Thursday, November 30, 2006

She's tracking ever so slightly southwards.....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Metro Manila about to be hit by a rather large Durian....

Graphics from the JTWC
News from the PDI
Updates from PAGASA

Friday looks like it could be an interesting day....and it's a public holiday!

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The regime change is being challenged....

In the 'olden days', before the regime change in the Land of Bed, it used to be that Chairman Mao would sit by the front door and await my return home in the evening....for eight years, without fail (unless he got himself trapped in a cupboard or a curtain!) when I opened my front door he would be sitting there waiting for me....

In a desperate bid to regain his correct place on the bed at night, he has now taken to parking himself on the bed and lying there waiting until I come now the normal scene that greets me on my return home is this......

He can't hold out for long though, he's a very affectionate cat and the most he can manage knowing there's human company is about 10 he wanders into the living room and Chiang Kai-shek moves onto the bed and settles down for the night....

I must's all quite odd...


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's the little things...

One of the drawbacks of having my vacation cancelled is the number of items I had planned to purchase either in the UK or in HKG which I just cannot seem to get here, or are more expensive here...

The West Wing Series 7 DVD
Sliding Doors DVD (and yes, I have tried everywhere, including my colleagues 'usual' sources and apparently it cannot be found for love 'nor money)
A new AirPort Express as mine has gone on the fritz and I have got kind of used to wireless internet and music! It's about US$40 more expensive here than HKG - yes, I'm Scottish! And a wireless Mighty Mouse - the latter being more of a real splurge!
Cat scratching boxes my two furry friends adore these things - even without the catnip...the catnip just makes them go into some weird, drooling, drugged up frenzy...bit like me after a few G&Ts I guess!!!
Shanghai Tang's Ginger Flower Room Oil

And the hardest thing to bear of all, is the one beauty product that I actually use and have done all my life (corny and cliched as it may sound - my mother got me onto it!) is the most basic Oil of Ulay moisturiser...and I can't find it here...I can only find all the fancy ones that promise to make you look 20 years younger but are actually so thick I feel like I'm walking around with wall paper glue on my face! It is by far the cheapest of all the products they offer, but I swear by it...and have found nothing similar...ever!!

I know the obvious is to buy most of it online but I can't be doing with online shopping at the moment...because truth be told I really cannot handle the post offices here! In Jordan the post office was as challenging as it is here, but some enterprising soul set up a courier system linked to all the major online retailers outside to of the country, it was similar to using DHL only much, much cheaper and strangely far more efficient.

I believe the Blue-eyed Boy is heading this way sometime in the next two weeks, so he may have quite the shopping list!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Sometimes it's nice not to go out of town!!

I've seen a glut of films this week...4 in a week..that should keep me quiet for a while!

Saturday night was is absolutely hysterical and at the same time shocking...I found it hard to think of a group of people he doesn't insult in the movie. I don't think I'l be recommending the movie to my mother...I could be wrong, but I think she may be a little 'shocked'! Sunday evening was Happy Feet...cute, but definitely for kids and not for adults, admittedly the only other animated movies I have seen have been the Shrek movies so I was expecting something like that, i.e. slightly more adult content; no matter, the penguins were cute and there were some amusing lines but that was about it!

After pottering around Manila on Saturday afternoon and indulging myself in some wishful thinking I wandered over to the new kid on Roxas Boulevard, the G Hotel (2090 Roxas Boulevard), as mentioned by Carlos last week. It's an interesting property and from a design point of view a lot of thought has gone into it...the property is completely black and white...from the carpets in the lobby, to the uniforms to the floor tiles. It's all very smart, but what worries me is keeping it looking smart - black is easily chipped and white is very easily dirtied as can already be seen around the property. The staff are very friendly and seem to be spending the majority of their time offering show rounds, on Saturday out of 50 rooms, 45 were occupied - not bad considering that they only opened on 17th November. There is a nice little cafe/bar on the 7th floor which has a nice breeze and a sideways-on view of the Bay. The basics of the hotel are very nice, but it needs a few final tweaks just to get it 'right'...

The coffee shop on the ground floor

the view from the bar/cafe (Mirage) on the 7th floor

The views from the function room on the 7th floor, actually a very nice room with a terrace running around the front and the side...perfect for a small wedding.

The pool, really quite small, but perfectly adequate and catches the sun most of the day, the first picture shows the cafe/bar just to the right of the pool.

And finally, the facade...

If you're planning on driving down there, the hotel has a huge parking lot just next to the hotel.

