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.