Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday afternoon

I'm waiting for my sister to come home so we can go to a family lunch together. 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon, but that doesn't mean much if you work from home.

I wrote an email today to my ex telling him that I am writingly constipated. It doesn't feel good, but it's not bad either. It just is, as faux Buddhist as that sounds.

I don't want to share my writing. I don't want to write because what's writing if you're not sharing? To paraphrase someone who said it better, little black marks on a page. Meaningless squiggles.

It's true, there's nothing like reading to keep you from writing.

I guess the trick is to take one's self less seriously. So what if you don't write?

In her most recent blog post, keri smith wrote:

"In fact nothing defines me, not even this amazing career that I have created. It feels really good to know that. I would in fact survive just fine without any of it. More important to me are the bigger things, my family, my health, my love of the world."

This is true; you just need to remember it. And I'm just not these days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Up too late

It's not yet 12, but it's still too late to be up on the internet pretending to work (it's amazing how long that lasts. It's as if by virtue of the fact that I'm sitting behind the computer, some part of me actually believes I'm working. That part is a dumbo).

So, I sort of had this mini blog identity crisis. Such a nice problem to have really, if you think of all the problems you could possibly have (better not).

Is it a vegan blog? Is it a writer's blog? Wannabe artist? Just a personal me n' my friends blog?

Should I try to diagnose myself with something from the DSMIV so that I can jump in the boat of some blog niche? HSP? Borderline, maybe?

For now I'm making peace with the fact that it's a personal/writer's/artist's blog. After all, writers can write about whatever they want, no? And if it's a personal blog, then it's still fair game. As for art, well, I did used to post a few sketches here once upon a blue moon.

To indulge this newly found laissez faire attitude, I wanted to link to some of the websites I have been spending too much time checking out of late. Most of them are vegan blogs.

I have discovered belatedly that it's VeganMoFo (vegan month of food), the vegan version of NaNoWriMo. Who knew? So decreed Isa of Post Punk Kitchen fame.

So I found:

Vegan Dad
Vegan Fat-Free
Pickled Treats

plus there's Yeah That Vegan Shit, which I already knew about. (Where I found this great recipe for chocolate peanut butter shells, which are as amazing as they sound).*

It's just nice to know that they're all out there.

And just so you know, it's not all blogs and no action. I recently tried out a pumpkin pie from Vegan Fat-Free blog, pumpkin bread (veganized by replacing eggs with flax seeds), pumpkin soup, and even roasted the pumpkin seeds, all from one pumpkin. I even made a pumpkin pudding from that pumpkin! It seems pumpkins will feed you for life, at least in autumn.

Today I found another cool blog, this time not vegan: will draw for cookies. It's an art/sketch blog.

Okay, it really is time to sleep now.

*Writing this I remembered once upon a time I intended to have a vegan links round-up, but apparently I never got round to it. But maybe I'll do a follow-up to this post with the other food/vegan links I like with the information I wanted to include.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Writing References

Writerly friends, colleagues, strangers:

I've recently come across a wealth of information on the (majestic/overrated?) internet about writing.

Sunday Scribblings- An online group writing project where every week a new prompt is put up.

Chuck Palahniuk (of Fight Club fame)'s writing tips.'s fiction writing section. Check out some of the new year's resolutions for writers. Also reviews books on writing.

And for the boot in the pants to actually get you writing, you should check out the 37 days blog (especially "Why 37 days?")

Friday, November 16, 2007

Buddha and friends

Dear Blog,

I actually have work to do, so I'm not sure what the fact that all I really want to do is post this picture means.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

quitting and making the leap

Wow, I really have been posting infrequently.

Part of the reason is that I'm thinking of changing the blog's URL to something more memorable, and yes, something without a spelling mistake.

So it's like every time I come to post, I'm thinking, it shouldn't be here, it should be on the other, better address.

I'm trying to write more, like I said before, although I quit NaNoWriMo '07 to try and work on Nano '06. Truth be told, I haven't quite just parked Nano '06 since completing it last year (by completing I mean the word count), but trying to edit it was just so overwhelming, the only thing I really managed to do was fix the typos and grammar (pressuring myself to reach the word count, I really didn't bother worrying about those little details).

In addition to that, I also just want to write. Anything. The other day I was reading an interview with Ariel Gore about her new book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead (which I read and found really useful). Ariel is posed this really great question: "How do you know when to put up (and start working on an actual project), or shut up (keep doing this "practice")?"

Ariel's answer is "there is a point where enough is enough," and that we should really just take the leap and embark on a project. She continues with, "If you fail, you can call it practice. But you will not fail."

