Thursday, January 31, 2013

In the garden

Lucky me - my husband enjoys running a vegetable/herb garden. Most days when I'm cooking dinner, I head out back to grab something fresh to add. There's basil for pesto, oregano for pizza, and rosemary, thyme, mint, and parsley for everything else. We had a bumper crop of cucumbers, totaling one (1) cucumber a few weeks ago. It was delicious. (We're working on improving the yield next time around.) We also have had a few cherry tomatoes and some peppers that aren't as spicy as we thought they would be, but that's probably for the best. My surprise favorite has been rocket - I think it's also called arugula? Whatever you add rocket to, it makes it better. YUM.

We planted a lot more things that didn't work out, like carrots, melons, and eggplant. But the things that worked, worked well - I love having fresh herbs all the time. Now, if only we could find live cilantro/coriander in this place. I use cilantro so much and it's such a shame to have to rely on wilted bunches of it from the grocery store.

Here are a few pictures of our back garden paradise. Pay no attention to the crumpled tent on the grass. We went on an impromptu camping trip last night (40 minutes from decision to departure, woohoo!) and in the morning our tent was soaked with fog.
So when we got home, we put it in the back to remind us to lay it out to dry.

Anyway, the garden. Thanks, Jeremy, for running a tight ship back there! It's not an easy thing to do in this climate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Easy Day, Downton inspiration, and YA

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not that it really matters, but it was nice to have the first book I read in 2013 be AWESOME. Code Name Verity has shades of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Book Thief in it, and not just because its setting is also WWII Europe. Like Guernsey, it's an epistolary-ish novel (but don't be alarmed - it uses the format well) with strong central female characters, and like The Book Thief, you sometimes know more about the end even when you're still in the beginning but you're not sure how it will all come together.

As for how it does come together - ah, well, you'll just have to read it and see. I'll be thinking about this one for a while, and I'm already planning on a re-read.

One thing - this quibble is softened by the author's own admission (in the afterword) that parts of this book stretch plausibility, but yeah, some of the things that happen in this book require you to WANT to believe. But you will want to believe, so.


To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got StartedTo Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, until I looked up the publication date, I assumed this book was written to ride the recent wave of Downton Abbey popularity, considering that the mother in that show is an American heiress who married a titled Englishman in the late 19th century (real-life women like her are the focus of this non-fiction book). But it appears to have been published 20+ years ago.

I wish I had read it a long time ago, too, before I ever picked up any Henry James or Edith Wharton. It gives such good background for the time period those authors' books take place in. If I were running a high school lit class that included any Wharton, etc., then this book would be excellent class material. The level is not too high and there are lots of pictures and callouts and graphs and boxed text. I've been reading this book off and on over the last six weeks - it's very easy to pick up, read a few sections, and then put down again for a while. It doesn't depend on a single narrative; rather, it's thematically organized and progresses according to the decades in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Anyway, interesting book. Now I can't wait to read The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth again.



Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Just OK. I guess I was too much into the snark of this series and not enough into the story, because the snark had worn off by book 4. Still a fun series, though.




No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin LadenNo Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thing about this book is that its subject matter is not inherently thrilling. It's only amazing because it's UBL they were after instead of some random dude. I couldn't help but compare this book to Lone Survivor, which was far more riveting.

However, this was still a great read and a nice companion book for Manhunt, since they deal with the same timeline and the same events but from different points of view.



Boundless (Unearthly, #3)Boundless by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


No major comments. Great conclusion to a great series. Really!




Monday, January 28, 2013

Downton Abbey (27 January episode) - SPOILERS

Again, SPOILERS. After the jump.

As you wish

A few weeks ago, the Sheikh of Dubai (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum; I follow him on Twitter) announced his decision that one of the major highways in the UAE was to have its name changed. The E311 used to be called Emirates Road. Now it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? (Actually, it kind of does, if you're used to road names around here.) The name is in honor of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The thing is, if there is another highway more major than the Highway Formerly Known as Emirates Road, it is the E11, which is called - wait for it - Sheikh Zayed Road. Not to be confused with the newly re-named Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. I think giving directions just got a little more complicated, or, at least, we'll have to be a little more exact in our wording.

