Saturday, December 31, 2005

A winter wonderland

It's not often that we get such a peaceful beautiful snow during the hard winter months of December, January, and February. But we've been blessed with warmer than normal temperatures, and the snow fell with virtually no wind, here's the result (click to enlarge).

What we woke up to this morning..
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And how it looked tonight...
100_4070 100_4071
100_4092 100_4083
100_4093 100_4078

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Bird's eye view

Some notable astronaut quotes about earth from space:

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
Neil Armstrong

"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth."
Sultan Bin Salman al-Saud

"Now I know why I’m here, not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth."
Al Warden

"During the eight days I spent in space, I realized that mankind needs height. Primarily to better know our long suffering Earth — to see what cannot be seen close up. Not just to love her dearly, but also to ensure that we do not bring the slightest harm to the natural world."
Fan Twan

"We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we ever saw from orbit. I have never visited America, but I imagined that the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places, and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it struck me that we are all children of our Earth."
Aleksandr Aleksandrov

"When I circled the moon and looked back at the Earth, my outlook on life and viewpoint of the Earth changed. You don't see Los Angels, or Boston, or even New York. You don't see boundaries or people, no Whites or Blacks, Christians, Jews or Muslims. The Earth looks completely uninhabited and yet you know that on Spaceship Earth there lives over six billion astronauts - all seeking the same things from life. We are all the crew of Spaceship Earth. Just like Apollo, the crew must work and learn together and manage the resources of this world with new imagination. The future is up to you."
Jim Lovell

since there is no chance of getting everyone of earth's 6 billion inhabitants into outer space to see that deeper/higher level truth, all we need now is a Martian attack. You know what I'm talking about, all these Hollywood movies when earth is on the brink of oblivion on the hands of some invading alien force, how peoples of the world unite to fend off the danger threatening their mother planet.

Best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year for all the people of the world.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Columns of light


The picture above is not of a laser show nor is it of spotlights pointed to the sky, it's one of a northland oddity. When the right conditions are present; a cold night, calm winds, ice crystals in the atmosphere cause every light source to shoot out a vertical beam into the sky.

Taken at 7:33PM CST/0133 GMT, Temp: 6.8 °F/-14.0 °C, Humidity: 79%, Wind: 8.1 mph/13.0 km/h

Friday, December 16, 2005

Al-Jazeera and Yaser Za'atreh are at it again

A friend of mine has alerted me to an analysis on Al Jazeera written by the same author who wrote about Al Qaeda's blunders in the Amman explosions, I pointed to the article in my post about Zarqawi's message after the explosions.

Mr. Za'atreh comes back with an analysis about the recent Fateh elections this time. The peculiar thing about both of these analyses, and the reason for this post is the signature of Za'atreh at the end of both articles, in the analysis about Zarqawi and the Amman explosions he's a Jordanian writer. In the analysis about the Fateh elections, he's a Palestinian writer.

Excluding the remote possibility that Al Jazeera has two Yaser Za'atrehs working for them, one Jordanian and one Palestinian, leads me to believe that the nationality of Mr. Za'atreh is chosen based on the story, and the affiliation that gives the story more credence is used. Quite shameful. My curiosity got the best of me and I did a search for Za'atreh on Al Jazeera's website, I checked the signature at the end of his articles, turns out he's only a Jordanian writer when he talks about Jordan or Zarqawi, all other articles about other issues, including Iraq, he's a Palestinian writer.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

$100 laptop, One Laptop per Child


The MIT Media Lab unveiled a working prototype of their $100 laptop at WSIS in Tunis last week. The project has been in the works for a few years now and it's the brain child of Nicholas Negroponte, the lab's chairman and co-founder. I encourage those of you who are interested, to browse through the website especially the FAQ section.

Mr. Negroponte has done work in places including Cambodia where a pilot laptop program was done in 2001. The idea for the $100 laptop came to him, when he realized the possibility for profound change, to the better, such a thing could bring to the lives and future of children in developing countries.

