Adios, Jordan Planet

Friday, December 29, 2006

The blog aggregator that was instrumental in jump-starting blogging in Jordan, Jordan Planet, has officially announced a hiatus.

According to the blog announcement, the service is being "put to bed" due to a decrease in quality posts as a direct result of the increase of members.

Management claims that the site may be re-launched in 3-6 months with a system for policing the quality of posts (a voting system, ala Digg, perhaps?).

What I want to know is this: will my first Jordan Planet meet-up be my last?

Perhaps Because I'm Wishing I Was in a Coffee Shop

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

For some reason, I enjoy listening to Nora Jones on cold, rainy days. I'm not sure why. This is just between you and me, so don't tell anyone.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Festivus, everyone.

Jordan Planet Meet-up

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I attended my first Jordan Planet meet-up on Saturday night and had a great time, especially since my table won the quiz night event. Thanks to Khalidah for organizing the event.

I suggest name tags next time. I'm a face person; I have a terrible time remembering names.

Lost Luggage

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In this day and age where modern technology is utilized in every facet of air travel, how is it that airlines are still losing luggage?

After all, airlines have been doing this for a while. Does practice not make perfect? And why does every bag contain a scan-able bar code if airlines aren't scanning the bags to make sure they're going to the correct destination?

As far as I know, my bags are somewhere in Barcelona. Grrr.

Direct Route to the Airport? Not Quite.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A taxi driver told me this week that the new Abdoun bridge connects to a road that runs straight through South Amman, directly to Airport Road. This is absolute bunk, as I discovered tonight.

I’m sure that eventually the road will connect as intended, but for the time being, it dumps you into a chaotic, detoured mess in the middle of South Amman.

For now, I recommend sticking with usual route of driving south from 7th Circle unless you are very familiar with the roads of South Amman.

Caveat viator (let the traveler beware).

Royal Jordanian Turn-around


It appears that Royal Jordanian is on the up and up. The airline was recently awarded the prestigious CAPA Airline Turnaround of the Year in 2006, beating other very strong contenders such as Emirates, Cathy Pacific Gulf Air, Etihad Airways, Egypt Air and many more airlines across Asia.

Royal Jordanian has turned its $12.6 million loss in 2003 to a profitable $24.2 million in 2004 and $30.5 million in 2005. The airline continues to profit since its transformation from a governmental company into a shareholding company.

Recently, Royal Jordanian launched their “Change is in the air” campaign, complete with shiny, new (and much more useful) website.

Royal Jordanian also has been making upgrades to its current 25-aircraft fleet, including the overhauling and remodeling of various aircraft. The airline has also place a contract for the acquisition of 7 new Brazilian-made Embraer E195 jets (which Royal Jordanian has already begun to introduce in its ad campaign), which should bring the fleet total to 35 over the next 3 years.

The Times They Are Changin'

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On several recent occasions, some friends of mine have ridden in a taxi where the driver was a woman. While this wouldn't be extremely unusual in many other countries (I had a woman taxi driver in Israel earlier this summer), it's highly unusual in Jordan.

What are your thoughts on the subject and the future affects this may have concerning women merging into job markets that have, until recently, been fairly exclusive in Jordan?


Saturday, December 09, 2006


The following is pulled straight out of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Jerusalem and the Holy Land on driving in Jordan:

While driving is on the right, Jordanians seem to consider most other road rules open to interpretation. Overtaking takes place on both sides of the road and right of way goes to he or she who hesitates least.
We all know that driving — and heck, walking — on the streets can be a dangerous proposition in Jordan. Qwaider’s recent post entitled "Streets of Jordan" touches on the blatant offenses: excessive speeding, disregard for street signs (and traffic laws, apparently), double and triple parking, driving in between lanes and talking on the phone (or applying make-up) while driving. I might add incorrect usage of high beam headlights, over-usage of the car horn and lack of seatbelt usage to the list.

For a developing country that likes to tout itself as beacon of modernism and tourism in the Middle East, the “road rules” tend to speak otherwise. Many visitors wonder why Jordanian drivers appear to be a bunch of idiots behind the wheel. The problem isn’t idiocy, however; they’re just first-generation drivers.

Columnist Gwynne Dyer accurately explains the rationale behind this driving trend:
Around the world, about 1.2 million people are killed in road accidents each year. An astounding 85 per cent of those deaths happen in developing countries, although they own less than a fifth of the world’s vehicle fleet.

There’s no getting around it: there are very, very bad drivers in China, India, Africa and the Middle East.

Take Liberia, for example. If the Liberian death rate were transposed to the United States, six million Americans per year would be killed on the roads. Actual American road deaths are about 40,000 a year, so it is 150 times more dangerous to drive in Liberia than in the United States.

