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?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


New quote y'all
"I could solve the world's problems if I...cared" (comedian Ricky Gervais) LOL

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


funny pictures

Ironically, this expresses my feelings much more than any facebook group does - I've been bitching about this on twitter today: how does joining a group help the victims of the crash or their families? I understand if a group was created to raise funds - like Haiti groups - though most of the people I know would just join the group and not donate money. I understand if the purpose of joining a group is to raise awareness to a certain issue or cause - like breast cancer or women rights - or to bring attention to some man-made injustice - like objecting the war on Iraq or the siege on Gaza. But, how does a - or NINE (so far) - R.I.P. group help?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

New Year's Eve!

Happy New Year Y'All ... better (very) late than never ;)

So, I spent New Year's with some of the geeks my friends in my research group at Collin's place (I appologized at the last minute to Bassam and Karen that I won't be spending New Year's with them).
It was really fun and not so crazy - which was exactly what I needed then :)

So, a picture of the girls helping Colin in the Kitchen (He didn't need much help because he is used to tossing pizzas and fries in the oven every time we go over to his place lol). I made the easiest thing EVER...Nachos with cheddar cheese on top :)
Tas on the other hand, made chicken wings. I am not usually a fan of chicken wings and would never order them at a restaurant or think about making them at home. But hers were really nice that I think I will make some very soon
Tas also made traditional Thai cookies (while I bought read-made minis cheesecakes). They were really nice and I couldn't believe that she actually bothered to cut each and every one of them in the shape of a flower!

And a group picture to end it...Moody knocked over Tas's glass twice before a proper picture was finally taken lol

P.S: I 'stole' most of these pics from Collin's facebook album

Christmas Long Weekend - Part III

Christmas long weekend - Part III: Saturday and Sunday December 26th-27th

Karen and I were looking forward to the shopping on Boxing Day experience because we had heard so much about people fighting over clothes but have never been in such situations!
We woke up shortly after 8 a.m. Karen thought that we won't have time to have coffee but me being me - as in a person whose crankiness level drops only as a result of caffeine levels in the blood rising - I made coffee. We did have to down our coffee while getting dressed. We then rushed out where a taxi - and Bassam and Yorgos - was waiting.
We first stopped by Karen's place so she can drop her stuff off. Then we went to the mall. We spent around 7 hours there and by the time we went back home I was completely shattered.
I bought some stuff that I needed like 4 tops, brown boots, brown purse, and a black scarf :).
Karen wasn't as lucky. She had her eyes on some clothes at H&M but she was disappointed that they weren't on sale. (I did send her this link of an article which reported about an H&M in New York that ripped and threw away clothes that were not sold INSTEAD OF GIVING THEM AWAY TO POOR PEOPLE!!!) Karen did buy a pretty black pair of shoes :)

On Sunday, I met Karen alone back in the mall. We did some shopping but weren't as lucky as the day before. We thought there were more people that the day before :S. Also, I forgot my debit card in one shop and didn't realize it until I had to buy a t-shirt from another shop. At first, I thought I had lost it, then we decided to go back to that other shop and thankfully the cashier had put it away.

And that is it for the Christmas long weekend - I think, it did happen almost a month ago so that's what I remember of it :)

P.S: I just remembered that I didn't end the last two post with my new signature 'Za7to'
So, to make it up to the "Anonymous" commenter, here's a triple dose:
Yalla Za7to

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Christmas Long Weekend - Part II

Christmas long weekend - Part II: Friday December 25th

The night before, Karen and I had to stay up a bit after Bassam and Yorgos left our place to prepare some things. I kneaded the dough for the Manakeesh and Karen prepared the sauce and soaked the chicken for the Tawouk. Karen used a recipe that Bassam's mom sent him. Unfortunately for Karen, she had to use Tandoori spices and the strong smell of these spices stuck on Karen's hands all night.
As for me, I made the classical mistake of mixing the yeast with very hot water. So, the next morning when I woke up I and I discovered that the dough did not rise at ALL :(
Nevertheless, we did enjoy the thick tho nice Manakeesh.

Bassam looks skeptical, but he enjoyed them (plus, where else would he find Manakeesh here?)
yum yum :)

After breakfast, we went out for a walk - and some coffee in the lovely weather :)

We then went to Bassam's place and played Picturemania twice. The first time, Karen and I played against Bassam and Yorgos and we lost 13 - 25 *shame!!!
The second time, Bassam and I played against Karen and Yorgos and we won :D (no picture for the win tho lol)

Afterwards, when we started getting hungry we went back to my place to cook.
Three hours later (mainly because Karen and I did ALL the work - with Yorgos doing the dishes) we had a very lovely meal: Chicken Tawouk, Tabbouleh, Batata 7arra (spicy potatos), and FATAYER :) p.s. these are only 1/3 of the fatayer...I made triple the quantity because Bassam had been nagging for ages for some so I made him some for him to take home later

After the HUGE meal, we danced dabkeh :)
And finally, Karen and Yorgos did the dishes

I couldn't help with the dishes because I had cut my hand (yes, I look horrible I know but I was very late after a very long day!!)

Christmas Long Weekend - Part I

So...let me try to update this thingy

Christmas long weekend - Part I: Thursday December 24th
Karen, Bassam, Bassam's flatmate Yorgos, and I went to the Cowherds for Christmas dinner. Bassam, Yorgos, and I took the bus together and were there at 7:15 p.m. Karen was supposed to join us at 7:30 but being ever-so-fashionably-late-a-la-Libanaise she arrived there at 8:30, just after the waitress came to our table and told us that she had to start serving our food since we were the last table and the kitchen needed to close (ya, restaurant kitchens close VERY early in this country and it becomes ridiculous during vacations!).
We had a lovely time

and the food was very nice
Almost near the end, I started playing with the candle that was on our table

which then improvised Bassam to take this pic

(my current facebook profile pic)

We then headed home, but we first passed by my friend Moody to borrow a mattress from him for Karen to use. She was gonna sleepover at mine. We were planning on having a Lebanese breakfast of Manakeesh and a Lebanese dinner and because there were no buses on Christmas Eve nor on Christmas Day NOR on boxing day (we were also planning to go shopping on the 26th) we thought it would make her life a lot easier - not to mention cheaper and taxi-fares-free - if she slept over at mine. The guys of course had to carry the mattress to my place:
(don't let their looks fool you, they were definitely not being tortured by carrying this thing :P LOL)