Sunday saw the day spent at Greenhills, the Island Boy from Cebu being in town and not having been to Greenhills for a long while! So lunch, shopping/pottering and a movie...the branch of Fully Booked at Greenhills is actually pretty good, I picked up a few books I had been looking for; I had always thought it rather small but had missed the areas at the back and the upper level!

Dinner on Sunday was down at the Bay at So Woo, a Korean restaurant at Harbour Square (opposite the CCP), food was excellent and the added bonus was sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the bay with a lovely clear night of stars and lights. A quick hop, skip and a jump over to the G Hotel to see how it shapes up at night...terrace still nice, but they seriously need to do something about the lighting at night!

So, all in, a nice relaxing weekend - nothing too stressful, just enjoying what Manila has to offer and enjoying the nice weather...the company helped too!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

A corner of treasures...but not a scrap of information!

Wandering around Ermita on Saturday afternoon I found a treasure trove of beautiful buildings, being used, but not being loved! All of them in one area on Padre Faura Street

Institute of X-ray and Radium therapy (I am assuming this is part of the UP campus)

the Supreme Court

Department of Justice

University of the Philippines, Manila

The Oblation

The buildings were spectacular and I imagine their surroundings were also at one stage, but now the area looks very sad and forlorn and it would be wonderful if it could all be given a good sprucing up including moving on all those street food carts. There are so many incredibly grand buildings in Manila which are still used (unlike a certain 'World' city not too far away from here that has destroyed most of it's architectural heritage and replaced it with monstrosities such as this; I just wish that the areas around these buildings could be kept in the manner to which they should be accustomed, and within the buildings' perimeters if they could just clean up all the junk lying around...

And one more thing (actually a few more things!)...these buildings are all definitely worthy of an explanatory sign outside giving the history of the building, architect's information etc etc, I wandered around and couldn't find any information about any of the buildings...even researching their history on the web is a challenge (or maybe my research skills are deserting me!). I am guessing that Daniel Burnham's hand is present in all these buildings..and if so...why shouldn't this exhibition of Manila become a permanent fixture somewhere in the city? And points to ponder...Blueprint for a City's Soul

Finally, this is such a great idea....the legal version of Meals on Wheels!!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday evening sunset from home.......

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Mini Me!

Third picture and story from The Manila Bulletin



Thursday, November 23, 2006

Who's going to pull the frog out of the boiling water?

Every so often it is necessary to be dealt a cold, hard slice of reality. Last night was my 'every so often' and the cold, hard slice of reality was watching An Inconvenient Truth. What ever one may think of Al Gore, he presents the case very convincingly and is obviously very passionate about his subject matter. To be honest, when presented with the facts and figures he shows it's hard not to be convinced that humanity is driving Planet Earth to a fairly nasty end.

At school I studied Geography for 'A' Level (with a side of Geology A Level just for good measure!), our Geography teacher was very sceptical on the subject of global warming and climate change, as far as she was concerned it was just a 'momentary blip' that the world was warming up and she guessed at it all being over within a 20 year period. My school being overly religious and the teachers fitting the mold, the general concensus was that God would take care of it! Maybe He will, however, in the meantime I think the world's population could help out!

The movie features a lot of pictures comparing glaciers, mountain peaks and lakes and rivers..some of the photos only 10 or 20 years apart showing massive glacial retreats due to temperature increase and lakes and rivers drying out due to man diverting the water supply for irrigation, industrial use or to support the population, one such case which isn't mentioned in the film but is one very close to my heart is that of the Dead Sea.

Something I found very upsetting was the information that for the first time, scientists are finding that polar bears are drowning because the Arctic Ice shelf is melting.

Having watched Gore speak passionately and clearly in the movie and on the news as he has globe trotted with his message, it brings home to me that thanks to the decision of the US Supreme court, it's possible that the world was deprived of a very good and very intelligent president.

Not directly connected to the election (but I thought it somewhat amusing) Gore shows us what would happen to the Florida coastline if Greenland melted. The sea level would rise some five or so meters and the map would look a like this (unfortunately I cannot find the exact graphic he used in the film, I can just see gore thinking 'that'll teach you to quibble over hanging chads'!

If the Greenland Ice Sheet melts, the impacts will be enormous. Red areas in this image of southern Florida show locales susceptible to a five-meter rise of sea level, based on elevation. Yellow areas denote urban locations.

The one, apparently being the consequence

of the other...

