Sunday, October 31, 2010


Watched a few films lately. Not earth shatteringly good ones but some that I've not seen for ages or even at all. Of all the films, there seem to be a number that contain Ben Stiller which is quite surprising. Granted, he has been in a few stinkers - Along came Polly for example but you could argue that some of the funniest * films over the past 10 years or so have him in them to some degree or another.

* Funny in a relative sense!

Of course, There is something about Mary is up there. Not just the 'hair gel' incident but the whole 'zip' part is seriously funny. I defy any guy to watch it and not flinch to some degree. The hitchhiker part is great as well. Dodgeball was never going to win an oscar but there are parts in that which are certainly a joy.

Anyway, enough about him. Alice in Wonderland, whilst looking fantastic, wasn't all that great. Disappointing I felt. It was similar to bloomin' The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe with for goodness sake. Superbad was good in patches but a bit too long. Kick Ass started off really well but then suddenly turned seriously dark and violent. Very unexpected indeed. La Vien Rose - the Edith Piaf biopic was excellent. It has quite an unusual structure and at times it can be a bit confusing because you're not exactly sure who is who but certainly, it was worth its oscar for best actress. She was fantastic. Eh, Loch Ness. Hm. Interesting. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be believe it or not. Oh, and Angels and Demons. Ewan McGregor wasn't all that bad. Not sure he was cast correctly but he was OK...and from Northern Ireland?! Dare I say it, this film was better than Da Vinci. I'm not sure I'm a fan of Ron Howard films. The end of the film in which Ewan 'saves' the day in a helicopter wasn't the most realistic but there you go.

Next up, Chocolat.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


So, was at the beach. Yes, the beach, in October.

It was quite nice. For a time. Not too hot, a little cloudy and a big parasol to hot the sun a bit. I even when in the water and it was niiice. Clear as well. But, then all of a sudden it got seriously windy, literally, within 2 minutes, there was sand everywhere and the afore mentioned parasol wouldn't stay up. The sea got all choppy and it was not longer clear. How did that all happen?

I was not very pleased about that. In fact, I'm still covered in sand. I don't like that feeling. And that is after having a shower. I might have even got a little bit of colour. Not too much and definitely not 'red' as I often get. In fact, I have a tan line. Actually, I have more than one but that is to be expected.

Speaking of tan lines, there were 2 women prancing up and down the beach. No big surprise that, however, they were wearing g-strings. In Dubai. In a muslim country. On the beach. In daylight hours. Let me say, that it appeared that it may not have been the 1st time in a g-string bikini - no pale white colour to be see. Apparently.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Another day, another 'terror' alert. Well, it actually was. And quite a big one at that. No death or destruction but there could have been. There was definite intent.

This time, it came from Yemen which isn't all that far away from here. Should I be worried?

Not sure of the full details at the moment but it seems that 2 packages were posted in Yemen and addressed to some places in the U.S. Qatar Air took the packages as cargo and flew them to Doha, then to Dubai. When they got to Dubai, they were transferred to UPS and FedEx who have big operations at the International Airport. One of the packages was detected in Dubai whilst the other was flown to the U.K via Germany. It was detected once it landed in the U.K.

First, the 'Dubai' aspect. It seems that cargo packages are less stringently monitored compared to passengers. That surprises me because there is this big, massive manual called 'Dangerous Goods' that all airlines have to be aware of. It's over a 1,000 pages of items that are, well, dangerous goods that can and can't be put on a plane. Most of these items are cargo. So, why they are not more closely monitored is a bit of a mystery. Anyway, Dubai Police did something! That'll be a first. Well done boys, you did a good job. Between 3pm and 5pm at the cargo 'end' of the airport, police swarmed all over it. They were checking everyone's driving licence, ID, car, everything. It must have kicked off around then but not announced 'til later. The device was hidden in a toner cartridge. Hardcore!

Secondly, the 'U.K.' aspect. Hmm not sure.

