31 January 2008

Freezing in Bahrain

It was announced a few days ago; on the 1st of February, which means tonight, Bahrain is going to get a REALLY cold; expect lots of wind, exceptionally low temperatures, and plenty of snow (ok, one of those isn't true).

I noticed it driving back home today evening; the wind speeds have started to increase, and in my garden, there are leaves on the ground all over the place. Hmm.

Extra blanket, anyone?

Disclaimer; Above image does not represent Bahrain. Not at all.

30 January 2008

The Recession Cometh

The US Federal Reserve has just cut the funds rate by another half a percent; that's just 8 days after it's last 0.75% cut, and the fifth rate cut in the past four months. It was also signalled that further rate cuts are possible.

What's a rate cut? It bascially means the Federal Reserve brings down their lending rate, which in turn affects banks and financial institutions lending rates, making it cheaper for companies, investors and individuals to borrow money. This in turn is supposed to stimulate the economy. More rate cuts means the Fed believe the economy is slowing, and five cuts within four months means, yep, recession is on the way.

That's pretty much confirmed then; the US is facing a recession, and whether you want to listen to the pretty mild announcements telling people that everything is fine, you have to admit, the situation is pretty screwed. The current administration is also negotiating a stimulus package of $150 billion to spur investment. Inflation rates have jumped up in the last 3 months of 2007, unemployment rates have increased, and economic growth is at it's lowest point in 5 years, when the US was struggling to recover from the 2001 recession.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you're thinking of getting a loan, now is the time. But whether you do or not, the ripple effect is on it's way guys, get ready.

Powered by Batelco

- In a region experiencing an oil boom, Bahrain has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world - Wikipedia

- Bahrain has a Formula One race-track, hosting the Gulf Air Grand Prix on 4 April 2004, the first for an Arab country - BBC

- In 2004 King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa introduced a project that uses information communication technology (ICT) to support K-12 education in Bahrain. The objective of this project is to connect and link all schools within the kingdom with the internet... - Wikipedia

- With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf - CIA Factbook

- is actively pursuing the diversification and privatization of its economy to reduce the country's dependence on oil - CIA Factbook

Amazing country, eh? It boggles the mind to think that a country on the scale of the above would actually be internetless for a full day. Yup, the internet was down EVERYWHERE today morning, probably for a good 8 hours or so, and we just got it back about 30 minutes ago. That's for people, companies, banks, institutions, schools, coffee shops, etc. The very small percentage of people who had Zain (MTC) connections were fine though, because that company doesn't totally suck balls. For the other 99.9999% of Bahrain, however, the internet ceased to exist. Yes, it was 1992 all over again.

Bahrain, the country of the future - powered by Batelco.

29 January 2008

Move Over Hillary

The race to the White House has been pretty much an all out battle between the two key democratic candidates, Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Things have been getting more and more fierce as each day passes, and suprises througout the race are aplenty.

Up till about yesterday, it was pretty close, but I think the deciding factor happened last night. Say what you will about it, but the scales have finally been tipped to the Obama side, as both the daughter and brother of former US president John Kennedy decided to support Barack as their favourable candidate. Now, JFK was one of the people's most loved presidents, and the ideals of his family are going to play out very strongly in public opinion. Hillary herself doesn't look too pleased (just listen to her speeches, there's some sort of frustration there, and a fake plastered smile on her face too).

My opinion? Obama is going to be the leading candidate for the Democratic party, and with the backing of the Kennedys, Oprah, and a bunch of other heavyweights, he's definately up for president. I would personally vote for him if I had a chance to, just for the wise-cracks he makes every now and then (you need a president that makes you laugh once in a while, and hopefully not AT him).

Somehow, however, I have this feeling he's going to get shot. Expect numerous assasination attempts as the first black president steps onto the American stage; normal and expected, actually.

Anyhow, let's fast forward to 2009 and see him in the White House; what does that signal for us in the Middle-East? Simply put, I quote him: "I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."

Sounds hopeful. Let's just wait and see.

28 January 2008

The Wierdest Item on Ebay

I browse ebay every now and then looking for good deals, and you come across the wierdest items sometimes. Today, however, I think i've seen it all. What is it? Well, i'll just post the ad title, use your imagination:

~ BECOME INVISIBLE & walk UNSEEN among people or CROWDS

So I figured it was probably a toy, or some sort of magic trick or something (of course they'll write that in the ad). I kept reading;


This is not a toy, a magic trick or a scam.

This is not an illusion or a Ninja technique.
No Lies! Become 100% invisible!

The Secret of Invisibility renders you completely invisible

Ahaa... So it's not a toy or magic trick or illusion. It's not even a ninja technique (wtf?!)

NO LIES???? Okay, something fishy here...

This method is currently used by the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies.

Don't Scoff! You can go anywhere without being seen.

You're invisible to all you meet... NOT EVEN A SHADOW.

This works even when you're completely surrounded by cameras or people.

Lets you vanish & reappear as you wish, wherever you may be!

Ok the guys who wrote the ad seem to actually believe this. Now that's what I call marketing, believing in the product, in the cause. There's got to be some sort of disclaimer though, right? Something in the small print saying this just a trick or toy? Well... No... But it did say this:

NO hype or Bull. You get exactly what you need
NO danger. You can't be hurt in any way
NO disappointment. You get just what we promise
No trouble. You're either visible or invisible as you need & desire

This is one of the best-kept secrets of the ages! A secret so powerful that throughout history, men have literally died trying to wrestle it from the tight fists of its masters.
Don't let your doubts stop you!

