not so tough). I eventually made it to Montevideo. A 13 hour flight from Washington took 3 days.

So I get points for switching carriers (Delta to American at JFK), long delays, international flight, long haul flight, and multiple days.

My beloved is officially over the middle east right now on her way here.
So far she earns points for:

Stress and tears (No points for tears, counts for a tie breaker)
Pets
Confusion at ticketing (Never good)
International Flight
Business Class upgrade turned down because of no pets in Business Class (Quite possibly worthy of winning with that category alone)
Long Haul Flight
Multiple Time Zones
Switching Carriers
Reclaim pets and go through customs and security (Bonus points)
Long Delays (See http://tiny.cc/SP7W8)
Changing Carriers
Running through the terminal (Bonus points)
Questionable Carrier (Sri Lankan Air, hmmm)
Last but not least a one hour ride back home.

Oh did I mention she gets here at 04:45! Talk about oh dark !

Yes she takes home the trophy!

Thank goodness I have an expediter when she gets here, basically he will take all the cat paperwork and her passport, take her to the front of the line at customs and passport control and get us out pretty quickly. I also hold a special airport badge that gets me access past customs and passport control so I get to meet her soon after she gets off the plane.

My employer is picking me up in a pretty cool Toyota Landcruiser. The driver asked me if it was big enough, I said I hope so!

Floods

Wednesday as I was going to work the apartment receptionist told me that my housekeeper had called and that her home had flooded and she wouldn't be coming in.
I knew this wasn't good.

When I got to work I heard that there were people from work who also had their homes flooded. It must have really rained pretty hard Tuesday night.

I work a half day on Friday so it's my only day to see her and talk to her. As she smiles away and makes curry for me she says the water was 3 feet deep and everything is ruined.

I don't know what to say but, I'm sorry.

She tells me lunch is ready and politely leaves the room. Awhile later she returns and asks if she could get her salary, she needs things, well I guess so. I tell her no problem and she hands me an envelope from the apartment across from me, which she also cleans. The gentleman who lives there wrote on the envelope that he is going away for a week and told her not to worry about coming over till December 1st. Well she was pretty upset. One, she thought he had left her salary in the envelope, it wasn't, it was just a notice from the apartment building and two, she was afraid that he wouldn't pay her for the week. That and, she needed the money.

I could see she was crying. I think a combination of being in the situation she was in and the embarrassment of asking to get paid earlier and probably because she felt she was bothering me as I was at my laptop and I told her I would have to go get the money as I didn't have it.

I went to the ATM at the mall and withdrew her salary and a little more, bought her daughter a Kinder Joy egg (German chocolate egg with a toy inside).

It is raining pretty hard right now. I am going to give her some extra money to take a tri-shaw home, hope she does as there is lightning flashing everywhere.

Count your blessings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beached Barge at Virginia Beach, VA (Sandbridge)



This big bad boy broke away from it's tug during the recent nor'easter and floated to the beach, within 100 yards of a fishing pier.

There are few article on iReport (CNN) as well as Flickr and the like. Here is the local papers take on it:
http://hamptonroads.com/2009/11/barge-apparently-stabilized-next-mission-move-it

Thanks to my bro' Paul for the vid, with cameos by Dad Meyer, Merle Ann and GiGi.
Check out Paul's other YouTube vids and subscribe.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Church Bazaar


Just returned from a church bazaar. All sorts of hand made goods and lots of goodies, can you guess which I indulged in? Hmm, mmm, iced coffee for 20 Rupees a cup, around $.15, wow, talk about sweet and strong! I went back for a second cup and they were sold out.

There was supposed to be a fancy dress competition. The idea being that the church is so multinational that maybe a few folks would dress up in the attire of his or her country and have a judging competition. I thought that would be interesting except the only entrants were some teenagers with a large letter taped to their shirt and they said they were undercover superheros. I think the letters may have represented their first names. Really the only person to show up in traditional garb was the reverend who being Scottish showed up in his kilt.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
Paperback
397 pages
Fiction
Mystery-Thriller

Well this was a huge departure from the usual spy thrillers I've been reading. Admittedly I wasn't exactly sure if I would continue reading the book after the first chapter or so. As a Christian I'm not "into" ghosts and spirits etc. and this was somewhat about that, but not entirely.
Strangely I liked the main character and although the story line was way out there, it wasn't a bad book after all.

I am hardly a book critic. Please visit Amazon for better reviews of this book : )

Ackward Situation

Slept in a little late and decided to go to the gym at work. As I was walking through the lobby I look at one of the offices and notice that everyone is standing up, hmm, why is that? I walk a little further and notice one of the guards seems to be standing a little straighter, I then notice some people in the hall had stopped. What's going on? Then I heard the music, apparently the Sri Lankan National Anthem.

Well protocol dictates that I wait for the anthem to finish. Well I see people walking through the lobby, so I walk out and look, and the entrance guards are standing and the people in the bank are standing, now what.

The entrance guards smiled and acknowledged me, so I kept walking out. I should have waited.

So I asked my housekeeper just now if this is a daily thing and she said no, but once a month.
Interesting.

Happy Veterans Day!


On the eleventh month on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour, the guns fell silent.

Happy veterans day to all who have served!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Hear The Train A Coming...

So as expected I have gotten pretty much used to the trains, hard not to. What annoys me the most though is the occasional horn blast. I have noticed though that the conductors kindly keep it to a quick blast in the wee morning hours and just a full out assault later on during the day.
And I know why they sound their horn as they approach my apartment, not because it's a good opportunity to annoy the residents but because the train goes around a curve and under the street right after the apartment. Thus alerting anyone (Who shouldn't) be on the tracks around the corner or I can imagine homeless people in the tunnel trying to stay dry.

I have noticed the older the train, the louder they are.

I was watching a video the other day about Sri Lanka and see that there is still a carriage car off the tracks in the southern part of the country. Victim of the tsunami. I see a train that goes by with the same color carriages. Reading some news articles I see the train that was victim of the tsunami was coming from Colombo which makes sense.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fort Hood Tragedy

I settled in at my desk this morning and saw a news alert in my inbox. When I read the headline I just had to shake my head in disbelief, as probably many people all over the world probably was doing as well.

There will be much to be said about this, and I'll let the radio and tv talk show hosts have at it.

For now, I think all we can do is pray for those wounded and recovering in the hospitals and for the comfort of all the families, be it those who were killed or wounded. Amen and Amen.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

Its been raining pretty much everyday day towards the evening. It wasn't raining on my walk home today but the clouds were very dark. My protection from the rain has been a military issue camouflage poncho and an umbrella, works well, if it isn't windy. If it gets very windy and I have to walk then I'll skip the umbrella and use the hood that comes with the poncho.

