Sunday, October 30, 2011

The road has got me hypnotized and I'm speeding into a new sunrise (Golden Earring)

This post could also have been titled 'Okay - I think I may have seen everything now' if I wasn't wedded to the-song-lyric-fragment-as-title idea..

I don't think I've spoken/written much about driving in the Middle East yet have I?

Allow me to correct that for you.

First though you need some context.

Here is a picture of part of the Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. I include it to show the way roads are laid out in the UAE (and Qatar).

Please note that the main roads are bisected by a median strip - usually crash barriers of some sort. On the left you can see four lanes heading south. On the other side of the median strip (to the right) are four lanes heading north.

Slip roads on either side control the exits and entrances to the lanes. This is the only way to get from the north lane to the south lane.

It is, I repeat, impossible to get into a lane going in the opposite direction. Even if you could, this would be suicide given the next bit.

Traffic speeds are usually up to 140kph on highways. I cruise at 120 (the stated speed limit, the speed cameras are set at 140).

The third piece of crucial information you need is the mentality of the local drivers. They are...insane!

The UAE has the seventh highest road death rate per 100,000 inhabitants per year in the world - 37.1. The other 6 above them are dirt poor third world crazy paving states like Niger 37.5, Angola 37.7, Iraq 38.1, Afghanistan 39, Cook Islands 45 and top of the heap is Eritrea 48.4 (apologies to the lovely Cook Islanders reading this, not sure how you ended up being second, what the heckfire are you doing on your roads??). By contrast, Nu Zild's rate was 8.6.

Basically the drivers here don't care. Generally because, as I say, they are nuts. Mainly young guys in over powered cars with unlimited money and time on their hands. Recently the traffic accident statistics fell for a day by 45%. Why? The Blackberry links went down.

So I have got used to no signals, frequent lane changers, cars racing each other around me, being passed while doing 130kph and so on. all that? Right...

So today I'm driving to school at about 11am having dropped a colleague back home because his wife was ill.

I have the new Mastodon album in the car's CD player and it's really LOUD!

I take the Al Ain/Dubai Rd to Al Foah. It has three lanes and the speed limit is 120 kph. Unfortunately there are no speed cameras on this stretch of highway so you can be passed by maniacs travelling up to 160kph but at least you don't have to worry about pesky (and dangerous) roundabouts. Most accidents happen on the roundabouts.

I'm in the fast lane going past a truck, the extreme left lane next to the median barrier. There are two lanes to my right (the slow lane is hard right). Like this:

Looks and sounds weird I know but with a left hand drive car it makes sense.

Out of nowhere I see headlights flashing on and off ahead of me. But something's wrong. Usually I see this in my rear view mirror - it means 'get out of my way, I am driving a Land Cruiser and you are in a piece-of-shit Tiida, I repeat - get out of my freakin way!!'. This time, though, it is AHEAD OF ME.

They are the main headlights. My brain tells me that this is impossible. This means a car is coming TOWARDS ME!!!!!

The headlights continue to flash on and off in front of me.

A thought: I figure it must be a cop trying to get to an accident scene. As it gets closer I understand that it's a Toyota Ute.

I am travelling at 120 Kph. I can do one of three things, only one: dodge the oncoming car by moving to my right somehow elbowing the truck out of the lane; slow down and go behind the truck; stay where I am and play chicken with the Toyota Ute that is closing the gap between us rather quickly.

I move to my right. Luckily the truck next to me sees the situation (thanks to those flashing lights) and pulls over to the right as well.

In a blur Toyota is gone (I catch a slow motion glimpse of two Emirati men in the front seat, amazingly they appear unconcerned).

The rest of the drive to school is a similar blur of thoughts.

I have no idea how or why what had just happened, happened.

I don't understand how he got to my side of the median strip. I don't understand why he is there. It was all a bit like I'd just glanced out my window and had seen an Emirati riding a polar bear up a sand dune waving his cowboy hat.

I was completely non-plussed.

