Showing posts from 2010

As the Cage Door Opens...

I can't help but feel a bit of trepidation. After three years in Saudi Arabia, and months of anticipation,  I am finally about to be laid-off. The official company meeting is in two hours. Tomorrow, those who will stay with the new company need to meet with them. I'll likely go to that meeting, more out of curiosity than any thing else. I have final details to arrange quickly, shipping the motorcycle, making sure Shisha' papers are absolutely in order.

Of course, now that the transition is drawing near, I feel a little fear. Big changes. A new chance to reorganize my life and live closer to my ideals. And end to the familiar and new adventures. I'm glad for it, but still reluctant. The familiar is, well, familiar.

Saturday Evening in Taif

As my courses are wrapping up I finally have time to turn to other matters. Or at least, I have no excuse for not turning my attention to other matters. I could have gone back and edited one of my projects, but I'm just not fired up enough to do it. Instead I exercised, light weights and some rowing, and spent an hour working on Arabic.

Chotu is awaiting departure from Jeddah to Porto. "Bokhara, insh'Allah." The delay is blamed on Saudia. I'm concerned about his routing, but I suppose once he is on a plane more than one hand off will have to happen. There is not much I can do but wait another day. The vet blames it on Saudia for not getting back with confirmation. Waiting seems to be what I do here.

I'm still waiting for news of my actual lay-off. It has taken so long that I have started making other plans. At this point, I expect to have to resign before they get their act together. Really, really annoying. Especially after spending four months of expecting it…

Final Hurdles

My portfolio was approved, so that's one thing out of the way. I have submitted the last major project for my "creative designs" course. That is the "This is Islam" video drafted before. The final version is this:

Chotu is now scheduled to fly out on the 2nd of May. Insh'Allah there will be no incident. I'll keep Shisha here in Saudi until I have a final date for leaving. Hopefully final word on that soon.

I have a draft paper to submit tonight, and a final version due at the end of the week. Once that is submitted, the only thing left is "clean up" work on the two courses. It looks like a B in one and A in the other. Frustrated about the B, but not enough to go back and resubmit the projects and such. It was too much the first time around. But, once this paper is done, maybe there will be some space to at least resubmit one. I just want to be done at this point.

Did not hear back from InfoPrints (IBM). I'm not surprised, I had a requirement …

Rushing to an End

The final months, weeks, days in a country all become a rush. I've put out a departure date from Saudi of June 7th. I don't know if that is it, but sometime in June, maybe the first week of July, I expect to leave. My current teaching semester ends June 6th. I'm trying to get everything in order by then as well.

In the next week I turn in the third major project for my Creative Designs course. Final paper for the research project the week after that. The draft of "This is Islam" can be seen here:

The cats are getting sorted. The first one ships out to Portugal next week. I'm waiting to getting a better idea about the possible job in Colorado before I ship the other. The interview is tonight. I suppose I'll have some idea after that, but if it goes well I would expect there to be more steps before they know if they want to hire me or not. We'll see.

I'm taking the week off from work to relax a little as I fina…

This is Islam ~ A presentation

For one of my current classes I have to make presentations. These presentations are supposed to be learning objects - they help the viewer learn something. For my last project I've decided to do something on Islam.

The theme is "This is Islam". The intended audience would be high school or freshman college students. The people using the presentation would be teachers who present it to help drive discussion.

The audio track for the presentation will be Adhan followed by Al Fatiha. The video portion needs to be slides and text. Using images of Muslims and quotes from the Koran and Hadith I want to make a presentation that would enable Western audiences with little exposure to Islam, or negative exposure from Western press, see Islam in a new light.

This is where I need help - I'm hitting the Koran and Hadith for appropriate quotes. Still, my knowledge is weak in this area. I'm open and grateful to suggestions or pointers.

Images - if you have images you are willing to …


I was able to find people at University of Coimbra today using facebook. From one of the people I wrote there, I know have the e-mail for a professor in the EdPsy program at UC. Now I need to write the letter!

I've been distracted today by the topic of my graduation portfolio. I have just enough time to put something together, having waited too long to start assembling the pieces. A past instructor, Dave Young, was able to find some work that I had done but had lost my copies during the too numerous computer migrations I had in '08 and '09. Thank you Dave!

One more day until the weekend here, and then I hope to get bulk of the work on the portfolio done. Mostly it involves looking at what I've done and assigning it to categories.

Of course, there is no news on the impending lay-off with Raytheon. Inshallah there will be something definitive soon. Two months now and it just wears on the back of my mind. A level of weariness to everything I do.

On a side note - I talked, ver…

Programs at University of Coimbra

I've been combing the web to find stuff on University of Coimbra in English. There isn't a lot out there. I'm going to start gathering stuff here.


Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Coimbra (Portugal)
The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences is integrated in the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest Universities in the world. The Faculty offer graduate and pos-graduate courses in Educational Sciences, Work Service and Psychology. Same of the pos-graduate courses in Educational Sciences and Psychology have as main purpose to prepare teachers and other professionals to research and to lead with social and pedagogic problematic, like violence in society, and more specifically in schools, families and other places. Web site:
University of Coimbra main web page
Web page that gives brief on EdPsy program:http…

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world | Video on

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world | Video on

Really interesting talk, and giving me ideas for what I might be able to pursue in a PhD program.

