Archive for the ‘Silent Tours’ Category

Facebook: Fakebooc

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment


28 years old.

$19 Billion.

End of story.

I’m sure Facebook is going to be a freshman’s case-study for ages to come. I’ve come out of Facebook, like many other people, not because of its notorious security issues (although it did support my decision to come out of it), but because I found that Facebook as a social network service was overwhelmingly popular to a point beyond my humble brain power to digest. I thought here’s a service that is not as essential as eMail (at least when it first came out), but it certainly was acting a lot more important than eMail.. or even telephone! “When did this become a necessity?” I asked myself too many times. “Why is this post-on-my-wall crap even on my to-do list for the day?” When the time came that I realized I could not answer those questions, sure enough, I bounced.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Facebook hater. If anything, I commend Zuckerburg for his opportunistic genius; let’s face it, no one could have pulled this off without pulling some strings, and some legs. I could be meaning that in a good way, by the way. But I just didn’t understand what Facebook meant to me, if that means anything at all. There was a time when I used the service like many friends and relatives; I post favorite quotes and type a status and write something on someone’s wall and upload photos. But here’s the catch: I had 50+ friends.


My entire group of “friends” consisted of 3 people whom I see on regular basis, including my wife! So who the hell were all those other people? Well, not a problem; if it was a question of “labels” they could most certainly be “acquaintances”. But why would I want any of my acquaintances to look at my photos or where I had lunch today or who I’ve been out with lately or even to poke or be poked by them? Hmmmm… I can see the original intention for Facebook to be a social club, connect and catch-up. But did it lose direction?

Maybe it did. Maybe I did. Either way, I was losing faith. Fast.

Is Zuckerburg anticipating that a service like Facebook needs to be constantly changing to stay interesting? Is this why Facebook’s user’s interface looks like the freakin’ tabloids? And I hate tabloids. Well, when Google came out, it was just a simple plain page with a search bar in the middle. Today, it still is a simple plain page with a search bar in the middle, with an arsenal of apps and tools somewhere under “more” menu. Facebook’s interface had too many distractions, at least from my point of view; one of the main reasons why MSN and Yahoo! never really got a chance at this “search” game. With FB, somewhere between “sharing” and “connecting” was lost. Me.

Is it a bubble? Hah! Have you guys followed its IPO? Listen, I’m not judging (who am I to judge, yeah?), but seriously, IPO followed by a marriage is anything but good timing (let alone good plan of action). When your net worth is $19 Billion, Mark, what you do with your personal life DOES matter to the public. Honestly, the irony of the synchronicity of IPO and tying the knot is overwhelming. But then again, some people say it shows responsibility, some people say it shows irresponsibility to your shareholders.

What nobody is saying, though, is that Mark should have consulted his shareholders and asked them for permission to get married. Indeed, that would be absurd.

But the entire issue is timing.
Different people have different reactions when it comes to money. I certainly can’t imagine myself having a five-digit amount in my bank account, let alone eleven! If he’d gotten married months before the IPO, that would’ve been fine. If he’d gotten married months after, that would’ve been fine as well. But to have two IPO’s in the same time… whoah!

At the end of the day when someone like me talks about giants and geniuses of the world, it is like complaining the sun is too hot. Deactivating my Facebook account is like wearing a baseball cap to get the heat off my scalp. It just wouldn’t matter.

Mazel tov, Mark.

A Cup of Snow

January 27, 2012 7 comments

As I type this, snow is gracefully covering the landscape, as if the city is covering up with a white blanket. Some 8 degrees below zero, Halifax looks pretty much like any other North American city, with some tiny, negligible differences. But yes, sitting here, sipping Tim Hortons’ coffee on Spring Garden Rd and watching people freeze to death outside as they wait for the bus is both therapeutic and spiritual.

