murray global blog

27/03/2011

The Taper

Filed under: Lifestyle, Runnning and Fitness — murrayglobal @ 2:07 pm

I’ve officially entered the most nerve-wracking time for a marathon runner – the taper.

These guys get a rest too......

A marathon runner slowly builds up their endurance over a few months.  Just like roasting a marshmallow – go too fast and you burn into a crisp (injuries!). If you go too slow you don’t get that glorious toasted taste from reaching the finishing line!

Saturday I ran my last long run (+18 miles) in typical Lagos heat (+88F). I was toasted at the end, but relieved that I was done with my serious training.

Also stopped playing squash with IB. Don’t need to twist an ankle a week before the event.

Now the nerve wracking 10 days until the race.

More on Mozzies

Filed under: Lifestyle, Murray Personal, Nigerian Culture, People — murrayglobal @ 1:45 pm

If you read this blog, you’ve read about my curiosity with those nasty airborne monsters – mozzies. I’ve been seeing more of them around the flat lately. Seemed strange, as Benoit and I are very good about keeping doors and windows closed tight.

Ola, my ace PA told me that she uses mozzie spray every other day to kill the bastards. She insists that I begin to do the same. So, in order to keep Ola off my back, here’s what Benoit now sprays around the flat, every other day……

For good mozzie hygiene spray every other day....



When Ibrahim, a close colleague at work, found out I’ll be heading to Jordan in a couple of days (to run the Dead Sea Marathon), he advised picking up some malaria medicine to carry with me. The rationale is that when malaria victims come down with the crud when they’re not in malaria country, the docs may not diagnose the illness correctly. And even if they do diagnose it, they often don’t have the meds. So now I carry a full dose of malaria meds.

This stuff is expensive ($75) - but could be priceless if needed!

On a Mission to Port Harcourt

Filed under: Nigerian Culture, Places — murrayglobal @ 1:31 pm

Port Harcourt - at the base of the Niger River Delta, is the hob of oil trading and kidnapping!

Typical Street Scene - more spacious than Lagos

The first Nigerian I met upon arrival to Nigeria was Aja, from Port Harcourt (PHC). We met at the hotel I was staying at in Lagos. To make a long story short, Aja was our Regional GM for South South Nigeria, headquartered in PHC. Aja emails me every month, asking me to come down to visit him. Great guy.

But our travel/security team says ‘no way are you going to PHC! Even we won’t go there!’.

These kind of challenges always attract me, so I’ve spent almost a year trying to figure out how to get a trip to PHC into my schedule. When the Boss requested that a couple of the Chiefs and Directors go down for an employee meeting, I immediately volunteered.

The greeters at the PHC airport - you know that this is going to be serious when you're met by guys like this.

This week I spent a day down in PHC. Here are my impressions:

Things are definitely much more tense regarding security. I was immediately met as I left the airport arrivals and whisked to a bullet proof SUV to wait until others arrived. Surrounded by AK toting police. Yes, they take security seriously here!

Driving to the hotel/office is very controlled. Roads are generally in good shape, except for construction spots. PHC appears more logically laid out and spacious than cramped and chaotic Lagos.

The staff I met at our office were all good peeps. They seem to genuinely respect an Oyibo who will come and visit with them, hear their stories, etc….some of these folks have really tough jobs. Going deep into the back country to make things work. Threats of violence, kidnapping, etc….very raw life.

20/03/2011

Lagos Marathon – not!

Filed under: Nigerian Culture, People, Runnning and Fitness — murrayglobal @ 3:35 pm

Hot, humid and full of adventure opportunities – the Lagos Marathon could be!

There is NO Lagos marathon. There are a couple of races that are called marathons, but nothing even close to the real deal – 42kms/26.2miles.

And for this,  super-woman, and fellow Ikoye Running Club partner Esther (who is considered a Nigerian running / fitness goddess!) laments.

Read her recent interview in the local sports section.

Obiekwe decries demise of Lagos Marathon

Sports Mar 18, 2011

Nigeria’s sole representative at international marathon races, Esther Obiekwe has described the absence of a world class marathon in Nigeria and indeed Lagos as a disappointment adding that it represented an embarrassment for  Lagos aspiring to be a mega City.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/03/obiekwe-decries-demise-of-lagos-marathon/

It does seem a shame that there isn’t a real marathon here in Lagos. In fact, there are no marathons anywhere in Western Africa (as best I can tell). UPDATE: Accra Marathon (Ghana) takes place on 30 September 2012. The Lagos runners will be there!

