Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taxed By Taxi's

Calling a taxi, easy right? Should be. Let me take you to Montevideo. We would dial 141, a computer voice would repeat your address and ask if you wanted a cab dispatched to that address, if so, press one. It would then tell you what taxi was dispatched and how soon it would arrive, usually within three minutes. By two minutes I could look out the window and see the taxi pull up. Get in the taxi, tell the driver where you want to go and the meter starts.

Taxi service Colombo style. There are many taxi companies in Colombo, all with easy phone numbers as well. It pretty much ends there. We call any of the taxi companies and the dispatchers speak English but they don't understand us and we don't understand them. After repeating our address at least five times they will say that a taxi will arrive in about thirty minutes. This really means fourty-five minutes to an hour. So the taxi arrives, usually not where we wanted them to park but arrived nonetheless. They may or may not have a meter. You tell them where you want to go. They'll say they know where it is, but they don't know how to get there so all along the way they will pull over and ask random people how to get to your destination. All the while adding more kilometers to the meter.

Now don't get me wrong. We have had some rare instances of taxi's showing up on time and friendly drivers that take us where we want to go with no problem. But there are rare instances.

The worst part by all means is just trying to get the dispatcher to understand our address.

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Second Tour by Terry P Rizutti
212 pages
War fiction

I stumbled upon this book on Amazon and the reviews seemed good enough so I bought a copy.
I didn't catch the fact that the book was fiction, but the stories are gleaned from the authors own experiences as a Marine during the Vietnam war.

The authors writing style was rather eclectic. The stories were just plain raw. I'd like to say the I enjoyed the book but it was hard to keep up with. Guess you would have to read it to understand.

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
400 pages
Mystery thriller

Well go figure, another Patterson. The Amazon reviews were right on course for what I would have given it. It was not one of Patterson's better books. You could pretty much figure out the entire book in the first couple of chapters.

Not a good read.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
242 pages
Pop culture

The authors reveal some very interesting facts of their own. Debatable? Yes. Controversial? Absolutely. Still interesting.

It was a good read.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Matthew C Burden (et al)
304 pages

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book, but then I found myself not able to put it down. Just great blog posts from soldiers on the front lines and from family and friends back home.
My favorite story is the personal account of retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch who was struck in the head by a rocket propelled grenade while in the turret of his tank and survived.

For you military fans out there, this is a good read!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
256 pages
Fiction novel

I've been trying to figure out a good way to review this book instead of my typical, I liked it, it's a good read.

But I can't and this book deserves a good review, so I'll just give you the Amazon review: Review

In her third novel, The Dew Breaker, the prolific Edwidge Danticat spins a series of related stories around a shadowy central figure, a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. who reveals to his artist daughter that he is not, as she believes, a prison escapee, but a former prison guard, skilled in torture and the other violent control methods of a brutal regime. "Your father was the hunter," he confesses, "he was not the prey." Into this brilliant opening, Danticat tucks the seeds of all that follows: the tales of the prison guard's victims, of their families, of those who recognize him decades later on the streets of New York, of those who never see him again, but are so haunted that they believe he's still pursuing them. (A dew breaker, we learn, is a government functionary who comes in the early morning to arrest someone or to burn a house down, breaking the dew on the grass that he crosses.) Although it is frustrating, sometimes, to let go of one narrative thread to follow another, The Dew Breaker is a beautifully constructed novel that spirals back to the reformed prison guard at the end, while holding unanswered the question of redemption
. --Regina Marler

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sound and Fruit Salad

Every work day around 1:00 that's what I order from the cafeteria at work. Of course the people who work there know this as I haven't strayed from this request in months.

Why soup and fruit salad? Did I hear somebody say because it's cheap? Well yes, and no.
The combined bill for both of them is 260 Rupees, about $2.30USD. But really I just find its a good deal that fills me up.

You get two rolls with the soup and the fruit salad is very big filled with mangos, papaya, banana, apples and watermelon. I find it hits the spot!

The only problem is that the soups are good. Problem you say? Good creamy soups are generally chock full of butter. Most of these soups are cream of something or another, delicious, but not good for the ol' cholesterol numbers!

I end up augmenting the meal in the morning with a banana and some dates and raisins and in the afternoon with a protein bar. So I guess I do cheat some!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Dogs Come Out at Night

Part of my job requires me to go the airport once a month at night and return early in the morning.
The interesting thing, and somewhat sad, thing about the return trip is all of the dogs that I see on the street, as in literally on the street.

I'm not sure why but possibly because the streets are cooler in the evening and there isn't any traffic. Along with packs of dogs I see lots of dogs just sleeping by the curb.

I wish the government would do something about all of the stray dogs and cats but the fact is it's because of the culture.

There is an actual word for it, it escapes me, but basically every animal should be allowed to do its own thing. And here that would be creating litter after litter of puppies and kittens.

I'll try to make a video or take some pictures of the dogs at night.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
400 pages
Mystery thriller/Cross series.

Even I'm surprised at how quick I fell into the Patterson rut again! What can I say, another typical Cross series novel. Has to be one of the shortest ones I've read yet.