The laptops are made rugged to withstand heavy use, they do away with hard drives and their moving parts and use flash memory for storage instead. A new display had to be developed to replace LCD display technology that is both expensive and power inefficient, best of all the laptops can be powered by a crank handle! The laptops can be configured in tablet PC setup as well. They have Wi-Fi connectivity, and 4 USB ports. They will run Linux operating system, and use Open Source software.
Simply genius.

Initially, the laptops will be available to 6 countries that each needs to commit $100 million for a mass purchase of around 1 million units, the exact number will depend on the final production cost which can be slightly under/over $100. The lucky countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Thailand. Distribution is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2006 and then availability to other countries to come 6 months after that. The laptops are to be distributed to children just like textbooks, and the agreement with the participating countries insists that the children have ownership over the laptops rather than being given as loaners.

I really do hope Jordan jumps on this for the next batch of laptops when they will become available for smaller countries, it could be the best 50 or so million dollars Jordan ever spent.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Al Qaeda is desperate

Reading into the latest rediculus Al Zarqwi's audio recording Al-Zarqawi Threatens to Kill Jordan's King and Zarqawi: Amman bombs weren't aimed at Muslims, makes me wonder how stupid this "organization" really is? Did they actually expect the Jordanian reaction to be any different? To these senseless killings? To these attacks on Jordan's stability and well being? What the hell did they expect?

Well obviously they're feeling the crunch, that's the only justification I see for issuing such a statement with a lame attempt to appease Jordanians by claiming the wedding wasn't a target. Now the other question is, how stupid do they think we, Jordanians, are?! They have such nerve to suggest that there was another target and the wedding was collateral damage, anyway that's beside the issue, as I said in the previous post, it was an attack against Jordan. Period.

The good news is that people's support matters a great deal to them, and their support is dwindling. I want to point to this Al Jazeera analysis in Arabic, published a few days ago titled "Jordan explosions.. their mistakes and their effects on Al Qaeda's path", the analysis is simply signed with Yaser Za'etreh, a Jordanian writer. The writer goes into a lengthy explanation about how the Amman attacks were a mistake, a political, religious, and media mistake. The article is written in a very pro-Al Qaeda tone that was painful to read, but the author mentions something that's interesting, when he talks about how the attacks were a media/PR and a security mistake because they announced the number of perpetrators and specifically mentioned one of them was a woman, which lead to the capture of the fourth would be bomber. The author goes on to say that because of this a strong Al Qaeda supporter asked Zarqawi to execute his spokesperson/media official and show the pictures of his execution on the web.

This is such a desperate attempt at damage control, while at the same time it's an attempt to destabilize the country and terrorize the people by asking them to stay away from hotels and embassies, it will not work. The Jordanian resilient response had its intended effect, as did their unity in saying No to Terrorism, and no to Zarqawi. I hope this will be the first of many blows to Al Qaeda, they cannot exist without the people's support, and more and more people are seeing the light.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Amman, the day after...

It still hasn't been 24 hours since the attacks on Amman took place, but it feels like an eternity has passed.. after the initial shock, sad realization of the scope, painful details revealed, knowing how close it hit to family and loved ones, and gripping to every bit and piece of news.. it's just a day that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

It's so hard to have a coherent thought, but I do want to try to make a few points.
Firstly, the media coverage. All you could hear on the US cable news networks (FOX, CNBC, CNN) was an attack on 3 US owned hotels in Amman, and how this is likely the result of Jordan being an ally to the US. I managed to catch a live feed from Al Arabiya and the report they kept running between their endless analyses and interviews started with: an attack on 3 hotels that are frequented by Israelis and other westerners. It pissed the hell out me!! I know it's naive to say this, but I wish that for once news networks would just state the facts without trying to spin the story one way or another. The story was Jordan being attacked, ownership of the hotels doesn't matter the least bit! And they even got that part wrong, check out Natasha's post about that. Al Arabiya in that stupid report they played over and over sounded like it's a justification, heck these hotels are frequented by Israelis, bomb them!

