Thursday, December 30, 2004

Food for both body and mind

Whatever happened to Shiraz?

We went to dinner last night at Shiraz, the Iranian restaurant in the Crowne Plaza. Shiraz is usually always a safe bet with good food and the best view in town. Not last night.

The food wasn't just bad. It was inedible. We got our food, took a bite each from our kebabs and that was it. We asked for the bill. The waiter didn't act surprised. Never asked "is there something wrong with the food?" He just got us the bill as if it was perfectly normal for people to leave without eating their food. Thank god for the Privilege Club card which gave us 50% off the tab.

We didn't let the bad experience ruin our night and headed to Second Cup which was packed as usual. The coffee was good. The atmosphere was great. We made the most out of it and managed to salvage the rest of our night out.

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Al Fair

Al Fair used to be my favorite supermarket chain in Oman, but unfortunately they're in a very bad state right now. It's surprising that since they've given the management to the people who run the Spinney's chain in Dubai the stores didn't improve. In fact they got worse. The MQ store looks great. Asthetically, it's probably the best supermarket in Oman. But it's not a place to do your full grocery shopping anymore. I go there to buy bread and cheese, plus some European products that I can't get anywhere else. There's no variety of anything else anymore, and the prices are much higher than the competition. And don't get me started on the weird magazine stands.

____________________________________


Books

The reason I mentioned Al Fair is because I was at their CBD store yesterday and I ended up buying 3 books. Of all the places to get a good selection of book! I was so surprised. I dunno who their supplier is. The price stickers say JAS Books. Why doesn't JAS Books, whoever they are, open a proper bookstore of their own if they have such a nice selection like what they display in Al Fair? The prices weren't too bad either. I'll write about the books later. I've been back in a reading groove lately and I have a few of books to write about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

So not lovin' it

I left work just a little early because of the rain yesterday. Traffic was bumper to bumper going slower than walking speed. It took me an hour to get from the CBD to Qurum. A distance of probably 6 or 7km, but it took an hour. Still, I was calm. I had the U2 album going at full blast. I was enjoying it. When I saw the off-ramp at Qurum I thought to myself, "why not take the beach road.. see the waves.. nice!". So I got off the highway and headed towards the beach road. Traffic in Qurum was just as bad as the flyover. Bumper to bumper. Snail's pace. Past the Natural Park roundabout as the two lanes merge into one, I was side by side with a white truck. I was in the left lane and he was in the right. I was ahead so I thought he'd slow down and give me way to merge ahead of him. But he accelerated instead. No problem, I'm having a good day, so I slow down and let him go infront. All cool. Until his rear accident guard snatched into my car's right front wing. He kept going and tore through the wing from the wheel arch right in front of the door all the way till the bumper. And he drove away. I honked the horn. Flashed my lights. Waved for him to stop. Dude just drove away. All I could do was take his number down and call the police. Except the police wouldn't pick up the phone. Imagine that? No one picking up 999. Not even a recording to place your call on queue.

If the police can't come to the accident scene what do you do? I drove the nearest police station. The police procedure is enough to drive you insane. I ended up being at the police station for 2 hours. And that's not because they were busy with anything else. It took them two hours to process my one accident. I can't imagine how it would have been if they had others to deal with. The first policeman sat me down in a room and asked me to tell him what happened. He wrote it all down and asked me to sign. Wrote it by hand of course, because the police department still isn't computerized. They're still working on carbon paper. Anyhow, I read it and it was totally the opposite of what I said. This is the essence of what he wrote: I was driving down the road, there was a truck at the end of the road. I hit it. How nice!

I blew my top off. Even the accident wasn't enough to spoil my mood. But this idiot took me over the edge. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and another policeman came in to calm me down and tore up the previous report. Then I had to go to the scene of the accident and wait for a police patrol to come by so I can show them exactly where and how it happened. Then this morning I had to waste the whole morning first going to the police inspection yard where a police mechanic inspected my car and decided what parts would be fixed and which would get replaced. Then I had to come back an hour later to pick up the report. Then I drove to the police station from yesterday to get the accident report, but the police - get this - still haven't been able to get ahold of the guy from the truck. The poor guys, they called his listed number but found out it's been changed. They called Omantel to get his current number but it turned out he doesn't have one. So "please give us two days to find him and come back again on Saturday."

When I finally get the police report I'll have to start chasing after the insurance company. If I am lucky they'll let me fix my car at the dealer. If I am super lucky they'll actually pay to fix the car. Otherwise they might even depreciate the part and give me the equivalent of its current value and I'll have to cover the difference myself. If all goes according to normal schedule my car would be fixed around a month from now.

Lovely.

Monday, December 27, 2004

This and that

1. Rain!

Wonderful weather today. I'm definitely not in a work mood. If I had a four wheel drive car i'd be outside right now just driving around and taking pictures.