And what's with the frog in the boiling water? Well it's an old story, often told - particularly in the political arena, however, according to this article it may not be true!!

An Inconvenient Truth, should be required viewing for all of humanity...unfortunately as that's not practical, let's ensure the world's politicians, leaders, teachers, business leaders and Big Oil executives see it...and, most importantly all school children so they can ask their adults "What are you doing to ensure that when I am grown up I still have a planet to live on?"

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coffee, Tea or me...??!!!

I'm back! As always it was too just start to wind down and breathe and then its time to come back...anyway, I guess it was better than nothing...

A slightly different Cebu weekend to the norm, due to a few "official" engagements that my travelling companion had to show face at, he's good at that kind of thing...I'm terrible; and as a consequence try as much as possible to fade into the background, however I am learning to plaster a fairly convincing smile on my face, nod when required and say very, very little!!! Going to these sort of events with my friend always reminds me of that line the Neil Diamond movie 'The Jazz Singer'...when his wife says to the agent..."What was I supposed to do...follow him around from city to city saying 'Wow'?".

The weekend started with a flying visit to the Lapu-Lapu city tourism night...meeting all the 'right' people, the Mayor's wife and many others...then onto the Marco Polo to drop into the Pool side Chill out party...Skippy, I did try to take pictures of the models in their bikinis frolicking in the pool, but, unfortunately they didn't come out very well...I'm sorry!

Other than a spot of shopping and a whole lot of lying on the beach, Sunday saw us going to see Casino was excellent..Daniel Craig does 007 proud. The two best quotes of the movie...

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Does it look like I give a damn?

and my all time favourite line...

Vesper to Bond: You take the next one, there's not enough room in here for me and your ego

Monday saw more lazing by the beach...a bit of activity in feeding the fishes and then into Cebu City for a spot of sightseeing..namely the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño...and Magellan's Cross. The evening was a little stressful...the traffic was so bad it took us over an hour and half to get from Cebu City back to Mactan...quite horrific..Dinner was at the Mayor's house - unfortunately due to timing constraints we turned up in what can only be described as beach wear...I was mortified! and then a real rush to catch the last flight...I'm surprised they let us board...surprised, but very grateful!!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

What again...??!!!

Ok boys and going out of town for a few prizes for guessing where...and definitely no prizes for guessing with whom! - A small isn't the owner of the underpants!!!

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Troubles with my toaster...

The good news is that I've discovered my apartment has smoke detectors that work; the bad news is that I've 'damaged' (destroyed) another toaster!

A few months back, during a rather stressful period at work and during a period with very, very little sleep; I staggered out of bed one morning needing a cup of tea. So I filled the kettle, plugged in the kettle and switched it on...the plug practically blew out the wall. I considered this rather unusual behaviour so examined the kettle closely; only to discover that I had filled the toaster with water and plugged it in...

So, last night. It being a late night home and having had no dinner I decided to make some toast...popped the bread in the toaster, switched it on and then went into the bedroom, after a few minutes of pottering around I ws sure the toast was up so wandered back into the kitchen. Not only was the toast not up, but there were flames pouring out of the toaster and the living room area was full of thick black smoke.

So the alarm was activated somewhere in my building and the security guards came up, balcony doors were opened, cats shut in the bathroom, offending toaster removed...what a lot of fun!

What can I say...I'm blonde!!!!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The air that I breathe....

A couple of weeks back in Time magazine there was an article about Beijing's pollution and at the end of the article there was an additional page commenting on the levels of pollution in Asian cities.

Since moving here from HKG I have sworn blind that the pollution in HKG is worse than Metro Manila; I base this on two things (neither of them very scientific!) firstly, I have not had any form of cough or bronchitis since I arrived HKG it was a fairly regular thing, secondly, my cat has stopped coughing like he smokes 60 a day! Those two factors lead me to believe that we are better off here than in Hong Kong. However, the article in Time gave HKG two little polluted clouds as a rating...and Metro Manila three.. I still didn't really believe that HKG was better than here...

The other day Spike posted these pictures of a 'hazy' Hong Kong - 'hazy' being the politically correct word to use to describe the filth that the average Hong Konger has to breathe in..

And then I looked out my window at 7am this morning; these pictures show the view from my apartment down to Makati and down to Manila Bay.

Somewhere through all that is Manila Bay....

But, as the saying goes 'every cloud has a silver lining'; even polluted ones; as this article from The Telegraph would have us believe.


Pre-emptive action....

I have mentioned before the Filipino national tendancy for the men to relieve themselves at the drop of a hat (actually no hat necessary) and in public...