While I'm on the issue of justification, the other point I want to make is about a segment of the Jordanian society that, outwardly or inwardly, supported such actions when they took place around us. When it happened to the west, serves them right for what they did to our brethren in Palestine and Iraq. When it's happening in Iraq, that's legitimate resistance against occupation. Now that it sadly hit home I just pray that they'd see the light and realize that terror is NEVER a method, it's never the answer. I won't hold my breath for that though, I know that sadly many of them will echo similar rhetoric to that of Al Arabiya (Israelis and westerners), and Al Zarqawi (infidels). I just hope that every Jordanian will take a look deep down inside and realize what truly matters. Hopefully this will clip any wings extremist had in Jordan.

What really worries me is that we've been through this drill before, we've seen how events cascade after something like this. Look at the September 11 2001 events in the US, the ramifications of that day are still unfolding. I pray that Jordan won't be too adversely affected by what happened yesterday. I pray that Jordan will still be a free, open, and welcoming country. I pray that the economy will continue to grow to the boom that we all were anticipating.

Finally I want to allude to the awesome job that follow planeteers (names gathered from various websites: Haitham, Issam, Natasha, and Roba) did keeping the world updated on the Global Voices website, thank you guys. I'd also like to acknowledge all JP bloggers, reading your posts made me feel a little closer to home in these hard times. I'm proud to be a part of JP.

May God have mercy on those lost, help those who are suffering, and watch over our beloved Jordan.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Amman in the Heart


May God protect our Jordan and help those who were affected by these horrible events

Latest from Amman via Roba

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Are Muslims less susceptible to naturalization?

The rioting in France brought up an issue that I've often thought about, that of the lack of integration of Muslims into the western communities they migrate into. Looking at America as an example since the country was basically formed by immigrants, although there were some clashes between the different ethnicities, the country became a true melting pot. The ethnic groups maintained aspects of their home countries' identities, but all adopted an American identity and more importantly all had the country's best interest as their common goal, they truly embraced their new home as their new home.

Many Muslims do not fully understand the ramifications of accepting a foreign nationality, either that or they choose to ignore them completely. It's a given that situations in their home countries are less than favorable, but they need to look beyond the immediate improvements to their circumstances, they need to look at the responsibilities that are expected from them with their new affiliations. Taking America as an example once more, look at World War II and how the US military included young men from different ethnicities, many were 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, they fought and sacrificed together for their country. Now Muslim American parents have trouble registering their sons in the required Military Selective Service System, which will be used if there is to be a draft, the military is currently a volunteer force. That's very hypocritical, because when they became citizens they've pledged their allegiance to the US. The issue of Muslims in the military came to surface soon after the September 11th 2001 events.

So what is it that the rioters in France are after? Is it truly an issue of raging against inequality and isolation? Or is it the fact that the rioters simply don't belong to a country that is so different from their belief system? These issues were always there, but with the current rise of extremist Islam and renewed confrontation with the west, the issues surfaced in the violent matter that has been seen on the streets of France for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully that's not a hint of what's to come.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Avian flu economics

Amidst increased fears of the possible breakout of a bird flu pandemic, it was only a matter of time before someone's capitalistic instincts kicked in to attempt and make the most amount of money out of the whole ordeal.

When news first came out about the disease, it was pointed out that a single drug, Tamiflu produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, can be effective in fighting the flu. If you check the date on the Tamiflu link above, you can see that information about the drug's effectiveness was known since early last year. When worries about the disease escalated this fall, many reports came out about the lack of readiness of many countries, including the US, in terms of appropriate stockpiles of the known effective drug to fight the flu. Roche was still the only man
ufacturer and the news simply said that they cannot keep up with the large demand for the drug, that countries were on a waiting list, and the drug would be delivered on a first come first served basis.

