Get Chunked

Monday, May 29, 2006

7 comments
Every time I have gone to see a movie during the past 4 months or so, I have been assaulted by two lame commercials during the previews. The Pepsi ad about the soccer surfers is mildly amusing the first time you watch it, but turns into a full-force yawn after the 12th viewing. But the commercial that is an extreme offense to my intelligence is the advertisement for Rani Float.

You know the one I am talking about. Two or three idiots are standing around in the kitchen or in their school locker room when one of them decides to crack open a refreshing can of Rani Float drink. Doing so unleashes a swarm of orange phalluses which engulf the partakers in some sort of retarded mosh pit experience. This goes on for about 20 seconds or so, after which the winning tag line pops up on screen: "Rani Float: Get Chunked!"

Get chunked? What marketing genius came up with that lame phrase? It sounds like you are supposed to vomit all over yourself. And considering the unabashed contemptibility of the commercial, that's exactly how I feel after viewing it.

A Cure for the Common Fart

Thursday, May 25, 2006

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Walter the Farting Dog book
Today my friend took her dog down to the veterinarian to get her dog’s butt sacks squeezed in order to remove some of his extra butt juice.

That’s right, butt juice. I believe that is the technical term.

Apparently dogs and cats (and possibly other animals) have small sacks inside of their…ahem…anuses which contain some sort of smelly liquid. This liquid butt juice “enhances” any flatulent odors that may escape from time to time. By removing the butt juice (I’ll leave the procedure up to your imagination), it reduces the odors created when the animal farts.

I just figured you’d like to know these things.

A Little Consistency...Is That Too Much To Ask?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

4 comments
I don’t understand how the Water Company here works. For some reason, they are unable to maintain a consistent schedule when it comes to water distribution.

I really don’t see how this is so hard. If they say that my area gets its water on Tuesday, then darn it, pump the water on Tuesday. Not Monday. Not Wednesday. But the worst is when they are supposed to pump it on Tuesday and when Wednesday afternoon finally roles around, there is still no water. What is the hold up?

It just doesn't make sense to me. Then again, neither does Cheez Whiz, but I've never been forced to wait more than two-and-a-half seconds for Cheez Whiz.

Hazards of the Job

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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I was sitting at the intersection of Mecca Street and Sa'd Bin Abi Waqqas Street (I know, I know...street names mean nothing here), watching all of the traffic light salesman attempt to peddle unripe apricots, over-ripe strawberries, and other kitschy junk, when I noticed that one of the guys was blind.

That’s right…blind! A blind man with a cane and a handful of feather dusters was tap, tap, tapping his way up through the lanes of cars attempting to sell his wares.

A blind guy working in traffic; something tells me that’s not the safest job.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Monday, May 22, 2006

3 comments
Royal Jordanian Ad
Royal Jordanian recently began advertising two daily nonstop flights to the US. Their ad campaign depicts the Statue of Liberty with two raised torches above her head, air traffic controller style. It’s a clever campaign that looks attractive upon first glance, but doesn’t hold water upon closer inspection.

When it comes to photo manipulation in graphic design, there is one critic that is awfully tough to fool: the human eye. Most people can tell you if something in a photo is not quite right, even if they can’t put their finger on it. In many cases, it’s a subliminal thing. The human eye (and more specifically, the brain) is used to capturing and storing information from everyday life and it knows when something isn’t processing correctly.

So can you spot where the designer cut corners?

Queen Rania on Oprah

Saturday, May 20, 2006

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I usually avoid Oprah and her television show like the plague. This past week, however, Oprah featured Jordan’s Queen Rania on the show, so I decided to break down and watch it.

I have to say that the Queen did a fantastic job representing herself, her family, Jordan, and Jordanians (especially Jordanian women). Oprah asked some pretty lame questions and made her typical dopey remarks, but the Queen was extremely composed and did a fantastic job.

If I have the time and if there is enough interest, I can trim down the show (only part of it features the Queen) and make it available. Those are pretty big "ifs", however. Natasha Tynes saved me the hassle of having to convert and host the video. Bravo.

It's Not Enough To Just Cover Them Up

Thursday, May 18, 2006

3 comments
X-Ray Glasses
According to Saudi's King Abdullah, it's not enough to cover all of his women so that they resemble black ghosts, but now it is necessary to remove them from society all together.

