Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to get people to come to my blog page

I just discovered the "Stats" tab on my blog dashboard page, which keeps track of how many people view my blog and what countries they live in and what pages they are viewing. I was surprised to discover that the posting I made last year about my beard (click here) was BY FAR the most viewed page. It's not even that good.

When I found the "traffic sources" tab, however, I had an explanation. This link tells you what sights people come from when they are directed to your blog. For some it is not surprising: Facebook and email, as I put those up, as well as the blogs of friends and relatives who may have put up a link to mine.

However, the number 1 source of traffic for my blog BY FAR was google searches. Specifically, people searching for Zack Morris. Here was the breakdown of Google search terms that led to people coming to my blog:
I would like to thank Zack Morris for sending so many readers my way. Also a minor thank you to Crown Prince Hamdan and to Really Fat Santa (which likely leads them here) for their contributions. And to the 3.7% of readers who are going to the effort of googling my name.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flat Stanley comes to Visit!

My niece Grace sent me her friend Flat Stanley so that I could take some pictures of my life here in Dubai. Like a true consultant I put the presentation into PowerPoint and have uploaded the slides as JPG images. I had meant to post these pictures shortly after back in 2010, but never got to it (I have a large backlog of uncompleted posts). I figure every now and then it's good to have a second grade level reminder of what you're doing with your life, and lots of this was news to my sister and mom when they saw the Flat Stanley presentation, so maybe I should share it with anybody else who might care. The beard has since gone by the wayside as I recorded at the time (click here).

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Grand Camel Prix

Camel racing is touted in most UAE tour guide books as a "must see" experience for any visitor to the country. However, it is next to impossible to get information about it from anywhere. There is no designated website, I couldn't find any blogs or anything that confirmed that anybody had actually ever been to one, let alone information about a scheduled race. My theory is that the people who are actually into camel racing (mostly UAE citizens) don't have much interest in making it a big public spectacle and they figure anybody who should be at the race will generally know when it's supposed to happen. I had made three trips out into the desert to see them, but each time I was disappointed when the workers at the tracks told me they weren't happening that day.

However, the third fruitless trip, I found a printed schedule in Arabic informing me of the race days. So on my fourth visit I finally saw the races, which kick off early in the morning on weekdays, and a glorious spectacle it was.

They line the camels up:

And off they go:

Now it used to be that they had small children be the camel jockeys, usually imported from some low income south Asian country or another (Bangladesh for example). However, this inhumane practice has been replaced by robot jockeys, which are just as awesome as the name implies. They're typically small boxes with a little whip that smacks the camel's hide:
Of course, the robot must be controlled via remote, which means along side the entire dirt track there is a paved road, where a fleet of SUVs follow alongside the race with all the owners, trainers, video crews, and general camel papparazzi. Which itself is a spectacle almost as fun to watch as the camel race itself. Because the track is too big to see the majority of the race (there's a 4 km track and an 8 km track, or 2.5 and 5 miles), the video crews in the cars film the race for the excited crowd of spectators. Meanwhile an announcer, who I can only assume is the Dubai version of Marv Albert, narrates the race excitedly. Afterwards the owners all jump out of their cars and hurriedly congratulate each other on the results (the most important victory went, to nobody's surprise, to the Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan).
Then the next race begins, and at some point while the next heat is down at the far end of the track where no one can see them, the winners, adorned with flags and some kind of orange paint, are paraded out to everyone's applause:

The season is almost over for camel racing, but the nice thing about visiting the track is that on almost any morning, you can go see the camels doing their training and really get up close and personal with them.
Occasionally, you can even challenge them to a race of your own.

Coming soon to a track near you: Man v. Camel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Curtis Goes Fashionista, Part 2

On a previous posting I thrust myself into the hitherto unexplored world of fashion:

By way of update, I would like to break the good news that, seven months after going public with the yellow pants purchase, I have gained my first convert to the world of yellow skinny pants. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm round of applause for Bekah Ellsworth. Upon her brief (26 hour) layover in Dubai she could not resist purchasing the same "Original Military First Men's Jeans" that I had. Though, in the words of Will Smith, the difference between she and I is she makes this look good. For more details, you can visit her two postings on Dubai at:
For those of you who need to cool down a bit after witnessing the collective fireball of hotness which is encompassed in the prior four pictures, fear not, I offer some relief as we also managed to capture a more chill side of the Dubizz:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Can't I Quit You?

