A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

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Syria Break My Heart

The video was shot in parts of Jobar, once a highly populated neighborhood in outskirts of Syria’s Capital, Damascus.

For the love of white noise

I complain about noise a lot. During my last bout of complaining, a reader actually recommended something that turned out to be really useful: an app that generates white noise. See, it’s good to complain sometimes.

White noise is amazing. It neutralizes everything, creating a safe wall of noise consistency that you can safely latch onto in your head. It’s so lovely, and definitely my best discovery in 2015.

(P.S. Thank you Hani for the comment!)

Security Threat Milestones

Jordanian kids about to start college have no memories of a world that was ever safe.

Let that sink in for a second.

They grew up getting frisked at hotels. Their parents’ cars strip-searched before entering the mall. People they don’t know rummaging through their backpacks and belongings before going into concerts, restaurants, supermarkets. Embassies surrounded by jungles of Czech hedgehogs and concrete.

Can you imagine being a 14-year-old teenager who can’t keep any secrets, because your privacy will certainly be violated while your mom’s standing over your shoulder peering into the guts of your open backpack? Can you imagine never ever having been able to sneak anything anywhere, or having no idea what it feels like to just walk into a goddamn hotel? Can you imagine not being shaken when you see huge, ugly police dogs going around sniffing the stalls inside a bazaar?

I remember a world that was safe. Yet, even I can’t get over not having my luggage x-rayed before I walk into a hotel or mall when I’m traveling outside Jordan. Are you serious? There’s no one here to search me? What about that creepy-looking guy who just walked in? I don’t feel safe with him not being searched. At least have a security guy stand by the entrance so I feel a little bit better.

Sad, isn’t it?

That’s the bleakness of our reality.

I would not feel comfortable without all the security precautions. I am more than just happy to give up some of my privacy for the safety of my loved ones, and the safety of my country. I am thankful every day to the fact that Jordan is a country built on security. I pray that no harm comes to anyone within our controlled borders, shoved between Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine.

But I, at least, know what the awful political situation around us is making us give up. I remember a world that was safe.

Our neighborhood’s convenience store has a parking lot with two entrances: one is on the main road leading up to a traffic light, and the other is a smaller one around the back, leading into a small side street a few meters away from my home. Ever since I started driving more than a decade ago, I have always used the convenience store as a shortcut, going through the entrance on the main road and out into the side road. Last week, I was shaken when I found a security guard searching all cars before they entered the parking lot. The store has been around since we moved to Amman, and through all the shitty events that have happened in the past 15 years, it was never big enough to warrant a security detail.

So much for my shortcut.

Incredible video of snakes, Nokia Snake, and physics

What happens when you put snakes and boards successively closer together in a box? This video.

It is really amazing – I feel like I’m watching a real-version of the Nokia Snake game.

For an explanation of the physics, head on to io9.

On September, October, and November

I can’t believe I missed three whole months of photo posts. I thought I missed only one.

In my defense, I haven’t really been taking many pictures, because my phone’s camera is stupid. It turns everything that’s not shot in broad daylight into red, and with me spending all day-time hours on my desk at work, it just doesn’t make sense to take pictures. How’s that for an excuse?

So… my past three months. They were full of puzzles, Lego, model-building and home-cooking. Ready for a photo dump?

family picture



















Pictorial Archive of Life

2007: On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2008: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On August On September | On October | On November

2009: On July  | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2010: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | A Captioned July An UnCaptioned August  | On September  | On October | On November | On December

2011: On January  |  On February   |   On March   |  On April  |  On May  |   On July

2012: On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2013: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2014: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2015: On January | On October | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August

Genius Marketing from Kalamazoo Grill

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life
Second and Third Experiences: Good and Not So Good

Look at what I received today:


Is that genius marketing, or what? Genius!

To update you, I haven’t yet had any chicken after the painful allergy I got with my last try (when I ate the carrot – THE CARROT!). I need to chicken-up (ha, get it?) and try something soon, though.

Future Visions

I’ve come to deeply respect Microsoft in the past decade, not only for their world-changing technology, but also for what they stand for, and the culture of change and experimentation that I started seeing around the same time they launched the xBox.

Today, I’ve been reading a science-fiction anthology they published a few days back called “Future Visions”. They invited some sci-fi heavyweights to speak to Microsoft researchers at their research lab, and to understand the problems they are trying to solve… In the future.

