Off The Internet With Yves Saint-Laurent

It’s always interesting to see where busy people go to recharge their batteries. In this case, I’m not talking about the kind of batteries that power your smartphone. I am referring to a quiet place where you can put everything into proper perspective.

Yves Saint-Laurent found tranquility in a 12-acre botanical garden in Marrakech, called the Majorelle Garden. It was created in the 1920s by French artist Jacques Majorelle. Majorelle opened it to the public in 1947, the year I was born. After he died. the garden fell into disrepair.

Coincidentally, Yves Saint-Laurent spent a lot of time in Marrakech and fell in love with the gardens. In 1980, he and his partner, Pierre Bergé bought and restored it. After Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle and a memorial structure was created in his honor.

How lucky for me that Eliot and I, along with our travel companions, got to visit Majorelle today. It was a picture perfect place for a group of active people to spend some quiet time taking digital pictures, getting some exercise, and reflecting on the past and the present.

Photos by Eliot Hess



Women With A Big Lens

A few years ago, I noticed that many of my travel companions on Smartours were starting to use sophisticated digital cameras on our trips. This time, on our SmarTours Moroccan journey, another big revelation took place. Several of the women showed up with professional cameras. They have taken their love of photography to a whole new level.

It is so much fun to watch these women discover the many options they now have to capture a photo just the way they want it. I guess for me these DigiDame-type women represent a very exciting future that is still available if you want it. Instead of winding down, they are winding up. Good for them, lucky for us. Inspiration always makes my heart jump for joy.



Meanwhile, today we visited the Marjana Cooperative where we watched Moroccan women work at extracting Argan Oil. The demand for Argan Oil has significantly increased because of its use in body cosmetics and good food.

Here are interesting photos from that visit. Notice, no technology.






Digital Prayers

If you think Americans use smartphones a lot, they’re nothing compared to the Moroccans. The Moroccans are on their phones non- stop. They even use their cells to tell them when to pray.

There is an app called Qibla which alerts the Muslims when to pray (five times a day) and which direction they should be facing. It is fixed in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.

I don’t know why I was so surprised to learn about Qibla. As we all know, there is an app for everything. The digital world is very much alive and active all over Morocco. Each city has their own tech area where new start-ups are being formed everyday. There are people all over the streets selling Apple and Samsung smartphones. Who knows if the phones work but plenty of people were buying them.

Eliot took the following photos today.
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What A Day This Has Been

I’m in Morocco. I need to go to sleep right now because we have been up all night. Our flight to Morocco on Royal Air Moroc was delayed six hours so instead of leaving at 7pm Friday night we left 1am Saturday morning. They never gave us an explanation. It was about a six hour flight and I was so busy knitting and then ripping out because of mistakes I made. I really didn’t sleep much.

I didn’t know what to expect in Casablanca, so it all has been quite a surprise. Our Smartours guide (this is our seventh trip) said Morocco is one of the few places on Earth were everyone is welcomed and accepted for who they are. That was so nice to hear.

Here are some photos of the sights.




Know What Alec Baldwin Knows



If you can’t find Alec Baldwin these days, he is probably playing the new updated “Words With Friends.”

In case you forgot, Alec got into trouble on an American Airlines flight December, 2011 when he refused to turn off his phone minutes before his Los Angeles bound flight to New York was about to take off because he was playing the Scrabble-type game. To refresh your memory, click here.

When the story broke, “Words With Friends” became even more popular than it had been. Being a publicist, I still insist the whole incident was a set-up, but I’m not interested in debating that now.

I’m here to tell you one of our favorite digital games just had a update. You can read about it in USA Today. Just to set the record straight, “Words With Friends” is not associated with Scrabble. Apparently, there are enough differences that Zynga, the parent company of “Words With Friends,” is able to co-exist with Hasbro, maker of Scrabble.

Some of the new updated features:

1-Community Matches: Players can search for a more ideal opponent.

2-A Dictionary and Word of the Day to improve your vocabulary.

3-A new type of personal profile

4-Your game stats, with wins and losses.

5-The number of unique words you have used.

