Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Turkish Delight

The Goat is back from Germany again, after the semi-regular trip with Beloved Wife to the Christmas markets. With a group of six including Nix and Pegs, a good time was to be had by all. Certainly the Goat ate and drank to excess, and even picked up a few Christmas presents. On the outbound, he got all his luggage including a backpack into one carry-on. On the return journey the now bulging carry-on bag became checked luggage and the backpack constituted the Goat's carry on. And everyone had a great time in München and Nürnburg.

Animal Crackers

Beloved Wife had organised with a shipping agent to accompany live animals to their owner in Germany. The deal was that she and the Goat would accompany two pets each. Three cats and a dog. The agent would deal with all the permissions and paperwork, and all that remained for the Beloved Wife and her Goat was to meet the shipping agent at Dubai where the animals would be loaded, and to meet the owner in Munich where they would be unloaded. This is a common enough procedure.

Except with Turkish Airlines, it would seem. With a week to go, the airline told the agent that dogs and cats could not be transported together even if they were in separate cages, so the dog was bumped off the flight. Three cats in two boxes, then. The agent confirmed everything with Turkish Airlines and went ahead with the expensive export paperwork with two days to go. All confirmed, he arrived at around bidnight at DXB where there was a problem.

"Two animals cannot be transported in the same cage."

This is patent nonsense, and the agent had the approval paperwork to say so. Beloved Wife's aunt recently travelled from the UAE to the USA with her two cats in the same cage, and there was no problem with Emirates. The agent said he'd recently shipped animals to Germany with no issues at all via Gulf Air and by KLM.

And then there arose a second issue.

"Yesterday, the day after we approved everything, Turkish Airlines changed their rules and live animals can now not be transported in the hold. Nor in the cabin, at least, not to Germany."

The agent tried to contact the head office and, surprisingly because it was midnight, got a person to talk to on the phone. This person reiterated that everything was approved and teh kittehs could be shipped. But at the airport, "Computer says 'no.'"

The Goat pointed out that there would be a massive shitstorm if the agent managed to talk the cats on to the plane and they then got offloaded in Istanbul and refused boarding to Munich.

Meanwhile, the cats' owner had already travelled from the German boonies and was in a hotel in Munich, waiting for her furbabies that were now not going anywhere.

Taking the Tablets

The Goat idiotically managed to leave his tablet in the seat pocket of the DXB-IST flight. He realised this after queuing for an hour to get through airport security (where they look for all the drugs and guns everyone has managed to smuggle on to the plane in Dubai, FFS). Having cleared this security, the Helpful Man At The Counter said that the Goat should return to the transfer desk to try to get his tablet back. What he didn't say was that this involved going through a one-way door and would require queuing for security again and missing the connecting flight.

Beloved Wife eventually managed to persuade the Helpful Man to pick up his telephone, and then go and retrieve the tablet. Easy peasy..., eventually.

The long layover became ridiculously short, and now involved a brief gallop across Istanbul Atatürk to board the Munich flight, parked inevitably at the very far end of the terminal.

München Wurst

Having arrived in Munich and taken the train into town, the hotel was not overly difficult to find. Nix and Pegs arrived later, having fortuitously booked the same hotel, and all agreed to meet at breakfast the following morning to agree plans for the long weekend's debauchery. This will, in due course when the Goat has emptied his camera into a computer, form a separate blog post.

Back to Reality

Return flights were an exercise in endurance. First, Turkish Airlines' English website refused to allow on-line check in. Then the Lovely Booking Clerk cofirmed that the Goat and his Beloved Wife would both have aisle seats in a pair of packed aircraft. "Aisle seats" turned out to mean "Window and Middle, next to a large armrest thief comprising mostly elbows" followed by "Aisle and Middle, in front of a family of screaming, seat-kicking brats".

And it seems that of two identically-coloured matching suitcases loaded in Munich, one of them (containing all of the Goat's toiletries, clothes, and Christmas shopping) got to spend an extra day in Istanbul.

Even getting the bag delivered to the Crumbling Villa was made as hard as possible. The Delivery Man rang three times in quick succession when the Goat was unable to pick up. When the Goat returned the calls, he was told that the Delivery Man, instead of ringing to give an hour's notice of delivery, had grown tired of waiting at the Crumbling Villa and had gone off to Sharjah. Further return calls went unanswered, but at 9pm the Goat received a text message to say that the suitcase would arrive at 11pm.