A Lagos marathon would separate the wheat from the chafe, that’s for sure. Usually hot (+28C/85F) and muggy (+65%) with some of the most pot hole strewn roads you’re likely to find in any megalopolis anywhere. Then there’s all the ‘interesting’ street scenes. To the uninitiated to Lagos, you’d either want to stop to observe – or run like hell to get back to safety!

But the biggest hassle would be in getting travel visas for foreigners. I don’t know why, but getting a visa to visit here is expensive (+$200), time-consuming (1 month) and confusing. But it can be done….

But if the right people put their energy behind organizing the event, and some corporate sponsorship kicked in, a Lagos marathon could be a ‘must do’ event for distance runners. It would be a combination ‘standard’ marathon + a large dose of  ‘adventure’ added in.

Runnin’ the Lagos would be considered a major runner accomplishment – like Boston, the Comrades.

Go Esther – let’s see if we can pull it off!

18/03/2011

The End Days are Approaching

Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle — murrayglobal @ 6:22 pm
My hooligan friends from Detroit, with gallons of brand consumption experience, do not approve of this!!!
 
An obvious sign that the end days are approaching – fruit flavored Colt 45?!

This isn’t your father’s Colt 45.

The new owners of that malt-liquor brand, with the help of rapper Snoop Dogg, plan to unveil next month a label called Blast by Colt 45. The beverage will contain fruit flavors and 12% alcohol by volume, about twice the level of the original version of Colt 45.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704360404576206621165029478.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_Top

Here's your Dad's Colt 45 - the Good Stuff!

Rising Tensions as the Political Season Approaches

Filed under: Nigerian Culture, Places, Politics — murrayglobal @ 5:38 pm

The Nigerian national elections are sneaking up on us. Scheduled for 9 April, it is obvious that the intensity of the political manoeuvering is increasing. Elections and the political processes over here are not as mature as the US, UK, etc….I’m enjoying watching things bubble up.

But it is clear that more trouble is rising. More crime. There’s a heightened tenseness on the street. Most of us expatriates are keeping a lower profile.

This came out from our Director of Security earlier today.

Dear Colleagues,

As the tempo of political campaigns heightens across the country, there is also some tension   and anxiety particularly among the leadership and loyalists of the political parties. This situation, as past experience has shown, often leads to physical violence that affects not only the political actors but also innocent on-lookers/passers-by. The   trend so far, indicates a worse scenario than the past, considering the recorded incidents involving  explosives, at a campaign rally at Suleja,  Niger  state .

Furthermore on Monday 14 March 2011, a warning of bomb attacks on political gatherings and oil installations, in Abuja,  Lagos and Niger/Delta area, was reported to have been issued by the Movement for Emancipation of Niger/Delta (MEND). It will be recalled that the same group claimed responsibility for the anniversary day bombings in Abuja last year. Other indicators of unhealthy politicking include, among others:

  • tension between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Lagos, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states;
  • violent clashes between PDP and CPC supporters  in  Katsina state
  • clashes between PDP and ACN supporters in Osun state;
  • intra party crises in PDP in Ogun and Oyo and in CPC  in Katsina  and Kano states
  • the attitudes of ruling parties towards  opposition in various states;  and
  • engagement of unemployed youths as thugs by politicians  that can turn violent on behalf of their masters, at the slighted provocation.   

 

In view of the situation as indicated above, the entire staff of XXXX are advised as follows:

  • Avoid all political gatherings, venues, routes and political campaign trains
  • pay attention to local media news and adverts to keep abreast of the political climate in your state of residence, in particular and the nation in general
  • avoid relaxation spots that attract a large number of people and where prominent politicians frequent
  • avoid being  involved  in political debates, especially  with unfamiliar persons
  • on election day when you cast your vote, leave the voting area and monitor  the results from the comfort of your homes
  • In case of emergency, call the Lagos state Emergency service number xxx for assistance, and/or Incidence Duty desk number -xxxx, from your xxxxxx number or xxxx-xxxx- from any network ;
  • Counsel members of your family on their movement and conduct within the period

The security team wishes you peaceful political transition period. You will be advised on new developments, when necessary. Generally no large scale violence is envisaged.

Happy election and vote wisely!

Director of Security        

Foot Fetish

Filed under: Murray Personal, Runnning and Fitness — murrayglobal @ 12:34 pm

These Babies Should Make Me Fly

As noted in a previous post, a priority shopping stop on my recent trip to the United Arab Emirates was to buy some new running shoes. Thought I was going buy some Adidas wheels, but after trying on several pairs, in several models, I was of the opinion that the Adidas shoes were not sturdy enough for the rigors of the Nigerian roads. Even their trail shoes.

