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Maroc Telecom gives me the Raspberry: the Sequel
Kathy Kriger
Date :  1/19/2011 5:27:00 PM

On October 26, 2009 I wrote up my unforgettable experience getting a BlackBerry telephone from Maroc Telecom. The featured character was Mme Marrakchi, a commercial representative that was so rude and unhelpful that when I finally got my phone and needed to have some help with settings I went directly to the Director of the agency. He recognized me from when he'd been at a previous branch and adjusted the settings himself, giving me his card and mobile number. I gave him my card and a complimentary dinner at Rick's. Flash forward to the last week in December, the hectic time leading up to our New Year's Eve party. I was preoccupied with so many details, rushing around and not paying attention at one point I picked up my BlackBerry, it slipped out of the case and fell on the terra cotta tile. It worked for awhile after, but 4 hours later it froze up. I called and was told to take it into the branch. Not wanting another run-in with Mme Marrakchi, I tried c...( Read more )

This Blog is Back....
Kathy Kriger
Date :  1/18/2011 11:53:00 PM

I don't know what it took, Tuscon, Tunisia, hearing that Joe Lieberman won't run in's just enough to make me want to communicate again...there will be more and frequent postings starting tomorrow...I promise! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Kathy

Live blogging...Lennie Bluett turns 91, see it now
Kathy Kriger
Date :  1/21/2010 11:58:00 PM

Live. Anyone hitting this blog right now (11:15pm gmt) should go to our website: look for the live webcasting link: Live in Casablanca and you'll see the action at Rick's Cafe as we celebrate Lennie Bluett's 91st birthday. Lennie, whose mother Mae was Humphrey Bogart's cook, had the chance to try out for the part of Sam when they were casting Casablanca. Even though Lennie was 20 years old (and 6ft6inches tall) Bogart insisted he be given a chance. Unfortunately, even with powder in his hair he was too young and too tall. Since Rick's opened in March of 2004 Lennie has been part of our family. I first heard him play at the Hyatt in Casablanca, and promised to bring him back to open Rick's. After many false starts, Lennie came shortly after our opening on March 1, 2004 to inaugurate our first St. PatRICK'S Day on March 17. He's now on his fourth visit to Rick's, arriving on December 28 with all of our New Year's Eve supplies. Having Le...( Read more )

Kathy Kriger
Date :  1/16/2010 3:24:00 PM

Greta Greathouse was a Rick's regular during the first few years. She worked in Morocco for a USAID contractor on a project to create more options in credit and finance, building on Morocco's successful developments in microfinance. Then Greta moved on to Haiti, again in the financial sector, and, up until last Tuesday, she was running a program, also funded by USAID, to help establish credit unions for small business and entrepreneurs. Here's Greta's first message that came on Wednesday: Thanks for our message. I was downtown where it was worst in a car (team had two cars together after a visit to central bank). We were in the cars when it hit. After 15 minutes, we abandoned the cars and walked several miles out of downtown up to where my offices are so that we would not be downtown after dark.. My house is difficult to reach - road impassable and blocked by UN. Two guy friends hiked in yesterday to scope the situation. Not as bad as I had feared, but unlivable. Will tr...( Read more )

Maroc Telecom gives me the "Raspberry"...
Kathy Kriger
Date :  10/26/2009 6:59:00 PM

instead of a BlackBerry! Woe is me, I have made every effort to avoid dealing with Maroc Telecom since spring, 2007. When we introduced live webcasting to our Rick's Cafe website it was necessary to up our broadband capacity to 20MB. There is one division of Maroc Telecom that is excellent - marketing. Unfortunately the infrastructure, engineering and technical side lag far behind actually backing up the marketing hype. We didn't know that at first, thus, when our 20MB never exceeded 5, and averages 3, we approached the problem as something that could be remedied. After several months, technicians visiting so often they were on first name basis with our front office staff, rerouting of the line, even headquarters in Rabat weighing in, nothing changed and we waived the white flag and accepted the status quo. I was a stronger, wiser person when I decided to get a BlackBerry. A call to a 3-digit number gave me the range of models and prices, and I was told I could order it though...( Read more )

