A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: August 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Things that made me happy today

Was just thinking about how amazing it is how the simple things can make people really happy. Here’s what made me smile today:

1. Finding a kick ass new route back home from work. I’ve been looking for an alternative route to Shmeisani that’s not Gardens Street nor Rabyeh, but all the streets that branch off Gardens seem to be deadends. Today, I finally found what I was looking for.

2. Finding Pop Tarts at Safeway, and them being REALLY yummy.

3. Eating really yummy knafeh bi2eshta.

4. Using an automatic coffee machine at home. I’ve always wanted one, though I’m pretty unpicky with my coffee. I ended up getting the wrong kind of coffee though.

5. Finding tiny hair pins at Safeway while looking for Pop Tarts. I’ve been looking for some for years, and they’re always either oversized or overpriced.

Pop Tarts Craving

Once a blue moon, I start craving frosted Pop Tarts, with the delicious looking frosting sprinkled with the rainbow.

I can taste the stuff I used to love as a child just thinking about them, though my head reminds me that the last few times we got Pop Tarts they tasted like sugared paper stuffed with rotten fruits.

From previous musings, dated April 2006:


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A few nights ago, I dreamt I was eating Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts! I haven’t had Pop Tarts since the 4th grade.

Naturally, I woke up with an extreme craving for them, and after a trip to Cozmos, I was standing in the kitchen microwaving the iced and sprinkled delicious-looking slices of pastry, stuffed with “natural” strawberry, remembering a day when I was a child sitting around the kitchen table waiting for my Pop Tart to be served. Ahh… for that precise instant, I could almost remember the sweetness of the icing (I love icing) and the juiciness of the fill.

Of course, the deliciousness of Pop Tarts turned out to be nothing more than a figment of an overfertile imagination. Or maybe Pop Tarts don’t taste the same anymore. Or maybe I’m too old for Pop Tarts. I really don’t know.

What I do know though is that they were way-too-sweet, artificially flavored to the degree that it feels like you are eating chemicals, and quite dry.

What a disappointment.

God, the most annoying thing? Everytime I want to blog about something and I start googling for references, I find that I had already blogged about this a few years back. Damn.


Zip That

If you, like me, have spent a good few hours of your life zipping stuff up and down trying to figure out the mechanism of zippers, here’s a GIF you will love.

Intra-Cultural Tourism; Holy Crap, He’s Wearing an Ombaz!

It’s a month of sightseeing. A month of cultural tourism. A month of reviving what is absolutely un-cool during the other 11 months of the year.

It’s Ramadan, and for some reason, Ramadan in popular culture is about kicking the Western lifestyle in the balls and going back a few hundred years in our own lifestyle. It’s about drinking too much amardeen, giggling at grown men wearing clogs while they serve nargilehs, and weird ass tents with fortune tellers discovering the future through cups of Turkish coffee.

Middle Eastern cities themselves turn into Vegas-like Arabian-Nights themed spaces. Amman, for example, shines with the (neon) lights of a million lanterns, imported from China, hanging from every window. The restaurants and coffeeshops adjust their menus and decorations to go with the Ramadan theme of hard-core Arabic food (I love how the really funky and kitschy silks, coppers, and woods make an appearance every year, only to be put away). Supermarkets and malls turn into souqs, suddenly providing certain goodies, like atayef, that are not available during the rest of the year. Entertainment too is affected, as you can see from long running shows that look at the dark ages of our civilization with longing eyes (Bab El-Hara being a good example), or crappy plays that are suddenly the funniest thing in the world.

It’s so fascinating, because Ramadan seems to be that time of the year when the Muslim world decides to go through an intra-cultural tourism trip, way back in time. We become our own tourists, consuming our own culture with blind enthusiasm, sans the historical guidebooks and the pleasures of witnessing that which is new.

Mind you, I am not complaining, though I must admit that I find it really annoying that all restaurants – whether Chinese, Italian, or junk – suddenly serve the same “Ramadan menu” of jallab, stuffed lamb, and 3osmaleyi. My taste buds and visual preferences aside, the cultural tourism aspect of Ramadan is something to think about.

Found: Old Family Picture in Palestine

My grandmother (in white) and my aunt (in black).


This picture was shot in Nablus, sometime before 1961.

Hal = Love

Roba: You didn’t get the no questions thing though.

Hal: Aaaahh, yeah, I didn’t get it till you explained it.