Thirdly, the Emirates aspect. The Emirates flight to JFK was thought to have a package from Yemen on it. The Americans weren't overly impressed and the flight was intercepted by fighter jets and taken to JFK where it landed and was found to be OK. I would have kakked my pants had I been on that flight and I had seen 2 fighter jets escorting the flight to the airport.

Now, the companies that were targeted were UPS and FedEx. Both American. If you recall, an UPS 747 cargo plane crashed here in Dubai during the summer because, something caught fire on it. Coincidence? Hmm, not sure is the answer to that one.

Anyway, what's Yemen and it's people upto now. Is that another country to add to the list? Who can say. Either way, it's not looking good not only for them but for cargo companies and the searches that they should be doing.

In a related though, I wonder how long it would take to drive home to Scotland? I mean, it's 100% safe to fly these days. If I take a boat, I might encounter 'pirates' in the Indian Ocean. It's too far to cycle. There are no trains here. The only choice, is to drive. Might have to investigate that one!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I don't always believe a lot of what I read in the newspapers or whatever they have morphed into these days. As recipe books often say 'Take 1 table spoon of salt...' I do. And often a lot more besides. Misinformation and down right lies are my primary thoughts on what I read. It could also be said that the majority of people are 'played' by the news. News items are spun. People write what they want you to believe. Often now, people and/or organisations have agendas that may or may not be obvious. You have to be careful with everything these days.

That said, I did come across this. Essentially, it's an article about the 'Tea Party'. Yes, that political groundswell in the good old, U S of A. Even prior to reading the article, I had the impression that something wasn't quite right about this Tea Party. It seemed excessively right-wing and the public faces seemed to be 'somewhat' ill informed about some very important points. For instance, the American constitution whereby it states something along the lines of the state and religion will be 2 separate entities and not one and the same. It seemed that they were growing in popularity and could well do well in the upcoming mid-terms over there.

Anyway, the article 'exposing' them can be found right about here.

In keeping with what I said above, I don't always believe everything and that remains. Some of the things mentioned in the article however, are, well, scary. Let's not put too fine a point on it. Indeed, we might well be praying for George W to come back. And that is saying something.

Are people being manipulated and played by it? More than likely. The thing is, they probably don't even know it. Sometimes I wonder who the real bad guys are. The faceless ones that are far, far away or the ones closer to 'home'? It's hard to say. I think we might say that capitalism isn't working. Hell, I might extend that to say that 'democracy' isn't working. But that is a thought for another day.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Human after all. Kind of.

How cool would it be if you were at a Phoenix concert, when suddenly Daft Punk appeared and cracked on with 'Harder/Better/Faster/Stronger' then 'All Around the World'?

It would be very cool. Cool enough to wet your pants, I would have thought. And yes, it did happen. Here's the proof...

Daft Punk and Phoenix. Together. On Stage. Live.

This is itself is fantastic. You pay to see one, but you get another as well.

This kind of got me thinking as well. Who else would I love to appear as a 'special guest' if I were attending another bands concert. Like I ever go to concerts. Anyway, we can but dream. But for such a thing to happen, wouldn't each band need to be similiar in terms of the music they play? I'm not sure about that. Wouldn't they need to be 'on friendly terms' which would certainly mean that there is little chance of the Manic Street Preachers appearing during a Radiohead concert for example.

Ok, first and in the same kind of thing, I would like to see Justice and then a special appearance by Daft Punk. Yes, yes, I know. But, the reason for it would be to see if Justice and Daft Punk are actually different bands and not just the same people, rebooted, so to speak.

I'd also very much like to see LCD Soundsystem and the Juan MacLean together. It would be quite cool to see Hot CHip play with LCD also. I would secretly like LCD to play with the Rapture circa 2006 but I suspect that they aren't 'on friendly terms'.

Right, I suspect I've not really thought all this through very well. I might have to retire and collect my thoughts on this. More to follow. I think.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Fog. And lots of it. Heaps even.

