Friday, July 30, 2010

cow bells

Another July and another procession of Scottish football teams making a strategic retreat from Europe. When I say 'strategic' I actually mean an embarrassing set of defeats. All of this before the respective European competitions formally begin and indeed, before the domestic football leagues begin in earnest.

Celtic crashed 3-0 to Braga whilst Hibs lost by the same scoreline to some random Eastern European team. With the 2nd leg still to come, it's seen fairly academic about what the final score will be. It will surely read 'Scottish teams progressing = 0, Scottish teams out = 2'. If this was a 'freak' occurance then perhaps you could cut the teams some slack. Sadly though, it isn't. It happens time and again. Why won't the SFA and Scottish Football League Admin blokes sort this out. Why are we not good enough to beat 2nd rate random teams? We damn well should be. For me, it's the timing of the games. It's July. It's pre-season, or at least it should be. It's not and we might as well get used to it. We should change the start of the league season. Bring it forward. Give the clubs a bit of competitiveness before they embark on European games. Training games are no way to get prepared from these games. Start the season earlier, and have a mid-season break in January.

Please, do something before it's too late. Before we lose the Champions League places; before the Europa Cup is a distant memory. We need to be playing in these competitions. Not the pre-qualifying competitions that start before the end of the season. For the love of god, can someone see sense and make that change.

For Hibs and Celtic, the season is essentially over by the 1st game of the season. Humbled by some seemingly diddy team.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ad hoc

Sometimes I despair at work, other times I'm quite content. This week has been one of those weeks that has had both extremes.

Let's start with despair first. It is often channeled at others be that people or entities. Take some of the guys who I've taught. They came to class but for whatever reason, failed the final test. That is bad enough. They were given another opportunity to retake the test a couple of months later. You would think that in the intervening time, they would have at least reviewed what was taught or perhaps even studied a bit. That would be the 'common sense' approach yet it seems some people have a common sense bypass. The outcome being that they fail again. And by more than before. You can lead them only so far but then they have to take responsibility for the rest of it. It's as if all that time and effort that has gone into teaching them and doing your best for them is in vain. Sometimes you just want to slap them or give them a boot up the ass but that would be assault in many countries. Then there are entities that really should be more organised or indeed on the ball. If you ask them to do something, then they should, in theory, get on and do it. But no. It's too easy. If you don't talk about it then hopefully the problem that requires to be 'fixed' might actually just go away and it seems that this is the policy that has been adopted. In other words, pull you're bloody finger out and get on with it. One week and counting.

On the flip side getting things done and others taking note of it is one of those things that makes me feel quite content. The implementation of level tests department wide is one such example, particularly when it has been the VP of the department in question that has been on the case. It's nice to be able to say 'look, this is how it's going to be'. Ok, I didn't exactly say those words but the meaning was the same. Honest. Also, another department VP is keen to meet up and discuss further English tests for use in his area. That was unexpected and will likely be a lot of extra work but if the word is out that I do a good job, then there will not be any complaints from me.

Of course, all this could come crashing down next week. I hope it doesn't.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Ho ho...91, 000 top secret files now in the public domain. Ouch. Some heads will roll after this one, no doubt. That's a lot of files. And there are another 15, 000 to come. Double ouch.

The subject: Afghanistan and the role played by the U.S. military and NATO.

It doesn't exactly paint the 'war' in rosy terms and indeed proves that us in the West are being fed a very sanitised version of events and proves also that things over there really aren't going all that well at all. But then, is that a big surprise? Of course not. The Russian's couldn't do anything there and made a hasty retreat. Then 'us' lot go in thinking we can do things better. Oh yes, we did 'better'. We are better at making a total arse of it. The Afghans don't want us there. The British public don't want us there either. Yet, millions or even billions of pounds are being used to fund the 'war'. The war for what? The irony - and it's not even funny - is that schools are having there budget's cut drastically, yet the money spent on this continues to flow. Yes, that's right. Let's 'fight' in a foreign country for no good reason and cut the spending on education and schools to fund it. Am I missing something here?