No, the Goat does not have WhatsApp, and cannot send a location Pin. Whatever that witchcraft might be. Does anyone remember street addresses?

The case arrived at two minutes to midnight, coincidentally delivered by the same guy who delivered Beloved Wife's mishandled case in August.

One of the Goat's Antipodean friends has suggested that the Goat is a Travel Misfortune God. In the way that Rob McKenna is a Rain God and should be paid by holiday companies to stay away from sunny holiday destinations, perhaps the Goat should be paid by airlines to travel with someone else.

Such as not Turkish, for example.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

You know it makes sense

America does not want gun control.
Gun satire

This much is obvious. The right to bear arms is enshrined for ever in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and as such can never be changed. The word “Amendment” does not mean that the Constitution can be amended. Keeping and using deadly hardware is a Right, and is as important as other Rights such as freedom of religion, speech, and the press; fair trial; no cruel and unusual punishments; liquor outlawed; liquor legalised.

Motor vehicles are also items that are potentially deadly hardware, yet these have to be registered and insured, and the driver has to have passed a test of competence and have a licence. But driving a motor vehicle is a privilege that has to be earned through passing a test; keeping and bearing arms is a right that shall not be infringed. Any and all American citizens are allowed to have guns.

The bit about a well-regulated militia is largely irrelevant, coming into play only during a general mobilisation of true patriots against an oppressive regime.

If the government takes away everyone’s guns, it is obvious that the next step will be such an oppressive regime and the consequent re-education, internment, and eventually death camps. Just like in Britain and Australia.

So when The Man, as personified by the uniform and “License and registration please” stops a true patriot who is going about his lawful business, the correct response must surely not be to declare that “I have a permit and yes I am armed” but to use that weapon to avoid being dragged off to a death camp.

Control through the law obviously cannot work because criminals, pretty much by definition, do not abide by the law. And anyway, criminals who are American citizens retain their right to bear arms. It is a right; not a privilege, remember? The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Witness how the hundreds of people at the recent Las Vegas massacre so effectively took down the lone shooter. See how good guys with guns effectively prevented mass shootings in cinemas, schools, and churches. And the police, now not part of the oppressive regime, are always glad of valuable assistance from this impromptu well-regulated militia and can easily tell the difference between civilian bad guys with AR-15s and civilian good guys with AR-15s.

There is no way a criminal will rob someone when he knows that the victim is armed. That is why robbery never happens in the USA. Whereas over the Pond, unarmed citizens are mown down by the thousands by the armed criminal masses; something the unarmed police are powerless to prevent.

One final thought. The ease of access to firearms of many types makes successful suicide more likely than with pills. But gun suicides don’t count towards the firearm death toll. Neither do deadly shootings involving criminals shooting other criminals. Nor extrajudicial executions by the police for apparently reaching for a weapon, or running away, or being shot after being arrested, or having a tail-light out, or looking at me in a funny way. So the actual number of firearm deaths, in which otherwise law-abiding citizens shoot people, is tiny; no cause for alarm, and certainly no reason for legislation.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

What a job

Marshalling at Yas Marina Circuit
The Goat had a call out of the blue in early September regarding Paid Employment. An actual proper job, and not merely a per diem for marshalling motorsports. Excellent news: he's not done any real actual work since finishing the flat in Budapest.

One long telephone interview later, and the job was his, barring some paperwork. Just resubmit his CV in the Client's required format for the rubber stamp and Robert would be his mother's brother.

The job itself is right up the Goat's alley. It is design management and not the project management that the Goat knows and loves so well. The Goat does not fancy living and working in Lahore away from home, and the employer agreed that provided that the Goat would Roam for a few days at a time to design offices in Lahore and New Delhi, with the occasional trip to the project site up in the Hindu Kush - yes, Afghanistan - he would largely be able to work from home, co-ordinating the design teams an writing the technical reports. And as the employing firm is Australian, being paid every fortnight would be a bonus.

Start date mid-September, or so everyone thought.