Generally, in Dubai you get 2 types of weather. Very hot or just hot. There really isn't much else. The sun shines all day, everyday. It might be hazy at times, but the sun is out on a daily basis. It's predictable. However, we had fog. Yes, I know it really isn't all that newsworthy at all. Not in the slightest. But it is for us lot here. It enveloped the city in the wee small hours and stayed until mid-morning. It made everything really quiet. Eerily so. Yet, the prayer call still managed to be as loud as ever. I would like to say that driving in it was 'fun' but given that most drivers do not experience this kind of weather, they really don't have any great idea on how to drive in it. Most people would slow down. Not here. Most people would turn their lights on. Not here. Most people would leave a larger than normal gap between cars. Again, not here. Fools. The lot of them. Thankfully, I don't need to drive all that far so it's not a big issue. I do wonder how many accidents happened during the fog. I suspect the number went up. What am I saying? 'Suspect' - damn, I'd put a million pounds* on it definitely going up.

* please note, I don't actually have a million pounds!

No doubt the sun will be out tomorrow as normal. Wonderful.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Going home on holiday on the 13th December for 2 weeks!

Yes, that's the big news. Well, it's big news for me at least. Two weeks on coldness, perhaps even a bit of snow. But it'll be 2 weeks away from work and 2 weeks away from Dubai. It can't all be bad. I've not been 'home' since March, so it'll be interesting to see how things are back in Edinburgh. I suspect that very little will have changed but when does it ever. Still, I'll have Christmas there which will be good. I won't be there for New Year however. Back in Dubai for that. In fact, I've not had a New Year in Dubai yet. I wonder what that'll be like? I can't imagine that there will be drunkards of all ages on the street hankering for snogs. Instead, any activity like that is likely to be punishable by, well, who knows. A definite trip to the police station, that's for sure. I do hope that we don't need to go to work on the 1st. I'd better check to see if it's a 'working' day or not. Surely, they won't get us in then. That would be crap.

Anyway, 8 weeks to go.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


At work, I've been asked to audit a selection of training materials which have been made by some of my colleagues. I have a week to audit the training manual and all subsequent materials that both the teacher and the student will get. The training manuals themselves aren't all willy-nilly. In fact, we have a set template which everyone is meant to use. It standardises everything which is good and bad. But, that is what we do in our department. Essentially, I needed to go through everything, compare it with the standard and report any issues with it. I hoped that it wouldn't take long and that the training manual I was assigned would be fine, with only small, superficial changes to be made.

How wrong was I?

It was murder. The manual was murder. The spelling, grammar, formatting, everything was very poor. I couldn't believe it. It spent hours and hours trying to audit it. I got so frustrated with it that I just wanted to throw it in the bin. I couldn't believe that there were so many deviations from the template. Horrible. Finally, after a week of spending at least 10 hours on it, I was able to compile a list of things that needed 'fixed'. 14 pages of them. Yikes.

And the best bit?

I get to do the same thing with another training manual next week.

Sunday, October 10, 2010



No, not an international dialing code. A formation. Seemingly. That would read: 4 defenders, 6 midfielders and 0 forwards.

Yes, it is the new, radical, formation that Scotland played yesterday against the Czech Republic. It's so radical that no Scottish team before it has played it. Not only that, but I do not recall another international team or other team full stop playing it. Has it come to this? No forwards on the park. Not even the worst footballing nations in the world play like that. To make matters worse, Craig Levein, the manager, dropped Miller who has scored 10 goals this season and was due to make his 50th appearance for Scotland. In his 'place' was some guy who had never played for Scotland and is playing in the 2nd tier in England. Untested, would be a nice way of putting it.

In the end, we lost. 1-0. That isn't 'bad' per se since it was in Prague but the manner of the defeat makes it hard to take. No strikes on goal. Nothing going forward at all. A joke. How can we win games if we don't go forward? How can we win games if we don't even cross the halfway line. I can't fathom it. No strikers?

