AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: March 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

Isaac Asimov in a Radioshack Computer Ad

This is awesome on all possible levels.

Oh, no… Will Friedle now looks like this

How I remember him:

The secret world of Saudi tumblr

Women, I can tell.

Lonely women.

Brilliant women.

Talented women.

Women who wish for more.

Women who deserve more.

Women who live vicariously through animated GIFs.

Women who would have been somethings, if it weren’t for the misfortune of their birthplace.

Women I want to meet.

Women I want to hold.

Women I want to save.

But someone must save me first.

Maybe in a different life.

Where are they?

The image below is probably my all-time favorite picture in history of the observable universe. I love it so much that it’s my desktop background at work, it’s my smartphone’s lock-screen background, and it’s also something I often obsess over.

This image is one of Hubble’s ultra deep field photos of the observable universe. All these small dots are galaxies. Not stars. Not planets. Galaxies. If that isn’t humbling, then I don’t know what is. This image constantly reminds me of how small and meaningless I am, and how large and wonderful our universe is.

This image makes me happy. It also makes me wonder about where everyone is.

Some of you may be familiar with the Fermi paradox, which very simply asks: “Where are they?”

Seriously. Think about it. There are an estimated 200–400 billion stars in the Milky Way and 70 sextillion in the visible universe. Even if intelligent life occurs on 0.5% of the planets around these 200–400 billion stars, there might still be a great number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

The facts:
– There are an estimated 200–400 billion stars in the Milky Way and 70 sextillion in the visible universe.

– Our Sun is a young star. There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older.

– Some of these stars likely have Earth-like planets which may develop intelligent life.

– Presumably some of these civilizations will develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now

– At any practical pace of interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in just a few tens of millions of years.

Oh, aliens, where art thou?

I want to be an astronaut. I am totally living in the wrong century/millennium.

I3zif: Fantastic Resource for Learning Music Online

As someone who pretty much learned everything I know from learning it online, there isn’t anything I love more than a great web-based educational resource. Especially when the resource is Arabic, covering Arabic instruments like oud and tableh as well as foreign instruments like guitar.

That’s exactly what I3zif is.

The beauty of initiatives like I3zif is that it makes learning music easier, since it is both affordable and accessible. Here’s a sample:

It’s pretty cool. They offer oud classes, guitar classes, piano classes, and tableh classes, from many different instructors.

Do you want to learn how to play “Hanna Alsakran” on the oud? :) Here you go:

They also have an Arabic blog (yay for Arabic content).

Very cool initiative, if I may say so myself. Here’s to more music!

Check out I3zif here. You can also visit their Facebook page.

100 things that make me happy

It’s the first day of spring. Let’s all take a few minutes to remember the little things that bring us joy.

Here are 100 things that make me happy, in no particular order:

1. My family
2. The heat of the sun
3. Friday mornings
4. Possibilities
5. Ice cream
6. A beautiful song
7. Fresh pineapples
8. The texture of handcream
9. The smell of bread
10. A good book
11. A crisp gust of wind
12. Things that are built well
13. My friends
14. Water
15. Learning something new
16. Jasmines
17. Taking walks
18. A person who spells perfectly
19. El-Weibdeh
20. A late-night dinner at Hashem

21. The smell of paint
22. Laughter
23. A sentence with perfect syntax
24. The sound of birds
25. A long, hot shower
26. Meeting new, awesome people
27. My job
28. Negresco
29. Diet Pepsi
30. Labaneh jamdeh

31. Epiphanies
32. The sound of chatter in a crowded place
33. A cigarette after
34. Turtle Green
35. The Internet
36. Sitting on sidewalks
37. Images of pretty things
38. Labello
39. A good conversation
40. Booze
41. Wired
42. Fluffy clouds
43. Mansaf
44. Pinterest
45. Cats
46. Nutella
47. An outfit that fits perfectly
48. Words
49. Opportunities
50. The smell of earth

51. Herbal Red Heaven
52. Grass
53. The Universe
54. Sushi
55. Typography
56. Fresh laundry
57. Colorful wires
58. Gorilla Glass
59. Scotch fog
60. Peeing after holding it in
61. The Lord of the Rings
62. My mom’s hugs
63. Hugs in general
64. Blankets
65. Crayons
66. A perfectly-cooked rare steak
67. Technology
68. Jeans
69. Good design
70. My iPad