I think I've now seen it all.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Take me down to junior's farm - take me there Jimi! (Wings)

Latest on the Jimi - his stumpy almost tail is repairing itself slowly and the NZ mince and chicken scraps that SWMBO is feeding him have resulted in the start of a Jimi tummy.

Jimi was down but Jimi is getting back up again - he's obviously feeling a lot better now given that he has started to swat at my ankles as I walk by!

His sleeping possies are in the computer desk (yes - in) while Umm Keegan does her emailing and horse perusing, on a chair in the dining room in the mornings, and guards my CDs by our stereo in the evenings (Jimi recommends the latest from Intronaut, Opeth, Dream Theater, and Mastodon by the way).

Love and Peace - Wozza

Friday, October 28, 2011

When something ends, something else begins (Riverside)

As the eagle-eyed reader will know from the post before last - we are up to Season Five of Grey's Anatomy. In fact we finished watching Season Five yesterday (when something ends...)

Each long serving series has its barking mad season. Let's call it the 'Pam's Dream' season.

I'll explain.

Dallas was a TV show from the eighties that had one whole season explained away as being a dream Pam, his wife's, had had which rendered the whole previous season defunct basically. Defunct and stoopid.

I never watched Dallas again after that. What was the point when the writers could negate a whole season by making it a dream?

So Season Five of GA is the Pam's Dream Season.

Don't believe me? Try these: Izzie is making love to her dead fiancé; the new cardio surgeon has Asperger's Syndrome; the new doctor guy in trauma is fresh from Iraq and he tries to throttle Yang in an Apocalypse Now style scene (he sees the ceiling fan, drops off to sleep then chokes Yang); Izzie has cancer (that explains the making love to her dead fiancé bit then); Derek and his former best friend (who slept with Derek's wife) have a fist fight in front of everyone but then make up; the 'is Cally a lesbian or not' storyline': the operating scenes have become extremely graphic...and so on.

Like I said - the Pam's Dream season.

Aside from all this the main problems with Season Five are the reduction in George scenes, and the softening of the Miranda scenes. The only two characters that we (SWMBO and I) actually like. The George reduction was particularly worrisome and ominous for Season Six.

Now we are just left with Miranda to like. She used to be called 'The Nazi', now she's seen grieving with dying children in her arms.

We start on Season Six today without George (something else begins...)

Love and peace - Wozza

Our own reflection often takes the biggest toll (Intronaut)

My friend CJ sent me a link to this great video

This scene was replicated in our little corner of the sandpit last week as we gathered to watch the final.

You can tell by the facial expressions that to NZers this was way more than just a game we wouldn't mind winning.

I don't think there is any other country on earth where the national psyche is so closely aligned to the national sport.

England? The football tribes are very localised. When I went to Highbury to watch Arsenal play I was with my north London brethren. Just across the north London road (literally) are the hated Spurs supporters. They are clearly NOT my brethren.

When the English national team plays it temporarily unites all the factions but never gets rid of them completely and the team may win or lose without damaging the national psyche. They haven't won the world cup since 1966 (their only triumph). It's no big deal to them. There are no anguished cries of chokers in the international press.

Scotland? Spain? The above holds true times 2.

Brazil may be close to us. But they are a fun loving crowd who will lick their wounds if they lose (they don't lose often - five world cups tells us they are the best footballing country on earth and they know it). And, like us, the Brazilian national team has to win well. A close win without Brazilian flair is an embarrassment to them.

New Zealanders stand alone.

The All Blacks are not only the current Rugby World Cup champions. The ABs are also the IRB's current Team of the Year, the leading points scorers of all time and the only international rugby team with a record winning margin against every test nation they have ever played. Argentina, Ireland and Scotland have never beaten us! The All Blacks have held the top ranking in the world for longer than all other countries combined and in over 100 years only five of the top twenty ranked test rugby nations have ever beaten New Zealand.

But still if we don't wallop an opposition, or if we lose in the knock out matches of a Rugby World Cup we are called 'chokers'.