Eeeemm... No thanks, I think i'll let my doubts stop me this time. Ridiculous really, I love how they actually believe people are gonna buy this crap.

Don't believe this is actually a real ebay ad? Click here for the link. It's going to expire in a few days, so just to preserve it for ever and ever, i've saved a screen copy of it that you can enjoy and laugh at; screenshot

One Day

Although I don't always see eye to eye with our Minister of Labour, Majeed Al Alawi, I have to admit that on occassion he does speak a lot of sense. Perhaps the motives behind his speeches aren't always that noble (or perhaps they are, I can't be too sure), but when he makes a good point, man, he makes a damn good point.

Yesterday Dr Majeed spoke about our laziness as a people, as a country, as a region. He warned of an 'Asian Tsunami' as he called it, because of our reliance on foreign labour to perform the simplest of jobs.

It's true though. We have become accustomed to the lazy life; we have maids hired to get us a glass of water because we can't be bothered to walk to the kitchen, or to tidy our beds because, well, it's too much work for us to do. We have workers at supermarkets and cafeterias who walk to our vehicle to take our order, just because opening the car door and walking in to get what we want sounds like too much effort. We have people hired to carry out the simplest tasks from making our tea, washing our cars, cooking our food, to ironing our clothes, just because we are the elite who have no reason in life to lift a finger. After all, we are supreme.

Aren't we?

Cheap labour has it's benefits. We become kings, queens, princes and princesses. We sit there, every command taken care of by our servants, our slaves. We become something great, we rise above everyone else. We are great.

Aren't we?

Or maybe it's not so great. Maybe we become lazy, we become accustomed to not having to do anything. We stop learning how to do the bed, how to cook, how to depend on ourselves. We forget, and the most simple tasks start becoming heavy chores. And then come our children, and obviously we throw this 'lavish' lifestyle onto them, so now they're the ones who feel superior and great, and do not have to lift a finger, do not have to learn how to do anything.

But sooner or later you're going to need to know how to do something. This lifestyle isn't going to last for ever; one day all of this is going to go away, as the Asian countries start regaining economic strength, and the workers find it much more attractive to head back home. One day when this lifestyle becomes too expensive to maintain, and your superior self won't be able to afford it. One day when you head to a different country where this sort of thing isn't the norm, and you're going to have to do things yourself. One day when this over-the-top lifestyle fades away, and you're left in a mess, not knowing what to do, or how to act.

One day.

For another interesting issue previously brought up by our Minister of Labour, click here

27 January 2008

Rap Charts

If you've ever listened to rap music, you're going to love this. If you don't, then this probably won't make much sense to you.

Anyhow; rap songs as illustrated through mathematical charts/graphs. Can you figure out the song? (I'll post them up in the comments below)








26 January 2008

The Weed Machine

For all you druggies out there, perhaps it's time to move to California; the first weed vending machine is finally available for public use.

Yep, you heard correct; that's a vending machine that gives out weed/marijuana/pot. No need to drive around in the middle of the night looking for your drug-dealer, just pass by the machine, pop in a coin, and get your instant high! And of course, I can already picture the broke addicts kicking and pushing the machine, trying to get a free buzz.

Well, it doesn't actually work like that, so don't expect to find them next to your local Pepsi vending machine anytime soon. These machines are monitored by 24 hour security, and the only way to use them is through a fingerprint scan after getting a prescription from your doctor (and yes, prescriptions are being given out nowadays).

Funny eh? Well, I always figured it made more sense to legalize drugs and regulate them, rather than make them illegal and have them sold without constraint on the black market, but this whole vending machine thing is just pushing it. Anyway, as the song goes: "California, knows how to party. Californiaaa, knows how to paaaarty..."

24 January 2008

Bringing a Bank to it's Knees

And with the whole recession and crisis in the financial markets, comes one (probably of many to come) disaster stories.

France's second biggest bank, Societe Generale has just announced a massive fraud case of $7.14 billion, performed single-handedly by one trader. The bombshell of a discovery happened during the weekend, as the bank uncovered positions the trader had taken, which have been declining in value since summer of last year. As soon as the bank discovered the fraud, they had to alert the market regulators and immediately close the positions, and with the world stock markets dropping sharply on Monday and Tuesday, they incurred a total loss of $7.14 billion.

The whole situation has destabilized a bank already heavily exposed to losses from the subprime mortgage crisis, with it's share prices losing almost half it's value over the past six months.

The trader supposedly acted alone, and kept his transactions undercover through his vast knowledge of the details of the bank's system. Through ficticious trades and misleading investors, he was trading unbelievably large amounts in futures. With the losses incurred last year, instead of closing the positions, he took even riskier positions to try and make up his losses, over and over until this weekend, when closing the positions resulted in the above loss, which is the largest ever by a single trader.

The trader, named Jerome Kerviel, has been with the bank since 2000, earning a measly salary of less than 100,000 Euros a year (incl. bonuses) which in the investment banking world, is peanuts.

So what does this mean to the current situation? Well, investor trust in banks and financial institutions is already stooping to a low, and with this, more doubt about their stability during this tough period appears. Keep an eye out for more and more difficult situations and shockers such as this emerge over the next few months.

Drive or Walk?