Operation Spay and Neuter

The cats at Colpetty Market keep coming and coming. Chris recently discovered the siblings of the baby she has been nursing. They were just as small and in bad shape. There are two mother cats that are ready to have litters and two tom cats that are ready to take care of business and get the cycle going again.

So we were very happy to find out about a spay and neuter clinic sponsored by the overseas school here. The flyer said to round up as many stray cats and dogs and bring them for shots and to have them spayed and neutered.

We grabbed our two kennels and called a taxi and went to the market. Chris bought two plastic picnic baskets that she had seen people use for carriers (they were slotted all around).

We grabbed the two male tom cats and two female cats without any problem. Part one went without a hitch.

The clinic was at the other end of the city but we got there soon enough. Chris went to the registration table run by students from the school when I saw her come back shaking her head which I already knew what she was going to say. The vets had stopped taking pets a half hour earlier and they were not going to do any more surgeries. They did offer to give them shots (well, a shot). We received shot cards for them, got back in the taxi, returned to the market and released them.

Chris had made some phone calls and found a vet that perform the surgery on all four cats for less than $90. The cats will get much better treatment than the MASH clinic that we visited.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
432 pages
Thriller novel/Reacher series

My third Reacher series novel by Lee Child, getting better but as with any book of this type I had a few problems with it. In fact I think my interest in the books are beginning to waiver. Maybe one more, that's it!

John Wayne Doc

Doc MeyerMe circa 1985 at Camp Lejeune probably at LZ (Landing Zone) Blue Bird. One of the rare times that I ever went out into the field, and this was probably just a for a weekend! Of interest the M1 "steel pot" helmet that I'm wearing. Lone replaced by the kevlar helmets. I believe the kevlar helmets were already standard issue at this time. Also the poplin material camouflage uniform, old school. Last but not least the M60 machine gun, again a thing of the past.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cannons and Cats

The big celebration for the president here has been underway. I just found out something interesting. Everyone was told that this is his 'second" swearing in ceremony (sic) even though he was re-elected in January. But also his 65th birthday was yesterday. Now I'm sure that the two have nothing to do with each other, especially the mass fireworks display last night and the multiple rounds of ceremonial cannon fire that reverberated all over shaking our windows and scaring our cats!

When I came home yesterday there was military police in the bank foyer. When I get home there is a note from the apartment management saying that we might be subjected to a body search entering our apartment building (Because we enter from the bank foyer). Absolutely stupid.

This morning I go up to the gym and see military police hanging around the patio tables around the pool. They kept staring at me as I worked out. I also saw one of the regular security guards up there chatting away. Then some suits came up and I saw the security guard jump to his feet. I aslo noticed that there was cops pretty much on every roof top within my view. Crazy.

To say the least I'm not going up to the pool for those guys to stare at me. I was thinking about going up there with my camouflage bush hat, my Motorola radio and my binoculars and freaking them out.

Interesting OpEd

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Hard Way by Lee Child
384 pages
Thriller novel/Reacher series

So this is my second Reacher book I've read by Lee Child. This one was much better and closer to what I expected from the main character. Still the book was a bit off and confusing but overall I enjoyed it.

Overall the Amazon reviews were pretty positive. Most of the readers were fans of the main character and had read other books. I think this one was a later novel.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday For All!

We couldn't help but notice all sorts of activity at the Galle Face Green recently. Workers installing covered walkways and big tents, international, Sri Lankan and Buddhist flags all up and down Galle Face Road and most recently festive lights on tall buildings.

Nobody really knew what it was all about except that it was something for the President. Well the cat was let out of the bag and apparently there is going to be a big inauguration ceremony for the President, so he declared it a national holiday.

This has to be at least the third impromptu national holiday since I've been here. Thankfully it was declared on a Friday, nice three day weekend for me!

Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving and now this, sweet!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pictures of the Flooding

Here are pictures taken by a Sri Lankan Air Force helicopter of the flooding.

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Nothing to Lose by Lee Child
411 pages
Mystery thriller

I stumbled upon this series and would say I really liked it up to a point, when I calculated what the ending was going to be I was let down, kind of took the air out of the balloon. In the end it did give me a taste for the main character, Reacher (goes by his last name) and thought I would delve into a few more from the series.

All in all, only somewhat of a good read.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feeding Sebastian Our Big Eyed Newborn Kitty

Another kitty feeding video. Sebastian (he now has a name) opened his eye last week. He can also hear very well.

Flooding Again

Wednesday night we had a very powerful thunderstorm. The rain was incredible, it rained all through the night and into the morning. This meant flooding. And indeed the roads were so flooded the kids couldn't go to school. I noticed that there was no activity at the private school next to our apartment.

Our housekeeper (Chris hired her back) didn't work Thursday so we didn't see here. When I came home the first question I asked Chris is what had happened to her home as when there had been flooding before she (our housekeeper) said the water would be up to her knees in her home.
Now when I say home, she doesn't live in a brick ranch house as you would picture, it's more of a shack. We had let her borrow our camera once so she could take photos of an event her daughter had and when I transferred them to CD I saw some photos she must have taken of her home, very sad.

She told Chris the water was so high in her home that when she opened the door all of her belongings went out with the water, all of her clothes, all of her food, everything. Can you imagine what that must be like?

