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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Nailing an Embarrassing Incident

Absent mindedness is the main enemy of preparation. Once we allow our minds to wander whilst focusing on any particular task, oh let’s say for example clipping ones nails, a very simple action that takes no more than 10 minutes to complete, one that we have been doing ever since we were pre-teens for ourselves! Once we allow our minds to wander during these tasks, the consequences can be comical.

In preparation for business travel to a country and continent never before visited is enough to drive a person one peg further from excited. As I bounded around the house belting a few choice off-note keys from the following soon-to-be-greatest hit (along with similar gestures of singing character):

I found myself wondering about my person, particularly grooming. I noticed that after a month of seeing nothing but endless mounds of paper and computer screens, my finger nails had grown to an almost claw-like state. Much to my chagrin, it was time to clip the ol’ scratchers to decent man size.

Whether my mind was still screaming POLKA DOT AFRO CIRCUS! or the sheer excitement that I could not contain at the thought of being a mere 24 hours from travel; my mind slipped, albeit briefly, however with disastrous consequences. Upon completing one 5-fingered side, along with 10 toes, my brain received a signal that I was done, and so I was off to finish packing and fall asleep soon after.

Woke up the next morning (i.e. today), showered, shaved, got dressed, had breakfast etc. the usual routine, and headed downstairs to go to work without a care in the world.

As I got to the office and bid good morning to all I came across, I went straight for my desk, the usual morning ritual, sat down to check my email and ponder the holiday before me. Somewhere amidst that pondering I decided to scratch my head in a show of deep thought, however given my nail-less look, I decided to add a bit more umph to the process, to really stimulate deep thought.

Imagine my surprise as pain shot through my scalp, the minute my razor-like claws dug deep into my head. It took me a while to figure out the source of the pain, and as I held my hands before me like someone newly gifted with the gift of sight, I studied the difference between my digits and realised that, much to my chagrin, I had completed neglected to go to work on my (main) hand, my left hand.

All day I have felt a sense of imbalance as my left side is weighed down by the micrograms of excess nails.

The joys of travel.

Traffic Light At Kaifan is Malfunctioning – Do your civic duty in Kuwait

Banish the days in which people neglect to point out what is wrong for fear of any repercussions!

When you are faced with a strange sight that defies all previous experience and logic, the first step you should take is to inform the proper authorities and let them handle it, who knows, your action might in one way or another affect the lives of countless others who could have fallen victim to a tragedy.

As I was driving to work today, sun blazing, birds silent, blasting my favorite music through the speakers of my car, I came to the traffic light at the intersection of the airport road (route 55) and Jahra Road (route 80), usually the traffic light for those heading towards the port remains open the longest (2 minutes, I timed it), followed by my lane.

Much to my surprise, I saw a very strange pile up, as cars were moving from two different directions simultaneously! There was a lot of honking and breaking, surprisingly no one got smashed or crashed. When it came time for my road to move, which I had been taking for 3 years hence I know when it is time for my road to move, the signal remained red, and instead, another road was given access to pass, followed by the main road once more; effectively skipping our turn!

The traffic light turned green, but the other main road was still moving!

Here is a simple Paint depiction of the problem (forgive me for I am not a Photoshop wizard)…

My poor depiction of the problem

Wait. A dim bulb brightens. A Google Earth Bulb. Forgive me, it is early morning and I still have not had my coffee!

A more accurate depiction!!

So I called up the Emergency number to inform them of this anomaly, turns out they already knew about it!

Egypt’s Presidential Election Results

Election Results: Morsi 13,230,131 (51.7%) Shafiq 12,473,380 (48.3%)

Congratulations to Dr. Mohammed Morsi for gaining the majority of the votes and winning Egypt’s first civil, democratic elections.

The road to Egypt’s revolution was a tumultuous one. The Muslim Brotherhood’s initial quote was that the would not seek the presidency, afterwhich they tossed two names into the hat, one as a replacement for another who was barred from running the presidential race.