The files also suggest that the hunt for bin Laden, which apparantly had gone cold in 2003, isn't as cold as previously thought. It's alleged that he is in Quetta (or whatever it's called) in Pakistan. That's assuming that this bloke even exists.

What else?

Oh, the newbie Marines who had been in Afghanistan for 3 weeks. Their convey was travelling along the highway when it was hit by a suicide bomb or roadside bomb. One of the two. The Marines started firing their way out of it but shot at members of the public. Off the drove hastily leaving a scene of bullets, bullet holes and dead and injured people. They drove off at such speed that they hit and crashed into other cars etc on their way back to the base. Later that day the Marines return to the scene where they were met by photographers and other reporters trying to find out what happened. The photographers and reporters where told in no uncertain terms that they should delete all photos taken or they would find themselves deleted. The 'official' report does not report all of this, of course. Yet, the files do. Interesting.

Of course, it's hard to say what has happened and what hasn't. What is true or what is false. Who is to say. Indeed, who's to say who 'leaked' the files? Could it actually be an inside job or a disaffected employ of the government. It's very hard to say. Either way, it doesn't look good.

It's time to leave. There is nothing to be gained by staying. The neo-cons may disagree but enough is enough.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


So, Inception then.

A film by Christopher Nolan.

He's made some decent films in his time. Momento perhaps being the standout film with it's innovative method of telling it's story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order. It's a very strong film. Batman was also one of his and that is by no means a shabby film. I read somewhere that he could be the 'new' Kubrik. I'd say that was a bit fanciful at the moment. It could be argued that Kubrik made 6 or more classic films back to back. When he brought out a film, it was an event. Even his non-classic films are of a relatively high standard. I might even say Eye's Wide Shut wasn't that bad despite Tom Cruise being in it. The point being, Nolan isn't quite up there yet.

That said Inception is a strange beast. It's essentially a big budget summer movie but ones that doesn't melt your brain in its simplicity and reliance on CGI or the 'star'. It does have CGI but not for the sake of it and it does have a 'star' but it can't be described as simple. Far from it. Even now, there are aspects that spring up. How did he do that? Why did that happen? Is he still in limbo? Was it all a dream? Was it self inception? Too many questions, and for now, not enough answers. They may be answered on subsequent viewings but a sign of a good film is that you go back to it for whatever reason. It 'sticks' with you. This is one of them. I'm sure debate will rage for some time to come about it much like Kubrik's work. Everyone will have a theory or an idea on it. The irony being that there probably isn't anything 'hidden' within. Or is there. Or did I just dream that I had; a subliminal mass inception by the director perhaps?

Who can say.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I really do get angry by the likes of yesterday's post. It's injustice and I really can't fathom out how people or committees or governments come to the decisions that they. They certainly don't make decisions based on what's right and proper and even ethical. It's a total nonsense. History is littered with such examples however. The 'war' in wherever is perhaps the biggest cock-up going at the moment. Bad decision all round.

It's as if 'they' are swayed or influenced or just blind to many things that everyone else can see. Perhaps it's about 'protecting' people or whatever, I don't know but it's not right. Far from it. Yet, he we are just sitting and taking it. Not saying anything or doing anything about it. Simply making a comment here and there. It's sad to be honest. History will judge this generation and it will not be a nice judgment that will be made. It will be damning judgment on how incompetent we are. How we are selfish and how we pander to big business, money and the like and how easily influenced we are. Blind to everything that we are told. It's easy to deceive the masses. And that is the saddest bit.

I'd say we need a revolution of sorts but let's face it, that will never happen. Too many people don't really care about anything. No passion unless it's for fame and making money; getting famous and having 15 minutes in the limelight. Do people really care if some faceless policeman shoved a guy over? Do people really care that NATO kill innocent people whilst bombing a village in the arsehole of nowhere in Helmand province. Or the unseen correspondence that the Scottish government had with Westminster and the US over the release of the Pan-Am 'bomber' which seems to conflict with the official line? The list is endless, let's face it.