Funny thing is that the glass ceiling tiles in the office attached to my apartments leak everywhere. Often times when I go to work in the morning there is a clean up crew mopping up the puddles.
The restaurant here also has a few leaks as well. They collect the water in wine buckets. Also they put cloth napkins in the wine buckets so to dull the sound of the rain falling into the bucket, otherwise, ding ding ding.

http://www.actuweather.com/report/?poi=Colombo,%20Western

4 days forecast

Today

Chance of Storm
75°F / 91°F

Tomorrow

Chance of Storm
77°F / 93°F

Saturday

Chance of Storm
77°F / 84°F

Sunday

Chance of Storm
77°F / 84°F

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum
Paperback 707 pages
Fiction
Adventure/thriller

This book took me forever to finish reading! Came close to putting it away for good a couple of times, but I usually finish the books I start reading.

The end of the book started going a little overboard with what I call "the bad guy dialogue", as in, I'm going to kill you after I completely explain my evil plan etc.

Love Robert Ludlum's Bourne series, but pass this one up.

Field Day

For young Marines living in the barracks Thursday evenings invokes one special memory, field day. Cleaning every corner, everything is moved and cleaned, it's a super clean up.

Sundays here the cleaning crew arrives and it's field day. Mostly older ladies, barefoot, tackling everything. I think they go a little overboard sometimes as they take an electric floor polisher and scrub the driveway and sidewalk in front of the office building attached to the apartments. Men set up scaffolding and clean windows and incredibly enough clean the glass that makes up the ceiling, crazy. I say crazy as most of the glass is badly cracked, the balance themselves on the beams that go across between the panes.

Well, so I thought that was bad. The other day when I was at the pool I looked down to see this barefoot guy on top of a corrugated tin roof scrubbing away at the grime with a scrub brush and hose. That's so bizarre on so many levels, first his safety, but who is going to notice? Only people that live in my apartment. And who cares?

As of yesterday he had scrubbed about 1/4 of the roof.

The Long Walk

Yesterday I decided to go for a long walk. I headed toward the Galle Face Green, amused by the fact that no 'touts" (Con artists) approached me on the way (They would come later).
I passed the Galle Face Green and walked past a hotel only to come to a road block and some guard telling me I couldn't go any further, you think so? So I had to double back, which I found myself doing a few more times.

It was crazy hot and the humidity was awful.

I'd find myself at a traffic circle with no real way of getting to the other side short of just running across at the appropriate time. Hard to explain or visualize.

This young kid approached me with the elephant festival scam, I noticed a tri-shaw close behind him. I realized he had gotten out of the tri-shaw as they work in teams, looking for tourists. Oh tri-shaw, no more tuk tuk, like a tri-shaw driver told me, only Americans and Europeans call them tuk tuks, they are called taxis, tri-shaws and three-wheelers here.

Back to the kid. I decided to mess with the kid, act excited, like a dumb tourist, only his English wasn't so good. So when I am tired of all of this and cannot believe how stupid he is as I am acting like the most gullible tourist and when I finally explained to him that I live here and know that he is a 'tout' he didn't understand. The tri-shaw driver understood, he explained it to the kid, or so I thought, as the kid still didn't get it. I just walked away which I should have done in the first place.

I passed some busy, noisy markets, I had to have been the only Westerner.

It was pretty hot and all I needed was one tri-shaw driver to ask me if I needed a ride and I would give in. When one of them did ask me, I jumped at the chance.

This also served a purpose. How? I wanted to see how to get back to my apartment! I was surprised to see that all I had to do was turn right and keep going, and going and going, but it was the main drag.

I will have to say Montevideo was so much nicer a city for going on long walks. All I had to do was leave the apartment and go right or left and ended up at the rambla and I could walk unobstructed for miles.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walking in the rain

Well it was bound to happen. I've been here for five weeks and have managed to escape walking in the rain to or from work until now.

When I got off work I could see how dark it was outside, I knew there was no escaping the wet stuff. But I came prepared.

I always carry an umbrella but I also have a military issue poncho. No points for style, but what it lacks in style in makes up for keeping me and my backpack dry. Supplement that with my umbrella and I'm pretty dry, less my shoes and the bottom quarter of my pants!

I knew that pocho would come in handy one day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PDA Colombo Style


When I went for a walk this past weekend along the Galle Face Green I thought it was funny to see Sri Lankan couples sitting on the benches hidden behind parasols making out : )
This is a very conservative country and open displays of affection are not accepted.
This is a huge departure from Montevideo where a walk along the rambla would leave you blushing and ready to call out "Get a room!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Iron That!


Fridays is pretty much the only day I can meet up with my housekeeper so I try to keep a tally of things to do and not to do, the main subject has been what to iron and what not to iron.

One time when I was talking to her I noticed she was getting ready to iron my jeans, "You don't have to iron these", "Okay sir" she says.

Another Friday I realized she had ironed the bath towels, "You don't have to iron these", "Okay sir" she says.

I put out some clean sheets for her to put on my bed, yeah, she ironed them.

I told her not to iron the bath towels, but not the kitchen hand towels, she ironed them.

I've heard the stories of the butler ironing the newspaper, now I believe it.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The 70's Disco Party


Went to a 70's Disco party last night, many people arrived dressed in some crazy 70's fashions.
What some people had done is bought the material here and had tailor made his and her shirts or dresses whatever made and they hold onto it for another theme party or Halloween etc.
It was a catered event and the food was delicious.

I was looking for a good picture to post, but because it wasn't my party and to protect the innocent I won't.

Found a picture. I was telling this guy I would have done anything for a shirt like this in 1979!

Obituary for Pastor Fritz

Pastor Fritz obituary came out today, honestly I hope the newspaper does pick up on his death and give him a little more than obituary that doesn't mention his combined Army and Navy service.
http://www.legacy.com/pilotonline/Obituaries.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=134920930

As I thought a Google search of his name brings up my blog so in respect to his family I offer my condolences and I won't blog about this any further.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Memorium - Pastor Fritz Stegemann

At 4:00am EST Pastor Fritz Stegemann who founded the Open Door Chapel in Virginia Beach, VA. passed away.

I won't try to make this an obituary and chances are pretty good that this is one of the first widespread public notices to go out, so I am not going to state any facts etc.

I've known Pastor Fritz for years. My Dad had taken me to a couple of his services in "The Barn" way back in the early 70's. It was a new church and the services were held in a barn. Honestly I don't recall him but I do know during one of his services he said to hug the person next to you and there just happened to be a girl next to me that kind of freaked me out as a kid!

I'm not sure when Pastor Fritz gave this new church the name 'Open Door Chapel', he was a former Navy Chief and thought chapel sounded more inviting and what could sound more inviting than 'Open Door Chapel'!