It seldom rains in Muscat anymore so we appreciate every drop that we get. It wasn't always like this. I can't pinpoint when it was exactly that rain started becoming scarcer. It must have been in the early to mid 90's. I can't remember the last time we had a good rainfall that lasted continuously for a few years. What we get these days is "drive by" rain. Clouds suddenly appear. It rains hard for an hour or so, then it goes away like nothing had happened. It always amuses me when it rains in the morning. Most people don't put up their sunshades, ever opitimistic with the hope that the rain would last all day. It rarely ever happens. Usually within two hours the sun would be out again, blazing as ever.

2. I got excellent pictures from the stadium the other day when we went and did the patriotic thing to cheer our returning football team. I'll figure out a way to post some of them soon as I can.

3. I finally got the U2 album. Cheers to my excellent wife who asked her friend to get it from Dubai for me. Big thanks to her friend too, though I can't let her by so easily for what she said when she listened to it in the shop: "I wanted to dismantle my own body from all the yelling." Bono will not be pleased.

4. I need books. Can someone please guide me if there's any option other than Amazon for books. Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk have both increased their shipping rates for books and outpriced themselves out of my market. Besides, with the British Pound at around 0.74 you think twice before buying anything from the UK regardless of the shipping rate.

5. I passed by the Ministry of Truth the other day to follow up on something and had the honor of meeting a censor. A person with a room and a desk and a big stack of magazines to censor for my protection. Next time I buy a magazine and find a page missing or a picture blacked-out I'll know who to thank for it.

6. Speaking of magazines, what's up with the crazy prices we're paying? And how come magazine subscriptions are so much cheaper in the US than in the UK? UK magazine subscriptions rarely save you any money while in the US subscriptions often save you as much as 70% off the cover price. The price of Empire magazine is now almost 5 rials an issue in the local market. I thought I'd subscribe to it to save money but the subscription price turned out to be close to 80 pounds which doesn't save me much at all. In the meantime, Premiere magazine (which is shit compared to Empire) sells for just over 3 rials here. I got a one year subscription for $37, which brings the price per issue to around 1.2 rials.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I'm here, I'm alive!!!

And I'm pregnant! YAHOOOO!!!! Could you tell I'm over the moon? I know I haven't been blogging for ages, but, like my better half said, I have been busy being pregnant. Oh and by that he means I am asleep all the time. I swear, that is ALL I do. I fall asleep just sitting in my place. Anytime, anywhere. For the first two months, they only saw me at work when I punched in, then when it was time to leave again (I'm lucky I work in a place where there is hardly any work this time of the year and where the library is never used). I just went all the way to back and collapsed on any chair/table/floor. I'm just thankful I'm not puking nonstop like some of my friends. Gimme sleepiness any time of day!

They say you don't show at 3 months, but for some reason I do, which is kind of worrying! If my clothes are too tight at this stage, I dread to imagine how fat I'm going to be. Actually, i'm kinda lying, I wanna be fat and round and give birth to a fat baby, hehe.

Ok, i better change the subject, or you'll never hear the end of it!!

Can I just mention that I managed to get my husband the U2 album he's been b****ing about? Luckily a friend of mine went to Dubai this weekend and managed to find it, he can stop complaining now!

Oh we went to the stadium yesterday with a group of friends to greet our national football team. It was a blast!!! Except for a few wierdos here and there. The team were ecstatic at the standing ovation they received! They deserved it, poor chaps, they really worked hard, I honestly think we have a shot at winning next time *fingers crossed*

Whatever happened to the "she said" part of the blog?

By some miracle, someone the other day decided to waste some of his precious time reading this blog.

Inzain, in case anyone's wondering how come this blog hasn't had a single post from my better half since we got back from Glasgow, we have some good news. She's been busy being pregnant.

Al7amdlilah, the first trimester's over and I guess that's when you're supposed to start telling people. Not in Oman though, people tell from the first week here. She's very happily pregnant and we're expecting our first born towards the end of June, 2005. She's got more important things to do than blog.

No he didn't

Oman's loss to Qatar in the penalty shootout of the Gulf Cup championship match brought a deafening silence to the crowd. Three times Oman was one shot away from the cup. Three times they missed. THREE TIMES. It was a direct message from God telling Oman that He shall not allow it to win the cup. "You shall play like you've never played before. You shall reach the finals. But you shall not win." So close that you can almost taste it. Close, but no cigar.

And that sums up the entire history of Oman. Has there ever been such a miserable country? Are we destined to always watch from the sidelines as everything passes us by. Ok, so things could be worse. We're not a natural catastrophe like Bangladesh. We have no sectarian problems like Iraq. We're not dirt poor like some African countries. But come on, for how long will we be the people who have to be thankful for what they have and for how much better off they are than others, instead of for that they've actually achieved.

