Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nothing to do with Dubai

But this is the funniest thing I have seen in ages. Literally have tears running down my face. Nice to have a good laugh once in a while. Now that the blog traffic is increasing, welcome newcomers. Feel free to leave a comment or question. I love that people take the time to do these comedy videos. So worth it!

BTW, I think I found this by Googling "Dubai" video or something similar on Youtube but only typed "Dub".

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Take back what I said

As far as the below post goes, I think I spoke too soon. I happened to look at the phone the next day and it said "Sim Registration failed". Wasn't sure what that meant so I rebooted the phone, then put the Sim in another phone. Same problem. I called DU, and they were having "system issues" with certain numbers. They said they would have it fixed in half an hour, by 12:30. They said the same thing at 2:00,3:00,4:00, then finally at 5:00 they said they wold sort it by 6:30. They did, but not being able to make or receive calls all day kinda stinks. Especially after singing their praises the day before. 'holes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

DUbai internet and thee sux

Quite frequently at Dubai Helping Hand, we bitch a great deal about internet speeds and quality. It is almost a weekly event. Anyhoos...a couple of funny things transpired last night with regards to this. I picked up a DU sim card last night from the local mobile shop, after CSI didn't pay the bill on my Etisalat bill. Switching to the 055...we'll see how it goes...more on that later.

So I gets me manual out and it says to go to the website to check out activation, rates, etc. I go to do that and am greeted with this:

How ironic...I need their shitty internet service to activate my new mobile phone with them. Great. It seems every few weeks, I am not able to access certain sites for no reason other than you see above. These are not "morally blocked" sites like pr0n or anything, just noramal "workin' Joe" sites. I try 3 different browsers, nothing. Mac, PC..nothing. I even have to punch in some wacky codes to see my own frigging blog sometimes! Thanks Naseem (fellow blogger/IT guru) for bailing me out. Being an "average" net user, I don't speak "code", so have no clue how this shit works. I would still be phone-less if not for "my little friend":After going "sheilds up" I activate my phone and all is good. But I have to ask...why is the server not found for when I live a couple of KM from the server? Are you coming for me? I need to use the VPN through White Plains, NY to get access to my mobile phone in Dubai. You guys rock!
The net is pitifully slow here. We pay a fortune and you get about a third of what you pay for, and you are lucky if it performs reasonably....ergo DU is akin to semi-retarded, overpriced prostitute who MAY be tired. Seriously, it is frigging bad. We pay about 5-10 times for half the service that other countries get. I saw this speed test posted on a blog from Amsterdam:

Are you kidding me? I've never seen numbers that high. As per usual I have to do a million clandestine things to access the Speedtest site, as it never loads. It is not blocked, just doesn't load. *ahem*.And if it loads, it doesn't work. And for the record, going "shields up" and pinging the furthest place away from Dubai, I get better results. I have a 2 meg connection and pay 300 AED per month for it. Websites are scrubbed through the DU proxy, however downloads are not (weird). I guess you can download all the "immoral" material you want at a fast rate, just don't look at it online. I can't think of any other reason why it is so slow. Results just pinging with DU:

Anyway, DU, you suck as usual. But I will say, I have been able to make a phone call in my house for the first time in 15 months. It seems Etisalat did not deem Arabian Ranches (where I live) as worthy of a cellular/mobile repeater, so we have never had cell service IN our houses (most places in the Ranches). Our phones live in the back yard hoping for that last wisp of a bar to get that all-important call. I am surprised that when switching to the 055 (DU) I have full service all over the house. I made a call today inside the house...this has never been done before and was happy (thank God for the little things). If you could just speed up my internet and get your shit together in that department I would be grateful. Happy even. Isn't it funny that living in Dubai makes you grateful for overpriced services that you paid for? I mean seriously, I was soooo stoked that my phone worked inside my house. How stupid is that? I mean of all the cities I have lived in, I always had mobile service without having to go to the back gate to get a call. At this point I guess I am grateful to have a functional mobile in my house at the expense of crap internet. Not normal.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm not a Doomsday Prophet, but.....