In the early 80's I had attended a few of his services at the Open Door Chapels present location, an old theater (Princess Theater) in Virginia Beach. The services were often standing room only.

In the late 90's when I was dating my then girlfriend we would attend the 'Open Door', the standing room services were no more but there was a god bunch of regulars.

Pastor Fritz married my wife and I in his office in 1998.

Not sure when Pastor Fritz retired because of health reasons but something just happened to the 'Open Door" after that and the congregation just kind of dwindled after that.

I will always remember his Easter Sonrise services at the ocean front in Virginia Beach. Even for locals who don't attend church going to the sun rise service was a tradition.

Pastor Fritz taught me quite a bit, he was a Godly man to look up to. I'm free to say I didn't always agree with what he said or how he did things, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying that.

Thanks Fritz for all that you've done, I know God has a special place for you in His kingdom.

Don't Take A Picture Of This Building!


A soldier stopped me and told me not to take a picture of this building, as I have done. So if your in Colombo and see this building from the Galle Face Green, don't take its picture!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Winner Is

I decided I couldn't procrastinate when it came to judging the essays so I started reading them and found the one I was looking for, one that opened with what had to be an original statement. All the others opened with what came off of the Internet. I knew I would find the same facts repeated in some of the essays, and most of the time, word for word.

Second place was full of plagiarism BUT, I gave them credit for finding writing about an interesting fact that many immigrants are sworn in on the 4th of July, he or she also finished the essay with an original statement.

After that I tried to find an essay that had any resemblance of trying to have some originality, it was hard but I took my chances with one.

So I picked the top three today. I'm not sure what these kids will win, hope it's something nice.

The Essay Judge

So I volunteered to judge essays written by local teenagers about the importance of the 4th of July to U.S. citizens. They are all hand written and had to be at least 1000 words. Why hand written?
To prevent flagrant plagiarism, one would just need to copy and past from the Internet, mix it up and they're done.

I was told to expect out right plagiarism and pretty much just pick the top that wasn't so obvious.
This would turn out to be harder than I thought.

Each and everyone reads as if it came out of a history book. I picked up one that had a small American flag glued to the front page, what an attention getter! I start reading it, and after a paragraph about the Boston Massacre it says, "see Boston Massacre". Okay, I'll check the footnotes.

One thing I will have to admit is that their handwriting is very neat.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nice Dinner

It was just a gorgeous day today, even though it was cloudy. On my walk home I thought for sure the bottom would drop out, but it never did rain and it was nice and cool.

I got back to the apartment and I had a nice baked chicken dinner with au gratin potatoes (Was going to skip the "e" on the end for humor) waiting for me.

Decided to take my dinner and netbook out to the patio and watch the sunset and have my dinner. It was so relaxing. Pulled up my 80's hits on the netbook and had my dinner while the sun dipped over the horizon.

As it got darker I grabbed a candle and surfed the net a little (I do have overhead lights). For once it was neat to watch the trains approach, bright headlights shining the way and lit up cabs full of people going home.

I'm back inside now getting ready to watch a TV show I downloaded from the Internet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Walk to the shopping center

Decided to go for a walk to Majestic City, a shopping center full of a hodge podge of electronics, jewelry and bootleg DVD stores.

The walk there was not pleasant. I had no sooner started my walk that I am approached by a con guy, I couldn't decide if I wanted to mess with him or tell him to go away, I told him to go away.
Hadn't gone but a few blocks when an old man walks along with me, starts up a conversation, he's getting annoying and I'm looking for my break. He then produces "the sign". Whats that?
He tells me he's a teacher and shows me his "laminated card", the con men here use it as a way of saying, hey look, I'm so important I have a laminated card, then he hands me this paper he had been carrying in a folder and it has a paragraph written in a couple of different languages. Basically it said something to the effect that "He is allowed to collect money for such and such orphanage etc etc." believe me, he's not. That was my cue to walk faster.

It was a hot humid sunny day. Add to this the air pollution, the countless beggars and pitiful looking stray dogs along the way, I was beginning to question why I wanted to take this walk.

The sidewalks are awful to and I had to pass at least 3 army checkpoints but they never stop me.

I get to the shopping center and there are beggars lined up in wheelchairs and on crutches and you feel awful.

Funny thing about the mall is that they have someone who checks your bag and a soldier who asks for your ID card. I don't have my card yet. I noticed there were stairs that led down, I walked down and it went to an entrance to the food court. Nobody running a checkpoint there and I can go right to the mall.

I was in the mall but a minute when a beggar approached me.

Didn't stay long and caught a tuk tuk home.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Local Bird

Back home we have seagulls, nice to look at but otherwise trash birds. In Uruguay there was pigeons everywhere, no need to discuss them.

In Colombo on the other hand we don't have pretty tropical songbirds. We have big nasty blackbirds. Menacing, ugly, sound awful.

Sometimes they perch on my railing and just "CAW CAW CAW!!!" and I want to throw something at them.

Yummy Donuts

Yummy strawberry surprise donut, 80 Rupees (About $.70USD) and the nice box it comes in : )
Can't resist!
Return to list of posts

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Workers - Dedicated Workers

One thing about all the Sri Lankans I come across during the day is that they are happy and dedicated workers. They appreciate their jobs, period.

Everyone is smiling and cheerful at work, it's nice.

Just an observation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BlackBerry's

Well I have a BlackBerry (BB for now) issued to me again, complete waste of money. It's not that I am so important that I need to be tethered to my email 24/7 and respond at a moments notice.
Fact is there is very little, if nothing I can by just responding to an email from home.
It's not as if I'm not a "Team player" or anything, but a cell phone would do me just as well.

Now I'll admit surfing the net when I am bored is pretty cool, and it makes a nice alarm clock as it does have a setting where the alarm clock won't turn on during weekends.

I've already been brow beat a little for not checking my BB during the weekend from the boss as he sent me something then realizing I hadn't checked my BB he called me. Hint duly noted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Travel,Food,Colombo,Sri Lanka,Curry,Buildings,DocReport,Doc ReportIf you click on this thumbnail you can see the fire escape and glass ceiling that I was talking about. The veiling is throughout the building and is cracked and leaking just about everywhere.

On Sundays there is a pretty big cleaning crew here pretty much from floor to, ceiling. I was shocked to see a barefoot guy with a squeegee balanced on one of the metal bars going across the ceiling cleaning the glass.

I pondered if the cracks were from the building shifting or one of the cleaners taking his chances.

I imagine one of those pains of glass taking a tumble sooner or later.

Look Up!

Every morning when I walk to work I am walking against plenty of people going in the other direction (Most likely riding the train) and I wondered if they were heading to the building I live in.