Dyer goes on to explain the trend using a statistical rule of thumb called Smeed’s Law.
Back in 1949, R.J. Smeed, professor of traffic studies at University College London, proposed a “law” which was, to say the least, counterintuitive. He said that a growing number of cars on the road leads to a decrease in the number of accidents per vehicle. A growing car population means a big, persistent annual fall in the death rate per million kilometers driven.

The amount of road traffic in the United States has grown fourteen-fold since 1925. If the number of American deaths per million kilometers driven had stayed steady at the 1925 rate, there would now be 300,000 deaths per year on American roads, not 40,000. Americans have become much better drivers.

Smeed offered no explanation for this phenomenon, but I think that there is a collective learning process as more and more people become experienced drivers, and particularly as the generations turn over and children grow up in families that already own cars.

In thirty years, the mass stupidity that was Mexico City’s road scene in the 1970s—make six lanes where there are only three, block the intersections, and blow your horn incessantly—has morphed in to the relatively silent Mexico City traffic of today, which flows more smoothly now even with three or four times as many cars on the road.

Dyer’s statistics go on to say that Third and Developing World drivers still achieve kill rates as high as those of 1920s Americans in their Model T Fords.

My issue with Dyer’s assessment is that I am not witnessing the collective societal learning curve when it comes to driving in Jordan. On the contrary, people are learning, but in a more adaptive way to the poor traffic habits of surrounding drivers (as Qwaider can attest).

And while Dyer (and Smeed) attribute safer driving practices to each successive driving generation, I don’t believe either give enough credit to the enhancements of traffic laws and driving infrastructure over the generations. This becomes a problem in Amman, where traffic laws are not enforced (in fact, the corrupt police are the biggest offenders) and the lack of a city-wide master plan has resulted in a dizzying mess of poorly designed roads and thoroughfares.

My fear is that the police will eventually be forced to obey and enforce the law (in a fair and consistent manner, hopefully) and the Greater Amman Municipality will finally gets its act in gear when it comes to proper infrastructure design just in time for Amman to achieve total gridlock.

Book Tag

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ok, this time I realized that I have been tagged without anyone having to tell me about it. I give myself two pats on the back.

Here's how it works:
  1. Grab the book closest to you.
  2. Open to page 123, scroll down to the 5th sentence.
  3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
  4. List the name of the book and the author.
  5. Tag 3 people.

So here you go...

Book Title: Understanding the Koran
Author: Mateen Elass
Solomon then orders the throne to be disguised so as to discover whether the queen will recognize it or not when she arrives. This apparently serves as a test to discern whether she is rightly guided by Allah or not. As the queen is ushered in, she is asked, "Is your throne like this?"
So in turn, I'm tagging Moey (simply because I don't think he has a book nearby), Firas and Reem.

Tag...You're It!

I just discovered that Jad tagged me a couple months ago in an effort to get me to post pictures of what I used to look like. Unfortunately, due to my varying state of busy-ness, I completely missed it.

I wouldn't have been able to comply anyway, since I don't have any pictures of what I used to look like here in Jordan, but that's beside the point. The point is, if you decide to tag me for anything, you may want to send me an e-mail or comment on my blog to let me know, just in case. I'm high maintenance that way.

Jordan Telecom’s Service Deficiency

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thanks to Ahmad Humeid’s announcement, I became aware that Wanadoo was increasing their fastest available DSL service from 1Mbps to 2Mbps. I was even more delighted to find out that the cost of the increased service would not increase, but would remain consistent with the old 1Mbps service.

Back in the States, it was pretty common for an internet service provider (ISP) to suddenly increase speeds to match current demand. When an upgrade occurred, my ISP would send me a notification letter and my speeds would instantly be upgraded with no hassle on my part. Naturally, I would expect that I would be automatically upgraded in a similar manner—especially since I have pre-paid for the year—but my technical experiences in Jordan thus far have made me less optimistic concerning such things.

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I called the local Wanadoo office this morning. After an initial inquiry, I was transferred from the Customer Service department to the Sales Department and then promptly back to the Customer Service department, who in turn informed me that I would need to contact Jordan Telecom to have them increase my line speed.

I called the Customer Service department at Jordan Telecom and explained my situation and requested that my line be upgraded. Their response? Call back tomorrow, at which time they will be handling such requests.

Eh? They’ll be handling specific requests tomorrow that they can’t be bothered with today? In other words, “Go away and come back tomorrow.” Who says these things to a customer? What kind of customer service is that? Crappy, that’s what kind.