Monday, 2 August 2010

Last Breaths

she knelt down,
pushing her to the ground,
face down into the dirt,
she pressed hard,
making sure her air supply was cut off
she pushed again, one last time,
till she was certain all sign of life had disappeared,
she stood back up,
tossed her in the bin,
and lit another cigarette


she looks deeply
and she does not recognize them

she recognizes the chin,
the mouth,
the cheeks,
the nose,

then they shock her,
whose are those?
she does not recognize those two ...
the puffy black bags underneath,
the hidden tears and the not-so-hidden ones in the white,
and the sadness in the black,
and the worry drawn in the same almond-shape of the eyes

when did they start hiding behind such despair?

she looks down at the sink,
her hands reach for the running water
and splash some over her face
she looks at her eyes again
fakes a smile
and heads back

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Happy Ada Lovelace Day Isabelle Guyon

Happy Ada Lovelace Day everyone :)

For the second year, I have taken the Ada Lovelace Day pledge to blog about women in technology. Last year, I didn't really have a woman role model - or a particular Ada in mind - so I mostly blabbed in my post.

After that, I got to learn, in the Advanced Machine Learning course (a.k.a. the horror :P) we took last year, about a smart woman called Isabelle Guyon. Now, I don't know Isabelle personally, but I have discovered that she is a very smart woman-in-technology. She was one of the organizers of a past Feature Extraction challenge that we were assigned to (try to) implement feature extraction methods for. That was the toughest coursework we had to do and her being the organizer of such an event is just remarkable :) She even made it to role model status before I learned anything else about her ;)

So, she specializes in statistical data analysis, pattern recognition and machine learning techniques with experience in biometrics, bioinformatics, and handwriting recognition. Also, she is vice-president of the Unipen foundation, action editor of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, area chair at the NIPS conference and competition chair of the IJCNN conference.

To be honest, ever since I learned about her, I thought she was my Ada and I wanted to blog about her on Ada Lovelace Day 2010 :) .

Although this is a very short post, I just wanted to spread the word about a very remarkable woman.

I hope there are many more women like Isabelle out there :)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

More Pictorial Updates

I am starting to like pictorial updates more than textual updates, maybe because they require much less description from me (ya ya, I know that a picture is worth a thousand words :P)
So, here goes:

1. The hall management hung a notice on the door of the building saying that there will be disruptions on service of hot water and heating because they are changing the boilers. The picture below doesn't show it, but on the same day a student wrote on the notice: "SHAME ON YOU!!". The notice was replaced with a new copy the following day.

2. Fail #1: The TV at the Unilink interchange (the one place that is in the university and that all unilink buses stop at) is no longer displaying real time information about how long buses will take to get to the interchange. FAIL!
3. Remember how last year my toilet failed the room check because I hadn't descaled it? This year, I knew the secret to passing the check with flying colors so I descaled it well and ... I got a thank you note stating that my room met the stardards :) LOL (P.S.: the room was not perfect, I mean of course it was clean, but it was messy too, I had clothes on the floor & my bed was not made & my laptop was on it ...). Maybe I should mention that none of my flatmates passed the check and they were all told they had to descale their toilets and another check will be made later.
3. I lost my ID card *cry. I was having lunch with Fleur on Tuesday and I walked back to the lab and my ID was not on me! I completely panicked because I usually put my debit card and Internet banking user ID with it! I walked back to the cafeteria and asked all the helpers and cashiers but no one had seen it, so I asked the security officers in the student union building and the staff in the student services building but no one had dropped it off either. So, I walked to the bank, reported my debit card as lost, and changed my Internet banking details. I thought I'd wait a couple of days before asking for a new card, just in case someone found it and returned it. On Thursday, I decided I had had enough and went to get a new card. The Student Services lady asked me to pay for the replacement. I did that then I showed her the receipt but then she said that the ID cards machine is broken. I was like (WTF!) now you're telling me. Anyways, I went there a few times before I got sick of going and coming back and asked them to email me when the machine was fixed. It took till Monday before I was issued a new one. Finally!
Below is a picture of a bus pass I had to buy because my ID (which has my annual bus pass activated on the smart chip) was lost. The ticket still has the dolphin logo, the university's old logo that was changed during the last academic year. We rarely see any dolphins anymore :(
5. Happy Birthday to ME!!! Ok, so it's early but my lovely friends got me early birthday gifts because I won't be here for my birthday. So, on Sunday Tas, Colin, and I had Sunday lunch and they had my gifts and gave them to me. The greatest thing was that they bought things that were on my amazon wish list - woohoo :) I guess this means that if you want something you can either work for it, or add it on your amazon wishlist and your lovely friends will buy it for you :)
Tas got me The Ultimate Student Cookbook