Ok, perhaps he hasn't implied removing them completely from society, but what happens next? If the very sight of an ounce skin makes Saudi men horny, then the next logical step is to remove the temptation (because blaming the men for their dirty minds is out of the question).

I’d like to know what the thought process is behind this. Do Saudi men look at a woman’s wrists and start undressing her with their eyes? “I wonder what she looks like under that burkha? Hubba hubba!”

Google Gets It Right

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Google Jordan
Several months ago there were concerns about the speed of Google in Jordan. A short time later, Google released Google.jo, which seemed to correct the speed issue, but did so in a presumptuous way.

After all, just because I live in Jordan doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to surf on Google.jo. The functionality was essentially the same aside from the fact that it displayed in Arabic (an option that was easily changed with a click). But the fact that Google assumed certain functionality for its users was a bit disturbing. This happened while I was in London recently, as well; my default page was Google.uk.

Call me picky, but if I want to use the traditional Google.com site, why redirect me to an alternative page? This is the era of web 2.0, after all. I should be able to have my cake and eat it too.

It appears that sometime in the past week (it may have happened before, but I didn’t notice it until recently), Google restored my lovely dot-com page with an option to use Google.jo.

Smart move, Google. I remain a fan.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

3 comments
Yes, it’s national motto of France, but also my call to reform for the Jordanian blogger portal which continues to increase in popularity, Jordan Planet.

Currently, Jordan Planet segregates its "population" into three groups: Planet Citizens, which I assume are native Jordanians (it’s not clearly defined anywhere on the site); New Comers, which are those who have submitted their sites to be included but are waiting to be voted upon by the Jordan Planet staff; and Expats, which appears to be non-Jordanians who are living and blogging in Jordan. It’s apparent that I fall into the latter category.

What I can’t understand is why Expats are not grouped as Citizens? I might be able to understand the concept if the requirement for being a Citizen was Jordanian ethnicity, but as I mentioned above, it’s not clearly defined. And if the site is called Jordan Planet, claiming that a specific nationality are the only true citizens of a planet seems a bit elitist.

I support the reasoning behind defining groups, but wouldn't it make more sense to have all of the official blogs aggregating equally on the home page with the break down under respective tabs?

So I pose the question: are Expats not officially Citizens? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? And if you list us, shall we not blog?

Controversy, Conspiracy and Censorship

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Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code movie is set to be released in the States this week. One of the issues floating around the Jordanian blogosphere is whether the movie should be banned from theaters in Jordan.

This issue and others have raised recent questions concerning censorship by the Powers That Be and whether anyone has the right to tell us what we can and can’t see or do. Does censoring certain “unhealthy” information actually make a difference in how people think or choose to act? Google says no. And who chooses what is deemed appropriate for mass consumption, and how?

We are at an age where the internet brings to light what was previously shadowed. The question therein begs to be asked, what past information has been held back/censored from the hoi polloi? What have we missed out on? What information has not been make available (or skewed, even) simply because it was deemed "inappropriate"? And once the blinders come off, how long will it take to effect change?