People, under so much clothes, jackets and coats, look the same. I could barely tell the difference between them. Although, I still don’t get the girls who wear earmuffs, scarf, gloves, coat and snow boots, but got a skirt or shorts on. It baffles me.
Still, regardless of the small differences, I can’t tell the Canadian from the immigrant; socio-economic profiling suddenly becomes meaningless. If snow isn’t telling us something here then there’s not much hope for humanity.
I mean, the thing about a place like this where there are many second and third generation immigrants is that it makes it harder for me, someone from a place where ethnic and racial profiling is as normal as burping after a meal (not nice, but normal), to look at an Asian-looking man or woman (for example) and not expect them to have a heavy accent.
On my way to downtown Halifax, I had a nice chat with the bus driver, who looked Asian but spoke with a heavy American accent. Like Owen Wilson. So I was thinking, is it wrong to expect people to talk in a certain way or to dress in a certain fashion just by their looks? If you are not sure whether you are guilty of profiling people, just pay attention to how you decide where to sit the moment you get on a bus.

Snow is painting the city white. Everyone is under layers of clothes. Everyone is holding a cup of coffee. Even people’s physique and structure becomes a little tricky. So the only obvious truth is how tall or short they are. I appreciate snow that way. Reminding me that nothing matters but attitude.
I don’t know these people, and they have no clue who I am or where I come from. When asked, sometimes I say Kuwait, sometimes I say Jamaica, and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to their attitude towards me.


December 31, 2011 4 comments

Renewal season at work is at its peak, which also means everything is nearly completely sorted out (business-wise) for the new year. New challenges and new responsibilities have truly kept me from having a breather this passing year; as sad as it is to say this, but I’m kind of happy to see 2011 going. That’s just me personally.
I’m sure some folks had a wonderful year! And I’m happy for you, guys! But considering I have not taken a vacation from work for over 3 years now, I find such immense pleasure in stealing little moments in the morning (especially in mornings) where I rejuvenate.

Last time I took my wife and daughter to Marina Crescent, but today my wife wisely suggested we drop off the little monster at my family’s house and go to Al-Kout’s mall for a breakfast under the big warm sun. And we did. We had a humble dish that we shared and I enjoyed my coffee. I rarely drink coffee… now that I think about it! Walked around a little in the sun afterwards, closed my eyes and breathed in fresh air. Felt my lungs were regenerating!

Anyway, I wanted to capture something for you guys so you can share my morning with me. So I used my iPhone to snap multiple photos of the place, and decided to create a panoramic view out of them using Photoshop. So enjoy it (click to enlarge), and wish you guys a VERY successful 2012 and the best of luck. You all need it. Love you, people 🙂


Kindle. Aramex Kindle.

April 6, 2011 2 comments

So I ordered Kindle from Amazon, based on a recommendation I got from a user. I’ve always been reluctant in getting it because it just.. well.. how can anyone trust a paperless book? I mean sure it is a nice idea and all, but how would all my other books feel if this ‘eBook’ walked in on them? You can read a book anytime you want, and this has always been the case. But not being able to read a book because it’s out of battery? That is flat out absurd!

Aramex building / warehouse in Ardiya, Kuwait. I got there one hour before they closed!

Now this other user told me that she’d felt the same way about getting a Kindle, that she didn’t quite figure out how to feel about having all her books on the go wherever she is. But that actually sounds quite nice, doesn’t it? Indeed. Yet, I think if a person is more of a serious reader, then the eBook will not sit well with them. If a person, however, is more of a gadgets geek, then the eBook will probably be the natural next step.

Service counters upon walking in. I really liked the red on the wall.. gave me thoughts for my crib.

So I went ahead and ordered it. I myself am a very impulsive buyer. I buy first and then think about whether I need it or not, like many other people. I mean, I do try to keep Warren Buffet in mind and remind myself of his tips for better financial management, yet the heart has its own agenda. Actually, I guess a lot of the motivation came from what I heard from this other user. Heck, she said it was worth it and she was all about reading! Who am I to question her judgment?

An hour before they close and they had 243 visitor for the day. Healthy business, huh?

It took around a week for it to get here. And it was perfect because it arrived one day before I left to Dubai, so it was good that I was able to read something en route, albeit the only thing on there to read was the Oxford Dictionary. Which is another issue I need to resolve soon; I can’t seem to find the right books for Kindle. Books that suit me, I mean. Considering that I’m big on everything that’s Japanese, it’s a bit of a concern that I’m not able to find anything on Japan, except for a Tokyo tour guide.