At this point, the client approved the Goat's CV, that far exceeds the Terms of Reference: a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and at least ten years experience in a relevant field. The said relevant field is not a level playing field, but a mountain. Exactly like the Hajjar mountains in the UAE but writ much, much larger. At his prospective employer's suggestion, he made a PowerPoint presentation to show off his relevant experience and, to be honest, his presentation skills. But this sits on his home computer gathering virtual cyberdust.

But, and here comes the big but, the international bank that is financing this huge project doesn't like the Goat's BSc. The previous candidate, who was approved and then for personal reasons ("Afghanistan? Are you out of your mind? I forbid my husband from...etc") withdrew has a MSc. Now the bank requires a Master's.

How careless of the Goat not to go to Oxbridge University and get his Master's automatically a year after graduating.

It is as if the Bank specified a Yaris, was offered a Patrol, and then turned his nose up at a Pajero.  

The firm is, as the Goat writes this, trying to talk sense into the Bank. However, here we are at nearly November. The site is now covered with snow and will be inaccessible until about May 2018. The firm doesn't have any realistic alternative projects, so the Goat sits at home kicking his fetlocks.

And not being paid.


Friday, September 29, 2017


The Goat is fed up with deleting spam comments from his blog. All comments will now be moderated, because the Goat is not interested in hosting sleazy adverts for Russian and Indian/Pakistani call girls.

Yes, Arooj Malik. I am looking at you.

Apologies to genuine commenters for the inconvenience.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology

There comes a time in a Goat's life when he has to accept that he's no longer young, and really ought to have his body checked in case anything is starting to go wrong with the plumbing.

The Goat's local clinic offers a "Male Executive Health Check", comprising 16 tests plus a consultation, all for the special package deal of a mere one thousand of your American dollars Grand: screening for possible issues with blood, heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid, prostate, bowel...

Except that the Goat's insurance provider will only cover the cheapest five of these. And by paying for the rest 'à la carte' the total cost would be over $1200. Is this price gouging by the clinic? Possible answer below.

One thing that seems certain is that this is an insurance business plan that is nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with making money. By not covering the test for, say, prostate cancer, which is usually undetectable by its owner, such a cancer would go undetected until later when symptoms appear and "I'm sorry, but it has metastasised and you will be dead in six months."

The insurance company avoids the relatively small cost of dealing with early onset cancer, and is faced with the huge cost of cancer treatment. But the latter is time-limited. A few months following diagnosis they stick the Goat in a box. Win-win for the insurance company.

If the Goat were really worried, he'd pay for the tests. And one of the Goat's diving buddies has indicated where a full commercial diving medical can be had for a fraction of the $1000 quoted above at the Emporium of Expensive Epidemiology. "Believe me," he says, "If there was anything wrong with your body, a commercial diving medical would find it."

Hmmm, $1000 to $1200 versus $400 for a more comprehensive set of tests? We have an answer regarding price gouging. But what of all those who can't afford even that?

Those who are so keen to slag off or even dismantle the NHS or similar government-funded medicine really ought to try living in a country where there isn't one.

They might find themselves dying in a country where there isn't one.

Of treatable conditions.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

No Fuel like an Old Fuel

Cough, hack, cough, etc.
Ecological Armaggedon is upon us, and it's all our own fault for using energy. Having spent the past several tens of thousands of years eating raw food and freezing to death in the winter, Mankind was given the gift of fire by Prometheus, much to Zeus' disgust.

For several thousand more years there were open fires and candles, and then fossil fuels were discovered and exploited. Coal, oil, gas. Enter the Industrial Revolution, releasing ancient carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in vast quantities, causing either a new Ice Age or Global Warming. Unless that's all due to sunspot activity and Anthrogenic Climate Change (or perhaps Bovogenic if cow farts are to blame) all turns out to be a politically-driven myth.

What are we to do? The petrochemical industry produces a lot of our electricity; our food (tractor fuel, fertiliser, pesticides); our drugs; our plastics; anything that needs energy to be made (so everything, then); and of course transportation.