Like the terrible NZ sacrifice at Gallipoli in World War One, the All Blacks' performances help define us as a people.

The game suits our mentality and national psyche. We are a country founded on the idea of the rugged individual, who, through the tyranny of distance and isolation, looks inward for its heroes. The Maori dimension adds the warrior archetype. We persevere. 'Pinetree' Meads once played a test match with a broken arm.

If you're a kiwi kid you usually start off life playing rugby. When I was a kid I used to say that I wanted to kick a ball like Don Clarke. At primary school I played rugby along with anything else that was going. As football had got its hooks in me when I was four years old I was never going to change codes but I still played rugby for Royal Oak Primary.

Some of the above may help explain why we looked haunted by loss in the last 30 minutes of the world cup. Look at the video again. That's why we felt sick in our stomachs and couldn't bear the thought of losing. Although we loved the win, that's why we didn't even feel great with the score line of eight/seven, or that the French outplayed us in the second half.

All that is fading to memory now though. Jade tells me that the euphoria is over less than a week after we became world champions for a second time.

For New Zealanders the potential gloom was lifted with the win and we now equal Australia and South Africa with two championships. But still we will ache with expectation in four year's time in England when we go for a third.

At least we've buried the 'chokers' tag and those stoopid t-shirts on display before the cup can be chucked in the bin.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast (The Red Queen)

Here's my six inconceivables for today:
  1. Abdulla (one of my Arabic Studies teachers) can have a conversation with me that doesn't include sexual references.
  2. Arsenal will go undefeated for the rest of the season (and thereby win it all - Carling Cup, FA Cup, Champions league and Premiership).
  3. In Season Five of Grey's Anatomy, Izzie Stevens can really have sex with Denny (who died in Season Four).
  4. The Eurozone financial packages (50% debt write off included) will stop countries like Greece living beyond their means and make them become fiscally responsible.
  5. Macca (bass), Ringo (drums), Sean Lennon (rhythm guitar) and Dhani Harrison (lead guitar) will perform as 'The B Beatles' with Yoko on vocals.
  6. Jacky can go a day without looking at 'horses for sale' on Trademe.
Some things are apparently impossible.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Move over Rover and let Jimi take over (James Marshall Hendrix)

Jimi has risen! And the pecking order has been reshuffled!!

We now have Jimi back from the vets following his week of recuperation after he had his tail amputated. The wound is healing thanks to Jacky's diligent ministrations and he's learning about apartment living and already bossing me around.
[Why 'Jimi'? Not because of Hendrix - that's just a happy co-incidence. We live in a district of Al Ain called Al Jimi and our apartment (where Jacky found him) is called Yellow Jimi, because it's painted yellow! So Jimi seemed a good choice.]
Jacky has kitted him out with a collar and bell so that he won't be mistaken for a 'pavement special' if he gets out of our place.

She has also made the spare bathroom into Jimi's bedroom - with a door barrier preventing his escape.

At 2.58am this morning I woke because I heard his bell (Jacky continued to snore on beside me). It jingled for a spell, then quiet, a big jingle, quiet, then thirty seconds of jingling before silence.

By this stage I was three quarters awake myself so I got up to see what was happening and get a drink. I was pretty sure that the jingles meant Jimi had jumped on and over the barrier and was relocating himself on a lounge chair.

I checked and, as I'd dreamily surmised Jimi had vacated his bedroom. Lounge? Nope. Kitchen? Nope.

I had a drink and dreamily stumbled back to bed, dreamily careful to check that I wasn't going to step on wee Jimi.

The alarm woke me for work at 5am as per usual. I remembered the 2.58am adventure and went searching for Jimi. Spare bedrooms? Nope. Under beds? Nope. Laundry? Nope.

Then I remembered where Soda loved to sleep - on a dining room chair. Sure enuf - there was Jimi, still fast asleep.

I think you'll agree he is on the mend (even though he has a permanently sour facial expression - bless 'im).

