Thursday 28 August 2008

Wednesday 27 August 2008

more to miss..

The taxi drivers of Morocco. I love them. I shall miss them, like my fleet of private drivers. Some obviously trained for Le Mans, others like my driver today is a frustrated language instructor. He took me through my shria Arabe, and worked to increase my vocabulary while taking me through my present working speech in French and Darjia. I have long since given up telling them that I DO speak five languages, just NONE OF THEM ON THIS CONTINENT. Too sweet and too funny. Just one more thing to miss about this wonderful and varied land.

Here are snapshots for you of my darling neighbours who chat with me in French. More to miss…

Wednesday 20 August 2008

But we knew this!

Reasons to be cheerful: Scots are among Europe's happiest

Published Date: 15 August 2008
By Hamish Macdonell
Scottish Political Editor
THE traditional image of Scots as dour, doom-laden pessimists was shaken yesterday by a new Europe-wide survey showing them to be among the happiest people in the Continent.
The research, carried out across 24 countries, found Scots are failing to live up to their caricature. They are now the happiest in Britain and the third most contented in Europe, beaten only by the Swiss and the Danes.

On a ten-point scale, Scots scored a "life satisfaction" rating of 8.06, compared with 7.2 for the rest of the UK.

At the bottom of the scale, with scores of less than five, came Ukraine and Bulgaria.

People all over Europe were asked to rate their happiness on a scale of one to ten. Happiness was divided into five sections: job, family, standard of living, life as a whole and happiness.

In Scotland, the survey found that women were generally happier than men, that people became happier as they grew older and that those with more money were happier.

A degree, or time in higher education, also helped to make people more contented in later life, as did homes in rural or semi-rural areas and working for small companies.

The report also found that people who were married or in long-term relationships were happier than the single, the separated and the divorced.

The results followed increasing evidence this week that the Scottish economy was weathering the economic downturn better than the rest of the UK, with unemployment still falling and house prices continuing to rise.

Sheila Panchal, a psychologist, said: "This suggests the popular image of the nation as glass-half-empty pessimists is outdated. There appear to be much more positive feelings coming out, which we can be very pleased about."

Ms Panchal said part of this might come from Scots having a stronger a sense of "belonging" than ever before.

Dr Stephen Joseph, professor of psychology at Nottingham University, said: "One of the main things, in terms of people's happiness and contentment, is social networks and community cohesion.

"Possibly in Scotland, where communities are smaller than in the south of England, people have more connection with family and friends."

Happiness has eased quietly on to the political agenda over the past few years.

In 2006, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said improving people's happiness was the real challenge facing politicians. He recently asked all his MPs to take a book on the subject away as holiday reading.

The Scottish part of the survey was conducted between May and November last year, after the SNP came to power. It became a party-political issue yesterday, with Nationalists claiming their short time in government had been, at least partly, responsible.

The SNP's Alasdair Allan, a member of Holyrood's communities committee, said: "The fact the survey was done in the second half of 2007 is one measurement of the SNP government's success in delivering a wealthier and fairer Scotland.

"Only this week, we had figures showing unemployment falling in Scotland, while it rose in the UK as a whole – and unemployment is now significantly lower in Scotland than south of the Border."

A Labour spokesman dismissed Dr Allan's remarks, saying that if Scotland had had a glorious summer, then the Nationalists would probably have claimed credit for that, too.

Malcolm Chisholm, Labour's culture spokesman, added: "It is ridiculous to suggest this is the result of a few months of SNP government. A more substantial claim would be to say it was due to progress in the last decade under Labour."

Dr Carol Craig, the chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being in Glasgow, said the very political system that has generated the Labour-SNP animosity may be partly responsible for Scotland's high satisfaction ratings.

"We still believe in fairness at work and the political process. These questions probably played a part, behind the scenes, in the answers people gave, and that is very, very positive for Scotland," she said.

'I enjoy every day for what it brings'

SHIRLEY Spear lives in the community of Glendale near Loch Dunvegan on Skye, where she runs the Three Chimneys restaurant and hotel.