The obvious political decision is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In practical terms, this means discouraging private vehicle use. As banning cars would have a ruinous effect on the world even if it were possible, a first stage is to encourage motorists to buy and run more economical - and thus more ecological - vehicles. Tiny-engined cars such as Nanny Goat's Aygo sips petrol, and she is rewarded by Her Majesty's Exchequer with a vanishingly tiny annual Vehicle Excise Duty ('VED'; it hasn't been 'Road Tax' in decades). Meanwhile, gas-guzzling polar-bear-drowning bourgemobiles get hammered by the taxman when they're imported, sold, and annually taxed. Plus, of course, thirsty cars use more fuel and thus the owner gets to pay more fuel tax.

So far, so good. Loads of people cash in on these tax advantages. They get wads of cash under scrappage schemes, buy titchy cars, and pay less VED and less fuel tax. And the environment is saved: huzzah!

But with all these bribes to the motorists, the total tax revenue heading to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reduced. "Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that," says the Exchequer. "What are we to do now?"

Simple, really. We will increase tax on everyone, so now everyone gets punished for complying with the government's wishes. Consider the huge U-turn in the UK when diesel, the erstwhile environmental saviour, is now the demonised Fuel From Hell.

And now the second part. A move to totally electric cars. Ignoring the not insignificant environmental impact of digging lithium out of the ground and turning it into batteries, where is all the additional electricity going to come from? There must be massive investment in power generation - without a corresponding increase in carbon emissions otherwise what would be the point? Renewables, yes, and nuclear fission. Fusion would be better, but we're not there yet.

Somebody is going to have to pay for all this additional infrastructure, and it won't just be the motorist. Electricity prices are the obvious target, so if the Goat charges both his cars and his bike overnight while the little old lady next door boils her kettle for a nice cup of tea while watching 'Strictly' on her gogglebox, we're both paying more for our power because of my desire for personal transport.

Is car (or motorbike, come to that) ownership going to go in the direction of "You may only have a car if you have off-street parking"? If not, expect extension leads in enormous numbers being strewn across the footways of cities. Also anticipate late-night revellers unplugging cars for a laugh to make people late for work.

The answer lies in part with electric public mass transportation. Discourage private car use by discouraging ownership. Who has a car in Manhattan? Or in central London? Or Tokyo? But the system must work well for almost everybody almost all of the time. Not everyone is a commuter into and out of the Central Business District. The Goat is reminded of nightmare trips to and from IKEA Budapest, and he's a reasonably strong and able-bodied pack beast...

Electric aircraft currently seem an unlikely proposition, though. However, wind-powered ships could actually work if some boffins put in sufficient R&D.

Or go back to some Arcadian agrarian society where all two billion of us live, work, and die within walking distance of our birthplace. We have been there and done that.


Monday, August 28, 2017

This Post is Dark and Full of Spoilers

Thrones! Now Game of Thrones now.
Game of Thrones now. Game of Thrones now.
Gonna watch it. Gonna watch it.
Gonna watch it. Gonna watch it.

There are Lannisters and Greyjoys.
In a pie you'll find the Frey boys.
Little Arya can be Faceless;
Ramsay Bolton's always graceless.

Littlefinger can't be trusted:
He's a slime-ball - that's enough said.
Little Tyrion killed his papa
With a crossbow on the crapper.

Cersei's scheming didn't aim
To have her take the Walk of Shame,
And her revenge on the High Sparrow?
Much more special than an arrow.

Jaime needed some first aid.
Now he's less handy with a blade.
And Ser Bronn just wants a castle;
Quite a lot for hired muscle.

Cross the Narrow Sea to Essos.
Watch the rise of Queen Daenerys.
'cos it surely isn't easy -
Rise from chattel to Khaleesi.

The Dothraki and Unsullied
And her dragons. Are you worried?
Missandrei/Grey Worm are besties:
Such a shame he has no testes.

In the North, at Castle Black
The Night's Watch waits for the attack.
There are doers; there are talkers;
There are zombies and White Walkers.

If they ever breach the Wall
It will be curtains for us all,
Though White Walkers hate to feel
A blade made of Valerian steel.

Plus the dragon-glass, of course,
To knock the Night King off his horse.
When the battle is upon us
Lots of people will be goners.

In the meantime, Samwell Tarly:
He learns who Jon Snow is really.
Will there ever be some marryin'
Of someone from House Targaryen?