So the number on the screen showed mine with a shy beep, but found no one at the seat. Aramex employs ghosts, too!

And this is another thing about eBooks. What if you don’t find ‘your’ kind of books? Obviously I’m very new to this Kindle business, so I wouldn’t know if there is a solution out there already, and I’m too lazy to visit the online forums that discuss issues concerning every gadget on the planet. But at least I have it! That’s what I keep telling myself. The other side of my brain, on the other hand, tells me that I should have gotten an iPad. Sure it would be perfect for my one-year-old daughter, but why would I need it if I got a desktop PC, a laptop, and an iPhone? I mean, there’s a limit to being an impulsive buyer, right?

The moment the box and I first saw each other. Romance at its best!

Honestly, no there isn’t. People these days are competing against each other to get ‘the latest’ in everything. I guess we can say marketing people are doing a good job, after all! Forget word of mouth, like this girl who told me about her own experience with Kindle (was she paid to say that??), but I’m talking about the bombardment of hundreds and thousands of brands and ads wherever we go. Walk down the street with your pen and note pad.. er.. sorry, your digital note pad and take note of how many ads you see from where you start your journey to where it ends. You wouldn’t believe it, but they’re everywhere – it’s shoving products down your throat is what it is!

Naturally, I couldn't stand not opening the box in the car! Plus, it's always good to check if you get the right order...

But, as long as you are aware that you are aware of what marketers are doing, then you should be alright. Still it’s always nice to buy something new, isn’t it? I mean the smell of it, the plastic wrap around it, the box with all the crazy cargo addresses on it, it makes one feel as though they’ve achieved something!

Yup. It was a Kindle alright. Thanks, Amazon and Aramex people : )

You know what’s the best unacknowledged part of buying a new product like this one? It’s how much you imagined it would weigh but completely takes by surprise with how light or heavy it actually is. You know what I’m saying? Anyway, now I have a Kindle with no eBooks on it. And I might – just might – think of selling it. Not because I don’t like it, obviously, but because it’s a bit more thrilling to sell something you JUST bought! What can I say.. I’m a natural born salesman : )

Street Fighter: The Disappointment

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I may be a little late in saying this, but it keeps hitting me one time after another. Street Fighter is probably the biggest disappointment I’ve ever had to deal with when it comes to video games. I mean, Capcom concealed any projects concerning the game for ten years. TEN. For what? The anticipation that was building up was enormous! Thinking that Street Fighter was going to come out to take center stage again. Obviously, they miscalculated the fans’ expectations.

Here’s the other issue: Seth?
Are you kidding me? THAT’s my challenge? I mean seriously, some people are too good for their own good, if you know what I mean. Sure you can be a pioneer and very creative at one point in time, but you have to know what your market is. You must realize how time is changing and you certainly should know what the expectations are! You can’t come up with characters every five minutes, and on whose expense? Original characters, of course! Capcom revolutionized the Zombie concept with Resident Evil. But that was up until Resident Evil 2, and the whole thing was on a downward spiral since Resident Evil Zero came out. Now look at the game we’re playing.. it is so far off from the original that you wouldn’t recognize it. What we’re dealing with now are anything but Zombies, and it pisses me off!

Back to Street Fighter. Same story. Hey, I mean, maybe the market is happy! But I know whoever played the original Street Fighter as a kid, and had to wait ten years for a better, stronger, and cooler release, must be disappointed. The YouTube teasers were so good I thought it was worth the wait! And now you have to deal with characters like Rufus and El Fuerte, one is an overweight American southerner (I think) with no background story and the other is a Spanish Chef who wants to fight through cooking. Wow. Capcom.. Wow.

Eh.. well.. I missed the old days of Street Fighter, as in the Animated Movie or Street Fighter Alpha the movie. Those were amazing. Really captured the essence of each fighter. And the above sketch is a tribute to Ryu, the master of all.

Agree to Degree?

October 4, 2010 5 comments

And so I went back to school.

After a long and hard fight between the government and the national assembly in my head, the ruling came out recently that I should go back to school. Of course to me it’s more like moving ahead towards the past! Given that I have a college diploma only, or what others would call an Associate’s Degree, I decided that finishing what I started not long ago is way over due.

