Archive for July, 2007

The best weather ever?

31/07/2007

Today has seen the most beautiful weather around Ham (home) that I can remember – bright sunshine, cool shade and a perfect 22C. Wonderful.
Mrs Saul, Mr Saul senior and I spent our afternoon walking along the river past Teddington and up to Kingston town centre. I found myself seeing lots of familiar sites with new eyes. Were the houses by the river bank always so well maintained? Were barges moored at Teddington Lock always that colourful? Have things changed quite so much since this time in 2002, or was I simply in need of an overdue reminder?
Do I suddenly want to leave Dubai and move back home? No I don’t – but I am thankful I can come home twice a year to get the best out of both worlds. Long may that continue.

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The best weather ever?

31/07/2007

Today has seen the most beautiful weather around Ham (home) that I can remember – bright sunshine, cool shade and a perfect 22C. Wonderful.
Mrs Saul, Mr Saul senior and I spent our afternoon walking along the river past Teddington and up to Kingston town centre. I found myself seeing lots of familiar sites with new eyes. Were the houses by the river bank always so well maintained? Were barges moored at Teddington Lock always that colourful? Have things changed quite so much since this time in 2002, or was I simply in need of an overdue reminder?
Do I suddenly want to leave Dubai and move back home? No I don’t – but I am thankful I can come home twice a year to get the best out of both worlds. Long may that continue.

Job opening – BBC World proof reader

25/07/2007

What’s up with BBC World and BBC 24 these days? Every time I find myself watching it, horrendous punctuation and spelling mistakes fill the onscreen text. Yesterday we had a ‘childrens author’ talking about ‘childrens books’.
Considering this channel is meant to be the BBC and Britain’s public face to the world, it’d be nice if they could start using correct English.

Greece and home

15/07/2007

A week’s enforced bacherhood comes to an end tomorrow as I fly off to Greece for our annual sales team meeting, where I will be joined by Mrs Saul. She will fly out from the UK to join me and ‘see what I really do’.
Back to Dubai on Saturday, then off to Heathrow on Sunday for just under two weeks back home, returning on Aug 3.
I don’t know if it’s a side effect of living in Dubai, but each time my annual holiday comes around, I never feel like I particularly need a break as such – I’m looking forward to going home and seeing friends and family, but there’s no real deep desire to take some time off. In the UK I’d look forward to going away for several days before my holiday really began, but for the last few years in Dubai it’s really only been when I get to the airport and am finally ‘off’ that the realisation hits that I’ll not be working for a bit. It usually takes two weeks to get into a relaxed holiday vibe and stop thinking about work, by which time it’s usually time to fly back…
I’ll have a couple of weeks on my own again from Aug 3 and then Mrs Saul will return on Aug 20, ready for a new school year. Her first task is usually re-educating the naughty school boy she married in general household cleanliness, healthy eating and acceptable behaviour. What a task to face.

How not to check how much petrol you’ve got left

12/07/2007

This story is hilarious.
You can’t help feel sorry for the poor old taxi driver. I bet you next time he’ll just fill up at the nearest petrol station just in case. Or use a stick.

Your delivery’s late sir, ha ha!

10/07/2007

This blog post describes a common situation here.
I know that laughing at me when I’m annoyed about something is just a different cultural reaction to dealing with a problem. I do my best not to get cross these days and it seems to work – most of the time.
A few months ago one of the maintenance men in my building said he’d help me hang a photo Mrs Saul had given me. He banged a nail into our living room wall and watched as a chunk of plaster fell off and the paint split for about a metre down the wall. He then looked at me and giggled. It took a superhuman effort, but I just smiled and thanked him for his help. I then lay down and breathed deeply for thirty minutes – Mrs Saul was pleased at my new and improved approach to dealing with issues.
When I first arrived in Dubai I found dealing with certain situations pretty tough. A lot of the people I had to interact with had a lot less power to resolve situations than their counterparts in the UK would have, so I often found myself getting frustrated and annoyed with problems that seemed easily solveable to me, whilst the shop assistant, bank clerk, call centre employee, etc, giggled and told me ‘it was the procedure’.
Now my expectations are generally correctly set, when a ‘situation’ occurs I’m able to stay calm(er).
Dubai could really do with someone writing a general ‘expectations’ manual for newcomers. Let me be clear – I’m not expecting a manual to teach everyone to behave like Brits just to make it easier for me. Some guidelines explaining how we all typically behave in different situations would be handy for everyone, not just Westerners. It’d definitely be good for businesses training their customer facing staff, for example.
Any volunteers?

Simplee fyed sppelling

10/07/2007

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC on spelling reform.
I have to say I’m a complete traditionalist on this front. I’ve observed the chaos that’s been German spelling reform – doing the same thing for English would be nigh on impossible, with equally unimpressive results.
Some argue that with many English words having their roots in pronunciations that have long since changed, readers are often recognising a symbol as much as they are reading a selection of letters. That doesn’t make it easy for learners, but at least there’s a standard that’s pretty uniform worldwide – and without standards, even flawed standards, we’d have chaos for native speakers learning to read and write, as well as those learning English as a second language.
I’ve always found spelling pretty easy (even if some of my posts here contain typos!) and always did well at spelling at school. Whilst I’ve been fortunate in that respect, there were plenty of others with me at school and university who were much brighter than me, but were never able to master certain words. In the days before word processors that might have meant that their badly spelt written English would give a reader the impression that they weren’t as intelligent as they really were. Spell checkers have put paid to that, providing people bother to use them…
A friend of mine asked me recently to give the text on the website of his new company a read through. I was impressed at the clarity with which he described his new business’ products and services – considering he was much more of a techie than a marketing person, the results were excellent and he’d produced some beautifully written ‘copy’. He was pleased with my comments and told me he’d spent ages using various Microsoft Office features to improve on his original text. Apparently as you write, Office can highlight passages that are unclear or overly wordy.
Couple typed documents with spell checkers and style guides and it gets a lot easier for people to avoid having their message and knowledge masked by bad spelling, handwriting and unclear sentences. There’s no substitute for being able to do this well yourself in the first place, but at least technology’s there to help.
Changing how English is spelt would doubtless be a boon to the programmers and consultants behind spell checkers and other features, but it’d be a massive step backwards for English native speakers and learners alike.
Sadly there’s little hope for me when it comes to my appalling handwriting.

Salik account activated

08/07/2007

My new Salik road toll account has been activated – I got the SMS today.
I signed up for one account with my and Mrs Saul’s cars linked to that account. For some reason I received two texts giving me two different account numbers and PINs, with no info in either SMS telling me which account was linked to which Salik tag.
I also got an SMS advising me that I needed to top up my account, but the SMS didn’t specify which account needed topping up.

Take me to Namibia!

07/07/2007

I need to visit Namibia immediately.

Any partners out there with big potential desktop deals? Or who need some training so they can start developing some big potential desktop deals?

Take me to Namibia!

07/07/2007

I need to visit Namibia immediately.

Any partners out there with big potential desktop deals? Or who need some training so they can start developing some big potential desktop deals?