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Welcome To Queen Alia International Airport October 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
7 comments

Queen Alia International Airport Sign 

There is only one thing I hate about travelling.  No, its not fear of planes; its not worrying about losing my luggage; its not even the extremely heightened airport security at almost every airport in the world.  The one thing I hate about travelling is Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. 

Departing from QUALIA is not as bad as arriving.  Sadly enough, every foriegner arriving in the counrty for the very first time will no doubtedly shape a horrible impression of Jordan.

Let’s put the actual airline, Royal Jordanian, aside for a second.  I won’t go into the poor shape of the planes; the dirty seats, the broken headphone units, and the discoloured screens.  Neither will I mention the constant delays and shitty check-in and on-board service.  Let’s focus on the airport itself for now…

Firstly, as soon as you arrive and walk up to immigration, you see eight empty counters and only two operational ones.  Once they realize that the plane is full, or that another flight has just arrived, they start calling in the reserves.  So, after waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the people in the back of the line run towards to the newly opened counters leaving you stuck to wait it out.  As soon as you get to the counter, there is always some new technological security system they are implementing.  So they either take your picture with a web-cam, or they scan your fingerprints.  Mark my word, in a year or so, they’ll implement a retina scan system, realize its an absurd idea and that it malfunctions all the time, then go back to the regular finger-printing and photo-taking systems which they will have to start all over again.  Typical!

Once you pass immigration, you are greeted by another man, just by the escalator, who’s job is to check that your passport has been stamped.  Talk about hidden unemployment!  Where else in the world do they have a passport stamp-checking man who does no more than create a bottle-neck right by the single small escalator leading to baggage claim?  Completely nonsense!

Then you have the infamous QUALIA baggage claim.  Two baggage carousels dating back to the stone age.  Its either one or the other.  Many a time have I stood long enough at one carousel that clearly shows my flight number and departing city on the monitor, but for some reason, we are all moved to the other carousel.  Anyway, the carousel starts moving and the bags start falling.  Either the baggage handlers pull off all the bags as soon as they come out and pile them next to each other on the floor, or they leave the bags to fall off and sit back watching.  Either way, you’re going to have a horrible time collecting your luggage.  Pure frustration!

And finally, some hot shot at the airport came up with the brilliant idea of buying and installing three baggage X-ray machines of which only one is functioning.  So basically, once you collect your luggage, after a frustrating wait or search, and load them onto your trolley, you have to unload them once again on this X-ray machine where other travellers are coming at you with their trolleys from every direction, which creates yet another bottle neck.  Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

By the time you’re walking out of the airport, almost 45-minutes to an hour have passed whereas the whole process  could have taken 20-30 minutes.  You’re just happy to be getting into your car and heading home.  In fact you’re so happy, the 50 men running up to you asking you if you need a taxi doesn’t bother you one bit. 

Am I the only one who notices all these inefficiencies with our airport?  Do they not have intelligent, able-minded people running the airport who see these inefficiencies and work to fix them?  Isn’t it Jordan’s aim to attract as much foreign investment and tourism as possible?  Well then…you know what they say:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

QUALIA 1970s

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Jordan Traffic Statistics October 29, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Chatter, Jordan.
1 comment so far

Traffic Accident

I hate to have my first post after Eid be so dark and grim, but I feel this is something every Jordanian needs to be aware of.  Anyone who lives, drives, or visits Jordan knows that drivers in this country are completely psychotic .  There is a potent mix of aggressive drivers, impatient drivers, unfocused drivers, and just plain stupid drivers; which is a very dangerous combination.

Here is a sad but true statistic for you, courtousy of the Public Security Department’s media office:  Nine poeople were killed and 216 were injured in 883 road accidents during the Eid Al Fitr holidays!!

Police Spokesperson Major Basheer Daaja said that the Kingdom witnessed several serious accidents in spite of the awareness campaigns organized by the deparement.  He urged motorists to abide by and respect traffic regulations and to take precautionary measures to avoid such accidents.  Daaja also called on citizens to drive carefully, especially during rainy weather when the raods are slippery. Warning against using brakes which lead to skidding, he advised drivers to use the lower gear instead during winter.

What awareness campaignes?!  They are obviously not doing enough.  I understand that our roads do not accommodate for perfect driving, but drivers in this country have no respect for traffic regulations nor the safety of others.  They just want to get to their destination and don’t care how many laws they break along the way.  The sad part of it all, is that I can see traffic police standing idle doing nothing about it!!  I am well aware of the thunder storms and downpours across the Kingdom over the last few days; but I can safely assume that 95% of the 883 accidents was caused by our very own home-grown stupid drivers.

I don’t even want to get started on my feelings towards driving in Jordan.  That is another topic all together on which I can ramble on forever. The point of this post is an utter shock at the drastic number of accidents that occured in a 5-day period.  Not all families managed to celebrate a joyous Eid Al Fitr.  I honestly think a statistic such as this deserves more attention than a tiny paragraph on the third page of the Jordan Times.  Jordanians need to be aware of the rising number of car accidents and the deaths/injuries attributed to these accidents.  I also think the Public Security Department needs to do a hell of a lot more than mere traffic campaigns.  There is a serious and dangerous problem that needs to be tackled immediately before more lives are lost.  For God’s sake people…wake up!!