What was most interesting to me about this decision was the speed with which it was carried out. A friend who commutes to AUS from Dubai told me that two days after the new name was announced, the road signs were already changed. All of them. I've seen it myself - everywhere you're used to seeing Emirates Road, it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. It makes you feel lost even when you know exactly where you are.

In general, that's the way things are done around here. If a ruler decides something - DONE. No major public discussions, no committees or votes or arguments (at least public ones). A sheikh can make a decision, and with a snap of his fingers, several hundred new road signs are manufactured. Like, immediately.

I compare this to what my family has been going through in their neighborhood for literally years, regarding a major road that runs through the area. I wish they had a sheikh there to be on their side, someone with the authority to say, "um, no, you can't do that, sorry." But I know that's not the way things work in the US.

Now I'm just waiting to hear what they decide to call the E611, another major highway that cuts through multiple emirates. Right now, it's called (casually) "the desert road" or (more officially) "Dubai bypass road." I can't wait to find out!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dunes

I'm a greenery kind of girl. Hiking in the forest or running around in the green grass is what gives me energy. You know that scene in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennett has that amazing moment (accompanied by amazing music) on top of that craggy English hillside? That's how exploring outdoor green landscapes in the wild makes me feel.

There's one exception to this, though, and I only realized it the other day: sand dunes, preferably endless expanses of them. We've been to the Empty Quarter twice, but this time we stayed close to home and drove out to the huge swath of dunes near Al-Biyatha. On Saturday, we explored the area doing reconnaissance for a good campsite, and last night we camped there with 28 (by my count) of our closest friends (32 total people including our family).

The effect was more pronounced on Saturday, but even yesterday and today there was something so liberating about running around in huge sand dunes. I felt like a kid again. What's more, I felt energy in the natural world, with hardly a green tree or blade of grass in sight. I've missed that feeling since we moved here. What is it about a huge (HUGE) pile of sand that makes me so giddy?



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Downton Abbey (20 January episode)

SPOILERS ahead.

Jeremy cannot stand Branson - - excuse, me, TOM. I think he's OK, but it's clear he reached his peak storyline form in Season 1. I have a feeling that someone is going to commit suicide before this season is over, and Branson is a strong candidate. Him, or Ethel, the fallen woman. Bless Mrs. Crawley's heart for her kindness.

I'm getting tired of Bates and Anna because they've turned into the Branson and Sybil of Season 2: nothing to do but sit around and talk about their love in a garage prison visiting room.

My favorite Lady Violet quips of the episode were her jabs at the ugly Irish castle.

Otherwise, a pretty quiet episode. I can't get over how lovely the hairstyles and dresses of the ladies are. And had I just not noticed before, or did the maids get new uniforms? Those were pretty, too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

There's a reason Gotye didn't call it "Someone That I Used to Know"

Writing a research paper with the above title = something I have done. Yep. It was for my Advanced English Grammar course...and it was fun. I KNOW. The gist of the paper was that I took a look at what the literature had to say about somebody and someone, and whether there was any consensus on the differences (or lack thereof) between the two. All the big reference grammars (Swan, Quirk, etc.) said there was basically no usage distinction between somebody and someone, and language blogs like Grammar Girl and Language Log tended to agree. "Just use whichever one sounds best to you," they shrugged.

However, one of the basic principles espoused by this course's huge blue grammar book (Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman) is that if a language has two forms with the same meaning, there must be a difference in use. Along those lines, I had one rogue source (Bolinger) tell me that somebody and someone are NOT interchangeable, but are used to signify distance/negativity (somebody) or nearness/intimacy/positivity (someone). Consider the sentence, "This present is for someone very dear to me." Could you really substitute somebody for someone there? Bolinger thinks not. I think Gotye (and Adele, as my British professor pointed out) would concur.

So I took a look at the corpus, aka the BYU's own COCA. Corpus research is a way of answering questions about language by looking at what we actually produce - in spoken and written English, in newspapers, morning talk shows, novels, etc. anything. For this small-scale research, I looked at ten occurrences of somebody and ten of someone in the corpus at large, and then analyzed the context (given by the corpus) to see if the word was being used to signify distance/negativity or nearness/intimacy/positivity.