However, the last four mornings have made me wonder what effect I have on people.... On Sunday morning I picked up a taxi on Shaw just outside the Petron station...the taxi driver drove up to the shop in the gas station and then hopped out saying 'back in a minute' he pops into the toilet and (I am assuming, at this stage) relieves himself.

So, Monday morning I pick up a taxi on Wack Wack I get into the taxi on one side, the driver gets out on the other side with a quick 'excuse me' thrown over his shoulder..runs over to the nearest wall, this time there is no 'assuming', I know he relieved himself! Same thing Tuesday morning and again this morning...alhtough this morning I was vaguely prepared for as the driver turned around to ask if I would mind waiting for a minute, before he could utter the first word I just said 'Go ahead, be my guest'!

I think tomorrow I will just ask before I get in...'Do you need to pee?'....let's see what happens...!!!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


One of those odd coincidences the last count (as of two minutes ago!)I have 6 friends all in Shanghai at the moment...none of them know each other (at least I hope they don't!!)and none of them are in the same industry....


"There even are places where English completely disappears; in America they haven't used it for years."

Yesterday whilst browsing the BBC website…I found an article about a website called Rate my teacher. There were two things that horrified me about this website...the first was the ability, with nothing to substantiate the comments, to place negative comments about a teacher in a very public arena. The second thing, which actually made me quite agitated for a fair part of the day, was the appalling level of written English being used in the comments from the students. Here is one page as an example...

In this age of SMS obviously writing a complete word as opposed to the abbreviated version is just too much like hard work, obviously using capital letters for proper nouns is also too much like hard work..and as for bothering to check if the spelling and punctuation are correct– don’t even think about it! (It is official..I'm beginning to sound like my parents!!!)

I think it is appalling that the level of written English has fallen so low, in the country that is supposed to pride itself on being the home of the English language.

Whilst on the subject of languages,Manolo’s column yesterday was Practical Languages.

I am unaware of the educational history of the Philippines, except for Manolo’s comment about how he was at UP when the transition from teaching in English to teaching in Filipino occurred (and whilst watching the movie Jose Rizal the other day I noticed that at university the medium of instruction was Spanish). So at this stage I’ll refer back to Hong Kong, before the handover the language of instruction for the majority of government schools was English, after the handover that changed to Cantonese, with very mixed results. It is interesting to note these two comments though...

From Manolo’s column:
I was in the University of the Philippines when the transition from teaching in English to teaching in Filipino took place, during the presidency of Jose Abueva. For people like myself, it was difficult. But I still tell everyone with whom I discuss the language question that a most remarkable transformation took place. There was a remarkable increase not only in recitation but also in class participation.
If people are in school to learn, then the language that enables real learning to take place is best. One of my electives was French—taught in Filipino by an enlightened professor who made the class fun. The Spanish classes, in contrast, were taught in an antiquated manner—in English—and I don’t think anyone benefited from the experience.

From the NCELA article

Study 1 was a study of 56 secondary schools, and was conducted by the Education Department of Hong Kong. Researchers reported that students in English-medium-instruction (EMI) schools were more passive than those in Chinese-medium schools, typically limiting their verbal responses to short phrases and even single words. In contrast, in the Chinese-medium schools observed, students were active and occasionally creative in class discussions.

Study 2 was conducted by Amy Tsui, professor and head of Curriculum Studies, University of Hong Kong. Professor Tsui surveyed 189 Chinese-medium schools and reported that, after one year of teaching in the mother tongue, 80% of the principals and 70% of the teachers believed that mother-tongue teaching facilitated higher-level learning for students.

Study 3 was conducted by the Caritas Community Center-Kowloon and investigated Form 1 (grade 7) students in twelve secondary schools in Kowloon City, Hong Kong. About fifty percent of the Chinese-medium students felt that their English had improved after one year, while only 25% of the English-medium students felt the same way. A report in the Singtao Electronic Daily (July 7, 1999) provided additional information about this study: those in Chinese-medium instruction said they understood English as well as those in English-medium instruction, and the former understood more in other subjects

I do have a point...and I will get to it...!!! Every country’s educational system has a double edged sword to deal with. The first edge being to ensure that the population is well versed in their own language and to preserve the national language and in other subjects (other than language) they should be educated in the medium in which they feel most comfortable, the second edge being to ensure that the population is well enough versed in the lingua franca to ensure that the country does not fall behind its competitors in the business world. It is an unfortunate fact of life that at present the English language really is the lingua franca of the business world and as such every member of a country’s population should be given the opportunity to learn English or at least another language that will help them in the it French, Mandarin or Russian...