I was at the work yesterday, and had a meeting scheduled at an office in Exhibition Road. Now, this office is only 4 or 5 minutes away by car, but because of the ridiculous traffic and so on, it could easily take anywhere upto 30 minutes leaving my parking lot, sitting in rush hour traffic, waiting for green lights, and finding another parking spot. Same story coming back.

There is a clear cut walking path from my office (near NBB tower) to where my scheduled meeting was, and it probably won't take longer to walk there than 25 minutes anyway, so I decided, what the hell, i'll just walk. The weather was nice, and I had my camera with me, so i could take a bunch of nice photos on the way, too.

Very clever.

Half way through the walk it started pouring. Lol. Rain rain rain. Bluh. I walked to a nearby shopping mall and dried up, but of course walking under the rain has it's side effects.

*Sniff*. Bloody flu. Everyone seemed to have gotten it over the past month or so, but I have so far managed to stay clear away from it! I was pretty proud of my achievement, but due to my little silly incident yesterday (ohhhh, why don't I just walkkk, duuuh), i'm sick now.

On the bright side, I did manage to take some nice shots on the way (click for large size). Enjoy!

*Sniff*... *Cough Cough*.

23 January 2008

Beginner's Guide to Photography: Part 3

Part 2

In the previous part, we mentioned the different functions you could use to adjust your photo settings. We'll go in more detail over these settings and how they can modify your shots, but first lets discuss the flash function:

The function wheel might look the same, or different depending which camera you have (some might not have different functions to choose from, and might give you the ability to adjust all settings manually). Usually the Auto function (green rectangle here) gives you very limited control over the settings; it might allow you to switch the flash off and on, and possibly switch to macro shots for close up objects (but some camera models don't even allow that). The P function, however, give you more control so try using that for the following examples.


You have the ability to turn this ON or OFF, or use AUTO (which determines the amount of available light and uses the flash if required). Some camera models might also have a soft flash function, which is less intense than the regular flash.

Most people assume that whenever you have a dark scene, you should use the flash, and that is not always correct (unfortunately, most cameras automatically switch the flash on in dark situations regardless of the scene). First, the flash can only light up close subjects, and when you do use flash the camera usually uses a shorter shutter speed, so anything dark in the distance stays dark:

The flash projects a short-range stream of light, and the closer an object is, the more lit up it would be. If you have a number of objects varying in distance from the camera, you would notice them getting darker the further they are, such as the chairs in the above picture (closer ones are bright, further away ones are less distinct, while the stage is completely dark).

The flash has a limited ability to take shots of objects a few meters away in dark conditions. Anything further would end up faded out because 1- the flash light does not project far enough and 2- the shutter speed is pretty quick when the flash is on, making far away dark objects difficult to see (the TV screen in the above shot shows because it emits it's own light. Everything else on stage is unclear).

The shutter speed is usually fast when the flash is on, because the camera senses a large amount of light. Of course, with a fast shutter speed, only the very close, or very bright objects would appear in the shot. When taking the exact same shot without a flash, the shutter speed slows down automatically (the camera senses less light and needs more time to take in whatever light is available) and therefore gives a more well-rounded shot. In this shot, you can see both the close and far away subjects more clearly:

The colors look more natural, and most objects in the distance are also clear. You do find problems in very dark conditions without a flash, however, because the camera might use a slow shutter speed that needs you to keep the camera very still, otherwise the whole image would come out blurry. In this case, either use a tripod, or try to place the camera on a stable object (table, etc). Unfortunately, even if the camera is still, any moving objects look blurred (such as the people moving around in the above photo).

What can be done about this? Cutting down the shutter speed will give you a darker image, but you have a good friend on your camera, called ISO, which helps in this sort of situation.


ISO is an adjustable setting that allows your film to become more sensitive to light. What does this mean? It basically means that with a higher ISO setting, your photo will appear brighter, as the camera becomes more sensitive to each ray of light entering the lens (therefore requiring less time to take a photo, which is useful in dark shots).

ISO is measured in stops, each double the previous one; ISO100 is usually the base setting on most cameras, with ISO200 next, then ISO400, and so on. In theory, going up one ISO step means that your exposure time is cut in half (ie, if a photo required 1 second to shoot at ISO100, it would need half a second to shoot at ISO200, or a quarter of a second using 400). Not all cameras have the same ISO functions; some budget models only go upto ISO200, while your average DSLR will go up to around 1600 (and some even higher than that).

The drawback of using higher ISO settings is the amount of noise generated in the photo. Overall this may or may not always be very clear, but again, it depends which camera model you use, and whether you view the photo at full size or zoomed out - here's an example:

This is a photograph taken at both ISO 100 and 1600, and in both shots the image looks similar. However, when you zoom in at full size, the noise becomes apparent; the first shot is at ISO100, and the second is at 1600:

Try out your camera to see how much the ISO setting affects your photos; the difference usually shows more clearly in darker shots, and the amount of noise varies with the model of camera you use. Next time, we'll discuss the other functions that you can change to affect your shots.

22 January 2008

This Global Recession Thing

The Hong Kong index dropped by 8% at close today, following a 5.5% drop yesterday. Japan's Nikkey index dropped 5.1% after a 3.9% drop yesterday. India's index dropped 9.8% within minutes of opening, at which trading was halted for the day. The situation hasn't been very different for the other Asian financial markets, European markets, or obviously, the good ol' Amercian markets (which were spared the agony on Monday and were closed for MLK day).