Roba: Okay though, I’ll leave it out. If you didn’t get it, then no one will.

Hal: Yeah, sorry.

Roba: You are definitely smarter that 99% of most people, and that’s why I love you.

Hal: I am SO NOT. You KNOW that the reason you love me is for my capacity for airheadedness.

Roba: True. Good point.

You know you love her too:

On Love and the Internet
Classic Case of Split Personality

Hala is Obsolete
25 Years of Facebook Friends
Monkey See, Monkey Do.
Rainbow Bright
A Conversation with my favorite Shopstress, and downright one of my favorite 10 people EVER
The Internet changed my life
Better than icecream…
Roba through the Grand Canyon of the Middle East
Quote of the day
The message after the beep

Macro Eye Photography

Freaky. Look at the texture, it’s amazing. I would have never guessed that that’s how an eye looks up close.

View all the collection here, via Kottke.


Don’t you just love test posts?:)

Sugar Makes You Fat

Mohannad: Sugar makes you fat.
Roba: No, it doesn’t. Its just like 20 calories per teaspoon or something.
Mohannad: Okay, but it does make you fat. The only thing pandas eat is sugar canes, and they’re REALLY fat.

Google You; Your Professional Brand, Online

Switch to Mac and you will become instantly cool, you will have fun while you work, and the blue screen of death will never appear again. Ever.

That’s the Apple promise.

The corporate world had this figured out decades ago. Often, it’s not about the physical value of a product or service, it’s about the strength of a promise; it’s about the strength of a brand.

After all, it’s a ‘brand’ new world where colors are trademarked and words are copyrighted. Bad publicity is more powerful than law. Reputations and perceptions are carefully controlled, professionally crafted, and monitored with military-like precision. Five lousy seconds of an unfortunate accident can end up in the news, or worse, on YouTube.

Welcome to 2010, where nothing is what it seems. Most businesses, large or small, practice corporate branding to some extent. Hollywood stars and business tycoons spend billions of dollars each year on brand strategists and publicists. And with the Internet, Google, and social media, the branding bug has marked its latest territory: You.

Your laundry, shining white or stained and dirty, no longer needs to be exciting (or embarrassing) enough to become public. All it takes is your name, typed into a search box, followed by an “Enter”.

There are many possible scenarios that follow that “Enter”. The searcher, whether a prospective business connection, employer, or simply a curious individual, may find a few random results; a newspaper article, a Facebook profile, and a comment on some site that you would rather not have people see. Or they could find results that have nothing to do with you at all, and rather, with a person who shares the same name. The ideal scenario would be having the searcher see a collection of links that you deem appropriate, and that you carefully control.

Professional branding on the Web is vital to today’s business ecosystem. If you are working on building your career, you need to make sure that employers access information that showcases your talent as well as clearly differentiates you from competition. If you are past the beginning of your career, and need to build business connections instead, you have to ensure that the first few pages of search results are expressive of your accomplishments and strong enough to hide the not-so-good stuff on Google.

As with corporate branding, the first thing you need to do before you start building your professional brand is make a few decisions. What is your professional promise? This is how you want people to think of you — it could be a promise of work of the highest quality or it could be innovative thinking. How would you like to portray yourself online? Do you want to be proactive in your branding and actually share your thoughts and ideas or simply make sure that your name is consistently associated with your image?

What follows is the fun stuff. The Holy Grail of personal branding on the web is social networking — the good ones have such high search ranks that they will definitely show up on the first page of search results. Create accounts of as many networks as you can, including LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter, and even Facebook, which is becoming increasingly important for businesses. If you enjoy writing, you might want to consider starting a blog as it is one of the best ways to showcase your professional experience and knowledge.

The important thing to keep in mind regardless of the tool though is consistency. Use the same variation of your name across everything you want to be associate with you and a pseudonym with everything you don’t. Always use the same photograph of yourself, and make sure it reflects how you want to be portrayed. Update the social networks you’re a part of at least once a month with carefully crafted messages that reflect your professional side.

It’s simple: You are a brand. It all matters. Build and own your online brand and don’t let others define it for you.

What does Google have to say about you? If you have no idea, well, you better’d find out.

Originally published in Venture magazine, August 2010

More Hyperlink articles:
It’s Time to Learn How to Surf
It’s Real Time
Start a Blog is NOT a Social Media Strategy
Advertising on the Information Highway
Social is the Word
The iPad Will Change the World
Does the Internet Now Speak Arabic?

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