In elementary school history and islamic studies they taught us about Mazin bin Ghadhooba, the first Omani to embrace islam. Mazin heard about the new religion, so he traveled to see the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and became a muslim in his presence. The legend goes that Mazin asked him to say a prayer for Oman so the Prophet gave a prayer which basically asks God that Oman prospers forever, etc. Note that I called this a legend. I quit believing that this story is real a long time ago. There's no way Prophet Mohammed would pray for a country and it ends up as miserable as Oman is.

This is a country where nothing goes right. It's a world of its own where everything works the opposite of how it should be. If the world was like Jerry Seinfeld, Oman would be George. We're still waiting for the time Oman goes "opposite" like George did. A friend of mine used to say that the perfect example of the Oman situation is McDonalds. The most popular restaurant chain in the world, but in Oman it's barely profitable. But at least it's making money. Burger King, Wendys and Subway all shut their doors and left a long time ago.

A few weeks ago they managed to get Michael Porter to give a couple of private lectures about Oman's competitiveness. He gave a lecture that basically said "Oman could be the best country in the region if it changes the following.." and then he listed almost everything that was wrong in Oman. He basically said "change everything". Of course our press the next day had the headlines declaring that the world's top management guru says that Oman could be the best. That's what we're good at. We can put a spin on just about anything and make it sound like a compliment. But can we build a competitive advantage on that?

I know a bitch a lot. That's what I do. I see things happen around me. I read a lot. I go online a lot. It comes to a boil, I bitch. It lets out a little steam. It's like a natural pressure valve/blog. What good will it do? Absolutely nothing. I will not go away and live in Dubai like others I know. Not for the pay, and definitely not because "things actually work there" like a friend who's taken the jump told me. Deep inside me, I still believe that Oman will work one day. And then will I stop bitching?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Oman..

1. It's almost surreal when Oman starts a football tournament as the favorites to win. It's hypersurreal when Oman follows through and actually reaches the final. Will they win? I don't care. We'd all love it if they do, but having grown up with Oman always being last or before last for close to three decades of Gulf Cup tournaments it's more than enough just getting to the final this time. They can pull it off. It's a great day to be Omani.

2. On the flip side, when it comes to music it's absolutely positively not a good thing living in Oman. It's been a month since U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album came out and it's still not available in Oman. Meanwhile, Robbie, Kylie and Blue's greatest hits are all already available in all the stores, along with any kind of crap pop album you can imagine. I had pre-ordered the U2 CD from CD Wow in the begining of November but then they kept delaying the shipment. When they sent me yet another delay notice on Dec 5 I got mad and cancelled the order thinking that by now surely all the stores in town must have it in stock. How wrong I was. Now I'm Oman's resident miserable U2 fan.

3. It must be a sign of growing old. I'd never have kept waiting for music I like. I'd have downloaded it. Pirated it. Called people who are traveling and asked them to get it for me. Oh God..

Apathy Nation

I stopped at shop in the morning to buy some juice and biscuits for the office. While I was there a kid of about sixteen came in and lifted a single finger to the shop keeper. The shop keeper reached under his desk and got out a single cigarette from a pack and gave it to the kid. The kid paid and was out in no time enjoying his morning smoke before school. This scene repeats almost every time I stop at one of these shops.

This time, I asked the shopkeeper, "I thought you're not allowed to sell single cigarettes".
He instantly replied "he's light smoker, better he buys a single cigarette than a pack," like he's doing the kid a favor by selling him the smoke.

I smiled to the guy, didn't want to intimidate him, and asked "wasn't there a law a couple years ago prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to kids under 18?"

"Yes of course," he says, and points to a sign on the wall behind him that says "We don't sell cigarettes to under 18's". A nice fancy sign - incidentally printed and distributed by the tobacco lobby in the gulf.

"But that kid's under 18!"
"No, no.. he's over 18. He must be on his way to college right now."

There you go, Oman strikes again. Yet another law that resides strictly on the books. Nobody even knows who's supposed to enforce the antismoking law. They announced the law. Made a big fuss about it for a day. And then they forgot about it.

Smoke when you're young. Drink when you're under age. Drive under the influence every single day if you want. Just don't break the speed limit. That's the only law they enforce. And I guess if they didn't have camera radars they wouldn't have enforced that one either.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Omantel finally sees the light

In 2004 the number of US households with broadband connections surpassed households with dial-up connections for the first time.

And on December 18, 2004 Oman's best-loved company, Omantel, finally announced broadband for the masses. Of course, we don't know how much of their announcement is real and how much is just vapour. Broadband has been available in Muscat on a "trial basis" since around March 2003. I know people who've been using it over a year. In fact, Omantel has officially launched their broadband product around March of this year but the price was too high and they didn't have enough lines. They couldn't bother to go connect everyone's homes.