We have removed the bell (no chance of him threatening a bird in our place) and the barrier. I'm hoping for a better sleep tonight, if Jimi lets me.

Love and peace - Wozza (with assistance from Jimi as seen above)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You shall not pass (Gandalf)

In the spirit of Robert Nivell (Ils ne passeront pas/On ne passe pas), Dolores Ibárruri Gómez (¡No pasarán!) and Gandalf the Grey - the All Blacks would not budge today.

It was really, really tense and it was brutal to watch as the ABs battled to fight the quick-sand that the French put us in after half time.

Jacky and I joined up with some workmates at the Al Ain golf club (having got time off work from our respective schools to watch the final) and we agonised for 80 minutes and hoped and prayed that the French wouldn't take it away from us again.

A loss was unthinkable. The whole of Nu Zild would have been riddled with depression for another four, long years.

As we watched the French team turn into men possessed (a few of them even resembled the Balrog), we all wondered if the heights the team reached against the Wallabies in the previous game meant we had nothing left in the tank.

In the end our dread of losing transferred itself into a staunch kiwi resolve - our defense was immense against wave after wave of French attack. But still...the nagging seemed we may not hang on. It seemed that we were again destined to lose to the dastardly French team in the dying moments.

I can recall a couple of times that I've wanted to win a game so much that it makes my stomach churn and my pulse race. This was the latest example.

In fact, it turned out to be quite special day elsewhere as well. Arsenal beat Stoke 3 - 1 and Manchester City humiliated and destroyed  that damned United 6 - 1. Ouch! But it's early days in the premiership. A lot can and will happen before May next year.

That's for another time - it's the men in black that created so much pride in us kiwis in a far flung land. For the next four years we are the champions of the rugby world. Fantastic!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, your life, karma, whatever (Steve Jobs)

I came across this address by Steve Jobs recently and some of the messages reminded me of my recent post on patience.

You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards...

Love and Peace - Wozza

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Well now you know that your cat has nine lives to itself (Dr Winston O'Boogie)

Much of this week has been spent tending to a stray cat.

We arrived home from the supermarket on Saturday afternoon to find what looked like a really beat up feral cat in the garage to Yellow Jimi.

There are feral cats everywhere in Al Ain. They hang around the waste bins that line the roads and are lean and battered looking. We have three regulars that chill outside our apartment waiting for Jacky to give them our leftovers. I didn't think much of it when I saw the one in the garage.

Jacky went down to give it some food and discovered it wasn't feral at all. His tail had been 'de-gloved' (Jacky's elegant term) and was raw but his purrer was intact. She bundled it up and we took it to a vet (well we thought it was a vet, a place called The Modern Vet Clinic - you can see why we'd think that). The vet gave Jimi (I'd christened him by now) some shots, said he was about 5 months old, but also said he'd be fine so we took Jimi home.

You can see that he was really impressed by the whole thing!

On the way we, of course, had to stock up on cat paraphernalia - litter box, cat cage etc.

I went to work the next day and talked to my mathematics advisor (Jan) about Jimi. Jan is a cat lover/rescuer with form so I knew she'd know stuff. Turns out the place we'd gone to was a vet supplier! So I got her directions to the proper vet clinic and back we went.

Turns out Jimi had more injuries that we (and the vet supplies guy) hadn't spotted - leg, teeth and lots of bugs. Looks like wee Jimi has used up 8 of those 9 lives but he was lucky enough to find Jacky.

Jimi has now had his tail amputated, his leg attended to, been deloused and sorted - we hope. The vet rang me at work (Jimi is staying in for a few days) to let me know that Jimi is doing okay. According to her Jimi is about 5 years old and a really expensive breed.

Inshallah he'll make it through the next few days. The infection in his tail was pretty bad, but Jacky's TLC has given him a shot at least.

Rest assured I'll keep the blogosphere posted.

Love and Peace - Wozza

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The good guys dress in black, remember that (Will Smith)

The All Blacks have just beaten the wallabies 20 - 6 at fortress Eden Park.