I don’t know if I’m happy about these improvements. Once I see my lousy stats in a snapshot view, I may want to quit forever. Forever is a long time. I have to remind myself, it’s just a game. Hear that, Alec?


Standard American Diet (SAD)

According to the creators of MicroGreenz, an estimated 40 per cent of Americans will be obese by 2030. Their Kickstarter campaign claims “commercial interests have transformed our food into what is now dubbed the standard American diet.”

I am sharing this information with you because three friends sent me an email about the same campaign in one hour. I thought that was pretty odd. There may be something to it.

MicroGreenz are little veggie shoots that grow virtually in 10 days. They claim to have “four to 40 times more nutrients than mature veggies. All we have to do is sprinkle them on salads, soups, sandwiches, etc.

You decide for yourself. Watch the video to see how easy it is to grow these seedlings right in your window.

This reminds me so much of the science projects we had in the sixth grade. If you try it, let me know. I will share with others.




Risky Business

If you are a Uber customer, or are thinking of becoming one, I strongly suggest you read their terms and conditions. CNET, a tech site, just wrote a story that spells out how Uber “absolves itself of any liability in cases of injury or accident and is not responsible for a driver’s actions.”

I was particularly drawn to the story because as you probably know, Eliot and I no longer own a car in NYC. We had every intention of using Uber for local trips. The service came highly recommended by family and friends.

It certainly is upsetting to read that Uber is not responsible for anything that happens to me. CNET actually quotes a lawyer who examined Uber’s written claims. He said, “You can be raped, you can be killed, you can be murdered, and it’s not their responsibility.”

Click here to read about the passenger who got hit over the head with a hammer by one of the Uber drivers.

This post is to encourage you to know your Uber rights. While Eliot and I haven’t used Uber yet, we absolutely plan to in several cities. We have been taking taxis in NYC for decades so we know the good, the bad, and the unpredictable, We just like being forewarned.

By the way, CNET, says that five year old Uber is growing rapidly. “It now has cars driving around 204 cities in 45 countries, and the company claims to cover 55 percent of the US population. It’s also the highest-valued venture-backed company in the world right now with a valuation of $18.2 billion.”

It’s Rude To Publicly Publish Someone Else’s Email.


I can tell immediately when I am getting an email from a contemporary (read: older person). If he or she is sending a group email, everyone’s electronic address is copied in the “To:” line. It never occurs to the sender to use the Blind Copy line out for respect to everyone else who doesn’t want his or her email address passed around.

I never say anything because I assume everyone else on the list is admonishing the sender. I just smile and let someone else do my dirty work.

The other “aged” maneuver my friends do is forward jokes that were passed along from several of their other friends. Not only do I see pages of email addresses that were copied from prior emails, but it takes me forever to scroll down to the joke. I now make it a habit to delete the entire email before I get tortured by the process.

A New Chapter In Book Publishing

Book publishers are finally going to compete with Amazon. Harper Collins is leading the way, but I heard other publishing houses plan to do exactly the same thing.

Effective in a month from now, Harper Collins is going to help their individual authors sell books. Harper Collins authors can now add a “Buy Now” button to their own personal websites and social feeds which will transfer book buyers directly to the (Harper Collins) online store.

That’s pretty cool. Seems like a natural to me. Not sure why this was never done before. I guess the book industry finally decided that they needed to do something novel. Ha!

That’s not all. Harper Collins authors will receive better royalty rates on affiliate sales.

Congratulations to all my friends who publish books with HC. My suggestion! Don’t quit your day job yet. A contact of mine at HC confided that this won’t put a dent in Amazon book sales for many years to come.

It’s A Fast Three Years


Image: Apple

Today is the third anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs, Apple’s Founder and former CEO. He was 56 years old. It is difficult to believe that it’s three years already. Remember when three years took a long time to happen? Now, at our age, it is going by so faster and faster.

I read in Business Insider that Tim Cook sent an email to Apple employees reminding them of the anniversary and reflecting on Jobs’ wisdom.


“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”


“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them


“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Getting Fired

“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

For more profound quotes from Steve Jobs, click here.