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Monthly Archives: March 2013

How the Internet saved our Childhood

Memories are the key components that distinguish individuals and differentiate amongst them.

It is not known at what age we begin to develop our memories, yet to recollect something from a distant past at times is most comforting. That feeling of nostalgia, of déjà vu, leaves ones spirit elated at the mere thought of something that happened once upon a time.

We go through life picking up several memories, whether they are feelings we felt, places we had seen or visited, or aromas we had smelt (the later is merely a verification of the fact that memories encompass all of our sensory receptors).

In a particularly restless night of insomnia, I decided to tug at the strings of my memory and attempt to locate an early one from childhood, it took the form of a movie I was quite engrossed with. All I could recollect of it however was a theme; not actors or anything tangible. However, in the realm of the internet, that is more than enough to start a search.

The memories I had were of a baby ripped from its parents, who could later talk to animals, two rat-like animals became protagonists in the film, one of which was later to lose its life as it saved the main protagonist from impending doom. I also recalled it was a fantasy film, a realm of monsters, myth and magic.

I stuck the following into Google, “fantasy movie about person who can talk to animals” and sure enough, after eliminating the first few candidates, my search was complete.

A further refined search on YouTube proved even more fruitful, as the full movie was available for streaming on the video sharing website.

It is undoubtedly true that television in the late 80’s early 90’s greatly exceeded the current dribble in terms of quality. One such show was also on my mind. This one was a collection of popular stories acted out in full color. The stories ranged from the Pied Piper of Hamlin, to Puss in Boots and Aladdin.

Oh how I loved that show! I remember that we had taped the episodes on our VCR at the time, and that the episode of Aladdin was preceded by an episode of Tom & Jerry where both characters were on a farm, there was a chicken sitting on its eggs and Jerry snuck down there to escape Tom.

That episode of Aladdin was the key to discovering what this magical series was called, as I distinctively recall hearing for the very first time the majestic voice of James Earl Jones, who played the role of the Genie of the Ring.

By quickly searching through James Earl Jones’ filmography on Wikipedia, I came to know the name of the series where he played a genie: Faerie Tale Theater (link).

And once again, YouTube did not disappoint:

Thank you internet for keeping this vital piece of history alive and well.

Ain’t Nostalgia grand?

Feras in Kuwait – A Chance against Cancer (video linked)

They say science is advancing, and that with every passing day technology jumps forward with leaps and bounds.

Many of our every day nuisances have been completely eradicated. Televisions are clearer, lighter, bigger, smaller. Communication has now become instantaneous and free in most cases, giving a new meaning to borderless existence.

Cars travel faster, booking a flight is as simple as ordering a meal.

However, despite all of our advances, regardless of how comfortable our life has become, a shadow looms overhead reminding us constantly of our own mortality. A beast that refuses to be slain. A nightmare that refuses to end.

Cancer.

Each year, millions upon millions lose their battle with the disease. At times, the cure is often worse than the disease itself causing accelerated damage to the patient. To date, mesothelioma explained, preventive treatment launched, but no one ever found a cure for cancer. Its very origin is a mystery. Everything in our lives, everything that makes life convenient has the potential of being a carcinogenic.

One person decided to do something different, from our very on Kuwait.

Something as simple as watching this video can be the tilting point in providing the funding to finally eradicate this plague from our life.

Thank you Linda for making the world aware of this noble effort.

Kuwait Charity Run in Search of a Charity in Kuwait

The good people over at KCR, that give Kuwait one of its greatest annual gifts – the Half Marathon, are in need of YOUR help.

Each year, the theme is different but the core message remains the same: Charity.

KCR are currently in search of the core charity for the 2013 Half Marathon:

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Runners! Mark this date in your Calendar! November 30th, 2013! (link)

Business Babble – Peeing your way to the Top

How does one move forward in Kuwait, where it is not what you know but who you know that makes the difference (apparently, to some, of the majority)?

Its a dog-eat-dog world full of cut-throats and quick-corner takers, you either up your game and learn the new tricks of the trade, or remain stationary until kingdom come and advance at the same pace of a snail in a marathon race.

The answer: you put yourself out there.

Yes, you fraternize with every Tom, Dick and Harry in upper management, drop names, shake hands, hold elevators etc. Grab EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY.

However, that leaves the awkward case of paying a visit to the men’s room and finding said executive inside. At this point, you wish you had not been tossing back coffee after tea for the past couple of hours as you are in a dire position to use the restroom, however, an opportunity has arisen which you must seize.

So there you are, folding your arms and cross your legs whilst standing, exerting every tiny grain of mental effort to turn off the sound of the running water tap as you chirp away about the state of the world in general (it is bad business form to just jump right into any form of important conversation).

