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August 30, 2005

Return to Kuwait!

I am back in Kuwait again. No job and not even a prospect but here I am just the same.

I had some apprehension on my trip back. It is a bit of a leap to travel half way around the world with nothing waiting on the other side. I finally landed on the evening of August 13th. The warm evening air was not too overwhelming. It didnít take long to feel like it was really a good thing to do anyway.

The airline added some drama by losing my bag. Mine and about 40 others at the same time. It took me over an hour waiting in line to make the report at the airport. Poor Mike was stuck waiting at Starbucks for me to finally finish and clear customs. Fortunately another woman whose bag was lost let me borrow her phone to call him and let him know my fate. I did get the bag back a couple of days later.

I stayed with Mike for a couple of days and then moved over to the Campbells house. They were off on a monthís holiday and left their house, car and dog in my care. The dog has some serious psychological issues but he seems to be surviving. I have taken him for walks and am trying to work on his obedience issues. He is certainly eager to please but doesnít always get the picture. The down side is that they have no internet whatsoever. They donít even have a phone line. I have a cell phone but canít even use dial-up. There are still a few areas in Kuwait where they havenít provided phone service. Invariably these are new areas. Apparently the town planners and developers donít have a clue what it takes to develop an area.

Marina Mall has become my working office. They have wireless high-speed internet at all the coffee shops and the food court area. I can check my email and surf to my heartís content. I am still working off the first card I bought shortly after my arrival. The staff around here are getting very used to me. I think they are wondering what I do for a living. The guesses so far have been teacher and reporter. No one has guessed that I am actually Ďunemployedí. Or as our Investors Group agent, Díarcy, put it so eloquently Ė ĎIn Transitioní. I like that! It takes the sting off of having nothing gainful to do.

My job search has been rather spotty so far. I had an interview last week that really had my hopes up but the offer was way too low for me to consider. It was barely enough to cover airfares, schooling for the boys and housing. I expressed my disappointment graciously to my interviewer but really saw the opportunity evaporate in my mind. There have been a few other contacts but, again, nothing with any meat on it. A couple of prospects are awaiting the Northern Projects approval by the Kuwait Government and that has already been a decade in the making. Now would be a really good time, Guys!

Things might pick up a bit in September as people get back from summer holiday. I am in the planning stages for a trip to the Emirates and Oman at the end of September. I will try to make some contacts while there but can also use the time to do some exploring. I already have a place to stay in Dubai. I will likely return to Kuwait after that. I expect to give it until October before planning my return to Canada. I was hoping for a quick result but am praying that I donít need to give up on the Middle-East yet.

I have also put a few applications in for jobs in Africa and appear to have stumbled across a Nigerian Scam in the process. I think I scared them off because I havenít heard from them for several days. I did some research on the internet on the offer and it was leaning towards Scam, although there was still that little hope left. I sent a short email to an alternate email address I came across for the company and have not heard back since. It has provided a bit of entertainment and perhaps I could have submitted it to the www.ScamoRama.com website. I obviously need more fodder before it will qualify as a full blown Scam event.

So there you have it. I have lost my wits and am living in Kuwait without a job. Thanks to some very supportive friends, the cost is reasonable but it canít last forever. If you have a spare job lying about that you can spare, send it my way.

Cheers from Kuwait, Thom Gordon

June 21, 2005

The question of the month has been: "Are the Gordon's leaving the Middle East?"

The bad news is that Lorie and the kids left last week with visas cancelled and I will follow this week. Perhaps there is some glimmer of hope for the future though, for two reasons. Firstly, my accelerated search this past month has uncovered a few serious possibilities. I didn't actually get an offer but there is certainly some interest. Secondly, the price of oil has increased the demand for people in the region. I can only hope that I am one of those people.

I have determined that the 'Sand is in our Blood' and we are not yet ready to leave the Middle East behind us yet. In August, I am planning to return to Kuwait to continue my search for another position in the Region. One of the companies I interviewed with expressed interest in my capabilities but were not yet prepared to make any offer. I have lots of offers from friends to stay with them.