Jordan Post: Add a Little More Complexity, Please

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

4 comments
I have visited the downtown branch of the Jordan Post about 20 times in the past year in order to pick up packages. During that time period, the Powers That Be have rearranged some various offices, rooms, and desks in an attempt to improve proceedures, but customers are still left with a model of extreme inefficiency. Let's walk through the process of picking up a package, shall we?
  1. Packages can only be picked up at the downtown branch post office. Unless your package fits in the P.O. Box, you can just resign yourself to the fact that you will be making a trip downtown.
  2. The trip starts with a notification of an incoming package of some kind, either by phone, which is rare, or by post, which tends to take a bit longer.
  3. The downtown branch post office is unmarked and fairly indistinguishable. Unless you know where it is ahead of time, you could spend a day wandering around looking for it.
  4. If you happen to finally locate the building and make your way up to the second floor, you’ll find that the interior layout is just as ambiguous (as in obscure, enigmatic, nebulous, unintelligible, indeterminate), with various desks and offices scattered to and fro and no type of flow or organization whatsoever.
  5. A non-descript desk in the middle of the main room is where you must pick up your Official Mailing Slip, which is simply one of the triplicate copies that shipped with your package. Most of the time, it takes several tries for the clerk to locate the Official Mailing Slip from the large stack on the desk.
  6. With the Official Mailing Slip in hand, you must now wander around the office in search of the I.D. and Book Entry Guy. The I.D. and Book Entry Guy enters your personal information and the contents of the Official Mailing Slip into a huge ledger. One might assume that this process would be computerized, but one would be wrong. (There is a computer on the desk, but it hasn’t been used in years. I think it’s a paper weight.)
  7. Once your information has been entered into the ledger, you are now free to take the Official Mailing Slip to the Package Room where a Package Retrieval Guy will enter the contents of the Official Mailing Slip into a second ledger before retrieving the package.
  8. Once the package is in hand, it is time to find an unmarked desk that belongs to the Package Inspector Guy. The Package Inspector Guy will request that you open your box so that he can rifle through the contents to make sure that you don’t owe any tariffs to the Kingdom.
  9. Upon satisfactory inspection, the Package Inspector Guy will fill out an Official-Looking Document that must be signed. If this Official-Looking Document claims that you owe a tax, you must make your way to the accountant on the third floor in order to pay before you can continue.
  10. Now it’s time to leave the package while you go get an official signature from the Official Document Signer Guy, which is sometimes the Custom Official and sometimes is the Director. Who knows? It changes every time. Once you have the official sign-off, it’s time to take the paperwork to the…
  11. Computer Entry Guy. The documents need to be stamped (if it didn’t require at least one stamp, it wouldn’t be an official governmental process) and entered into the computer. This is the only computerized step in the entire process. If no one is manning the computer, just wait a while until they get around to you. Customer service is not a top priority.
  12. Once your documents are entered into the computer and properly stamped, you may now take the paperwork back to the I.D. and Book Entry Guy and pick up your package.
Yawn. Let's add a few more steps to this process, just to make things interesting.

The Pinkie Nail: A Treatise

Monday, May 15, 2006

11 comments
Dr. Evil and his pinkie
Would someone please explain to me the thought process behind growing out the pinkie finger nail? Every time I see some guy sporting four normal looking finger nails and one ultra-long pinkie finger nail, it wierds me out.

I think I understand the basic jist: the mentality is that having a perfectly manicured, elongated pinkie finger nail is an outward sign that one is not a member of the blue collar working class (or "party of the propertyless proletariat" according to George Bernard Shaw). After all, one cannot maintain such a well-groomed nail while performing manual labor.

The problem I have with this is several fold. First of all, having an elongated pinkie finger nail does not necessarily mean that you have a prestigious job. After all, being a taxi driver does not classify one as “white collar”.

Second, it reminds me of the evil genius, Casanova Frankenstein, from the movie Mystery Men. (If you’ve never seen Mystery Men, you really haven’t lived.) One of his “super powers” is an extremely long, sharp and potentially deadly pinkie nail which he uses to slash at his enemies. It also reminds me of Dr. Evil, looking coy with his pinkie finger up to his mouth.

Third, I have to wonder, how does one care for such an outlandish appendage adornment? Does it get filed and polished on a regular basis? Does one walk into a nail salon (not saloon, by the way; that’s where cowboys in the Wild West drink whiskey) and ask for a single-nail manicure? If it breaks, is there a lot of whining followed by the words, “Ah, I broke a nail!”?

And last, it just looks sick. Truly. Guys were not designed to have long fingernails, especially one orphaned outcast that juts out beyond the others. Do us all a favor and trim that thing down.

Mastering Simultaneous Conversation

Saturday, May 13, 2006

3 comments
Arabic is a difficult language to master. It is reportedly the second most difficult language for English speakers to learn, aside from Mandarin Chinese. As I continue to study Arabic, however, I believe the most difficult (and ultimate) mastery of the language will be the graceful art of simultaneous conversation.

I can not understand how two people having a conversation can talk over each other and produce anything constructive. I have a hard enough time trying to follow one person’s dialogue, let alone be forced to unscramble it from a simultaneous barrage of words spoken by a second (or third) party.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing, but there seems to be a bit of selfishness involved in this nuance. How hard is it to carry on a dialogue where one person speaks and, after that person finishes a complete thought, allows the other person to have a turn? If the way people drive in Jordan is indicative of the conversation etiquette, I'm in for a rough ride.