The executive sees your strained facial state and inquires as to whether or not you wish to use the restroom, before you can answer with a “ohyesthankyouverymuch!” another equally strained individual walks in, and not keen on any conversation, heads directly for the lavatory, leaving you in a very, very awkward position.

Your mind is racing as to why on earth you had to open your big mouth, the executive has long since left as, after all, time is money, and your last dime has just run out. The stalls are all occupied, the urinals too. What to do? The closest other restroom is all the way downstairs, and walking down two flights of stairs in your current state is equivalent to walking down carrying a one gallon open jug of water.

Yes. It does happen. Dealing with awkward bathroom conversation is part of the package. Better start learning the ropes right now!

 

The Runner’s Tragedy – A Short Narrative

When it comes to the most important item in your running arsenal, the act of running is a love-hate relationship.

That apparel is… The Running Shoe.

The Running Shoe (my NEW running shoe!)

The way it works is as follows; you buy a pair of shoes you find to be awesome, your first run with them is appalling, they’re still too hard and rigid. Mile by mile, you start growing more accustomed to your shoe as your feet begin to imprint in them. After a while the melding is complete, and your foot and shoe have become one, you literally soar to new heights at greater speeds and all seems right with the world.

Sadly however, this union is the beginning of the end, for the more you use said shoe to attain perfection, the faster you accelerate its wear-&-tear, until slowly, but surely, the shoe loses its elasticity, and the downward spiral kicks in, until the shoe is no longer fit for running consumption.

Given the pride of the running shoe amongst other foot apparel, one cannot simply turn it into an every day shoe, and hence it must be discarded, never to be worn again, never to strike the pavement at awesome speeds.

It is  a sad conundrum.

What’s more, a seasoned runner is a seasoned cheater, for in the strange relationship that exists between runner and shoe, the fact that the above happens would drive the runner to seek a union with another shoe whilst using their current shoe, so as to avoid any downtime between the sad demise of the former, and the triumphant succession of the latter. In essence, this podiatric  infidelity exists in all runners, and all older models must watch shamefully as a new shoe is bought into their midst, their successor, the mistress in their marital relationship with the runners feet.

Tis a sad life, that of the running shoe.

False Alarm with the Kuwait Stock Exchange

At times of great emotional stress, the mind tends to overlook certain important criteria causing an overall incorrect conclusion to be drawn from a situation in which one is placed.

A couple of days ago I posted about the Odd lot market on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (link) being scrapped. I then proceeded to act as follows:

crazy-cat

Error on my part, for in my rush to condemn the act of scrapping the odd lot market, I did not perceive the substitute put forward by the good people at the KSE.

And let me tell you, it is good!

Properties of the new trading system (link):

1. “Board Lots” and the “Odd-Lot Market” will be eliminated and the minimum trade-able unit will be one share.
2.The maximum limit on order size will be 5,000,000 shares.

GLORY HALLELUJAH!

For the non-finance savvy, in Laymen’s terms:

Previously the odd lot market was a sellers market, meaning the seller’s dictate the pace, they put their number of shares up for sale and the buyers have to buy that amount, they cannot by less or more of one share.

So let’s assume for example that someone wanted to buy 100 shares of company X’s stock. There was a seller selling 150 shares of company X’s stock. The buyer would have to purchase those 150, as they are the shares currently available for sale.

Now however, the markets have been unified, giving both buyers and sellers leverage, as a buyer, I can now directly ask to buy 100 shares of company X’s stock, anyone seeking to sell would then have the ability to do so.

No harm, no foul.

Tis a joyous day indeed!

Just what is a Hashtag Anyway?

Twitter has turned the world into self-righteous, pompous, arrogant blowhards full of hot air and exacerbated with flimsy, pointless migraine-inducing soliloquies.

At first we had the Yahoo! chat rooms, and life was good. Then came mIRC, and then the social media revolution came with the emergence of Facebook. Everyone was happy, sharing status’s that were self-aggrandizing (starting with I …) and the world seemed to revolve around each single person.

The stage was set for a massive coup d’état.

Enter Twitter.

Speak your mind in 140 characters or less.

As was expected, a mass migration from Facebook to Twitter took place, and just like the ice age and the annihilation of the dinosaurs, it happened in the blink of an eye. Intellectuals found their needs better satisfied through Twitter’s vision, the idea of being witty on a global scale and interacting with like-minded strangers as opposed to the various images of internet cats flooding Facebook.

However, sadly, as is always the case with a new toy, we abused it, reduced it to a mere shade of the magnificent tool it was meant to be.