The result is several genius short stories that I strongly recommend you read. The anthology made me feel fuzzy inside: what came first, the science or the science fiction?

It’s for free, you can download it on their website.

Don’t Double Dip You Nasty Loser

Really, double dipping is such an awful habit. Here’s why it’s bad for your health.

Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of different bacterial types and viruses live in the human oral cavity, most of which are harmless. But some aren’t so good. Pneumonic plague, tuberculosis, influenza virus, Legionnaires’ disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are known to spread through saliva, with coughing and sneezing aerosolizing up to 1,000 and 3,600 bacterial cells per minute. These tiny germ-containing droplets from a cough or a sneeze can settle on surfaces such as desks and doorknobs. Germs can be spread when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent spreading “serious respiratory illnesses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).” With that in mind, there may be a concern over the spread of oral bacteria from person to person thanks to double-dipping. And a person doesn’t have to be sick to pass on germs.

Second and third experience with chicken… good and not so good

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life

Experience #2 – the good: I’ve never really liked shawerma, and never understood why so many people are obsessed with it. When I ask, the answer has always been “Because lamb shawerma is crap”. That’s why my second bite of chicken ever was a bite from Rami’s chicken shawerma platter from Karam.

The verdict: Hmm, is that zaatar? It tastes like zaatar. I can’t taste any chicken, actually. The garlic sauce is awesome. I feel like I’m eating zaatar with garlic. Does chicken shawerma always taste so mild? It doesn’t taste like lamb shawerma at all. It is definitely better than lamb shawerma. It’s also not as crinkly dry around the edges. Interesting. I really love the zaatar taste. And yaaay, no stupid onions in my sandwich. The texture is nice, sort of like tuna melt. Not too chewy. Not bad!

So, what’s your favorite shawerma place?

Chicken shawerma: 7/10

Experience #3 – the really bad: Yesterday, I ate two little baby carrots that spent the day getting roasted in the same pot as some chickens. The dish was completely homemade. I didn’t eat any chicken, just the carrots.

Within seconds, my mouth, throat, and face were itching madly; I had little red dots on my tongue; and I spent two hours feeling like I was about to throw up. All this from two baby carrots.

What the hell, body? What the hell?

And I was so looking forward to having turkey for the first time in my life tonight. Now I won’t dare.

This was my first bite of chicken in life

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone

If you’ve never had chicken before in your life, what would you choose to try for your very first time?

My choice, a week after discovering that my allergy is gone, was one of the things I’ve been craving since I was a very little girl, sitting sadly at the fast-food joint and watching my brothers munch-away with jealousy. It was always completely off limits, with zero friendly options. Even their famous mash and gravy had little pieces of chicken.

Can you make a guess?

Popeyes… Fake, oily, deliciously and disgustingly processed junk food.

A few days ago, Popeyes was my first taste of poultry, ever.


Rami, my wonderful fiance and guide on this chicken culinary journey, got me chicken tenders.

(Let’s just take a minute to repeat that. He got ME CHICKEN tenders. Whoa.)

He said the tenders are not as “stinky” as other things on the menu. After an hour of pep talk, I shoved that first bite into my mouth.

It’s strange trying food for the first time. Everything is weird… the texture, the way it gets chewed, the flavour.

The texture of the chicken was very, very strange for me. Is it always that dry? The fibers are much more separated than in fish and in other sorts of meat. It felt like someone pulled the fibers apart and then put them back together in a square, before frying it in Cajun batter. It was also really, really chewy, leaving a strange sticky sensation on my teeth. Sort of like when you eat Twizzlers. Is that just Popeyes, or is chicken always like that in texture and chewiness? The taste of the chicken itself was alright, definitely not as bad as I expected, but really, really bland. Sort of like cardboard.

The Cajun spices were amazing though. They tasted as good as the smell I’ve imagined my entire life. That was pleasant.

My stomach didn’t feel too well after eating two tenders. I didn’t get the itchy allergic reaction I used to get, so that’s great. Rami tells me that of course my stomach didn’t feeling well… It’s oily, disgustingly processed Popeyes, after all.

So there. My first experience with chicken.

Popeyes: 5/10
Cajun spices: 10/10
Chicken: 1/10

I’m not even sure you can separate the Cajun rating from the Popeyes rating. I’ve never had that flavor before.

What do you think? Also, make suggestions. What should my next meal be?

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