Mission: Impossible III

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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Mission: Impossible III movie poster
I just got back from watching Mission: Impossible III and I have only two words on the tip of my tongue: IN-TENSE!

The movie opens up with non-stop action and rocks your socks off all the way to the end. Given that the first movie was pretty good, and the second was even better, this third installment had some large shoes to fill. Fortunately it delivers in spades.

The action is full throttle. In the back of your mind, you know that it is unrealistic, but if it weren’t impossible, it would not be worthy of this movie. The script is tight with some laugh-out-loud dialogue thrown in to lighten the mood during the white knuckle moments. All of the actors did an excellent job, and despite the fast paced feel of the movie, the story line is easy to follow.

Kudos to director J.J. Abrams on his first directing gig. Paramount displayed a lot of confidence when they tossed this 1.something million dollar blockbuster in his lap, even with a dossier of popular movie screenplays and television series creations under his belt.

I tried to use my dashingly good looking Tom Cruise looks to get into the theater for free, but the cinema staff didn’t buy it and I was forced to pay the regular admission of 5 Dinars. Haven’t these people ever heard of matinee pricing?

I stumbled across the following aptly-summed up review of the movie:
Action thy name is Mission: Impossible III. From that perspective this film strikes an almost flawless balance. The world created is a glittering gem exploding around us, but we believe. The villain is an evil blight we know nothing about, but we don't care, we know pestilence when we see it. The hero is impossibly determined, but we love him for it.
Too true.

How To Create A Storefront Sign in Jordan

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

2 comments
Thinking about starting your own business and in need of an identity? Looking for a brand new sign for your barber shop? Are you a government ministry looking to spruce up the interior of your office? If so, you have come to the right place.

Rather than pay someone for such a simple task, why not do it yourself? It’s easy! All you need is…
  • A copy of Photoshop
  • No talent
That’s right; with absolutely no talent or experience, you can create a hideously-designed signage atrocity that will blow the socks off of your competitors. My easy-to-use, step-by-step guide can show you how:
  1. First off, there’s no need to figure out the exact size of the sign that you want to create. Just get the proportions close, and the printer can enlarge it if necessary. The only thing you will sacrifice is crisp clarity, but a little blurriness never hurt anyone.
  2. Selecting a size
  3. Pick some retina-burning colors, ideally ones that don’t match. The brighter and gaudier the colors, the more they will attract attention (and thus, customers). Using Photoshop’s gradient tool, use any sort of gradient pattern to create a background.
  4. Create a background
  5. Choose a picture or piece of clip art as an illustration to represent your business or venture. The picture should not match with the background color and should be only mildly relevant. Images with copyrights or images of celebrities are preferable.
  6. Add an illustration
  7. Using Photoshop Layer Styles, add an overly-large drop shadow to the illustration. When the layer looks like it is floating several centimeters from the background, you can stop playing with the settings and move on to the next step.
  8. Drop shadows are your friend
  9. Copy the illustration, mirror it, and reduce its opacity to 20% to create a “watermark” effect. Place it on the opposite side of the banner.
  10. Mirror the illustration and reduce opacity
  11. Type the name of your place of business. Your font doesn’t necessarily have to be anti-aliased.
  12. Add text
  13. Create a border around your text and add an embossing effect using Layer Styles. Feel free to add a drop shadow, as well.
  14. Add Layer Styles for extra tackiness text
  15. As a courtesy to the non-Arabic speaking world, add the English translation below the Arabic, but be sure to misspell it. This is easily done; just fail to consult a dictionary or neglect to ask any English speaker for the correct spelling.
  16. Add mispelled English
And there you have it…a professional business sign that is as good (or better) than all of the rest in Jordan.

A Sick Theory

Saturday, May 06, 2006

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I was riding on the Metro in London today, watching a kid across from me as he dug for gold. That is, he was picking his nose and he was in up to his wrist. I tried not to stare, but as I was about to look away, the kids withdrew his finger and stuck it in his mouth.

After the initial shock and repulsion, all I could imagine was the enormous about of bacteria the kid just ingested. And at that moment, a light bulb appeared over my head as a sick theory materialized.

