Abu Dhabi Weather

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surgery Recovery

I'm at home typing this so I suppose that means everything went well. I arrived at the hospital just before 7:30 as I was told. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything before the surgery including water but I had pills I was told to take at 7:30 so I dry swallowed those. The Emirati receptionist wasn't there so the nurse had to check me in and test my blood pressure and check out if I was going to have a reaction to the anesthetic.

I was brought into the operation theater by wheelchair, but hat to walk the 10 20 meters to the table where the anesthesiologist asked if I wanted general or local anesthetic. I wasn't sure if he was joking so I said local. After thinking about it, I was glad he knocked me out anyway because I would have probably gotten bored.

I think the surgeon came in after they gave me the gas to knock me out. It was hard to tell with everyone wearing masks and me being all goofed up from the preliminary drugs. I didn't talk to him after, either, but I'm pretty sure that he was the one who did the surgery. You can see the picture of the plates taken out of my arm. The longer one was the one taken out of my arm today and the shorter one was taken out in Japan two years ago.

I remember waking up but I don't exactly remember how I got back to the room or into bed. I'm pretty sure my wife was there doing origami the whole time but not entirely certain.

Having not eaten for about 15 hours, I started eating the breakfast bars I brought from home. After a while,they brought me a big lunch and I ate a lot of that. The nurse was a bit surprised that 1) I ate most of the fish brianni that they brought me from a nearby Lebanese restaurant and 2) the choice of meal they bought me.

By about 1:30, I'd had enough of "The Best of Most Shocking Video 3" and Angry Birds is hard to play one-handed so I buzzed the nurse and asked if I could go. They said as long as I could walk, they would have me sign the papers and I could go.

I was glad they didn't make me stick around for a few days like in Japan. I was surprised with the amount of responsibility put on the patient. I had to make sure I brought my own anesthetic and chest X-rays and showed up when they wanted me there. I couldn't imagine hospitals in the States or Japan trusting people enough. When you take into account how much more irresponsible many people here are, it is mind-boggling that hospitals here trust patients with all that.

Monday, May 30, 2011


About three and a half years ago I broke my arm mountain biking. I mean really broke it. We're talking both the radius and ulna broke completely in half with a bit of the ulna poking out. A few surgeries and a bone graft later I still have one more plate to take out. The ulna wasn't entirely healed when I left Japan so I had to leave it in and hopefully have it removed later. Because I won't be able to make it to Japan this year to have it removed before the bone begins to grow over it, I decided to look into having it done here.

The insurance company told me to have a doctor write a recommendation then they would likely cover it in the UAE or Japan, but definitely not the U.S. A good friend told me to talk to a coworker who recommended a great bone surgeon. With how slowly things here go and in the medical community specifically, I figured that by the time the whole process was completed, I'd be lucky to be scheduled for surgery by fall.

The doctor took some X-rays, had a look and told me that I should come back to have the blood work because once the insurance company approved the surgery, he had two weeks to schedule it. Last Tuesday, I went in for the consultation and blood work and figured I'd hear back a week later. On Saturday, while I was out with my kids, I got a call from the receptionist telling me that my surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, May 31st and I should be at the hospital by 7:30 am for an 8:30 surgery. Also, I needed to meet with the anesthesiologist the day before. I wasn't given an option to change the date. That WAS the date and time.

Not feeling confident that the receptionist told me everything I needed to know, I called back and was forwarded to the technician who did my blood work. She told me that I needed to take the medicine the doctor gave me an hour before the surgery. I explained that the doctor hadn't given me any medicine to which she replied that I needed to come in to the office to get the prescription, and go to the pharmacy to pick it up. As it turned out, not only was I picking up medicine for to take before the surgery, I was picking up the anesthesia injection to use during my surgery to physically hand to the anesthesiologist along with the CD with my chest X-ray on it. All of this was information the receptionist didn't feel necessary to communicate.

When I was in Japan awaiting surgery, I was in the hospital a day or two before the procedure and a few days after. In this case, I'll be going in tomorrow an hour before my surgery and leaving that afternoon. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Marine Bar

Thursday night I was invited to go out to the U.S. Marine bar at the U.S. Embassy by a friend who is engaged to an embassy worker. I felt honored to be able to go to their monthly event. As it turned out, anyone can go if they sign up ahead of time on their Facebook page.

The natural question that most people may be asking is, "Why are there U.S. Marines in Abu Dhabi?" They are here to protect the Embassy. Every U.S. Embassy around the world and some Consulates have Marines guarding them. Naturally, the Marines need lodging and something to keep them occupied.

The bar itself was pretty nice with outdoor seating. After a few minutes, I realized that the bar is part of the Marines' living quarters which was pretty spacious. They can leave when they are off duty, but there always have to be some of them on-duty and if they have a place to hang out, they can all hang out together. Once a month, they have an event in which outsiders can come, thus bringing the party to the Marines. People don't even have to be American, though they do have to be over 21 years old.