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Watch those Air Miles

Of the numerous loyalty schemes out there, the Goat has stuck with Air Miles for many years. To clarify: these are not the frequent flyer miles dispensed by airlines, but something from https://www.airmilesme.com "The region's most exciting loyalty programme."

Collect the miles by buying stuff or by using the credit card supplied by Red Triangles Bank; the bank that is both local and global. Actually, buying stuff with a VISA card from a shop that does Air Miles doubles up the number collected, so is even better.

Enough with the free advert.

The Goat bought his first diving watch when he started scuba diving in 1996. very quickly he upgraded it to a similar model but in titanium. A Casio DEP-610, since you ask. And very good it was too. And then, in about 2003, Beloved Wife gave him a new watch. This Casio SPF-100S has proved to be excellent and the Goat's been wearing is almost continuously ever since. And, incidentally, the guy to whom he gave his DEP-610 reports that this one is still running, although it does admittedly now look rather tired.

But because nothing lasts forever, he's been looking for a replacement so that he can still tell the time when the SPF-100S ultimately dies. Or the irreplaceable O-ring gets damaged during a battery replacement and the watch fills with salt water. Or it gets dropped, lost, or stolen. The story of the Goat's life is that when he finds something that's perfect, it gets discontinued and, sure enough, the only SPF-100S that he can find is on FleaBay priced as 'rare' and 'collector's item'. But new in box, allegedly. And in Brazil.

At around $1300, which is almost AED4800, the Goat can find something newer and cheaper that will do the job.

There's a Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Aqualand, priced at around AED 4000, or maybe a bit less, in Dubai. The Goat spotted one in Budapest for around AED 2850, and Amazon sells them for about AED 2750 plus shipping  and the inevitable 5% import duty. Solar rechargeable means that the back should never have to come off, and its analogue, so arguably looks more 'professional' than a digital LCD. However, the thing is massive, would do well in hand-to-hand combat, and would probably allow the Goat to dive without a weight belt. Anyway, it went on to the Goat's wish list for when the Casio finally slides down the curtain and joins the Choir Invisibule.

And then at last, after years of the Goat being told by various Casio retailers that "The SPF-100S is long obsolete, and no; Casio does not make a diving watch" the new Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-D1000 popped on to the local shelves. It is, for practical purposes, an updated replacement for the SPF-100S, having the same date and time functions, the same diving functions and memory, and a whole load of other bits and pieces that the Goat would never use.

But the Frogman (which is a smaller watch than the Citizen but what isn't?) is solar rechargeable so the back should never have to come off. And the compass might be useful under water or in the desert. It's also got the atomic clock radio receiver, so should stay spot on. Except that last bit only works in Japan, North America, and Europe. A bit expensive at around AED 4000 to AED 4300 dependent on the colour of the case: inter alia vile turquoise, nausea-inducing yellow, dark blue, black and silver, black and blue. So another for the list of Definite Maybe on the Goat's wish list.

Then Air Miles dropped the Goat an email that essentially advised, "Dear Mr Goat, You have an absolute shitload of Air Miles accrued over the last several years, and they're going to expire really soon. Use them or lose them."

It turns out that Arabian Centre, one of the shopping malls near the Crumbling Villa, will redeem Air Miles for vouchers that are worth actual cash money to spend in any shop in Arabian Centre. And there's also a Casio G-Shock shop. And they had the range of Frogman watches in sensible colours. And the sales staff clearly knew the casio brand: "That's an SPF-100S you're wearing, sir. They're really good and a shame Casio discontinued them several years ago."

As if the Air Miles vouchers weren't persuasion enough, the salesman pointed out that there was 30% discount until 12th August. Sold. Less than AED600 out of the door.

Happy tenth wedding anniversary from Beloved Wife.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Called it

You called it four years ago, you tangerine gobshite.


Sunday, July 30, 2017


In the latest of a series of supposedly offhand comments made by Lord Dampnut that are designed to divert attention away from  matters of State, it would appear that he advocates prisoner abuse: "When you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, ... you can take the hand away, okay?"

That is to say, Lord Dampnut advocates the physical abuse of restrained suspects who are, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, entitled to a fair trial, and who are presumed innocent until proven guilty(Article 11(1)).

