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Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My friends . . . .

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... a moment before they told me that they will literally divorce me if I say one more geeky thing.

So voice your opinion, do you think that

Is blogging geeky?
For the most part


Free polls from Pollhost.com

Main: AndFarAway.net

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

And Far Away gets a facelift

I honestly have no idea how my last blog design came to be. I remember there was the blogger template, and I remember myself hating it. I also remember trying to find my way around HTML and CSS and changing the template to look like this with absolutely no prior knowledge or experience, simply trying stuff out.

Since then, the design only went through one minor re-design, but several major redesigns that never left DreamWeaver or even Illustrator:


Finally, and after a little nagging, I decided to go ahead and change the look of this blog. I daresay I like it a lot more... it's more red for one thing ;)I also stopped Haloscan and will be trying Blogger commenting and trackbacking.

Anyhow, this new look is still in beta and no way near perfect, there are a lot of things I'm planning to fix as soon as I figure out how to do the HTMLing(or alternatively force one of the Planeteer techies to help me).

Oh, yeah it's also best viewed with Firefox, so if you're using IE, get a decent browser.

Get Firefox!

Blah, blah, blah.

Anyhow, this is how it's supposed to look, if it looks like something else, please let me know!

Power of Nightmares

I know it's three hours long(that's like, as long as The Titanic), but trust those I trust, it's very, very informative and is an absolute must-see.

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares. In a new series, the Power of Nightmares explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.

Length: 1 Hour / Episode
Starring: Sayed Ktob, Leo Strauss, Neo-Conservatism, Jahiliya, Ayman Zawahri, Osama Bin Ladin, Abu Mus'ab Al Zarqawi, George Bush, Tony Blair.

Highly Recommended in Video, requires Quicktime

Episode I: Baby It's Cold Outside (Video (180 MB) | Audio (28 MB))
Episode II: The Phantom Victory (Video (180 MB)| Audio (28 MB))
Episode III: The Shadows in the cave (Video (180 MB) | Audio (28 MB))

[Via Yazan Malakha]

Main: AndFarAway.net

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thoughts from the November Jordanian Blogger Meet-up

A little less than a year ago, Isam, Natasha, Nader, Ammar, and myself got together for something I have never done before- a meeting of random people off the internet. 'Random' I say, because for one thing, our blogs save for Natasha's weren't mature enough yet to give a better feel of each person and Jordan Planet was a little portal of perhaps 10 Jordanian bloggers, 6 of them being IT geeks who blogged about stuff I had never heard of, like Pear Packages and a Penguin called Tux.

I remember the first meet-up well. I went a little late(thanks to a movie that took much longer than it was supposed to), and Isam, Natasha, and Jeff were already engrossed in a conversation about blogging, and we were all joined by Nader, Ammar, and then-blogger Zaid within minutes.

Here's an excerpt from an unfinished draft I have from the evening after the first Jordanian blogger meet-up(Did this year and a half of blogging influence my writing skills as well?):

"I was afraid I would have a hard time finding the Jordan Planet table, because save for Natasha and Ammar, I didn't know how anyone looked and didn't have anyones number. Luckily though, Natasha and Jeff were already there and I spotted them easily(Natasha seemed to recognize me from the jacket I was wearing).
Natasha and Jeff are both extremely nice, and basically they were the only two people I imagined correctly, thanks to the pictures on Natasha's blog(ok, yeah, so it's not imagining anymore). Natasha was the life of the table, always leading the conversation with her humor(batoota) and effervescence. Jeff was also very interesting to talk to, and it was nice hearing his point of view on our blogs and the Middle Eastern bloggershpere in general. On a side note, you guys are really cute together :)
Isam looks very different from how I expected him to look(Roba's I.T. stereotype kicking in), and he has some really interesting ideas, especially when it comes to blogging."

Amazing! A time when Natasha was "very nice", and Isam was an "I.T. stereotype"! Now, Natasha is Natasha, and Isam is Isam, they are my friends, two people I've had countless communications with in the past year, whether it's talking about colors of redesigns, debating new bloggers and issues such as anonymity, Jordan Planet features, technicalities, and an endless list of discussions that I will not mention here.

Blogging in Jordan took off a few months after that first meet-up, and it became a much more rewarding and enjoyable experience for me with the addition of bloggers who I now consider good friends, such as Iyas and Lina, and with an added richness, quality and diversity for the Jordanian blogs featured.