"I grew up in Edinburgh but moved to Skye 23 years ago to take over the Three Chimneys," she said. "We live next to the restaurant, which is in the westernmost point of Skye.

"The location is completely idyllic. We can see the water out of the bedroom window. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

"No matter the weather, the scenery is always dramatic. Skye is a stunning place and I love living here."

Mrs Spear, 55, runs the family business with her husband, Eddie, 61, and daughter, Lindsay, 26. Her son, Steven, 29, works for the Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh.

Although the restaurant business can be extremely stressful, Mrs Spear loves her job. She said: "My life is exceptionally busy, but I get great enjoyment out of being involved in Scotland's immensely important tourist industry.

"This is one of the busiest weeks of the year. Things can be brilliant one minute and dreadful the next, but it's great running my own business. I couldn't be a bank manager, or work in a job where I am stuck in a shop all day."

Despite the credit crunch, the tourist industry is currently booming on Skye. Mrs Spear said: "The credit crunch is a disaster for everyone, but so far we have come off better because we are at the quality end of the tourist market."

Mrs Spear often has to drive from Skye to Edinburgh – a journey which takes her five hours – but she doesn't mind doing it: "Day or night, no matter what time of year, I love driving through Scotland and seeing the rolling purple hills. The scenery is so beautiful."

And with a successful work and home life, Mrs Spear is very happy.

She said: "Happiness is enjoying every day of your life for what it brings, and making the most of what Scotland has to offer."

Mrs Spear believes that Scots are happier than their UK counterparts because of the strong relationship they have with their country.

She said: "People in Scotland have a real sense of belonging which other countries don't really have. The rest of the UK does have a sense of identity, but I don't think they feel like they belong quite as much as we do in Scotland."

• Dr Carol Craig is chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being.

A dour and miserable nation? You must be having a laugh, mate

The full article contains 2238 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Page 1 of 1

* Last Updated: 14 August 2008 11:34 PM
* Source: The Scotsman * Location: Edinburgh

Friday 15 August 2008

I love my life!

All right ladies, prepare to be pea green with envy!

So ‘mister six pack (could be twelve) abs., my new roomie, walks into the kitchen in his boxers (I’m a boxers over briefs girl), looking all tousled from sleep and says, “You don’t mind me going without a shirt do you?”

Biting the inside of my cheek and turning my face away I said, “Oh no baby, you just walk around without whatever you want.” I then had to retire to my bedroom where there is a/c and lie down a minute until the palpitations stopped.

Ohgod! I love my life.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Time for change

The decision is made – I’m leaving Morocco. Mid-October I’m buying a one-way ticket to Paris because – well you don’t really need a reason for Paris do you? And then over to the U.S. for a while. I want a good long visit with the children and I will be hawking my manuscript to those with the printing presses.

I am sad to go. I have had such a fabulous time here. The people of Morocco have been so lovely to me, and I have had adventures and flirtations enough to keep me kicking. I’m trying over the next two months to write down all my impressions so as not to lose them.

Yesterday as I traversed the Medina I paid particular attention. Normally I let the sounds wash over me like a friendly flock of birds, but I really listened to the individual events – the hawkers touting their wares to the passing crowd at the tops of their lungs, the mothers scolding children or admonishing them to keep up, or describing some new sight, the languages! – French, English, Arabic, Darija, Spanish, a touch of German and some Oriental quips thrown in for variety. Watching the women lined up at the hanout to pick out the ghasoul from the open barrels; the hannout with the stands of dates and nuts; the incongruous tawdry underwear displayed so openly on mannequins and hanging from the sides of the hannouts; the men with sheets and sheets of every set of wares you can imagine – underwear, plastic containers, books, DVD’s, jewelry, spruce boxes, and on and on – lined up on both sides of the street anywhere there is a space; the hoards of people jostling through the Medina like fish traveling the stream – and you thought the Manhattan side walks were crowded. The smells, oh the smells – the tang of fresh mint tea leaves, the encompassing breath of fresh bread in every incarnation, the sweet smell of incense, the fried smell of fish from the street vendors…


Monday 4 August 2008

The Past

The Past forms us does it not? Whether we are pulling away from our experiences, hiding from them, or embracing them – the Past is always present. Depending on your belief – but that’s not right is it? I mean either something exist or it does not, it doesn’t require belief – which leads to choices (doesn’t everything? Sigh) either time is linear (boring) or it is fluid. I choose fluid because it opens so many possibilities, and as always I leave open the door that I could be wrong.