Surprisingly - and I use that word because I think most of us, upon casual reflection, would say that we do use somebody and someone absolutely interchangeably - my investigation of the corpus supported the hypothesis of the rogue grammarian (Bolinger). Ten out of ten of the instances of somebody did in fact indicate distance or negativity. On the someone side, the support was somewhat weaker, with seven out of ten indicating intimacy/positivity.

So there you have it. Whether you were aware of it or not, it is possible - meaning there is evidence in the literature and in my own very small-scale research - that you are using somebody when you are talking about a person in a vague, distant, hypothetical, or negative way; and someone when you are talking about a person who is near to or intimate with you.

What do you think? I know that in the case of song lyrics prosody has as much role as anything else, but what kind of a weird song would "Someone That I Used to Know" be? Or "Somebody Like You"?

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18th, outsourced

More words with no English equivalent, yay!!! I literally did a pelinti a few minutes ago in the kitchen as I was eating lunch. [HT Scotty]

The role of Syrian women in the war.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Les Miserables wedding flash "mob." Well done. [HT Jessie]

I would totally watch Knife Guys at 11.30 on Wednesdays. [HT Liz]

As Vulture put it, re: Edith With Googly Eyes, sometimes there is no "why." [HT Jen]

You kids these days with your video games. Here's what life used to be like. [HT Andrew]

If you listen to This American Life, you already know about/will "get" this clip of Fred Armisen impersonating Ira Glass. If you don't, meh, watch it anyway and maybe it will be funny to you.

Was Manti Te'o the victim or the mastermind of his dead girlfriend hoax?

In addition to dead girlfriend, above, here are six other famous people who never existed.

In pressing Google StreetView issues: did the Google car run over this donkey?

A guy outsources his own job to China. Hilarious/devious/sad. [HT David]

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Whiteboard messages from students

In my department at work, there are two large whiteboards in the student common area. These young students in their foundation year of university studies struggling to pass the TOEFL so they can begin their major courses write all kinds of things there - goals, wishes, dreams, likes, criticisms, nationalistic sentiments, messages of hope for their war-torn homelands, and messages of despair of ever passing the TOEFL. Those whiteboards are the first thing I see when I walk in to work at 7.40ish each morning, and I've often thought it would be fun to compile a whole semester's worth of student-generated whiteboard messages.

Instead, for now, I have today's whiteboard messages only. This is the last day of the semester PLUS the day of a TOEFL exam administration so the students had a lot to say.



This one is my favorite. Ha ha.

There was one board that didn't have anything written on it this morning, but by the time I went back in the afternoon (without my camera), someone had written "[Name of my department], go to the h**." Yeah, some of these kids still need to work on their English.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Clarification re: Downton Abbey post, below (SPOILER FREE)

I think my referring to the post below as covering episodes 1, 2, and 3 has confused some people. Basically, if you are up to date with all the episodes that have aired on PBS, you can read that post without spoilers. PBS aired Episodes 1 and 2 together and maybe they only called it Episode 1? When I refer to Episode 3, I mean the one that aired on the second installment on PBS, on 13 January. Perhaps I will refer to them by date now to avoid any confusion or unintentional spoilers. But like I said, I am actually only able to see these episodes AFTER you people in the US so you should be safe logging on to see any Downton Abbey posts here when they come up.

Also, I'm moving the picture for that post to the bottom of the post so I don't give anything away in case a casual visitor to this blog has not seen Episode 3.

kthxbai

Downton Abbey 3.1/2/3 (up until 13 January's episode)

Let's talk about Downton Abbey. I wish I had posted after last week's episode(s), but let's deal with them all together right now. Jeremy and I are watching them via iTunes; you can also watch them for free (within a certain time frame) on pbs.org. I'm giving the episode numbers as they appear in iTunes. On 6 January they showed Episodes 1 and 2. On the 13th they showed Episode 3. If you are not up to date (13 January) on your DA viewing, do NOT read on, for here be spoilers.

****************************************************

I am SO glad Matthew and Mary got married. FINALLY. I cannot take any more will-they-or-won't-they drama related to those two. And I have to say, I am glad it shows them disagreeing about a pretty major issue (the Lavinia inheritance thing) but still loving each other. You go, Mary. Never let him forget what a fool he's being about that inheritance. (And of course in Episode 3 we saw him finally willing to give it to Downton. Hallelujah.)