Bummer, as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to find my long time running shoe standard – Asics.

Asics fit my long and skinny feet well (inherited from my dear Mother), wear well and suit my running style. But where would I find them in the UAE?

Thought I got lucky when I found a place in the Abu Dhabi Marina Mall that carried a some Asics shoes. But they didn’t have anything in my size.

Now, in a slight panic, I find a shop which carries a full line of  Nike running shoes. Tried on a couple of pairs and viola! As soon as I got back to the hotel I strapped on the size 46 Nike Equalon 4’s and went out for a 8 mile run.

I used to be a dedicated Nike runner until the late 1990’s. When I started running marathons, it seems that the last few pairs of Nike’s (Pegasus) never seemed to fit my feet correctly. They were difficult to break in too. Out of frustration I tried Asics and have been a sworn Asics guy ever since.

After running in these new Nike’s I’m still not convinced that I like them. Can’t put my finger on the problem. Wilhelm says the model I bought have extra support for pronating runners. Maybe…..

The last night in UAE someone told me about the Abu Dhabi City Mall. Located in the center of the older part of town, it has about 200 mid-to-high-end shops. One of which was the Mega Sports Shop.Mega turns out to be the running shoe oasis, with a full line of Asics, in every color/size imaginable. I quickly grabbed a pair of my old stand by Asics (2160’s) and headed to the airport.

But the most satisfyig purchase was the last minute, spur of the moment purchase of some flip flops at the Dubai Airport sports shop. These babies (Rider) are really soft and comfortable. They make for great casual wear. Even wore them to the office one day…….

Ignore the legs and admire the very cool new Rider flip flops - a fashion 'must have' in Nigeria!

11/03/2011

Seriously Nasty Incident

Filed under: Nigerian Culture, People — murrayglobal @ 6:55 pm

A closer look at this pic will reveal about 20 bullet holes, fired at close range into the driver's side door of a Mitsubishi Pajero.

This is our sales director’s (Ken) car. He was heading to a team event out near Badagry in the late afternoon.

Ken’s driver was hit multiple times and is in hospital. Ken was in the back seat, and scrambled for cover in the brush, avoiding any serious injury. Another of the sales managers in another car following was shot too.

The family will remember Badagry as we spent the day out there.

The area can be dangerous because it is a border with Benin Republic. Lots of smuggling and shady things going on.

This is a sobering reminder that one must take precautions when out and about in Nigeria. Trouble can pop up suddenly, when you least expect it.

FT

Filed under: Murray Personal, People, Politics — murrayglobal @ 4:44 am

Readily identifiable by its salmon coloured paper, the Financial Times of London (Aka the FT) is full of good business, political and cultural news, everyday.

Always looking to expand my news sources and opinion bases, lately I’ve been reading the Financial Times. The FT is the UK’s version of the WSJ.

I started reading the WSJ in the late 1970’s (yes, I am THAT old!) when I took a couple university courses at Sunny’s alma mater – Walsh College. Dr. Hoffman, one of the most influential college profs I ever had, forced his econ students to read the editorial pages. Great paper then – and still is.

While living in London in the late 1990’s I became a regular FT reader.  Comparable to the WSJ, but more international in outlook. It has also expanded its coverage, like the WSJ, to include more arts, culture and sports.

I ran across the below blog recently that describes the current Libyan conflict in the context of previous despotic rebellions. Not too encouraging, but could very well play out.

Libya 2011; Iraq 1991; Hungary 1956?

March 9, 2011 7:31 pm by Gideon Rachman

There is a horrible sense that the military tide is turning in Colonel Gaddafi’s favour. So the West is faced with the prospect of watching an uprising that we have cheered on and encouraged, slowly crushed before our eyes. There is a nasty sense of deja vu. Isn’t this what happened in Iraq in 1991 – when the Shia in the South were encouraged to rise up against Saddam, and then slaughtered, while the West looked on? A couple of days ago, I heard a former French foreign minister comparing events in Libya to Hungary in 1956. “We encourage them to revolt. Then we do nothing when they are killed,” he said. His solution was a “no-fly-zone”

Gideon’s full blog can be found at: http://http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/2011/03/libya-2011-iraq-1991-hungary-1956/

10/03/2011

Office Comforts

Filed under: Lifestyle, Murray Personal, Professional Life — murrayglobal @ 8:25 am

Took me long enough to realize that some essential thingswere missing at the office…….

Jams at the Office: Now Playing - Harold Land (Eastward Ho!)

Keepin' stuff cool, my mini fridge. Essential equipment for the well appointed Nigerian Chief's Office

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