I asked one of them about the assignment and he said that any U.S. Marine is eligible after two years of service, though most don't know about it so few apply. They guys that I talked to liked it. They commit to three years of Embassy service, two 18 month stints.

I thought the atmosphere was pretty good with prices cheaper than you would find in most bars in Abu Dhabi. There seemed to be a number of regulars. If you're interested, check out their Facebook page and sign up to be notified of events. Be forewarned, if you're interested in going, sign up early because space is limited.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Iceland Review

So there's this water park in Ras Al Khiama, but the only thing is that it is an hour outside Dubai and you have to pass another water park to get to it. In addition, the prices were significantly higher than other water parks. The press on this hasn't been great either, including mine. I was curious to go, but the distance involved combined with the high price discouraged me. However, because no one was going to the out-of-the-way, overpriced Iceland, the park dropped its prices to a more reasonable 150 dirhams for people 120 centimeters (4 feet) and over and 100 dirhams for children under that. That was enough to get us there.
Looking at the website, the place looks pretty good. There seem to be a large variety of rides with spacious shaded seating. The website makes it seem like there are a lot of cool rides and tons for kids to do. As it turns out, it was pretty good. I thought that the for the money, it was pretty good.

The rides are pretty standard fare with a few novel rides thrown in to make it interesting. The tube rides end up in a pool of water only about three inches deep making it safe for smaller children. In case there is a worry, the park loans out children's vests for a refundable 50 dirham deposit.

Lockers are available for a 25 dirham fee and are accessible throughout the day via your wristband. In addition, you can put credits on your wristband for use of the food court. The meals there are good and reasonable priced. Also, there are creepy food statues.

There are little mini tube rides and a mini children's play area for smaller children.

They even have a soccer field with artificial turf and water sprinkling on it. When people organize teams, one of the staff will come over to referee.
While I thought the place exceeded my expectations, I still thought Dreamland water park was better. I asked my wife and kids which they liked better and everyone agreed with me. First of all, it was too hot. Even the water wasn't refreshing because it was like a bath. I realize that wasn't the fault of Iceland and am not using that to judge the park. Unfortunately, the lack of green space at Iceland versus the grass at Dreamland did hurt. Literally. The ground was too hot to walk on. The artificial grass (different from the soft, spongy surface of the soccer field) really started to hurt after a few hours. Wearing sandals was an option, but some of the rides ended far from where they started necessitating me making fun of my wife looking for her sandals. Eventually, I went back to the locker to get mine and just wore them on the rides.

Secondly, my daughter is under 120 cm (4 feet). That meant she was restricted from going on most rides, even though my wife was with her, she was wearing a life jacket, and the ride ended in 3 inches of water. When I took my son to the children's area, I was told he wasn't supposed to be there because he was over 120 cm, so we pretty much had to split up most of the day. To add to the insult, on some of the rides the staff tried telling me that he was under 120 cm so couldn't get on the ride. I should point out that when paying for the tickets, they measured him at over 120 cm, charged me accordingly, and gave him a wristband color coded to say that he was over 120 cm so he could get on rides. I later noticed that the measuring stick they staff at the ride was using was a few inches off the ground.

Third, the wave pool was pretty lame. Even my 5-year-old daughter was fairly unimpressed. Sure the scenery was nice as can be seen from this photo of my son posing, but even when the waves were on they were pretty small.

Overall, it was an OK experience. The whole thing is centered around a gimmick so the aesthetics were pretty good. If the amusement park, hotel and shopping mall ever get off the ground, it might be a bit more worthwhile going there. I'm sure I'd go back were it not for the superior Dreamland water park about 20 minutes closer. I think it's worthwhile to see once, but I don't think we need to go there again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Iceland Introduction

Have you ever heard of Ras Al Khaima, otherwise known as RAK? Unless you live in the UAE or have been reading this blog, the chances are likely that you haven't. That's why the idea of a huge arctic-themed water park an hour away from the big city of Dubai might come as a surprise.

The "WOW RAK" campaign is an ongoing construction project created to get people into Dubai's lesser-know cousin. The only issue is, why would people fly to the UAE into the world-known city of Dubai only to drive an hour into the completely unknown Ras Al Khaima? To view a promotional video of the whole thing, click here. It makes the park look pretty nice and has a few things to say about the project. The video says that this is one stage of several including the construction of an amusement park and a shopping mall. As a promotion, this coming weekend, the water park is hosting a friendly cricket match featuring famous Bollywood actors from India

Unfortunately, there are those who might suggest that having a penguin-themed water park in the middle of the desert where there are intense water shortages in a country with a huge carbon footprint might not be the best idea. In this article in The Guardian, the author suggests that the park is making a gimmick of global warming while adding to it. Apparently, having the world's biggest man-made waterfall that uses 100 thousand gallons of water a minute of desalinated water is bad for the environment. Add that to the fact that this part of the UAE is having trouble producing enough electricity for these kind of projects. Don't worry about blackouts, though. The whole park is powered by generators.