In the end, it was a race between a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, for long since Egypt’s second strongest political party after the now defunct and overly corrupt National Democratic Party, who sought to further solidify its chokehold on the Egyptian population by having its candidate in the final run-off for the presidency.

A win for the military man Ahmed Shafiq would guarantee a return to the ways of old, of secret police and corrupt business men, of stolen millions and murdered thousands. A win for the Brotherhood would carry a cross-roads, will they live up to people’s expectations, or will they truly be different?

In the days of now ousted president, the shamed Hosni Mubarak, the results were known without running the elections. No body bothered to vote. Mubarak always won by a margin of 99%. How can someone think so highly of themselves, and believe their own delusions of grandeur?

Egypt has now voted for its first EVER democratically elected candidate. The ways of old have now been discarded, as we look towards the future. A future of prosperity and hope, of dignity and respect.

The President of Egypt 2012

The Pressure of Expectation

“Can we all get along?” The famous phrase uttered by Rodney King, who on June 17th, he was found drowned in his pool.

Who was Rodney King?

Rodney King, the black motorist whose 1991 videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers was the pivotal touchstone for one of the most destructive race-related riots in US history. Fifty-three people died during the riots, estimates of the material losses vary between about $800 million and $1 billion. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings. Widespread looting also occurred (source).

Catapulted to celebrity-hood, he became the poster child for police brutality. He wrote a book titled The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.

It is worth mentioning at this point that Rodney struggled for years with drug and alcohol abuse, which was probably brought around as a result of his becoming a lightning rod for ethical treatment.

A man who did not choose to be put in the spot light was thrust into it. The end result? Jumping into a pool, drunk and high on drugs, to end up dead.

It is amusing how the audience plays a role in the death sentence of individuals in the lime light. Many a time we as TV viewers are the main source of strife in these people’s public lives. We demand perfection from them, whilst avoiding it ourselves. Anyone on TV has to be a role model, they have to sign autographs, they have to live up to our superficial expectations.

We place celebrities on a high pedestal, and are the first to tear them down should they falter and be human, which in turn leads to their downward spiral that more often than not ends with their untimely demise.

The likes of all washed up actors and actresses, celebrities and icons, draw from this. It is the constant pestering into their lives that pushes them over the edge. Whether it was Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston, these are the true drawbacks of fame.

Take heed of the price of popularity, for in actuality, it is a person’s individuality that is lost.

Kuwait’s Very Own Real Life Super Hero!

A hero is defined as “A man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength“, “a being of great strength and courage celebrated for bold exploits“.

Had I not borne witness to this event, I would not have believed it! However, it is true! Kuwait has it’s own version of a super hero!

(Disclaimer: This post will make more sense once I post my complaint to the Kuwait Municipality)

I live near a school that has unlawfully taken a huge chunk of the surrounding area and converted it into a private parking. Initially wanting to take photographs of this transgression (for previously mentioned post I am working on), however ended up receiving much more than I bargained for.

As I was returning from my evening stroll yesterday night, I happened across a stranger in need of assistance; for he was trapped in the school parking lot, cut off from the main roads with a long chain and huge padlocks like some belligerent animal.

(editors note: the parking lot was previously locked, then the municipality tore down the locks and for a while it was an open parking space, hence the stranger was not transgressing)

I felt for this stranger as the school’s actions had infuriated me. I pointed out to him where he could find the groundskeeper to complain to, but to no avail. They were sound asleep in their cot, or simply choosing to play oblivious to our cries for assistance.

As we walked back to the parking lot to see if anything could be done to escape, that is when we saw him.

At first glance, he was very nondescript. Average height, good build, short cropped hair. His only distinguishing mark was the giant sledgehammer at his side, much like the character Steel infamously portrayed in the 90’s by the giant Shaquille O’Neal.

I heard you're in a bind. I break binds.

Apparently, he had seen our distress at being unable to leave the parking lot and came to offer assistance.

More people gathered around as the leviathan swung his might hammer, like Thor harnessing the thunderous power of Mjolnir, smashing away at the chain’s that kept the car at bay.