See as I walk in or out of the building I often see an office directory and have pondered "Where are all of these offices?" That and when I was eating at the ground floor restaurant I look out through the glass ceiling (Another blog post in itself) and saw outside fire escape stairs, and again I wondered "Where are those in relation to my apartment?".

So today I get off work, walking back to my apartment, going against a many people walking in the other direction when I look up at my apartment which I have many times before, but this time I realized something, there's another high rise building next to it! Many floors higher than the apartment building. Actually the apartment building is attached to this building, it just kind of looks separate. And then I realized, duh, thus where all the offices are and where most of these people work.

I'm surprised I never noticed it before.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sinhalese Names, English and Bobbleheads

I have had the worst time trying to remember my Sri Lankan coworkers names, for that matter trying to pronounce their names has become a chore. It's not like Uruguay where everyone pretty much had a name that could matched up to your usual Bible names but here it's a different story.

To make matters that much more confusing for me is that I am coming from a place where letter pronunciation is different, "j's", "g's" all of that. I have to get all of that out of my head when I see a name and remember the "j's" are J's and the "g's" are G's etc.

The good thing about being here in Sri Lanka is that it was a former British colony and just about everyone speaks some level English. Now whether or not you will understand them or they you is a different story.

One more odd thing they do here is how they acknowledge something, they "wag" their head from side to side, it looks close to shaking their heads NO, but they're not. Think bobblehead. It can be a little confusing when you see it and think is this guy saying yes or no?

Holiday

Nice long 3 day weekend. I have most of the boxes emptied, most, not all. Have a handful of round-tuit projects to conquer.

The kitchen has been the real problem area. There's a good amount of cabinets, but they are either to high and they are very deep. Pretty much anything in the top cabinets are out of mind. For that matter anything I put in the back of cabinet is hard to reach. This will be a ongoing puzzle to solve.

I told my housekeeper Friday that she didn't have to come to work today and that I would still pay her. I forgot that it didn't necessarily mean that the guy across from me told her the same thing and chances are he didn't. I just figured it's my day off I didn't want her here cleaning and such. Well sure enough I see her in the foyer because she went to work to her other part time job at at the apartment across from me.

Less blogging more projects!

The TV Dilemna

I was on a mission to setup our 32" television and hook it up the the satellite cable here and see if I could view any channels. See our television purchaed in the U.S.A. is of the NTSC format and here in Sri Lanka the television and DVD format is PAL. I believe NTSC format is only for North America, well lets go to Wikipedia and find out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTSC (Korea, Taiwan and Japan as well)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAL (Pretty much everywhere else!)

This is why we purchased a dual format (NTSC/PAL) DVD player, only to find out Uruguay had its own version of PAL (PAL-N).

Our entertainment center is not large enough to accommodate a 32" television so I had to sit it on top. I threaded a coax cable through the one of the back panels and down to the VCR (Where the satellite cable is connected). I thought this should be easy, unplug one cable and replace with another only to find out that even the PAL television cables were different:

It might be a moot point anyway as I might not be able to view any channels. I know in Uruguay when we used DirectTV we were able to watch satellite channels and no local channels, was hoping for the same here.

My next mission is to see if I can buy a PAL to NTSC converter connector, we'll see!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Scam

This happened to me the first weekend I got here and I was both to embarrassed and to proud to mention it, but if it prevents one person from falling prey to this then I've done my job.

I was going to have lunch at the Galle face hotel (Yes the same place that made me sick) and was walking in that direction when a friendly man started up a conversation with me.

He said that he has seen me at the Cinnamon Grand hotel but I told him I wasn't staying there, but maybe he had seen me because I visit the food court attached to the hotel. He said that he was on his way to the Elephant Festival, it only happens once a year and everyone was going. He asked if I wanted to go and I thought why not.

He waved for a nearby taxi and we were on the way. Friendly banter the entire way and we ended up at the Buddhist temple, where there is an elephant, but hardly a festivals worth and there was hardly anyone there. My first question, where are the elephants and he talked his way out of that with the present elephant. Next question, lack of people which he explained that people come, pray and leave.

We left and went back and when I asked how much I owed the driver the driver said 1800 Rupees. I haven't paid 1800 Rupees for anything yet. 500 Rupee's will get you to the farthest point in Colombo via tuk tuk. I knew that I had been scammed, I'm sure the driver and tour guide split the fee.

I had a tuk tuk driver take me around today and he treated me to lunch when he told me about the "Elephant festival" scam, even describing where they prey on victims, on the way to Galle Face Hotel.

He also told me that there is in fact an Elephant Festival in Colombo, just not on the day I got scammed! Also they usually try for a larger amount of money, sometimes as much as 20,000 Rupees, if the victim will pay.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Agua Con Gas

This weeks "Ask Doc" comes from Chris K. of Virginia Beach, VA.
She writes: "Can you find mineral water in Sri Lanka?". Well I'll find out! So I went across the street to Keels Super Market (sic) and browsed the beverage aisle.
I came across some Elephant brand (Popular for their ginger beer) Soda, just that, all it says "Soda" and it was clear. I didn't even think of looking at the ingredients. Bought a small bottle and put it in the fridge.

The test.

Is it mineral water? Not exactly but it tastes good and bubbly, it wasn't club soda and the ingredients were carbonated water. They did have 1 and maybe 2 liter bottles.

So Chris K. I hope that answers your question!

Tourists and food news.

It didn't take me long to figure out who the tourists are and who the expats are. The expats seem to dress a little more business casual, the tourists are much more casual and have that doe in the headlights look.

I was watching a group of around 5 tourists roam the food court going to each vendor and looking everything over, only to stop and order at Pizza Hut Express! I almost got up and smacked them upside the head! You come to Sri Lanka to eat at Pizza Hut Express?

I on the other hand found a new fav' vendor. Got a delicious Sri Lanka meal and a bottle of water all for around $1.25.

I tried a new place for dinner. They claim to serve Thai food. Well I got this chicken and rice dinner with fried egg and vegetables on the side, with a bottle of water $2.60. It was delicious and a "little spicy", I couldn't finish it all. All the while there is a gentleman playing tunes on a electric piano and singing songs. I'm thinking, replace the paper napkin with a cloth one, put this setting back home and this was an easy $14 meal.

I managed to stay away from the ice cream place today although yesterday I fell prey to a banana split.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unpacking Day Redux and Housekeeper



Here is the carnage from my first day of unpacking. I unpacked quite a few boxes and dragged them to the freight elevator and called it quits. Then I got a second wind and unpacked some more boxes and left them in the apartment.

During the delivery of the boxes I met the housekeeper for the apartment next door, she asked if I needed a part time housekeeper and I asked her the most important question "Will you cook me dinner?" she said no problem. She also used to clean my apartment for the gentleman who lived here before me.