I know from experience that Britain fails miserably in a) preserving its national languages – Welsh and Gaelic spring to mind and b) in teaching foreign languages – my brother and I both went to ‘good’ schools (my brother’s is one of the top 10 in the UK), and after 8 years of language instruction neither of us spoke a foreign language fluently.

I would like to add, in case I’m called on this, that my grasp of foreign languages (like many Brits) is appalling, this is mainly because I am in reality bone idle and learn only what I need to...for the record the languages I have vaguely mastered and the level to which they are mastered is as follows:

French – spoken – vaguely acceptable (to give you a rough idea – I once had to spend an interesting hour translating a German documentary on ‘how to make a porn movie’ into French! Don’t ask how or why….just accept!!), accent really lets me down!; reading – almost fluent, written – appalling!
German – spoken – I get by, just don’t talk to me about anything too taxing!, reading – appalling, written – even worse than appalling!
Bahasa Indonesian – spoken – I get by, reading – I get by, written – never really needed to
Arabic – spoken – ok for what I needed, and I can say 'Yanni' very convincingly!(my 6 months of classes helped!), reading and writing...not a word!
Cantonese – spoken – very little, but I understand about 60% of what I hear, reading and writing – out of the thousands of characters available...about 50!


Monday, November 13, 2006

Throwing my toys out of the pram...!!

It doesn't matter how old I soon as something doesn't go the way I want it to....and it's something I care about quite badly....I start acting like a spoilt brat!!

Often misinterpreted as anger....its just a spoilt brat tantrum!!! I wonder if I will ever grow out of that trait!?


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Girly Sunday...!!!

I realise that I'm not overly experienced in matters of 'dating' (one blind date, does not an expert make!) however, even I can see that the procedure of a Brazilian wax is just not good date material

Personally, I go for Rigby & Peller every's all about the 'fit', although the fitting process is a little disconcerting!

Yesterday, whilst at Rockwell I saw this book on the shelves (I use d this link, because the more traditional methods - Amazon as an example - dont stock the book!), today over at The Times I read Having it both ways...

“Sex is far less mechanical with another woman than it is with a man,” says Lisa Gunning, 34, a film editor who came out five years ago. “So much so that when I think of all those happily married women out there, lying in bed on a Saturday night, getting pounded away at and thinking that’s as good as it gets, I’m so incredibly glad I’m not living in that ‘costume’ any more.”

“but then 90% of the women I’ve had affairs with were straight women, and I could hardly blame them. Men are so crap in bed, aren’t they?”

hmmmmmm...horses for courses!! All I can say is not all men are crap in bed (or maybe I've just been fortunate and encountered just the one!!)...and if yours is...move on!

And on a slightly/vaguely connected subject....Indy's insights into whether you should sleep with a man on a first date...and in the comments it gets down to the real basics of dating...who 'initiates' the first kiss?!

And why is it about me…simple, I am the man, and very few women even with women’s lib will actually initiate that first kiss (unless she is really drunk) so it is up to me to do it, to take the initiative and “test the waters”, to see if the interest is returned.

Now, that, I can agree with!

In the American blogsphere it seems that there is a lot of anger being vented at one man (described as a 'blogging predator')....and here for a slightly more rational thoughts!

And finally...with Daniel is obviously 'what lies beneath' that is the attraction...I have to say that the chiselled, almost mean looking facial features did nothing for me...until I saw this picture...

other pictures from Casino Royale here


Odds and sods from my camera...

I mentioned the other day that there has been a fairly dramatic change in the sleeping arrangements at here's a picture I took the other day of Chiang Kai-shek on the 'other side' of the bed...

Yesterday when I got home...she had moved onto 'my side' of the that has to stop...nothing like a quick flick of a cat to get her to move!!

And two sunset views...


Saturday, November 11, 2006

We'll miss him for one reason...and one reason only.....

The big news of the week is Rumsfeld's a way it is a shame because we will now be deprived of the clarity of his sound bites...

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

If you want to test your knowledge on Rumsfeld's quotes then try this Quiz

If you'd like to swot quickly before you take the quiz read this

I guess with Rummie's departure we shall just have to fall back on his ex-boss for our entertainment...


The wheels stayed on….

