Thursday, October 19, 2006

dream woman, division of the human species, and Canadian beckonings

Alright class, we have a lot to get through today, so keep it down and pay attention.

We start with this article, which I very well may have unconsciously written, and if I am not the author, then I relate to it entirely too much for comfort. I've always said that I find politically-engaged women attractive, but this takes it to a whole new (very welcomed) level. The only thing missing is any mention of bourbon, but for the sake of my fantasies, I'll just assume that she is an avid bourbon connoisseur. If you are the woman mentioned in this article, please contact me.

Next, we turn to the world of science where, according to this article, the human species will split in 100,000 years into two distinct races: one tall, slender, attractive and intelligent, the other squat, rotund, and dim-witted. This, the author of the theory claims, is due to increased pickiness about sexual partners. Interesting that intelligence is grouped in with the attractive physical traits while lack of intelligence is associated with unattractiveness. I have identified several flaws in this theory:

1) The theorist fails to take account of non-physical traits like charm, wit, sense of humour, etc. which contribute significantly to someone's desireability.

2) What about plastic surgery?! You can lob off half of someone's nose, but that rhinoceros gene remains in the pool.

3) The beer-goggle effect has not adequately been accounted for. Anyone who has ever been to a club in their life will know that "pickiness over sexual partners" quickly goes down the drain after a few rounds.

I do agree with the part where he talks about the decline of the human species due to reliance on technology though. I'm already feeling it personally. My memory span is roughly 45 minutes into the past, I can't perform the simplest of mathematical operations without the assistance of a calculator, and I'm almost certain that I have early-onset alzheimers. For this I have technology to thank.

Finally, let me close by saying that Canada beckons me. Yes, I am returning to the Great White North about which I gripe so much. I haven't seen my mother, relatives or dog since last Christmas, and I miss them all dearly. I'll be there for a week (with a one night stopover in London, which I intend to paint red, on the way there) during which time I look forward to catching up with family and friends, playing with my dog, and hoarding copious amounts of bourbon in my belly to last me until I next return to a wet country.

It's going to be a pretty hectic holiday between all the aformentioned activity, plus filing my taxes, plus renewing my passport, plus renewing my license, so not sure if I'll be able to blog, but I shall certainly try.

Salaam from the sandy dunes...for now...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Alcohol: the universal panacea

The manifold benefits of alcohol are widely known. It serves to make you and those around you more attractive, it causes a marked increase in one's wit and charm, foreign language skills have been known to improve with alcohol consumption, and alcohol has been definitively been proven to win you more friends. But now it seems as though researchers have found yet another benefit to consuming libations (as if any more were needed!). According to this article, fermented milk (yes, alcoholic milk) is good for babies. Apparently it suppresses the human auto-immune response which results in allergic reactions in infants. Another beneficial side effect is that it makes babies sleep like...well...babies, not before they get up on top of the table and do a stunning (albeit slurred) rendition of "Moon River" though.

So feed your babies milkohol I say, but why stop there?! Red wine is good for your heart, beer for your kidneys, and whisky for your...everything. If you really love your child, you'll want to ensure their good health well into their future, no?

So let's raise a glass and say, a votre sante


Monday, October 16, 2006

Long-awaited Tunisia pics

Well, after so much waiting, these pictures will likely be a terribly disappointing anti-climax, but here they are nonetheless. These were taken with my Minolta point-and-shoot which I think is due for an upgrade.

View from the hotel room's balcony

Me (unintentionally) striking silly pose by the Mediterranean

Mediterranean sunset

Top: Me
Bottom: Horse

Valerie et un chavel
(Valerie and a horse...I almost learned French over the weekend on account of being surrounded by Valerie and loads of French tourists)

Valerie et moi

First-person perspective

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh yeah, almost forgot...

So apparently yesterday was my birthday. I had completely forgotten about it until I got an early birthday greeting from my mother the day before. This will now make it the third year running that I'd forgotten about my birthday until someone else reminded me of it. It's not so much that I forget my birthday per se so much as I don't realize what the date is.

Anyways, so I hadn't really told anyone in the office that it was my birthday because, as I mentioned, I didn't realize it until the day before, and it also seems in rather poor taste to explicitly tell people. One of my co-workers added me on facebook though, and realized it was my birthday, and so at the end of the workday (around 9 pm) he sent an email out to the office informing people that it was my birthday, and I suddenly had a stream of people pouring into my office to alternatively berate me for not mentioning it, and to wish me a happy birthday.

A little while later a bunch of us wrapped up our work for the day and headed over to the hotel we always eat dinner at, and one of our group was kind enough to inform the hotel staff that it was my birthday, resulting in the (very mediocre) hotel band playing "happy birthday" and the staff marching out with cakes and candles and whatnot. 'Twas a very nice gesture, if not more than a little embarassing.

So, that was how I spent my 23rd birthday in Libya. Not too shabby overall I think. Sure, some Maker's Mark bourbon would have been REALLY great, but on the whole, a pretty decent birthday far as birthdays go at least.

Well, that's about it. Thanks so very much to all of you who sent along your electronic birthday wishes, they are truly appreciated.


One Laptop for Every Child and a Shout-Out to Monitor

One of the projects Monitor was working on here was trying to get Libya to be the first country to receive Nicholas Negroponte's sub-$100 laptops for every school-aged child in Libya (around 1 million on total).

Yesterday, an agreement was reached between Negroponte's organization, "One Laptop Per Child" and the Libyan government to make this ambition a reality. Read the New York Times article here. Please note the fifth paragraph from the bottom where Monitor gets a shout out.