I do see that wikileaks is trying to open peoples eyes to what's going on in places that some many not want people to look. In some ways that's good. I'm not sure I would necessarily believe everything I read on that website but the fact that it's bring attention to itself can only be a good thing. Perhaps people might actually say 'oh, hold on a minute I don't like the sound of that'. I believe a lot of new information might be appearing on that website in due course. Let's see what the fall out of that will be. Probably not much but you can but hope.

Friday, July 23, 2010


So, earlier this year (or was it last year?) there was a G20 protest in London. That seems par for the course when the G20 meet. On the day of the protest, the police were out in force and essentially in riot gear despite the protesters being relatively well behaved. Along came a middle aged Londoner on his way home from work. He was a protester, just a guy on his way home who was walking past a row of policeman. He had his hands in his pockets, had his back to police and was actually walking away from the police. Suddenly, one of the policemen lunged at the middle aged guy, hit him on the leg and then inexplicably shoved him to the ground. The middle aged guy was sent flying and because his hands were in his pockets, couldn't break his fall with his hands or arms. Instead, he essentially landed on his head. He was shaken and dazed by the fall. After about 5 minutes or something he was able to get up and continue on his way home. On his way home, less than 10 minutes later, he was dead. A heart attack which may well have been brought on by the events 15 minutes earlier.

All of this was caught on camera and photographed. The film and photos have been splashed all over the media. It would appear that the evidence is compelling. There can be no doubt that the policeman has shoved him. No doubt whatsoever. In any country it is an assault. With the events of what happened later, in some countries that is murder or at least, manslaughter.

The film can be seen here.

Yet, the Police authority yesterday decreed that there was no case to answer. The policeman who committed the 'act' will not have to face any criminal charges. None. Nada. Zero.

Had that been you or I, we would be in prison awaiting trial; that much is true. It is a complete nonsense. It's an absolute disgrace. How can the police authority justify that there is no case to answer? Don't their eyes work? Or is there something more to this? Cover-up perhaps? Protecting their own? Who can say, but it stinks. Completely and utterly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Mojito's. Not a big fan, and not particularly I would think of ordering in a bar. But, when in Rome...

Or Dubai as it happens. We have a big hotel complex relatively close to us and in it are a few bars, restaurants and clubs. There is one particular place called Warehouse and I get a whopping 40% discount in it. Nice. Only, last Friday, I didn't get any discount. The reason was that each Friday afternoon they have this mojito brunch for 3 hours. Essentially, there is unlimited mojito's along with select beers, wines and spirits. Oh yes, and 3 different courses of food should you need any. Again, the food is unlimited. I'm not sure how I feel about the 'unlimited' nature of it. It doesn't really feel right to be doing that. Gorging yourself when the people that are serving you are paid, well, I don't know, but it won't be much.

But, in we went bang on 1pm. It seemed like everyone had totally gotten dressed up for the occasion. We sat at our table and we were immediately given a mojito and the menu. And off we went. A little bit of food, a glass of 'whatever'. Repeat until 3.30pm.

By 5pm it was time to go home. The alternative was to stay and take advantage of the happy hour which lasted for 3 hours. No thank you. Enough was enough. Sometimes you just have to know your limits. Besides, it was roasting hot and bright sunshine. And Dubai were you can certainly get arrested for being under the influence. Thankfully, being 10 minutes from home has it's advantages.

Needless to say the rest of Friday was a bit of a write off. We should have a. stayed out until late or b. not bothered going in the first place. Option B would have been harsh however. It was an eyeopener and at least I can now say 'i did that'.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I might have to start back on the old fitness regime. I've 13 months until the 'biggest' of 'big days' and one must look as good as he can even if he isn't blessed with the looks of a . I don't mean that I'll be sweating blood up at the gym every single night of the week. I don't even think I'll manage 3 days a week but you have to start somewhere. 13 months is surely enough time to get some kind of results. 

I'll start slowly. Sit-ups are a must. Push-ups too. There are dumb-bells upstairs at the gym, so I can do arm curls and bicep thingys. Next up would be lunges which I don't like that much but it works the legs. In addition to that, I think squats would be good too. I might top everything off by either 30 minutes of treadmill or 30 minutes cycling. I think I prefer cycling to be honest. I can read at the same time and if I read, then the time passes much faster and that is definitely a good thing. Then, it will be a case of a big stretch at the end. Twice a week may do. Twice a week but with a view to increasing the number of reps done. Yep, that's the way forward. This time, I should keep a note of it just to see where I am at as I have tended not to do that. Also, I'm not all that concern about lifting weights. I can't be bothered with that at the moment. That's not to say that I won't, it's just not a priority.