A few years back whilst in Jordan…my housemate and I were sitting at home at about 10pm in our jammies watching The West Wing…it was a cold winter’s night and we were home for two reasons…the first being that hot water bottles and jammies were infinitely more preferable to the snow outside…and secondly as Baghdad was being pounded by the Americans just up the road, we had been told to stay home…

So, the DVD finished and my housemate turned to me and said ‘Now what?’….being the real trouble maker between the two of us…,.I suggested getting dressed and nipping up to the Inter-Con for a swift drink…

So we quickly threw on winter clothes and traipsed up the road to the Inter-Con…the bar was packed…full of journalists…things went rapidly down hill…there were shooters, there were BBC reporters, there were Spanish reporters who were happy to show us what was under their shirts…I can’t quite describe how quickly it went downhill and how much alcohol was consumed….then just to add to the general chaos a really good Jordanian friend of mine from college appeared on the scene, I hadn’t seen him since college…and we had always been good drinking and dancing buddies…by this time it was about 2am…and he decided we should move onto the nightclub just up the road from my house (when I say just up the road, I mean it…if you opened the door of the nightclub and gave someone a gentle push, they’d roll down the hill straight through my front door!!!)… so we did…something about driving through Amman in the snow with roof down in a Porsche that adds to the fun (particularly with a bucket load of shooters inside one’s stomach!)…so, to Xanadu, more alcohol and a somewhat entertaining ending to the morning…it was past dawn by the time I got home! Collectively, we looked pretty rough the next morning...!!!!

Anyway, to cut a long story short…tonight I was out a party with a group (bar one or two) that I don’t feel too comfortable with….and I just had the feeling that if my housemate from Jordan were there, the wheels would definitely have come off!!!

Fortunately (I guess) the housemate in question is safely in Muscat, and I was removed from the scene before I could consume that ‘one drink’ that would push me towards the state of ‘just not caring’!!!

Will have to wait until she makes it to Manila, rumour has it that this may not be too far off……and then organize a few days off for after the event…and hope she brings a large supply of paracetemol!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Amman - 9/11

One year on...

It strikes me as strange that there is no reminder on the BBC website or CNN or Al Jazeerah....

However, from the Jordan Times

Family moves on one year after wedding suicide attack

On the first anniversary of the November 2005 attacks, The Jordan Times talks to Ashraf Daas, whose wedding at the Radisson SAS was brutally cut short by a suicide bomber.

By Hugh Naylor

AMMAN — That now ubiquitous photo showing a happy bride and groom, just married, seemingly portends a happy beginning for the couple’s new life.

But moments after the photo opportunity, Ashraf Daas and his new bride, Nadia Alami, would walk into their wedding reception and an unexpected tragedy.

“Everything changed that day. My wife and I can never forget it — it’s deep within us,” Daas said by telephone from Kuwait, where he and Nadia have made their new home. “We haven’t been to any weddings. We’re still in a period of remembering, of mourning over ours.”

A little before 9:00pm on November 9, 2005, as festivities were just about to get under way in the Philadelphia ballroom at the Radisson SAS, Ali Hussein Ali Shamari entered the room with a vest loaded with powerful explosives and piercing ball-bearings. Placing himself at the centre of the joyous families and their invited guests, Shamari detonated his deadly payload.

The blast tore through the ballroom, killing 36. Daas’ father took the full force of the blast and died the same night. His wife, Nadia, lost both her parents and a brother. Entire families perished.

The series of explosions that night, unleashed by three coordinated suicide attacks at the Grand Hyatt, Days Inn, and Radisson SAS hotels, killed a total of 60 people and injured over a hundred more.

Now, a year later, Daas is continually reminded of his tragedy, while a nation still struggles to come to terms with its very own 9/11.

“We decided to move to Kuwait six months ago so I could start my new job and move away from the past, to live in a new place where we can start over,” Daas told The Jordan Times. The 32-year-old now works as medical equipment salesman.

On arriving in Kuwait, he and Nadia moved into his father’s old home. But the residual of his memory was too much to bear, he said. “We changed it all around and brought in new furniture. It’s a new house in the old one — we needed it to feel new.”

He said they continue to receive a tremendous outpouring of emotional support from fellow Jordanians and Kuwaitis. Their faces, pictured on Internet blog sites and pasted on tabloids, have become instantly recognisable throughout the region and the world.

“People always come up to us on the streets or when we’re at the mall. They’re very nice, but now I believe it’s time for all of us to move on, to look to the future.”

Daas said he keeps in regular touch with the rest of his family back in Amman. His younger brother is nearing the completion of a BA in finance administration.