Now kudos to Roche for owning Tamiflu, I'm all for them making large profits from their products, heck I even wish I would've bought some Roche stocks back in early 2004... but you need to supply enough drugs for the demand! It's only now that Roche is in negotiations to license production of the drug by other companies. But Taiwan, in true East Asian disregard to patent laws, took matters into their own hands and decided to copy the drug. "Taiwan officials said they had applied for the right to copy the drug - but the priority was to protect the public." I say, good for them.

The story won't be complete without mentioning the eBay connection, yes you've guessed it listings started to appear on ebay for selling the drug, it's the wonderful world we live in.

And to close on an even grimmer note, Tamiflu is not an answer-all drug for the flu, there have been reported cases of the virus resisting the drug.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A movie off the beaten path

What Dreams May Come is a movie that I first saw about 6 months ago, and again tonight. All you ever wanted to know about life, death, the afterlife, family, and of course love. The film has a couple of things working against it, but overall it's a stunning visual feast of wild imagined ingenuity. If you're in the mood for a different film, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ping Pong, with an Asian opponent

This evening I have a Ping Pong match with a gentleman with the name of Juhing Fu. How did this come to be? You might ask, last month the university created a recreation room in the new apartment complex I live in, I've played with some friends and managed to beat on them pretty much at will, doesn't say much about my skill as they mostly suck :) last week, announcements were posted in the complex for a tournament, I figured what the heck.. I'll sign up.

I never really was that good and it's been ages since I've played regularly, think back to the early 90s in Jordan. But I did play a few games maybe 6 or 7 years ago with a follow graduate student, she'd let me see a slither of hope of winning a game before going all ninja on me and beating me to submission, did I mention she was from Taiwan? So luck (or lack thereof) had me paired with the only Asian player in the tourney. Ever wonder why us, West Asians aren't as good as our continental neighbors to the East in sports like Ping Pong and martial arts?

So this post is in keeping with the Jordanian sports tradition of providing the excuse for losing before the match, and as always hadafna al mosharaka w al i7tikak lel khibrah! (our goal is participation for the experience).

Disclaimer: the soul intent of this post is humor, I'm aware of the racial stigma the post falls into, and I hold nothing but respect and intrigue for and in the diversity of human races.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Fall is a magical time of the year in the northland, the skies are clearer, the air is crisper, and the lakes are bluer. Now the trees are a whole different story, the maples change into flamey red, ash turns a mix of orange and yellow, while aspens become pure gold.

Below are some pictures of Maplewood state park in Minnesota, you can find the full set on my flickr, enjoy :)



The family dinner, and better grades?

Last month ABC news ran a story about a survey that found teens in families who have regular family dinners 5 times a week are more likely to have better grades at school, and are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke, and try drugs.

The results of the survey are interesting, of course the survey results speak more to the nature of a family who is a dedicated to a regular family dinner, rather than to the meal itself. Growing up in Jordan in the 80s, the family lunch (the main meal in Jordan) was considered something sacred, you'd only miss it if there were some extraordinary circumstances. People today are on such hectic schedules with working late, working multiple jobs, kids activities, that such an important daily event is often overlooked. This leads me to wonder, is the Jordanian family structure still as tightly knit as it used to be? Especially in the ever diminishing middle-class families.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm a Democrat

I took the Politics test after seeing it on Banzeen and Sabbah's Blog. It's a fun test, give it a try.

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(28% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ramadan did start Tuesday


The moon whose crescent was so elusive while watched with so much anticipation last week, has been making brilliant yet quiet appearances every evening now. This is a shot of the moon Sunday evening, it's clearly a big moon looks like more than half a moon to the naked eye, which would mean that it's more likely that tomorrow is the 7th of Ramadan rather than the 6th. Big surprise, ISNA got it wrong..