That all means that I've got 2 more weeks of being a lazy ass. Half the battle is getting the idea and starting. I will start. Definitely, 100%. Hardcore.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


There's a place in Dubai called Karama. It's basically just a large neighbourhood in the middle of the city. It's relatively old by Dubaian standards, dating from the late 70's early 80's I would have thought. I guess it could be argued it was and is were alot of people from the Indian sub-continent live. Due to this, there are a huge amount of fantastic curry houses which are very cheap indeed. Not only that but the food they serve - hmmm, lovely!

Not only that, but in Karama there are a huge amount of shops that basically sell 'genuine fake' stuff. Almost anything though it's more well known for handbags and watches. I'd heard about them but had never actually been. Until now. It's quite an eye opener.

One of the shops we were in was recommended to us. The 'stuff' we were looking for wasn't on the shelves so the lady asked for a certain type of handbag. The assistant asked us to follow him, which we did. He then took us out the shop, to another shop. Then upstairs in this shop. Instead of turning left to go to the stock on the 2nd floor, we turned right into the storeroom. Then, when we were in the store, we went to the back of it. It just looked like rows of shelves again until the assistant pulled the shelves back to reveal a concealed door. When I saw door, I mean a door that was about 2 foot thick!

We then went through the door into a small room. The room was jam packed with fake handbags. All sorts; from Chanel to Mulberry to, well, everything! It was all a bit weird to be honest. I made sure that I still had a signal on my phone, just in case things went awry. But, thankfully, it didn't. We had a look, decided we didn't want anything and then left. Unscathed.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Oh the joys of teaching.

I've had it before and no doubt I'll have it again.

Yes, it's the wailing calls of students who want me to 'help' them with their test results. How exactly can I 'help' them with their tests if the tests have already been completed? As I tell them, I only mark them. If their answer matches with the one I have in my marking guide, then they score points. If it doesn't then they don't score at all. It's relatively straightforward and it was purposely done like this so that everything is either right or wrong. There are no grey areas. Right or wrong only.

Yet, it doesn't stop the wailing.

This one guy took my test. It's quite an advanced level test. He was sitting it with a bunch of other guys. Essentially they are taking the test to see who can be considered for a promotion. Those who pass move to the next stage,; those who do not, do not. I can see that it is an important test and people want to do well. But, if they can't then that's a definite shame. Not everyone will pass and that's just a fact. The 'only' thing that I can do is suggest taking one of the English courses that we run. If they take the course, they have a chance of passing the test some time down the line. What I certainly won't do is pass someone because they nag me to pass them, particularly if they are some way short of passing anyway.

That said, it doesn't make it any easier telling people that they aren't currently good enough. It comes with the territory though.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


...and that is it for another 4 years. I don't really want to think much about how the next 4 years will evolve at the moment. All I will say is that in 4 years, it's Brazil's turn.

Spain won then. They were favourites but when do the favourites ever win? Not all that often. Indeed, after their 1st game, it didn't look likely that they would go all the way. They did though. Some might argue that consecutive 1-0 wins in the knock out stages does not mark out a great team. True. If it was purely on goals and entertainment value then perhaps Germany would have won within the first 2 weeks of the tournament. I guess the statistics don't give the whole story.

I was surprised that Holland got to the final. They were unbeaten but not many people seemed to fancy them. Perhaps even themselves! However, they essentially disgraced themselves in the final.