We both agreed to give her some money so I went to the ATM and got 10,000 Rupees (about $88) and gave it to her. She was in absolute shock, she didn't want to accept it at first, then she did. She kept bowing to us, thank us, she touched our feet and cried (she is Hindu and I had to look up the meaning of touching the feet, I felt doubly bad as it means she is submitting to us, as in we are the boss).

We told her we just hoped it helps, and we do.

(Photo: Our housekeeper holding her daughter)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
644 pages
Mystery Crime Thriller

Wow, I'll have to say that this was one difficult book to read. I almost quit reading it at the beginning and then at the end. At 644 pages it was a very long book at that! The end was the worse part, fortunately the author did deliver a good surprise ending that made it worth it.

The Amazon reviews were over the top. Me, meh. I say take it or leave it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines!

Happy Birthday to all Marines past and present. Once a Marine, always a Marine.
A special thanks to my brother, who enlisted first and put the spark in me to also enlist.

If it wasn't for my time in the Marines I would have never got my foot in the door into
the IT field.

Without a doubt being a Marine has changed me.

The Commandants message is always an important part of all Marine Corps birthday ceremonies.
I hope you enjoy it.

Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Scat by Carl Hiaasen
384 pages
Fiction / humor

This is the third book I have read from this author. It's a fun weekend read. The book is actually directed at young readers, but the humor is for all ages.

If you are looking for a good laugh and a weekend book try this one.

I guess I can try to write up a real book review someday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Bible - Various Authors
1094 Pages
New International Version

This makes my tenth time reading the Bible cover to cover. I start on New Years day and work my way a couple of chapters a day and I always seem to finish mid November.

I'll have to admit that it's not the easiest read always, some of it shall I say is a bit boring and unfortunately difficult to understand, but I always take away something new.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oatmeal, What A Meal

I remember when I used to hate oatmeal, even the sweet kind with bits of apple and raisins and all that stuff, I never did like the mushy taste. That was then this is now. Now being a much older guy who has had some bad cholesterol numbers in his day.

Initially I was still kind of shying away from oatmeal, Chris bought some plain oatmeal and I added raisins and some syrup and it was okay, but not great.

Then she bought a case of Country Choice Organic Multi-Grain hot cereal which technically isn't oatmeal, but does contain oats. I add some water and put it in the microwave for two minutes then take it out and add some flax seed, raisins and a bit of brown sugar. Delicious! Not mushy at all.

The Amazon reviews are pretty much 5 stars across the board:

I've been eating this stuff everyday for breakfast for the past two months. I'm curious to see if my cholesterol levels have gone down.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Round The City

I was going to the store the other day and couldn't help but notice that on every corner along with the usual bored and underpaid policemen with machine guns now there was mean paramilitary soldiers with machine guns as well. I had to go to a few stores looking for something and sure enough, every corner there was soldiers. I even passed a soccer field and there had to have been ten soldiers that I could see guarding it.

Honestly I have no idea whats going on. Not exactly tourist friendly stuff I imagine.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Violets Are Blue by James Patterson
391 pages
Alex Cross Series

Imagine that, I read another Patterson. Without a doubt this was typical Patterson fare, almost predictable.

I need to keep track of all the Patterson's I've read, otherwise I'm going to find myself reading the same book again.

All in all a quick three day read.

Chris Feeding The Newborn Kitty

Chris feeding the newborn kitten this morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride
304 pages
WWII Novel

I'm glad I finished reading this book. I almost dropped it to my 'Quit Reading' category, but after a few chapters I found that I liked it. From what I understand the author did a great job in his research so although fiction it does carry lots of historical prevalence.

If your unfamiliar with the book/movie it's about a group of Buffalo Soldiers from the Army's 92nd Division that liberate an Italian town. The story revolves around the relationship between the soldiers, their white commanders, the villagers and the Italian partisans.

I'd say it was a good read.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Update On My Dog Friend

I still haven't taken a picture of her, I should do that tomorrow. So lately I've been bringing her a portion of cat food with a Milk Bone biscuit as a treat. I know, why cat food, because we have pounds and pounds of it. She eats it up, I figured she would.

I had two ice cream containers that I would bring and fill up with water and hope that it was still there when I got off work, well the first one disappeared and sure enough the second one disappeared. You might think that someone cleaning the sidewalk took it, but believe me someone saw it and saw it as a viable container to use in his or her home. I guess I'll have to eat more ice cream then.

It's funny as I walk to work in the morning I know the two places that she hangs out at, next to guard shacks. If she's not at one, she's next to the other. I can see her looking at the people as they walk by and when she's see's me I can see her tail wagging.

Sadly when I pet her she tucks her tail and hangs her head, obviously very frightened. If I have my umbrella it frightens her that much more so. I hate to think what she's been through.

Note to self, take a picture!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Sam's Story by Elmo Jayawardena
167 pages

This is the second book that I have read by a Sri Lankan author. It's the story of "Sam" who is a houseboy for a rich family. Sam grew up impoverished and is illiterate.

We see the world as Sam see's it. The war is still going on and his coworkers are Tamil. He has lost two brothers to the war.

From start to finish I enjoyed this book. You can find a better review on Amazon : )

Abby Gets Hurt

Ever hear the old saying, things can change in the blink of an eye?
I came home today and everything was going well, we talked about going out to eat. The cats were fussing with each other and I picked up Abby and started petting her. The next thing I know she scratched my wrist really hard, hard enough for me to yell "OWW" and she jumped out of my hands.