The month is 1/4 done, and has taken a turn to the better for me, several Iftars with the family and homemade gatayef yesterday (notice the emphasis on food :)

What I'm about to say is probably one of the most overused statements, but man is time flying or what?!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


According to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Ramadan starts Wednesday October 5th. Some communities, as well as individuals, decided to follow suit with most Arab countries and start the fast Tuesday, so did I. Ramadan day 1 is done, I went out to dinner with a friend who also decided to fast, The Olive Garden is a far cry from a homecooked meal enjoyed with family and loved ones. Talking about heartbreak over chicken parmigiana on the first day of Ramadan is just not right.. Ramadan stateside is just like any other time of the year.

Maybe I'll write a more appropriate Ramadan post later in the month :) Happy Ramadan everyone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Google SMS

As if Google doesn't have enough cool features under their belt, here's another one I just discovered: Google SMS. Turn your not-so-smart phone, into a powerful tool to harvest the wealth of knowledge available on the web using good ole' SMS text messages! Yup, no fancy phones needed here any phone with text messaging. At this point, the service is being offered free by Google, you only pay for the cost of sending and receiving standard text messages to your carrier.

To all the tech savvy people who's this is old news for, I apologize :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

There's just no making sense of it

I haven't watched the news since Saturday, I haven't even been to a news website, I just don't think I'm capable of taking any more bad news for now. When I wrote the previous post (I apologize if the profanity offended anyone) I wanted to add an Egyptian flag for show of solidarity, instantly, the thought of adding a British flag came to my mind. I paused for a second and remembered the conversation I'd just had with a Yemeni friend, and how horrified we both were over the fact that 39 people were killed and 50 injured in demonstrations against increase in fuel prices, hell they deserve to have their flag in there! After that thought, came the two issues that are always there, Palestine and Iraq... Where am I going with this? I'm actually not sure, but there is a lot of ugliness going on in the world right now. I'm trying to find hope, I'm trying to see the light but that just keeps getting harder and harder. The only chance of hope I can see are the children, hence the picture in the previous post. I call upon every person reading this, if you fail but to teach your children one thing, if you manage to implant only one value in them, please, I beg you please let it be respect for life.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


it's one fucking world we live in

Multicultural Group of Children Around Globe --- Image by � Gabe Palmer/zefa/Corbis

Friday, July 22, 2005

Nightstand me?

Roba tagged me with the Nightstand Memo.
So here's a picture of what I have laying on top of a bookshelf... those who didn't see Roba's post, I'm in temparoary housing and I don't have a nightstand at the moment :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Long posts...

Just a disclaimer.. I do realize that my posts are too wordy and I am taking that into consideration. I promise to try my best to keep'em short and if at all possible sweet :)

My thanks to all who visit and read!

30 Days, as a Muslim in America

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I was doing my routine surfing of TV channels when I came upon a show called 30 Days on the FX channel. I've seen the show's promos advertised before and managed to catch an episode of it. The show's idea is basically to take an individual and put them in an environment completely different than theirs and immerse them in that environment for 30 days, I know the reality TV fad has been done to death and is all but rightfully over, but I really like the idea of this show.

Last night's episode (it was actually a re-run) was to have a 33 year old Christian man live as a Muslim in Dearborn, Michigan known for being the largest Arab/Muslim community in the US. You can read more about the episode by visiting the 30 Days website and clicking on Episode Guide, then choosing Muslims and America. On the website you can read the episode's synopsis, character profiles, and see gallery images along with a short video clip. Now I'll leave things you can check on the website out of this post :) The subject, David, travels from West Virginia, moves in with a young Pakistani couple, grows a beard, and on some days, even dresses in traditional Pakistani attire. For 30 days, David follows Halal (Kosher) eating habits (no pork and no alcohol) and even observes the daily five prayers. He didn't actually pray but had to "roll out his prayer mat and be physically there for the duration of the prayer". He also went to the mosque during the congregate weekly prayer on Fridays. Now these things that David had to do are more than a lot of Muslims, including yours truly, actually do. But it really managed to give a much needed rare insight into the daily lives of Muslims.

