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February 25, 2006

Driving in Doha

I finally got my residency permit this week, which allowed me to apply for and get my Qatari driver's license. So, after 2 months here, I can finally borrow dad and mom's jeep and explore a little. Today I drove across town to pay the downpayment for the tour of Jordan I'm taking in April. It's is a brilliant sunny day, and as I was driving along the Corniche (the main road along the crescent shaped bay the city is built around) I was marvelling at the color of the Persian Gulf waters and realizing that I have been spending all of my time either at work or my apartment. I really need to get out and enjoy the city, especially on the weekends.

And under the category of weird observations, at home in Halifax it would be unusual to see a vehicle like a Porsche Cayenne. Here, it's only remarkable if I see more than half a dozen in one trip across town. There are all kinds of cars on the roads, but it's just not unusual to see any type of luxury vehicle at any time.

Anyway, I don't plan to take advantage of my parents too much, but it will be nice to get out every week or two for a little drive to explore, go shopping, eat out with friends, whatever.

February 24, 2006

World Travel

Last night I went to a show at the Diplomatic Club called The Night of the AdEaters, which is a compilation of TV ads from around the world. It was mildy entertaining, but what I really took away from the evening was a renewed desire to visit places like Japan or South America. Seeing ads from all corners of the globe gave me glimpses of places that I want to see and things I'd like to so.

Rain

is a really big deal in Qatar. When we had nearly 18 hours of rain yesterday, it was out of the ordinary. Apparently it hasn't rained more than a few drops for over a year, so getting to see rain within my first two months here is unusual.

Incidentally, I also learned that the universal irrigation for grass and other greenery is not quite as wasteful as it seems at first. All of the green areas are, of course, meticulously groomed, and the clippings collected for use as feed for livestock outside the city.

February 17, 2006

Weird Observations

Of course this is to be expected, but it's still strikes me a little funny to walk around campus and see guys with lawn mowers and smell fresh cut grass. The campus has some really nice little squares with green areas and trees, but I know that 2 inches down is fine desert sand. The amount of money this country spends on irrigation is simply astounding. It was really nice to smell the fresh cut grass though.

Last week, the day after I made that observation, I had another funny experience. I was leaving the office around sundown to catch my ride home, and as I walked out of the building it was around 25 or 27 Celsius, and I thought how nice it is to walk out into pleasant warmth after the work day is done. Then I realized how backwards that seems - to leave the cold building and go outside to get warm. Haha. Such is life in Qatar...

February 07, 2006

Weekend in the Sand

Last Friday afternoon I met with a small group of other CNAQ new hires and we went on a guided desert tour. It included a 2 hour drive through the dunes in an upgraded 6-passenger SUV, a BBQ dinner, and an overnight stay at a great little camp in the desert by the ocean.

The dunes begin about 45 minutes out of town. When we get to the edge of the sand dunes, there are tons of teenage guys and families hanging out in their SUVs and quads and everything. Everybody here goes to the desert on the weekend. The tour company had about 11 Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols (slightly bigger than Pathfinders) out that day. We stopped to deflate tires for better sand traction and watched the local teenagers do wheelies on quads and show off for us.

The drive through the sand dunes was definitely the highlight of the trip. Up the sides of the dunes until it felt like we were going to tip over. Down steep slopes sliding sideways. The driver said he was bored, because the tour company wouldn't let him do any fun stuff with us, but it was still awesome. We took a winding course through the dunes until finally we got to the Inland Sea. From the top of the dunes we could look across and see Saudi Arabia.

Then we went to this cool camp to sleep overnight. They had a great bbq ready for us, and some comfy rugs, tents, and cushions. We were right by the ocean. It was a nice relaxing evening hanging around and chatting. We got up early the next morning (5:30 am) to see the sunrise over the ocean.

It's hard to capture the feeling of the drive through the dunes in a picture, but I got a few decent ones. As soon as I have some time, I'll add them to the photoalbum at cwhitt.myphotoalbum.com.

February 03, 2006

View from my apartment building

It has been cold, but today is a little warmer, so today when dad dropped me at home after church I decided to explore a little. The apartment building is only 4 or 5 stories, but I'd never gone up on the roof. I didn't even know the stairwell led up to an easy access door. It's a beautiful sunny day so when I got up there, I took a few quick pictures with my camera. It's probably hard to see detail, but in one direction is the new olympic stadiums for the Asian Games in December. The other direction is the major interchange right by the apartment, and the last is looking towards West Bay, which is the new end of the city where a dozen new skyscrapers are under construction.



February 02, 2006

Room Service

Well, this will be a slightly different gig report, since I wasn't working it, but here goes anyway. The Bryan Adams concert last night was really good. At first the crowd seemed small but as the opener finished and it got closer to showtime I think there were at least 2000 people seated and another 3000 or so standing.

The concert was held in a beautiful new stadium set up for football (soccer for the American audience). I was surprised to find that the equipment was mostly local. The sound system was about half the size of what I wuold have expected for a show in Canada, but it sounded fairly good. I'm not sure how much of the sound was determined by the acoustics of the stadium, so I won't critisize too much. The band was really good, and they played pretty much all of Bryan's hits for the last 25 years. I was really surprised at the amount of audience participation, too. Since western musicians are a somewhat more rare event here, the crowd was a wider cross-section than you would normally see at a rock show. Lots of couples and older folks came, and in that sense the slightly underpowered PA system worked to advantage. The volume stayed pretty consistent throughout the Bryan Adams set, and didn't very too much from field to stands either. I would guess it was just around 100 dbA SPL peaks all night. The audio crew did a great job keeping everything sounding clean, too, considering that the system was probably at close to 100% output from the first song.

The most interesting part of the night, however, was who I met. While I was wandering around front of house to see where the production company was based, I asked the light crew chief where they were from. He said Canada (no surprise, Bryan Adams road crew). Turns out, though, he's from Halifax and used to work for ABI and Brad before moving on to other things. It was Dan Brooker, a name I have heard before and so we introduced ourselves and marvelled at the small world. After the next few weeks in this part of the world, he's headed back to the maritimes for the ECMAs, then back to South Africa with Bryan Adams, then back to Halifax for the Junos.

Anyway, read on for the gory technical details (pictures at the bottom).

As I mentioned, the PA and lights were local, which was a pleasant surprise (I think I'll have to pay Qatar Vision a visit to meet some of the folks and swap stories. Or maybe I'll just pretend I'm that cool, or something...). Bryan adams had an XL4 at FOH, an IEM rig (I just assume) and backline gear, and the rest was local. I tried to look at the PA but I couldn't get close enough to tell for sure. I saw a powered side fill cabinet on stage that looked a little like Meyer, so I wonder if the PA was MILO. It was 6 boxes a side, and I thought it was Adamson Y10s first, but up close I'm pretty sure it wasn't Adamson.

The light rig consisted of 10 lekos, 10 blinders, 4 strobes, 18 575 washes and 19 575 spots. The movers looked like they could have been the newer Coemar models, though I'm not sure. The roof system was about 72'x48' with PA outriggers. The PA tech that I talked to at FOH said that the company could actually put together 3 or 4 similar sized systems, so I'm not quite sure why they only had 6 tops a side.

At FOH, the support console was a Series 5, so it seems like Qatar Vision is a serious production company.

The lighting rig was pretty open a simple looking for a big name like Bryan Adams, but the operator did a very nice, professional show. I have a couple pictures that I'll add below. In the second picture, all those dots you see at the bottom of the picture aren't lighters - those are screens of cell phones that people were using to take pictures or videos of the concert! Seems like cell phones are the new rock concert lighter in the air.