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.