What does this all mean? And what does this mean to your average joe, who has nothing to do with this whole financial market nonsense? More than you think, actually; you see, the world's diving into a worldwide recession, and somehow or the other, you will get affected.

You might have heard the words "subprime mortgage crisis" or "credit crunch" sometime within the last year, whether flipping through TV channels, reading the business section in newspapers, and so on. The United States banks have been very happily giving out home loans to risky customers over the past few years, which has turned out pretty profitable; you see, in the US, you can refinance a home loan whenever the value of your property goes up, and take some extra cash out. This has been the case for the past few years, and even the risky clients end up paying because at worst case scenario, they refinance a higher value property, get some cash out, and pay off their debt (including credit cards, car loans, other small loans, etc).

Life was good in the States; the value of properties was rising, everyone was spending, there was a lot of cash around, everyone could get a loan, and this in turn stimulated the world economy. Countries like China would produce and produce, to have all their products bought up by the USA. Everyone lived in harmony, and thought it would last forever.

But in 2006, the subprime mortgages (risky loans) didn't keep the dream alive. Sooner or later, property prices stopped rapidly increasing, the riskest mortgage customers stopped paying their loans because they couldn't refinance, some houses were reclaimed by the banks and placed for sale. This in turn slowed down the growth of property prices, because now you have many houses being sold; basic rule of economics, increase supply, price is reduced. And again, with the prices not increasing, more risky customers started defaulting, leading to more houses being reclaimed and sold, lowering the price further. The cycle repeated, and got more and more severe.

Forward to mid 2007, and the situation had started getting severely out of hand. The big banks started reporting big losses from loan defaults, and the reduced price of properties they had previously mortgaged, and with that CEO after CEO was fired. People stopped spending; after all, the big spenders that used to refinance to get more money to support their spending habits couldn't do that anymore, and started defaulting on their car and personal loans, as well as credit cards. The situation escalated, and by the end of the year, ridiculous billions of dollar losses were reported on the financial statements of the big banks, and the small banks. More CEO's were fired. The pot was bubbling in the US, but some people figured the worst was over.

Far from it.

With their spending habits cut, people stopped buying. This affects not only the US economy, but the world economy, since the US is the world's biggest consumer economy; the Chinese sell less, the Japanese sell less, the Europeans sell less, the world sells less. And again, the effects of the big recession in the States spreads to the other banks in the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world, which have started signalling losses. The global financial markets are in trouble, and slowly but surely, we're heading into economic meltdown. The world economy, which was up and running a good year ago, is now struggling. Companies make less money, people start getting fired, jobs are lost, crime rates increase, and so on.

It's like a giant train-wreck, all in slow motion.

So what's the solution? Well, the US has been struggling trying to stimulate the economy by cutting interest rates, month after month, but with no real result. Financial support has been provided by the big investors, but again, no real result. The global recession seems inevitable, and all efforts to save it are pretty much just delaying the effects.

Things don't look too good right now, and the domino effect is well on it's way. What can you do? Not much, considering you don't have billions of dollars to invest in the global economy (if you do, gimme a call), but ultimately, it's just a downhill rush from here.

21 January 2008

The Fear in their Eyes

I remember in 2006 back when I was in Boston; I somehow got hired by this mortgage company whose offices were in a pretty suburban area. The neighborhood was full of white folks; the people driving down the street, walking past, the people in the restaurants, as well as every single person in my office, all white.

Anyway, I started work with three other new employees on the same day. It was funny, because somehow we realized we all stood out. This was a plain white office, in a plain white neighborhood, and here were the four of us. We formed a tight bond; it was cool, really.

The funniest thing I do remember, however, is when we left work at around 6 or 7pm every day. We would all leave around the same time, and walk towards the bus stop. As we waited for the bus, every white person driving by, walking by and so on would glance at us, and somehow, you could see that they were freaked out. It was funny.

There we were, 4 guys on the side of the road. Two black guys, a Peurto-rican, and a Mddle-eastern. They saw two gangsters, a thief, and a terrorist. Lol.

I love America.

20 January 2008

My Problem with Authority

I passed by the new Gulf Air building next to the airport yesterday; it's a wierd design, some sort of curvy shaped thing made out of glass. I decided it might make a reasonable photo, and so decided to stop and get down; for some reason there are no parking spots anywhere on this main road. There was an emergency parking spot a minute or two away so I went and parked there; took out my camera and tripod and walked over to the building.

Took a shot or two and I heard a whistling noise, but I didn't really pay it much attention and kept going. The whistling continued, so I turned around; some dude was standing by my car whistling to me. I looked at him and figured if he has the decency to want to say something, he can come over rather than whistle to me. I'm not a bloody dog, you know. I kept taking photos so he walked over; he's obviously some sort of Gulf Air security personnel, judging by the way he was dressed.

