Fall Season Kicks Off in Middle East Conference with Navy vs. Syria State

cruise_missile_launch_navy_photoI envy my Texas Orangeblood brethren waiting for the fall season’s action to commence today. Here in Jordan we await the season opener in the Middle East Conference. We have heavily favored visiting (US) Navy up against Syria State in a still unscheduled match. Returning starter Tom A. Hawk Cruise will lead Navy’s quick firing “missile offense” against Syria State’s outmatched defense, though Head Coach Assad promises a “graveyard” for the visiting team. Navy’s “CEO” Coach Obama counters that injuries should be slight since Cruise and his teammates will be heavily armored, in fact aren’t even human, and they will disintegrate each time they score. Air Force, Army and Marines might follow Navy in future matches, all against hapless Syria State, which for curious reasons is decimating its own fan base. Meanwhile, Great Britain has decided to leave the conference, possibly to be replaced by France (of all teams) in a surprise move. Other match-ups in the conference include the longstanding Israel-Palestine rivalry series (which Israel leads 100 to 0), Egypt Army versus Muslim Brotherhood, and Iraqi Shiites versus Sunnites, where action has already ensued with more fireworks in store. TV deals are solid for the conference with non-stop global coverage provided by CNN, Al Jazeera and every major network in the planet. Syria State has landed a major equipment and sponsorship deal with Russia and won endorsements from China but it remains to be seen if this will assist its campaign this fall. Osama Bin Laden will not be returning for Al Qaeda (ever) but the squad promises a bevy of fresh recruits following this season’s kickoff. Hook ’em from Amman.longhorn logo

Where’s the Turkey (as in Texas A&M)?

Texas-TCU Pregame, Thanksgiving Classic

It’s Thanksgiving morning here in Amman and we will feast on turkey, all the trimmings, and whip cream topped pumpkin pie later in the day like every red-blooded, corpulent American, and in fact, we’ll repeat the food orgy the day after Thanksgiving, this time deep-fried turkey with all the trimmings, fried up by a Houstonian oil man friend of ours here in Amman who will be introducing non-Americans to the pleasures we enjoy before arteriosclerosis onset. Twenty thousand calories and depth-chart testing fat loads later, I will be in touch with my lean friend W.E. about his weight loss program. To offset in a minor way, I’m planning a turkey trot a bit later in the day in our neighborhood hills of still warm Amman, before the food kickoff begins in earnest!Sadly, though, I will not be able to witness the real kickoffs of Thanksgiving weekend college football classics like USC-Notre Dame, Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, Texas-TCU…wait, is that the Horned Frogs, not our beloved Aggies? No collie barking and peeing on the sidelines, no corps turds goose-stepping at midfield to the tune of the Patton theme song, no crew-cut gay guys in ice cream outfits leading the knee-hugging 13th man in schoolboy cheers? C’mon amigos, say it, you miss ‘em, you really, really do. Now TCU ain’t bad, perhaps not Sammy Baugh-good or the spoilers that they were in the early days of DKR’s career, but the Frogs are worthy, to be sure, and like Willie says, they have the potential to derail the four-game streak that has emerged from the still too memorable consummate ass-whupping the Horns took in Dallas in mid-October, witnessed live in Jordan. You’re right, W.E., the jury’s still out, on the coaching staff in particular. Two games to go, then maybe, Inshallah, a bowl game where we get the opponent you don’t want but c’mon, just for old times’ sake and a story line  we see Johnny Football and his resurgent College Station brethren clashing with an old friend. Happy hookin’ to all this Thanksgiving Day, and let’s win in Austin today.

Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog

Down and out in the Tenderloin, a Longhorn lament

I just got in from a few days in San Francisco. I observed the World Series victory parade for the Giants, million fans lining Market Street, wearing orange and black on Halloween Day in a highly festive atmosphere. It made me think that it might be a while before the Horns fans don the burnt orange on Guadalupe celebrating another national championship. Since that fine post-Rose Bowl day in early January 2006, we had some good seasons with ‘ol Colt and gang, but look at the situ now. Vince Young is no longer in the NFL and the Horns are no longer a BCS threat, it’s been a hullava long time since we whupped a ranked team, and meanwhile, we’ve been whupped plenty good by many teams that love to hate Texas. It’s been good times for them and Horns haters everywhere. Yeah, it’s a bit maudlin, I know, but the fortuneteller I consulted in the Tenderloin in Ess Eff said it wasn’t looking good for the boys and pointed me in the direction of a crack dealer hanging out on

Sutter and Hyde. I opted to go the Ace’s bar instead, downed about ten chilled Tecates with lime, and felt better for it.

¡Chief of Party!

“Chief of Party”, amigos, is the position that all expat aid workers covet, at least
among those who do real development work with funding, as opposed to those underpaid dusty guerilla types who rattle around in C-130’s with flour sacks doing relief work, the work of God. Yeah, someone has to do it, but the quicker those cargo-panted pudnockers get out of the way the better. Enter the Chief of Party to get the development job done.

COP intrepidly wades in through red tape to save the natives and achieve sustainable development.

The Chief of Party (COP) is the emissary of development, leader of the mission, the all-powerful director of USAID projects with funding in the gazillions, commanding a staff
numbering anywhere from 25 to hundreds, the blessed one who is served tea first
and most frequently in the office. Never mind that the COP has the signing
authority of a dachshund. It’s the image and the allowances that count. Illusions
aside, what the COP really does is battle with the ever-meddling “home office”.
Every field commander throughout history can attest to it. Alexander the Great
and Genghis Khan were probably the last field directors in recorded times that
didn’t have to put up with a pain-in-the-arse HQ because they were the ones in charge. Whether it’s the Pentagon or your beloved development consulting firm HQ in Washington or its fabled ‘burbs, it’s no matter, they want to hold “their man or woman in the field” by the short and curlies, primarily due to concerns over “compliance”. They’ve watched in horror as the Office of the Inspector General sent a few unlucky fellow firms in the development aid industrial complex to the gallows, hooded and swinging slowly
in the wind, simply due to non-compliance, the evil of all evils within
the bureaucratic realm. By Gawd, it won’t happen to them, not on their watch! The unschooled younger expat aid worker (EAW) or bushy tailed project assistant at HQ who aspires to the field may see the storied COP as the master planner and director of all “technical” activities, the diffuser of innovation. The stark reality is the poor wanker spends most of

As HQ wants it…

his or her time “dotting the ‘I’s’ and “crossing the ‘T’s’” in contract “documentation”,
going through interminable rounds of combat with HQ to reach compliant nirvana and to get a bloody VP to sign on the bottom line of a paltry value contract to
get a few development thingies done. Best not to complain though, just salute
the snapping corporate flag, and continue to comply, as the illustration at right depicts…

To be sure, it’s a great title, Chief of Party. Who wouldn’t want that one? Anyhow, the home office thinks the COP is busy stirring pink gin and tonics just about
all the time, living high off the hog with all those tasty but taxable
allowances. You might as well comply with the image, folks. Where’s dinner
tonight? Be sure to serve the toddies with ice please, shaken, or stirred…it
really doesn’t matter, because life is hell in the tropics, sniffs the
ruddy-faced COP, dreaming of retirement in a villa in Phuket, with daily
massage scheduled at noon (not a minute before). Now that’s compliance…

Chief of Party, the toast of the aid world!