71. The smell of paper
72. Picnics
73. Intelligent debate
74. A good burger
75. Outer space
76. Arabic calligraphy
77. Rainbows
78. Playing mafia
79. Fully-charged gadgets
80. Popcorn
81. Confetti
82. The sound of the sea
83. Things that sparkle
84. Science fiction
85. Sharp scissors
86. Bohemian Rhapsody
87. Party hats
88. Freshly-painted nails
89. Comfortable shoes
90. Happy people
91. Candy
92. Science
93. Long drives
94. Beautiful people
95. Adobe Illustrator
96. Red
97. Sitting outdoors
98. Glue
99. Salmon
100. Nostalgia

Happy spring, everyone.

A Love Letter to My Cause, a Love Letter to My Mother

Mama,

My first vivid memory of joy is when I was three.

That day, you were painting Snow White on my bedroom’s wall in the old Abu Nseir house. I’m not sure if a three-year old can feel joy, but I remember being ecstatic over Snow White’s majestic presence in the room. Oh, the delicious smell of oil colors. 25 years later and the smell of oil colors always makes me smile. You made me love the brush, mama. I discovered the magic of drawing, painting, and creating because of a childhood looking at you hunched over your canvases.

My choice of majoring in fine arts had everything to do with you, mama.

I also remember the little Snow White book with the silver spine that you used to read to me every day. You and I would huddle across from the painting of Snow White, and we would read. “Kan ya makan, fi qadeem il zaman,” you would start. “كان في أميرة بيضاء، بيضاء، بيضاء، مثل التلج. كانو خدودها زهري، زهري، زهري، مثل الورد. كانو عيونها سود، سود، سود، مثل الليل. عشان هيك كانو يسموها “سنو وايت”. It was your readings of Snow White and other books at a time when I still didn’t know how to read that started my love of reading. My love of reading turned into a love of writing. There is one thing I want to do before I die, and that is to write something beautiful.

My obsession with words, syntax, and language have everything to do with you, mama.

You taught me a lot, you did. But all mothers teach their children things. Mothers teach their children how to tie their shoes. They teach them how to pee and how to use a spoon. They teach them how to stay safe and how to grow. You taught me these things, yes you did (although I never learned how to tie my shoes the correct “shoe knot” way). Yet, it isn’t these simple lessons that I am eternally thankful to you for: the priceless lessons are those that come with your degree in philosophy. Being raised by you was never a simple upbringing of classical conditioning. After all, there aren’t many mothers who taught their children the system of ethics. “I am not saying no,” you’d say to me, at an age when other kids had no idea who Pavlov was. “But think about it for a minute, Roobee. Is it right? Would you be embarrassed if I knew you were going to do it?” As an adult, every decision I make goes through a complicated system of intense, systematic thoughts.

You taught me the most important thing in the world, mama: how to think ethically, and to not confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs, and the law. You taught me to think meta-ethically.

I am my mother’s daughter, mama.

I am Roba, the daughter of Rula. And you, Rula, are the reason I am Roba.

The law of causality states that “Every effect must have a cause.”

You are my cause. I am your effect. إنتي يا ماما كياني.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Love,
Roobee

Why you should write

Write.
Every sentence is a decision.
Every deletion is an even harder decision.

From how to improve your decision-making skills on Quora.

Mashrou Leila: Ma Tetrekni Heik

It’s the first time I hear this Mashrou Leila song. The intro is hauntingly beautiful.

ما تتركني هيك
عم بفتّش عليك
بأسفل كل كاس
بين تخوت هالناس
اتوهّم وجهك
وبنادي اسمك
كأنه موشوم
عشفافي اسمو
مزاجها عفريت
بحبر مميت
ما إلو دوا
خيبة الهوا
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك

 

حبيبي خليك
و بيحلى السمر
بنشرب القمر
ونوره بيِرْويك
بقتفلك النجوم
بركّبها عتاج
ببني لنا ملاج
ورا الغيوم
واذا هجرت
خد قلبي معك
خد روحي معك
و اتركني بالمُر
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك
ما تتركني هيك

Nostalgia for Japan

The cartoons. The hours spent pretending to be Captain Majed. Our Japanese childhood.

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