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Life is Good Award

Blogging truly has become a luxury, hasn’t it? It is no fault but my inability to properly manage my time; there is always a distraction around every corner and my mind is addicted to distractions. Perhaps out of general boredom, or out of inquisitiveness, I am not totally sure. However, what I am sure of is that I need to earn my minutes back.

In any case, our wonderful Dina tagged me in an interesting post; a small interview that I would usually avoid but not this time. I will not tag anyone so you are free to write up a post if it tickles your fancy.

I have some posts coming up as well and will be in the process of writing them in the duration of this weekend. In the meantime:

If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren’t anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I have another anonymous blog that is on private and it serves as my online diary in the case where I don’t have access to my notebook and a pen. However, I don’t write there much, and I don’t regret what I write here (and I cleaned up many posts already). “Jar of Juice” started out as a fun-filled, humorous blog and the paradigm is slowly shifting towards personal thoughts and writing. I don’t regret the change of direction and the blog should always be a reflection of who I am.

Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

Any hopeless romantic is inherently stubborn and persistent in the matters of the heart. In other areas of life, though, I am quite easy-going.

What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Someone lost but happy to be so; great things are bound to happen even if they take their time.

What is your favourite summer cold drink?

My favourite drink of any season is water.

When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

Write.

Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

I still (hopefully) have many years ahead of me and there are many things I would like to accomplish. However, the centre theme of accomplishments is tangible change on the human-level. I don’t believe I will be a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs and not because I lack ambition or talent or opportunity, but because my definition of success does not have a dollar or another anonymous value. Yes, a nice sum of money won’t hurt anyone, but it is not the only defining factor for success in my book.

When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

Started with shy, then over-achiever, then back to shy and then ditching. Now it’s a mix of the three.

If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

The moment you realise that “there is chemistry”.

Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

I have no shame in admitting my faults and defeats and mistakes and in sharing my joys and laughs and sorrows.

If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

I’d rather be writing a book… but for that there would be many books read and many phone calls, conversations, dinners, intimacy, hardships, and life experience to happen. But strictly between the two – reading a book, if I am not having a phone call with a loved one (is that not, on one level, like reading a book?).

Zen

One of the great things about photography is that it tunes your mind to see the “big picture”, to flip the world around and climb atop scrapers to capture the beauty and the vastness of the horizon.

When everyone tries to squeeze in a scene into a frame, others focus on the little things in life – the world of insects, droplets, and the textures that form the foundation of everything else. In that little world, when you decide what is important and what is in focus, you come to realize how cluttered everything else is.

I am now in a stage where I am sick of being bombarded left and right with the unnecessary, taxing my brain into filtering out what is duly valuable and what has no tangible purpose or quality. Moving to an area outside of the city has filtered out much of the city noise and traffic, much to my relief, and I could dedicate more time and mental energy to attend into more important matters, quietly I might add.

My decluttering process is a long one – involving the disposal of many household items that have been retained in store rooms and drawers for that one time I might use them that never comes. Trapped in their own memories, they trap me in theirs as I constantly struggle to decide what really matters and what doesn’t. Living with my sibling does require compromises, but there are so many lost items behind doors and cabinets needing to find a proper resting place.

In the ever-interconnected web everyone competes to be on top, adding insurmountable amounts of widgets and links and interactivity, most of which are unnecessary and a very few websites that succeed in effectively optimizing their junk to their own good. A look at a twitter timeline shows you how people – myself included – add to each other’s clutter in a way or another. When everyone is an entrepreneur or a social media expert because they have a twitter account and a facebook fan page, I’d like to periodically go back to the real world, to the smell of aging paper in books, going out to parks and beaches and talk to people face to face.

Looking back at what’s around me I decided it is time I redesign my blog and photo gallery and other things. Previously I thought of giving each a distinctive look and feel but have decided to strip them all down to the bare essentials. My blog does look a bit bland now by common standards – no gloss or interactivity – but, as selfish as it is, this is my blog and I can do whatever I wish with it.

And right now I want it clutter free.

The design is not done yet – I do have to create rebranded logo for this blog and the photo gallery, but they’re all functionally sound, I hope, as far as I am concerned. Some colour quirks here and there will be ironed out in the coming days as well.

My only wish is for all cities to be flattened to 4-storey buildings at the most, each with a lush front and back yard. If these tall towers of this day and age ever reach a limit, it is that of mediocrity.

Elevators

Suck.

One of the “greatest” inventions of mankind – the ability to project a boxed group of human beings vertically at high velocities – proves once again that it’s not usually the “stupid machine’s” fault but rather the stupid people who decide on how the blasted things operate.

Now here’s a simple scenario. In my previous job, and in the period where I worked in an actual office, it was sitting in a 40-something story tower. Now being Dubai, it’s quite an enormous tower in size and girth, though it had lots of faults, namely the impossibility to have anyone find a parking spot as well as questionable safety issues.

The main issue was that the building had ample elevators – I think 6 or 8 I forgot – but what wa not taken into account was the volume of people. The floor I worked in had at least 150 individuals. One floor of 40. Add to the problem is that companies like to show off by positioning themselves at the upper floors – inflated ego, more expensive rent, which leads to, yes, job cuts (duh). While I was there, most companies had offices on the upper floors. The elevators were divided, in typical fashion, to serve specific floors. But think of only our office and trying to get 150 people there are 9 AM.

