Indeed…

My route home from Doha was a trial, literally a trial. It turns out the paperwork that was supposed to have been done back in January in regards to the settlement I had to agree to or be stuck in Doha for two years fighting fraudulent charges on my credit card from 2006. I picked the path of least resistance and paid the fee, went through the court system (which was all in a language I can neither speak or read) and was told all was taken care of back in January. Flash forward to March 1st at 5:00 AM Doha time and I’m at the airport trying to get through passport control and them telling me I was black listed because I had a court case against me… You can imagine the anger I felt. I was ready to puke, punch someone, and torch the country all in the same second. Of course I abstained from doing all of the above and instead I went to the source. I missed my flight to DC and instead went to the bank where the court case started. They swore up and down it wasn’t their fault, I found out later that it was, but I will leave that for the moment.

My journey on March first took me from the airport to the bank to the police station to the court (which was all in Arabic) I originally visited to cancel the court case against me, something the bank should have done and didn’t, back to customs and then back to the airport.

The moment at the airport when I went to passport control and the lady, dressed in the traditional garb, sitting behind the counter said to me “You can’t leave” was one of those moments that you don’t want to have. Not to say that being in Doha was bad, but I was just done with the country and I needed to leave. I was done, dusted and packed. Ready to leave and get home! But that wasn’t to be, Doha had other plans for me and I wasn’t very happy with them.

I was shunted to the side, told to follow a man in a thawb; he took my paperwork and had me follow him to a small office. After a brief conversation with some other official type person I was told I was “blacklisted” and I couldn’t travel. I was sick to my stomach, wanting to punch a wall or someone, but how could I get angry and these people, they were just doing their job. It’s not their fault; it’s never someone else’s fault is it?

Given no choice and no information I had no option but to go to immigration, I asked what the issue was and they said that I had a court case against me from the bank in question. It was supposed to be done in January, but it appeared someone didn’t check a box or call the right person or whatever happens when a government official doesn’t do their job as their supposed to. I was the victim of someone not doing what they’re supposed to do, but again who am I to blame? I don’t speak their language and I’m just a visitor in their country.

I went to the arrivals terminal next, had to pick up my bags, thankfully they didn’t get on the plane without me, and head back to the apartment I had been staying in, something I didn’t’ want to do, but had no choice.

During my time at the arrivals terminal, about two hours, I had a cup of coffee and stared researching what had happened, thank god for free Internet. I ended up calling all the people I could think of that could help me, not a long list given the nature of the issue I was facing. One of the people I ended up calling was the banker that had helped broker the settlement I had to pay for credit card charges that were not mine, but again what am I supposed to do? After calling him at home (waking him up) and asking him what the hell happened, he gave me the advice that I needed to go back to his office and get a copy of the letter saying that I was free of all charges from his bank, which I did. After my time running to the bank and trying to figure out who fucked up, I found a great deal of peace, I don’t know where it came from but I managed to find peace in all the angst I felt. I was able to center myself and go through all the issues of the day with less anger than I feel I should have had.

After the bank and then going to the police station to check my record I discovered that the court case I had thought was complete and done, was not in fact. Someone had not checked the box indicating that I was supposed to be able to travel again. Years ago if this had happened to me I would have put my fist through someone’s face / wall / torn someone a new asshole. I managed to find myself delving deeper into a peaceful calm, no matter what happened to me in the fucked up place I was in, I was determined to not get angry. I was prepared for the worst, as I always am, but in this case it was not the worst I was thinking about.

I managed to make it back to the court I had originally gone to get my court case canceled and had to go through the trials (no pun intended) of trying to navigate a place where I don’t’ speak or read the language and try to get something as simple as canceling a court case done. I got all my files in order and it turned out someone in January didn’t check the box stating that they needed to cancel my travel ban. That mistake cost me an extra 50 QAR in fees to get people to type my forms in Arabic and some fun times following my court file around the building. I didn’t let that file out of my sight; I felt that if I kept it in sight it would get taken care of.