I left her a note this morning and told her not to worry about cooking. It was great to come back and find my laundry washed and folded, bathrooms clean, bed made, kitchen cleaned. Thank God, and I do Thank God!

So she is going to work 1/2 days Monday through Friday for 10,000 Rupees, about $86 a month.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unpacking Day


The movers arrived with all of my household effects, 118 boxes of it, to include a king sized bed that will have them all cursing me under their breath today (More of that).

The boxes all came up with no problem, they called off the box number I checked them off the list and told them what room to put it in. I had laid out a table of cold drinks and cookies and kept telling them to help themselves, when they took a break a broke out the fried rolls (Chicken, shrimp etc.), kind of hard to explain but they loved them, that and a Sri Lankan favorite Elephant brand ginger beer (Not beer, just ginger drink).

So all went well until the bed. They tried bringing it up the interior stairs, it wouldn't fit. They tried the passenger elevator, wouldn't fit, on top of the passenger elevator (Not kidding), wouldn't fit, the freight elevator, wouldn't fit. Just when I thought it would never make it to my apartment there it is in the hallway. Best I can make from the movers I think they put it in top of the freight elevator, as in the elevator was one floor down, they opened the elevator door on the floor above it and pushed it it. More room, no elevator walls to reduce space.

In the end they helped unpack some boxes but I decided it was getting to confusing so I got them together and gave them some Rupee's and thanked them for all of their hard work.

Attached photo: 75 year old toothless, barefoot Sri Lankan mover (I gave him some Rupees off the side)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Passed the CISSP Exam

Thank God! The endless studying, the stress waiting for the exam results, the stress opening the email. I wanted to see one word, just one word when I opened the email, "Congratulations!".
Anything other, and you know you failed.

It's a horrible exam, 250 questions covering 10 different subject areas in IT Security. You get 6 hours to take the exam, but it shouldn't take that long. The questions are horribly worded and there are very few if any "Gimme" easy questions. The only good thing about the exam is that uit is all multiple choice, the bad thing is it costs $550!!!

I took the exam September 19th in Reston, VA. and just got the results today so you see how long I had to wait for the results.

CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Finished Reading Through The Bible

I want to say that this is the 9th time I have read through the entire Bible. I read the New International Version (NIV). Try to read 4 chapters a day. This time I tried something new, later on I started reading 4 pages, and eventually 2 pages a day. This is my fastest read through the Bible yet.

Of course it is more than just reading, I am learning something new every time I read and something I might not have caught the last time I had read it.

TV

I didn't turn on my TV expecting only local programming but I found out I am supposed to have cable TV so I decided to check it out. I turned on the TV only to find a hodge podge of local channels and half of those were fuzzy and the other half didn't look worth watching. So I mentioned this to some people I work with and there must be something wrong as I am supposed to have the Star Network, which I had in Jeddah and it's pretty decent programs, UK/USA/Canadian stuff. I'm going to have my cable checked out soon. Not sure if I have to pay for cable TV or not, I didn't in Jeddah, we'll see.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pool Party - NOT!

My boss had a BBQ planned for today at the company pool/party house so being from the beach I think, pool, so pool party. I showed up a bit late wearing my swim trunks, floppy hat and sunglasses expecting everyone to be ready to eat and jump in the pool. To say the least you could hear the proverbial drop when I walked in. Almost all of the women were wearing traditional saree's and the men were business casual. I was stunned and a bit embarrassed to say the least.
I took off my hat, like that would help and grabbed some food.

So I learned a cultural lesson. Sri Lankan's are very conservative people. They are not going to go swimming, especially the women. That and they are not going to go swimming with the boss. Also if it's a lunch with the boss then it's a business affair, not a party. They came, ate, was cordial an left. Some kids played at the playground but didn't even look twice at the pool. Me on the other hand needed a dip in that big pool and thats what I did. My colleague and his wife did end up joining me so I didn't feel so alone.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pictures Posted

I've posted some pictures on my Facebook account. I will also upload them to my Picasa account soon.

This is your opportunity to "Friend" me on Facebook is you wish : )

Big Shopping Day

Today I decided to go buy a new pillow. The temporary ones supplied by the company are like airline pillows. I grabbed a tuk tuk to Arpico which is considered the Wal Mart of Colombo.
The tuk tuk driver told me that today was a Poya day, full moon Buddhist holiday, thus lack of traffic etc. Most Buddhist go to the temple today to pray etc.

Arpico was pretty much what I expected, I'd say a decent selection of items. Thankfully they did have several pillows to choose from and I bought a nice feather pillow for 585 Rupees. I also picked up some cleaning supplies.

The tuk tuk driver told me he would wait for me, and there was a parking lot just for that. That being tuk tuk drivers waiting for their passengers to return.

Given between letting me pay him for the one way ride and sending him on his way to drive up and down the streets looking for a fare or sitting in the parking lot and and having a guaranteed fare back, he would gladly do that. He didn't tell me how poor he was, in fact h showed me a picture of his son and some friendly chit chat, nothing more.

Feeling Better

So I'm feeling much better after yesterdays food poisoning incident. Still irked that the hospital really did nothing for me. In fact they gave me a blood pressure test and I looked at the numbers and thought that they looked high, the doctor asked me if I had high blood pressure and I said no, that was that, nothing else. So I look at the numbers this morning and they were scary high! Any good doctor would have told me to get it checked out! Now I'm more scared of my blood pressure than any food poisoning.

I am going to watch what I eat, less sodium, etc. I'm going to see about seeing a REAL doctor about what can be done, or even if I have it all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Friday Adventure

Where do I begin? Well Friday started off like any other day.
Remembered to turn off the coffee pot this morning, always a good
thing. Friday's I get off at 12:00PM so it makes for a short day.
Decided to go the Galle Face Hotel and check out the "jumbo burger
fiesta" special that I had seen on there web site, hamburger, fries, 2
servings of drink and a big fruit tart for 480RP, about $4USD.

I went home and changed and walked all two blocks to the hotel. This
is a really big fancy hotel considered one of the oldest and nicest in
the Orient. I ask about the hamburger special at one of the reception
desks and I am directed to a restaurant by the beach. It's apparent
when I get there that they didn't sell hamburgers. I asked the
hostess and she directed me to the other end of the hotel. Again I
can't find it, asked another girl and I gave her what I thought was
the name of the restaurant, she thought I was looking for the
restrooms but eventually she pointed me in the right direction which
was up some stairs. It still wasn't obvious where this place was as
there was yet another restaurant, but I found it. The place looks and
from some respects is a pastry shop of sorts.