The only thing that would even set a precedence for this would be the 'false number 9' employed by Manchester Utd. a few seasons ago when they won the league. They didn't actually play with an out and out striker that could be classed as a true 'number 9'. Yes, they had Tevez. Yes, they had Rooney and yes, they had Ronaldo but they were not played in the strikers position. Instead, all 3 were essentially interchangeable with Ronaldo playing on the wing and cutting in or Rooney doing the same thing. That though left the other 2 to get into positions to score and score they did. They won the league!

The only commonality between Scotland and that particular Manchester United team would be Darren Fletcher. Other than that, there is no link. Not one. We were crap and now we are not even likely to get a shot on target. It seems now that the win over Leitchenstein was a fluke. Next up, Spain. Only the world champions. God help us.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


I don't like lateness.

I try to be on time if I'm meeting people or if I have somewhere to be. It's a common courtesy to whoever you are meeting. Of course, being late is sometimes outwith your control and that is understandable. I have been late due to this and I have apologised for it. It's not nice to keep people waiting.

By the same token, I can't be doing with people being late for things that 'involve' me. I am patient but I don't like to be kept standing around or whatever. If you say you will be there at such and such a time, then be there. It's that simple.

That's pretty much all I have to say on the matter.

Oh, and it's 10-10-10.
Is something bad or weird going to happen?

Friday, October 08, 2010


There I was in a normal shop, in a normal shopping mall, in a normal part of the city, doing normal stuff just minding my own business when all of a sudden my ears pricked up. Music.

Nothing particularly strange by that you may be thinking, after all, music playing in shops isn't all that uncommon. I quite like going into a shop to find a song that I like playing in it. It doesn't necessarily make me want to buy something from said shop but it's nice to know that someone else listens to music that you listen to. However, on this occasion, it was a Christmas song. Yep, you know, a Christmas carol song. These shockingly bad ones that get played once a year and for some reason everyone things they are 'cool' when in fact, Christmas songs just aren't cool, nor have ever been cool. They're crap and should be consigned to Room 101 for all eternity.

The great irony of course, it the fact that it is the 8th October. 11 weeks before Christmas. An even greater irony being that it happened in Dubai, in the UAE, in the Middle East, in an Islamic country which doesn't even recognise Christmas as anything other as another day of the week.

Even if I had heard these songs on this day back in the UK, I wouldn't be impressed. It's a faff. It's autumn and I'm still in my shorts and t-shirt and wearing suncream. How can if possibly be 'Christmas'.

In a couple of weeks, we'll have Happy Valentines 'stuff' in the shops no doubt.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I was looking forward to a relatively 'quiet' working week. You always pray for that, the 1st few days back from holiday. Sometimes it works out that way, other times it doesn't. This week, it didn't. My god, busy wasn't the word. New things constantly popping up along with the 'stuff' that you are meant to be getting on with. There just isn't enough time in a day. Next week is likely to be the same as well. I need a holiday. Again.

Today, we are meant to get out of the office at 3pm. 3pm came and went and where was I? At my desk, marking test papers, compiling the results and updating records. An hour and a half later, enough was enough. Thursday's are the start of our weekend and I was giving up my weekend. I'm not having that. In the end, I got out at 4.30pm having managed to make a dent in what I had to do.

Within 2 hours, I was in a bar, supping a nice Merlot and handful of peanuts. Perhaps it was worth it in the end?

Sunday, October 03, 2010


It's always a sweet moment when you wake up and think 'I should be at work now' but aren't because you have a day off!

That hasn't happened too often this year though, in fact, it's not happened since March. Alas, I did allow myself to think that this morning, knowing that I should have got up at the ungodly hour of 5.30am in order to get to the office by 7am, my usual start time. It was only for that split second or so that I even considered 'work'. The remainder of the day was more about 'holidays' and not getting burnt and thinking 'my god, it's well hotter than yesterday'.

The drive back to Dubai was relatively uneventful. When I say 'uneventful', I mean by Dubaian standards. The usual mix of speeding 4x4's, reckless driving and flashing of lights to 'warm' you to get out of the way were in evidence. Nothing new there. Oh and a great big 747 flying right over head as we were driving past Sharjah airport.