You guys, do NOT cross O'Brien. But also, do NOT cross Thomas. But really, do NOT cross O'Brien. I seriously love those two.

For all the upstairs folk are snobs, the downstairs folks are bigger ones, wouldn't you say? I can't get enough of Carson's subtly outraged facial expressions.

My favorite moment of Episode 3 was the almost-hug between Matthew and Lord Grantham at the end when Matthew said he'd use the inheritance to save Downton. Sniff. My favorite line was probably when distraught Edith tossed off something snarky about Mary "probably being pregnant."

Speaking of, LADY EDITH. She and Mary have come so far since Season 1. Remember when Edith was selling out her own sister to the Turkish Embassy? You guys, just like the American grandma ("that woman" according to Maggie Smith) said, Edith's aged fiance has a house and a title and money so what is the objection? I think those two are over, though. They can only yank us around so much.

Overall, so far, Season 3 is less soapy than Season 2 (until we had a girl literally get jilted at the altar in Episode 3). However, I'm sure there is plenty of time for this to change. For example, I have to say I am seriously wondering if Bates really did it after all. Is anyone else starting to suspect him? Jeremy says no way, but I've had some doubt in my mind all along. And what was that stuff he found under his bed?

PS - I didn't wait for four months to watch this season nice and legally for it to be spoiled by some well meaning soul (I'm talking to you and your Sunday night emails, MOM). The episodes don't show up for us until Monday nights, Dubai time (Monday morning US), so keep any comments about new episodes to yourselves until then, mmkay?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Les Mis movie adventures

Part A: thoughts on the movie Les Miserables.
I have never seen Les Mis performed on stage in any way, unless you count the time in 2009 when I watched a ghetto videorecording of the production my old high school put on in like 2003. My experience with (and love for) Les Mis comes entirely from listening to the songs on CD or mp3 or whatever - international cast version, thanks. So the reason I went to see Les Mis at the theater was so I could get the experience of actually seeing what was happening instead of just listening to it. And I loved it!

The best performances were Anne Hathaway (I KNOW. But OH MY GOSH her I Dreamed a Dream alone was worth the price of admission. I had people tell me beforehand that it was amazing and it still blew me away.), Marius, and Eponine. Marius surprised me - the actor who plays him is, well, an actor, and I've seen him in other things so I wasn't expecting much in the singing department. But he was great. I also thought Hugh Jackman was wonderful as Jean Valjean, especially in the first Who Am I song. Wow.

Now. Russell Crowe. Let's talk. Jeremy thought Crowe was so bad that he almost got up and walked out of the theater. I thought he was fine. I thought he did a good job as that character. Could they have cast someone stronger? Almost certainly. But I've made my peace with it.

What I have NOT made my peace with is why the movie cut out the single most beautiful harmony in all of creation (well, at least all of Les Mis) - at the very end when Fantine appears to Jean Valjean, Eponine is supposed to be there too and they sing a lovely harmony together. The movie cut that out and had the Bishop pick up some of it at the very end but it wasn't enough. Hmph.

Anyway, great movie. If you like the music, go see it.

Part B: thoughts on the experience of seeing Les Miserables.
When the movie started, there were quite a few Emiratis in attendance. Of course I knew it was possible they were legitimate fans of Les Mis, but I also know that some people want to see a movie at x time and they will buy a ticket for whatever movie that happens to be. So it wasn't surprising when after the first few minutes of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman singing, some of the audience members got up and left. Because if I sat down to watch a movie starring those two and it turned out to be a singing-only movie, I might be a little surprised, too.

The movie was edited. There was one noticeably abrupt cut in the film during a certain scene and it sped right up to I Dreamed a Dream. I have to wonder what the editors' standards are - how do they decide what stays and what goes?

Of course, out of the whole theater, we ended up sitting next to the one person who thought it was a good idea to bring their 1-year-old to the movie. I had to try really hard not to let that bother me. The kid was babbling and squawking and it was equal parts cute and SHUT UP. They left halfway through.