Harnessing the Mighty powers of Mjolnir

Sparks flew as the hammer repeatedly made contact with the cold, hard, unrelenting steel. I made to reach for my camera to catch this wondrous act, however our camera-shy hero opted to not be photographed.

In the end, the padlock gave. As a gesture of good faith, the hammer-wielding-hero allowed me to take the remnants of the diabolical device used to ensnare hapless victims within the confines of the parking lot (photographed below).

And then he disappeared into the night.

Anyone can be a hero; they need not be bedecked in a colorful ensemble with their underwear over their trousers, or have any particularly keen super powers. By simply standing up for what they believe in, helping those in need, being the voice for those who long to be heard can every normal person be a super hero.

The padlock is huge but his will was greater

The padlock was huge but his will was greater

the padlock

In the end, this is what remained

image

HULK SMASH!

Renewing your Driving Licence in Kuwait

What was meant to breeze turned out to be a task worthy of Herculean efforts.

Let us journey back to 5 years ago, when our tale first began.

Upon completing the arduous requirements to become eligible for a driver’s licence, which included, but was not limited to,  4 different tests over a 6 month period, with one being at the driving school (i.e. an extra 60KD) that all resulted in the same conclusion: failure.

After having crossed that hurdle, the task at hand was the eye examination. Being one who enjoys other people’s counsel, I foolishly heeded the words of a friend who told me not to wear my glasses to the eye exam, and that I would pass without any incident and be issued a licence for 10 years. Back then my eye sight was as it is now, average.

On the day of the eye examination, I must have gotten the “other” Doctor, the strict one, who did not give me a 6/6 (6 what exactly, I never did find out) and instead opted that I retake the test after 5 years. That word lingered in the back of my mind all throughout my driving experience.

Fast forward to nowadays, and my licence was up for renewal. I had hoped that some glitch in the system would forsake me from having to redo the eye exam, however, I was not so lucky.

It all started at 4pm with a trip to the DMV in Jabriya. Fresh from work and feeling hungry, it was my second trip there. As after the first, I realized two things – a) I did not have 10KD cash for the stamp required and b) my fines were still outstanding (80KD). So I remedied both situations and visited the DMV the very next day.

I stood in line inside for 5 minutes only to be told I required a form from the copying area, located outside. A short stand in line later, and one picture (preferably blue background), I had my form and went in to the same queue, with a 10KD stamp in hand and ready to be affixed wherever he so chooses.

The employee must have judged me to be trustworthy, as after I submitted my papers (last in the group placed at the bottom of the pile) he asked me to deliver said stack to a different window. Naturally, I sought to move my paper to the top of the pile, then thought the employee at the other window might think it strange I was there, so I opted for being second (the picture was attached resembled me very slightly as it was over 6 months old).

And now we play the waiting game. I thought I had beat the system with my quick-wit. As it would turn out, the joke was on me.

I refused to plug into the world of music to pass the time, for fear of missing my name as it was called out. At this point I was sure the eye-exam retake was out of the question. I had contemplated leaving the place and coming back later to receive my renewed licence as I had just seen a fellow do, but then decided against it. It was afterall, like a band-aid, best to rip it off at one go.

Minutes turned to an hour, and then I heard my name being called. I went to that window only to find, much to my chagrin, that the mistake I made 5 years ago was haunting me to this day. I was required to retake the eye exam. However, it would not be that simple. I had to get a form once more. Given that it was now 5, the copy are was jam-packed with people, and, like a diligent fool, I stood in line with the rest of the people.

Woe is me

Fate decided to mock me, as no sooner was I close to the single, lone person handling ALL requests, a man came up from behind me to request the very same paper I was in line for. Apparently, one did not need to stand in line for this paper. Even the employee asked quizzically why I was in line, I said I was a fool, and upon receiving the paper, went back inside (30 minutes later) hoping that the eye exam, a very routine procedure, would be done then and there.

No dice. You had to go all the way to the Qortuba Clinic. (the clinic operates till 8:30pm, had I known this then, I would have immediately gone there, however I did not and no body mentioned it).