I ordered the chicken burger which came with cold coffee or apple
drink, go figure, I took the cold coffee. The "burger" was the oddest
thing, it had a chicken patty but also a burger patty (Frozen kind).
It was good, not overly good, but definitely filling. I got the fruit
tort that came with the special to go and they packed it in a fancy
box. I gave it to the reception lady at the apartments.

Not long after I returned home I realized my stomach didn't feel well.
This will pass I thought. Tried laying down, but the feeling
wouldn't go away. I realized that hours had passed and I really felt
worse, my stomach was in knots. I went to the shopping mall across
the street and bought some Maalox kind of stuff hoping it would sooth
my stomach, it didn't. A few more hours go by and I was doubled over
in agony, time to go to the hospital. I call a cab company and they
said it would be 20 minutes before the taxi arrived. It was raining
cats and dogs outside so they were probably all tied up. Although I
didn't want to I would grab a tuk tuk. I grabbed some Rupee's and my
work ID and BlackBerry, went down and took a tuk tuk to the hospital.
All the while the tuk tuk driver telling me how poor his family is and
how tight money is, this is expected.

We arrive at the hospital and a gentleman directs me to triage. There
is a doctor sleeping behind the desk and I wake him up with a few
"Excuse me's". I tell him the problem and he wants to take blood
tests and a ECG test, why I don't know. A nurse takes me back and
gives me a blood test and ECG and when I step out of the room I'm told
to pay up. Well I only grabbed enough Rupee's for a ride back and
forth. I didn't expect to have to pay right there and then. I told
them I would come back tomorrow and pay and they said no problem. I
was told to go see the doctor at triage again. I go see him and he
looks at my ECG and says that it looks good and writes me a
prescription and tells me to go back to the cashier. The savvy reader
will note the time frame here, the blood was never tested. I go back
to the cashier and again explained I only had enough for a cab ride
home. They asked how much I had and I showed them 800 Rupee's, the
bill was 1300 Rupee's, they said that was enough. Realizing I am
fighting a losing argument (Coming back and paying), I give them my
Rupee's and left.

There was a tuk tuk parked outside and I asked the driver if he was
willing to take me back and wait for me to run up to my apartment and
grab some Rupee's, no problem he said.

We get back and I run up and count what Rupee's I had, not much, about
150 and I negotiated 400 Rupee's with him. I grabbed some good ol'
American green backs and went down. Gave him the stack of small Rupee
bills I had and told him I didn't have anymore, he could take me to a
ATM or take these U.S. Dollars. I knew this wouldn't be a problem, it
wasn't. He got around 3 times the original negotiated price, probably
more.

I don't even know where I could get the prescription filled this time
of the night if I wanted to, that and it's a crummy rainy night
anyway, that and I feel (Somewhat) better.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Deals Galore

I went to our company commissary and decided the check out the discount rack. Was surprised to see 2 jars of marshmallow creme for only .60 a jar. Apparently it was thought that it would be a big hit with the American's but it hardly sold, no problem for Doc! I love the stuff : ) Heat it up and put it on top of some ice cream yum!

I took another trip there today and found 2 bags of my favorite Starbucks coffee, Expresso Roast, for 1/2 off! I snatched both bags before you can say java time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Food Report

I finally broke down and went to the food court across the street. Maybe around ten vendors to include a Pizza Hut Express. Thought I would start with the first place, Indian food. I got tandoori chicken, naan, mint chutney and a Coke. Total price? $2.90! I don't know how many of you enjoy Indian food but let me tell you this was so good! The mint chutney had a kick to it that surprised me, I loved it. Chicken was delicious and big healthy pieces of naan (Indian bread). So just when I thought that couldn't be beat, I had to partake in Doc's Achilles heal, that would be, ice cream.
I got a nice chocolate sundae for around $1.25, by the size of it, definitely a $4 sundae back home.

I went back to the Indian food stand and told the counter guys that the food was delicious. I plan on going back there many more times!

I'm worried that I'm going to gain all sorts of weight because of the food. Of course I can always exercise.

The Wave

I learned from probably the very first time I went for a walk in Colombo, the wave. You see it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I or any other Westerner stand out when on the sidewalks here. We are magnets for the tuk tuk drivers.

If I am walking with the traffic I can hear the little two stroke engines slowing down alongside me "Sir? Sir? tuk tuk?" to which I just smile and wave.

There are barriers along the main drag here to prevent pedestrians from crossing but at certain points, that and there are only a limited number of places for vehicles to turn. So I find it funny that if I am walking against the traffic tuk tuk drivers on the other side still honk their horns at me and try to get my attention. Funny because if I wave them over they will have to travel a bit to
turn around pick me up, travel further to turn around to take me probably two blocks!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Gee how long has it been since I've posted something under book corner? I think I forgot to post some books I read earlier this summer.

Here is a paperback I picked up at the airport for the flight to Sri Lanka.

The Last Patriot by Brad Thor
Paperback
Fiction
472 pages

Typical Doc read, a spy thriller. It was really good for the most part, until the last few chapters where I thought the author was just going a little bit overboard with one of the characters.
I would not recommend it.

Birthday Shout Out!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DAD!!! THE BIG 76 TODAY!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Internet Connection - Good and Bad

It was really cool that I had a Internet ADSL connection when I arrived complete with wireless router. It's around $30 per month, affordable. It's supplied by the apartment, but thats where there is a problem. I was hoping to get a faster connection but apparently you can't change the plan. It's also a little buggy, it has dropped on me a few times, picked back up, more irritating than anything else. It definitely has its slow periods to : (

Birthday Shout Out!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BROTHER MICHAEL!!!

Turn your lights on

There are random check points set up everywhere you go here in Colombo. What are they looking for? People who are not from Colombo so they can grill them. I know what your asking yoursef, 'isn't the war over?'. Yes, but I'm sure they have to keep safe.

I took a tuk tuk back from shopping and we went through a checkpoint and didn't get stopped. But I realized that they wouldn't stop a tuk tuk driver as he has obviously already established himself in the city.

I have been in a vehicle twice that has gone through check points at night and whenever we approach the driver would turn on the interior lights and we would drive on through. I thought this was a mandatory procedure, nope. It tells the guards one thing, "Hey we're not Sri Lankan!"
Hopefully that didn't go over your heads.

Factoid - Currency

The currency here is the Sri Lankan Rupee. Around 117 per USD. To make it easy we usually just figure 100 Rupees per 1USD.
Here is a cool converter: http://coinmill.com/LKR_calculator.html

Not the best notes around, I don't see any anti-counterfeiting measures built into the paper bills.

In Uruguay a 1000 Peso bill (Around $47 USD) often caused more trouble than anything, especially with taxi drivers. They would take you to a store sometimes so you can break it into something smaller. Here, a 1000 Rupee bill (Around $9 USD), thats dinner money.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Part of Hindu Temple "Sri Shiva Subramania Swami Kovil" - Colombo, Sri Lanka


Part of Hindu Temple "Sri Shiva Subramania Swami Kovil" - Colombo, Sri Lanka
Originally uploaded by gutek

Here is a photo of the Hindu temple that I saw today.