So here we are nine months later, and guess what? It's like it's never happened. They're launching it as if it was something new. Huge launch event at the Bustan Palace. Billboard ads all over town "Have you got the power?". Etc, etc. But as Omantel goes, it's a good deal. For household use, the price is just RO. 12 per month plus 1 rial per GB. You worry that those gigs will pile up quick? Well the price is capped at RO. 39 a month max. Ok, so 100 bucks a month for internet is a lot, especially when the speed is just 384 download / 128 upload. But hey it's a start, and come on how many people gonna download that much anyhow. Most people won't go beyond 5 to 10GB a month, if even. And who knows, if the service does take off maybe we can dream of flat rates or maybe even faster lines within a year. Oh how I miss my 1 megabit line from Glasgow.

PS. I'm posting this by email. First time I use this. Hope it works.

Talk Talk

Here's a quick list of the rumours circulating in Muscat at the moment:

1. The government will pay all public sector employees a bonus salary because of increased oil prices.
1b. New update: The bonus will be RO. 145 per person only.
2. Carrefour haven't been approved a license to open in Qurum so they're shifting the new location to Ruwi.
3a. BMW is unhappy with Suhail Bahwan and is thinking of withdrawing the agency and awarding it to Moosa Al Aruri with a Saudi partner or,
3b. The new BMW agent will be Majid Al Futtaim.
4. Suhail Bahwan is negotiating with Majid Al Futtaim to sell the Nissan agency for Oman along with the new showroom that's under construction.
5a. The NBO-BankMuscat merger won't go through.
5b. The NBO-BankMuscat will go through but in April 2005.
6. PDO will lay off as many as 1000 of its employees (actually this one might be true).
7. The Ministry of Manpower is trying to force Nawras to lower its staff salaries.
8. Markaz Al Bahja is for sale for RO. 10 million.
9. The minimum wage for high school diploma holders will be increased.
10. OIB wants to merge with Bank Dhofar.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

What help?

Having been away from Oman for a year till September, this was the first month that I pay bills again. I noticed on my GSM bill that Omantel now has an Account Number where the Contract Number used to be. I was afraid that if I pay my bill online without changing the contract number with the bank the payment won't register against my account. I called OIFC's call center and the woman who answered my call surprised me by saying that the account number changes with every bill and it shouldn't matter to me when I make the payment at the counter. She had no idea about internet banking. She said "go ahead and pay". So I called Omantel's call center, and the woman there had no idea that there used to be a contract number. I could almost hear the gears jamming in her brain.

So two calls, two so-called help lines, and I got absolutely no help at all. In the end I went on internet banking and opened a new bill payment with the account number. Hopefully, the money will find its way to my account.

Speaking of mobile phone companies....

Nawras Telecom

It seems like everyone and their mother is applying for jobs at Nawras. The company's apparently paying crazy salaries and their post box is getting jammed with applications. Someone told me so many people apply for every opening that they're discarding applications without reading them. A friend told me about someone who doesn't even have a university degree and barely has a couple years' work experience who's getting paid more than I am. Some good that MSc did me, ha?



Thursday, November 25, 2004

In no sense.. nonsense

1. Headline in Tuesday's Times of Oman:

Omanisation of English newspapers not imminent

You can almost hear the reporter's sigh of relief, can't you? I don't mind that the press here is all Indian. I mind that they the majority of them write only for Indians. I mind that most of them write in Inglish, not English. And I really do mind that even if I were to cut and paste all three daily English papers into one I still find a need to read the Khaleej Times or Gulf News, and that's for getting just the Oman news, let alone the rest of the world.

I know.. I know.. we're lagging behind. Yes, we've ranked the worst in the Arab world when it comes to freedom of the press. But no one's asked these fuckers to criticize the government. I don't care about that. I'd accept local coverage of the stuff they're allowed to report.

Today, the Times' Thursday magazine is celebrating its 5th anniversary and they have write-ups by every single person who works in the paper. It starts with the chairman and his three sons patting each other on the back, and then it's page after page after page of Indians (and a couple Philipinos). The first Omani appears on page 40!

2. I honestly can't remember what the second thing I was going to write about is :)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Back!

No, we have not abandoned our blog. At least I haven't. I was too busy finishing off my dissertation while OD was packing our stuff. I submitted on September 15th, and we were on a flight back to Oman the very next day.

Our graduation ceremony was yesterday. Couldn't make it. We're just waiting for our degrees to come in the mail towards the month's end. We've passed! And God forgive Dr. Liu, my dissertatin supervisor, for blowing my slim chance at a distinction. He went AWOL on me!

Anyhow, we've been back home for a month and a half. I've been back at work since September 25. Lots of things happening. Lots of things which are supposed to be happening aren't. Still haven't started the process of looking for a place to stay. Quite enjoying the living with the folks thing again.

I've been writing lots of things which were intended for the blog. I may or may not post them eventually.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Done..Woohooo!!!