Now before I mention the conversation that ensued, you have to understand one thing. In this region, you give any person a little bit of authority, and they think they're some sort of god; they'll talk down to other people, expect others to consider them something great and follow their every word. And the truth is, most people actually do worry when being talked down to by "a figure of authority". However, if you want them to lose their balls all you have to do is talk down back to them:

Security Dude: What are you doing? شتسوي؟

Me: Is there a problem? نعم اخوي, في شي؟

Security: You're taking photos اشوفك قاعد اتصور

Me: No, really? I know i'm taking photos, is there a problem? احلف؟ ادري اني قاعد اصور, في شي؟

Security: I'm security (actually thinking this would scare me) معاك الامن
(عباله يخرع)

Me: I know dude, so what? Again, is there a problem? ادري اخوي, المهم, في شي؟

Security: (confused that i'm not fazed) Erm... Do you have a permit for taking photos? اه... عندك تصريح علشان تصور؟

Me: I'm taking photos from the main road, why the hell would I need a permit تصريح شلا؟ انا قاعد اصور من برة المبنى

Security: (again, getting worried) Uh.. Which magazine or newspaper are you from ام... انت من اي جريدة او مجلة؟

Me: Dude, i'm not from a magazine, i'm not from any newspaper, i'm taking photos for myself. See that gate? I'm not standing inside it, i'm on the main road, so I don't need a permit. People driving by can take photos from their car, I don't see you making a fuss. Now, if there's a problem, go ahead and tell me, otherwise please go back to whatever you were doing. انا لا من مجلة و لا من جريدة. قاعد اصور حق نفسي. شوف السور هناك؟ انا ما طفت السور, انا عالشارع الرئيسي, احتاج تصريح ليش؟ الي يطوف بسيارته و يصور اتقولون له شي؟ المهم, اذا في شي, قول لي, واذا مافي رجائآ توكل اخوي

Security: (now sort of trembling) Erm... Ok... Thanks... ام.. اوكي.. مشكور

Dick. Seriously, I hate people who think they're all that. I would have more than talked to him nicely if he had come up to me nicely, but sitting there whistling thinking I would obey his every command? Prick. He shouldn't have messed with the ammaro.

But the thing is, this isn't just about me talking back to a security guard. We have a sort of epidemic in this region, and whenever someone gets any sort of power or authority, they think they're better than everyone else. I've seen it, whenever you give someone a position as a manager or supervisor somewhere, as a security, or even as a doorman at a club or so. I don't care where you work, or what authority you've been given, you have no bloody right to talk down to people, and don't expect that you're going to get any respect just because you showed your muscle. If you want respect, you better earn it. That guy deserves walking away with his tail between his legs.

Anyway, just for your enjoyment, here are two photos of the building in question, lol (click for large):

I still don't understand why he stopped me. It's a big building made out of glass. Yes people, glass. The whole thing is see-through. It's not like I was trying to extract any damn secrets!

19 January 2008

Reach Higher

Life is too short to waste. Too short to spend lazing away in bed all morning. Too short to spend watching movie after movie. Too short to spend wasting your time not achieving something. Life is too short to spend it doing things that benefit no one but yourself. Life is too short.

You realize how short life is as you grow older. Your years pass by quicker, your months feel like weeks, your days feel like hours. What have you achieved in life, really? Did you affect lives? Did your actions cause change? Whether the effect is positive or negative is not the point; the point is how great an effect have you had on the people around you, the people from your country, your region, the world. Ghandi effected change. Hitler effected change. Both in their own different ways, but they did it. Their life meant something.

Sure, you could spend your life watching one movie after another, playing games, relaxing, or enjoying yourself in any other way. But when it nears the end, will you look back and wonder how big a change you've made? Will you even be remembered? Or was your life just a waste of carbon based life-form? A useless, pointless existence with no real outcome?

Go out there, stop wasting your time doing things that benefit no one but you. What has your existence effectively resulted in, what have you achieved during your life? Make a change. Make a big change. Make and create something, something to make a difference, make your life mean something. After all, life is too short to waste.

17 January 2008

Gimme More Money!

Money is the key to solving everyone's problem nowadays, isn't it?

Our societies have always been known to throw their problems to the side and look for the easy way out; whether it's covering up the facts to not have to face the truth, or ignoring something and hoping it will go away, we've never wanted to really deal with things.

Bahrain is going through a number of issues; we have safety issues, inflation issues, political problems, etc, but instead of tackling these problems head on, we decide to throw money at them and hope they dissapear. Is this the trend and way of things to come? An example:

SMC staff want 'risk' allowance

OFFICIALS are demanding at least BD500 a month danger money for doctors and nurses, in the face of almost daily violence or abuse at Salmaniya Medical Complex. The across-the-board payment - which would be more than some staff earn - is being proposed to the Health Ministry by accident and emergency department chairman Dr Jassim Al Mehza.

The demand follows a string of incidents, including two which happened yesterday and on Tuesday. In the first incident, a Bahraini man grabbed a doctor and dragged him over to his wife, demanding that he treat her immediately. The man was arrested and was yesterday still in custody. In the second incident, a Bahraini government worker demanded a two-day sick note, so he would be off until after the Ahsoora break and threatened the doctor when he refused. He has been cautioned by police and released, said the sources.

So lets get this straight; instead of providing more strict guidelines for patients visiting doctors, or ensuring better security (whether this includes security guards, cameras or anything else), they consider throwing some money at the situation and hope it would go away. Very clever. 500 dinars a month, multiplied by the number of staff to recieve it is not a small amount, and considering that it will be paid month after month? And most of these employees will never get attacked in their life anyway?

How about paying risk allowance to those labourers you have working hours and hours in the burning summer sun or in the freezing cold, working dangerous jobs? Oh but wait, that's another story.

But hey, we've always had a history of throwing money at things and hoping they go away. Remember when prices started creeping up and the government decided, not to worry brave citizens, we shall shower you with a 200 dinar bonus. The citizens chanted, all hail the government, and waited days, which turned to weeks, which turned to months, and after a little over a year or so the bonus was given, and was spent within a few days?