Eid Mubarak To All… October 22, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Uncategorized.
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 Happy Eid

Wishing all of you a Happy Eid.

I will be spending the Eid Holidays in London, and thus will not be updating “The Theme” during the coming week. 

However, I will be back on the 28th of October with more doses of entertainment.

Until then…Eid Mubarak to all!

The “Art” Of Beauty October 22, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Miscellaneous, Videos.
2 comments

To all women who look at models in beauty magazines and say “Wow! I wish…”;

And to all men who see models in beauty magazines and say “Wow! If only I could…”;

Please find below a short film (1-minute long) produced by Dove Evolution for the “Campaign For Real Beauty”…

Two words:  Holy Crap!!

What Is Your Brain Age? October 22, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Fun & Games, Technology & Gadgets.
1 comment so far

 BrainBrain Age

Well, Brain Age is a measure, in terms of age, of how efficient, quick, and powerful your brain works.  Just like the body, you need to constantly train your brain or else it becomes weak and lazy.  By training your brain, I don’t just mean your regular everyday reading, thinking, writing and speaking.  I’m talking about specific puzzles, equations, and drills that allow you to use all parts of the brain.

 

It seems that only certain parts of your brain light up when you are working on -let’s say- a quantum physics equation.  However, when working with quick, rapid, simple equations, your whole brain lights up.  So, a large part of your Brain Age is basically the speed in which you can react to and answer simple and rapid questions, in addition to memory, words, speech, colors, and puzzle solving.

 

Training your brain each day supposedly helps keep your brain working and in shape.  According to Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, the ultimate Brain Age is 20.  Brain Age, unlike IQ, is not an estimate of intelligence but rather a measure of brain activity.  Keeping your brain active is a way of preventing memory loss and reducing the risk of senility or Alzheimer’s.

 

The other day, I was introduced to a Brain Age program on a handheld device.  The device is the new Nintendo DS (pictured below) and the software is called “Brain Age, Train Your Brain in Minutes A Day!”, which was created by Dr. Kawashima in collaboration with Nintendo.  Within minutes of turning on the device I was being hit with rapid math problems and scribbling the answer down using the device’s stylus pen.  It is really impressive! The software also includes Sudoku puzzles, memory games, word-colour combo games, and many more exercises to stimulate the brain.

 

First time I took the test, I got a Brain Age of 34.  The second time, I got a Brain Age of 28.  Not too bad considering how absent-minded and forgetful I am.  I’m definitely going to buy myself one of these devices while in London.  I don’t expect to get any smarter, but maybe I’ll stop forgetting where I put my car keys…

Nintendo DS

Something I Would Do… October 21, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Humour.
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Hillarious!!!  Definately something I would do 😀

Garfield

lastminute.hell October 21, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Chatter.
2 comments

 lastminute.com

Mood:  On a rampage!! 

So, after much deliberation, I finally decided to make London my destination for Eid vacation.  Visa:  check; Plane ticket:  check; Hotel:  Google time!!

Friends recommended I stay at the Millennium Hotel Knightsbridge.  Considering this was all last minute, what better travel-booking site to visit than ‘lastminute.com’.

All went smoothly…I found the hotel, found availability, found a great rate, put in my personal information, my credit card information, and with one click of a button, voila…“Congratulations!  Here is your booking confirmation” appeared on the screen.  Less than a minute later, I receive a booking confirmation on e-mail.  Perfect!  I’m all set.  London…here I come! 

An hour later though, I get another e-mail from lastminute.com saying this:   

“Dear Customer, We are writing with regard to your recent purchase:  83628469  

Your order has been flagged by our fraud prevention system due to controls in our system we have cancelled your booking. All funds have been refunded and are now in the clearing system of the bank for the card used to make the booking.  

Please contact us by return mail providing the correct billing name and address for the card and the information of the passenger traveling. Failure to supply this information means we will be unable to investigate your booking further and your order will remain cancelled.” 

WTF!?  Fraud!?  I’ve used my credit card online plenty of times, and it worked like a charm every time.  How dare these crooks accuse me of fraud! 

This is where the story begins… 

I e-mail lastminute.com back immediately and provide them with the information they requested.  My full name and the full billing address for the credit card used.  No reply.  I e-mail them again.  An hour later…no reply.  Seems like they are quick to cancel bookings, but not too efficient in reinstating them.  I decided to call them.  It had come time for me to speak to a human being. 

I try calling a 0-800 number provided on the website FAQ.  Cannot get through.  The number is only for calls within the UK.  I search the website further for an international number.  I finally find a number.  Disconnected…cannot get through.  I try the number repeatedly.  My blood begins to boil.  

