5 things to do while stuck in traffic

I had written the below a few years back for LittleRock.com.mt. Let me know if there are other things you do while in traffic.

Do you have to leave your house an hour before you’re due to start work even though you only need to make your way from Paola to St. Julian’s, a journey which normally takes just above 15 minutes?

Since the schools have started many of us find themselves spending ungodly hours in traffic. It’s evil, and unfortunately, necessary unless your job offers flexible working hours. So much time is wasted performing the put your gear in first, break, handbrake motion that you might as well start doing something useful while waiting around for cars to unjam, so here are a few suggestions.

Learn a new language

Or simply try refreshing one you learnt at school. Load your music player with many of the learn it yourself guides that are available in so many languages and you’re good to go. You will ace your pronunciation and next time you go to Paris you might just understand what the barista says after you order your pain au chocolat.

Read a book

Many books nowadays can also be bought as an audiobook and what better way to get yourself some culture than by having someone read you a book? Want some inspiration? Try out the amazing Neil Gaiman who reads out his own audiobooks. They are fantastic!

Sing your heart out

There is no better way to let go of unwanted stress and frustration than singing. If you’re a little self conscious put the windows up, then put on your favourite Taylor Swift (or guy’s equivalent) song and sing to your hearts content. It’s been proven that singing releases endorphins and also boosts confidence.

Take a time-out

See the time you spend in your car as ‘me time’. When entering the car make sure you leave outside your usual thoughts about what to cook for dinner and what report is due at work. Instead think of more fun things such as plans for the weekend or where you would like to go on your next holiday.


OK so you might not be able to do your marathon training while stuck in your car but you can do some breathing exercises which will help you face the rest of the day in a more positive way. Take deep breaths, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while focusing on your chest movements. Namaste!

Don’t forget to let us know how you use your ‘in traffic’ time in the comments section below.

Was it you? The Comedy Knights just made my day

Local memes are getting better and better. With politics being such an important part of the Maltese social sphere many of our memes tend to revolve around it.

After MalliaGate or BridgeGate or whatever you want to call it, the internet was flooded with “OK Sieħbi” and “Enerġija Pożittiva” memes. Some got a little repetitive but then some others were pure gold like my personal favourites below.




This is some quality stuff, but nothing could have prepared me for this video by The Comedy Knights. It’s a promo for their Comedy Knights Christmas Comedy Cavalcade and it really made my morning.

It’s a rendition of Shaggy’s Wasn’t Me and recounts the conversation between two Sliemiżi and the angst that one of them has for voting Labour in the last election. They mention things such as the sale of passports, Muscat’s pushback threats and all the meritocracy which has now gone down the drain.

My personal favourite part has to be the bit at the end where the friend thinks that Labour are only in power for 2 years. Just for this gem I’ll surely be grabbing myself 2 tickets to go watch these Comedy Knights. Kudos to you!

Show starts on the 26th December until the 3rd of January. Tickets available from ticketline.com.mt.

The M&M snubgate

A video surfaced on Youtube showing German Chancellor Angela Merkel not including Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in a conversation. The discussion on social media quickly descended in the pits of partisan politics with one side laughing at what had happened to the Prime Minister and the other side saying they were offended by Merkel’s rudeness.

The video was uploaded to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s new Youtube channel called the Running Commentary so it can be deduced that the reason for the upload was to ridicule the Prime Minister. However, after seeing the clip many a times I still cannot find anything humiliating or even noteworthy about what happened.

Was the clip awkward? Yes definitely! Did it mean anything? I very much doubt it.

Who in the history of civilisation has never found themselves in such a situation? From the clip Merkel acknowledges Muscat and continues to show a piece of paper to someone else. Muscat senses he is not welcome within that particular conversation so he moves on. I have been in a couple of those situations myself and is the reason why I loathe networking.

Merkel did not blank the Prime Minister or even given him her back. She merely pointed out at the other person and mouthed something to the effect of ‘I want to speak to him’. There is nothing to take away from the clip, yet in the space of less than 24 hours this particular video has been viewed over 6,500 times.

Where is all this interest coming from? Why is such an insignificant clip given so much importance and why are so many people so quick to take a position on it? It might be easy to point a finger and laugh but I cannot understand why many took it upon themselves to condemn Merkel’s actions.

