Angry cat

Getting Help from [BIG SOFTWARE COMPANY] When You’re A Small Customer

Yesterday my boss received an email from BIG SOFTWARE COMPANY (let’s call them BS for short 😉) alerting us that we would be billed for a data overage in 15 days unless the situation was fixed and to contact our account executive with any questions.

My boss does not use BS so he forwarded the email to me. Naturally, I had lots of questions. Was this a scam using scare tactics trying to get us to click on a link? Who was this account executive who I have never spoken to or heard of before)? Why was the email sent to my boss whose email address is currently not associated with BS and who is not the BS Admin for our organization?

 I went to investigate the email because money was on the line.

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Casablanca Was Freed By Nature

Apparently the name “Casablanca” comes from when the Spanish settled in the city and not from the Portuguese like our taxi driver told us. When it comes to historical accuracy, I believe our tour guide over a random taxi driver. The city was also called “White House” in Arabic before the Spanish came. 

The Europeans who settled in Morocco abandoned the city after an earthquake destroyed it so the joke is that “Casablanca was freed by nature.”
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If You Take My Picture, It’s 10 Dirhams. Marrakesh, the Red City

We started off the day in New Marrakesh, the part of the city that was built by the French in the 1900s. Marrakesh has a unique look; No building is higher than 6 floors because they do not want any building towering over the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque, which is the symbol of Marrakesh. It is clearly visible from anywhere in the city. The exception is a hotel built in the new part of the city during the French occupation. Also all buildings in Marrakesh have to be painted a reddish color on the outside, which is why it is known as the Red City or the Rose City. It is actually quite nice to see the contrast of the red buildings, the greenery of the palm trees and plants, and the blue skies. Marrakesh is located at the base of the Atlas mountains. I’m told on a clear day you can see the white of the snow from the Atlas Mountains, which are only about 20 miles away. 

Koutoubia mosque

The Koutoubia mosque reflected on the water in the morning. This is the matching tower to the unfinished Hassan tower in Rabat.

Unlike the other cities, cars are allowed inside the Medina of Marrakesh so our bus drove us right to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the square of the Medina of Marrakesh. It’s always bustling with the food stalls selling dried fruit, skewers of meat, tangine, couscous, and other foods as well as street performers. But beware if you take their pictures (even raising your camera counts) because they will hound you for a tip. Apparently snake charmers are the worst.

“Even if you give them $100 they will follow you for $200.” – Hesham, our tour guide commenting on snake charmers. 

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Do Moroccans Celebrate Christmas? 

For the most part Moroccans are Muslim so I didn’t expect to see really any Christmas decorations while in vacation. To my surprise there are Christmas trees in the airport and hotels, which I suppose are catering to international clients many who celebrate Christmas. But I was most surprised about the Christmas decorations in the mall Borj Fez (which I mentioned previously.) I asked my tour guide Hesham about this. Here’s his response. 
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Balak! The Old Medina of Fez 

There are four cities that once were the capital of Morocco: Fez, Rabat (the current capital), Meknes, and Marrakesh. Fez is the oldest capital and was founded by Idriss II son of Idriss I (who founded Moulay Idriss near Meknez.) 

Today began with a panoramic view of Fez and where our guide provided an explanation of the city’s history and pointed out various landmarks that we would be visiting later. 

Fez from afar. The Medina below is where we visited next.

Fez from afar. The Medina below is where we visited next.

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Why Are There So Many Cats in Morocco? Rabat and Volubilis

Merry Christmas Eve from Fez! I wrote this post yesterday, but was having trouble with the internet.  Now that it’s solved here’s the post on Rabat, Meknes, and Volubilis. 

Royal Palace

Today we began our tour in earnest. Our first stop was to see the outside of the Royal Palace in Rabat, which is surrounded by a wall. This palace is not the living quarters of the king of Morocco, but rather a ceremonial place for him to receive dignitaries and guests. The ministries of religion and military are also housed inside the walls of the royal city because they are under the domain of the king. 

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Avenue Moulay Hassan, Rabat

Parlez-vous Français? First Impressions of Rabat 

Rabat is much bigger than Casablanca. I suppose this makes sense because it is the capital. We arrived around lunch time and checked into the hotel which is much nicer than the one in Casablanca probably because it was booked through the tour company so it’s fancy. Because we are cheap we did not go out for lunch and instead ate the ham and cheese on baguette sandwiches that we had made from the free breakfast at the hotel. 

Walking to the museum from our hotel. The sky is so blue in Morocco!

Walking to the museum from our hotel. The sky is so blue in Morocco!

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Casablanca, Morocco

We landed in Morocco yesterday morning and after a bit of confusion found our bags at the airport and our driver who took us into the city of Casablanca.  

The plane ride was fine. We flew Royal Air Maroc. Everyone was nice and all the stewards speak Arabic, French and English. They even give you a face mask to sleep and feed you dinner and breakfast.  Best of all the flight is direct and takes only 6 hours. 

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A Very Potter Christmas!

I’ve hosted a Christmas party ever since I got my first apartment my Junior year of college and this year was no different. Fortunately, each roommate I’ve had has been into party planning, and decorating. Two years ago Amber (who has since moved to a different city) and I hosted a Narnia Christmas Party and last year D (my current roommate) and I hosted a 12 Days of Christmas Party. This past weekend we hosted a Very Potter Christmas.

As you may know, Harry Potter receives his first Christmas presents at Hogwarts during in his first year.

As one of my friends put it on Facebook “The first seven Harry Potter movies all have Christmas scenes in them, making them appropriate for the season.”

We were of this mind when we were thinking of a theme for our party…back in September (yes…we are type A). We may have gone a bit overboard with the theme…but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Enjoy the photos below!

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Welcome to Music City, Y’all – My Nashville Solo Trip

I took my second solo travel trip in October to Nashville. I know it’s a bit later to write about it now, but better late than never! Like my last trip, I was able to get my travel expenses paid for since I arrived a few days ahead of a business meeting.

While asking Facebook friends recommendations on things to do, I discovered a friend from home, K,  would also be in Nashville at the same time. Of course we arranged to meet up. Below are the highlights from my trip. I hope you enjoy my pictures and commentary.

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