In that split second I knew that couldn't be good, she's a little kitten. I saw her land, it looked like a clumsy fall, but Chris saw what really happened, she landed on her head!

Abby went under the bed and Chris picked her up and put her on the bed. She tearfully said that there was something wrong with her. Initially I wasn't so sure, but it became painfully obvious something was wrong. She couldn't walk right, she was falling down, and she just didn't want to move.

I tried calling our vet but she was out of town. We called a few others and a taxi and when the tzi arrived we took a long trip through Colombo traffic across the city.

At one point Chris said that Abby wasn't moving, I was praying to God that the she was maybe just sleeping, thank God she was.

The veterinarian was busy with some dog owners but he got to look at Abby. He checked her eyes, rubbed her head and said that she would be all right. He gave her a shot of antibiotics and steroids and said to bring her back tomorrow. I think we were both a little skeptical as she just didn't look right.

We came home and let her stay in the carrier and continue to sleep.

About and hour later we heard crying and we run to the bedroom, there's Abby on the bed looking at us. We were both a little frightened, what did this mean? My guess, she's hungry or has to go potty.

We took her to her bedroom (Yes she has a bedroom) and she goes straight to her litter pan! We were very happy. I went and got her a pouch of cat food and she started eating. Next thing we know she's messing with our other cats again and joining us on the couch!

Tears of worry and tears of happiness. Lots of prayers answered. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson
380 pages
Mystery thriller
Alex Cross series

This was rather an unusual Patterson read. It's a;most hard to call it an Alex Cross series book, but we do hear from Alex in the first two pages of the book, he is "writing" the story that we are reading.
We are taken back to the early 19th century and into the deep south where the main character is sent on a special mission by the President to investigate lynchings.

All in all not so bad, I'll give it a good read.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Abby Update

It's official, she figured out that she could jump over her barricade, so we either find something higher or just let us join us, she has joined us.

She follows Chris everywhere and stays with her on the couch and when she does go around the apartment she doesn't stray far. I thought we would have to shut some doors when she was out as there are so many places she could hide, but she hasn't.

One funny thing about her is that she tends to hop almost like a kangaroo. Her back legs look longer than our other cats, maybe it's our imagination.

Our older cat Cricket has given her the paw once or twice so Abby knows to give her some distance, but Feral on the other hand hisses whenever she is nearby. Feral will eventually run away in disgust.

They all have their own spaces, Cricket has one bedroom, Feral like the laundry room and now Abby likes to sleep with us.

She still wakes us up at some ridiculous hour in the morning to eat. Ugh.

Abby Likes Ice Cream

My Old Flip Flops

When I was cleaning up our old apartment back in Montevideo something our cleaning lady has always stuck with me "Don't throw anything away", today was a good lesson in why to take this to heart in poor countries.

You may have recalled my dilemma about my favorite flip flops and getting a new pair. After a weekend at the beach I realized there was a bit of shall we say "funk" coming from them and I knew it was time to go, but I didn't throw them away but put them by the trash chute.

Today some maintenance workers were working on our air conditioner. They take off their shoes (Although usually sandals) before coming in.

I decided to go to the gym and when I opened the door and stepped into the foyer I looked down and there was my old flip flops. One of the apartment maintenance guys had been wearing them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Siege by Stephen White
416 pages
Mystery & Thriller

Judging by the reviews of this book I thought I was really going to like it. It started off well enough but then the author intertwines different characters into the story that got a bit confusing.
Towards the end I was having a hard time finishing it.

All in all, not recommended.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Dime a Dozen

When I got out of the Marines I was fortunate enough to get my foot in the door in the IT industry. The "tech boom" was just beginning to creep up and I pretty much rode the wave from job to job.
I started off installing network equipment and moving computers from desk to desk. It wasn't difficult work. I was interested in what happened after I installed the equipment, what happened beyond the wires.

Fast forward a decade and the boom, well boomed. I had at one time been able to go from contract to contract but at the end of one project it took me about six weeks to find a job (Maybe four). It pretty much scared me about the IT job scene. I was lucky, a coworker on the same project was never able to land a job, it took him a year and that's only because he went full time in the National Guard and went to Iraq.

Whenever I run into IT contractors I am always curious as what the job market is like back on the "beltway" (Northern VA/DC area), my old stomping grounds.

Turns out things are as bad, if not worse. I told some contractors the story of me not able to find a job for six weeks, that brought some good laughs from them. Six weeks is considered fortunate. They said that they all know someone who has been unemployed for over a year, some even two. All college educated people within the IT field.

Me, I'm a dime a dozen. A computer guy who can double click in all the right places? There's someone to fill my shoes at every corner.

Look at it this way. Everyday there are people getting out of the military with plenty of computer experience, every year colleges graduate kids with IT degrees, every year kids graduate from high school with skills that I only dream about. Then there are the IT tech schools and IT "boot camps" and add to that the ranks of unemployed IT people already looking for work. It's a jungle out there.

If I were to lose my job I would be in a bad situation, and I know it.