The end.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stuff I watched in 2012

Don't be alarmed: this is not an exhaustive list. It's for my own reflection and why not have you read it, too?

Movies I saw in the theater in 2012:

The Hunger Games. Once in Dubai and once at the Bagdad Theater in Portland which was really more about the theater than the movie.

The Avengers. I went to see this by myself when Jeremy and the girls were in the US. The movie had been out for a while and it was like a midnight showing at The Dubai Mall but it was packed. And the audience LOVED The Hulk. Every time he came on screen there was an audible excited reaction. It was bizarre. Is that a Middle East thing?

The Bourne Legacy. Portland.

Skyfall. Dubai. This is the second time we've gone to see a Bond movie on/around our anniversary (Casino Royale was the first). I loved the Jane Eyre-ness of Skyfall, didn't you?

As for stuff I watched on YouTube or iTunes rentals, I didn't keep track but mostly I watched Downton Abbey  (season 2) and The Amazing Race. Also Sherlock. On Friday nights in December, Jeremy and I started watching (via YouTube) survival/wilderness shows featuring Ray Mears for some reason.

That's it. Four movies in the theater is about average for us. It's trickier here in the UAE because movie crowds are horribly misbehaved and Jeremy is hardly ever willing to go. Plus, the theaters are often freezing cold (I assume to accommodate those who are wearing abayas/veils) and the sound is always so loud. Pro tip: bring a hoodie and earplugs. Really.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11th, outsourced

So many links today. The internet was awesome this week.

If you don't want to start worrying about waking up during surgery, maybe don't read this article.




Polar bear vs. camera guy. !!!!! [HT Jeremy]


Those of you who work in academia will be thrilled to know that "At the end of the day, people in [academia] can leave their work behind, and their hours tend to be the traditional nine to five." Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. [HT Jeremy, and see also this related article]

Is the Gerard Depardieu thing a news item in America? We are hearing about it so much over here. Here is an interesting point of view. [HT Jeremy]


Having previously noticed Tom Cruise's distinctive running style, I really enjoyed this video. [HT Eric D. Snider]



I watched this video a couple of years ago but now that I've taught a bunch of Saudi kids I find it even more hilarious. There are so many things it gets so right! [HT Liz]


The word nerd in me just about fell over from the awesomeness of this article about foreign words for which English has no equivalentTouché, Japanese, with your arigata meiwaku.



Here (and here) are two eerily similar posts that I heard about within two days of each other. Take your pick. My favorite is the first site, "when you walk out of your room and realize your home teachers are there." My childhood in a nutshell. [HT Suzanne and Liz]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I might regret this: a post related to gun control (*ducks*)

I had a whole big post written out about this but you know how I hate offending people, so I erased it and I'm starting over. My point is simple enough: Americans en masse are not rabid gun enthusiasts.

Before I go on (but really I'm almost done), please know that if you and I have recently discussed this or if you've made a comment to me about this or you think I'm directing this post to YOU, you're wrong. I just feel the need to get this out there in general. Most of the news media I consume these days does not originate in the US and I am shocked at some of the things other countries are saying about us and our guns. I know I am just one American, but for the record:

1. I believe the second amendment is often horribly misinterpreted.
2. The NRA does not speak for me.
3. The idea of giving guns to teachers in schools is wrong (in my opinion) on so many levels.
4. Yes, a "gun culture" exists in the US but the fact is that many, many people live their daily lives in that country without ever really thinking about guns, to the point that guess what? I have never seen a real, loaded (and possibly even unloaded, maybe?) gun in my whole life in the United States [edited to add: my mom reminded me in the comments that I have seen a real gun in the US, last summer]. Some non-US news outlets would have you believe that American children walk past a dozen gun shops every morning on their way to school.

OK.

Now, that said, our problems are different from yours. You can't impose x-country's model of gun control on the US in a wholesale manner any more than you can import another country's healthcare system or public transportation system. Just because it's working really well for you doesn't mean it's what's right for America.

Now I will shut up and let Jon Stewart do the talking (thanks for the links, Jessie). This segment made me cry both kinds of tears: the laughing kind and the sad kind. Content warning: don't gather the kids around to watch this, duh. But listen to what the man has to say. The truth is, he's saying some of the same things I read in non-US media sources but at least he's American. It's so much easier to listen to him and know he has a full cultural context for his remarks.