What I failed to understand was that I was wearing glasses as I was performing these tasks, the licence has a table on the back which indicates whether or not you wear glasses (or lenses etc), was it so out of the question to merely indicate that yes, I do wear glasses and spare me the hassle of having to wait a whole extra other day?

I visited the clinic the very next day with high hopes. The employee who took my forms was very cheerful, making me optimistic it would be a breeze. However, upon entering the doctors office, a strange sense of foreboding came across me as I realized this must be the same doctor from 5 years ago! True to his nature, after signing off that I do wear glasses, he insisted I go and take a photograph (with glasses) before going to the DMV.

At first I found his request laughable. It already states on the licence that I wear glasses, do I really need a picture with glasses as well?!

The answer was Yes. However, the DMV have a camera ready, and that day, after going back to the DMV, submitting my papers, waiting patiently and being told to retake the picture, I received my licence a short while after, all bedecked in my nifty specks.

To think, all this could have been easily averted had I worn glasses to my eye exam 5 years ago.

Lesson? Do not try to beat the system.

The house ALWAYS wins.

Grand Mosque of Kuwait to be torn down & rebuilt?

A truly sad, sad occurrence in the history of Kuwait.

The Grand Mosque was officially inaugurated in 1986 by the directives of the late Amir HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah; an amazing work of art that cost KD14 Million, overseen by 50 engineers and 450 construction workers, covering 45,000 meters squared, will not be receiving any visitors for the foreseeable future.

Meaning, worshippers during the Holy Month of Ramadan will need to converge on other mosques in other areas, forsaking the humbling ambience of the grand mosque as engineers toil with the conundrum of whether it can be saved or scrapped and built anew (link).

The grand mosque has presumably been closed to all the public, meaning tours of the grand mosque for those newly arriving to Kuwait will be postponed or cancelled.

The reason being, the structure has become unstable, cracks have started to appear in the columns housed inside the majestic center of the mosque. This is most likely caused by underground vibrations resulting from the numerous deep excavation/construction projects taking place a stone’s throw away from the Grand Mosque (fingers point towards the Central Bank of Kuwait’s newly constructed offices).

For those who have not had the pleasure of attending Ramadan prayers within the walls of the Grand Mosque, the feeling cannot be summed up in words, as the ambience within those walls instill a sense of calming humility and humbleness upon all who step inside. From the children that stay up late to help organize the nourishment of the people, to the friendly atmosphere created by those performing their religious duties, it was truly a sight unlike no other.

 

Lacing up your Shoes Properly makes a World of Difference

It was said long ago that running is the easiest sport to practice, as all you require to participate is a good pair of running shoes.

More often than not, upon purchasing said running shoes from the store, we often tend to neglect such nuances as the way in which the shoe laces are tied, except of course to make them equal in length (a habit for those amongst us suffering from a mild case of OCD).

Being a frequent runner/jogger, I tend to find my feet screaming in agony a few times after a lengthy run.

The reason?

Simple: the way you tie your shoelaces.

The standard criss-cross method, albeit most commonly practiced, can wreak havoc upon your flappers. I remember reading somewhere that your laces had to be tied tightly so as to achieve a proper mesh between your feet and shoes, causing them to merge into one instrument of running pleasure. Also, it prevents your feet from moving around in your shoes which could cause abrasion which may result in injury.

That however, was not the case, as a tightening of the laces caused excruciating pain mid run along the sides of the feet, forcing one to adapt many a different form of running from wild goose to funky chicken.

The answer to my painful conundrum came in the form of a post I read on RunnersWorld.com (link)

They cited the following as being the most complained about pains during running, and next to each, a description (and instructional video) on how to alleviate said pain.

1) PROBLEM: “MY SHOE RUBS ONE SPOT ON THE TOP OF MY FOOT.”

Solution: Eliminate pressure on a “hot spot” by lacing around it, not directly over it.

2) PROBLEM: “MY BIG TOENAIL TURNED BLACK.”