Thank God for little blessings.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Church Decision

I don't know what got me thinking about this, but maybe because it's Sunday.

When the first Sunday arrives for recruits at Marine Corps boot camp something happens, the categorization.

A Drill Instructor will get all of the recruits in the squad bay and try to sort the recruits into one of three different religious preferences, Catholics, Protestants and the others. Well it's easy enough to identify the Catholic's, you just ask them to raise their hands, sit down or whatever. It's the Protestants and the "others" where the fun begins.

The DI will then take the next step of going to each recruit and asking them what church they attend, if any, and telling them you're a Protestant or an other. This will make the recruits confused and the DI angry. "Sir this recruit attends the whatever his hometown church is yada yada, this recruit is not a Protestant sir" (Marine recruits have to talk in the third person), and this will go on and on.

You see the chapel has a Catholic service and a Protestant service utilizing the same chapel. As for the others the base may or may not have someone who can be there every Sunday. The Navy provides the chaplains for the Marines and how many lets say Buddhist chaplains do you think are in the Navy and stationed in South Carolina? Some recruits get creative. Church is a break away from the DI's, so between sitting in the squad bay or sitting in chapel even if it's not their religious preference, well you get the idea.

When I went to boot camp it was Catholic's and Protestant's, no others, you had to make a choice.

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Owners

I caught a ride back to the apartment after work as I had some items to bring back. The car park (Parking garage) is located in the basement level and you have to drive down a ramp but now before some guards will stop and double check things. Honestly how or what they are checking for I don't know.

I immediately noticed that the guards were wearing new uniforms, then I realized that I didn't recognize any of the guards at all. I knew this wouldn't be good.

My suspicions were confirmed when I spoke to Chris. Sure enough they tried to stop her this morning in the lobby and she just walked right by them. I think they got the point.

We went out to lunch later and when we returned and walked past the guard station I could hear one of them mumble something about checking her purse. We got some strange looks from them as we kept on walking by.

So we asked our faithful receptionist about the change of guards and she said that the bank and apartment building is now owned by the government. Our apartment building is attached to a high rise bank headquarters,

Today the power blinked and the new owners conducted a generator test, one of our pet peeves. I wish they would tell us when they are going to do that.

It will be interesting to see how things play out with this. I know one thing, it only reinforces Chris' desire to move to another apartment building.

More on that later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Catching Up

Abby, our little patient has really developed a personality and is beginning to grow. She eats twice as much as he used to and lets us know when shes hungry! She like to jump and has surprised us with her bravado!

The veterinarian said the problem with her eyes was caused by severe dehydration. Her body was so dehydrated it started looking for sources of water and unfortunately had gotten to the point where her eyes were affected. If you click on the image you an see how she is cross-eyed in one eye and most likely blind in the other.

Our other cats are not so crazy about Abby, with some hissing and fur raising now and then.

The cats situation at the market seems to have gotten a bit worse. Of the original four orange kitties there is only one left and she was the runt of the litter. Nobody knows what happened to the other cats.

So Chris fired our maid Monday. She said we could live without one, I thought we should still hire one. So she quizzed me on why we needed one, ironing? Take my clothes to the cleaners. Washing dishes? We can load the dishwasher or wash our own dishes. Pay the bills? I can run down to the bank and pay the bills. It was moot point, really what was the point? So, I gave her two weeks before she would say "We need a maid". Nope, 72 hours, she said it at dinner tonight.

I worked today with a gentleman that I worked with in Baghdad back in 2005. He is an old "salty" Marine, when you think old Corps Marine Corps, he is it. He is retired from the Corps and retired from the company but does small jobs for the company now and then for extra money. We had some great conversations about being back in Baghdad.

The rainy season has started. I remember how much it rained last year. The worst part is when I walk to work, I'm usually half soaked. I also need to watch out for the buses as when they hit the rain puddles you're taking a shower!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Cross by James Patterson
400 pages
Detective thriller/Alex Cross series

Well it goes without saying I did it again, read another Patterson. I'll have to say though that this one was an improvement over the last Cross series I read.

So I've pretty much decided to give in and read all of the Patterson's I can get my hands on. I only started keeping track of the books I read about two years ago and already not sure of which ones Patterson's I've read and which ones I haven't.

Happy Birthday's

Today is my brothers birthday and tomorrow is my Dad's.
Happy birthday to them both.
As always, wish I could have been home to see them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Dog Friend

Street dogs. There are so many of them and I pass the same ones on my way to and from work. I've been carrying some doggie treats with me and giving it to them as I see them, and at first I thought that they weren't eating them, but now I notice that they have been waiting for me to walk away before they eat them.

One dog I always notice stays a block or two away from our apartment on the main road. She's a mutt, much like any of the other mutts on the street and has had a litter or two.

Well lately as I approach her she starts wagging her tail and gets up and starts hopping towards me. She was hit by a car and had a broken leg. I remember seeing her months ago before she had a broken leg. It's quite sad. I see many dogs around here the same way.

I scratch her head and her fur feels so course. I know it makes her happy just to get some attention.

I'm happy when I see her, but it makes me sad when I see her hopping towards me. I see the dog lady feeding her rice the other day and also had some water for her which is good.

I will try to get a picture of her soon.

So many animals in need here.

You're Fired!

