Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duplay's Intergalactic Champions (of beach sports)

A wise man once said "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball".  Armed with this wisdom, a former volleyball player, and a guy with a cannon for an arm that used to play college baseball, I managed to make the most of my Saturday afternoon.

Held at Nasimi Beach at the Atlantis under the hot Dubai sun, Duplay's Beach Championship's consisted of 16 teams, and 4 sports: Volleyball, Tug of War, Dodgeball, and Flip-Cup (yes, flip cup - but you could play with soda if you wanted).  After 4 grueling hours (and one-too-many tugs of war), it was down to our best dodgeballer, Marley (he's the one too tired to do anything but smile in the pic above), and theirs.  A quick pump fake, and bam - immortality!

Big ups to our team captain, Brooke (bottom right) for organizing, supplying the team jersey's, and being the all-important guy at the end of the line with the tug-of-war-rope wrapped around his waist.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just Another Manic Wednesday

Yesterday was supposed to mark Katie's passage into American lobbying history, and my passage into the storybooks of bachelorhood.  So imagine my surprise when Katie, who was supposed to be on her way to DC, awakens me from my fully-clothed stupor on the couch at 4am.  Was the TV on?  Yes.  Was there an empty baskin robbins cup on the coffee table?  Yes.  Does every guy in the world veg out when their wife leaves?  They'll say no, but trust me - ice cream and bon bons all the way.

But the real story is the good, old-fashioned airline gripe session that followed.   Apparently, United Airlines decided that they could fly to the US, but had to fly far south, under Europe, to avoid the ash cloud.  If they were going to do that, they could a)  add more fuel to the plane, b) refuel en-route in Morocco, or c) kick off the heavier passengers.  Only kidding - they kicked of 63 skinny ones, including Katie.  Even a manager of the Dubai airport was overheard saying the number of ways he wished the United leadership would take a long walk off a short pier.

So, fellow stranded travelers, have no fear.  While I managed to make it to Turkey this week (via Amman - don't try that at home), United Airlines decided Katie (or more likely her luggage) needed to go on a diet, and they didn't feel like splurging for the gas.  And the best part?  She's been rebooked on her non-stop to Dulles - only this time, it's 2 days from now, and she has to fly through BEIJING (with a 7 hour layover).   Jon Stewart, where are you on this one?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sionara Sammy!

It's been almost 18 months since our gal Sammy the Whaleshark was "rescued" from the waters of the Arabian Gulf off of Dubai. Her arrival was met with a lot of protests and speculation regarding the exact method by which she came to swim center stage in the Atlantis' center tank. Environmentalists and activists were upset that the whale shark -- a juvenile and a protected species -- was being kept in a cramped tank as a ploy to attract tourists to the hotel. The story grabbed headlines around the world; children walked around with "Free Sammy" buttons and the "Free Sammy The Whale Shark" Facebook group climbed to 11,500 members (versus a group called "Lets Eat Sammy the Whale Shark," which suggested people should take some time to "decide whether Sammy prefers to swim free or become a main course in a Ramsay or Jamie Oliver restaurant," and only had five members when we checked).

With all the fanfare that surrounded Sammy's arrival, what's more interesting is the utter silence under which she was released a few weeks ago. No media, no fanfare, no uhhhh...witnesses? Sammy disappeared from the tank and 24 hours later a press release was issued that said the season, the water temperature, and the migratory patterns of her peers had all aligned and it was time to put the "rehabilitated" Sammy back into the wild.

Skeptics are demanding to see photos or video footage of the release, and are shocked and awed by the Atlantis's low key demeanor regarding what would have been a huge PR event for them. Atlantis claims that they purposefully didn't tell anyone because they didn't want spectators on land or shore hindering the release. Rumors are rife that Sammy was sick and that she was disposed of before a major PR catastrophe, but Atlantis assures us that she is well and that in 3 months we'll have a full report from her radio-tag. Great. But come on guys - where are the pictures?

We hope Sammy is alive and well wherever she is!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! I hope that you are all enjoying the festive morning and are working your way up to the obligatory diabetic coma by this afternoon. Here in Dubai, we don't get any Christian holidays off of work (yes, including Christmas) and we also have to work on Sundays so that pretty much limits any Easter day plans.

I however, was not going to let Peter Cotton Tail, dyed eggs, doughnuts, and jelly beans go quietly into that good night. So even after a full weekend of events I convinced Matt that we needed to hold a traditional Easter breakfast. He was in agreement on the idea of a breakfast, but NOT in agreement on what is considered 'traditional' fare. When I approached him with a prospective menu of sweet treats and savory dishes, he said - and I quote - "I refuse to make sausage gravy, can we have anything besides nasty Pennsylvania food?" and "Casseroles are gross, are you really making those?"

That's right, I'm a loud and proud PA-er who grew up in the heart of the Amish community, and by golly we will be having sausage gravy and one-dish wonders whether Matt helps me or not! And so - that's right - I cooked. I preheated, grated, chopped, peeled and crushed by way to this menu:

Egg and Sausage Casserole
Egg Salad and Smoked Salmon Tartines
Baked French Toast with Maple Pecan Praline
Dirty Sausage Gravy with Flaky Biscuits
Parma Ham and Cantaloupe bites
Toast and Bagel Bar with 3 types of jam, butter and Philly cream cheese of course
Fresh Fruit Salad and Vanilla Yogurt (courtesy of Fiona)
1 dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts (courtesy of Lisa)

Matt got in on the action and relented on making the sausage gravy! And he also made some awesome pancakes and made to order scrambled eggs with dill, chives, and cheese.  While not at the stove our resident mixologist delighted the crowd with some belinis and signature raspberry lemonade mimosas.

Of course, there was plenty of candy to fill any voids.  We were able to find robin's eggs, reece's peanut butter eggs, and jelly belly's - but alas, no Peeps for us.

I'm happy to say the entire menu was a success and I have a new profound respect for the incredible, edible egg!

Mom - check out these yolks!  Are they yellow or what?  (I followed a hard boiled egg "recipe" so you don't get that weird greenish color...)
For me the offical smell of Easter is vinegar!  I found a kit by our old friend Paas, and we were quickly engaged in a tie-dye egg competition.
Matt is demonstrating the technique, it involved using a pipette, oh yeah.
Trippy, no?
The perfect centerpiece.  We bought a sq ft of wheat grass at the store for that Easter egg hunt feeling.  (The huge gold egg was Matt's choice - an After Eight, dark chocolate and mint shell)

The signature pink drinks.
Matt tending to the spread.  We even found Easter egg decals for the windows!