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Tag Archives | iPhone

in which I try to buy a new phone: phase three

Recap: you don’t even want to know. Apparently if you are given a phone by your employer and then want to migrate that number into an account with your own name, you are dreaming the impossible dream.  I decided that I’d just suck it up, get a phone with a new number, and then spend god knows how long trying to figure out how many accounts, passwords, and services are pegged to the old number.

This time, though, I went to a different kiosk, in a different, glossier mall, and I would make no mention of the fact that I had ever had any kind of phone at all, much less a business account.

The woman behind the counter looked at me. You want a new phone? Do you have already an existing account with Etisalat?

I remembered to breathe. No, I said. I just want to buy a phone. No contract, month-to-month, just buy the phone.

Oh. yes, ma’am we can do that, absolutely.

Great. I began to put my various forms of ID on the counter.

Oh but ma’am, the system is down. We have the technicians working but the system is down. You come back maybe this evening?

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I nodded and smiled and did what any good Emirates-dwelling person does when confronted by hardship in a mall. I went shopping. Bought a lovely pair of shoes for work, on big sale, from a shop called Hotic, which is apparently a big brand in Turkey. For all I know it’s like the Payless Shoes of Turkey, but what the heck, they were on sale and will be great for work.

My retail therapy worked: miraculously, the Etisalat counter was up and running! I got in line, behind a man buying three phones for work, and a couple buying a pair of phones. I waited. Waited. Waited. The kiosk is a miserable place to work: it’s just an island of counters, with sales clerks working on three sides, each with its own queue. There’s nowhere, in short, to hide, when you’re working the kiosk.  Business guy took his three phones and left, first person in the couple did her paper work, then the guy did his paperwork, and then a technician appeared.

You will have to shut down. I need to fix the wiring.


Okay, I did not, actually, say that. But it may have shown on my face nevertheless, because the woman running the kiosk said that my transaction could be finished and then they’d shut down.

And we began: ID cards, credit card, which plan or no plan, pre-pay, post-pay, this or that, white or black, actually black is all they have in stock in 16GB, okay black it is, then.

People circled the kiosk like sharks, not believing that the booth was closed if I was still standing there, very clearly finishing a transaction. The woman helping me wasn’t sure of the code, didn’t know what to copy, couldn’t open the cupboard, tried to help a man with his delinquent bill, dropped my cards, typed in the wrong plan, asked her two co-workers for help at every point, and all the while the technician stood and watched and waited. It was like the reverse “Waiting for Godot:” Godot had arrived and no one was ready for him.

Finally, after 90 minutes of standing at the kiosk, I had my new phone. I also now have a new number.

And I also, of course, still have my old smashed phone, with my old number. I have no idea how to turn off the old number, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to take a letter from my employer saying that it’s okay to shut it down.



Continue Reading · on January 30, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, tech life

whether there’s weather

We had plans with another family today to go out to Saadiyat Island , which is about fifteen minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi, but feels worlds away: big empty beach, no tall buildings, very few people.

I woke up this morning to this:

I’ve seen the iPhone iOracle predict clouds for Abu Dhabi; I’ve seen it predict flames licking the roof of hell, in late July, when the temperatures go upwards of 45C, 46C, 47C (112, 113, 114); but I’ve never seen it predict rain.

And after my sleep-fogged brain realized it was looking at a forecast for rain, I realized what the noise was outside my still-shaded windows: rain, splattering against the glass.

Ah the irony, right? The one day in months and months we actually plan a beach day…oh how the weather gods must have chuckled.

But we had the last laugh. We braved the mist and clouds, and were rewarded for our efforts:

Lovely.  My reward for finishing NaBloPoMo – a blog post a day – and for honoring the promise I made to my mom, of keeping her company in going cheese-free. (Full disclosure: she fell of the wagon on election night, when it was clear the good guys were going to win; and I had one little run-in with a gooey, stinky, rosemary-wrapped Boucheron. But mostly we stayed off the hard stuff.)  Not sure why, in the long run, we went cheese-free, but at least we proved to ourselves that we can, in fact, live without cheese. Life just isn’t quite as interesting.

Driving home from the beach, we saw all decorations up for National Day:  the city’s buildings are wrapped in lights and the cars are wrapped in images of Sheikh Zayed and the colors of the UAE flag – it’s all very festive and vaguely Christmasy because of the red and green everywhere. The country is a whopping 41 years old on Sunday and people are planning picnics and parades in celebration.

I just hope it doesn’t rain.


Continue Reading · on November 30, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, NaBloPoMo, UAE

how hot is it? if you have to ask…

It’s summer.

We moved here last August and it was Very Hot.

It’s June 1 today and already it’s hotter now than it was last August.

How hot?  Really hot.

For those of you thinking “it’s a dry heat, though, so it’s not that bad,” let me adjust your perceptions: the city perches on the edge of the Gulf, which creates a lovely swamp-like effect, similar to what you get in New Orleans (but without the consolation of Cajun cooking or jazz).  Think air like hot wet towels, think Bikram yoga studio after a full day of sweaty-bodied yoga classes, think sauna.

And even in New Orleans, I bet residents don’t get warnings like this one:

“As advised by the UAE Defence Ministry, car owners should not fill their fuel tank to full, as for the next few weeks temperature will climb up to 53-54 degrees which can cause the fuel tank to burst/explode. Please pass this message to all your contacts, as all of us here are in the habit of filling our car tanks to full. Please remember that prevention is better than cure and enjoy safe motoring.”