As of yesterday we have parted ways with our housekeeper. She was good to some extent but Chris was getting annoyed having to tell her over and over again how she wants things cleaned. This is really pretty normal for housekeepers around here, mostly due to the language barrier. You have to pretty much physically show them how you want something clean, if that doesn't work reinforce that with the possibility of being fired and in the end, firing them.

Most housekeepers that work for American's find their next job by word of mouth as if they do a good job their employer will recommend them to someone when they leave. Working for American's usually is a good thing for housekeepers as they usually pay a little bit better and lots of times give them items they don't need.

So, we probably won't recommend our former housekeeper to anyone. I wish her well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Call - The Walls Came Down

I was and still a big fan of The Call. Saddened to hear of the death of their lead singer Michael Been.
This is one of the bands older songs. Got more college radio air play more than anything else and an occasional rare play on MTV.
They never claimed to be a Christian band but many of their songs do reflect a Christian theme.
Hope you enjoy this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Same Kind Of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
237 pages

I'll have to say that this book has leaped to the top of my best books read list. I didn't read the cover of this book and began thinking it was a fiction novel, it wasn't until I was about halfway through that I caught a glimpse of "true story" on the rear cover.

A synopsis. One man the son of a sharecropper, never went to school, never earned any money only picked cotton all of his life before jumping on a train to Texas and ended up living on the streets. The other man is a millionaire. The millionaire befriend the homeless man because of his wife's vision. The homeless man ends up teaching the millionaire things that you can't learn in school.

I did a pretty horrible review, I suggest you visit their web site to learn more.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kollupitya Market Kitten Update Redux

After reviewing some pictures I took of the cats yesterday I realized that the one orange kitten we thought was nearly dead was in fact alive. At least in the pictures its head was raised. It's most likely very sick though.

I'm not going to post the pictures as they are not pictures of three cute orange kittens, but three very sad kittens.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kollupitya Market Kitten Update

Went to Kollupitya (Colpetty) Market with Chris for her usual feedings of the stray cats. Things have gone from sad to sadder there. Of the original four orange kittens one turned up missing the other week or so, nobody was sure what happened to it. The mother cat had moved them several time and most recently to a dark alley that ran behind the butchers stands. It's unfortunate but it could be anywhere or worse and you just have to move on. The three kittens have been moved to the front of the butchers stands and they don't look well. One is a runt, one has his or her eye swollen shut and one of them will most likely die soon. In fact Chris didn't touch it as I think she didn't want to know if it was already dead. The mother cat is pregnant again and she doesn't care about the kittens.

We found a whole new group of very feral kittens on the third floor with another pregnant mom. Not so feral that they wouldn't eat kibble, but they did hiss and spit at Chris.

Chris' favorite sibling kittens have been moving between their old hiding spot on the second floor to the fish mongers floor, but today we found the shy one on the stairs, one eye almost swollen shut and his or her sibling hiding in their old spot.

All in all a sad situation. Four pregnant cats and several tom cats that are more than ready to do it again. At least fifteen kittens all together (Not including pregnant mom cats and tom cats)

I know what your thinking. Get them spayed, get them neutered. Not so much a money problem as where to let them recover, that's the problem. If we had that solved we could do that and release them back at the market.

The company newsletter and bulletin board is full of kittens for adoption, to include a pregnant cat and one of her kittens from her last litter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bad Day For Abby

Well bad day for Chris. But let me back track. Our last assignment was in Uruguay. The Uruguayan's loved their pets, especially dogs. There was a vet on nearly every corner, with good service and ample pet supplies, so that was Uruguay.

Chris took Abby in for a check up as who knows what happened to her on the streets. She took her to the same animal hospital I took Cricket to. She explained what she wanted and they handed her some paperwork, she turned around and looked and they had already injected the kitten with something. No questions, no nothing just gave her a shot. On top of that they didn't check her out, just stuck her back in the carrier. Chris then reiterated what she wanted done and they told her they didn't have all of the necessary vaccine's, maybe a few weeks. She asked if they could tell her what gender she (?) was, nope.

When Chris got home the cat started coughing. She looked at the paperwork and saw that they gave her some sort of oral medication for worms, not a good thing for little kittens and she most likely breathed in some of the medication into her lungs.

The only good thing that came out of the visit they explained her eye problem is common amongst street animals and they gave her some eye drops. They didn't look at her eyes, just told her that with the information she provided.

I got quite the earful about Sri Lankan pet care when I got home. She found a Brit vet and is taking her there nex.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper
By Jack Caughlin and Casey Kuhlman
Paperback 320 pages

I wish I can say I liked this book but it was rather disappointing, although it was interesting to a certain degree. The author brings us behind the scope and we learn what he see's and what he's thinking before he pulls the trigger.

What I didn't like was the remarks about a certain officer that he is blatantly disrespectful to and says the worst things about. True? Possibly. But he makes you want to believe that he pretty much turned the tide of the war. He didn't come off sounding like a good Marine to me.

All in all, not a good read, not recommended.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Patient Update

It was pointed out to me that I should post an update on our little patient.
She is doing much better now and has a big appetite!
She is also litter pan trained and very playful.
We think that she maybe blind in her left eye. You might notice in all of the pictures something
is different with her left eye (Looking at the photo her right eye of course). When we found her her left eye was encrusted shut. She is also cross eyed.
Chris found my earlier post about not planning to keep her very amusing as she did laugh to tears.
Oh, she has a name now, Abbey.
Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger image.