Remember the story of the journalist James Karl Buck  that was caught by Police forces in Egypt? Twitter saved his life, literally. He tweeted a single word, “Arrested” (link), and that served to put the wheels in motion that would eventually lead to his release.

So how are we ruining Twitter?

Overuse of Hashtags.

People do not understand hashtags. For example, everyone is making words up and sticking an Octothorpe before a word in a vain attempt to sound intelligent.

The sight of people mindlessly throwing hashtags about in their tweets is reminiscent of Arabic Drama’s and Movies, where the character on screen turns away from the camera with a distant look in their eye and go off on a tangent where they address the ramification of the current situation on the rest of the population. The soliloquy whereby they attempt to pass off a few perceived pearls of wisdom to the audience, whilst vainly attempting to stay true to the scene at hand.

Had people bothered to read the FAQs on Twitter, they would have read the following when it came to understanding Hashtags:

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.

Also, and more importantly:

Using hashtags correctly:

  • If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
  • Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)
  • Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.

Instead of using Hashtags for current topics and assisting the global populace to categorize people’s discussions, we have flooded the internet with made up junk that no sane person in their right mind would ever search for, completely obliterating the purpose behind the hashtag.

And one last thing, people with “Private Accounts” using hashtags…

THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF A HASHTAG IS TO MAKE YOUR TWEET VISIBLE TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, WHICH GIVEN THE STATE OF YOUR PRIVACY SETTING, IS IMPOSSIBLE, ERGO YOUR USAGE OF THE HASHTAG IS IN VAIN, SERVING NO LOGICAL PURPOSE.

A double negative.

a division by zero.

The result?

Oh Sh…

Success at the Radisson Blu Viking Health Club 3K Fun Run Kuwait!

An active lifestyle is a healthy life style, that is the lesson drilled into us at a young age. Unfortunately, as one grows older and shoulders more responsibilities, time needs to be cut from certain activities, and more often than not, those are the activities which prove beneficial to our well being such as sports, exercise etc.

The Viking Club of Kuwait would have none of that. Yesterday they hosted their Bi-Annual 3K Fun Run race. The early bird catches the worm as the saying goes, and yesterday morning, we were all a-chirping for some worming.

The turn out was GREAT, 130 strong. Men, women and even children all woke up early on a saturday morning to send out a message, to themselves and to the world, that health comes first. Always.

Participants were required to register their names in order to get a race number, and then proceed to board buses that would take them 3K down the road towards the starting point, close to Jumeirah Hotel (formerly Messilah).

At the starting line, a lot of laughs were shared as the instructors took to the warm up session. It was amazing to see many familiar faces, as well as a few new ones that surprisingly either recognized me as the Gangnam Runner from last Novembers KCR Half Marathon, or as the expat with the answers on a forum made to welcome newcomers to Kuwait. Everyone was smiling and happy, ready for an early morning 3K fun run in the blaring sun.

By 9am-ish, the whistle sounded, signifying the beginning of the race. Bedecked in my brand new Adizero’s, I took off. The first thing I realized was that I had stuck the BIB number on the wrong area, gravitating towards my side as opposed to in front of my chest, which caused discomfort as it continually slapped my wrist. Not looking behind, I continued to look forward at the persons ahead of me.

With the sun mercilessly beating down upon the racers, it was an arduous journey to the finish line. I managed to wrestle my way to 3rd place, with 2 runners ahead of me. Focusing on maintaining my speed so as to avoid any runners coming up from behind me, I placed one foot after the other, making sure to study my surroundings to gauge how close we were to the finish line in order to prepare for the final sprint.

Using peripheral positioning, I sensed a runner hot on my tails, forcing me to accelerate, it would be a losing battle however as the 13-year old who would later go on to be the first in his category to cross the finish line, as well as second overall, finally surpassed me.

Now I was 4th, and although 4 is my lucky number, I strove to remedy the situation. As my newly acquired friend in 3rd place turned his head to cough, I saw my opening and immediately sent a message to my pumpers that now was the time to overtake.

The result?

1st Place – Cristian Craita – 11mins28secs
2nd Place – 13-yr old kid – 11mins39secs
3rd Place – Me! – 12mins

Seeing as how the 2nd place winner was under 14, he was first in his category, making me second in mine and third overall.

What was truly amazing was that I have the honor of calling the first place winner a friend and a running partner, a founding member of the Q8FootSoldiers Running initiative (link to our FB page) that meets up every Friday morning to pass the message to the community that running is an exercise that everyone can do. If you can find the motivation to drag yourself out of bed on a Friday morning, get dressed and go running, then you can definitely motivate yourself to run at any time, anywhere. That is the message we strive to deliver.