The pace of life has been rather bizarre over the past month as we quickly prepared for our departure. We were extremely fortunate that some close friends were also heading for Calgary and had some space in their containers for our stuff. I hoped against hope that I would find a job before it was loaded but, alas, that was not to be. Actually the entire departure scenario has been extremely well played out. There were some tense moments as Kuwait Santa Fe, my employer, decided whether to provide payment in lieu of tickets for our departure. We had made reservations to holiday in Europe with Jennifer before returning and I, for one, was not prepared to abandon that trip. Fortunately they came through in the final hour (as is the Kuwaiti custom) and agreed to pay us. Unfortunately the amount they paid did not come close to covering our costs. Apparently they will only pay the lowest possible fare available (although I doubt they could actually get a ticket for that price!)

I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions this past month but am actually glad that I will no longer be working with Kuwait Gulf Oil Company. My assignment has been extremely difficult because management was both demanding and unsupportive in every endeavour I was involved in. They are headed for disaster since they have no idea of how hard I worked to keep things ticking.

On Wednesday I will board a plane for Frankfurt and then Edinburough where Lorie, Jennifer, Jared, David and I will enjoy the Scottish countryside for a week. From there, Jennifer heads home but the rest of us stay in the south of Germany for another week. We finally arrive in Calgary on July 7th - just in time for Stampede Week. I plan to spend most of July relaxing and visiting friends and family. I will touch base with a few contacts but not start my Job search in earnest.

Hopefully we will be back in Kuwait or somewhere equally exciting before the end of the year.

June 20, 2005

DateLine : Drumheller As flood waters climb, Lorie's parents and the families of her sisters and brother are evacuated from their homes in Drumheller, Alberta. Over the next few days they will be watching in anxious anticipation to see if their homes become the latest victims to the unprecedented rains that have pounded Southern Alberta.

Please pray for them and the other families at risk.

May 31, 2005

Yahoo! We now have a brand new grandson, courtesy of Jeff and Anjanette.

Joshua Jeffrey Stephen Clement was born in Calgary on May 31st at 6:32pm. He weighed in at 8lbs 4oz and was 20 1/2" long. Kailey is adapting well to her job as guardian and guide to her new little brother.

For Photos, see: http://jclement.ca/albums/Joshua_Jeffrey_Stephen_Clement

March 31, 2005

Another berserk week!

First there was the prep and presentation of a teenage Java2 session for March 25th. I managed to pull it off without too much trouble but we never actually got around to Java2. I covered the history and basics behind computing and decided that the first actual programming lesson would be a good start for Session 2.

So then I let them hit the Internet for some basic fun. I had a total of 10 various computers online on our network. Everyone had a blast. The boys played a cool multi-player snowball fight. It involved monkeys and cannons (enough said!). The lone girl in the group spent most of her time chatting online.

We managed to fit in an evening at the MacLean's house on Thursday, swimming in their pool and playing Sequence with the MacLeans and Sibleys. As usual, 4 year old Madeline was her regular, entertaining self. She even managed to get their cat to throw up spagetti all over David (don't ask). He was suitably grossed out but was wearing his bathing suit so he cleaned up without too much fuss.

Then, on late Friday, our internet connect computer started going wacky. It got hit by a really nasty Virus that messed it up good. I tried for hours to fix it but finally gave up, flushed the hard drive and began the process of reoading everything. We didn't lose anything because its only function was to connect to the internet and 'protect' the other computers. But it took three full days to bring it back to life. Viruses are EVIL!

Saturday (logical Monday) started another busy week at work. I would spend the whole week preparing for our company Website launch. Tough to do when everyone else is busy doing other things. The April 2nd launch may be postponed anyway! After work, I swooshed across town at 3:00 pm for a quick meeting at the Crowne Plaza. Both Lorie (VP) and Robin (Pres) were out of town so I got elected to discuss planning issues for the Canadians In Kuwait dinner on April 2nd. Then I had to dash over to the airport to pick up Jennifer, who had spent the week bouncing around Oman.

See Jennifer's Oman blog and photos at her website - http://jennifer.iterstar.ca

Then it was ... ZOOM ... back home for an excellent Easter supper at the Kostashuk's (our next door neighbours). Great food and we met a bunch of new folks. We also all got to swap stories of our exploits and, as usual, traffic horror stories.

I spent Sunday and Monday attacking the Virus (isn't that a switch). Jennifer also had problems uploading her Oman pictures to her Website. Serious stuff was happening to the IterStar Websites and I managed to catch Anji online back in Calgary to see if she could help. She couldn't but was funny and entertaining which helps ... after a fashion. She promised to get Jeff to look at it when he had a chance.