This picture shows how she is cross eyed pretty well



Friday, September 10, 2010

Captain Canine

Originally uploaded by The U.S. Army

Pretty cool picture of a working dog in Afghanistan. WOOF!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Run For Your Life
Run For Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
384 pages
Detective thriller

Yikes, another Patterson? Yes, I caved in. I was in the middle of reading another book and it was quickly approaching the "Quit Reading" category so I grabbed this for a diversion and read it over the long weekend.

A bit disappointing as Patterson novels go. Trying to much to mimic his Alex Cross character and quite a bit of smattering of promoting this or that throughout the book, especially the Palm Trio 750. My goodness it must have been mentioned ten times in the book.

You can skip this series.

Kitty Rescue (Me!)

We were returning from a walk yesterday and took a wrong turn that made our walk a bit longer, it was a little past 6:00pm and was about dusk.

As we passed a dirt parking lot we could hear the unmistakable sound of a kitten crying at the top of its lungs. Chris stopped dead in her tracks and headed for the parking lot. It didn't take long to find it, It was all by itself under a car. Chris tried to grab it but it went further under the car. Someone came over and was able to grab the cat from the other side, he handed it to me and walked away, as in "Your problem now". I handed the kitten to Chris who wrapped in a towel. It kept crying and crying, It did not look well. One eye was encrusted shut and she was very skinny. What were we to do? We couldn't leave it there.

We took a trishaw home and it cried pretty much the entire way.

When we got home Chris went straight to work taking care of our little patient. She found a rubber squeeze bulb and made some broth from cat food and water and fed it to the kitten. Her little tongue couldn't lap it fast enough. She was very dehydrated. Then Chris washed her. I was out of the room when Chris called me very frantically. She thought that kitten was dying and it may very well have been. Its eyes were closed and not a peep was coming from it. Chris kept massaging it with her fingers and all of a sudden its eyes opened and it let out a little cry. It could just as well have been a real baby crying when it's born, we were so happy.

She also took a heating blanket and put it under a cat carrier and lined the cat carrier with a sheet.

Several times throughout the night she woke it up to give her more to drink, but she never urinated, and when it did she only urinated two drops, not good.

Today after giving it more to drink it finally urinated a normal amount for a small kitten.

Now we have no intention of keeping the kitten. One of our cats is already mad even though she hasn't seen it, she has heard it.

Pictures soon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Problem With Peppers

I love peppers, hot ones, mild ones, in between ones, I love peppers. But I also like to know what I'm getting.

The first time we bough some chili peppers here we brought them home and both thought they must really be hot, I mean this is Sri Lanka, home of spicy foods. I took a bite from the tip of one, not wanting to over do it, and nothing, no heat at all. Chris took a bite, same thing. They were fakes! Sure looked like something that was hot.

So Chris goes to the market and there are some chili peppers. "Are these hot?" and the vendor says that they are, they're not.

Another time, smaller peppers, these look hot, the vendors says that these are hot. They were, very hot.

Well a Korean lady from work gave us some Korean hot paste (Kind of hard to describe). I have always loved this stuff and have been looking all over for it. The great thing about it is that you can use it on raw vegetables and eat it with rice. I like it with banana peppers.

I noticed that there has been lots of banana peppers for sale at the market, so we bought some.

My mouth was practically drooling thinking about dipping them in the paste and eating them with rice.

When I think of banana peppers, I think of something with no heat all, or so I thought. Chris took a bite and handed it to me. I couldn't believe it, they were the hottest peppers I have had since we've been here, off the scale hot!

I think I'm going to have to stick with bell peppers, those I know are not hot!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Baghdad Diaries: A Woman's Chronicle of War and Exile
Nuha al-Radi
224 pages

A rather interesting retrospective of Operation Desert Storm, the ensuing embargo and Operation Iraqi Freedom all from someone who experienced it all.

The author makes it clear she does not like the U.S.A.

Overall not the best read, not because of the authors views, it was just kind of a boring book.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Strip Tease by Carl Hiassen
432 pages

This is the second book I have read by this author. A rather old book, published in 1994. Really enjoyed it and will probably read his other works.

This was a good funny book, I got quite a few laughs from it.
I'd call it a good read.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Mount Lavinia Getaway

After nearly three days of being cooped up in the apartment because of my food poisoning, Chris thought it would be a good idea if we got out of the apartment and out of the city. Destination, Mount Lavinia, about 20 minutes south of here. We can literally see Mount Lavinia from our apartment.

It's home to the old Mount Lavinia Hotel that used to be the Governor's palace at one time. It was also used the hospital scene in the movie 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.

We packed up and I thought we would take a taxi there. I called and asked that they pick us up in about an hour.

Now, I have to back track a little. In Montevideo (Uruguay) I dialed a 3 digit number, an automated system gave your address and asked if you wanted a taxi dispatched to that address, press 1. In a few seconds it would tell you which taxi was on it's way and give it's time as 2 to 3 minutes. Within that time I could look out the window as see the taxi pull up or ask the portero (Doorman) to call me when it arrived, but usually they are so quick I would just go downstairs and there they were.