Now keep in mind it’s still the same day I was supposed to travel and it’s now getting towards the end of the day for government and I’m looking to get the fuck outta dodge on the same day.

I ended up sitting in front of a Qatari judge and he looked at me, looked at my paperwork and then back to me and said “You come back Monday”… Given that the day I was sitting in front of him was a Thursday and I was less than thrilled about staying an extra day, I was less than thrilled with his response. I asked him nicely how long would this take really and I had a ticket for this afternoon so I couldn’t come back on Monday as I needed to travel today. He was a nice enough guy to recognize that I was ready to leave and wasn’t ready to wait any more. He managed to stamp my paperwork and get it ready for the guys who had to tick the box saying I could travel.

After all the fucked up things I had to do to get the hell out of the sandbox, it took only a few hours of running around to get myself on a plane. Granted it cost me an extra 3500 QAR to get the first flight out of Qatar, something I was willing to pay to get the f’ing hell out of the sandbox. I was done, dusted, ready to leave and ready to get back to the cold and shitty weather that is Seattle in the late winter.

When it was all said in done, someone forgetting to check a simple box on the form (I know it was a simple check box because I have copies of the forms, not that I can read them, but I can tell they are the same forms with the only difference a simple box being checked) cost me 1000 USD. I’m still keeping my cool, not getting angry about the whole situation, but I’m planning on getting even….

Yes of course I can help you… Let me put you on the list…

In this part of the world there are two types of people, one who can work anywhere in the world and get the job done, the other are people who can’t get jobs anywhere else in the world and are stuck here.

This event has had me wondering which category I fall into and at the moment I’m worried I’m in the latter half.  I know better, but this is really one messed up event and there are some serious issues with teams that I see the solutions for but I’m not in charge of those teams so I can’t affect the change.

I’ve had three phone lines on my mobile, the two land lines and my radio chattering all at the same time.  It’s on like donkey kong and I can’t wait for the event to be over!

I’ve been given the gift of staying in Doha until the end of February… While I appreciate the offer and the extra pay, considering the banking issues I’ve been dealing with, I still think I would have liked to have gone home at the end of January.  I have multiple reasons for wanting to get home, some are far more important than others… 

Honey… Honey… No really you want honey?

Sooo eating at one of my favorite restaurants here in the Sandbox I had the oddest thing happen to me…  We were finishing up with dinner of some Shish Tawooq sandwiches and this guy whom I’ve seen there a few times slides up to our table and starts miming something in front of his belly in the rough shape of a jar and then it gets weird, he starts asking if I like honey…  Now normally I’m not into guys or honey, but this was a moment in time you can’t just make a flash decision and go with the norm.  The dude was offering me honey!  So I did what any normal human would do when presented with a dude miming a jar of honey in front of himself, I said "no I’m ok?"  Which roughly translates into "Yes, I would like you to bring me a jar of contraband honey and shove it into my shopping bag."  He then proceeded to shove the jar into my bag and I gave him some QAR and we went out the door with my contraband honey…

I’ll have to report later if the honey is any good or if I’ve been arrested for buying contraband honey…

Mass transit

Mass transit…
My experiments in mass transit have left me wondering why I’m doing it… It’s not to save the environment; it’s to save money. A car is a bottomless money pit of which you get no return on. All you do is throw your money down the tubes to own a piece of machinery that will eventually fail and you’ll have to start all over again with another. So here I am riding on public transit to save money and my sanity.

So far I’ve waited 3 hours for a bus that’s supposed to arrive every 20 minutes, saw guy whacked out on some form of drug playing with himself (mental note to never ride that bus ever again), it’s taken me 2 hours to go less than 2 miles and to cap it all off I’ve had to smell some of the less savory people of king county.