But then, this is the same Lord Dampnut who advocates that terrorist suspects undergo torture "...a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding", which is in explicit violation of UDHR Article 5.

This from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. When the supposed Good Guys are doing this, whatever will the world come to?


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Planned Obsolescence

Again (and again and again) the Goat has been frustrated with the lack of support that seems to be provided for older products. Most recently the extremely bespoke watch strap that is broken cannot be replaced because “It’s an old model and we don’t do spare parts for those any more. We can sell you a new one.”

The Goat owns a fully functional high-end diving computer that is useless because there’s seemingly no way to strap it to his body.

Just one example. Another is the perfect motorcycle tyre that lasts ages, grips tenaciously, delivers excellent handling, and is discontinued in favour of one that causes high-speed wobbles and lets go on damp asphalt.

And a third is the need to fling a recent smartphone with its working display, motherboard, and case because nobody (including eBay and Amazon) has a replacement battery.

Everything I try,
Everything I buy,
Everything I do
Always turns to poo
And I wonder why.

Everything I own
Every mobile phone
If it's bought by me
You can guarantee
That it should be thrown.

If it's bought today,
Then there is no way
To avoid what's true:
“Go and buy anew!”

If I want to keep
Something, then I'm "Cheap."
My opinion's based
On my hate of waste
That's more than skin deep.

Never mind what’s neat.
It is obsolete,
And nobody cares
That you can’t find spares,
So admit defeat.


Monday, July 03, 2017

Caprine Confusion

The Goat admits that he is nonplussed. The new UAE federal traffic rules were announced on about 29th June 2017 for implementation from 1st July. Some penalties have been increased; others have been decreased; the maximum legal window tint has been increased from 30% to 50%.

But here is where the confusion appears.

It has been normal custom and practice in the UAE to allow a 20km/h over the posted limit. Logical and not unreasonable, given instrument inaccuracy and the known fact that nobody NEVER sneaks, even inadvertently, over the posted maximum. And we are assured that this situation will prevail.  

And yet the new list includes a fine of Dh300 for exceeding the posted limit by not more than 20km/h.  

So is exceeding the posted limit by say 10km/h a punishable offence or not?

The Goat was surprised and annoyed to receive a speeding ticket earlier in 2017 for doing less than 110km/h in a 100km/h zone. In Fahrenheit, the Goat got busted for doing less than 68mph in a 62mph zone.Incidentally, just past the first 100km/h sign after a long, long stretch of 120km/h highway.

This is in accordance with the old Law 183, but is still well inside Dubai's tolerance level. But it's Sharjah; not Dubai.

The Goat suspects that these federal rules apply, but because Dubai is Special, Dubai chooses to ignore speeding less than 20km/h over the limit. Other emirates, it would seem, are not as tolerant.

The Goat also observes 1279 fines on the first day. Obviously this count does not include the speed and red-light cameras because the results from these take a few days to come through the process. Moreover, he suspects that most would have been offences under previous laws. But the fact the we see punitive action rather than compliance rather suggests that the system will take a while to become effective.

Or perhaps the novelty will wear off after a few days or weeks, and we will be back to the highway anarchy that we all know and love.

It is gratifying to the Goat to note that, at last, traffic laws pertaining to the American system of having a STOP sign on school buses have now become official. 

Compliance and enforcement? Remain to be seen; last time the Goat stopped behind a school bus with its STOP sign out he was hooted at and verbally abused by a nasty man in a large black-windowed Tahoe.

And finally, Law 155. Transporting inflammable ale is right out.

The complete list, should anyone be interested, is here.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Both kinds: Country *and* Western

Not my truck
"With the advent of autonomous motor vehicles," it said on Facebook, "It's only a matter of time before someone writes a country song about my truck leaving me."

So here is one.

I bought an F150
In the year 2019.
I gave it bigger tires
So's to make it look real mean.
It had a pair of smokestacks
Both made of polished chrome,
And a central-heated garage:
Somewhere it could call home.

My wife said I spent too much time
Out polishing my truck.
"It's gonna be the truck or me,"
She told me. Just my luck!