In the comments section of the post before this one, I responded to a comment by Ian. I think with regards to Dubai being the "New Babylon", there are two schools of thought. The Dubai is the New Babylon with regards to success, wealth and the tallest tower. (seriously). Or there is my school of thought: The city of Babel fell. Eventually. Giving credit where due, there is a fellow Blogger with a discussion HERE. I'll just quote this little nugget from The Book of Revelations for you to chew on:
Revelation 18:1-3
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

And let us not forget the old standby which has got to be the most disregarded proverb in this part of the world:

From Matthew 19:24
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dubai is on Crack AND the new Babylon

I stumbled across something funny today. I don't know how I came across it, but it has to do with Google "suggestions". You know, you basically start plugging something into Google and it finishes it for you. The thing I stumbled across was when you Google "I am extremely" and see what pops up. The last result is funny as hell as seen here (have a look at the last suggestion):
I thought I would try this out with a few Dubai Googles. The results were funny as hell in my opinion. Firstly, "Dubai is ", and I got the following results. Apparently there are crack fiends and semi-retarded people Googling Dubai. Right off the bat, I see that people have heard of Dubai, but have no clue what or where it is. Most of the tens of millions of suggestions are geography-related. Two of the results are regarding Dubai being both "insane" and "nuts" (I concur). Also, apparently Dubai is "the prize", yet also "bankrupt"?!?!? I would like to know how it is on "crack"...or is that just exponentially "crazier" than nuts and insane?
Changing the previous search to "Dubai is the", you get very different results. This search narrows it way down for you. Dubai now becomes "the prize", "the future", "the fastest growing city", and "the new Babylon". Really. Babylon? Is that good? Do you know where present'day Babylon is? You take the bombed out highway south of Baghdad for about 100 clicks where Wiki says that all that remains are some broken mud-brick buildings. Babylon was once a mighty empire that fell. How poetic. Funny, in the same Google suggestions, there are still people wondering where Dubai is.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Week, New 'hole

I said I owed a few. This one was book-marked for me to come back to. This week's asshole is a collective, a veritable bouquet of bung, a cornucopia of cornholio's. Our beloved RTA (I'm going to jail for this one). These are the collection of brainiacs that decide the most inefficient way of getting around Dubai roads. This office is SO inept, it is shocking. By my house, there is a lovely 2 lane road, with a roundabout. Sounds easy enough, but there is daily gridlock, as the road lines are clearly painted on the road, but not the magically becomes one lane for 30 metres. Really smart. I have some Emaar "yellow #1" at my pad....I'll donate it. Shit, I'll even paint the lines on it if you let me (although I am sure I will go to jail for causing efficiency and ensuring a smooth flow of traffic. As per usual, I digress.
In normal countries (I'm not even qualifying that with the term "western"). If you want to give a neighbour, colleague, friend, stranger a ride, the process is simple. Stop the car, open the door, they sit, you drive, dump them at a mutually agreed upon location. Not bloody here.

You need to have a "car pool permit". That's right, apply for a permit with all the usual BS involved (although I think they skip the anal probe for this one). In true local fashion, the RTA decided to complicate things. First thing we need is a name "Sharekni", which when translated to English means "we're going to jerk you off again" (loosely). It is totally illegal for me to bring my neighbour to work with me, even though he works one floor above. With out a jerk-off permit, we are committing an offence. We have a similarly complex system in Canada, it's called "GAS MONEY" or "you drive next week".

The whole permit process is a joke. What kills me is that they are refusing permits! Only 108 were issued out of 8000 applications. You actually have to name the people sharing your car with you on the application. Does that mean that if you are pulled over with somebody in the car who is not on the certificate, you get a 5000 AED fine? I'm guessing so. There is a good read Here in the Gospel according to Mo

My suggestion? Can you take the application fees you got and paint some fucking lines on my roundabout so it doesn't end up like this (although the origin of the vid pretty much sums up why the driving is what it is here):

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dubai V. European Pricing

So I mentioned before, having a draft beer here in Dubai is "special"'s ALWAYS $10 beer night. When you get to the point where you no longer compare the Dirham to your home currency, you just accept "that's what things cost". (We are now over the fact that a head of lettuce here can cost 20 AED, when at home is is 2 or 3 dhs.) A draft beer is another example...usually 27-35 AED, which is about 14 bucks in Australia. You don't realize HOW expensive it is here until you start comparing international currencies again, and boy was it surprising. Especially when you are doing the conversion for people into Euros or Sterling and they tell you it is cheaper there!

Amsterdam was not cheap for many things, but eating out is what surprised me most. An "average" a burger and fries would run you around AED70...a "good" meal (like a rack or ribs with chips and salad) would start at about 110 dhs. At least in Dubai you can get a solid meal for way less than that. Using the beer factor again, a draft beer there runs about AED 23 at the MOST...usually around 20 dhs. What killed me is that a coke was about the same! We got a quality, 4 star hotel for about 350 AED a night..good luck getting that here! Amsterdam and Holland in general was a cheap place to visit pre-Euro. I wonder how the Dutch handled the sharp increase?