RIP Gourmet Magazine 1941 - 2009
Kathy Kriger
Date :  10/11/2009 1:17:00 AM

How ironic, or iconic to learn that Gourmet magazine preceded the film "Casablanca" by a year. A fact sadly noted after the announcement this week that Gourmet would cease publishing. Although the influence of "Casablanca" on my life has been more intense, spanning a little over a decade, Gourmet has been my guide and inspiration for almost 40 years. As a young woman who liked to cook, and was starting a career in the travel business I loved reading the travel articles and trying the recipes that accompanied them. In our travel agency, my partner Sue and I used Gourmet as a reference in planning trips for our clients and friends. And I know she'll agree, planning special, tailor-made trips for clients, complete with restaurant suggestions introduced us to many wonderful friends who initially came as simply clients. If I had to name one article that made the biggest impression, I believe in 1974 there was a piece on the north of Spain, including Santiago de ...( Read more )

President Obama's Nobel Surprise
Kathy Kriger
Date :  10/10/2009 11:51:00 PM

I turned the BBC on yesterday morning at the precise minute the Nobel Peace Prize winner was announced. It was a shockingly good way to wake up! Watching reactions was touching. Tears came when I saw the Committee members faces break out in broad smiles, they were clearly proud of their choice. The BBC commentators were effusive and positive, excited at the news. Thankful again that I'd opted for the steady reporting of BBC over the cynical, personality-driven coverage that is CNN, their tone reflected my reaction as well: it was perhaps a choice better understood from the perspective of those living outside the United States. Viewed from afar the damage to the perception of America and American values that evolved over the 8 years of Bush-Cheney was stark and real. As we know now, back in the US while Iraq unfolded, there were domestic distractions and President Bush's post-9/11 entreaty to citizens to "go shopping" took on proportions that we're dealin...( Read more )

Crazy humans...
Date :  8/21/2009 12:33:00 AM

These people here at Rick's are an odd bunch. Today my best friend asked me to do a favor for Houssein. She explained his neck was stiff and he couldn't move it without pain. He must have slept wrong. I can't imagine sleeping wrong - I spend most of my time snoozing and have cultivated it as an art form. She said that there was a career opportunity for me in Houssein's painful situation. I thought, why should I be interested in a career opportunity, I'm the official mascot of Rick's and that's enough work for me. She convinced me that there would be a treat in store, plus it was best to keep on the good side of Houssein who usually takes care of me when she goes on a trip. "You're not going away, are you?" I asked. "No, I'm not even going for an errand, I'll be with you the whole time." "Ok, so what do I have to do?" I couldn't imagine. "He asked someone for advice to help his stiff neck, and they recommended he hug a dog." "You're kidding," I said. ...( Read more )

The real DRY season approaches....Ramadan 2009
Kathy Kriger
Date :  8/18/2009 11:40:00 PM

As much as Rick's follows the myth of the iconic gin joint in "Casablanca", I've always thought of our regular bar customers as Casablanca's version of "Cheers". And if there's anyone who (literally) fills the role of Norm it's Hadj. A portly, cigar smoking regular who frequents the bar, dressed in summer in his trademark white pants and shirt, exchanging the costume in winter for all black. I resist the notion to yell, "Hadj" each time I see him enter, exercising a bit of restraint as Hadj is a generic nickname for a man who has made the grand pilgrimage to Mecca. There's usually an entourage, if not he calls them up and people trail in. Invariably his phone will ring, in front of the sign that encourages customers to turn off their mobiles. Today we got word that from tomorrow at 9pm we discontinue serving alcohol to Muslims until 3 days after Ramadan, roughly 35 days. As I entered for evening service Hadj was already ensconced at the bar and I said, "...( Read more )

Moon Landing Anniversary...20 July 1969
Kathy Kriger
Date :  7/21/2009 12:08:00 AM
My memories of the moon landing on July 20, 1969 are especially poignant since the anniversary coincides with the passing of Walter Cronkite. The heartbreak of watching the nightly news of Vietnam led me to escape to Tokyo in June 1969. Once there of course I still pored over the International Herald Tribune - the war wouldn't go away, but with distance I escaped from the part of the US population who still hadn't seen the folly of the war. Staying with friends south of Tokyo, I'd come into the city that day - in Japan it would have been July 21 - to look for jobs. I had my transistor radio with me and as I listened for the landing I noticed the normally crowded streets were empty, people seemed to be spilling out of coffee shops, I wandered into one. TVs were broadcasting the lunar landing live! It was a wonderful moment to share, there I was in Tokyo with my transistor to my ear, watching the actual landing on TV, and when Neil Armstrong set foot on the...( Read more )

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