If there is anyone in the European political sphere who deserves our condemnation this week it’s UK Prime Minister David Cameron after a decision was taken saying Britain will no longer support migrant and refugee search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Their excuse? That it would encourage more migrants to cross. This is shameful, appalling tactic by the British government who is trying to appease the UKIP vote.

This of course directly impacts Malta and our resources and surely it is way more important than Merkel wanting to speak to someone else other than our Prime Minister.

So much love for the National Book Festival

Book Festival 2014

The National Book Council have just released their calendar of events for the 5 day National Book Festival and some of us (me especially) are really excited!

What is immediately noticeable is the amount of love that went into the organisation of this event. Everything from the artwork and design to the quality of the events at the Festival show the organisers really care about book culture in Malta.

It is about time that such care is given to these events. With our capital city gearing up for V.18 we should be taking care of all aspects concerning the arts. It is nice to see the rise of the geek is also happening here in Malta (albeit a few year late). In fact, this autumn we will also be having two comic book events: The MaltaComics Expo 2014 happening between the 31st of October and 2nd of November and the Malta Comic Con 2014 at St James Cavalier happening between the 29th and 30th of November.

The Book Fest will launch on the 12th of November and will span 5 days which will be filled with talks, lectures and best of all, beautiful books.

Local publishers and authors will be at the event showing off their wares and these will be joined by ten Italian publishers represented by Editore Morrone and a French author Pierre Assouline.

For more information about the Book Fest you can check out their Facebook page.

In the meantime, you can also have a little look at their rich calendar of events for the Festival by clicking here: Programm_NBC_EnglishOutlinesWeb (1)

The 2014 Car Free day in Malta is a fail

The Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Leo Brincat, on car free day, opted to rent a coach for himself and his secretariat. Whilst carpooling is a good solution to the reduction of cars on our streets it also shows the lack of faith in Malta’s public transport system. If the Minister can’t use public transport on the day he’s supposed to lead by example and as a token gesture use Malta’s public transport then how does he expect the rest of us to do so in our every day life?

source - timesofmalta.com

source – timesofmalta.com

Unfortunately rarely does car free day have much of an impact in Malta. This year it was made even worse since it coincides on the day many students go back to school. Malta woke up to congested roads, slow moving traffic and overall frustration.

I don’t know whose idea it was to hold car free day on this day but unfortunately it shows the shortsightedness of the organisers. The idea of car free day is to promote the use of alternative methods of transport. Going to work with your bike, carpooling and public transport are all ways this can be done and it could work if it is taken seriously. If awareness is the focal point of car free day then it should have been held on a Saturday or Sunday when people are more inclined to try out new things. So what if it’s not on the proper date, after all the car free day website is pretty clear:

Every year on or around 22 September, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.

Speaking to MaltaToday Minister Leo Brincat said that the government was chastised by the EU for shifting the car free date days arbitrarily adding “All other member states have chosen today to hold Car Free Day together with many other countries worldwide to mark the International Car Free Day.” But my reply to that statement is, so what? Malta is unfortunately way beyond being a car-dominated society. We need to learn how to walk before we can run and that is why whoever is in charge of organising this day needs to think of the realities which affect us, mainly;

  • In September it’s still pretty hot meaning many won’t see walking/biking as an option,
  • The first day of school is always sheer madness especially since this is when there is an increase of cars on our roads – AVOID,
  • We need to have a public transport system which works and is able to sustain an increase in users,
  • Weekends would probably be more accessible to most people.

Instead of going with the flow and give an excuse quoting what the EU have demanded (this is after all not a law), the Minister should have put forward sensible statements as to why the 22nd of September would not have worked for Malta. After all, what’s the use of having a car free day if no one is remotely interested in taking part?

To The Malta Independent – you SICKEN me!

This is how CNN do it

This is how CNN do it

The Malta Independent has been doing all it can to get as many pageviews as they can, and why wouldn’t they? Pageviews mean that more people are on your website which means you can get more revenue for your advertising. After all we do live in hard journalistic times.

Whereas other newspapers get their pageviews through breaking news stories and doing investigative journalism, The Malta Independent has been relying on sensationalism to get people on their site. As a person who works in the digital world I understand the need to attract as many people as possible but there are lines that should never be crossed.

Today The Malta Independent crossed that line!

One of their articles treated the very delicate subject of animal cruelty. Instead of going about such a subject in an ethical way they thought it would make more sense to crank up the shock value so that pageviews could come a knocking.

