Thursday, April 26, 2007

Maxin and Captain American

Jad told us this story the other day. Yes, he LOVES superheros!

Maxin had a helper named Captain American. Captain American had a shield and he was a superhero and he got the bad guys. They got the bad guys a lot. Maxin - his superhero boots were like red, and his superhero cape was purple and his superhero mask was like yellow, and his superhero clothes were colored like blue. Captain American still had a grappler to swing fast. They bring the bad guys The author, in a serious the police and the police tied their hands and put handcuffs on their hands and then tied their feet, and then the locked the bad guys in jail. When Captain American was not a superhero, his name was Jon and when Maxin wasn't a superhero anymore, his name was Matthew. That was the end.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Triple Digit Days...

Today's max in the shade - 100 degrees.  Min at night? 85 degrees ... are here to stay. Today was the third day in the past week that the temperature has hit 100 degrees in the shade. Muscat's spring is on its way out, and another blazing summer is almost here! I hit the beach at lunchtime as usual today, pounding out my regular jogging route down the beach as I listened to the latest technology podcast downloaded onto my iPod.

On the return leg, I passed construction laborers in their characteristic blue overalls, taking a break from the sun under trees and in the shade of bushes. It sunk in again how fortunate I really am. To be able to work in the comfort of an air-conditioned office. To be able to live with my family, instead of traveling thousands of miles away to make a decent wage to support them. Most of the Middle East's labor force is composed of "guest workers" from primarily the Indian Subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). These men often pay hundreds of dollars to buy the right to work 10-12 hour days throughout the heat of the summer, to live in squalid "labor camps", and to spend much of their income paying back the loan that got them here to begin with. It's a vicious cycle! Most earn a little over $100 a month, and then often have expenses for food and medical treatment deducted from that sum.

So the next time you're feeling a little unappreciated, a little warm after working up a sweat mowing the lawn, or just a bit down and out... remember the guys in blue overalls in Oman, and realize how good you have it!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Descending into the cave of the Spirits

I double check the straps on my harness, thread the rope through my descender, and ease over the edge. Taking a deep breath, I sit back, dangling over the freefall, and gently squeeze the handle of the descender. As my left hand squeezes, my right slowly feeds the rope through the device, helping to control the speed of my descent. Suddenly, the walls of the chimney vanish as I descend past the ceiling and into the cave proper. Visibility goes from 5 feet on either side of me to hundreds of feet on each side. As my eyes adjust to the reduced light in the cave, I spot the cave floor. It doesn't seem to far away, until I notice a red ladybug crawling along the ground. It takes a couple seconds to figure out that the bug is, in fact, Justin's helmet, over 150 meters below me.

I recently descended into (and more importantly, climbed back out of) the second largest underground cavern in the world - Oman's Majlis Al Jinn, or "Meeting Place of the Spirits." Read the full story here (pdf file, 561 KB).

As you have come to expect, yes... there are lots of pictures. They're all online at

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

1st Easter Party of the season

Here are the loveable brother and sister heading off to an Easter party. (Of course they are showing love to each other...they are about to go to a party and get candy!! )

All prepared -- with smiles, sunglasses, and Easter baskets

Jad decorates a sun visor at the party and is so proud of his creation!

Wa-hoo!!! Candy!!!

"Wa-hoo!!! Candy!!!" Danna exclaimed with great joy!