Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The Goat would like to take this opportunity to record that he considers Itisalot a fabulous[1] organisation. Continuing the saga of moving an email account name from Ye Olde Dialle-Uppe to broadband, it turns out that for various unfathomable reasons it’s “not possible” to have a user name of fewer than nine characters. Actually, having penetrated the clouds of obfuscation, the Goat learned that the main user name can have seven characters, or even fewer. Additional email addresses under the same account - plus any aliases - must have at least nine characters.

In a fantastic[2] display of customer service, Itisalot eventually accepted hand-delivered application forms (along with passport copy, visa page, signed affidavit from male relative, No Objection letter from sponsor…) to shut down the Dialle-Uppe account and rename the broadband with the same name. At 8:00am on 17th June, this process would take “two hours”. Nine telephone enquiries, six personal visits to the Deira golf-ball, and a fortnight later, there remain “technical problems.” Magic[3]!

On the subject of magic[3], The Goat was gratified to receive in his newly-named nine-characters-or-more inbox an electronic missive allegedly from Itisalot that advertises internet HotSpots: “Click here”.

D’oh! This is the same Itisalot that asks us not to click on email links lest they are part of someone’s phishing expedition. The suspected spam was of course immediately forwarded to Itisalot.

[1]‘Fabulous’ adj. Barely credible; not corresponding to acknowledged facts or criteria.
[2]‘Fantastic’ adj. Lacking in reality, substance or genuineness.
[3]‘Magic’ adj. Technology that you don’t understand.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tyred and emotional

A disadvantage of big, fat tyres on motorcycles is the difficulty in inflating them. The problem is that, unlike on a car where the valve pokes out of the side of the rim, on most bikes the valve points straight at the middle of the wheel. This means that the adapter on the air line has to be crammed between the valve and the hub. On my monstrous machine the rear hub is huge because of the shaft drive and there’s not enough space to get the adapter in.

I’ve tried foot pumps, but these are always cheap and extremely nasty. They simply disintegrate under normal use. I have destroyed two since February, and it’s seemingly impossible to buy a foot pump that is durable and good quality. I’d be happy to pay more for something that would last more than a couple of weeks, but alas, good quality is Not Coming In Dubai. Al cheabo pumps are the only ones available. “Buy cheap; buy twice” as a luminary might say.

Nevertheless, even a quality pump at home wouldn’t help if I needed to inflate my tyres at a petrol station. The air line wand won’t go around the fat rear tyre. At one garage, a mechanic tried to prove otherwise and all he achieved was to let a load of air out and then to saunter off through the ‘staff only’ door before I could express my full displeasure.

What I need is a tyre angle valve adapter. A cursory search on Google yields 18,800 hits, so it’s not unreasonable that I should be able to get one from somewhere.

But not in the UAE of course. During my previous attempts, I was met with many, many variations on a theme of “We don’t know what you’re talking about. The item you describe does not exist.”

So yesterday I downloaded photographs and went shopping again. I regard this form of shopping as a kind of anger management therapy. The challenge is to visit upwards of twenty different shops without being sarcastic, rude, offensive or loud. Now confronted with photographic evidence, every tyre shop, bike shop, accessories or spares retailer I tried had never ever seen one. In extreme cases, the salesman didn’t know what it was, and more than once I was stared at as if I’d just asked for a gold-plated stoat. With custard.

Even the Harley-Davidson shop in Dubai couldn’t help. Selling, as they do, lots of motorcycles with enormous tyres, the difficulty in inflating them must be known. The guy behind the Parts counter confirmed that lots of customers ask, but no, he doesn’t stock any angled valve adapters… And why an angled valve isn’t simply fitted at the factory is a further mystery.

Of course I could mail-order from the UK, USA or possibly Antarctica, but surely there must be somewhere in Dubai, Sharjah or the Northern Emirates that’s got one?


Monday, June 22, 2009

What happens in Jumeirah

This sounds like me, doesn't it?

Getting my self-defence in first, please be aware that I know nothing of these diamante ear-rings...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A bout time

Experiences dealing with Officialdom have led me to submit for consideration a new collective noun. A ‘pod’ of dolphins, a ‘gaggle’ of geese and even a ‘flange’ of gorillas are well known. In the light of sub-prime and credit-crunch I recently even heard of a ‘wunch’ of bankers.

But the collective noun I wish to propose is a ‘bout’. Not as in a ‘bout’ of influenza; the word should be used when describing repeated failure of officialdom to get its collective act together.

Thus by way of example: “I have just experienced a bout of DEWA” or “Did you finally sort out your bout of Traffic Police?” My own most recent was a bout of Etisalat.

In short, I checked my email at 8:00am on Monday. At 11:00am when I tried to check it again, the ‘Username or Password is not recognized’. I phoned the Helpless Desk on 101.

