a bit distracted

Life doesn't have to be a spectator sport

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ludditt's plan for saving the planet

Russian scientists will soon meet in secret to work on a plan for saving Earth from a possible catastrophic collsion with a giant asteroid in 26 years.... [7 Days, P13]

Very interesting, n'est pas? Reading on, it seems that in 2036 we are facing 1:250,000 odds (down from 1:45,000 - phew!) of being struck by the Apophis asteroid, which, if it hits us, will create a desert the size of France. The exact path that the asteroid follows on a flyby in 2029 will determine whether it smashes into the Earth seven years later.


Apparently this gathering of the world's shiniest foreheads from Russia, Europe, US and China (what....no one from the Middle East? But we've even got Virgin Galactic launching from Ras Al Khaimah soon) are going to try applying the laws of physics, rather than nuclear explosion, to avoid a collision.

Jolly good.

I studied Astronomy as part of my physics GCSE - with variable success - so have a bit of a fascination for all things planetary. And I'm sure these guys have thought of this already. BUT...if we're to believe old Newton then I'm wondering where we're going to find a 350m diameter object that's pretty damn solid, to project into space on the right path...in the right direction....at the right time and speed....in order to cause the equal and opposite reaction and send Apophis back from whence it came. In the grand scheme of the universe as we currently know it, I'm thinking that's a bit 'needle in a haystack'-esque for this particular task.

So here's what I'd do.

I would gather together all 'end of the world' type movies, particularly those involving Bruce Willis and any that are futuristic sci-fi (therefore involving technology that's more imaginative than your average nuclear bomb), and invest a month or so in a bit of research. As an aside, it's a fine excuse to study Ben Affleck. We've got nine years until the first milestone and no one seemed to feel rushed into getting their heads together when odds were five times higher, so I'm thinking there's bandwidth here.

This would be followed by an open session brainstorm that invites 4-15 year old kids to dream up the most far-flung and ridiculous ideas possible for saving the earth. The ideas of children are constrained only by the realms of their imagination, unlike us boring adults, so I would put money on one of them coming up with something that one day turned into gold. Only then would I introduce a computer and put a bunch of scientists in the room.

By this time, we are probably much closer to aforementioned fly-by and can either say goodbye to France, or...positive thinking....put the drawing board away and congratulate ourselves on dodging another bullet.

On the other hand, I do agree that it's a damn fine job that I don't run a country - though my cabinet meetings would be a lot more interesting than Gordon's probably are!

Monday, December 28, 2009

What colour is your mood?

Everybody knows I love a spot of pampering...and am fascinated by any kind of mystical reading...so imagine my joy on finding this little gem in JBR!

Last night I used a random 'buy a treatment, get a free thai massage' voucher to treat myself at Spa Dunya. I'd never been before - and was more than a little put off by the name - but actually it may be one of Dubai's best kept secrets.

The concept for the salon is colour - light, energy, health and well-being through colour. So before my treatment I was taken into a little room to choose my colours. Here's what we found out:

Purple: I crave a return to basics, have a nostalgia for the past and feel like I'm suffering from extreme materialism. This colour represents a connection to family - especially my mum - and a need for more balance in life. Well I am missing London a lot...but then, who doesn't want to be at home - and especially with their mum - at Christmas, and who in Dubai isn't a victim of excess materialism?!

Pick another colour...

Orange: This is a feminine colour that represents creativity, a connection to the senses and a need for reassurance or intimacy. It is a healthy colour for women, encouraging energy flows in all the right places. Also craved by those with a tendency to over-intellectualise things. Do I over-think? Nooo....surely not. Do I? I do, don't I. Actually, I surprised myself by picking orange, but not as much as with the next selection...

Yellow: This is the male colour so complements the previous choice of orange (back to balance again - did someone say Libra?), and is all about joy, happiness, spontineity and self confidence. It is good for releasing stress held in the stomach and for un-blocking emotional, er, blockages. And to think my friends laughed when I said I think I needed my energy flows unblocked! I think she said yellow was also good for weight loss - bonus.

And finally...

Indigo blue: Indigo is all about embracing change, living in the moment and being yourself. Tends to appeal to those seeking mental clarity (yup!) and whose mind needs calming (yup yup!) so that they can sleep (oh sleep would be lovely). This colour also aids intuition.

Apparently your choice of colours may change at different times, depending on your mood and what your body needs. I guess it's a bit like tarot cards, that you can read into it whatever you like...but I enjoyed it and now have much to ponder (without over-thinking, obviously!)

And the treatments? The Thai massage was good - not the best in the world ever, but all my various kinks were ironed out and I'm feeling very bendy today! The facial was simply AMAZING. I'd definitely recommend this spa to a friend, so look past the name and give it a shot.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas: approach with caution

As with most things in Dubai, my second festive season spent in the desert was a spectacular, yet all too brief, firecracker of a celebration with a slightly surreal edge. Blink (or should that be drink?)...and you'll miss it.