Tour of the city

So I went on a half day driving tour of the city. First impressions? The traffic is by far the worst I have ever seen in my life! We took a small tour bus and I swear the driver had nerves of steel!
Saw some interesting things, would have been nice if I brought my camera (DOH!) but some of the folks who did take pictures will share them with me. There was this Hindu temple that was almost cartoonish in how it looked, hate to say this, it was a little creepy too! We visited a Buddhist temple complete with big golden Buddah's and big old elephant (A real one). There was a couple getting married in traditional Sri Lankan outfits with drummers and dancers. Let me tell you, wow. The bride was barefoot in a ankle length gold colored dress and roses in her hair, she looked beautiful, the groom wore traditional royal garbs, it was pretty cool. We visited a place to buy what I call, more stuff for your house. Some cool things but did I need any of it?

The day finished off with lunch at a nice restaurant. I had some Thai green curry, it was spicy but not overly so.

We work half days on Fridays so when we returned I had the rest of the day off : )

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Serendipidity

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.

"The word derives from Swarnadip, the Sanskrit language name for Sri Lanka,"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity

And here I am, yet another chapter in the Doc Report begins. Follow me if you will from Sarajevo, Baghdad, Jeddah, Montevideo and now the tropical island of Sri Lanka.

I arrived this morning around 0230 local time via Sri Lankan Air. And lest I forget a friendly Ayubowan to all!
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ayubowan

My journey started on from good ol' Norfolk, VA (ORF) to the ever so popular New Yorks JFK and onward to London, Heathrow via Delta Airlines. Had a bit of a problem in Norfolk as the ticket agent was convinced I had a 3 month visa for Sri Lanka, I told her it wasn't a problem but she had to check with her supervisor. I managed to stay awake and fairly comfortable the flight "over the pond" watched two movies. The last leg to Colombo was a solid 10 hours and 45 minutes. Thankfully I had a window row to myself so I could stretch a little. The flight attendants were super friendly and wore really neat traditional style clothing as uniforms.

Someone from the work was there to greet me and being so late at night there was no traffic and didn't see the city.

First impressions of my new apartment? Let me put it this way, WOW!.
At least 1 1/2 times the size of my apartment in Montevideo. Any of the guest bedrooms here is the size of my master bedroom in Montevideo and each guest bedroom has a full bath, which are larger than the master bath I had in Montevideo.
My master bathroom is huge as is my living room. The best was waiting for me as I opened my patio door, do you hear it?
The Indian Ocean, probably 100 yards away. Okay I can't swim there but the waves crashing do provide a wonderful backdrop.

There are a few quirks as can be expected, oh maybe like railroad tracks also in front of the apartment and before the beach. As I tried to sleep last night I heard "HONNNNNK HONNNNNNK!!!", my brain asked, "Was that a train?", yes all hours of the night and day, speaking of one....

I woke up this morning and ventured out into my new world. Uhm, I'm not in Montevideo anymore! All I have to do is go to the sidewalk, turn right and walk about 5 minutes, there I am at work!

It's hot and humid, no make that, it's VERY hot and humid! I am sitting at my porch right now, the sun is down and it's 82F.

As soon as I get some batteries for my camera I'll take a few pictures of my new surroundings.

Until then.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rainy Day At The Beach

Went to the North End of Virginia Beach today. Good day for me as it was cloudy and I'm stull slightly sunburned. No waves so not much fun with the boogie board. It started to rain and everyone picked up and ran off the beach, we sat it out though. It made us mad though that there was so much trash left on the beach afterwards, beer cans, water bottles, broken beach chairs etc. We picked up a few spots but couldn't clean up the whole beach.

I say a rainy day at the beach is better than a good day at work!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Upside down marlin flag

Here is a photo of the upside down marlin flag flying from the outriggers.
Blue flag with a white marlin, thus, white marlin.

It was pretty neat to back up into the slip and everyone on the docks pointed at the flag.

Someone explains it here
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080624014238AA21TYp
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Catch and Release a White Marlin

Just returned from a charter fishing boat trip with my father and brother in law on the Git-R-Done, which happens to be the biggest and fastest charter fishing boat out of Rudee Inlet. She proved that when we left the inlet and the skipper opened up the twin 800 horsepower Cat's, those engines were singing and we were flying at a good 35+mph.

We left very early, 4:30am to beat the other boats and headed for the gulf stream.

The sunrise was beautiful and we even saw a whale and some flying fish.

We first stopped at a light buoy out in the middle of nowhere way over the horizon. The deck hand baited up a pole, dropped the line and WHAM he said "Someone get in the chair!", we all took turns landing 25 to 30 lb Amberjacks, talk about fun! These guys really put up a fight! This was the warm up to the real thing.

We left that spot and the outriggers went out and trolling lures and baits went on. I was enjoying the comfy leather couch in the cabin when I heard the skipper yell "WHITE MARLIN!", well it was my turn in the chair and I jumped in and the deck hand told me to start reeling in fast, the skipper was yelling "FASTER DUDE! FASTER DUDE!" my arms were killing me, I was reeling in as fast as I could. Then she broke water and you can see her dance on the water, time stopped.
Beautiful, just beautiful. The deck hand touched the leader and said that it was now a confirmed catch, well the marlin must have heard that because she took of probably 100 yards out again! My arms got renewed strength and I reeled in till she got within gaffing distance and the deck hand landed her. The skipper came down and everyone wanted pictures. The skipper said that they are very rare and one would probably never see one fishing as long as they lived!

After all of the excitement I dropped her overboard.

We fished some more but never did catch any tuna.

I fell asleep in the cabin when I heard the engines slow down, I could see Virginia Beach and I knew we were pulling in. I came out on deck and everyone pointed out the flag on the outriggers. An upside down marlin flag, which signifies that we had caught and released a marlin. As we pulled in and the boat backed up you could see the fingers pointing at the flag, the only marlin flag that day in the inlet and certainly the only catch and release.

My brother in law took a video of me catching the fish and I hope to have it on YouTube this week.

Oh yeah, this was my birthday present and the best one I have ever had!
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Waffle House Experience


Just returned from the Waffle House on Northhampton Boulevard in Virginia Beach. What a wreck. The waitress told me all of the wait staff was new, thats not what scared me so much as the overall condition on the grill. I watched as one table got their order, took a bite and walked out and saw another lady order her meal to go, then just kind of got disgusted and walked out. It wasn't that bad. I got my favorite sandwhich, a patty melt, but it wasn't how I remembered.