How does that solve anything, really. A few days ago, our parliment was given the task of spending 40 million dinars on battling inflation. Again, how do you solve a situation by throwing money at it? Combating inflation is done by bringing experts to discuss the situation, to place structured policies and safeguards, managing the overall economical infrastructure of the economy, analyzing how much needs to be spent and where, and not by giving a randon lump sum of money to a bunch of baboons who have no idea how the whole inflation thing works.

Ah, but that's just life as it is here la? We believe we can solve everything by throwing money at it; but life is getting more complex, solving the situation temporarily until the money runs out. We need longer-term solutions, we need planning, we need future outlooks, and unless we work on these immediately, sooner or later we'll all run out of money, and end up stuck with just the problems.

16 January 2008

The Facelift

After a long day yesterday of stressing out over HTML, XML, RSS linking, templates, a bit of photoshop, redesign, margins, 10px and 20px, etc etc etc, it's finally done! Yep, this is the new face of ammaro.com, I hope you all like it, and if you don't, well, it took me so long to actually do this that I won't attempt another facelift till sometime next year. I am planning on tidying up small changes (maybe round corners here and there, move a few things around, etc), but the overall, this is it! Maybe a new header. Hmm...

If you passed by more than once yesterday, you probably would have seen the page go through every single color of the rainbow. I've been planning a facelift for about 2 months now, but yesterday I decided what the hell, and just did everything from A-Z. It's a headache. I swear.

Totally unrelated, but here's a pic of the Financial Harbor against some clouds, i'm pretty happy with this one:


15 January 2008

Major Surgery

ammaro is going through some major surgery today (the website, not the person), so just incase you're passing by and you see things missing, jumbled up, or upside down, colors look wierd, things don't fit, etc, don't worry! Everything should be up and running fine tommorow.

Yes, that sadly means no new content for today. But hey, for now, you can go through my flickr gallery and enjoy some beautiful stress-relieving images taken by a true master (ahem).

See ya tommorow!

13 January 2008

Crazy World

It's nutty, this world. It really is. Let's say you go through life, through it's ups and downs, trials and tribulations and so on, and finally, you meet the love of your life. You get to know each other, things work out fine, you fall in love, and you get married.

Perfect ending, eh?

Well, not if you later find out she's your twin sister. Blugh.

LONDON - Twins who were separated at birth got married without realizing they were brother and sister, a lawmaker said, urging more information be provided on birth certificates for adopted children. A court annulled the British couple's union after they discovered their true relationship, Lord David Alton said.

"They were never told that they were twins. They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."

Duuuuuuuuude, that's like, all sorts of wrong, but i'm sure it would make a great movie plot! ANYWAY... As if that wasn't nuts enough. Let's say you finally do fall in love, get married, and the wife ISN'T your twin sister. Fair enough, and life works out fine, right? Well, not if you're a sneaky bastard and decide to go get a prostitute, and where better than the local brothel? After all, you do have a better selection than out there in the street; so you go, and guess who you find:

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees. Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

"I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband told the newspaper Wednesday. The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.

Oh lol, I would have paid to see the look on both their faces! Do you think he would have paid her? Anyway, on to some idiots:

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A drunken Australian man who took a nap between railway tracks has had a miraculous escape after he was run over by a freight train and received only minor injuries and a bump on the head.

The 20-year-old, whose name was not released, fell asleep at a level crossing at Port Augusta, in South Australia state, when the train approached about 3.40 a.m., newspapers said on Friday. The driver saw the man and slammed on the emergency brake, but the train, carrying 3000 tonnes of freight, was unable to stop in time and rolled over him, halting only after it had passed.

The General Manager of the train company, Tony Aldridge, said railway tracks were "not the best place" to take a nap.

That wasn't very clever now, was it? I'm upset the crash didn't kill him and save the world from idiots of his kind. Well, at least he was drunk, right? Examples of stupid people who aren't drunk include those who die trying to relieve themselves out of the subway window:

SEOUL (Reuters) - The Seoul subway authority will install toilets in drivers' compartments after one of its engineers plunged to his death, apparently relieving himself from a train that was in motion.

The incident that prompted the move took place in December when a driver apparently suffering from diarrhoea leaned out of his compartment and fell on the tracks. He was hit by another train, local media reported. "Seoul Metro believes this step will help our staff better focus on transporting our citizens safely," it said in a news release.

What a way to die, eh? Consider the way the authorities tell the family about how he died: "Well you see, the guy had a bad case of diarrhoea, and stuck his butt out of the window, let it rip, and...". Sad, really. Anyway, on to the plain silly:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A telephone company cut off an FBI international wiretap after the agency failed to pay its bill on time, according to a U.S. government audit released on Thursday.

Lol, the FBI got their phone disconnected! Move over Batelco, there are some bigger telecom jerks out there! :D

Bedouin Bush

He came and left so quickly we didn't even realize it. Well, we wouldn't have if it wasn't for the ridiculous traffic today morning! Every single road seemed to be blocked to make sure 'the bush' was safe, and all of us ended up at work a good hour late or so. But hey, the visit wasn't without its benefits! Just seeing Bush wiggle that sword (part of a traditional dance) with a huge baby grin on his face totally made it up for me. Seriously, it's like giving a baby a rattler for the first time:

Lovely. My perfect birthday gift. Anyway; off he goes to continue the rest of the Middle-East tour; by now he should be in the UAE, and tommorow, Saudi.