The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scapegoat Hunter
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook




The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scapegoat Hunter - Gun Control
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook






Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My favorite room in the house

 It's the majlis. That's what we call the room and the floor couch. Majlis.

 It's great for dance parties.

 For napping/watching General Conference.

 For playing bring-all-your-blankets-and-pillows-into-the-majlis.

And for setting up a whole bunch of kids to watch a movie.

Not pictured: working. The majlis is Jeremy's office (the part of the room that's not in any of these pictures is the bookshelf + his desk with his computer). I do almost all my work in the majlis - I just take my laptop from my office and find a comfy spot on the majlis. If I get tired of being in a certain position, I can rearrange the cushions or lie down or sit up or recline to any degree I want. When Jeremy and I are in there together, we can ask each other questions or get research ideas from each other or fight about which Pandora station we're going to listen to. It is a regular work party.

That's my favorite room in the house: the majlis.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Law Enforcement English for Women

I just turned in a 73-page final project detailing every aspect of the Law Enforcement English for Women class I designed this semester. It was too big to staple so I had to put it inside a fancy binder. As I worked through hole-punching the stack of papers, I got a small sense of the feeling I'm going to have at the end of next semester (God willing) when I print out my thesis. Which, by the way, is going to be about Intercultural Competence!!!!!! Unless I change my mind or my advisor shuts it down, ha ha.

The point of the course I designed was to give female students at the Sharjah Police Academy a chance to learn English. I had to be realistic with my context, so the course of study I designed is not nearly as long as the one the male cadets get, but it's better than the almost nothing they have now. Along the way, I learned lots of neat and also confusing things. For example, there used to be female students at the Police Academy, but not currently due to low demand. This is the case even though there is a new push to increase the amount of female police officers in the UAE, including a fancy new Emirates Women Police Association. The mission of the EWPA is "to emphasize the role of Emirati women and to enhance their contribution to police work." The female programs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi seem to be going strong, but are floundering here in Sharjah, unfortunately.

I also learned that I'm not the only one who sees a need for further English training within the UAE police force. The police departments themselves have recently started evaluating their employees' English abilities and signing them up for mandatory English classes if they are found lacking. Even though the class I created will not actually be implemented (unless I go around peddling it to police academies here), the idea was to work within the real-life context as much as possible, so it was nice to hear that someone else had a similar idea and could actually put it into practice.

I won't get into all 73 pages, but the course description for the class I designed is:


Law Enforcement English for Women seeks to familiarize UAE Police Academy female cadets with basic English language terminology and key listening, speaking, reading, and writing strategies in policing and law, allowing them to extend their law enforcement abilities and knowledge to assist English speakers.

I also developed surveys, questionnaires, and interview plans to determine the needs of the prospective students and the course stakeholders. Based on that, I wrote a goals and objectives plan. Based on that, I wrote a syllabus for the whole course, including the weekly plan of activities. Then I wrote detailed lesson plans for a week of instruction, including original materials for use in the class. It was during that task that I got to try my hand at making fake Emirates IDs (I was developing an activity for the students to practice asking questions about names, dates, nationalities, etc.):

After that, I wrote up a few quizzes for the class and then wrote a plan for the administration and the support of teachers. My 73 pages are a neat little package containing the plan and elements of the whole course. I am equal parts a) proud of it; and b) glad that it is DONE.

Friday, January 04, 2013

January 4th, outsourced

I don't remember/care how I stumbled across this: The Top 10 Worst Infomercials. To think that microphone/radio Bart took down the well was related to a real product!

The cold, hard facts of freezing to death. [HT Ashi]

Pictures from Foreign Policy of the protests in India.

A Saudi prince heard about a homeless, unemployed man and his family and he set them up with a furnished house and a job. Wow.

Here's the dash cam video from that plane crash in Russia. I am forever grateful to that article for explaining why so many Russian cars have dash cams in the first place (was I the only one who wondered?).

The first babies (and baby names) from each state in the US in 2013.