Edging Closer

Ash got back in Saudi two days ago, at 2am - which is typical of flights into Saudi. I picked her up at the airport and we crashed at the house in Jeddah. One of the nice perks I have is a place in Jeddah when I need it. It's a nice perk, and I should use it more often. And I would, but I don't have much use for being in Jeddah.

Once we woke up we spent the day running around down there. I tried to get some things done for Raytheon, but the critical one was still waiting for a higher up to approve it, so that part was a waste. We went to the Danube for luxury food items, made pasta sauces and such, then went to dinner at an Indian restaurant. Feeling stuff, we took a slow drive back to Taif while listening to a podcast about Tolkien.

Yesterday, which I had taken off, we spent loafing around the house. Sometime in the afternoon I figured I should turn my phone back on. It had run out of juice the day before. I get the usual "welcome back" text messages, and another from…

Ginger Tea

Posting this here as a reminder. A simple tea recipe.

Teh Halia (Ginger tea)
(Serves 4) Black tea, 4-5 teaspoons leaves or 4 teabags
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into quarter-size pieces
4 cups of water
Condensed milkBoil ginger slices in water for at least 10 minutes (the longer your boil it, the stronger the ginger flavor).Add your favorite strong black tea to the ginger/water brew and allow to steep for 5 minutes.Add a few teaspoons of condensed milk to each of 4 teacups or mugs. Strain tea into teacups."Tarik" the tea by pouring back and forth between a filled and empty cup, until frothy. Enjoy immediately.Originallly came across this on the Salon website:


Ash got the apartment signed for. The attic level of a three story building in downtown Guimaraes. She's posted pictures of the area on Facebook and I'm delighted. Living in that type of apartment in that kind of location is really the reason to live in Europe. We can see historic buildings and churches right out our tiny windows, we can walk just a few blocks and have coffee in a medieval town square. I'm pretty excited to move there.

No news from the company yet when the layoff will actually happen. A month ago our president said, "This will happen as soon as possible." Now it's all, "Well, we're not sure.. It's dependent on... They're....". I suspected this might happen, indeed, it seemed the most likely path. I guess I put too much faith that our local leadership really had a handle on the situation.

Since they told me we were being laid off I made plans, so now if the lay off takes too long to come I'm going to have to resign. Ann…

The Measure

I had to make a slide show introducing myself for a class. It had to use less than 250 words and have five pictures.

I'm happy with the result. The MeasureView more presentations from kevin.haroun.

Got a Dream, Boy?

The upcoming move to Portugal, and exit from Saudi Arabia, dredged this song up to my conscious memory this morning. This always comes to mind as I start to plan transitioning from one country to another:

I know of no song with a better introduction. Right around 40 seconds as the Chorus bursts into that first "Got a dream, boy? Got a song?" my heart always starts to soar upward. No other music has quiet the same effect on raising my spirits.

I'm reconsidering whether or not to ship the bike to Porto. I found the website for Milwaukee Motors in Oporto. They are licensed to service Harleys. I'm thinking having the bike in Europe for the next four years is a lot better than having it in storage, even if I do have to pay some fees. If I could just figure out what they are and if I'm really willing to pay them.

Ash has been digging up research, and found what could be a great doctorate program for me in Braga. I need to follow up with a letter to them, and to some oth…

Oporto Riverside

Portugal river side Oporto
Originally uploaded by ipomoea310 A lazy Friday morning. I'm down in Jeddah waiting for the other English teachers to wake up and get ready to go back to Taif. I took a three day weekend and that helped keep things relaxed. First evening here was full of errands and to do.

Expecting things to wrap up here around April first. Looking forward to some time back in Colorado then heading out to Porto.

Bad Moon Rising?

Saturday morning as I left for work I saw one of the most beautiful moon's ever. The full moon was framed, almost supported by, a tree on either side at the end of my block. In the darkness you could see the red shine of mars just slightly higher than the moon. An absolutely beautiful omen that I thought nothing of other than, "Wow. Won't see a view like that ever again."

Little did I expect what it meant.

The work day rolled along, prepping students for the final exam the following day. They were excited. The ones inclined to work payed attention. Others, not so much.

Around noon our supervisor goes around telling us there is a mandatory meeting for work at 3:00. We all are mildly annoyed, but don't think it will be about anything interesting. Maybe something about Config 3 or some other missile system contract. Annoying to lose part of the afternoon, but no biggie.

Three rolls around and I stroll out the door in my camo pants and sandals. I meet up with Jeff, in hi…

Residual Self Image

Residule Self Image
Originally uploaded by Kevin.Haroun Back in Taif after a quick trip to Jeddah the other day. Got my motorcycle insurance in order. I can go down and get the bike next weekend. Which should allow for some more interesting photos on the weekends.

My theme for today's photo is "residual self-image", that is, how you imagine yourself. So, the clothes, props and even background of this photo are part of that theme. T-shirt and blazer (my daily look in Japan), jeans that fit decently, and my hiking boots. I should say my biking boots, as this is what they are worn for, with that black spot on the left boot where the gear shift has rubbed.