“I’m very proud of him,” he said. “You know, given what we’ve all been through, he keeps us and my mom happy.”

But his brother didn’t emerge from the attack unscathed. He sustained nerve damage to his arm during the incident and still attends regular physiotherapy sessions, Daas noted.

The reverberations of that November evening have also left Jordan a changed country, struggling to emerge from its own wounds. In the days following the attacks, thousands poured onto the country’s streets in a show of public defiance against terrorism, chanting “Burn in hell, Abu Mussab Zarqawi,” whose Iraqi Al Qaeda organisation claimed responsibility for the triple suicide bombings.

Security at the country’s hotels, shopping malls and restaurants has been beefed up by a labyrinth of metal detectors and scanning devices.

In late September, Sajida Rishawi, the wife of the Radisson SAS bomber and the only person to stand trial in relation to the attacks, was sentenced to hang by the State Security Court. Six others, including an Iraqi woman and a Jordanian man, were sentenced to death in absentia.

Rishawi had entered Daas’ wedding along with her husband but her suicide belt failed to detonate. She then fled before being apprehended four days later in the town of Salt, while attempting to seek refuge with the family of her sister’s husband.

“This is her punishment for trying such an act — she has to take the death penalty,” Daas told The Jordan Times in reference to the sentence.

He said he believed her impending execution represents part of the process necessary for the nation to come to terms with the bombings, adding: “We need to send a strong message to those who may harm us: That they can’t hurt us, they can’t destroy our lives and get away with it.”

No date has been set for Rishawi’s hanging.


A reading recommendation...

from all of his post to get some of the highlights of the ads...hysterical!

I don't really know what to say....I'm flattered he thought of me first, I'm a tad concerned that in relation to this book I was the first person he thought of...and finally I am impressed that he got it spot looks highly entertaining and am hoping that Fully Booked or Power Books gets it on its shelves fairly soon!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So the camera never lies....?

From the Daily Mail


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It all happens in the news....

Imelda is starting a cheap but glitzy jewellery range for 'youths who were not affected by her family's history'.If this were England, I think the line would be aimed at the delightful subculture named Chavs...but we're it ain't!!

It is incredible how one store is so much part of the British psyche that the British public felt 'betrayed' when M&S rather wandered off the beaten path...however, according to various fashion gurus it seems that M&S back on track...millions of British women (and men) can sleep better in the knowledge that things are reverting to normal on the British high street!

I'm not sure if thinking that Becks is not due a knighthood due to is his age is fair comment, however, his comment about Posh probably more than makes up for it!!

One day to go...and Clinton gets the gloves off...!
Just a gratuitous picture of Bill, no other reason for the picture!

Apparently, in the real world, Filipino men are more under the 'saya' (that was the first tagalog expression I learnt when I moved here!!) than macho!! I'll reserve judgement!

And finally, the WAGs are helping Liverpool in its year as 2008 European Capital of Culture...hmmmmm...least said about that the better I think!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Jordan still has a long way to go....

Jordan is often shown as a shining light of fledgling democracy, freedom of speech and stability in amongst a clutch of countries which cannot claim all or any of the afore mentioned characteristics.

Unfortunately, this is often put to the test as with the recent case of Adnan Abu Obeh (a former Jordanian ambassador, information minister and King Hussain's chief of the Royal Court). Last week, Abu Obeh, during an interview with Al-Jazeerah, commented on the low representation of Jordanian Palestinians within the Jordanian government

From Friday's Jordan Times

AMMAN — The state security prosecutor on Thursday charged former Royal Court chief Adnan Abu Odeh with slandering the King and inciting sectarianism during an interview he gave to Al Jazeera satellite television.

Several citizens filed complaints against Abu Odeh, 73, over his statements to Al Jazeera, but Amman Prosecutor General Saber Rawashdeh referred the case to the military tribunal for lack of jurisdiction, officials said. Abu Odeh spoke in the interview about what he called the “exclusion” of Jordanians of Palestinian origin from political participation as well as their poor representation in government and Parliament. Abu Odeh also questioned the way King Abdullah is defending the Palestinian cause.

Jerash Mufti Ahmad Jaddiyeh said he was the first to file a claim against Abu Odeh.

“I was enraged by what he said,” Jaddiyeh told The Jordan Times.

“I am married to two Jordanian women, one of them is of a Palestinian origin… and I can’t accept what he [Abu Odeh] said about the country and the King.”

The mufti said he filed the complaint on his own volition.