But I will persevere! I will win this self-imposed challenge of not owning a car while living in Seattle. I would like to make some recommendations on the mass transit of the area after my experiment…

IMG_0859.jpg
IMG_0859_thumb.jpg
IMG_0861.jpg
IMG_0861_thumb.jpg

End of the season…

IMG_0861IMG_0859 The season started early with a opening day trip up to Whistler.  I got there early and there was a massive line, I was saved from the like by a friend who had an extra lift pass for the day.  We ended up having a bite to eat before hitting the slopes and then drinking our way into oblivion that night and well into the next morning!  I made some new friends and got a chance to play around in the snow with some old and new friends.

Flash forward to the middle of the season and suddenly we had a lack of snow and the local mountains were hurting, it didn’t stop me from hitting the slopes at Cypress enough times to make up for the cost of the season pass.  It didn’t make a whole lot of difference though, the lack of snow and the generally poor conditions didn’t help, but the lack of time to go riding definitely didn’t help either.

And here we are at the end of the season and I ended it in Whistler, just like I started it.  This time on a new board and slightly better than last year.  I was able to go on runs I hadn’t thought possible last year and I had a great time!  Whistler is and always will be one of my favorite places to ride, but I’m looking towards other adventures and trying to figure out a way to keep riding a little longer if not get some more experience under my belt and do some backcountry riding, maybe even a little heli-skiing if I’m up for it.

The riding has been good and I’m glad for the friends who berated me into trying it last season, I still get ribbed for wanting to go snowshoeing instead…  Thanks again guys for making me hit the slopes, you introduced me to a sport I love and I’m very thankful for having such persuasive friends!

An epic story

IMG_0557 There’s something about this season that feels a little more epic than last.  I started snowboarding last season and after an epic first season of riding at Cypress, Grouse and Whistler I hung up the board at the end of the season thinking I wasn’t going to get the time this year.  So far I’ve been twice, both times in Whistler.  Last weekend was opening day of ski season in Whistler, Mount Baker and Cypress.  I even think grouse may have opened for the weekend only, but I have a soft spot for Whistler.

Last weekend was fixing to be en epic weekend and it didn’t disappoint.  At the last minute Friday afternoon I decided to book a hotel room in Whistler for Saturday night, it seemed like a good idea since I had planned on riding all day and then going to dinner with friends, which could almost guarantee my drinking and I decided that staying in a hotel was better then being the DD for the evening.

I got up at 4:30 AM and met some friends at 5:00 AM to start the drive up to Whistler.  We got up in time to check into the hotel just a bit early, the clerk was nice enough to let me check in 7 hours early without paying for the extra day.

After checking in I got into my kit and headed for the lift lines, which looked like an hour wait just to get to the lifts…  I still had to buy my ticket and that line was about 45 minutes long, but I was ready to wait.  While I got myself situated into the line and had been waiting for a good 30 minutes, I heard a voice that was saying they had an extra ticket.  I thought it was a familiar voice so I turned and saw my friend and co-worker NC standing there.  My reaction was “Hey N, I’ll take the ticket!”  After taking another look at the lift line it was quickly decided that breakfast was going to be the better choice than waiting in the line.

After a nice breakfast with some old and new friends we hit the slopes.  A good mix of boarders and skiers were part of our group.  I’m not one to ride with others, I’m a loner on the slopes.  I plug myself into some music and go as fast as I safely can without loosing control.  Saturday was no different, except I hit all my turns, caught some air and managed to ride the entire day without hurting myself.  Well I hurt a little bit, but it had more to do with a historical injury and not anything I did during the day.