The boys were late to bagpipes because I was typically distracted. As usual they were really whining and complaining but managed to have fun anyway. It is amazing how bubbly they are after a few stray notes.

So Tuesday was my slowest day, I think... I hardly remember it. Except that I got a flat tire on the way home. Fortunately I was not on the freeway and the clunk of the huge nail as it exited the tire alerted me to 'something wrong'. It didn't take long to change it but I got pretty dirty. Second flat in a couple of years, not too bad.

OK, Wednesday ended the week on a typically busy note. Dropped off the Tire; Tinkered on company Website stuff; Meetings and more Meetings; more Website Review; Picked up the Tire and then, home for some rest, right? Duh!

Managed to catch Jeff online in Calgary and we attacked the Website problems. He found the server almost out of space. He did some clean up, rebooted and voila', back in business.

I actually managed to take a break and drag Jared and D.K. (see note below) down to the Fahaheel Starbucks and Al-Ghanim (Electronics) for some 'guy time'. Then back home to start I began rebuilding my website gallery. The boys got some much-needed exercise with the Dance-Dance-Revolution on a borrowed PS/2 machine.

NOTE - David Kostashuk, affectionately known as 'Other Brother David', practically lives with us.

David (my real son) phoned at almost 10 pm to say he was getting picked up by the Millers and would call when he left for their house so I could pick him up there. He had gone directly to a birthday party after school.

Jared wanted to go to Roddicks to pick up some more PS/2 stuff so we headed North into the city (and the usual Wednesday late-night traffic). That was when things went somewhat awry.

We stopped for a burger along the way. Hey, it was guy time and we forgot to eat! Everything went smoothly but David never called! I took the gulf road to the Millers house (because it is really slow as traffic is always horrid there and apparently we had lots of time). I was really struggling to keep my eyelids from getting in the way of the stop-and-go traffic.

It was getting really late when we finally arrived at the Millers so we parked outside and waited. Still no call from Dave. Finally, after about an hour, Mrs. Miller drove up and reported that she had already dropped David off at home.

Arrgghh! We headed back south, battling more traffic on the dreaded Fahaheel Expressway and arrived to find David curled up on the mat outside our apartment. He was almost in tears because he was so tired and had waited almost an hour for us. Kids! If only he had called like he had promised...

As if I didn't need any sleep, my stupid alarm clock went off bright and early on Thursday morning (logical Saturday). OK, I forgot to turn it off! So the weekend is off to an early start...

It is almost 6 am and the doorbell rings! Apparently Jared and D.K. have been up all night playing on the PS/2!

Lorie arrives back from Switzerland on Friday night and it is not looking good for the weekend so far! This single parenting thing is not for me. No quality time, no quantity time ... just busy time. You may need to say a prayer for me.

March 22, 2005

Man, it has been a busy week. At work, I have been running around trying to get all the stuff together for the company website. The April 2nd launch is right around the corner. I also still have all the day-to-day coordination stuff to do as well.

If that isn't bad enough, then I go home. This week has been non-stop as Lorie is planning to go to Switzerland on Wednesday. True, she has 20 teenage girls to watch over but I am still jealous. Jared and David were in Oman a couple of weeks ago and poor little me - I don't get to go anywhere.

Maybe I can catch up on my sleep! OK, maybe not. I plan to start teaching the boys and their friends Java programming this weekend. I am not nearly ready but I should be able to put it together in a few days. After all, how hard can it be! Just because I have never programmed in Java shouldn't slow me down.

Wish me luck...

March 18, 2005

Finally, my web-page reconstruction job is done!. I have been planning this for months and months. Unfortunately I had so many other things to do that this would always get delayed. First it was the website for the Canadians In Kuwait, then the Kuwait Caledonians, then the Canadian Commercial Circle (of Kuwait, of course) and, yikes, Canadians In Kuwait again. I thought it would never end. But at last I found a few moments for some real work.

It always seem to take more time to do even the simplest things. Graphics, style, fonts, graphics again. First thing, I am not all that terrific at graphics. It is tough enough picking pictures and fonts. I then have to cut, paste and tinker with everything.

Thank goodness for plagerism. It saves time and with a little creativity you can't even tell which ideas are original.

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