I'm normally adverse to discussing my relationship issues on my blog. There's either too much drama or too little. Plus talking about my dating life can get tricky; people's feelings get hurt. Some day I will write my memoirs on the topic elsewhere. It'll be called "Sitting to the Left of Awkward." I have a knack for getting myself into awkward situations when it comes to dating. I've come to the conclusion that such situations should be embraced.
However, there's one relationship that I feel I need to be discussed openly, mostly because until recently it has never gotten awkward.
This isn't a relationship with a girl. No. This is a much more constant companion. One that gives it all and never takes anything. One that never complains or cancels. One that doesn't fade out when you try and push things to a new level nor freak out when you don't. One that looks good in the morning and great in the evening, with no need of makeup or touching up. One that supports me in my late nights and stands by me when the rest of the world is laughing. I'm speaking, of course, of the Real Thing: Coca-cola.
Good ole Coke has been with me through thick and thin and never failed to come through when it counted. I have savored it, cherished it, and loved it with all my heart. It has picked me up when I felt down and loved me when I felt lonely. As the following collection shows, it has been with me in literally every corner of the globe.

I should be a model for Coke. And no, in no way do I find it pathetic that in all of these pictures it's me and Coke, and not me and "some hot girl with whom I am in a relationship." This is a true love affair that has transcended time and place.
Not that I was addicted. I have taken breaks from Coke and had no noticeable impact on my body. I once stopped drinking soda altogether for 2 months, and kept a six pack of Vanilla Coke under my desk just to prove that I could do it even when it was staring me in the face. I proved two points by doing that: the first being that I could go without, and the second being that the only thing better than an ice cold Coke is an ice cold Coke when you haven't had one in two months.
However, recently I have had to grips with the fact that this is, literally, an incredibly unhealthy relationship. As I get older my metabolism is slowly turning the dial down. This became painfully obvious about ten months ago when I started receiving a strange question, one that I haven't ever heard in my entire life.
"Curtis, have you gained weight?"
The first three times it was sort of humiliating because it was a question that came from attractive females. Nevertheless I sort of found it a little flattering that they would notice. Then, however, I started having other people ask. Fat people. A real wake up call came when a very large Saudi man with whom I had been working said to me after not seeing me for a week, "Curtis, you are looking fat. You've been in Saudi Arabia too long."

All of this was shocking in that I didn't think such comments and questions were allowed. I NEVER ask people if they've put on weight. Taboo. Still, I had to reckon with the fact that it was true. I had in fact put on about 25 pounds in 4 months since I started visiting Saudi Arabia.
This caused a bit of an existential crisis. How could I leave my beloved Coke without betraying all that I stood for? I might as well renounce my citizenship. It would be like cheating on an old lover. Nevertheless, I had to face the music. I had to confront the fact that with all of these pictures of myself drinking Coke, I might indeed become a Coke advertisement, but not of the kind I had originally wanted to be:
So I switched. On April 19, 2010 I became a Diet Coke person.
It was traumatic. I couldn't believe it the first time I heard myself order one. People told me condescendingly that things would work out. "Give it a few weeks, Curtis, and you won't ever want to go back to regular Coke." Sort of like when you go through a break up and people spill out cliches about how there's "someone special out there for you" and other fishes in sea (why would I want a fish anyway?). However, they were wrong. I still maintain that the only thing better than a Coke is a Coke when you've been awhile without.
Now perhaps after 6 months it is premature to pass judgment. They say that the time it takes to get over a relationship is half the time that the relationship lasted, which means I won't be able to truly distance myself from Coke until the year 2024. Still, after 6 months I can only say that I have grown accustomed to the Diet drinks, but it is a cold dispassionate relationship in which there is no love. We stay together because I like the cold fizzy feeling it creates in my mouth, but I feel no loyalty, no passion, no excitement in my stomach when I see the logo. I don't even care which Diet drink it is. To me they're all kind of the same.

I mean, they're ok. The one upside is that they are all equally unsatisfying. Diet Coke, Coke Lite, Coke Zero, even Diet Pepsi (I won't touch the regular stuff). But it's like making out with someone you don't care about in an attempt to mend your broken heart. It's sort of fun while it lasts but ultimately leaves you feeling empty with a funky aftertaste in your mouth.

Truth is, I'm still in love with Coke. Every now and then I go back and pay it a visit. And it's SOOOO good.

The other night, while up late working, I discovered at the restaurant in my compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, tha tthey serve Coke floats. I had to have one. And yes, ironically, that is a really really fat man in the background of this picture:

And so I struggle to redefine this new relationship. We can't go back to just being friends. We've progressed way beyond that. And even though I have started a new open relationship with its ugly cousins, my heart still lies with regular Coke. So I must declare it publicly.

"Coke, I love you. Even though we are sort of divorced, you will always have my heart."