Jordan was the only Arab country to have given full citizenship to the Palestinians, who fled their homes in the aftermath of Israel’s creation in 1948.

Abu Odeh, who faces up to three years in prison if found guilty, was quoted by Reuters as saying that those behind the complaints misread his remarks.

“I am surprised because they have misread the conclusions of my comments and understood it as an accusation against the state when I am one of its pillars,” said Abu Odeh, a member of the respected Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group.

In 1965, Abu Odeh joined the General Intelligence Department (GID) as a political analyst and was named minister of culture and information in 1970. King Hussein appointed him minister of Royal Court in1984, political adviser in 1988 and Royal Court chief in 1991. King Abdullah named him political adviser in 1999, and in 2000 Abu Odeh resigned his post.

It is not the first time that Abu Obeh has spoken up in with regard to Jordanians of Palestinian origin, (of which he is one), in 1999, whilst a political advisor to King Abdullah, he published a book (Jordanians, Palestinians, and the Hashemite Kingdom in the Middle East Peace Process)in which he highlighted the difference in political standing between Jordanians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

However, The Jordan Times does report today that the charges have been dropped....

AMMAN (JT) — The State Security Court (SSC) prosecutor on Sunday dropped all charges against former Royal Court chief Adnan Abu Odeh.

The Jordan News Agency, Petra, quoted the court official as announcing “the case is closed,” without giving the reason for the decision.

Abu Odeh was charged Thursday with slandering the King and inciting sectarianism during an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television station.

Several citizens had filed complaints against Abu Odeh, 73, at the office of Amman Prosecutor General Saber Rawashdeh. But the judicial official referred the case to the SSC for lack of jurisdiction.

Abu Odeh allegedly spoke in the interview about “exclusion” of Jordanians of Palestinian origin from political participation and their poor representation in government and Parliament. He also questioned the way King Abdullah is defending the Palestinian cause.

Jordanian Palestinians make up around 60% of Jordan's population and although I never really got involved in discussing politics whilst there (going on the safer than sorry way of thinking) it is obvious even to an outsider that there is a certain stigma attached to having Palestinian origins as opposed to true Jordanian roots...for the Hong Kongers amongst you its similar to the stigma attached to those who are from the Mainland as opposed to those who were born and grew up in Hong Kong.

Jordan has always trod a very fine line between allowing its people a certain amount of freedom and trying to keep the stability of the country...unfortunately it seems that freedom of speech is often one of the first victims in keeping this balance.


Coup d'etat

For the past eight years I have had one permanent sleeping companion, he's black and white, very furry, four legged and goes by the name of Chairman Mao...he has been resident on the 'other side of the bed' since he first moved in with me...well, 'on the other side of the bed' except for the times that there were slightly less furry, two legged residents!

During Chairman Mao's residence on the bed, Chiang Kai-shek our other four legged companion has always slept in the living room (except for a time in Jordan when she shacked up with my flat mate!)...or at the very least just outside the bedroom door.

However, in the past week, there has been a very dramatic shift in power. Chiang Kai-shek has taken up residence on the bed and will not move, at all...even when Chairman Mao comes and growls at her. Chiang Kai-shek is already in place on the bed when I get home, she has clocked the fact that Chairman Mao always sits and waits by the front door until I get home, so she uses this to her advantage! Poor old Chairman Mao has taken to sleeping on a chair by the bedroom door and has a rather bewildered look on his face at the moment...and when I'm sitting watching the TV he sits and stares at me - for hours! It is most disconcerting.

I have absolutely no idea what has triggered this change in sleeping arrangements, it is all quite bizarre...but am letting them sort it out between themselves. At least Chiang Kai-shek purrs more quietly and has a much less squeaky miaow than Chairman Mao!

I wonder how long this will last!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

In case you were wondering....

....what had happened to Super Typhoon Cimaron after she ripped across The Philippines last week...the JTWC, has her dithering about in the South China Seas...and then fading into insignificance...


5th of November

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

I didn't realise people in Hong Kong still used pay phones, he must be a tourist!!!!!

The words 'stable door', 'horse's bolted' and 'after', spring to mind after reading this.

Is the 'Nuclear Family'now a fading part of history?

Here's a possible new job for me!!! But, if I were a Redcoat, I'm not sure I could afford to stay at the recently revamped Le Manoir.

Is this the biggest misunderstanding in the US, since "tea and cookies"?

I don't care how rude people think David Starkey is...I think he's fantastic....



From the Daily Mail