Towards the end of the 30 day period, David appeared on a radio call-in show and answered questions about Muslims and their association with terrorism, he also tried to get people to sign a petition to stop legislation that would allow racial profiling. It was during these two events that David, and hopefully the viewers, got an understanding for the position that many Arabs and Muslims living in the states are in. The majority of the Arab/Muslim community are good American citizens, striving to live the American dream of prosperity while serving their country by excelling in their fields, and they certainly do not identify with the terrorist bunch.

As an Arab and a Muslim living in the US I've always felt a responsibility to reflect a true positive image (not a fake one) and to attempt to engage Americans and answer their questions and curiosities, not shy away into a cocoon. I believe this is the responsibility of every Arab and every Muslim living here, especially after 9/11 because dialogue and information are the best cure for guilt-by-association and the villainizing of a whole religion or race based on the acts of a few.

Edit (7/20 2:09PM):I've found more about this episode of 30 Days via blogger Palforce, here.
Palforce also provides a link to an Al Jazeera article about the same topic.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


My return from the trip home to Jordan this summer coincided with the 4th of July weekend, that was a little by design cause a 3-day weekend is surely welcomed to recuperate from the long trip. On Monday we went and watched fireworks with friends and everyone
was having a great time.

The weekend after that, the Air Show came to town. Planes from old World War II propellers to state of the art fighter jets brought excitement to the little town's sky.

And like that wasn't enough excitement, this weekend the town had a street fair. Vendors from all around the country lined the old downtown streets showing their goods to the public, the turn out was excellent. Live music was playing and lots of good food was enjoyed.

Each of the last 3 weekends has been a true taste of Americana.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On books and book prices

Yesterday while browsing Al Jazeera I came across this news piece Abu Dhabi sells books for 1 Dirham in celebration of World Book Day the link is in Arabic and I couldn't find the same news on the Al-Jazeera English site or other English news sites. The piece mentioned that this has been an annual event in Abu Dhabi for the last 3 years and it's a great success. I can see why it's a success! A book for 1 Dirham or $0.27 can't get a much better deal than that. While I was in Jordan last month I went to a couple of bookshops and I was really turned off by the prices, I'm talking about current English books such as those you'd find on the New York Times best seller list. Books were typically priced about +5 that of their price in the US, so a $20 book here in the US was priced at 25JD's. Taking into account that 25 Dinars is the equivalent of $35, that comes out to be 40% higher than in the US! Add the fact that the income levels in Jordan are on average much lower than those in the US you come to the realization that it costs an arm and a leg to buy a book in Jordan and only the well-off minority would be able to afford the luxury that is books which is truly a shame. Do these prices reflect actual cost to the booksellers? Or are they just being greedy? Now mind you that Arabic books are, thank God, much cheaper and typically cost less than 5JD, but these prices are depriving the great majority of a whole different perspective they could gain from "Books from the West". On another note, I couldn't find anything that says today is Book Day, first thing I did is check to see if Google had a special logo :) in fact the United Nations lists April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The morning shower

It's just not a good day if it's not started with a nice medium-length shower (medium length because work's early and sleeping is nice too :) my body simply refuses to go through the process of waking up without one. Yesterday morning as I entered the bathroom of my temporary-summer-housing studio apartment, the bathroom floor was wet (not a good sign), with one glance at the shower came the quick realization that the shower drain has overflowed and my shower was covered with my neighbors filth... What a way to start the day, huh?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Driving in Jordan