But, back to the office tomorrow. Dam it, I just thought out 'work'.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


The joys of the beach. Kind of. I haven't really been a big fan of all things 'beach'. Covered in sand for weeks afterwards and the very real probability of getting sunburnt made previously trips to the beach not all that enjoyable. That's not to say that I dislike going to the beach. Not at all. I quite like the feel of sand on my feet and I like the sea, well, upto my knees anyway. There is often a breeze of some kind which also adds to it. In winter, a beach can be exhilarating in the cold and wind, particularly in Scotland.

Today saw a half day at the beach. With no sunburn and not much rogue sand. A shock in itself. A couple of things made it more enjoyable than normal. The first being a big massive parasol and a big sun lounger with cushions. Comfy, that's for sure. If I had had to sit on a towel with no parasol, then the experience would have been totally different and this posting may well have been a mass moan. But, I can't really find much to moan about. It wasn't busy either which was a bonus. It was good and dare I say it, I quite enjoyed it. Even the sea was relatively calm and clear; I even saw little fishes swimming close to the shore. Thankfully, nothing bigger than 5 cm in length!

I didn't like the fact that the sand was too hot to walk on but you can't have everything.

I even managed to read my book. I'm cracking on with the Man in the Iron Mask. It's getting good. The King's twin brother has been released, cunningly, from the Bastille and is going to upsurge his twin in order to take the throne. Aramis has seen to it. Although, with no mention of anyone in an Iron Mask after 300 pages, the story must still have a way to go!

Friday, October 01, 2010


Up and out of the house early this Friday morning. I generally don't like getting up early on Friday's because it's the first day of the weekend. Even in my Korean days, I didn't have class on Friday's so it was a 'relaxed' day. Alas, this Friday was different. It was holiday time!

Off to Fujariah on the Indian Ocean. It's only a 2 hour drive but a holiday is a holiday.

The drive over was pleasant enough. Not much traffic to speak of which, as a Dubaian, is a rare thing indeed. We stopped off at the 'Friday Market' at a place called Masafi. It's literally a few huts on the side of the main road which sells fruit, rugs and pots and plants. It was OK but get this, the name isn't actually a fair reflection of things - the market is there every day of the week. I would have called the Trade Descriptions people but I didn't have their number to hand, besides, I couldn't really be bothered.

We then went though through the mountains. Not Scottish style mountains but basically, just rocky hills with little or nothing growing on them. 'Moonlike' would be one way to describe them. In saying that, there were little pockets of palm trees at times. It must be a sign of underground pools of water. Plus, there were goats. A lot of them. Just wandering around, crossing the road as they do. I'm sure some of them get splatted from time to time by big 4x4 cars. I only have a small car and they would probably do me more harm than me to them.

Once we got near to Fujairah itself, there were a bunch of medium sized roundabouts to pass through. Generally, roundabouts are mounds of grass with signs in the middle. Not here. That's too easy. Instead, in the middle was a massive lantern. The next roundabout saw dolphins, the next sharks and I think there was one with Arabic coffee cups as well. I guess it's for us tourists?

Anyway, the Rotana at Fujairah. Nice. Not too big, not too small. Not too busy. The room was excellent. A big walk in shower and a nice balcony. It certainly beats some of the places I have stayed, that's for sure. It was freezing though, as the air-con must have been left on. Not that that was a big problem. Alas, it was straight to the swimming pool and a lazy afternoon lying back and enjoying the sunshine.

In the evening, we went up to one of the restaurants for dinner. It was a buffet style and it was totally fine. A big selection which just invites you to go up time and again and grab something different. It's a dangerous game to play but I've come up with the 'tactic' of only putting the bare minimum on your plate of the stuff you want. You have that, then find that you still have 'space' for more food. Well, it works for me anyway.

Then to the bar for a couple of drinks and the house band.  There's always a house band, isn't there?

Not a late night but definitely a good day; away from Dubai. oh and it's October already.