A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: April 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

I love David Bowie

Is this task worth automating?

XKCD does it again, with one of the most genius comics I’ve ever seen. Is It Worth the Time?” is a handy chart showing how much time you can invest in automating any recurring task in order to save time, on balance, over five years.

As a person who is obsessed with automation, this is pure genius. My whole online existence is automated using IFTTT, a website that changed my life. Everything I use from this blog to my tumblr to Pinterest to Facebook to Twitter is connected to everything else.

Useful, useful.

10 edible things that can always make me happy


Ice cream


Salmon sashimi

Labaneh jamdeh

Rocket leaves

Kubeh nayeh

Brie and crackers


Sunny-side up eggs

In Case You Needed Any More Proof That Jimmy Page is AWESOMEEEEE

Dum Tak Alternative Arabic Festival: THIS IS AWESOME

Wow. This is AWESOME. Most exciting is all the wonderful bands coming in from Egypt.

For more: DUM TAK.

How the Jordanian Government Killed the Metal Scene

I am not, never was, and probably will never be into heavy metal music. As much as I love hard rock like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and others, heavy metal is just not my type.

But I like music. I like culture. I love it when people have ideas and they express these ideas in their own way. I don’t care if I don’t find heavy metal particularly awesome; I’m happy to acknowledge that it’s awesome for other people. In a society as suffocating as ours, I also appreciate social circles that allow different kinds of people to feel safe when they’re being themselves.

The metal scene in Jordan did all of those things.

Once upon a time.

Then the Jordanian government shot it down, after falling prey to some crappy journalism in local media.

Here’s a great mini-movie about the now-dead Jordanian metal scene:

I recommend that you watch it (and I never make video recommendations). It’s a beautiful and sad exploration of how our culture kills everything that doesn’t conform.

I was never really involved in the metal scene, but I did check it out a few times in 2005 and 2006. It was strange. It was different. It was beautiful.

Then it died.

Jordan’s Armed Forces at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

We really, really need to see more of Jordan’s marching bands locally.

Imagine if all the beautiful things you see in this march like the attention to detail, orderliness, celebration of cultural differences within Jordan, etc. became a part of every Jordanian.

Life Advice from Jack Kerouac

My latest literary obsession is Jack Kerouac. I also love googling pictures of him, because he looked a lot like my father did.

Here are some of the things he wrote:

“Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and LAUGH…” — Big Sur

“…we all must admit that everything is fine and there’s no need in the world to worry, and in fact we should realize what it would mean to us to UNDERSTAND that we’re not REALLY worried about ANYTHING.” – The Dharma Bums

“The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.” — On the Road

“Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running — that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters. And if your cans are redhot and you can’t hold them in your hands, just use good old railroad gloves, that’s all.” — The Dharma Bums

“So long and take it easy, because if you start taking things seriously, it is the end of you.” — Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings

“Sociability is just a big smile, and a big smile is nothing but teeth.” — The Dharma Bums

“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.”

“Love is all.”

“Life must be rich and full of loving — it’s no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.” — Selected Letters, 1940-1956

“The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.” — Lonesome Traveller

“The details are the life of it, I insist, say everything on your mind, don’t hold back, don’t analyze or anything as you go along, say it out.” — The Subterraneans

“Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.”

“It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing.” — Letter to his first wife, Edie, 1957

“The beauty of things must be that they end.” — Tristessa

“The truth of the matter is, you die, all you do is die, and yet you live, yes you live, and that’s no Harvard lie.”

“You’ll be sorry some day. Why don’t you ever understand what I’m trying to tell you: it’s with your six sense that you’re fooled into believing not only that you have six senses, but that you contact an actual outside world with them. If it wasn’t for your eyes, you wouldn’t see me. If it wasn’t for your ears, you wouldn’t hear that airplane. If it wasn’t for your nose, you wouldn’t smell that midnight mint. If it wasn’t for your tongue taster, you wouldn’t taste the difference between A and B. If it wasn’t for your body, you wouldn’t feel Princess. There is no me, no airplane, no mind, no Princess, no nothing, you for krissakes do you want to go on being fooled every damn minute of your life?” — The Dharma Bums

“The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” — On the Road

And so said the visuals: a collection of designs from Jordan

I was exploring Facebook’s new user interface for profiles, and my eye kept drifting to the avatars of the pages that people “Liked”.

Then I found myself becoming obsessed with how the people, brands, and musicians of Jordan represent themselves visually on Facebook. So I started collecting, drawing completely unscientific parallels, and looking for patterns where they probably don’t exist.

So much red
So much rage in the icons of people
So much black and white, together
So much text set in circles
So much typography
So much grunge

design from Jordan

The Horror of Life Without Labaneh

Good labaneh is easily one of the best things about being Jordanian. Starting the morning with labaneh dipped in delicious local olive oil and freshly-made pita bread is the recipe for a happy day. Or a labaneh sandwich toasted on Seb with cucumbers and fresh mint. Or medium-fried eggs with labaneh on the side. Definitions of joy.

Labaneh really is very important. It’s almost up there in terms of importance with jobneh beida, and just a bit above zaatar. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but jobneh beida (white cheese), labaneh (strained yogurt), and zaatar (thyme) are the three resources that stop the Levant from self-imploding, especially in light of our lack of more useful resources.

I don’t know how I came upon this Wikipedia page today about strained yogurt, and I am not sure of how correct it is. But it horrified me. Brothers and sisters from the Levant and Greece, it seems like we’re the only people lucky enough to enjoy labaneh as a solid part of our culinary tradition. The rest of the world is missing out.

Or maybe labaneh is the cause of trouble?

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