Colin got me this watch AND a Ty Beanie bear. I was so impressed that both the bear and the watch were pink, I even said "and they're pink, good job!". Then he told me that they were on my wishlist lol (these were added over a year ago so I had completely forgotten about them lol)

6. Fail #2: Can you see anything wrong with this picture that I took at the pub where we had our Sunday lunch??? Hint: privacy fail. This was the only toilet cubicle that had a working lock on the door LOL

7. After Sunday lunch we went grocery shopping. It's kinda weird to see warning signs next to grapes lol.

8. Afterwards, we went for a walk in the common :) (the common is a big park)
Apparently, there is an urban wildlife centre there ... but we got there as they were closing so we couldn't go in. We will definitely go again :)

9. Next to the common, there's an old cemetry, most of the people buried there died around a 100 years ago and there are around 150 graves for soldiers who died in WWI. The picture below is of grave of someone who died in 1907
10. Finally, a mighty wallet :) . M!R pointed it out after I nagged the eff out of her asking her what to get her from the UK. I loved the idea of it & couldn't resist getting one for myself too. It's supposed to be tear-resistant, water-resistant, expandable and cool is that? We'll see how it goes :)

and last but not least, while I was writing this another bloody fire alarm was set off and we had to go outside in the cold for 20 minutes....bloody students can't cook without setting the fire alarm off sheeesh

Saturday, 20 February 2010

MJ lives, football, and some other random things

Hey y'all
I have been snapping random pics lately, here are a few random ones:

1. Proof that MJ is still alive!!!! I guess it is more more fun to clean toilets in some small city in South England than it is to be followed by loads of crazy fans

(Note: I'm not that insensitive, I know the guy is dead and it is sad- especially that it may have been his doctor's fault ... I just thought it would be cool to share this pic)

2. The effect of football on men & how it brings them back to behaving according to their basic animal instinct: I went shopping last Satuday and just after I finished the whole town was going crazy. The roads were closed and there were loads of police office in their cars or on their horses. The only way to leave that area was to walk and then to call a cab.

3. Tas in the bus stop: We had just finished our Sunday lunch with Colin and his friend.

4. Coffee breaks are more fun when you travel the world (well, online at least :P). Last Friday, we spent every single coffee break using Google Earth to check countries on the BIG SCREEN that is in the coffee room (the screen needs to be hung on the wall but for some reason it is still on the floor). We viaited Pakistan, Lebanon, Romania, France, England, and Brazil

5. Empty coffee room : home is where the coffee is :P this is the coffee room for the postgrad students in IAM and LSL groups in ECS

Friday, 19 February 2010

Quote/Blog Post

Ok, this is hilarious:

(Angry Arab)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

In a train station

Today, I got some good news from Noura. She found out that she is pregnant with a baby boy :) I am so happy for her but at the same time it feels so weird. You see, for me, Noura - who although is a couple of months older than I am - has always been like a kid sister to me (I am serious so don't laugh :) ). I have always felt that she needs sisterly love, care, and attention (not the brat kid kind of attention, but the sweet kid kind of attention). So, seeing her becoming a mother is really weird for me because I still feels that deep down she is still an innocent child herself!
Today, I feel weird. I feel like I am in a train station. Almost all my friends have boarded the getting-married/having-children train, and I am still sipping my coffee in the station and watching them from the table I am sat at. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the station and do not intend on getting on any train anytime soon. But, sitting in the station watching everyone else getting on that train makes me feel a little left out (the number of non-marrieds & non-engaged friends is diminishing), as well as enforcing in me a feeling which my Middle Eastern background is very good at instilling in people: Will I, in the future, regret not having gotten on the train earlier?