I decide to call the hotel itself and check on my reservation.  My reservation was still intact and they even provided me with a confirmation number.  I asked the hotel if they had any contact numbers for lastminute.com in the system.  The nice woman at the reservation desk provided me with two numbers.  I seemed to be getting somewhere, but that feeling only lasted for a few seconds, because when I tried both numbers…that’s right…I COULDN’T GET THROUGH!  It felt like a hoax.  I thought I was being “Punk’d” or on of one of those crappy Ramadan candid camera shows.  Nothing was making sense. 

I called Amex to check on the funds, but they received no cancellation instructions, and no money was refunded.  Ok…I can’t reach lasminute.com by phone; they are not replying to my e-mails; they informed me that my booking has been cancelled and that my money will be refunded, but nothing of that has happened yet.  I decide to send one more “harsh” e-mail; short, simple and straight to the point.  The reply I got was this:   

“Dear Customer, 

Because you have not supplied us with the information we requested, your booking has been cancelled and will remain cancelled.

Regards, 

Lasminute.com Fraud Team” 

I cannot even begin to explain the fury that engulfed me.  I had provided them with the information they requested three times.  Why is my booking still cancelled?  I called the hotel again to check on my reservation; not yet cancelled.  You would think that if a transaction was flagged for fraud, the reservation would have been cancelled immediately.  Anyway, I decided to sleep on it that night, and try my luck again the next day.   

The following day, I called the hotel once again.  My reservation was still there, no cancellation.  I called Amex; the charges have not been refunded.  No new e-mails from lastminute.com.  The last communication stated that my booking was cancelled and will NOT be reinstated.  What would you do? 

I searched Google for any Customer Service telephone number I could find for lastminute.com.  Every number I tried did not work.   Finally, a friend of mine, with whom I had shared this whole nightmare with, managed to find a number on a blog!  The post was some girl complaining about how frustrating it was trying to get in touch with lastminute.com, and how she went through hell trying to get ahold of them (thank God for bloggers). 

I dialed the number…It rang!  I can hear a ring!  Yes!  “Hello, and welcome to lastminute.com”…Finally!  I’ve done it!   

Anyway, to make a long story short, I managed to get through to someone after being transferred 3 times, and after being asked questions “for security purposes” by each person that transferred me.  After I got confirmation that my booking “will be” cancelled within 2-3 business days, and that my credit card charge “will be” refunded within 7-10 working days, I gave that woman hell.  The last two days were extremely aggrevating.  I know the poor women had nothing to do with the whole fiasco, but I just had to explode;  and boy did I feel better once I did. 

After I shut the phone, I called another hotel which was recommended to me by the same person who helped me find lastminute’s number, and I made the booking the old-fashioned way.  So, as of today, I can gladly say…London here I come!

TV Talk – 2nd Edition October 21, 2006

Posted by O.J. in TV.
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 SATiV

FOX Network must be on a role.  They are currently airing the most popular series on television:  24, Prison Break, and now…Vanished.

Vanished comes to us courtesy of “CSI” creator Josh Berman.  Berman wrote the pilot, which takes a topical look at the U.S.’s ongoing fascination with missing women. “Vanished” revolves around Sarah Collins, a senator’s wife who suddenly goes missing as part of a larger conspiracy.  The story behind her disappearance will unfold throughout the season, as told through the eyes of law enforcement, family members and the media.  The series also uses those cool CSI special effects.

The show is full of suspense, mystery, and conspiracy theories.  It is a thrilling show that keeps you constantly on edge.  Each episode ends with a dramatic twist or discovery that makes you want to immediately watch the next one.  So, for those of you who don’t like waiting to find out what happens, you may want to hold off until the series is released on DVD.  Seven episodes have aired so far out of a total of ten.

If you miss watching an original, creative, and suspenseful mystery story with a thrill ride of an investigation, then Vanished is the show for you. 

Recommendation:  Must see!

Rating:  9/10  (only because the show incorporates some cheesy, emotional moments which, personally, I could do without)

Vanished

Dubai Presents The World’s Biggest… October 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Advertising, Dubai, Middle East.
2 comments

…Billboard??

Dubai has consistently astonished the world with its extravagant projects breaking world records.  We have seen the world’s biggest theme park, shopping malls and even indoor artificial ski fields.

Now comes the Middle East’s largest billboard ad.  Weighing in at a whopping 400 meters long and standing 20 meters high at its highest point, the billboard is promoting one of the cities newest development projects named ‘The Lagoons’.

Using the more than 2,880 hours of man power, the billboard is positioned in a marketing traffic gold mine on the infamous Sheikh Zayed Road.

With up to a quarter of a million motorists passing the billboard each day, it’s fair to say the size will grab a few motorists attention along its 200 meter long stretch.

Dubai Billboard

Create Your Own Radio Station October 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Music.
2 comments

I came across this fantastic site today [http://www.pandora.com/]

You simply type in the name of an artist, a band, or a song in the website and Pandora Internet Radio Station automatically searches for similar music qualities and creates a playlist for you.  The Flash Radio function is very easy to use.  With just a click of the mouse, you can add, delete, and search for songs.  I’ve already made a few playlists depending on the kind of mood i’m in…its great!

Perfect for home or the office.  Take control of what you listen to…create your own station.  Enjoy!