And of course, what better way to demonstrate my objection to the whole thing than by offering them my money? Look for my review of the place in the next few days.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bollywood in RAK

It seems that Ras Al Khaima, otherwise known as RAK, is going to be the center of a big event next weekend. Some major stars from the Indian movie making capital known as Bollywood will be making an appearance and competing in a friendly cricket match at the water park called Iceland. (click here for details) The event will be Friday, May 27th and tickets are 250 Dh for standard entry and 500 Dh for VIP entry.

While this isn't big news for those that don't follow Bollywood movies, from what I understand, these actors are pretty big. The line-up includes: Sanjay Dutt, Mallika Sherawat, Irrfan Khan, Mohanlal, Bobby Deol and Neha Dhupia. There will also be a song and dance performance by some other names that I don't know about.

This event looks like it is an attempt by the owners of the improbable penguin-themed water park in the middle of the desert to gain some notoriety for something other than being a huge carbon footprint money pit of a disaster.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rescue Team?

A couple almost needed to be "rescued" from their car when they refused to unlock the doors for the police. (Click here for the article.) They were caught in the act behind Dubai Mall by police who demanded that they come out. When the man saw the police trying to pry open the doors, he decided that it was time for the couple to turn themselves in. The two are facing misdemeanor charges of consensual sex. Despite the number of times this happens in the UAE, people still don't learn.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Horror Story

Doctor Joseph Nunoo-Mensah may appear to be an upstanding citizen. He has a wife and three children and is a consulting surgeon based in King's College hospital in London. His father is a senior minister and national security adviser to the president of Ghana. When the US Cleveland Clinic invited him to the UAE, little did they know that there was a darker side to Dr. Nunoo-Mensah.

The story starts on a dark Dubai highway which had narrowed because of construction. An Emirati driver who obviously had important business to attend to, came upon the doctor driving home after a day out. Not having any time for Dr. Nunoo-Mensah's dilly-dallying with driving the posted speed limit in a construction zone, he gave the well understood signal of flashing his lights. The doctor, not being able to pull over, refused to speed up, no doubt delaying the important Emirati man by minutes!

After refusing to speed up the doctor then pulled to the side at the first opportunity to allow the obviously distressed Emirati man to pass. In a show of comraderie, the Emirati man "switched the inside light on, rolled down the window and drove in parallel with [the criminal] for up to a minute."

What happened next will no doubt chill the soul. Dr. Nunoo-Mensah claims that he raised both of his hands as if to say "What do you want?" What the Emirati man saw was a different story. The Emirati man saw him make the gesture known as...the finger! Obviously shaken, but doing what any upstanding citizen would do, the Emirati man promptly obtained the doctor's license plate number and reported this heinous crime to the local police who did their duty by arresting and confiscating the passport of Dr. Nunoo-Mensah.

The doctor now faces a prison sentence and a months long wait for his trial. In the meantime, the "good" doctor must wait for justice to be served. In addition, cancer patients at King's College hospital must have their surgeries rescheduled or arrangements for other surgeons to perform their surgery. Let this be a lesson to all you evil-doers out there. For the article this horror story was taken from, click here. But beware! Don't read this before bedtime lest you have nightmares!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Today was the graduation ceremony for the Bachelor's students at Abu Dhabi Men's College. While I'm happy for the students and their achievement, what's more important is how this affects me.

First of all, there were a lot of people attending which created a parking problem. A lot of the students in my morning class were absent because they couldn't find a place to park their cars, so I couldn't have the quiz that I had planned on. That wasn't such a big deal.

Unfortunately for a lot of the Math department, the booking of the auditorium was. The Math teachers need to schedule exams for hunderds of students so it is necessary to arrange the venues months in advance. Fortunately, they plan out the schedule at the beginning of the school year and reserve the auditorium them. It tends to throw a monkey wrench in the works when the administration cancel the booking for the whole week for graduation practice and the actual ceremony a mere two weeks before the exams. The teachers were left scrambling, finding any space they could hold the exam and adjusting schedules at the detriment of schedules because the administration didn't get their act together.

On the plus side, I got a huge slice of cake that I couldn't finish. It looked nice with a picture of the college printed on it, but as far as deserts go, it was nothing too special.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maths Conference 2011

Today I attended a Math conference at the Abu Dhabi Women's College. I thought that the speakers were pretty interesting and had a lot to say about using technology to teach. Four of the main speakers weren't even in the country as they gave their presentations via Skype. This got mumbles along the lines of, "How can they use Skype when it's illegal here?" While Skype was illegal, it no longer is. It is merely up to the providers, Etisalat and Du, to block any activity. Even though everyone uses Skype, most people don't know that it is no longer illegal.

Another reason this conference was interesting was that students from Abu Dhabi Men's College were invited as well. This wasn't anything extraordinary as students have been attending this conference for years. The difference is that despite the fact that there have never been any problems, this year the students needed a chaperone to keep them away from the women. It was no big deal, though because they all left halfway through, enabling their chaperone to attend the teachers' lectures as he had initially planned.