One day while I was drivin'
The radio was playin'
My fav'rite country music songs:
The best of all, I'm sayin'
I set the truck on Auto
For my banjo I was pickin'
Till I stopped outside a KFC
Where lunch is finger-lickin'

The truck parked up beside a 'Stang,
A fine automobile,
But when I'd had my chicken strips
My disbelief was real.

For my truck left me!
It ran off with a Mustang.
Yeah, my truck left me!
I shouted and I cussed.
My truck left me!
The moral to this story
Is never trust a truck that is autonomous.

Yeah, my truck left me!
It ran off with a Mustang.
Yeah, my truck left me!
I went home on the bus.
My truck left me!
The moral to this story
Is never trust a truck that is autonomous.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"The Boxer"? Rebellion

The Mis-Leader

In an office without corners
Sits a toupee’d tangerine
Where he ought to rule the nation,
But he tweets his indignation
When he’s criticized.

His tiny hands
That he used for grabbing pussies
Though, of course, not Kellyanne’s.

Lie-la-Lie: “Yes, the Mexicans will pay.”
Lie-la-Lie: “I’ll throw Hillary in jail.”

“When I want to be elected,
With the Russians I’ll collude.
I’ll get Vladimir to phone me;
If discovered, I’ll fire Comey
And erase my tracks.

Drain the swamp!
And avoid those Nasty Women!
I’m as bright as Forrest Gump
And tell whoppers ‘cos my name is Donald Trump.”

Lie-la-Lie: “I will never take vacations.”
Lie-la-Lie: “And I don’t do tax evasion.”


Friday, May 12, 2017

How useful is that?

For the forthcoming vacation in Poland, Beloved Wife and Goat will meet Beloved Wife’s aunt and TMIL in Kraków at the end of May.

Travel between Dubai and Kraków is fussy and expensive. The Goat eventually found a reasonable deal involving flying in and out of Vienna in Austria and taking trains between Vienna and Kraków. So far so good. All booked and paid for. The Goat’s VISA card got its customary spanking.

And now the trouble starts.

RailEurope, the online rail booking service that was so keen to take nearly €400 of the Goat’s money during the booking process, discovered a problem with delivering the physical tickets. As the Goat discovered eight years ago, rail companies seem to have a great deal of difficulty getting their corporate minds around the concept of e-ticketing. “You must have an actual paper ticket in order to travel” It’s not only First Great Western, then. Does it occur to these buffoons that people who book online in advance are from Other Countries, and may find obtaining the physical tickets troublesome? Rail companies seem incapable of adjusting to passengers not simply rocking up to the booth and asking for a second-class return; departure ASAP.

To be fair, RailEurope does offer Print @ Home and Print @ Station services. But only for Eurostar and railway travel starting in France or Spain. But not from Austria.

“Allow nine days for delivery” says the website and confirmation email. So with this clock ticking, the Goat receives an email: “Dear Sir/Madam, we can’t send your tickets to a PO box because we use DHL. Please provide a physical address.”

It is well-known, although not by Rail Europe (nor various purveyors of financial and investment services, but that's another story), nothing gets successfully mailed to a physical address in the middle east. Nevertheless, the Goat wrote back with the address of the Crumbling Villa, plus a note that DHL will be quite capable of finding the place. “Just phone me for directions. Honestly; it is really easy.”

“Dear Sir/Madam, We need your postcode.”

Actually you don’t, on the very sensible grounds that there is no such thing in the middle east because there are no door-to-door mail deliveries. DHL, believe it or not, are quite capable of delivering stuff using mediocre street addresses and by phoning for directions. How else does the Goat get his bank cards?

“Dear Sir/Madam, we request you to provide us with the complete address including necessary landmarks for the same. We cannot ship the tickets until we do not [sic] get a complete address.”

The Goat sends the same information yet again, but this time includes major nearby landmarks (An international airport; a gigantic shopping mall or three; a huge mosque. The Goat speculates on the necessity of these, but they certainly do exist) and Lat/Long co-ordinates. He doesn't bother with what3words because of the blank looks whenever he's mentioned it before, nor Dubai's revolutionary Makani geolocation system that absolutely nobody seems to use.