Thankfully, in the latter part of my previous job, I didn’t have to deal with this issue, as I had to work in the elevator lobby of the basement parking.

Err…

Anyhow, it’s prevalent in many towers in Dubai, as I am sure it is in the rest of the world. My solution to the problem? Many people don’t really need to be in an office. Sure it’s a bit counter-productive to work from home, and it is important so socialize and network at work, but think about it. In the past few decades how many changes in the working world did we adapt to? Like what’s the point of wearing a suit really? It will make you look as posh when everyone else is wearing them, but if we don’t wear suits, is that the end of the world? Do you spend meetings talking to the person or feeling the textures of each others’ suits?

Do we spend more time on paper work or on computers? People send designs and documents all over the internet. Client meetings are face to face, mostly, sure, but when was the last four hour meeting in a corporate room as productive as a two hour meeting in a coffee shop?

So coming back to elevators. They suck. Period.

And yes, I “really had to go” and was stuck in an elevator this morning as every single person had to stop on a different floor. Sue me!

A Quick Encounter with My Ex-Boss

I have been told many stories by my colleagues of their encounters with former colleagues and bosses. They’re typically awkward and a rare few deviate from the formal pleasantries. Which isn’t a bad thing of course.

This morning queuing up to pay for my breakfast – which today unusually involves a fruit in the form of a banana (and I know one reader would be jumping up and down reading this) – I bumped into the first project manager I worked with four years ago. It was actually a pleasant surprise as I thought he was out of town, and more so than that he was a really good project manager, one who certainly did not engage in eight hour meetings.

In any case, after the customary pleasantries, he said “So, you’re a photographer now!”. I was a bit surprised till I remembered that some while ago I updated my LinkedIn to be a photographer.

And I did look the part, today. He looked smart and professional, with his clean shave and crisp suit. I on the other hand, was wearing five year old jeans (shocking), a really bad bright red t-shirt better suited as a mop (it has a friggin hole in it), a beard I haven’t trimmed in three weeks (and haven’t had a clean shave a month before) which looks even worse than the one on my LinkedIn, a Channel 4 Radio cap I “won” by calling up the radio host and demanding I get a cap and a mug, and, worst of all, white socks. The sportswear kind.

If you always thought I’m a fashion disaster, today I’m Fashion Chernobyl.

Although I’m not a pro photog and have not been paid for any photo shoot, frankly, I felt really proud. And that is a good end to a morbidly depressing week and a great start to a fantastic weekend.

Why I HATE Maths

Maths. It’s one of those subjects that strictly revolves around a love or hate reltionship: You’re either wired to love it or you’re not.

From what I have seen, most of my friends love maths because, according to them, solving a linear equations is like mental masturbation. They’re entitled to that and I have absolutely nothing against them, as long as they don’t try to inseminate my life with their shit.

I myself, if confronted with such a linear or polynomial problem, would resort to my iPhone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure Maths has its uses, like waterboarding, and clearly it is the key selling point for calculators and Microsoft Excel (the latter of which can also replace waterboarding).

A little overdue history: I studied under the British system – that’s O and A Levels – and things were going well pre-O-Level years. Things were so good, in fact, I remember vividly in 8th grade I used to help students with their class problems after the teacher explains the lesson. In fact he got used to explaining rather quickly to sit down the remainder of the class while I jump from desk to desk helping students out with their Maths problems.

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Then, by 9th grade, my life became a nightmare as my school rotated, within one year, five different maths teachers. That blew everyone off-course, and suddenly trigonometry stopped making sense. I managed, however, to pass, like most others.

By then I was required to “pick my future” – the medical field or the engineering field, and I picked medical. I wanted to be either a micro biologist or a geneticist. Out with all other subjects, I studied biology and chemistry, exclusively, and in excruciating detail, up to college.

Two buildings fell in New York and my parents decided not to ship me internationally, so they sent me close by to the UAE, and undertook computer science.

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Now keep in mind my last exposure to Maths was 9th grade.

I struggled valiantly in college, I even almost failed PRE-Calculus, completely failed Calculus I and barely made it in Calculus II. The only reason I managed to pass Computational Methods (a course where you apply a formula 40 times) is because my professor’s daughter passed away before the final and he explicitly told us that he doesn’t want to see us in the following semester.

The only course I got a grade that’s not a C in Math was Discrete. Somehow it made perfect sense and I managed a B+.

So the question that begs to be asked: How did I manage to survive?

Simple!

Instead of investing energy of trying to understand differentiation and integration, I managed to be able to deduce answers through observation. How I did this was as follows. I would look at solved problems in the book and through the notes. I would then form in my head a visual presentation of the symbols and the numbers. I then look at the next step in the solution, and visually map the symbols and transform the numbers from formula A to formula B. I do this with the next step, then the next.

I practice solving problems that are similar, using visual mapping to solve instead of actual how-to. I would look at different kinds of problems, with different number of variables and length, and make a mental map of how formulas transform.

Once in an exam my mind mapping failed, as there was an extra variable that I was unable to map. After mapping what I could, I came to a step and wrote in the exam: “imagine this chunk of formula is represented as X”. And then I continued solving LOL! I got partial marks and a smiley face on that paper.

And this is my short story of why I hate maths. And statistics of course, though I doubt that subject makes sense to anyone.

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