This year I spent the day with 14 other Christmas orphans, and it was actually pretty magical. We had a table in the garden that was sprinkled with glitter, the obligatory Secret Santa, a festive feast and more wine than you could shake a cracker at. I missed my family -although I genuinely think they appreciated my slightly tipsy wake up call from 3,500 miles away - but had a truly fab time with friends (and people I didn't know but was drunk enough to befriend pretty quickly).

Highlights include:

- That first make-or-break glass of bubbles
- The real life dancing elf-in-a-box sent round to apparently 'woo' a girl (for future reference - it didn't work!) and the truly terrible Dubai version of 'Ten Days of Christmas'
- Sitting in the sunshine thinking of friends and family back home, and - later on - cowering from the rain, thinking of friends and family back home!
- Christmas dinner - delicious
- Cheeeeeeeeese....and lots of it
- Discovering secret psychic powers - don't challenge me to a game of charades!
- Getting locked in the toilet (but relieved to find out how quickly I was missed - aaaahhh)
- Finding sparkly bits of table decoration that got EVERYWHERE!
- That sodding talking parrot pen!

And finally....

- Having all of this fun on Christmas Day and still having gifts to unwrap the next day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Festive camel seeks Christmas spirit

Approaching the end of the year brings a welcome close to a few exhausting months in the land of sand. Contrary to world newspaper reports, the UAE hasn't sunk or imploded - we are in fact still very much alive and kicking. And while ever we've still got jobs, a beach, a blue sky, bars, restaurants, malls - need I go on...oooh nearly forgot sheesha - I think many expats will be sticking around.

So, having put that rumour to rest, where the bl**dy hell is Christmas guys?

There are pockets of sparkle around the city, but frankly it's a bit disappointing that the most festive place I find on Christmas Eve Eve is Spinneys Supermarket in Oud Metha. All of the way into work I was frantically willing the radio to put on a Christmas tune, just a hint of Nat King Cole would make my day, but no - Simply Red came on and I had to switch over to the news channel. Caribou, a Canadian coffee chain that even seems Christmassy in the 50-degree heat, was barely in the spirit and my Christmas tunes CD is still MIA.

Undeterred, I donned my santa hat and purchased the team mince pies...but it's still not doing the trick. Come on Dubai - show me some Christmas spirit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World press freedom...with hilarious consequences

A return to my soapbox on the topic of press freedom. But hang onto your hats, we're going global.

There's an article in the Economist this week that looks at the World Press Freedom Index, noting that although Western Europe has its issues, they seem to be nothing compared to the new entrants to the EU.

In Slovakia, for example, the parliament passed a law last year that means editors have to guarantee the subject of a story the right to reply, and the reply has to be the same length of original and placed in the same prominence within the publication....even if the original's facts were correct.

This is clearly one of those laws that should end in "....with hilarious consequences!"

Imagine if the Slovaks had the same celebutante obesssion as the Brits. Victoria Beckham would practically own The Sun, Paris Hilton would be hospitalised from the exhaustion of creating more....more....more....more column inches for herself, and we'd never hear the end of the Big Brother contestants.

Having said that, the likelihood of any of these people having the wits and wisdom to fill the column inches to which they become entitled is pretty low.....so I guess it would keep us PRs in a job for a little while longer!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You want DVD?

Yes folks, the famous fake DVD sales people of Dubai were dealt a shocking blow today as six people were jailed for selling illegal DVDs.

I've never bought any myself. I once borrowed a friend's copy of Lions for Lambs and wasn't overly impressed that the night scenes were so dark I couldn't see any action. Granted it does probably get quite dark in the middle of the Afghan desert at night, but I presume the director thought about that and brought some lighting. I was, however, amazed by Tom Cruise's fluency in the Russian language and the way he effortlessly slipped between that and his native American. Who knew Tom Cruise was a cunning linguist?

Whether it's this experience, or a symptom of being shockingly honest - or maybe the FACT advertising that banged on about how fake DVD's single-handedly support those naughty drugs barrons actually worked on someone - I can hold my hands up and say I have never bought a fake DVD. Even at 10 dirhams a pop.

I mentioned this to my Kuwaiti colleague the other day who was stunned. "But I see it like this" he said, "in buying fake DVD I support my local economy rather than some international film maker". How so? "My neighbour is probably the guy making the DVDs"

A lovely piece of cultural insight!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BB viewers in 'finding life' shocker

Admittedly I'm a bit slow on this one, but I've just got my 4 September issue of PR Week and am DELIGHTED to read that Big Brother is to be scrapped next year.

Sorry @shoesandtattoos, but you know it's rubbish too!

I'm surprised not to have picked up the news on Twitter earlier, but - despite being 3 weeks behind the times - it's made my morning.

It's a fine day for the British population when viewers finally show that they quite simply have do have better things to do and voted with their feet. One fine friend aside, good for the Brits that have discovered life beyond watching 10 losers waste their life in a bungalow in East London while it's sunny outside.