“We can see that you have paid for that email account, Mr Goat, but we can’t see it. We’ll investigate and… [gulp!]…call you back.”

Disappointingly, although unsurprisingly, I’ve not been telephoned. On my way home from work I dropped into an Etisalat Business Centre, where I was told pretty much the same thing: “The system shows that you have paid for the email box, but we can’t see the box itself. Despite this being Customer Service, we are actually unable to offer any service to you as a customer beyond a slightly uncomfortable green chair. You will have to go to the main branch in Deira. Don’t worry, they’re open until 8:00pm.”

And in Deira, pretty much the same story but with the added variant: “…and we can’t do anything about it because it’s not normal office hours.”

A brief summary of the situation so far:-

  • I pay for an email account, which I’ve used successfully up to 8:00am Monday.

  • Etisalat shuts it down “because it’s not been used for four months.” [utter tosh]

  • I am obliged to go to the main branch, at personal inconvenience, where I learn that…

  • Etisalat is unable to resurrect the account.

  • Any and all emails received since Monday morning have been lost forever.

  • I have to shut down the account, then get the email address released before opening a new inbox with the same name some 48 hours later.

  • I can’t have my old email address anyway, because Etisalat now demands a minimum of nine characters.

  • This means that I now have to go and change my email ID on the RTA website, Facebook, et cetera. I assume that it’s possible to do this.

Remember here is a service that I pay for. It’s not free email from Google, Hotmail or Yahoo.

For anyone who’s not worked it out yet, ‘bout’ is derived from an acronym that does not yet exist at AcronymFinder.com :

Bunch Of Useless Tossers.


Friday, June 12, 2009

I'd hate to think I was getting you down

So what is it with social disobedience? As usual I notice that a fellow passenger believes in a personal exemption from the ‘no mobile phones in aircraft’ rule. Obviously, blatantly yacking on the phone as the Boeing 777 trundles down the runway would attract the wrong sort of attention, so my fellow passenger concealed the phone in her handbag and spent the entire trip sending and receiving text messages.

“Please stay in your seat with the seatbelt fastened until the aircraft has come to a complete stop.” Surely a reasonable request, but apparently not. As soon as the aircraft wheels hit the runway, and while bowling along at 150mph, half the passengers leap up, grab their luggage and start to shuffle towards the exit.

Why? It is of course impossible to get off the plane until the bridge or steps have arrived and the door is opened. Do these people really believe that jumping up early will accelerate door opening? They’d be better off yelling “Open sesame!”

Anyway, the cattle-class peons always have to wait until First and Business have alighted before they’re allowed out. And no-one is going to get out of the airport until the baggage handlers have done their thing behind the wall on that part of the carousel that we never see. Everyone at the passport queue – front or back – will have to wait for bags, and the choice therefore boils down to waiting in a queue in front of passport control or at baggage reclaim.

Another thing: why does standing right up against the baggage carousel make your suitcase arrive faster? If everyone stood behind the yellow line, then we could all see the luggage. As it is, the thronging masses make it impossible to see all but about six inches of conveyor belt.

Was that my suitcase/cuddly toy/fondue set? Missed it! Now I’ll have to wait until it comes round again because chasing it around the carousel would involve climbing over the aforementioned multitude.

OK, so I’ve got my suitcase. Now for the train. My understanding of “Please stand clear of the doors” seems to differ from everyone else’s. Democracy in action: It actually means “Feel free to block the doors and hold them open. It’s not like the rail company has a timetable to follow.”

Oh, but this disobedience is not limited to transportation. Far from it. I was at the pictures the other evening and, as per flippin’ usual the people on the row behind me had mistaken Cinema 6 for Speaker’s Corner. As the main feature started I found myself turning round and saying, “In the nicest possible way, would you shut up now, please?”

This is clearly the wrong approach. The more deserving technique is to stand up and bellow something along the lines of: “Shut the fcek up, you ignorant armhole!”

Such an approach would undoubtedly earn me an all-expenses trip to the minus-seven-star Al Wathba Desert Resort. It would appear that bad language is at least as serious as physical assault, at least when directed by a member of one group at a member of a different group.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to another of the many things currently getting right up my nose. Any individual who spends money he doesn’t have; who fails to pay his bills; who writes cheques on finest India-rubber, will very quickly find himself in Al Slammah, a perfect place from which to earn the necessary funds to pay his debts. And yet, laws concerning payment of debts seemingly only apply to the Little People.

Nakheel currently owes UK engineering frms $302 million (New Civil Engineer International, June 2009). The article starts with “Leading UK consultants were last month struggling to recover hundreds of millions of pounds from Middle East clients.” and goes on to provide some numbers.

It's a pity that the consultants don't have the same sort of clout as their clients. If you don’t pay your electricity bill, out come the fuses; if SEWA doesn't pay its bills, then mammary glands resistant to strain.