That result means a repeat of the 1987 Rugby World Cup final (a match up I predicted in a company competition before the first game of this year's version).

Our internet crashed at school so Jacky had to ring me every time there was a score. It actually made the whole thing really exciting and during the second half when the All Blacks were up 20 - 6 I didn't want to hear the phone ring (and it didn't until the final whistle).

I can't wait to watch a repeat of this game on TV tonight. In fact I think I could watch this game over and over again.

Arsenal play Sunderland this afternoon to make for a complete day (but I joked with Christine Ryan that I'd trade the Arsenal result for an All Blacks win so...)

Love and Peace - Wozza (in all black)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh All Blacks we love you!!

It's the day before the All Blacks take on Australia for a place at redemption in the Rugby World Cup final next week.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One day at a time is good for you (Johnny Rhythm)

Whanau birthdays come thick and fast at this time of the year (especially for Ross' bunch).

Birthday wishes from sand land then, to Ginger Bear (a.k.a. Scott Graham Purdy) - 6th Roctober; Teenie Weenie - 12th Roctober; Lynda Maree Purdy - 9th Roctober; Ross Graham Purdy - 18th Roctober and Hayden Ross Purdy - 23rd Roctober.

And, although not technically part of the whanau, Roctober 9 is forever associated with John and Sean Lennon. Hope it was a good one Sean (you never know he might google his name and make his way here).

Love and Peace - Uncle Warren (a.k.a. big brother)

Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads (Snow Patrol)

SWMBO does not like comedians and can't see why I adore some of the genius exponents of a good chuckle (Groucho, Woody, Bill Murray, Jerry Seinfeld, Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais frinstance).

So we watch a lot of action films and TV series (The Unit, 24) because that's where our tastes intersect. Period shows like Downton Abbey and medical dramas are also in the intersection mix.

Currently we are watching Grey's Anatomy. This is definitely Jacky territory but it's growing on me as I get comfortable with the characters and the gooey surgical procedures (still not there with that last bit).

We're up to season three (and don't worry Jade I'll be bringing them back to Nu Zild at some point).

The old hospital drama eh. Doctors and nurses. Sex basically. Where did doctors and nurses get this reputation from?

Growing up I remember seeing a lot of Richard Gordon's Doctor fixated novels about our house: Doctor in Clover, Doctor in the House, Doctor at Sea, Doctor on Toast (yes that was really the title) etc etc. That was the early 60's. They were pretty tame but never-the-less the old nudge nudge wink wink was often part of the subtext.

I'm not sure where the stereotype of the nurse as an administring angel (dressed in white) got turned into the promiscuous version that is often seen in TV hospital dramas in the late 20th/early 21st centuries. Let's not even think about the daytime soaps version of general hospitals and sand through the hourglass type shite.

It's interesting that some of my favourite TV medical dramas have all drawn on the stereotype.

M*A*S*H* (a smart, anti-war comedy) also had Margaret 'Hotlips' Hoolihan and a parade of readily available nurses for Hawkeye and the rest of the male cast to drool over; ER started with George Clooney as the dishy doc and he had relationships with various cast members before heading away to star in movies and ads for Omega watches.

Grey's Anatomy doesn't deviate much from the ER template - bizarre medical cases, doctors regularly swapping sexual partners, dramatic relationships between characters, traumatic events (the bomb in the body episode was a memorable episode), and more doctors regularly swapping sexual partners.

The point of difference is probably the focus on the younger doctors (interns) as they learn their profession in a highly glamourised way (obviously the show doesn't often show the brutal hours and the mundane routines - this has to be an exciting hour to spend our time after all). The racial mix is also much more interesting and the musical montages are a great feature. It also appears to be really realistic (those gooey scenes that Jacky loves).

The drama associated with doctors and nurses in a hospital is clearly a proven winner. The show has been hugely successful and is up to season eight now.