Thanks to RedBelt for the video

12 January 2008


Life used to be simple. Surrounded by true friends always, doing everything for fun, no real responsibility, no worries.

Life changed. Each friend headed in a different direction, no time for fun anymore, burdens everywhere, and a constant worry about the future.

I remember turning 17, and so much has changed since that time. It's a bit lonelier here. Happy 27th birthday ammaro.

On Turning 27

I was abruptly reminded that tommorow is my birthday. Birthday. I'm turning 27... sheesh; i'm getting old guys (all those older people reading this, yes, you're old too! Stop denying it).

Anyway, I know I haven't been very active in updating the site the past two weeks or so; a bunch of things have been going on. First, I had two visitors to Bahrain, and was busy showing them around the country. Second, I got a new job so i've been sort of busy with that too. Third, i'm actively trying to work on some other things (short movies, music production) which I haven't had time to focus on for a while, so hopefully you'll be seeing the results of those pretty soon ;)

2008 is looking good so far; and considering it's my birthday tommorow, gifts and cash are both accepted. Good wishes for the future etc, on the other hand, are not. Send me a message for my bank account details and/or mailing address.

11 January 2008

More 'Crazy' in Bahrain

I always knew life for the average Bahraini was getting more difficult by the day. In between the low salaries compared to the rest of the region, the ridiculously high cost of living, more loans and credit cards than you can shake a stick at, continuous promises of help by the government that are never fulfilled, silly congestion and traffic, lack of reasonable jobs, and a parliment that only helps to increase our rage and anger rather than help solve any of our problems, it's no wonder Bahrainis go crazy.

My theory has been that more and more Bahrainis go crazy by the day, but now I finally have proof! I've been wanting to post this for a while but never got a chance to; this is a photo of the old Bahrain psychatric hospital, ie, the mental hospital, the nutcase place, مستشفى المجانين, the place crazy people are taken to.

See? A nice, small mental hospital, fit for a small country, made up of one and a half floors covering a small area. Reasonable, no?

Anyway, there's recently been an extension to the mental hospital, which only means we're getting more nutcases. But wait, take a look at the size of this thing:

5 huge floors, each covering 3 or 4 times land space compared to the old hospital. Ooh err. What does that tell you about the number of people going crazy in this country?

Poor Bahrainis!

9 January 2008

Another boring list of blogs

You know how some sites have lists of links to other sites? And how some bloggers have lists of other blogs they read and so on? Does anyone ever really read those?

I mean, they are a little boring, especially if you have 3 million other blogs that you read. So instead of go with the flow, i've put a list of all the blogs I read and turned them into a little story. A little silly, true. A big waste of time, yes. But hey, it definately beats your blog list.

It's on the right column under "The Blog Story" (creative name, eh?).

If you're not there, don't get mad. I probably don't care about your blog. No, no! Just kidding, I probably didn't add it because I had too many to go through and somehow missed one or two. Entirely by accident. I don't hate you; just send me a message and i'll add you.

PS. Semaj, I couldn't place you in there because I really have no idea how to put that in a sentence.

8 January 2008

Minority US Presidents, and blowing up George Bush

A lot of change is stirring in the US, as the 2008 presidential elections are underway. The candidates have started getting at each others throats, and this year specifically seems to hold a lot of weight. First, the world seems to be sick of George W, and eyes will be peeled to see who comes out on top here. Second, the situation in the US is pretty darn bad, and with it, the rest of the world is affected, so hopefully a new president will be able to shape change. Third, the global policies of the US are not necessarily very favourable in the eyes of the rest of the world.

So what's the deal now? Well, the candidates are fighting it out, going from state to state, trying to gather support. What makes the race to the White House very interesting this year is that, besides the regular candidates, we have 1- A woman, and 2- A black man lining up, and if either of them make it, it would signal the first time the US has had either as a president. Hillary Clinton is running with the backing of her husband, a previous president, and on the marketing tool that you get 'two for the price of one'. Barak Obama, on the other hand, has the support of Oprah Winfrey, which is pretty much one of the strongest marketing tools in the US.

So, there's quite a bit to watch for now. The official voting dates will be November 4, 2008, when the 50 American states hold elections to select members of the Electoral College. The members of the Electoral College will then meet in each state on December 15th to cast their votes for President and Vice President. Phew. A short few months left. Let's see how that goes.

The Current Candidates are as follows:

Democratic Party:
- Hillary Clinton; U.S. Senator from New York and former First Lady
- John Edwards; former U.S. Senator from N. Carolina, and 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate
- Mike Gravel; former U.S. Senator and former U.S. Representative from Alaska
- Dennis Kucinich; U.S. Representative from Ohio
- Barack Obama; U.S. Senator from Illinois, and former Illinois State Senator
- Bill Richardson; Governor of New Mexico, former U.S. Representative from New Mexico, former Secretary of Energy, and former United States Ambassador to the UN

Republican Party:

- Rudy Giuliani; former Mayor of New York City
- Mike Huckabee; former Governor of Arkansas
- Duncan Hunter; U.S. Representative from California
- John McCain; U.S. Senator from Arizona
- Ron Paul; U.S. Representative from Texas and 1988 Libertarian Presidential nominee
- Mitt Romney; former Governor of Massachusetts
- Fred Thompson; former U.S. Senator from Tennessee

There are other parties and other candidates, although for now they probably won't make too much of an impact. The only really interesting one is Ralph Nader, who has ran for president 4 times in a row and so far, still nothing. The dude makes me laugh, but hey, you have to admit, the guy has persistence.