For those of you not celsius-savvy, 53-54 is about 120F.  And yes, I do believe you could cook an egg on the sidewalk.

Or maybe this notice in the newspaper the other day:

“The midday break for outdoor labourers will be from June 15 to September 15, the Ministry of Labour said yesterday. Working outside will be banned from 12.30 to 3pm, and companies must provide water and shaded areas for labourers.  Each violation carries a Dh15,000 penalty.”

True, it does seem that water and shaded areas should be provided as a matter of course, but… hey, we’re talking about laborers here, which in Abu Dhabi seems to be a category sometimes unrelated to “people.”

So yeah. It’s hot. So hot that I bet even Cole Porter couldn’t make a song of it.

Continue Reading · on June 1, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, environment

Monday Listicles: (un)resolute

Well actually in Abu Dhabi, it’s Wednesday now, so I’m a tad off the mark in terms of the whole “Monday” thing.  Good thing I haven’t resolved to be more prompt this year; I’d hate to have blown it before the end of the first week of 2012.  Stasha and Theresa, from This Mountain Momma, have collaborated on a topic that seems utterly relevant: resolutions we have no intention of keeping, pretty much ever. Or at least not in this particular lifetime.


1. Give up cheese
I grew up in northern Illinois, where it’s not a meal unless a dairy product is involved.  If I gave up cheese I might starve.

2. Give up sunbathing
The damage has been done: hours and hours and days of baking in the sun, slathered in baby oil and sometimes holding a it foil-wrapped album cover under my face to make sure that every inch of me got baked (remember albums? So much more useful than a CD and way more useful than an MP3 file).  Now I live in perpetual summer– my only concession is a face cream with SPF.

3. Give up bread and bread-related products
I’d rather sell my children.

4. Stop spending so much time with this newfangled Internet thing.
But then who would I talk to?

5. Learn to meditate.
Love all that stillness and focus, concentrating only on the breath–was that a ding announcing a new message? Did someone comment on my last post? Do we need milk? More cheese?

6. Learn to scuba  dive.
Confession: the idea of being in all that water scares me. Plus did you see that movie? Plus sharks. Plus weird tentacly things.

7. Accept that the Kardashians deserve all the attention heaped on them by the media.
It would be easier to believe that the world is flat or that the Easter Bunny is real.

8. Learn to troubleshoot my own tech problems.
But if I did that, then what would Husband do for fun? He wouldn’t be able to mock me, or sigh in a long-suffering way, so for his sake, I will maintain my learned helplessness.

9. Give up my love affair with my iPhone & be friends with my little Nokia clamshell.
Ha! The new one–iPhone4S (I like to think of it as iPhone 4 Steve) is out finally in Abu Dhabi, so pretty much right after I write this post, I am hauling ass to Etisalat (the AD phone company) to get myself a new iPhone that will work here. Anyone have any suggestions for new apps?  And do we think that Siri will speak to me in Arabic?

10.  Stop making resolutions.
But I love lists! If I were brave, I’d make a list like Eden Kennedy (that’s the Fussy lady), and commit to loving everyone and tell the truth, but I think that is too much for me. How about I just resolve to stop yelling at my children. Or at least, I won’t yell at them on an hourly basis. How about once a day? That’s a resolution I might be able to keep.

Continue Reading · on January 4, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Monday Listicle, tech life

Liam gets a phone

Liam got a phone.  He’d wanted one since Christmas, when “everyone” got a phone.  Now he’s everyone too.

The phone is an old iphone that Husband de-razzle-dazzled: stripped all the apps, removed (or hid) the email function, installed a very limited call plan. He may also have installed a kid-tracking device, maybe an anti-candy-eating buzzer, maybe a few other iParenting apps, who knows?

Frankly, I’m still unclear as to why a fifth-grader needs a phone. Last time I checked, Liam doesn’t have a broker, a love interest, or even any friends who live outside a six-block radius (or who he doesn’t see every day at school).

But I confess: despite my misgivings, I gave in. “Everybody” won.  I was told (repeatedly) that everyone who didn’t get a phone at Christmas is getting one now, as fifth-grade graduation draws nearer, and I simply didn’t have the heart to be the bad cop.

We gave Liam the phone the night before I left for San Francisco—the third year in a row I have gotten it together to go away for an entire week by myself, and I had a wonderful time, but more on that later.   When we gave Liam the phone, he positively glowed, a little iHappy glow, and offered unprompted “thank yous.”

He was so happy, in fact, that I thought, “well, shit, we should just give in all the time.” I mean, there’s the solution to the mystery of how to have happy kids who love you, right? Just give them everything they ask for. Duh.

Off I went, cynically, to San Francisco, muttering to myself about kids and their damn expensive gadgets.  And of course, immediately as the plane landed, like any good iJunkie, I checked my phone (what? a contradiction? I’m checking my phone constantly because, you know, something really really important might have happened during the few hours I was in the air).

The only thing waiting for me on my phone was this:

The entire week I was away, Liam and I had a quiet little text conversation going: he texted me about his brother making him crazy (maybe even instead of yelling at his brother); he texted me about his day at school; he texted me good-night.  We had a whole new way to communicate.

You know? I’m thinking maybe I should get him the new white iPhone 4.

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Continue Reading · on May 31, 2011 in Children, family, growing up, tech life

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