We found the UK and even London cheaper than here as well. We were in a few tourist areas where the prices are already jacked up, but still found it cheaper than here. A great pub-style meal (fish and chips, Pie, Sunday Roast) was only around 30-35 dhs. You'd pay double for the same thing here, minus the home-made quality.

Transport, on the other hand was quite expensive. We took a car service from Picadilly about 45 miles, and it was 85 Pounds...apparently that same fare in a Black Cab would have been 150 Pounds. That's almost AED 800!...You can hire a car service for the weekend here for that much!

All-in-all, I'd say your tourist dollars go pretty far in Europe and UK these days. I know the rest of the world thinks it is the most expensive place to visit, but after being here, I disagree. Who would ever think you would visit the UK because it is a "travel bargain". I always just "assumed" it was going to be more than here, but not a chance!

Are you frigging kidding?

Get 'em while they're hot! "International Driver Document". Only in Dubai do they dream this crap up. I mean, seriously....if you were pulled over ANYWHERE on the planet with thing (I'm even looking at you, Upper-West-Mongolia) the coppers would laugh their nards off. This was a Google ad on on a thread regarding cars for sale. Jesus tap-dancing Christ!

I owe you some Assholes

Sorry gang. Back from holidays, and believe it or not, blogging takes time. As soon as the 8th day a week is declared, or they invent more hours in the day, I can be a better poster. So.....down to biz. I need to update some assholes of the week. This time I will feature some international assholes. (yay)

The first back-ordered 'hole, for many reasons is Sol Kerzner. The South African Tycoon who built his empire on the back of Apartheid (but don't get me started on him). I have been to his place (Atlantis) in Bahamas a dozen or so times, and thought it was okay.

Needless to say, Atlantis here in Dubai has been a train smash. Blowing $20 million on fireworks to open the place in the midst of a financial meltdown..frowned upon. A captive whale shark (Sammy)...VERY frowned upon. Long story mom was here visiting and wanted to see Atlantis. For political and other reasons, my wife and I have never been, but mom wanted to go, so we did. Here's what we found:

-AED 150 for valet parking
-AED 30 for a coke
-crap service
-crap hours for food establishments
-AED 400 for the waterslides
-AED 800 for the dolphin explotation (sorry..I mean "show")
-The world's largest glass dildo needs to go, buddy:

Some quick math...a family of four for the slides, show and a meal is $1600.00 USD. Are you serious? You must be kidding? NO? Guess what, Sol..the shops are empty, the food licks and would sooner fly to a real beach and HOPE for dolphins than pay your ass.

I was particularly impressed with your wine list. I would love to pay AED 30,000 for a bottle of wine in your dump Italian restaurant. That brings the wine list in line with the AED 30 coke my wife had.
Chump. How dare you offer fine vintages in a place that does not even have their shit together. We were a party of 6...half of which the appies ordered were not available, the other half were done their mains before the others got theirs. Not good.

I have news, Sol. Your Italian restaurant's name when translated to English is "Greasy Spoon"...or as they call it on the highway.. a TRUCK STOP. We'll never be back, enjoy our money, cause it is the last fil you will ever see from us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dropping the Ball

Sorry for letting things go just as it was getting fun here on Ye Olde Check. I have been on a "Reality Check" of my own for 10 days in Europe, and man oh man do I have some good stuff to post when I get back tomorrow. Lack of internet and being tied up with friends, business and reality keeps a guy busy. Some things to look forward to:

- It still rains in London
- Amsterdam rocks and Dutch people rule
- Got to the theatre after 2 years!
- I am the gatekeeper to the Twitter secret
- When kitchen parties go bad
- Price comparison UAE V. AMS V. UK (wow)

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The REAL Reality Check

So I am out of town for the time being. A little junket to Amsterdam then to London for the weekend. Let me tell you, before I left Dubai, I was a stress case. I could barely move my neck, couldn't sleep...if you looked up "bag of shit" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me. After being here two days, I have slept 8 hours a night, supplemented by 2 naps per day. Pure bliss.

I am loving the architecture, loving the people, loving the fact I don't need to repeat myself 6 times to get a cup of black coffee. Loving it.

It is hard to compare this place to Dubai. Amsterdam is liberal, fun and hip.

*this was a draft I wrote while in Amsterdam...getting a dose of the west and a functional society.*