Much has been said on the topic but having the pleasure of paying a recent visit to my dearest Jordan it's almost pointless having a blog and not talking about the Jordan Driving Experience.. coming to your car this summer :) As a driver from the states (let me be more specific, a small-town driver from the states) there are a few things that manage to overwhelm you the first few days of your visit. Some of these things in no particular order are:
1. Lack of the traffic concept of lanes.. let's just say that sticking to a lane and following proper lane changing maneuvers is considered optional and quite rarely practiced.
2. IF proper laning exists, it will all go to hell at the first sign of a traffic light.. a 2 lane street would become a 3 or 4 lane intersection. Oh, and you can count on someone in the right most lane wanting to make a left turn, or someone in the left turn lane wanting to go through they're just stopping there because the queue was shorter than that in the through lanes.
3. Pedestrians can be found Anywhere on the roadway at any time. At least one kid will have a life or death race with you, attempting to cheat time-space principles and occupy the space that would naturally be your vehicle's with his own body.
4. You will be caught in a jam at least once on a roundabout and find yourself cursing out loud either some fellow driver, the roundabout itself, or any random thing that was pissing you off that day.
5. If you do get pissed off enough over the behavior of a fellow driver, and you follow the standard operating procedure of pissed-offness while driving in the US, you will be faced with one of 2 possible outcomes; you will learn/re-remember how the Arabic finger looks like, or someone will genuinely and whole heartedly attempt to beat you up.
6. Oh, you will get more use out of your horn in the 1 month vacation in Jordan than 2 years worth in Small Town USA.
7. The use of turn signals is optional.

I know I'm being very negative but there are some things to consider. One important issue is the heavily burdened road infrastructure in Jordan, there are simply too many vehicles for the existing streets capacity. It's by the grace of God, and the skill of Jordanian drivers that the accidents rate is not double or triple what it is, and that the whole system does not come to a total gridlock. In Amman, the Amaneh (Amman Municipality) does a great job with the tunnels and bridges to relieve traffic jams, however outside of Amman that effort is nonexistent. Another positive thing is an intensive traffic awareness campaign using signs on the streets and local media. Something that I really appreciate is that Jordanian drivers know how to use their hazard lights (Flasharat) and also hand signals! You don't see that much in the states. One last remark I'll make is that this summer I witnessed the return of the traffic policeman with the lightning rod hat! Those things were out of commission way back and it was a real treat seeing them again :) I'm attaching an old picture of one, too bad you can't see the whole rod.. but you get the idea :)

How I became a blogger..

Thinking back to the first "contact" I've had with the world of blogging, it would have to be around and during the start of war in Iraq. Around that time news surfaced about Iraqis blogging their personal experiences with the war and reporting on the status of things in Baghdad, other news reports related to blogging mentioned groups in the US personally funding and sending their own reporters to cover the war in Iraq because they don't trust big media organizations to do that job. Looking at the two incidents one gets a good deal of the flavor of what blogging really is... a rather personal account of events, issues, etc. that range in audience from global to local to even the blogger her or himself in some cases. The other thing that becomes apparent is the sheer power of blogging where an individual can have the same publishing power as big media organizations on the web.

In Fall 2003 I remember my professor in a graduate class about office information systems asking if the students knew what a Blog is when we were discussing collaborative work. After a few seconds pause waiting for someone to speak up.. I provided a rather clumsy answer based on my understanding of a blog at the time, only to have a typical know-it-all, smart, experienced, in-his-mid-40's student speak up from the back of class with a proper definition.. and it was the fist time I knew blog stands for web log :) I kind of took issue with blogs.. I felt that they sort of crept and snuck on me as I consider myself to be semi-computer savvy. And I believed the media and technology that was in place at the time, such as good ole websites, discussion boards and forums, negated the need for this new kid on the block. Probably the real reason for this stance is the fact I was getting old :) change and newfangledness were getting harder for me to accept.

Fast forward to late 2004 someone very close to me started their own blog, that blog became part of Jordan Planet bloggers community which I quickly became addicted to reading every single post and comment published there, and occasionally adding a comment of my own. In May 2005 I signed up for a blogspot account, and after much contemplation this is my first official post. The blog will not have a set theme, it will contain observations on current happenings as well as random scribbles and thoughts. The blog needs a lot of work as I've done none whatsoever on it :) but at this point I just wanted to get it started I will be adding and fixing things up as I go along. Incase anyone's wondering, Doflah (or deflah/defleh in other dialects) is the Arabic word for Oleander :) an abundant shrub in my home country, Jordan.