Solution: Lift the upper material above your big toe up and off it.

3) PROBLEM: “MY SHOE IS TOO TIGHT ALONG THE TOP OF MY FOOT.”  (my complaint)

Solution: Use parallel lacing to secure your foot without putting pressure on the top.

4) PROBLEM: “MY TOES FEEL CRAMPED.”

Solution: Reduce forefoot constriction by using four shoelaces instead of two. (by far the most ingenious solution!)

And here is an illustration of solution 3:

side by side comparison of different lace-tying method

side by side comparison of different lace-tying method - left being the new method.

ready to run

Ready to Run

The end result?

Having the ability to run the following distance without feeling the pain of constricted feet.

It made a world of difference.

So try it. Become a better runner today by simply changing the way you tie your shoelaces!

Home Center Kuwait remove discount Mid-Sale on items

There is no worse feeling in the world than having your eye set on an item during a discount, going home to ponder it overnight, accepting that your life would be much better with that item’s presence in it, returning to claim said item within two days (given of course that it is still within the discount period) and finding said item has now been “de-salified” as the price returns to normal.

That was the case witnessed at Home Center’s Shuwaikh branch last Saturday.

A friend of mine decided to pass by Home Center, as they had advertised a sale up till the 18th of June. Whilst strolling around he came across this furniture set:

3 Seater + 2 Seater

What was the price for this set? A real bargain:

that was the price on Thursday

Unfortunately my friend had already committed to buying another set. However, he liked this one more and hence went back home to offload said sofa said for newly mentioned one.

Imagine his surprise upon returning to Home Center a mere 2 days later to find this:

Two days later, this was the price (note the Item Code - exactly the same piece)

Obviously my friend was outraged at this sudden and abrupt removal of the discount of an item on sale. The salesmen informed him that the price had returned to normal suddenly due to their receiving a new shipment of the item, and that the price change was effected by Management. No manager was available for query, surprisingly whenever they asked for him they were told he was in a meeting at HQ (at all hours of the day).

Any company wishing to have a sale needs to submit pricing documents to the Ministry for approval. Any amendments should also be done so via forms (i.e. a paper trail).

Did Home Center request the Ministry to approve a price change during the sale period? Their employees declined to comment.

It is an unacceptable move to change the price of an item mid-sale.

What’s worse is my friend had already sold off his new sofa set to make room for this new one.

In the end, they agreed to give him a 20% reduction (as opposed to the original 42%) as compensation, they refused to sell at the discounted price.

Security Issue with Kuwait E-Gov Website

One of the things I enjoy most about Kuwait is the automation of certain previously extremely tedious and time consuming errands such as phone bill payment, electricity bill payment and of course, the extremely arduous task of traffic fine payment.

Through the implementation of Kuwait e-gov website (link) all those hassles have now become as simple as the click of a button. K-NET is interfaced as the preferred method of payment, which means if you have a bank account, you can immediately click all your troubles away.

The website also offers advice on where to go for what etc. it is very useful indeed.

However, there is a fatal, fatal flaw in the e-gov website.

My driver’s licence was up for renewal and I needed to clear my slate with the government in terms of outstanding traffic fines. I moseyed along to the website, and as I was entering my details I paid attention to the title bar:

The payment method was not being directed through a SECURE portal. Meaning, if any hacker were attempting to penetrate your security or the website, they would be able to have access to your credit card info, which you enter in this window.

The strange thing is, if you open your browser and head on over to the Ministry of Interior’s website (link) to pay your fines, the payment window looks like this:

i.e. in this case, your payment is secure.

Most people might think, well what is the worst that can happen. The problem with paying with K-Net and exposing that account to risk is that it is your main account (i.e. salary) and hence, if a hacker were to get to that info, they could siphon your entire salary. Paying with credit cards exposes the credit card to theft only up to the point of your credit limit. If you are smart and use internet shopping cards, it further minimizes the loss to only that which is in your Shopping card at the time.

Hence, please exercise caution when paying online.

Hopefully this error will be rectified post-haste.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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