Of the main characters Jacky and I agree that Meredith Grey's voice is annoying and she is the least likeable character (Yang is a close second). George (left) is easily our favourite character. He's like a rumpled cuddly puppy compared to the intentionally obnoxious Alex and the blonde trailer-park-trashy, at times feral, Izzy.
I think that's why I enjoy the show actually - the characters are well drawn and multi-dimensional and we are slowly finding out more and more about them as the seasons unwind. Just when you think you have a charcter nailed the writers reveal something else about them that forces a reassessment.

Alex (a.k.a. Evil Spawn) for example can be seriously annoying and confrontational but then there will be an episode that shows he has a sense of humour; just when you think he's the shallowest man alive he not only drains a little more out of the pool but in the next episode he will do something nice for someone (like not kill them).

An enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Love and peace - Wozza

Oh btw - finished Groucho and Me and now moving apace through I Am Ozzy. Obviously he was taped doing a while lotta remembering and then hours of disjointed stories and memories were pieced together by a writer (Chris Ayres). That doesn't mean it isn't Ozzy's book or that its not a terrific read - it is (both).

Full of Ozzy honesty and details about his younger self and the emergence of Black Sabbath from the Earth. Superb and funny as firetruck.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you (Walt Whitman)

I'm a little obsessed with autobiographies at the moment. A vicarious and voyeuristic thrill.

I blame Keith Richards. And Andre Agassi. Who'd a thought?

Since reading Life, and Open I have been rediscovering the joys associated with reading about someone else's life.

Currently I have Groucho and Me by Groucho Marx as a guide to comedy, brotherhood, and living well and waiting in the wings I have four others:

Ozzy Osbourne - I Am Ozzy
Neil McCormick - Killing Bono
Ronnie Wood - Ronnie
Patti Smith - Just Kids

The Groucho book is remarkable. For one thing - I love his voice, and his voice shines through every sentence. For another - I love the way he loves his family (including the incorrigible Chico). For another - I love the anecdotes he selects.

Groucho And Me (His real name was Julius Marx) was written in 1959 when he was still active as an entertainer.

As a comedian he was a genius and he's right when he says that comedians 'are a much rarer and a far more valuable commodity than all the gold and precious stones in the world. But because we are laughed at, I don't think people really understand how essential we are to their sanity'.

He's also smart. Smart enough to quote the playwright S Behrman (no - I hadn't heard of him either) on how good comic acting trumps straight dramatic acting:
Any playwright who has been up against the agony of casting plays will tell you that the actor who can play comedy is the fellow to shoot for. The comic intuition gets to the heart of a human situation with a precision and a velocity unobtainable in any other way. A great comic actor will do it for you with an inflection of voice as adroit as a flick of the wrist of a virtuoso fencer.
A pretty decent description of the wonderful Groucho!

Love and Peace - Wozza

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Patience was her virtue still (Elvis Costello from 'Little Atom')

Today's theme is Patience.

Paul Sweeney (no, I don't know who he is either) once asked a pretty good question:

How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? 

 I suspect that Paul lived in a more innocent age of Betty Crocker cakes, watching Bonanza with a TV tray on his knee and polaroids. What would he make of today's instant gratification? Waiting more than a nano second for an interweb connection drives us potty.

My mother always said, "Patience is a virtue - possess it if you can. It's found in a woman, but seldom in a man".

As always Ralph Waldo Emerson has his finger on the pulse: Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  

Ryokan (a Japanese Zen poet) wrote a simple poem:
Maple leaf
Falling down
Showing front
Showing back

The maple leaf's journey (slowly drifting) in the poem exemplifies a natural freedom (a buddhist would call this 'right action' - the fourth aspect of the eightfold path).

It is the opposite of a willed, goal-oriented action that usually governs our lives. Generally our desire, our actions, our speech, and our thoughts are geared toward bringing about some particular end product by exerting control. Then, when these efforts at control fail, we suffer.

I can hear friends of mine saying something like - what should I be? A leaf in the wind? Having no will or goals?

But we really are that leaf in the wind. We are all part of that nature that Emerson says we should look to as an example.We are the maple leaf! By all means have your goals but know that trying to exert control is useless because we never had it to begin with.