Other interesting points include Obama doing pretty well in the early run, while Clinton got "Hillary, Iron my Shirt Will Ya?" signs raised at her while she talked in New Hampshire. This sure looks like it will be an interesting race to watch.

On other presidential news, George Bushy Bush is leaving the US today to visit our region, and Bahrain is included in the plan too! How exciting. In retaliation, five Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats swarmed three US Navy boats and warned "WE WILL BLOW YOU UP". Both sides later identified themselves, and then went on their merry way with nothing happening.

Lol. Gotta love the iranian sense of humor; you don't always understand it, but it still does make you laugh.

You've been Punk'd!

6 January 2008

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque

Al Fateh Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Bahrain; this wonderful piece of architecture took four years to build (Dec 1983-Jun1988), and it greets the visitors of Bahrain as they cross the Al Fateh Highway.

The mosque can hold around 7,000 people for prayers, which are held five times a day. Besides the regular prayers, the mosque is also used as a meditation area for muslims, and as a place to teach the meanings of the Quran, especially to the young.

The mosque also includes an Islamic Center, which includes a library full of islamic literature translated into a number of different languages; free copies of certain publications are also available, such as foreign translations of the Quran, the basics of Islam, and so on.

Guests are very welcome to visit the mosque, and tours (available in a number of different languages) inside can be arranged for no charge. You do not need to schedule an appointment, but calling before to plan is preferable, especially if you are with a large group. Timings are from 9:00am-4:00pm, Saturday through Thursday (except during prayer time). Guests are requested to dress moderately; women will be provided with cloaks and head-scarves before entering.

4 January 2008

Finally; My Year!

I'm not really one to read the horoscopes; I personally think it's silly, but hey, if other people choose to base their lives on it then they are very well free to do so. I crossed the horoscopes section while flipping through a magazine today, but this time it sort of caught my eye. I remember a few years back on the verge of entering 2004, I had such a hopeful outlook for the coming year that I pretty much believed that '04 was going to be my year. 12 months later, it turns out that it wasn't, so I figured that 2005 would be my year. Again, it wasn't, so I was more hopeful for 2006. Nope. 2007? Nope. So now i've got my eyes set on 2008, and if this year doesn't turn out to be super-duper-great, I figure i'll just drop the whole idea of any year being my year.

Anyway; back to the horoscopes. As I flipped the page, I saw my star sign highlighted and the first line read:

It's been promising to happen for sometime now but that break you have been wishing for is finally about to come your way...

No way! Maybe I should start reading these things huh? While reading it my wife was next to me so I excitedly told her this has got to be one of the greatest horoscopes ever, and since i've been whining to her every year about how my year never actually came around, she sort of got excited too. I continued reading out loud:

...finally about to come your way thanks to a chance meeting with a blonde woman on the 14th of the month.

Err... Now my wife started giving me angry looks, but I decided that I should continue since I started anyway...

Things will move quickly after that and you will need to ensure your progress isn't hampered by any jealous associates who may not be able to deal with your new found success and friend.

By now I could see my wife getting pretty ticked off, and I figured that she probably was the so-called "jealous associate", but hey, lets read the rest of this and see where it goes:

By the end of the month you may have to plan towards a change of residence (ouch!) due to family issues (double ouch!) but that's likely to be the only negative in an otherwise positive start to 2008.

By now I could see small storm clouds floating above my wife's head and I figured I should leave the room quickly before something breaks. Ah. Well, it doesn't matter. This year is finally my year! Yes; i'll let you all know how/when I manage to make that million dollars i've been looking forward to year after year.

On another note; take a look at the column on the right. See the Flickr badge? Click on it (or go to www.flickr.com/ammar456) and you can see some of the photos I take every now and then - mostly shots here and there around Bahrain :) Drop a comment, let me know what you think. Thanks!

2 January 2008

Sale Fever

A lone woman, dressed up in an abaya with her long black hair flowing passes by, shopping bags in each hand from different brand stores, casually strolling, looking left and right at the different clothes in the shop windows. The scent of perfume follows her, touching all those she passes by. A large man walks, with his long hair sticking out from underneath an Addidas cap, a Gap t-shirt and sandwashed blue jeans. He pushes a baby stroller, walking by his wife in her fashionable high heels, flashy skirt and expensive top, again with shopping bags in hand. Without the wife and baby stroller, you would never actually guess he was a father. Some children run around in the corner, playing some sort of childrens game, joyfully screaming, causing a little bit of a fuss.

Shop shelves full of clothes, discounted stocks waiting to be picked up by the relentless shoppers. Store windows screaming out Sale, Discount, 25%, 50%, 75%. Offers on different products, special promotions, exclusive deals stand out and lure the innocent buyers, turning them into money dispensing addicts.

The shopping mall lights shine bright, and the place is filled with life and noise, from the families walking around, the children running playing games, the occasional crying baby, the music playing through the mall speakers. Different smells fill up the area, with the scent of oversprayed perfume on the occasional self-conscious woman, the aroma of different food joints leaking from the food court, and the smell of brand new clothes in each shop. Another dollar spent, another buyer satisfied, another shopper happy; another beginning to another Sale season.