No matter if you have lived only one lifetime (you youngster you) or many, it is the karma or the history of your existence that makes you what you are now ;or rather how you choose to react to those experiences. What choices we make, which turn in the road we choose, if we run forward into adventure or away from danger – it is our decision as to how our Past exist in our present.

I know from personal experience that you can live in the present physically and yet be living in another time, another experience. When that happens you never leave that place, all your new experiences are colored by the fact you never left. For me the experience was traumatic and life altering, for others I think it can be a moment they felt they were at their best; but it’s never the right thing to do is it? How can we move forward in time unless we have the capacity to travel the river of time freely in both directions?

Light traveling at a finite speed takes ‘some’ time to reach us, so by the time we see the event of the light, it is most likely in the past. If you stand at the mirror and shave or brush your hair you are looking at an image of yourself in the past.

The Global Positioning System (GPS), which relies on satellites to pinpoint locations for devices such as car navigation systems, can function accurately only because it takes into account the effects of special relativity. These effects are significant because the GPS satellites travel at very high speeds and they make use of high-precision timings.

A consequence of Einstein’s special theory of relativity is that both distance and time are flexible; the flexibility of both space and time are inextricably linked – therefore (ta da) spacetime. Spacetime as it happens is the underlying cause of gravity, and bada boom you have the universe in four dimensions

Just as telescopes act as time machines because of the speed of light we can only ever see things as they were in the past. As we observe events in our lives, we can only ever see them in the past. We can postulate outcomes – no, relax I’m not going off on my favourite String Theory spiel – but until we can truly conceive of time as fluid we can’t make as much use of the ‘future’ as we can the ‘past’.

Yes, you guessed it – my own past came to visit last night and I’ve been doing some time traveling of my own. I could really use the Enterprise about now to return for a closer look…


Saturday 2 August 2008

Tsunami in Rabat

I apologize for my absence but I was drowning in the Migraine Tsunami that appeared, like they do, from out of nowhere. As I walked up the stairs from the kitchen bringing my tray of tea to bed to begin my day this morning, I realized how fabulous I feel and it occurs to me the pain-thing is like a hurricane, this one being a class 5.

First comes the dread as you see/feel it coming over the horizon, just the beginnings of the wind/pain/nausea and the darkness in the distance portending the catastrophe to come, and you know there is nowhere to go for escape. If you’re lucky and have enough warning you can lay in supplies (medications and soda) and batten the hatches (put down clean linens and close all the shutters and drapes, turn off the telephone).

Then you can see nothing but the pain as it crashes in on you, the intensity of it driving you into a darkness so intense there is no escape, just the desire to curl up and find that one sweet spot where the storm is less, the lighting just missing instead of striking you straight on. You lose the time, the days; they are simply gone as if you were dead for that spot of time.

Coming out it is like the devastation you see on CNN, the houses, trees, and boats tossed about like kindling. You are so very tired, sore, and stiff and you have lost the time. The day still has an unreal quality like the aftermath of any disaster and you walk slowly and softly in fear that this was only the eye and there is more to come.

Then you have today, oh joy and rapture, when you wake and you are yourself again. I used to feel the most difficult part was the recovery – getting back up off the matt one more time like Rocky in the last round; but now I find I have settled it with myself. It is something that happens to me. It is unpleasant and frustrating, but it is my lot and how I handle it, not the situation itself, will determine my karma. So today my lovely readers I am spry and sassy, ready to make trouble and stir up the Universe. Sometimes I think I can judge the intensity of the pain by how relieved I am when it’s over – did I mention I feel positively giddy?

That’s it then, back to the laptop. Write that book, so we all can find out what happens… Ah there are some new diggings in front of the Oudayas. I will take out the camera tomorrow and explore.