The title is already a sick way of getting people to click.

It started about the kind of cases the animal welfare have to deal with. That is very honourable, and is something which we need more of. People need to know what is happening out there, especially so that if they see it happening they know what to do.

What wasn’t honourable for the newspaper to do is show the pictures of dead, mutilated animals without any warning.

This is not journalism, this is sensationalism. Shock is not how to educate people. The ones who will be shocked will be the ones who are really disturbed and probably do not need to be educated anyway. The rest, if they weren’t shocked, than your article is beyond reaching them isn’t it?

Those are my qualms about distributing those kind of pictures. However, if there was the need to distribute them, and this can be an editorial choice, they should have come with a warning and not simply use them to pepper an article. This is how to ethically do journalism. You would think that a newspaper which has been in circulation for the past 20 years would know that.

What is even sicker is that they were very quick to also change the cover photo on their Facebook page to one of the photos procured!

Finally, I am also aware that writing this will probably send more people to go have a look but if you are reading this and you believe that what The Malta Independent is doing is wrong then please send an email to Mr Stephen Calleja who is the Editor of The Malta Independent Online – scalleja@independent.com.mt. If like me you’re super pissed off you can go above Mr Calleja and contact Mr Noel Grima who is the consulting editor – ngrima@independent.com.mt.

Tell him how this is not doing those poor animals any favours. Tell him that if the newspaper really cared about this subject they would have treated this article in a very different manner. Alternatively you can also tell The Malta Independent what a sick bunch of assholes they are for trying to get pageviews through showing animal cruelty.

Congrats Malta Independent, you truly sicken me!

Three alternatives for the Valletta entrance

This morning Malta woke up to the news that the entrance of Valletta will be adorned with a sculpture of four knights commemorating the Knights of Malta.

bronzeknights1 To many, this was a bucketful of ice in the middle of summer, especially since news arrived only after a few days of the unveiling of Austin Camilleri’s beautiful piece of art ‘Żieme’ (currently the centrepiece of VIVA – the Valletta International Visual Arts festival). Culture Minister Owen Bonnici praised Camilleri’s art and many breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe, with Bonnici at the helm of culture, Malta can start expecting something other than the usual brass knights and historical figures being erected at every empty corner in the hope of embellishment and a nod to Malta’s past.

Turns out it was all a bubble of hope which was quickly burst when the MEPA notice for the Knights’ sculpture was issued. It does feel like the sculpture was commissioned without taking any notice of the current designs and will be placed there ‘just because’.

Since ‘just because’ seems to be the modus operandi of filling up empty spaces in the Capital I thought I’d offer a few suggestions the Government can find on MaltaPark.com for the fraction of the price. Thoughtful right?

Sottospecchio Nothing screams entrance hall more than the good old sottospecchio. In certain instances it can also come complete with a free haunting for all those special guests who enter Valletta. 3576611_1

Tork tat-Taraġ Statues who to this day still feel incredibly racist and still terrify children everywhere, the Torok tat-Taraġ would be a great addition to the entrance of Valletta. Afterall, like the Knights, the Turks too dipped their invading thumbs into Malta. 3576895_1

Par Vażuni Antiki Because, why the hell not? These are the pride and glory for many homes in Malta. Antique vases whose purpose is to never hold any flowers have been the rage for decades now. 3574271_1

Do you have any other suggestions? If you do, simply share your thoughts below.

Malta busses – At 0.09 you will notice this is dangerous, at 0.40 you won’t believe your eyes

First of all I’m really sorry about the title but this video felt too much like an opportunity for click bait! Do watch it till the end, it really is worth it. 

And after watching this video the first reaction is, most probably, to laugh, but when you start thinking how this was a bus full of people then the situation becomes more serious, bordering on frightening. 

This video was uploaded to YouTube on the 31st of August and already has 5000 views, shows the sorry state of public transport. The more time goes by the more Arriva is looking like a distant dream Malta should have clutched onto. 

Unfortunately this incident happened just one day before The Malta Independent featured a story about a bus driver who mocked a lady by first insulting her saying “Itla, kemm ghandek h**a ma s****k” and then continuing by calling her a goat, completing the whole charade with goat noises. 