What major would you like to be in?” the nice lady asked, neatly sitting behind her paper-filled desk. A seemingly quiet yet thunderous battle broke out in my head with Marketing on one side and English literature on the other; and more than likely the words stumbled out of my mouth rather than have them come out with confidence. “English,” I said hesitantly, “..literature“.

Sure I have my reasons! Literature nurtures the mind, raises the level of thinking, and improves ones analysis of any situation. Doesn’t it? I had a difficult time explaining this to one of the guys I met there, who’s well in his 40’s, wanting to get his degree in Accounting. “You’re already in business and you seem to be in good control of your understanding of it,” he exclaimed in near automated questioning, “why would you ever think literature would serve you well this society?
What was I supposed to say? Of course he’s right. Literature will not serve me well, and I’d be wasting money, effort, and time into a degree that will ultimately do nothing for me, for my future or career. But hold on, how many degree holders actually ARE benefiting from their degrees?

At a time when engineers are business managers, MD’s are investment fund advisers, accountants are IT heads, and the degree-less are MP’s and board members, I felt there was definitely something wrong with the theory. His words hit me in the face but bounced back, as bullets would bounce off Superman so harmlessly. “I could’ve taken marketing,” I shrugged, “I know, but then I’ve had my share of real experience in marketing, and I wouldn’t want to go back to theory.” He stared. I continued. “The problem is not the literature, Smeagol (not real name), the problem is society.” I knew at that moment that in his mind’s eyes, he rolled his eyes. It was obvious! Because you’re allowed to roll your eyes in the face of idealists, and I was certainly sounding like one.

I went on nonetheless, “Literature teaches one how to think. Seriously. Besides, the ship has sailed for me to pick and choose which degree would serve my career. I already have a career and I’m already moving up the ladder. Plus I’m very keen on being a business owner myself, so there’s no need to.. you know..” I stopped because I felt I was being repetitive. Forget repetitive, I was being defensive. That’s always the weaker side. “Well I wish you the best,” he said with a faint smile while still not looking me in the eyes.
So I got up and kicked his face so hard he swallowed his teeth! Or maybe that’s what I really wanted to do for that smirk on his face.

Literature is a world of imagination. Science and business are not worlds of imagination, but they have some aspect of imagination to be dealt with. In literature you don’t just enjoy a story or a book, you understand it as well. Whereas in business and science you got the rules pretty much in black and white. Yes maybe marketing has a creative side to it, but creativity is different than imagination.
I’m not saying I picked English literature because of the imagination involved in it, but I’m saying it may open some new doors that a BA degree cannot unlock.

Oh well.. at the end, I’ll just be a guy with a literature degree hung on the wall and going to work, doing financial business.

Categories: Silent Mood, Silent Tours

My “Rocking” Rocking Chair

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

A “Lazboy” has always been one of the luxuries that I’ve wanted to have so bad. So when I moved to a bigger apartment, the opportunity presented itself for me to have my own study room. A shopping spree at IKEA and other outlets was inevitable. Of course, there was much resistance from family that I’m spending way over my own fixed budget that I carefully assess on quarterly basis. But then again, I have a rule that sort of breaks my budget-control policy, and that is whatever amount I’m spending in that year on “luxury”, the same amount I have to give in charity in that same year. So that I pay my dues and I’m fair in the eyes of the Lord. Which also makes me think twice about how much I want to spend. So it works both ways.

Anyway, I realized I have space for one more item in my study. You guessed it, a Lazboy. So I went on a market price report and found out that it still is very expensive.. for a chair. Yes it may be the Ferrari of chairs, but that does not justify someone throwing away KD. 360 for it. Yes it will stay with you forever, but.. it’s a freakin’ chair, so let’s be realistic here! The price list ranges from KD. 150 to KD. 437; still not willing to pay that much for a chair. Plus, paying KD. 300 means I’m donating another 300 for charity. So is it worth it?

The solution was getting a POANG rocking chair from IKEA for KD. 58! Much cheaper, fun to assemble, less guilt, and still rocks back and forth. Eh.. maybe in another life..

Categories: Silent Tours