When someone receives an inoculation, a miniscule amount of a disease is introduced in one’s systems in order for the body to build up a natural immunity. Now if this works for injections into the blood system, why couldn’t it work for ingested bacteria? After all, clean freaks that shelter themselves from any sort of dirt and bacteria generally end up less healthy due to the fact that their immune system has been deprived from building itself up. So by introducing bacteria in small [booger] doses, theoretically one’s immune system would become hardier as one’s body works to fight against the invading bacteria.

Now I’m not sure if this theory would actually work. I’m unclear about how much of the bacteria would make it past the natural defenses of the digestive system, given the stomach’s powerful acids. However, if anyone wants to run some scientific experimentation on this theory, feel free to notify me with the results.

Japanese Anti-Fashion

Thursday, May 04, 2006

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I flew into London today and arrived at the same time as a huge plane from Tokyo. To my misfortune, I ended up in an insanely long passport control line with a bunch of Japanese. (My misfortune, not because I was in line with Japanese, but because I was in line at all. It's like traffic, but on foot.)

One of the things I noticed as I was sizing up the hundreds of people in cue is that, according to my observations, Japanese have no sense of fashion. In fact, it would appear that their idea of fashion is a statement of anti-fashion. It literally looked like they fell out of bed into a pile of non-matching clothes and decided to go with it.

Now I realize that I'm generalizing here, but I feel like my observations of a percentage of the population are no less scientific than the Gallup poll. I also acknowledge that critiquing fashion comes across as a bit gay, but the offense was so blatant, one could not help but notice.

And so it is official: if you live in Japan, chances are you don't read fashion magazines, you purchase your clothes at a 1980's thrift mart, and your mother dresses you funny. You should be embarrased to go out in public.

No Immigrants? No Problem!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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An immigrant protests against reform laws
Yesterday, in an effort to voice an opinion about immigration reform laws, immigrants in the United States stopped working. The protests were in response to proposed legislation that would raise penalties for illegal immigration and classify illegal aliens and anyone who helped them enter or remain in the US as felons.

So let me get this straight. Ten million illegal aliens who don't pay taxes, don't have health insurance, and are living in the United States on a government-funded free ride… they want their "rights". Give me a break! And they're under the pretense that if they stop working for a day, it will somehow prove their collective worth and make the government regret its actions?

Don't get me wrong. I believe that everyone should have the chance to live (legally) in America if they so choose. I also concede that the US government makes it very difficult to achieve citizenship. Citizenship is possible, however, so I don't shed too many tears for those who are mooching off of my tax dollars when they demand more kickbacks.

For those tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of some teeming shore, the homeless, the tempest-tost—anyone planning to live in the United States illegally—tip that Statue of Liberty over, fit it with an outboard motor, and send them back to where they came from.

Pimp My Ride

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

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I just took my car down to the Garage (or Karage, depending on how you say it; I figure it's an English word, so everyone should say like English speakers do) for some servicing. Here's the rundown of what I had done:
  • Front brake pads replaced
  • Fuel filter changed
  • Air filter changed
  • 4 new spark plugs installed
  • Oil filter changed
  • Engine oil changed
The grand total: 61.75 Jordanian Dinars. When I paid the guy, I was thinking, "Holy crap, I'm ripping this guy off!" In the end, I'm sure he was ripping me off, but considering that I would have paid over $200 in the States, I was feeling pretty good.

My New Love

Monday, May 01, 2006

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I love to travel. I love to see new places, experience new things, and take tons of pictures.

Part of traveling to me is preparing for the destination; sometimes that is easier than other times. Take Wadi Rum, for instance. Preparing to visit Rum takes little or no effort. I basically packed some clothes, my camera, and set off. Other destinations, such as Petra, are a bit more involved. But if you are planning a large, multi-day vacation to an international city such as Jerusalem, Prague, or London, it's helpful to dedicate a few more hours towards preparation.

This is why my new love is Wikitravel, a world-wide travel guide created by the masses. While some articles are highly lacking, the site is still in a growth phase, and it's up to intelligent and experienced travellers to enhance it.

So if you love to travel and have experience with a wiki, why don't you dig in and expand a few articles?