Let me use an example to show what I mean.

I have a particular problem with flying in a plane because I don't feel comfortable giving up control. I resist and I really suffer.

I have a little mantra of sayings that I repeat to myself when I feel particularly stressed in the plane and it starts with - c a l m (intake of breath) b r e a t h i n g (out take of breath). I find this helps a lot.

I then try hard to acknowledge that I never had control in the first place and that gets me through the flight.

I try to remember the maple leaf.

The wider implications of this are felt in my daily life. Problems always come when I try to control a situation.

Take a job interview frinstance.

I do thorough preparation for the interview. I research the school and analyse its data. I think of all the types of questions that I might be asked. At this point my maple leaf is still attached to the tree. It is not a question of control or not.

The second I get into the actual interview the maple leaf detaches itself and starts its drift (showing front, showing back). The interview takes on a life of its own. I have no control over the types of questions I am asked. I have no control over the thoughts and motives of the interviewers. I have no control over the outcome either.

I deliberately relinquish control and feel good and this persists after the interview. Because I know from bitter experience that if my mind seeks to control things that it can't - I am headed for longing, wanting, craving and the pain of confusion.

When I went for a recent job interview the person who was meeting and greeting applicants commented on how relaxed I appeared. I assured her I was relaxed. Little did she know it was all down to a humble maple leaf.

Love and peace - Wozza

That I might be a part of this, ripple on water from a lonesome drip (Laura Marling)

To study the Buddha's way is to study the self,
to study the self is to forget the self,
to forget the self is to be awakened
by ten thousand things.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In a life of dream am I (Patti Smith)

Today, Mohammed (my Principal) told me about a dream he had yesterday. 

He dreamt about me.

He was surprised to see me in his dream. I was with three other people (he doesn't know who the others were or he forgot who they were before he woke).

He was again surprised because I was dressed in the white ihram, a garment consisting of two sheets of white unhemmed cloth that pilgrims wear.

He spoke to me and asked why I was dressed like this. I said I was on the haij (the pilgrimage to Mecca).

This again surprised him and he asked if I knew how to act on the hajj. In his dream I told him about the series of rituals! He was amazed!

Then he woke.

Mohammed said it was a very vivid dream and it is a very good omen for me. I thanked him a lot!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Take the elevator to the escalator, ride it down and start again (Weezer)

As per every one of my birthdays, since about 1970, I bought some Beatles product on my latest trip to the Dubai Mall.

Every year, around this time, I manage to add to my Fabs collection which just goes to show that the Beatles have never gone (and never will go) out of fashion or stop generating revenue for someone.

My latest two additions: Fab Faq 2.0 : The Beatles' Solo Years 1970-1980 by Robert Rodrigeuz is a companion volume to Fab Four Faq which has some amazingly esoteric facts on the Fabs that I've never seen before. I picked up the first volume a few months ago and saw this one at the Dubai Mall Bookstore as well. Knowing I had a birthday coming up I carefully hid it behind some other Beatles' books (there are lots so there was no danger someone would spot it).

The second addition was the latest copy of Filter magazine (number 45).

It's not really my kind of magazine - it's aimed a few generations younger than me, issue 45 does have a certain George Harrison on the cover though and that certainly got my attention.

The inside 'story' surrounds various young musicians and their thoughts on George (there is a new Scorsese documentary coming out which looks amazing and it's 10 years since George died).

I enjoyed reading it but the rest of the magazine is very glossy - lots of ads for American icons like Levis jeans - that sort of thing. The landscape format for the thing is quite weird too - the sizing above is accurate for the page layout and that takes a little adjusting to - damn thing kept sliding off my knees!

Talking of the Dubai Mall - I have this recurring fantasy that is a lot like the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal. I could easily live in the Dubai Mall. Easily!

It has it all. It really is a city in there. Apart from the fact that I would have unlimited supply to new technology (computer stores by the dozen), and old technology (I would never run out of books to read from the Bookstore, or music or movies to watch from Virgin or at the movie theatres).