The Goat has attempted to speak to an actual person at RailEurope, and even found the gethuman.com website. Hilariously, the 24/7 phone number results in a recorded message: “Our office hours are 0900-1930 Eastern Standard Time Monday thru Friday.”Clearly a very special interpretation of “24/7.” Special as in tasty crayons. RailEurope has, it would seem, offices in the United States and in India. One wonders if there are actually any in Europe…

One of the Goat’s friends, who visited Budapest over Christmas, had no such issues. She was able to book a stupidly cheap train ticket from Budapest to Prague using her US credit card, collect it from a machine at the railway station, and travel without fuss. So the Goat is forced to conclude that the Fates simply don’t want him ever to use rail travel, and have this time decided to steal €400 in order to make that point.


Monday, May 01, 2017


Remember back in April 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland pushed a load of ash into the atmosphere? Remember how the ash cloud grounded aircraft in and out of Europe?

I was very, very affected by this, being trapped in the UK and unable to return to my job in the UAE for over a week. I was deeply unimpressed with Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, blacksmithing, volcanoes, and other hot things. And you don't get much hotter than molten rock. Presumably I wasn't the only one railing against the gods in general and this one in particular.

I was even more unimpressed when I got back and was, within four days, made redundant. Hephaestus, you really can't take criticism, can you?

And being made redundant from my new job eleven months after that left me as dischuffed as a broken-down steam locomotive. You have had another sense-of-humour failure haven't you, Hephaestus?

Fortunately, I landed a further new job in Qatar, but as it turns out I'm allergic to working for arseh- crazy people that particular post lasted a year. This was the firm that promised me a No Objection Certificate and then later when I asked for one told me ('told me' is a euphemism for 'lied') that they'd never promised an NOC and therefore refused to issue one. Consequently I was banned from working in Qatar for two years. Oy, Hephaestus, this has now got really old.

Despite trying, I ended up travelling, taking the occasional odd job, and generally being a house elf for two years. The novel I tried to write ended up being 50,000 words of unreadable shite, so making my fortune writing best-sellers does not seem to be an option.

After two years, I landed a job in Qatar (again) and took leave of my senses. I thought I could stand it for six months, but the contract dragged on for two years. Not funny any more, Hephaestus.

And when that contract finished and I was released from the Job From Hell, I went off to Budapest to work for Beloved Wife and myself.

And here I am now, back in Dubai and looking for a job. Déjà vu all over again.

Hephaestus, I officially hate you.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Caprine Peripatetic Perambulation

A summary of some of the many inane things I've been posting on the Book of Faces.

Having arrived in Budapest, I discovered that I'd accidentally brought a little stuffed goat that Beloved Wife bought for me the first time we visited Cyprus. I took a picture and entitled it "Goats Do Roam".

This is far from the first idea on the blogosphere in which some form of mascot features in travel blogs. Nevertheless, I ended up carrying this little mascot in my backpack throughout my travels around Budapest. It's the alternative to Yet Another View That Looks Like A Postcard and neatly sidesteps the Souvenir Selfie. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this years ago.

Suddenly confronted by some random stranger who demanded to know the animal's name, I blurted out, "Caesar," and now it's stuck.

So the pun works on several levels:-

Goats do Roam all over Budapest, Frankfurt, and the UAE.
Goats do Roam is an acceptable wine, itself a pun on Côtes du Rhône.
Goats de Rome is why he's called Caesar.


The window of Bedroom 1 just before the renovation started
IKEA arrived

Budapest and the Danube from the Citadel

Glühwein is basically Christmas in a bottle

Christmas snow outside the Gellert Hotel
Outside the New York Café,
where there are several winged satyrs holding light sconces
And opposite the New York cafe, another satyr
In the central market, USSR-era military hats
that were all Size Tiny
A piper. I briefly busked nearby
and made precisely zero money

And it seems to be cake o'clock
And at Budapest (petting) zoo


Christmas markets. We went to Frankfurt this year rather than Munich,
and spent a long (UAE National Day) weekend drinking
Glühwein and eating junk


One of those 'notorious' Friday brunches
A break from Budapest, and I managed to get the bike out

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

I got back from Budapest just in time to be an ADDC marshal. Caesar called shotgun

Caesar became the Finish Team mascot
As the name seems to have stuck, I wonder if I should make him a toga? In time for my next visit to Historical Italy, perhaps.


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.