We also had many Jordanian bloggers meet-ups after that, some dubbed as "official Jordan Planet blogger meet-ups", others being smaller and more personal; we've had many guests; we've had many discussions. It's been an interesting ride, and I feel like it will become even more interesting within the coming years.

We now have the musicians, the designers, the doctors, the genetical engineers, the journalists, the directors and and the editors- our own little community of people who shared a passion for sharing.

'Community' is the keyword here, because after the first meet-up, it was never "random people of the internet" ever again. It became funny Laith, insightful Ahmad, drafts Nader, sensitive Mira, and sweet Eman. We became "people" to one another, not just bits and bytes off cyberspace; we became people who have been building a little community, whether each individual was aware of this fact or not.

I'm very much a community person- I believe that communities are a very essential tools that help build something that works well, especially if the communities are monitored yet free, full of quality yet diverse, and experimental yet skilled. Very utopian, and I'm not much of an idealistic person, so I will admittedly say that it would take a lot of effort to manage to get this perfect balance that will result in such a healthy community, and now Jordan Planet is at, what seems to me, a crossroad. Should it stay small, personal, and cozy, with names and faces and experiences? Or should it grow into a larger community, more like a directory, and simply turn into the "Jordanian Blogosohere"?

Personally, it would break my heart to see it lose the personal touch to it and become just an aggregator of names with no faces- but then again, I'm quite the picky person and what is good and what is not is a very relative concept (although I will always say that quality is quality, it's a simple matter of aesthetics, even the most secluded little Bedouin who hasn't seen much in his life can play the most beautiful melody on his flute, and no one would be able to deny its beauty).

Today at our 10th and perhaps my favorite meet-up so far(I would honestly rather have such a meaningful meet-up than a chit-chatty one), almost a year after the first Jordanian blogger meet-up, I found myself looking at the people around me sitting on the very familiar Wild Jordan tables discussing topics my offline friends have never even heard of. These topics are vital to the ever changing internet culture, such as Wikimedia and Creative Commons, and I found myself thinking about how much I have changed from the first time I sat at Blue Fig blabbering to Natasha about my frustration on how none of my friends have any idea what blogging is. Heck, I now think "/dev /null" whenever I'm stressing about something, and I actually know who Tux the Penguin is!

Most of my friends still have no idea what blogging is, but hopefully, with a strong community at the core, alternative media will become, well, less alternative.

Some pictures from today's meet-up(all images expand, a lot of new faces!):

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Bloggers who attended: Isam, Abeer, Ahmad, Jad, Ammar, Ghalia, Ibrahim, Lina, Roba, Nader, Odai, Wael, and Laith, along with guests Shorooq and Lubna.

Main: AndFarAway.net

Friday, November 25, 2005

Plastic Bag

I'm totally supposed to be in a bad mood at the moment because although it's Thursday(Jordan's equivalent of Westerncentric Friday), although I haven't slept at all this month and although this is the first weekend that provided a good dozing oppurtunity- I'm ALREADY UP.

And it's 2:11 AM.

I mean, bleh. Bleh. Bleh!

Naturally though, as I spent my Thursday night dozing and woke up too late to do anything decent in sleepy, sleepy Amman, the Internet comes to the rescue. Ah, Internet! How can anyone not love the internet?

My serving of fresh content for this sleepless weekend is by, apparently(or not so apparently, as in, clearly, thanks to the power of self-publishing), a man dubbed as Tom Coates who does something at Yahoo!(or something) and who has a blog called Plastic Bag.

What's making me blog about his blog is this post which totally speaks to the LOTR freak in me on a theory I've been classifying people with for a very long time- the Ninja/Elve/Dwarve/Pirate classification system. ARR! (And while we're on elve rather than elf and dwarve rather than dwarf, spelling is important! MY NAME IS SPELLED WITH A FRICKING "O"! Every single post on this blog ends with a "Posted by Roba", and it's my name for God's sake, so spell it like I want it to be spelled!)

Another posts that I will link to are "Discussion and Citation in the Blogosphere", which has a pretty interesting analysis on the difference between forums and blogs and "Trackback is Dead".

Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Artamman November

I get pretty pissed off when people complain about lack of stuff to do in Amman;
"Oh, Amman is so boring"
"There's nothing to do in this city!"
"You can't have fun unless you spend money or stuff your face!"

Bleh. Enough. Seriously.