At the end of the day we all met up at the GLC and had a few beers.   By 5 o’clock it was time to go get cleaned up, which involved taking advantage of the hot tub at the hotel and a nice long shower.  After which we headed to Sushi Village, and that’s where the night started to go a bit sideways.  I’m not sure what possessed us to order the “Dumbo” size of sake (6 liters) but we did, along with quite a few pitchers of sake margaritas but we did.  With the great company, the good food and the metric ton of drinks we consumed we decided it would be a good idea to head out to the bottle shop and pick up some more drinks and head to a friends hotel room to spend the rest of the evening, all 12 of us thought this was a good idea.  To the bottle shop and then to the friends hotel room took us close to an hour.  Anyone who knows the village knows that it shouldn’t take an hour to get to any hotel from the bottle shop, but we’re a special bunch.

Getting to the room was an exercise in futility, we managed to get there, but once there we managed to break almost all the glasses in the place.  Not intentionally, it’s just we’re a bunch of klutzes when we’ve drank that much.  So after a few games, we heard a knock at the door.  Turns out someone had called hotel security on us and we were asked nicely to leave the room and if we didn’t leave the room right away the people whose room we were partying in were going to get kicked out.  So in light of that we decided to take the party on the road.  We ended up at closing the bar we went to (2 am) and then finally got back to hotel room at 4:30 AM. Between the weather (snowing) and the company it was good times!

Triathlon… No really I tried!

Ahh a nice relaxing weekend in Kelowna, it’s a paradise for boating, hiking and triathlons!  That’s right I competed in a short triathlon called the Apple Triathlon.  The distance was called a Try a Tri, something shorter than a sprint and it’s designed to be a good introduction to the world of triathlons.  Well it worked for me!  I loved it, minus the run.  Since I only run when chased it was a bit of a stretch for me to try and get my shit together enough to run 3k.

Friday the 21st…  I got up early enough to pack my things and double check I had everything I would need for the competition.  Bike, gloves, helmet, bathers, goggles and running shoes are all needed for the race.  Check, I had everything I needed and I was ready to go, well I was ready but my ride was running a little late, which was alright since we didn’t need to be there till 5pm…  Once my ride got there and I had everything down to the car, we needed to get the rack installed so we could transport my bike, the other two had bikes as well but they were able to fit in the back of someone’s truck, so it was just my bike that needed to go on the car.  While attaching the rack one of the other people "helped" me slam my middle finger in the door, the same middle finger I’ve broken two times in the last three years.

After my eyes had finished watering and some choice swear words I finished putting the rack on the car without any further "assistance" from anyone else, got the bike on the rack and we were off!

When we finally arrived in the beautiful city of Kelowna we couldn’t check into the hostel until a little later since the rooms weren’t quite ready yet.  So we went for a bit of a wander to get the layout of the city and eyeball some of the areas of the race.  After walking for a bit and just enjoying the sun we headed back to the hostel and finally got all checked in.  Once that was complete we needed to get to the race office to check in and get our kit into the transition area for the race on Saturday morning.  Part of the check-in process included a mandatory equipment check which means my bike and helmet needed to be gone over and approved by the safety folks.  Well my bike is in excellent shape and is well looked after, but it seems that my helmet wasn’t.  A large crack in the back of my brain bucket was noticed and since you can’t get out of the transition area without a helmet they wouldn’t let me race without it.  Turned out that the person who I was traveling with and racing with the next day had the same problem, we went back to the hostel, picked up the car and headed to the local bike shop to pickup new helmets.  In theory it should have been an easy task, but in the end it included three separate attempts to find a non-broken helmet and get my credit card to swipe in the payment machine.

Finally, with new helmet in tow we got back to the race transition area to check our bikes in…  I went to put my bike on the rack at my appointed space and guess what?  Someone had the same race number as I had, that meant instead of just moving the other person, I had to go back to the race office and get them to assign me a new number.  Once that was complete I had to wait another 45 minutes until someone finally would come around and install a small sign with my number on it.

One could say bad things happen in threes and they would have been right and laughing at my Friday, first it was my hand, then it was my helmet and finally it was the race number.  Finally everything was sorted and seemed to be ok!
Saturday the 22nd…  Between having really bad pre-race dreams and sleeping on the bottom bunk of the squeakiest bunk bed on the planet I was up at 5:30 AM and was going to be racing on three hours of sleep.

