The Normans in North America!

Still Living the Adventure

Good idea/Bad idea February 8, 2010

Filed under: Life in NA — kgnorman @ 11:19 AM

Good idea: watching the Super Bowl

Bad idea: watching the Super Bowl live when you’re 5 time zones ahead of the game, forcing you to be up until 3 AM. Not a great way to start the work week.



Driver’s Ed pt 2 January 28, 2010

Filed under: Life in NA — kgnorman @ 10:29 AM

Note:  running red lights at 6 AM is not the same as trying to catch a yellow light in rush hour with policemen watching…

I had a nice chat with Casablanca’s finest yesterday.  This is one situation where it helps to be an English-only speaker, as the officers are quick to become impatient trying to communicate in English (my Arabic is no where near able to argue about traffic violations).  The two men asked for my papers and managed to say “drive through red light” and “ticket 4oo dH” ($50 in USA).  I told them that I saw a yellow light and was very sorry.  They were insistent that I pay the 400 dH ticket to them in cash on the spot (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like — bribes are commonplace here).  If I spoke more Arabic or French they would have probably continued arguing and lowering their “price” until I got sick of waiting and paid the bribe.  I continued to ask for the written ticket (which they don’t like to write because it means more work for them), stating that if I ran the red light I’ll happily accept my punishment.  Luckily, they asked where I work — upon hearing the name of the school, they gave me back my papers and sent me on my way!  Needless to say it is extremely convenient to work for such a reputable institution.

Here’s a picture (from Google image search) of a couple Moroccan officers:

I've heard that many carry guns with no bullets. I believe it.


Driver’s Ed January 21, 2010

Filed under: Language,Life in NA — kgnorman @ 11:19 AM

Not one of my pictures.

Confession — I ran 5 red lights on the way to work today.  Yes, 5, FIVE.  Of the 7 lights I encounter on the 10 km route from our apartment to the school, I went through 5 of them when the light was red.

Now before you judge me, I should tell you that my behavior is more the rule than the exception.  When you’re driving down empty streets and watching all the other drivers ignoring red lights, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain your resolve to follow the letter of the law.  The judgement you feel in your heart may actually be jealousy because you know you’ll never experience the excitement of free-for-all traffic conditions.  Dodging mopeds, buses, cattle, and sheep keeps you on your toes and provide a real adrenaline rush! (Note: none of the previously listed obstacles are present during red-lights-are-optional hours)

Here’s my standing offer: if you come visit us, I’ll happily let you drive our car through a dozen red lights.


And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire… January 7, 2010

Filed under: Life in NA,Random Pictures — kgnorman @ 9:45 AM

Every once in a while I use something that makes me want to shake the hand of the person who invented it and personally thank them.  Whoever thought of the charcoal chimney is one smart cookie.  My improvised rendition of it worked marvelously.  We didn’t even burn the building down!

Check it out…

My fire-department-employed-brother-in-law is probably very nervous at this point...

Now those coals are ready for some grilling. Love it!

These marinated chicken legs can take the heat


Come on baby, light my fire January 6, 2010

Filed under: Life in NA,Random Pictures — kgnorman @ 4:47 PM

I tried to use our grill this week to make some dynamite teriyaki kabobs.  After spending a while (maybe 40 minutes) getting the coals to light, it was obvious that I wouldn’t actually be cooking them very quickly, so I had to abandon the grill for the broiler.  However, I do not go down without a fight.

Thus, I endeavored to build a homemade charcoal chimney.  It’s a little frankenstein-ish, but I’m pretty sure it’ll get the job done.  I really wanted to find some metal ducting, as that would have been easier to start with — alas, all I could find was sheet metal.  Oh well, function over form, right?   I’m curious as to how everyone else in this country lights their charcoal, since I haven’t seen any lighter fluid anywhere.

I’ll try to remember to report back on how it works tonight 🙂

Sheet metal and tin snips are a bad combination...

All-thread is handy stuff!

Do we really need a 3rd picture of this thing? Yes, yes we do.


Experimenting with hair clippers December 15, 2009

Filed under: Life in NA,Misc — kgnorman @ 7:39 AM

Over the years, I’ve met a good number of guys who cut their own hair.  I decided that I want to be one of those guys.  Thus, below you have my first attempt 🙂

There were a few stops on the way from start to finish, as I tried different methods/hair lengths.  Suffice it to say that we’ll keep practicing before we land with a haircut other than the one pictured below.

This doesn't look promising. There is only one way this can end...

At least it saves me time in the morning! We'll keep trying on the facial hair to get some of those years back.


Posting at home!!! October 11, 2009

Filed under: Blog Admin,Life in NA — kgnorman @ 9:15 PM

Well, we’re finally connected, no thanks to our ADSL provider. I decided to take matters into our own hands and try out a 3G internet service provided by one of the cell companies. So far we’re having decent results, though it’s obviously optimized for downstream (sometimes 2 Mb/s vs. 30 kb/s for upstream), which makes it difficult to do any video chatting. We’ll take what we can get at this point!

Once again, sorry for the lack of posting recently — I had my first bout of sickness this week (I’ve now thrown up here before Keely, which is saying something given her, um, condition). I missed a day and a half of work and that put the rest of week in turbo mode.

One happy thing to share is that we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat today!!! One of the women in our church group is a former OB nurse and has a portable Doppler fetal monitor; we tried a few weeks ago with no success, but today we heard it loud and clear! It was a pretty special moment, as I’m sure all those who’ve been in our shoes can attest.