Friday, July 3, 2009

USA! USA! USA!

Can you guess where I am? Yes, good ol' USA! Specifically the "Admiral's Club" D Concourse at Miami International Airport. One of the bennies of flying biz class, you get club access before and after the flight. Got to take a shower and grab some Internet time.

The flight was pretty much uneventful. The meals where great and the one touch seat that turns into a full lay down bed was nice. I put in my ear plugs and snoozed away.

Watched "Grand Torino", great movie.

Well time to stroll to my gate, maybe get my first good ol' American Duncan Donut while I'm at it!

Oh, still catching myself speaking Spanish, going to be hard to break that habit.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Last Night In Uruguay

It's my last night here in Uruguay. The bags are packed, well almost packed, I am doing some laundry. Cashed in all of my pesos for those funny all green bills. I put my Out of Office reply on at work although I plan on going in for a few, returm my BlackBerry and say my goodbyes. Then I have to come home and wash the sheets and towels that came with the "Welcome Kit".

On a good note I found out my Business Class upgrade request came through. Because we use American Airlines so much they provide upgrade coupons to my employer and they dole them out as they see fit, but for the most part nobody ever seems to get to use them. I wasn't expecting it to come through but I was blessed.

I'll post a few updates while I am home in the USA. If I get a wifi connection maybe an update at an airport.


Book Corner - Finished Reading

My last book read here in Uruguay

The Ghost War by Alex Berenson
Paperback 539 pages
Fiction
Spy thriller

I really liked this one, the story was only a tad bit far fetched, held your interest but was a little long. A good read overall.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cold, windy and raining

I wish you could hear the wind howling outside right now 35+mph winds and chilly, around 48F.
It has been like this all day. So glad it's warm inside!

Friday, June 26, 2009

No Money For You!

I went to the mall to get some cash from the ATM, or so I thought. I went to every ATM in the mall, they were all out of cash.

There are 2 ATM's by a bank. I was trying to get cash out but it was repeating in a woman's voice with a Brit accent that it was out of order. The girl trying the other ATM next to me said something about it not working and left. I thought it was just mine, so I went to the other one and displayed on the screen was "Would you like to make another transaction", and I realized she hadn't cancelled out her sesssion, I pressed "No" and out comes her card! I look all over for her and don't see her. I took the card next door to the bank and after finding someone who spoke English (And even then still had problems explaining the situation) was able to hand the card over to someone with the bank.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP KIng of Pop

I was going to check my Yahoo email and looked at Michael Jackson's picture and the corresponding headline. It took me a second to let it sink in, the first part that hit me was his age, I'm not to far off the mark. I didn't initially click on the link to read the story, after a few minutes I did and was surprised to see that it may have been a heart attack, scary.

Don't Throw Anything Away

That's what the lady cleaning my apartment told me before she started. I put a small box together with things we couldn't take, mostly food and some odds and ends and told her she could have that.
Well there was an old bed sheet and a bathrobe that we meant to use as rags but never did, so I told her that I was throwing it away as the material was not good for rags and she told me "Don't throw anything away, you might think it's junk, but somebody here can do something with it". I'm glad I heard that from her. We American's are in such a throw everything away mindset.

We were taking something to the trash, an old plastic bin that was a planter, it was breaking apart and it was junk. As we approached the dumpster she said "Let me make sure that nobody is sleeping in there". That wasn't a joke, it's cold and someone could have been sleeping in it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Moment I had Been Waiing For

It was the day to see how many Mas points I had and what nice thing I can redeem the points for.
You might recall how we thought getting one of these discount cards would be so difficult, when I eventually mustered up enough Spanglish to ask for one you would have thought I had one the lottery.

The grocery store keeps the items that you can redeem the points for behind a showcase, everything from kitchen gadgets to cheap electronics. I was like a kid in a candy store as I looked at the many items calling out to me "Doc, pick me, Doc, pick me!" Would it be the leather matte kit or maybe even a new digital camera, who knows.

So I went to the store to pick up some items, went to the customer service counter and asked the girl how many points I had "ciente dos", she says. I don't know much Spanish, but that much I knew, 102 and then I wasn't able to make out everything she said but she was shaking her head no and I heard the word "nada".

So I left Disco dejected, no parting gift from the grocery store we spent so many thousands of pesos at. They did have some good meat!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Packed Up

Over the course of the past three days the sound of packing tape ragging across boxes has been the sound that was heard in my apartment. Moving boxes filled every corner ready to go down the elevator as the king sized bed went over the balcony, much like the way it came up.

These guys do a great job and they are so familiar with doing moves with my employer they already know what goes and what stays pretty much. Fortunately one of them spoke decent English otherwise it may have been a little difficult.

We learned valuable lessons from our previous pack out and also from people at work. This time we didn't get rid of as much dry goods or for that matter unopened non=perishable food stuffs. What did we do? Put them in our coolers! The packers don't care whats in the coolers, they are just going to wrap them and put them in boxes.

Overall the haredest part is just making sure that you don't leave to much behind as you can mail things along but ideally you don't want to. You have to figure that you get to check in 2 bags for travel (3 for business class) so you need your bags packed before they start packing as well.

Now the clean up begins, some fun!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nice relaxing day - redux

Just returned from a nice jog and walk on the beach. The beach is only around 1/4 of a mile, my guess, so it was a few back and forth treks. Mind you there are longer beaches here but it would be a decent workout just getting there.

The weather is beautiful, sunny and in the 60's. Quite the departure from the colder weather we have been having.

Our cats have acclimated to the weather change and they appear a little more fluffier these days.

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Death Trust by David Rollins
Paperback 416 pages
Fiction - Military mystery thriller

It started off as a good read, but then I started getting turned off by the mistakes in the technical details and how far fetched all together the story was. Of course this is to be expected, but the ending just went overboard for me and I could almost not finish reading the last three chapters.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Round Up

I haven't been posting nearly as much as I should. My Internet service has been worse than usual, horribly slow. This has made streaming television and movies horrible. We are subscribing to a U.S. VPN service that assigns us a U.S. based IP address thus allowing us access to view on demand shows on NetFlix, NBC.com etc that otherwise does not let you view from other countries. It costs $15 per month but being that we don't have cable or satellite TV it's worth it.

Getting cold here! I have to wear my heavier jacket and knit cap on my walk to work in the mornings. The heat is on at the apartment which is good and bad. Good because it's warm, bad because we can't control the temperature and sometimes it gets too warm, we then open the doors.

I saw the saddest stray dog at the bus stop this morning on my way to church. There usually is a few stray dogs around the mall in the morning, this one really looked like it would make someone a good companion if it got cleaned up and a nice meal. The are so many stray dogs here, often times when you see them they have collars on, they were somebodys pet at one time.