Anyhow, here are two local events that I've been looking forward to:
(click on images to look at bigger poster so as to read, if you're as blind as I am deaf, drop a comment)

Jordan University's Annual Fine Arts and Design Student Exhbition, till December 8th, at the Amadeh.

Till the 30th of November at the gorgeous National Gallery.

Main: AndFarAway.net

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Don't wait for the love of your life. Find him on ..."

A great outdoor guerrilla campaign by Match.com, displayed in Barcelona.
[Via Advertising/Design Goodness]

Not that I endorse digital dating(dude, analogue is the way to go), but I'm so in love with this advertisement that I could cry.

The idea is absolutely mindblowing to the fantasy enthusiast in me- "Once upon a time, in a land beautiful and far away..."

Although they could have done a much better job with making the princess look more princessy and fairy-tale-ish, and perhaps make the bed look much better by taking an interior design course or two, it's still a mindblowing concept.

Ahhhh! Absolutely beautiful.

Main: AndFarAway.net

Sunday, November 20, 2005

No, like, seriously

[Via Malakha]

I, like, have a project due in 3 hours, and I'm, like, totally putting my MSN Messenger to good use. It's, like, 5 AM, I still have a long way to go on the project, and I'm, like, totally high on way too much caffeine for anyone's good.

(YEY 3a MSN and their cross-eyed smileys. I, LIKE, HATE SMILEYS.)

Why, oh, why did I have to be blessed with the most unroutinish sleeping routine anyone could possibly have? Oh, my Gawd.

Caffeine is, like, totally kewl. Dude, like, duh!

(When we were, like, kids, my mommy would make us pay a shelen every time we said duh.)

Pull the lock on that war hole

An oil painting by Jackson Pollock and a silkscreen by Andy Warhol were stolen from a museum by thieves who shattered a glass door in the back of the building, officials said. The Pollock was likely worth about $11.6 million and the Warhol had a value of about $15,000.

A Pollock and a Warhol? A POLLOCK AND A WARHOL?!

+ Yahoo! News and Iyas

Main: AndFarAway.net

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Advertising for those above


A billboard painted on grass at Johannesburg International Airport.
[Via AdHunt]

Agency: The Martin Agency
[Via Advertising/Design Goodness]

Main: AndFarAway.net

Friday, November 18, 2005

One More Candle

The last week has been a week of observation for me- reading the worldwide reactions, following what bloggers around the world have to say(here's a really interesting Jordanian blogger round-up about their reactions that I found), and most importantly, watching my beloved Amman get back up on her feet.

Yes, she did get back up on her feet. She does have a bruise here and there- the sight of the plethora of concrete blocks spread all around Amman and the drastically increased security at malls, banks, and universities breaks my heart.

I had actually decided to not post about the incident any more because it is a matter of huge depression to me, but I decided to post this one last post after I went to what I hope will be the last vigil for a Jordan-related issue for a long, long time. A personal closure perhaps...

My very sincere thanks to everyone who has sent emails, messages, and comments in solidarity with the Jordanian people. My very sincere thanks to everyone who went and voiced their protests against this cruel and inhumane act.

Here are some photographs of what I hope to be the last vigil taken by Paul Wooten(thanks Paul!):

Main: AndFarAway.net

Thursday, November 17, 2005

To be or not to be...

Although I'm both a bookworm and a huge aficionado of all things creative, I just fail to be impressed by poetry. I know, I know, that's absolutely horrible of me, but I absolutely cannot control it, although I've tried.

Anyhow, I have a project due next week and to make a long story short, it's basically a visual depictation of a poem. Since I do not know much about poetry, I would really appreciate some help here.

I'm looking for a good poem of medium length that preferably gives out a strong emotion(something easy to visualize), but no romantic poems, no case-related poems(ex. women's rights, Palestinian-Israeli case, etc), and no historical poems.

I would probably most like to work with a poem about identity, control(in the Orwellian sense), alternative spirituality, passion(in a non-romantic sense), etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Influence: Andalusian Treasures


Here's something I can aghazel for hours- isn't this one of the most gorgeously mesmerizing pieces of art you've ever seen? It is practically heavenly.

Ahhh! The concoction of arabesque-style ornamentation, the slender elegance of the animals with their graceful lines and flexibility, and the beautiful mix of cobalt blue and gold just captivates my senses.