After the last of the runners arrived, much fun was had in terms of a glorious breakfast courtesy of the Viking Club, and the passing out of the awards for the top 3 in each category.

All in all, it was a great success.

Kuwait is in dire need of more running initiatives such as this, where people from all walks of life, of different ages, join together with a common purpose of enjoying themselves.

There are only 2 official races in Kuwait held every year, RunQ8 10K (in April) and the KCR Half Marathon 10 & 21K run in November.

We need more.

Much more.

The next Viking Health Club fun run is slated for November.

See you there!

Teachers Never Change

Teachers, the unsung heroes shaping future generations into the icons they will become tomorrow, from Doctors to Rocket Scientists and everything in between.

Teachers can be bearers of gifts, not only do we have the privilege of introducing great literature to young imaginative minds, but we also have the priceless opportunity of giving each child the gift of believing in him or herself.

So little is done to show true appreciation to the efforts exerted by these individuals. The act of teaching in itself is thoroughly instilled within us via the age old adage of “give a man a fish, teach a man to fish”, and yet no mention is made as to the difficultly of the education procedure.

Teachers have class

2 weeks ago, whilst on my weekly scheduled Friday morning run with the Q8FootSoldiers at Marina Crescent, as I was concentrating on my breathing and placing one foot before the other, I saw someone. The sight of them bore a heart warming familiarity as if I’d met them previously. Being good with names, I immediately knew who I thought they were, however by the time I had had the conversation with myself as to whether or not I should approach said person, we had already grown farther apart.

A Teacher is a compass that activates the magnet of curiosity, knowledge & wisdom in the pupils.

I dismissed the incident as a hallucination and went about my task, not sharing what I thought I saw with anyone.

Last week however, our paths crossed yet again, and this time curiosity got the better of me as I came to a screeching halt, walked back and inquired whether or not this individual was in fact the person I thought they were.

Education is not the filling of a pale but the lighting of a fire

Sure enough, it was indeed.

The reason I remember Ms. Ainsley, whom I last remember seeing in 1994/1995 was simple: she was my teacher.

During that time I was enrolled in The English School, and the school had its annual trip to Morgins, Switzerland. The reason I remember this specific teacher is because at the time, she was one of the two chaperon’s on that trip. The chaperon’s had a rule, every day in the early morning we were expected to shower and be ready for the day’s activities. I was one of the guys who had never seen snow before, ever, to that trip (and surprisingly again till this very day). The idea of showering prior to stepping out into cold snow seemed preposterous at the time! Hence, the guys attempted to “trick” the teachers by merely washing our hair and pretending to have showered.

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

Little did we realize our ruse was soon to be discovered by Ms. Ainsley, her exact words on our last few days were, “go and shower, I will not have you returning to your parents smelling like garbage”, and sure enough, she would be waiting outside the bathroom to ensure we had showered.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

With that being said, the following teachers had also played an instrumental role in my upbringing, and as we can never forget our parents, I can never forget:

From The English School:

– Mr. Errington (Head Master)

– Mrs. Jenny Thorpe/Young (Secretary) (met her almost 4 years ago at the TES Spring Bazaar)

– Ms. Lucy Martin (Music – Form Teacher)

– Mrs. Parsons (Geography – Form teacher)

– Mrs. Hubbard (Math)

– Mrs. Betridge (Biology – Form Teacher)

– Mr. Norrish (History)

– Ms. Holloway (English)

– Madame Namet (French)

– Mrs. McClooney (Form teacher)

– Mr. Harris Jones (IT – Form teacher)

– Mrs. Hind (Arabic – RE)

– Ms. Kimberly Williams (PE)

– Mrs. Richards (Chemistry)

– Ms. Straw (Art)

From the New English School:

Mr. Irving (Geography)

Mr. Erwin (IT – 8X Form Teacher)

Ms. Jill/ Mr. Davies (Physics)

Mr. Gunning/ Mr. Straney/ Dr. Mallick (Chemistry)

Mr. Sheldon (Biology)

Mr. Nisbit/ Mr. Moxley/ Ms. Howard (Math)

Mrs. Russ (Head of Year)

Mr. Tathem (Accounting)

Mr. Lardner (History)

Mr. Pine/ Ms. Chambers (English)

Mrs. McGlinchey (French)

Mr. Hashem/ Mr. Mohammed Ziad/ Mr. Shaher (Arabic)

Some names have been forgotten however their faces are forever etched in memory.

A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.

New Pope of the Catholic Church Elected

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is announced as the new pope, and he’s chosen the name Francis I.

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August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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