There are seemingly endless places to have a meal or grab a coffee. Sleeping would not need to be rough - there are many really posh home decor stores.

Fashion? You name it. Sports equipement? Check.

Bathrooms? They are all over the place.

I can't think of anything I'd need that you couldn't get there. Even peace and quiet is available (the Mall opens slowly and sleepily at 10am).

In fact I'd be very willing to conduct a Big Brother House type experiment - to live in the Dubai Mall for...I don't know...a month? Two months? No problem. Anyone want to sponsor me?

Love and peace - Wozza

Gonna start the revolution from my bed (Oasis)

Thanks for all the birthday messages from the whanau on Facebook and via email. Great to know you're all out there thinking about me from time to time.
Ross sent me a great (early) birthday message - wishing me a happy 54th revolution around the sun.

Maybe I'm a complete idiot, but that doesn't sound like much does it? In the great scheme of things 54 years is nothing.

Having just finished Bill Bryson's At Home book I am keenly aware of how slow technological progress has been until very recently. The last 54 years have seen an explosion of changes, and yet...I am sitting at a desk, on a chair, around me are books, papers and things that someone in 1957 would recognise without too much problem.

Never-the-less, I thought it might be fun to comment on a few of the changes in daily life since 1957 as I experience them today.

Number 1 - In 1957, no personal computers, no blogs, no interweb. I would have written this out on paper using a ballpoint pen (I still prefer a fountain pen but ballpoints had been invited way before 1957) and mailed it. I would have had to send it to you all individually and by the time you received the letter everything would be out of date. If you wanted to reply that would have had me waiting for weeks. As well as that - the person who recently logged on to one of my posts from Nigeria would not have had his life enriched by reading Wordsworth's words.

Number 2 - no CDs, no car sound systems or even radios in the car. I would not have been listening to Devin Townsend's Ziltoid The Omniscient in my car's sound system on the way to work this morning. Music, of course, would have been available in my home via vinyl long players, but without much to listen to. Although Elvis was on the Ed Sullivan show in 1957 it would be years before his influences were felt in far away New Zealand.

Number 3 - no Masafi Touch of Peach bottled water. I've just cracked open a bottle. Not available in 1957. If I wanted a drink of water then I would have gone to the tap (not really a recommended practice in the UAE)

Number 4 - no mobile phone technology. Just received a call from Jacky from her cell phone. Where we live in the UAE there are no land lines to houses (or even our offices at school) because cell phone technology is so much easier. There is a landline in the Deputy Principal's office. It rings about once a week on average. The landline in the Principal's office is for the fax machine. 

Number 5 - no staple gun, electronic calculator, glue sticks, and highlighters. That person from 1957 walking into my office would not recognise these items of stationery on my desk. And where would we be without the highlighter??

Number 6 - no country! Yes that's right - the United Arab Emirates did not exist as a country in 1957. It celebrates its 40th birthday this year.

Number 7 - no digital cameras. Pros and cons here. How many of us loved the thrill of collecting a wallet of photos from the chemists after about a week? The immediate opportunity to delete a load of tat is pretty cool though!

Number 8 - no Jacqueline Frances Smith. It took another 5 years for She Who Must Be Obeyed to emerge. Without SWMBO, no Keegan, Adam, Samantha or Jade.

And what about a few things that have been around since 1957?

Number 1 - air conditioning. Yes, a product that we couldn't live without in the UAE has, amazingly, been around since 1902 when the first modern electrical air conditioning unit was invented.

Number 2 - traffic roundabouts. But only just. The modern roundabout to ease traffic congestion dates from mid century surprisingly. Again - the UAE would have a very different kind of chaos on the roads if there were no roundabouts. Al Ain has hundreds of the things!

Number 3 -! Yes without Wozza's world there would also be no Keegan, Adam, Samantha, Jade so I think you guys owe me!

Love and peace - Wozza on his 54th Revolution