Yeps, its official!! I have finally submitted my dissertation. Actually that was a couple of days ago, but, I was too busy celebrating to blog it.. My celebration involved continuous gloating infront of my husband who's still got about 13 days to go before his final deadline.

dissertation down to the wire

So, now that I've submitted, and fingers crossed I might even pass, what does that make me? A Phd makes you a doctor, so I guess my masters would make me, a, umm, maestro?

Apparently this degree of mine should open many doors for me, career wise. The only door I want opened is one that belongs to a different company offering me a better job! Will start job hunting when I get back home..

Am I looking forward to going back home? Hell yeah!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bahrain's Ministry of Information to be abolished

Bahrain is rejoicing today after the announcement that the Ministry of Information is being abolished and will be replaced with a variety of specialized commissions headed mostly by people from the private sector.

Here's hoping other country's in the region follow. We've had enough of the doublespeak where Ministries of Information are actually in-charge of disinformation and censorship. In Oman, the Ministry isn't even in charge of the censor board, we have that as a directorate under the "culture" part of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Fujairah Gansta Trippin'

I can understand that for some reason Arab kids identify with gangsta rap. Hell I still listen to Biggie 7 years after his death. But to go gangsta, that's a whole different thing. A bunch of guys from Fujairah with names like Magic The Don, O-sparks, and Kali Kaluminati have formed a gangsta rap group named 503 in Philly of all places. I guess Fujairah is more ghetto than I knew.

Songs available online here. The song Death Threat has the best production, but still...

Interviews and lyrics here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Things that make you go hmm... part 374

I'm still scratching my head after reading the main story from yesterday's Oman Observer. There's something fishy going on at our oil company. Why else would PDO send out a press release at the end of August 2004 congratulating itself and patting its own back for, check this out: almost meeting last year's production target.

"Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which pumps in 90 per cent of the country’s oil, said that the company has almost met the production target set for last year.

The company has produced an average of 702,000 barrels of oil per day in 2003, which is 99.8 per cent of the target of 703,000 barrel a day set by the management earlier."


I'd link the full article if it wasn't for the fact that our brilliant official paper doesn't archive their papers for more than 5 days.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Superficial

My choice for site of the week. Go for the pics of all the pretty celebrities, or you can pretend that you go for all the witty and sarcastic comments that accompany the pictures.

The Superficial is a brutally honest look at society and its obsession with (obviously) the superficial. It is not satire. It is not social commentary. It is the voice of our society at its worst. It is first impressions without sense of social obligation. It is the truth of our generation. It is ugly racism. It is jealousy. It is honest.

Just kidding. Our goal is to make fun of as many people as possible.


The Superficial - Because You're Ugly

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Don't know... Don't wanna know!

Oman's Ministry of National Economy Website, probably the only Omani govt website with anything resembling useful information - particularly for Omani post-grad students writing the obligatory chapter about Oman - has a link to the State Audit Institution. Nothing interesting there until I clicked on the Contact Us link and a new option appeared in the menu: Inform Us.

We welcome any information which would help us in the course of our audit activities. If you would like to report any information regarding possible fraud, waste or mismanagement of public funds, you may do so by filling out the form below or :-

Sending an email to info@sgsa.com
Sending a fax to (968)-740264
Contacting us on telephone at (968)-736765
Writing to the State Audit Institution, PO Box 727, PC 113, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Say What?!

I was looking up information about internet connectivity in the Arab world when I came across the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and their The Internet in the Arab World report. Nothing useful for my dissertation here, but check this out from the UAE section of the report:

The Emirati Minister of Transportation, Ahmed Hameed Al-Taier, stated to the newspaper Al-Bayan that "the Proxy Filtering System was the main reason behind the spread of the Internet in the country. Many people allowed access to the Internet inside their homes upon the condition that there be some sort of censorship to protect their families from websites offensive to their morality." At the same time he asserted that, "The Emirates, in comparison to many other states, is not considered restrictive. Even the most developed countries impose censorship on the Internet for several reasons other than those of morality."


Olympians barred from blogging until the games end!!

CNN.com - Olympians largely barred from blogging - Aug 20%2C 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Please fill my online questionnaire

I have an online questionnaire for my dissertation. It's a last minute thing and I really don't have time to go out and do a random survey on the streets.

If by any chance there are actual human beings who visit this blog.. please, please, pleaaaaaase take 5 minutes and fill the questionnaire. It's on the following address:

http://www.surveygalaxy.com/surPublishes.asp?survey_Id=1082

Just go to the last button and click on "Continue... without registration". It shouldn't take more than 3 to 5 minutes.

I need as many replies as possible.. and as soon as possible.

Giving our blog a facelift!