The main problem with public transport nowadays is that there is less of a sense of accountability. Had this incident happened with Arriva a complaint would be in order, but nowadays people don’t feel like it’s worth their time and energy to contact the Public Transport Authority because it will just fall on deaf ears. 

We’ll wait for the new bus operators with bated breath but in the meantime, Minister Joe Mizzi, don’t you think it’s time for an explanation as to why these things keep on happening?

Google doesn’t lie – Konrad Mizzi did mention groceries

As soon as the news was out about a week’s groceries costing €25 I have to admit that I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. How could a Minister or his advisors not know how much people, even ones who are immensely careful every week, spend for a week’s worth of groceries?

This angered many people. If a Minister is elected to Parliament (especially on a Labour ticket) most people would assume that he is close to the pains common people face everyday, including how much it is spent on basic needs like groceries every week.

After I wrote the blog – which you can read here – I noticed that the mention of groceries were slowly disappearing from news reports and instead ’10 days worth of electricity’ was being mentioned.

After a whole day of being personally attacked about having some kind of agenda and being called a liar I decided to do some digging.

Google has a very useful feature called cache. Cache in simple terms shows older versions of webpages.

Here you can see how both Times of Malta and The Malta Independent reported how Minister Konrad Mizzi said that €25 is a week’s worth of groceries. I doubt two journalists from competing newspapers made the same mistake.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 08.39.27

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 08.39.36

What does this mean for the rest of us? Not much. The truth is that online news can be manipulated and whilst other news organisations have comments about what has been altered from a news report as times go by, this is not done locally.

The €25 being worth a week’s groceries was bad PR by the Minister. Trying to hide it and sweeping away every evidence of it is horrible. If the Minister felt he did a mistake this should have been clarified by his PR person by issuing another statement.

In politics, especially in the age of Google, these lies will come to surface.

The top 5 things you can do with Konrad Mizzi’s €25

What the Government thought would be the perfect PR exercise to show people compassion after last week’s power cut quickly turned against them when Minister for Energy and Health Konrad Mizzi showed the rest of Malta how out of touch with the realities faced by the common people.

During a press conference where Minister Mizzi announced the compensation given to individual households after the blackout, Mizzi said that a week’s worth of groceries would cost €25, so that is the perfect amount to pass along.

Now I don’t know where he shops but when going to the supermarket I have to actually pay for things with this weird thing we common people call money.

Now apparently there is this thing called Konrad €25 Mizzi money which if you’re one of the lucky 8,000 you will get through the post. This note looks something like this:

Konrad Mizzi €25This note seems to have hidden value. It might have €25 euros on the front but can be redeemed for much more. Yes you guessed it, a whole week’s worth of groceries. Or else, if you want to treat yourself we count down the top 5 things than you can do with this special currency.

Number 5
For the sensible people amongst you, you can use this money towards your next ARMS bill, that’s three months worth of free electricity.

Number 4
Why not go for a bottle of Champagne, say a Bollinger GD Anne Rose 75cl, 2002. This will also leave you with a bit of change if you want to feel patriotic and want to follow it with a few cans of Cisk.

Number 3
If you really want to treat yourself why not go for a one night stay at one of the fabulous 5 star hotels we have in Malta. I hear Gozo in October is simply magical.

Number 2
But your loved one that special piece of jewellery, after all, who did you turn to when Malta descended into darkness and you had no fan or AC to cool you down?

Number 1
Finally, if you’re feeling extra generous you can share this with 5 of your friends and treat everyone to a special meal at your favourite Chinese restaurant.

Just in case you were wondering, this is what €25 of real money gets you in the real world.

  • 1 Benna full fat milk – €0.83c
  • 1 Benna flavoured milk chocolate – €0.62c
  • 4 yoghurts – €2.00
  • Flora proactive 250g – €3.25
  • 200g Sliced ham – €1.75
  • 200g mortadella – €1.50
  • 175g Cheddar- €2.60
  • 6 pieces fresh gbejniet – €4.70
  • 500g of bigilla – €2.20
  • 250g stuffed olives – €3.25
  • 6 eggs – €1.45

This is just the basic food every family have in their fridge. I am not counting any vegetables, meat or fish or even anything that one might have had in the freezer. On another note, if you would like to read my thoughts on last week’s blackout you can read my piece on The Times of Malta by clicking here.

And just in case you’re thinking “but Konrad Mizzi did not mention groceries…” The truth is that he did, and here is the proof.