The final should be all about grace and skill and goals and perhaps a modicum of entertainment; after all football is entertainment. Spain tried to entertain. Holland did not. They were cynical, dirty and disruptive. They came to stifle and to kick and the performed the role perfectly. It's a far cry from Total Football and indeed, I'm sure Rinus Michels will be spinning in his grave after that. It wasn't pretty and I'm happy they didn't win. The yellow card count pretty much says it all. How on earth the referee managed to keep all 11 players on the field for as long as he did is remarkable. Needless to say, the Dutch blame the referee. Of course they do. But, the referee was more than fair and actually did what he could. De Jong should have had a straight red for that king-fu kick. Van Bommel should have been booked purely for being on the field in the first place. It's disappointing that they felt they had to employ those tactics and 'justice' has been served. It seems that this World Cup was the World Cup of negative tactics. I guess clubs have tended towards that recently and it should come as no big surprise that national teams have gone down the same path. It would be nice to thing that a small 'revolution' may happen and teams actually play to win and score. Who knows.

As for Spain, well, what can you say? They have certainly shed the great underachiever tag and passed that particular moniker onto England. They have the players to dominate for some while yet and I bet Real Madrid feel somewhat stupid at firing Del Bosque after he won the league and Champions League for them. But, their loss was Spain's gain.

...and no words about the octopus because I ate it.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Holy smoke batman.
There was a report on the Beeb that suggested a giant squid caught in the south Atlantic, near the Falkland Islands, had a 'member' as long as it's body!

When I say, 'member', I mean it's organ, you know, the one that it reproduces with.

That is incredible.

I'm certainly no expert on this kind of thing and nor would I want to be but I would hazard a guess that it would be the biggest 'member' of any animal in the world. It must be a bit of a bane having something of that length, particularly in the sea as it would cause a lot of drag and perhaps slow you down. In saying that, I'm not sure giant squids have many natural predators that it would have to quickly swim away from. Anyway, it's big.

This was a public service announcement.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Seemingly we get a day off on the 9th July as it's the Prophet's birthday (or similiar). It'll be the 1st national holiday for a while, unlike the U.K where there are days off all the time. O.K maybe not but more than here. Anyway, it falls on a Friday which means we are not at work as it's the weekend. Generally, if that is the case we would get the day before or the day after off. To further complicate things, you don't actually know which day you'll get off until literally the day before which is totally pants because you can't go and organise anything because you don't know when you're off. So take this upcoming holiday we could have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off or Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. Either way, it's a long weekend. But even still...

In the end we only got notification of this yesterday: we're off on Sunday!

I'm not complaining though. A day off is a day off. Even if it is 48C and way too hot to be stepping out for anything but essential reasons.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Holland make the World Cup final. Not sure I thought that would be possible and I don't recall many people suggesting that it would be the case. But, they are unbeaten all year and indeed were unbeaten throughout the qualifying stages /but were lucky to beat Scotland!/. I had a feeling prior to the Brazil game that they would win and they did. Can they win it though? That is the question. They should have won back to back World Cup's in the 70's, particularly in '78 when the military junta in Argentina essentially decided that they would win it. They have generally been there or thereabouts ever since. Whether or not they will win it is not clear as the 2 teams in the other Semi are strong. Very strong. Spain were the favourites going into the tournament and in many ways remain so. The burden of expectation has perhaps been weighing them down. The same can't be said of Germany who are playing with carefree abandon. They have impressed with there quick movement of the ball forward. It's hard to play against such quick counterattacking and it has served them very well up until now. I can't predict who will win that game. It really is too close.

As for the final, who knows! Let's hope for a decent game with a couple of goals. That might be unlikely but we can but dream.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Well, it's been a while. Mostly self inflicted it must be said. In a nutshell, I've moved apartment which isn't easy at the best of times. It's not really something that I enjoy but needs must. I've not moved far, in fact, I've moved 1 floor up! The building is excellent but between you and me, I was being overcharged for it so decided enough was enough.

This new place is nicer and bigger and most importantly cheaper.

There has been a big hoo-haa leaving one apartment and going to another but everything seems to have worked out. It was pretty stressful actually. But, I have the keys and have moved everything. The electricity is connected, the Tv works as does the air-conditioning. It took a while to get the wi-fi connection up and running but finally, today it was turned on.

With this new place being a bit bigger, new furniture will need to be bought. The essentials are here but there are definitely other things that would be good. Curtains and blinds being the main thing given that the whole of the living room is windowed up!

All in good time though.