When I used to swim competitively as a kid I had a routine.  Put some music in my ears and zone out in an attempt to find a center before getting to the starting blocks.  I tried to do the same thing here, but some people took the no iPod during the race rule a little too literally and kept telling me I wasn’t allowed to listen to the damn thing in the pre-race area.  After telling a few people to mind there own business it was time to get ready for the race to start.  Water and I have been together for a long time and there’s something calming about it in a race environment for me.  I’m lucky that the swim is the first part of a triathlon, since it’s my strongest portion of it and it built my confidence up for the rest, which is good since the ride is my second strongest part and the run is the worst.

It was funny, looking at the rest of the field of competitors as we were wading into the lake for our swim, I thought I looked the most out of place.  That and I had a different color swimming cap from the rest of the guys.  Mine was the only gold cap, which from what I understood was meant for a higher end race the next day, but that’s what you get when you’re a late registrant like I was.  After hearing some of the guys complain about the temperature of the water, I thought it was just right for racing / swimming laps.  It wasn’t too hot or cold, it was in that zone of just right to keep you going the longest.  I got my shit together and made my way to the starting area.  There wasn’t the normal starting gun I was used to as a kid; it was a megaphone blast that got us off the mark.  There were maybe 10 people in front of me at the start, but I wasn’t having any of that so I pulled my way through the guys in front, some I couldn’t catch and I was fine with that, but I could tell the ones I needed to be in front of and made sure it happened.

I was 9th out of the water, that’s 9th out of 137 people overall, and ran up to the transition area while others walked.  I guess I wasn’t supposed to be taking this too seriously, but I know better, I’m a competitive person by nature and if I can I will go for a win no matter what.  This is kind of funny considering what kind of gear I was racing with.  The swim is all the person who is doing it.  No gear will help you swim faster than your body will let you go.  While running is similar there is some gear that will help you run a little better or faster, whereas the bike is all about the equipment I feel.  I know I can ride fast, but without the ride gear I was being passed by so many people.  In the end I was 23rd out of 137 people on the ride.  Which I can honestly say I was happy with, I know I can do better but without the right gear I’m going to be passed.  The ride on the other hand was something I knew I was going to struggle with and I did.  It’s not a matter of mind games or anything silly like that, it was a combination of the wrong gear and my lack of desire to run any distance longer than a sprint from home plate to first base in softball.

After the run was finished I was dead, or at least that’s how I felt I should have been.  It was a great high to have just crossed the finish line, but I was dead to the world and felt like I had been run through a wringer backwards.
Overall I was 75th out of 137 people, for a first timer I’m told that’s pretty good.  I’m happy with my performance and I can see room for improvement on all three segments of the race and I will try my hardest to improve before I race in another triathlon!  Which I guess means I’m going to race in another triathlon some day…

Camping, or how to make yourself as tired as possible by doing as little as possible

Pre Day 1, or the night before I decided it would be a good idea to not pack, go to dinner with friends and go to a concert that one of my co-workers was performing in.  So I stayed out late, had a great time and got home before midnight.

IMG_0353Day 1, after being out late and getting up at 5:30 so I could get my packing done, which was made a little more difficult from the lack of sleep and the lack of prep work on my part made the morning a little more difficult than it needed to be.  Of course from the night before I had a few beers and that didn’t make the hand eye coordination that much better, but I did it to myself.

We made it out earlier than anticipated and made the ferry just in time.  The ferry boats here are a lot better than the system I’m used to in Washington, the boats are larger, and better equipped for longer journey’s.  We were able to grab breakfast on the boat and it was so good.  I was able to have bacon with a side of bacon on top of my bacon.  It sure made the hangover go away pretty fast. 