So, after browsing through numerous blogs, we thought, instead of hanging our heads in shame at the 'simplicity' of our blog, why not give it a facelift!! Well, neither one of us is remotely artistic, but, hey, it actually looks better than before (I must admit it was all Osamah's doing).. Maybe when we go back home someone can vamp it up for us, and we'll pretend it was our own work, hehe.

My husband is also thinking of compiling a list of all the Omani blogs out there (anything to keep him from working on his dissertation). I'm looking forward to this actually. It would be nice to have a list of all the Omani blogs in one place.. So, if any of you are Omani and have a blog, just email the address of your blog to either one of us!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Whole Lotta Bloggin' Goin' On!

I had so much I wanted to say today.. but then I came out of the shower and OD wanted to go to a movie. Here I am a few hours later and I can't remember most of it.

Blogging: Yesterday I came across Kuwait Unplugged (http://zaydoun.blogspot.com/
) , a Kuwait blog which I liked a lot and bookmarked for future reading. It got me into a Kuwaiti blog browsing mode and I ended up going through about half the blogs listed on www.kuwaitblogs.com. Some really good Kuwaiti blogs out there, but a whole lot of deserted blogs too. I guess blogging's the fashion in Kuwait and most people started their's only half-hearted. A couple posts and they got bored. Or then again maybe they're all vacationing in London and Paris or wherever else it's fashionable to be these days.

It got me wondering, are there any Omani blogs out there? Well OD and I are Omanis, but there's not much related to Oman here. Maybe if we keep writing after we go back to Oman next month. Then again, right now we're just writing here even though no one knows about our blog. Will we keep writing after our friends know? Maybe it wasn't a very smart idea. We should've used our nicknames, eh?

Oh.. I want to change the look of this blog. This template is way too generic. I want something that looks better but I can't be bothered with customizing it. I'm getting old and approaching the age where I'd rather get others to do stuff for me rather learn to do it myself.

Weekend: Fringe Sunday was great fun. We always have fun in Edinburgh. I wonder how different our stay here would have been if we had chosen a University in Edinburgh instead of Glasgow. It's not like we haven't enjoyed Glasgow. It's been lots of fun, but it ain't exactly a beautiful city.

Five Weeks!: From today it's exactly 5 weeks till we return to Muscat. And now I'm begining to notice the things that bug me and I'm bitching about them more than usual. Like today when I was shaving I kept muttering to myself about how much I won't miss having separate hot and cold water faucets in the sink. Do all UK houses still have these or are we just unlucky enough to be the only brand new building that has them?

iPod: One more iPod in the family. My 10 year old niece got a pink iPod mini yesterday. I spent two hours online with her on MSN this morning guiding her through ripping MP3s from her CDs with iTunes and then syncing it with her iPod. I dunno what's cuter, the fact that she has a pink iPod or that I chat with her on MSN. Man they grow up fast. It's like they sneak up on you.

Movies: I brought back a big fat wallet full of my favorite DVDs from Oman when I went back last xmas. We've been watching about one a night for the past few weeks (every night except Tuesday, coz Tuesdays they show the new seasons of The West Wing and Sopranos on E4.. dunno why I'm watching since we'll be leaving in the middle of the seasons and then I'll have to wait for the DVDs like everyone else). So far we've seen Scarface, Once Upon A Time In America, Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as The Life of Brian, Braveheart, Nikita, Minority Report.. Still to come: The Three Colors trilogy, On The Waterfront, The Third Man, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull. Beats going out the cinema and watching more crap.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Fringe Sunday 015

So we went to Edinburgh for the festival yesterday (Fringe Sunday), and I have to say, it was a blast! The town was bustling. Musicians, comedians, cabaret, etc.. Each step brought wonderful surprises. In the music tent, we managed to catch Azzuri in action. They are a new Scottish band (Glaswegian) who are releasing their first album end of this month. Keep your ears open for a funky single called 'The Fire'


All performances are free, so its up to you and your generosity to decide how much to 'put in the hat.' All these artists in the meadow perform for free, and rely on the audience's generosity to make a living. Its quite admirable wouldn't you say? I don't have that kind of courage. But these people love what they do so much and live life as it comes.

Sometimes I wish I was more adventurous, but I'm the kind of person who is already thinking of starting a savings account for her kids. NB: we don't have kids!! Then again, it helps that I don't have an artistic streak and can't sing to save my life, thus I needn't worry about being a struggling street artist who lives for her art!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Monsoon misery continues

Will this rain every let up? Today is the fourth consecutive rain of extremely heavy rain. It let up this morning and we thought the worst was over so I decided to go to uni to work there today. Within 2 minutes of leaving home it was raining. By the time I was half way between uni and home it was raining so hard that I was going to get drenched regardless whether if I kept on or came back home. The streets floaded, traffic signals stopped working. It was chaos. By the time I got back home I was soaked through my jacket and to my skin. It even went through my shoes. Glasgow's a mess.