Fast forward to Colombo. I asked for taxi at 1:00pm, we went out front of the building at 12;55, I was surprised I received a text message indicating that a taxi had been dispatched, the color and license plate of the car. 1:00pm, comes and goes. 1:10 comes and goes, 1:15, comes and goes. At 1:20 I text the cab company to cancel the cab and we take a trishaw.

Now Chris had seen some specials on for the hotel on their web site but we decided to go through the company travel agent as there was a company discount. I called the travel agent and he made reservations and said they would try to upgrade us upon arrival.

The trip there wasn't so bad, heavy traffic getting out of Colombo but that was expected.

We arrived at the hotel and checked in and was brought to our room, major disappointment. A regular room in the old wing. One wing has been refurbished the other is still outdated. Well, it was just for a night so no problem.

We changed into beach wear and went down to the beach, or what was left of it. The waves were huge and crashing one after the other. The beach was about half the size we remembered it from our last visit. It was also very windy. There was absolutely no way I was going in the water and even though there was plenty of vacant beach cabana's Chris wasn't going to hang out there, off to the pool.

Lots of European tourists at the hotel and quite a few Sri Lankan (Because of a local holiday). Really don't understand why anybody would vacation in Mount Lavinia, there is nothing to do.

Went to the pool and had the pool attendant move some lounge chairs to a nice spot on the pool deck and bring us some towels. So far so good, until I heard Chris scream along with everyone else at the pool. A crow left her a "present" on her leg, yech, fortunately a waiter was quick with some napkins. I told her it was good luck!

Next came lunch, I ordered a burger which surprisingly wasn't that bad, Chris had a panini. All the while the crows were forming a small army waiting for a chance to grab a french fry.

The staff was beginning to get ready for dinner service but placing table clothes on the pool side tables and the sun was just beginning to set, we decided to go back to the room.

Then came dinner. The nice thing about the restaurant is that you can eat outside at the pool deck, under the veranda and get kind of the best of both worlds or more formal inside the dining room, we opted for the veranda.

I was excited to try out the Vietnamese soup and the Korean beef and kim chi. I was surprised to see it on the menu.

The soup was not what I expected at all, it might be Vietnamese somewhere in Vietnam, but I doubt it. The Korean meal was even worse. First the cucumber "kimchi" was just chunks of cucumbers with goat cheese, what! And the "Korean beef" was some horrible stuff on skewers, Korean's don't serve meat on skewers. I called the waiter over and complained who called the manager over. I explained why I was not happy, still not sure he understood. They deducted it my bill. For whatever reason I ordered strawberry's and cream, they were half ripe at best, I was tired of complaining and ate them.

All the while Chris ate from the buffet, I wanted to stay away from the buffet, but now regretted that decision.

The next morning Chris felt sick, I went to breakfast by myself. It was okay, I've had much better.

We checked out early and grabbed a trishaw home.

Opened the apartment door and see a broken vase on the floor. One of our cats, "Feral", that likes to munch on plant leaves apparently knocked it down, fortunately not a big mess.

Overall good intention but bad choice of getaway.

(Note about the picture: You can see how windy it is. This is looking towards Colombo. We can just barely make out our apartment from the hotel).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
By Malcolm Gladwell
301 pages

This is probably one of the better books I have read in the past year, maybe the best. And is typical with my book reviews I'll just say it was a good read.

Ecoli Food Poisoning

For the past two days or so I have had food poisoning and it's not fun. I'll just say I'm not vomiting so you can guess whats happening.

I don't have to look far to know what the culprit was, I'm sure it was something I ate at the iftar. The environment wasn't exactly five stars.

I have been eating a little bit this afternoon as I am starved. I've lost five pounds since yesterday.

So it's back to net surfing and reading, which reminds me I need to post something to Book Corner.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The company was invited to an Iftar sponsored by the YMMA. What is that and what is that!
An iftar is the meal that Muslims eat to break the fast during the month of Ramadan. The YMMA is the Young Men''s Muslim Association.

I have attended several iftar's while in Saudi Arabia so I was familiar with the program.

We ended up being late as our driver got a ticket for making an illegal U turn. Thus we ended up walking in during the middle of the Inman's prayer and he was sitting at the head table where we were invited to sit. Made things kind of awkward.

After the call to prayer was announced on the radio we ate dates and drank water which is the traditional way to break the fast. We followed this with some spicy porridge and Sri Lankan short bites.

We were introduced to everyone and we showed a movie about Muslim's in America which was very interesting.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Aren't you a Christian? Yes I am. I don't think I was doing anything wrong. I don't feel guilty about going. Even President Obama hosted an Iftar at the White House, as well as President Bush. I felt it was a cultural experience.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Good Man

This is pretty funny. The other day when I came home I bent down and petted my cat and said "Oh I missed you so much!" Our housekeeper was in the kitchen and overheard me, Chris walked into the kitchen at the same time. Our housekeeper assumed I was talking to Chris and said "Sir is a good man" (She would never call me by my first name). Chris started laughing because she knew she heard me talking to the cat.

Ever since then it's been our ongoing joke, me being a good man. Only if she knew, LOL!