This beautiful vase is a part of a Nasrid ornamental storage collection of vases referred to as the Alhambra Vases(13th and 14th centuries). I believe that the Nasrids, the last ruling Muslim dynasty in Spain, famous for their intricate patterning and beautiful architecture of the city of Granada, reached the pinnacle of Islamic art.

I also find it ironic that the Alhambra vases, which as far as I'm concerned are the most spectacular examples of all Islamic ceramics, were produced in a tiny domain, doomed to rapid extinction, on the outer fringes of the Muslim world.


Unfortunately, these gorgeous works are underappreciated, so there aren't many good resources online that discuss them further. If you're really interested, I'd recommend taking a look at "Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain" by Jerrilynn Dodds or "The Arab Contribution to Islamic Art" by Wijdan both available at Darat Al-Funun's library.

: The Influence
:Jackson Pollock

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Monday, November 14, 2005

The Jordan University Student Demonstrations

The Student Union at Jordan University organized a 3 hour long march today from both sides of the university(Sciene and Art) which met at the clock( JU's Big Ben) in the center of the university.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ana Amman

The Amman Municipality along with private firms organized a silent march earlier this evening in mourning of the innocent souls that went as casualities of the brutal incident.

A bride vieled in black led the march starting from the 5th Circle and over to the 3rd Circle where a platform was set up for the mourning procession. Accompanying the mournful sounds of Rum, the bride kneeled and everyone had a long moment of silence in respect for the souls of those who passed, followed by a Muslim prayer and a Christian one.

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The bride then took off the black gown and viel and delivered a very touching speech entitled "Ana Amman"- I am Amman - about tragedy, Jordanian unity, and how we will move on stronger as a country and as a people. Amen to that.

It was definitely the most touching demonstration in the series of demonstartions, and it was very well organized.

They were passing out flags, shirts, ribbons, and candles. The speech delievered was well written and very touching. The music played by the talented Rum was the perfect companion to the demonstration.

May God bless the souls of those who are lost and help their families.

More pictures of the demonstrations:
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Main: AndFarAway.net

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Donate Blood for Jordan

"AMMAN (JT) — The Amman blood banks have appealed for donors to come forward with type O+ and O- blood. Donors with these blood groups should go to the Blood Bank in Al Bashir Hospital.

Blood Bank officials have urged those wishing to give blood to space their donations over the coming weeks and months.
For more information please call: 475 7459 or 477 5111."

+ AquaCool

Abeer, who went to donate blood today, said that the place was sadly empty.

Mourning our innocents...

I was really touched when I saw this image captured by Isam yesterday, perhaps because there is such an ironic aura of peace surrounding it. When we went to light candles for the casaulties today, the candles were combined with posters and images of the deceased, along with flowers and Jordanian flags(below).

I am really moved by the reactions of the people around me, both Jordanian and otherwise. At the demonstrations last night, people from all walks of life were walking together side by side shouting against this heinous act against humanity. There were rich people and poor people; babies in their strollers and seniors on their canes; Muslims and Christians; young women and middle aged men; teenagers and kids; Arabs and none-Arabs; Iraqis and Jordanians. Everyone, regardless of creed, race, sex, and age, were marching together carrying the Jordanian flag high over their heads.

Earlier this morning, I also drove a little around to see how the Jordanian street is reacting outside of the demonstrations. Most of the cars both on and off the streets, from Hummers to minibuses, have been adorned with Jordanian flags of all sizes. People are also carrying on with their lives Although I'm not fond of the slogan "We are not afraid" as I believe it is a little beside the point, I am very pleased with how life is going on- respectfully, yet still going on.

But well, going on or not, it's not getting any less painful. Going through the newspaper today was very heartbreaking- it was thick with obituaries and sad images. The image of the bride and groom's zafeh minutes before the explosion is particularly hurtful to me, because I strongly associate zafeh with euphoric happiness. Natasha has a moving post about this.

The news about the passing of Syrian director Moustapha Akkad was also difficult; we grew up with"The Message". When we were very young, my dad would give us plastic swords and teach us how perform skits from that movie. I still remember a lot of the lines and can see my brothers and I jumping around the living room playing with the swords and shouting "Man minkom moshtaqon ila sayfee!" Such a loss...

Of course, reading the bayan published by Al-Qaeda makes everything so much worse. It is hard to comprehend that there are people in this world with such a screwed up mentality.

Ahhh, ya Amman! Blessed be.