In 48 hours there was 78 millimetres of rain in Glasgow, with 55 millimetres
between 6am on Tuesday and 6am today. Last year only 39.01mm of rain fell
in Glasgow during the entire month of August.

Ray of sunshine ahead as Scots battle floods

Monday, August 09, 2004

Tethering vs. Tying

Apple’s choice to close the iPod to competing, protected formats,
combined with their expressed business model around the iTunes/iPod combination,
plays counter to traditional tied business models. Normally, the hardware is
sold at cost while the “software” (razor blades, ink cartridges, music) is sold
at a profit. Instead, Apple has claimed that selling music is profitless, while
selling hardware holds the long-term profit potential. Given this agenda, it
would seem counter-intuitive that Apple would object to any party being able to
play the files of their choice on the iPod. The more iPods sold, the better.


Apple’s response over the next few weeks
could reveal a surprise: the long-term success of the iTunes/iPod platform is
dependent upon margins in both worlds - music and hardware. While music is sold
with little margin, the promotional value of the store pathway is worth money.
Over time, Apple’s ability to squeeze large margins out of iPod sales will
diminish with the growth of competing players, stores and services. The company
needs both products, iTunes and iPod, to offer a financial return.

Tethering vs. Tying - Features - features.engadget.com

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Friday, August 06, 2004

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

That's Customer Service for you!


One of my fave sites to browse is www.e-luxury.com. Bags, shoes, clothes, what more to keep a girl occupied when she is trying to avoid working on her dissertation : ) (NB: I do frequent more intellectually challenging websites by the way, but for the purpose of this post, I’m focusing on this one)

Anyhow, so, as I was checking out the new 7s (which I can’t seem to find in Glasgow), I noticed a little box on the page that said ‘live chat’ with customer service. I know the site doesn’t ship outside the US, but decided to try it anyhow. I opened the chat box and was immediately connected to one of e-luxury’s customer service ppl. The lady was extremely nice and answered all my questions regarding size, etc...

This was impressive customer service I tell ya! And, I got a email later on containing a transcript of our chat! Ok, I dunno what I’ll need that for, but, hey, its still cool!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Do you really want healthier fries?

From the current issue of Fortune magazine (August 9, 2004):
Filling a typical fast-food fryer with 35 pounds of partially
hydrogenated vegetable oil costs $13. Filling it instead with reduced-transfat
soybean oil might cost $20. Factor in fry life [no. of times you change the oil]
and the cost becomes even more dramatic. Hydrogenated oils are much more stable
than less saturated oils; they stand up better to 350-degree heat of a fryer.
According to one supplier they last twice as long as reduced-transfat oils. A
typical McDonald's restaurant uses 500 pounds of oil a week. Switching to a
healthier oil would cost more than $19,000 a year. Multiply by 13,000
restaurants in the US and you have a cost of a quarter billion
dollars.


On top of all that:


Unsaturated fats are unable to reproduce the crispy texture,
savory taste and pleasing "mouth feel" of a McDonald's fry.

In the Delivery Room

I was reading a topic on www.omanforum.com which asked women if they wanted their partners with them in the delivery room when they gave birth.It asked the men their points of view as well. The majority of the girls said they definately wanted the men by their sides, and most of the men said yes, with some honest enough to admit it would make them sick.

Personally, I'd want Osamah to be there with me when its finally time for us to have a baby. And when I say "be there" I mean by my head holding my hand,far far away from whats going on "down under." There are some things that just shouldn't be shared, and lots of blood and icky stuff is high up on that list. My husband is brave, indeed he is, but, some things I know for a fact will gross him out. Just like I know he won't be begging the doctor to let him cut the umbilical cord :)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Just for the record, it wasn't a dance of joy that I did, but a mere skip and hop, hehe. When the bird shat on his head a couple of days ago, I was ecstatic. Osamah, was like, babe, I'm not working, I can't be getting any raise or bonus . BUT, according to my theory (which changes depending on what makes me feel good at the time it crosses my mind), since the birdie shat on my husband, it means its good for either one of us, and since I'm expecting a raise at work, this means its finally gonna happn :) Oz insists the bird has to do its business on my head for the 'good luck' to happen to me personally. Naturally, I disagree, because that puts a damper on my mood.

I'm not superstitious myself, but, sometimes its kind of fun to believe certain things. When he got his work bonus last time (one he definately was not expecting) I told him it was cause of the bird poopoo. He actually thinks its his hard work that paid off ;)

I got shat on!