And a cigar, naturally.

Anyone else up for doing a photo in this theme? It was a fun exercise.

Tuesday Morning

I'm at work getting ready for class. Four classes today. The semester is winding down, and while the cadets are easily distracted they are at least pretty manageable at this point. I attribute it to the great work I did early in the semester bending them to my will and demonstrating that getting out of line was not worth the effort. At least, I like to think so.

The end of the semester is very demoralizing for the D level students, and me as well as a result. After doing great work all semester and learning all sorts of stuff, they are given tests they can't pass, or even reasonably do well on.

This has to do with the military's obsession with a test called the "ALCPT". This means something like "American Language Competency Placement Test" or something like that. It is used by the Defense Language Institute (of the US military) to place incoming students in classes. Great. Unfortunately, the Saudi's use it as a measuring bar for promotion, placement …

Time Threw a Prayer to Me

Early evening, a little past seven. Ash has gone out on errands and I'll likely get to bed early tonight. I got my exercise in today - 3km of rowing and two rounds of walking around the compound. I walked with two of my co-workers, who set a pretty good pace. I'll need to wear real shoes next time.

Dinner was grilled cheese sandwich and a salad followed by a bowl of cereal. Trying to get my eating onto a reasonable schedule and reasonable amount. Not making a good go of it yet, but I am eating regular breakfasts at the mess hall, and that's been good. I'm sure it's bad for me, eggs and beef bacon, but what the level. The coffee isn't bad at least.

This morning's music was nothing special. Can't even recall now what I played. But right now I'm listening to Seal's "Love's Divine". When I first really heard this song I was living in Osaka. I was on lunch break from the senior high school I worked at. It had a lot of impact at the mome…

Passing the Buck

The best news of the day is that my cell phone boosting antenna is finally mounted properly. After talking to the guy who has all the bits to get it mounted a couple three times and getting no results, I went to the person sure to have the wastah to get a worker to do something on this compound - my houseboy.

I explained the problem to my houseboy. At first, he wasn't sure what was needed. So he went to my office, I explained where and how I wanted it mounted, and how the antenna should work, and what cell phone company I was using. He promised to get on it.

When I came home the next day, he was near my house and came over and explained that the job wasn't done, but that the other worker was committed to get it done, and it should be all finished tomorrow.

When I came home today, (tomorrow from then) it was done. The antenna gets me a solid two bars of signal (okay, pathetic, but not as bad as the one bar I got before). Importantly, connectivity is improved, and it spends more t…

Funny Money

After a salad and grilled shrimp for dinner, I went to the commissary to buy groceries. After finding they didn't have my cereal or any pop-tarts, I grabbed a magazine and some ice-cream (note: I did get 5km of rowing in today).

"Sorry, sir. This is fake." The shopkeeper turns the riyal note around and hands it back to me. I look at it confused as he points out the missing seal, cunningly replace with a grey blotch. "Where did you get this riyal?" I explain it was from my company. I'll have to take it back to them. He agrees. "You know how I know this fake riyal?" I look back up at him. "Three times. I have riyal like this." If they were all SR500 notes like mine, which they likely were, he's had to pay out about a month's base pay each time this happened. I tuck the note away and will have to deal with it tomorrow. At least it provides fodder for a daily photo. Three hundred sixty two of those remaining.

TV today - Dr. Who Season…

January Second Miscellany

Another short piece, just to keep writing. Today was a regular work day, a Saturday. I had to teach four classes, all review for the test happening tomorrow. I'm glad I did this, as I also recalled I need to make a new slide show for work. One praising the recently returned Prince and proclaiming how thankful we are he is alive and well. This will be for the TV monitors mounted in the hallways. These things have been the bane of my life - either the computer connected to them is on the fritz, or the computer works and I have to make sure something interesting is posted. The last two items I created or started to create were rejected. Shortly after that the computer's video card gave up the ghost, so I left it that way. That was tolerated for a time, but now it is back, and now I have to make another PowerPoint for it. At least I can put my masters classes to work.

Internet is on the blink today as well. My "good" connection refusing to connect to the MMO's I like …

New Year's Day 2010

I'm doing the Flickr 365 this year. At least, starting it off this time. One self portrait a day for a year. Not easy to do, and people get pretty desperate for good ideas as time goes by. I plan to update FB with the day's photo as well. The kick off is pretty tame - an extreme close up. Edgy.

Ash has finally moved to Portugal for school. So this is a way of keeping in better contact. We chat on Skype and stuff each day, but being on my own always makes me write better. So I'll do more writing as well. Because it's daily, and about self, expect a fair amount of trivia.

And on trivia, I thought I'd share the first music I listened to today, and the first music to wake me up.

First song of the day: Beat It - The Unseen - a punk cover of Michael Jackson's classic. Courtesy the "Genius" setting.

First song to get my toes tapping and ready to dance: Deliver Me - Sarah Brightman Also courtesy of iTunes. Something I love about random play. It digs up stuff yo…