We got off the boat, and made our way to the beach, which was a three hour drive from the ferry landing, but it was a nice drive and we saw some awesome vistas on IMG_0355the way.  Once we got the campground and got everything setup, you could tell during the setup what we do for a living.  First we moved tables to make space for the “village” and while some went to go get water and firewood, others setup “FAB”.  Something tells me that we packed more food than necessary, but I was sure we had packed to many beverages.  We had a great night, and made our dent in the food and beverage. 

Day 2, I got up at the dawn and wondered why I was in a tent and not in my bed, IMG_0363but than I figured out where I was any why I was feeling the way I was.  Which is to say we enjoyed as many beverages as we could safely enjoy.  It’s a great group of people I went with, we all do our own things on our own schedules.  C and I were first up and we sort of lounged around the remnants of the fire from the night before and contemplated the rest of the morning.  I decided to go shower, which I couldn’t tell if it was a mistake or not, it was definitely a shower, but it wasn’t satisfying by any stretch of the imagination. 

Once everyone was up and fed, we decided to head into Tofino to get some provisions and see if there was a surf shop to get some rental boards for the next day.  We found out that the bottle shop was going to be closed on Sunday so we decided to stock up for the rest of the weekend.  In other words we were out of beer and it seemed to be the drink of choice for everyone so we needed more.  After the bottle shop run we headed to the beach, having no knowledge of this coast, I wasn’t sure what to expect, that and I’m used to something a little different from the time I’ve spent on the Washington coast.  Needless to say my expectations were a little lower than usual, but it turns out that I shouldn’t have worried.

IMG_0365Day 3, getting up was easier now that B figured out we all needed ear plugs since sleeping on the ground + alcohol = lots of  snoring.  Thankfully we were sleeping outside, since beer farts are not something you want have in a closed space.  Getting going we ended up renting some boards, packing an eskie and heading for the beach for the second day in a row.  B, B, M and C were the only ones brave enough to head out into the water and try their hands at surfing, but since B knows how to surf and the others were keen to learn it was a good setup.  G, N and myself were content to just lounge in the sun and watch the others surf.  At one point N and I went into the water and after I found my testicles in my throat heading for my brain to do some damage I decided to get the hell out of the water and back into the sun to warm up.

Day 4, we packed our things up in record time and made our way to the ferry.  We had booked into the 3 o’clock ferry, but we managed to make good time from Tofino and made it in time for the 12:45 boat.

All in all it was a great weekend and there were some really good times with great friends.  I look forward to doing it again!

The Roommate, Final Round

As of the 10th of April, I’ve given my current roommate till the 10th of May to move out.  It’s been a little while coming, and after a conversation with my landlord, I decided it was time for her to move on.  It boils down to the damage to the apartment.  The landlord was nice enough to replace the old crappy carpet in the apartment with some nice flooring.  It’s not the most expensive stuff, but it’s a rental so I’m no to freaked out about it. 

My biggest concern now is what to do when I leave, will the damage to the floor be enough that I’m going to lose my security deposit?  Which if that happens would suck a great deal given the amount of money involved. 

Oh well, what am I supposed to do?

horoscope.png
horoscope-thumb.png

The outlook is blank?

horoscope

I went to look up my horoscope for my birthday and this is what came up.  I’ve not altered aside from cropping it to fit into the blog.  I think it’s freaking hilarious that it comes up blank.

How do I take this?  I can look at it as the stars don’t know what’s going to happen to me.  Of course I should take this view seriously and freak the fuck out that my horoscope is blank therefore the future is unknown!  Oh no what shall I do!

Or I can look at is as a database failure and alert technical support.  Which I’m more inclined to do given my history and my lack of caring with the whole mumbo jumbo that is astrology. 

So it’s my birthday today.  I’m actually looking forward to it in a way.  I’m a year older, I’m a year wiser… Well maybe not wiser, but I’ve amassed another years of knowledge.  Who knows maybe something I’ve learned this year can be applied to the future.