Hahahaha, a review of Les Mis pasted together from what the author has read on FB. (No, I haven't seen it yet. It only opened here yesterday.) [HT Eric D. Snider]

A war reporter has been kidnapped a second time (first Libya, then Syria).

WOAH. Photos of the abandoned hospital in Chernobyl.

Talking to other parents about guns. I have to admit to never thinking about whether the houses my kids play at have guns (though technically, only Emiratis are allowed to own them here). And I've even read Freakonomics! [HT Cait]

Thursday, January 03, 2013

2012 Stats

Here are some blog stats for your review/entertainment (2011 stats here).

Bridget of Arabia 2012 Stats

Total posts: 252

Total number of comments: 1795
  • Average number of comments per post: 7
  • Number of posts with no comments: several, mostly book review posts.
  • Highest number of comments on one post: 31
Number of subscribers (Google Reader only, I don't know how to find out anything else): 193


Most-discussed posts:
Most-viewed posts (different from above):
The H&M return policy post and the Zinedine Zidane post can just die already. I'm so tired of them being on the most-viewed sidebar. I'm glad my diploma equalization post is (hopefully) providing guidance for confused MA-seekers in the UAE!

Top searches leading to this blog:
  • bridget of arabia
  • zidane
  • bridget palmer blog
  • zinedine zidane
  • downton abbey season 2 spoilers
  • my adventures in tucson
  • bridgetcation
  • h&m return policy
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2012 Visitor Overview


  • Visits: 58,491
  • Absolutely unique visitors: 24,242
  • Pageviews: 171,837
  • Average visit duration: 1 min 35 sec
Top Referring Sites
About 50% of visits to this blog comes from referring sites. That means that the visitor clicked on a link somewhere (facebook, another blog, etc.) and ended up here. This is as opposed to simply typing the address in the address bar the old-fashioned way. So if your blog is listed below, it doesn't mean that you personally were clicking away madly at links to Bridget of Arabia - it just means some of your visitors were.
  • google.com
  • blogger.com
  • Magdalena's private blog
  • heissatopia.com
  • facebook.com
  • thebookofarmaments.blogspot.com
  • kathyhaynie.blogspot.com
  • casteluzzo.com
  • mommidiary.blogspot.com
Top Countries

  • United States (65% of total blog visits)
  • United Arab Emirates (8%)
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • India
  • Philippines
  • Singapore

Top States

  • Utah
  • California
  • Arizona
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Indiana
  • Virginia
  • Colorado
  • New York
  • Wisconsin
Thanks for indulging me, and thanks to Google Analytics!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Camping @ Wadi Sidr/Sana

New Year's Eve: Stayed up to watch the live YouTube stream of the Burj Khalifah fireworks. You can watch it here. It was awesome. The Burj is 30 minutes from our house but the idea of showing up there five hours early to save a spot to watch the fireworks and then fighting traffic for three hours to get home afterward did not appeal to us. That's why we watched it on YouTube. I love YouTube (and Dubai for streaming it there).

New Year's Day: Beach + camping.
 Beach. Too many jellyfish today. Jeremy took them on and has lots of stings to show for it.

Camping. We drove into the mountains in the middle of nowhere (specifically, the nowhere between Masafi and Dibba, called Wadi Sidr or Wadi Sana). I had this picture all set up and then Miriam said, "hey, I can see the ocean!!" It was actually the Gulf of Oman.

 That's better.

The campsite. It was a steep, rocky drive to get there but the site was peaceful and quiet and had lots of kid-friendly exploration opportunities. Three out of the four of us got really cold that night, though. Magdalena inexplicably stayed toasty warm the whole night. Miriam got cold and woke up so many times that this morning she asked, "Why does nighttime last FOREVER??"

 On the drive out, this camel seemed annoyed that we were existing in her same space.

 A scarecrow, Arab-style. That's a kandura it's wearing. I continue to be amazed at the remote, far-flung places that people build villages (and soccer fields*) here.

Masafi, UAE: one of these stores is not like the others.

Camping at Wadi Sidr/Sana was like Oman Lite. The drive was shorter and the mountains were smaller and it was a little warmer but it was a great place to be out in the wild. Happy New Year!

*I actually wrote "football pitches" here and then changed it. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME???

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