Tunisia pics still in the works...patience my young grasshoppers...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Watch this space for Tunisia pictures

Hello all,

I wanted to post the Tunisia pictures yesterday, but this week is absolute insanity in the office. All the big-wigs are in town and the office is buzzing with activity. I therefore haven't had a chance yet to resize pictures and upload them. Will do so asap though, so keep checking back!


Friday, October 06, 2006

Tunisia for the weekend? Why not...

So, on a whim one of my co-workers decided that she wanted to go to Tunisia for the weekend and would I like to come? Most assuredly.

We are therefore going to be driven (I am told in a Mercedes) to the Club Med Djerba, close to the Libyan-Tunisian border, for an all-inclusive weekend getaway (as in "I want to getaway from Tripoli"). Yes, Yes, I know, all-inclusive resorts are from the devil, and don't really count as visiting the country, but for a brief weekend getaway on such short notice, it's the best we could do.

Hope to take some pictures which I will post upon my return

Now must go pack, Salaam!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Photoshop Post the Nobody Asked For

I've been getting a lot of comments on the pictures below, and I've always felt the need to note that the photos have been enhanced through photoshop. Now, I feel that I should say at the outset that photoshop isn't, shouldn't, and I think never can compensate for good photography. Photoshop is however, a digital darkroom. And just as film photographers can tinker with their photos in the dark room, so too can the digital photographer do so in photoshop. I know the purists have their reservations about digital enhancement, and rightly so, any look at the cover of Cosmo orVogue these days is a study in Photoshopping run amok. But, the fact remains, I think, that there is an appropriate time and place for it to be used. I've included "before" and "after" pictures of two shots below to indicate the difference photoshop made with just a few simple adjustments. In both cases I was shooting in some really terrible indoor lighting conditions.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More Sabrata pics

Hello All,

I've resized some more photos from Sabrata that I particularly like for your viewing pleasure (click to enlarge).


This statue was so so incredibly well-preserved and gorgeously sculpted. I call her the Lady of Sabrata

The Lady of Sabrata from another angle

Sabrata has some incredible mosaics, photos really don't do them justice.

Close-up of another mosaic

The Romans really liked columns...true story

Monday, October 02, 2006

having a bad *fill in the blank* day

Everyone has had bad hair days. Thankfully, nature and genetics will soon rid me of this dire prospect. I've also heard of people having "fat" days. How one can gain so significant an amount of weight overnight is beyond me, unless one is inclined towards sleep-walking to the nearest McDonald's or any other similar dining establishment. Today, however, I had a bad tie day. I had to tie my tie 5 or 6 times before I got both the length and knot right. This is rather unusual given that I am rather adept at tying ties and can always get it right on the first try. This isn't the first time I've noticed this though. Just like having a bad hair day, it seems like every once in a while, I just can't get my tie tied right before several tries.

So, what odd "bad _____ days" do you encounter?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Exploring Libya

Unbeknownst to many, Libya is home to many of the worlds most spectacular ancient ruins. Archaeological evidence indicates that from as early as the 8th millennium BCE, Libya's coastal plain was inhabited by a Neolithic people who were skilled in the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of crops. Over the course of its history, Libya has played host to Phoenecians, Carthaginians, the armies of Alexander the Great, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines, all of whom settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain in the vicinity of modern-day Tripoli.

Courtesy wikipedia:

"Tripoli, was originally a group of Phoenician colonies dependent on Carthage. Phoenicians founded the three great cities (tri + polis) of Oea, Sabrata and Leptis Magna (site of magnificent Roman ruins). Carthage and its dependencies fell to Rome after the Third Punic War. Tripoli is the ancient sea port at the terminus of three great caravan routes linking the coast with Lake Chad and Timbuktu across the Sahara. Near the port of Tripoli stands a Roman triumphal arch with four richly sculpured fronts of white marble, the blocks being held together with cramps. It was begun in the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius, according to a still-unmutilated dedicatory inscription, and finished under Marcus Aurelius."

Today there stands a restaurant directly facing the Marcus Aurelius arch, which I dined at last night. The food was at best mediocre, but with outdoor seating facing this magnificent archway, the view was unparalleled. I intend to go there with my tripod at night sometime and take some photographs.

The wikipedia excerpt also mentioned Sabrata, which is where I spent most of my Friday this past weekend (follow link for wikipedia page with more information). It was very impressive overall. Well-preserved, well-maintained and well-restored. When we first arrived, there were a couple tour groups from the cruise ships that dock in Tripoli, but they left after a couple hours and my two flatmates and I literally had the entire site to ourselves. This is the beauty of the undiscovered nature of Libya at the moment. One can enjoy these sorts of sites without the experience being sullied by hoards of annoying tourists (and yes, I realize the irony that I myself am a tourist, but that doesn't mean I'd enjoy being surrounded by a bunch of "me"s). I don't expect it to remain that way very long. Like I said, cruise ships have started docking in Tripoli and the trickle of tourists is slowly turning into a stream. I give it 5 - 10 years before it becomes a full-blown flood. I hope the local authorities manage it well so that it doesn't ruin the ruins.

Some photographs from Sabrata (click to enlarge, to be updated with more soon):

Well, after all that archeological exploration in the hot Libyan sun, Tomas, Stephen and I were ready for a swim. So we found ourselves a nice beach and went for a dip. Sorry, no photos, as much as I know that you are all dying to see me in my swimming attire. Might I just say, however, that the Mediterranean is my favourite body of water.

Check back for more pictures once I've resized them for posting.