The other day we were walking home on Sauchiehall on our way back from the movie Anything Else - more on the movie later - and a bird dropped a load on me. Absolutely disgusting. I'd love to say I've never felt so disgusted ever, but 1) This has happened to me before, and 2) Apparently it's a good omen. I'm not very superstitious, but the last time this happened to me I was on Oxford Street in London in line to order a shawerma when a bird decided that I'm it's best approximation of a toilet. Anyhow, it happened and OD was besides herself with joy. There was flipping out with disgust shouting at her to clean the shit off me and instead she had the biggest smile on her face doing a dance of joy on the streets of London. Why? "It's good luck. You're going to get some money". Every person I told of what happened to me that day said the same thing. What do you know, a couple months later I actually got an unexpected bonus at work. Regardless of the fact that two whole months passed between the two incidents, superstition connects the bonus with the bird shit.

So it's happened again, and this time I'm not even working so there isn't even a slightest possibility of any money coming to me from work. Am I supposed to go buy a lotter ticket or something? Oh well.. I've never been a superstitious person, but this good omen business caught my interest - by the way it's oh so easy to get my attention with even the most trivial thoughts when I'm supposed to be working on my dissertation.

So apparently this superstition/omen is a popular one. Look it up on Google if you want. You'll get a hundered and one permutations and combinations of bird dropping omens. In some cultures it's only a good omen if it's a sparrow that does it's business on you. In others it doesn't matter what kind of bird as long as it craps squarely on your head. In yet another iteration, it's only good luck if you leave your home on a particular money related task and a bird drops its stuff on you while you're on way to do that business.

Right. Enough bird shit for today. Back to the journals.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Yesterday we went to watch 'Anything Else' which is the new Woody Allen movie starring himself, Jason Biggs & Christina Ricci. I really enjoyed watching this movie. I remember a few days back I read a review of the movie and it said " if you've seen one Woody Allen movie, you've seen them all'. I beg to differ. I do luv Woody Allen, I enjoy his wit and humor and I'm a sucker for his oneliners, but, I don't believe this movie is like his others. In addition, you know what? Even if it was, I don't care. It was well written, fun to watch, and he managed to make Amanda (who is the type of person you'd hate in real life) funny. And for once I managed to look at Jason Biggs and not remember that apple pie scene :)

As for 2day, I've been really good and I've been working on my dissertation. Osamah is as well..Atleast thats what he claims, he sits opposite me on our diningtable/desk/workarea, so I can't really see over his lap top, hehe.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Help.. My wife is addicted to blogging!

.... and I think I might be experiencing some whatchamacallit.... hmmm.. yeh, writer's block.. that's the word.

More later.


SEAGULLS!!!

All night long, I tossed and I turned.. Couldn't sleep..I lay in my bed thinking about...SEAGULLS!!! AAAAAHHH!!! The noise!! So awful..They've invaded Glasgow a few months back, they came in hundreds and have inhabited the city center. I honestly think they are multiplying every hour. They go wild at night. Esp at around 2 am when the masses are leaving the clubs and hitting the 24-hour shops for a late night snack of fish & chips or a curry. When the leftovers hit the dumpsters, thats when the real party begins!! Meal time for our beloved seagulls who attack the remains with a vengance.

I am an environmentalist, yes, but I do need my sleep.. During the 6 minutes of sleep that I got I had dreams of taking a shotgun to them.. That can't be good!

Friday, July 30, 2004

My Masters thesis is due by th end of August and it's finally hitting me that I hardly have any time left! When classes ended in June I thought I had all the time in the world. Ha! Wishful thinking, I have exactly one month from today!! I've written about 3000 words, which means I have about 12000 words left!! YIYKES!

Then again, I'm lucky to be doing it on a topic I love (whales and dolphins). I am trying to assess the level of awareness in Scotland and then tie it in with promoting ecotorism as a form of sustainable tourism. I am doing the project for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the Moray Firth.

When I'm obviously fretting so much over this, one wonders why I am still online.....

My IPOD Mini rocks!! As you can tell from his post, my husband bought me the blue one. I was actually surprised we found all the colors in stock at Virgin. The previous day we went to the Apple shop and everything was sold out. Guess we got lucky! I knew I wanted the blue one the minute I saw it..And you know whats best? All I had to do was pick the color, cause when we got home, he charged it for me, thenwhen was was done, he moved all the songs I like from his IPOD to mine. Now all I have to do is shuffle from one song to another :)


Thursday, July 29, 2004

The newest member of our family:




A new begining

I signed on for this blog in March and never really got around to doing anything with it. Only two posts in 4 months.

Now on it's going to be a shared blog. My wife and I will both be posting here on whatever interests us now on. This is going to be so cool.


Saturday, June 19, 2004

Brilliant article about DRM

It's a long, long article, but if you stick with it you can get the gist of the entire anti- digital rights management (DRM) debate. When will record companies finally figure this out?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

My course work is done. Six months have flown by so quickly. Exam results don't come out till June though. Still not so sure what I think of this BITS course.

Going back home to Muscat tomorrow for 3 weeks. Still not packed. Don't know whether I should take my text books back with me or if I might need them when it comes time do my dissertation. Still haven't got the faintest idea what to do the dissertation on though.