I have so far adopted Siegfried Farnon’s PNS system for debt recovery: (Polite, Nasty, Solicitor). I’ve not actually tried sending de boyz round. However, Sheikh trumps Policeman and Policeman trumps Peon, so this approach is doubtless futile.

Incidentally, yes I do know where the airport is. I’m also aware of the climate, taxation and crime rates elsewhere!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Organic hand-knitted tofu

“Actually,” I said to the freelance journalist, “I rather like being able to afford to drive a gas-guzzling, ozone-depleting, polar-bear-drowning four-wheel drive.”

“Would you like me to quote you on that?” he asked.

Yet to my own embarrassment I find myself drifting inexorably towards a ecology-minded existence. Not deliberately, you understand.

Agreed, the Goatmobile is a gas-guzzler. It actually burns rather less than the ol’ Disco by about 50%. Seventeen miles per gallon is a lot less unimpressive than twelve. Since buying the motorbike, my personal monthly petrol consumption has dropped from some 90 gallons to around 60 gallons. I make that a monthly saving of about 200kg CO2 not pumped into the troposphere. Of course, I could have gone to work by bicycle, but that would have required several tins of ozone-depleting deodorant, there being nowhere to shower and change into the mild-mannered Clark Kent upon arrival at the office.

Just for the interest of any chemist who might accidentally have stumbled upon this blog, and to prove to myself that all that O-level Chemistry hasn’t been entirely forgotten…

    Petrol is typically a mixture of C5H12 to C12H26

    Atomic weights: H=1, O=8, C=12

    Lightest fraction: C5H12 + 8O2 = 5CO2 + 6H2O

    5x12 + 12x1 + 8x16 = 5x(12+16) + 6x(2+8) = 200
    72 + 128 = 140 + 60

    72g petrol produces 140g CO2

    Heaviest fraction: 2C12H26 + 37O2 = 24CO2+ 26H2O
    2x(12x12+26x1) + 37x16 = 24x(12+16) + 26x(2+8) = 932
    340 + 592 = 672 + 260

    340g petrol produces 672g CO2

    On average, 1kg petrol yields a maximum of around 1.97kg CO2. This is a maximum, assuming complete combustion. If any petrol is unburned, the amount of CO2 is going to be less, and there will be increased quantities of other crap such as carbon monoxide and various nitrogen oxides. All of this other crap reduces the amount of oxygen available to make carbon dioxide.

    Incidentally, the figures provide a simple way of converting fuel consumption to grammes of CO2/km:

    15 x l/100km = g/km CO2
    Or, in old money 4150/mpg = g/km CO2
The Goat is bemused to learn that according to UK government figures, the Goatmobile produces 305g/km CO2, which equates to 13.6mpg. Yet those same government figures state typical fuel consumption as 16mpg in the (worst case) urban cycle. The ‘extra-urban’ and ‘combined’ cycles produce 27.7mpg and 22.2mpg respectively. Yeah, yeah ‘your mileage may vary’. But why does the CO2 figure exceed the worst fuel consumption by around 18%? If the 16mpg urban were adopted, CO2 emissions = 260g/km. Perhaps this inflation of the CO2 figure is a vain attempt to get a prospective purchaser on to a guilt trip so that he’ll buy an electric moped instead. Incidentally, practical long-term testing by Muggins since 2004 shows an overall average of 237g/km CO2; a total of nearly 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Take that, Ursus maritimus!

Then there’s the house in Cyprus. Accusations that the Goat is turning into a tofu-knitting, lentil-wearing bunny hugger, whilst not exactly unfounded, are circumstantial at best. The interest in solar energy is borne out of solar water heaters being more-or-less mandatory and the nearest existing power pole being about $30,000 away. Whilst photovoltaic cells are unlikely to pay for themselves if ‘proper’ electricity is available on the premises, being self-sufficient in power makes us immune to dodgy supplies, brownouts and inflated bills. You can buy a lot of PV panels with $30,000. Similarly with water. The nearest well is a good $10,000 away and the plot is lower than the well’s ground level elevation, so a borehole may be the answer. Cyprus’ water supply problems make it realistic for the government to subsidise private boreholes because this reduces demand on the piped network. There may even be a grant to get mains electricity to the plot in order to power the water pump. I wonder if there are EU grants available for installing a grey-water recycling system?

I’m advised that decent thick walls with plenty of insulation will keep the heat indoors during the winter and outside all summer, thereby making air conditioning unnecessary. The house will nevertheless be ducted for aircon in case this advice isn’t entirely accurate. Furthermore, someone is going to have to do the sums to see how many PV cells, batteries and inverters we’ll need.

Having contrived to produce a carbon footprint about the size of a pogo stick’s, the Goat has all the justification necessary for owning a big 4x4 pickup. Huzzah! The Goat also idly wonders how much land and effort would be required to grow his own bio-diesel to power said 4x4 pickup and the backup electricity generator…?


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.