So I guess that is what I decided: enough is enough. Why start a new draft when I already have one? But also I think practice and working on your project go hand in hand, and like Ariel says, the project is the practice.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Writing is Better than Not Writing

Doing something, even badly, is much better than not doing it at all (as the wise Jim Munroe once wrote on his blog), because something is better than nothing.

Anyway, if like me you agree that (specifically) writing is better than not writing, go ahead and sign up for NaNoWriMo ([inter]National Novel Writing Month). It's starting tomorrow. Oh my. November somehow seemed further away than that.

Right now my "do something badly" thing is going to be blogging. And as The Artist's Way reminds people, it's normal that you're bad in the beginning. Later you could get good.

Monday, October 29, 2007

view from above

Every once in a while it occurs to me I might not always live where I do now. For some reason yesterday I was tempted to open the window and just look outside, and then I took this picture. In case someone comes across it later and says, so that's what it looked like (although admittedly this picture isn't a crystal clear view). Still, I like the color of the sky and the silhouette of the building and trees.


The blogging hiatus was due to an internet hiatus, which in turn was the fault of a phone line hiatus. None of which were my idea. But it wasn't a bad thing, all things considered.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I Made Gnocchi

And my sister said it "tasted like the real thing."

Gnocchi is kind of like ravioli, but with potatoes.

First you mash up potatoes, add flour until it becomes dough, then roll it until it's really thin (1 cm, if you can - I couldn't), divide these rolled ropes into 2 cm bits, then either freeze for later boiling or boil at once.

Pretty labor-intensive, or at least time consuming, not a bad thing in Ramadan.

Because we have so much food in the fridge, and I'm worried it'll all go bad, I've been trying to think of things to make with it, so the gnocchi was me dealing with the potatoes. Some the food is already cooked up, but there are lots of excess raw ingredients: courgettes, carrots, chickpeas, tomatoes, half a pumpkin, an open can of sprouts, eggplants, lettuce, red and yellow peppers, cauliflower, beans, and some mangoes and grapes that I think already went bad.

Today I made mint sauce and chickpea soup.

The mint sauce looks scary but I'm pretty sure the chickpea soup will be alright.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Little Lines

Day 20 of Ramadan, and I can hear the traffic raging from my window. Traffic is like the cold; you're happy to be indoors where you can avoid it at a distance. Especially in Ramadan in Cairo.


The picture is of the cover of my journal. Drawing those little lines is really good for passing the time.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A. & S. at work.

Sketch from yesterday; Cousin A. & Sister S. working on a book together. Really. They're talented like that.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Whiffenpoofs

In the drawing on top, I wanted to just draw anything interesting I could think of and kind of pretend it was a composition. Well it's something, I'm just not sure how well it all comes together. The dragon is from the emblem for the Yale a cappella (without instruments, I looked it up) singing group the Whiffenpoofs. I saw it in a magazine and then discovered I missed their performance in Cairo at Sawy. But the dragon still looks cool. And Whiffenpoofs is a great name.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Devoid Comics


Check out this really cool link, a kind of art journal or scrapbook titled simply, "Melissa's Side Project."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sketches from Last Night

Some sketches from my cousin's band's concert yesterday, Cairokee.
Check them out at

Thursday, August 30, 2007

French Pretzels

The first picture is something I did while suffering from insomnia one night while on vacation. I don't know why the pretzel chose to speak French; it just did.

The second were sketches of the typical tourist stuff you can see from the Thames; homage to Danny Gregory (he drew the same things in his book Everyday Matters).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Since I've Been Back

I'm back! Actually I've been back, but I've had no real idea about what to post. My camera is still at camera intensive care at the edge of civilization, although granted, I do have access to my sister's camera.

I am technically unemployed, or de facto unemployed, I'm not sure, but no day job to speak of at any rate, but still, I feel like I am on vacation, which I didn't feel before. A structureless, anything-goes-anytime feeling prevails. Which makes it sound like I am living it up hippy-style, which let me be the first to point out, I'm not. Just that no routine is really prevailing, my sleep patterns are off, etc.

It's okay. It's kind of fun, even. Since I've been back, I've baked a casserole (very successful), scones (turned out more like pancakes), and laid the foundation for vinegar mushrooms (very successful once more Laid the foundation in this case means I chopped mushrooms and garlic, opened to the recipe, and told my sister to finish it up since I had to leave the house). [I bought Vegan with a Vengeance, a rightly popular vegan cookbook, where I found all these recipes].

I've also played squash, which I haven't done in the past five years or even longer, and racket.

I taught my usual origami class, only to watch one of the most into-it kids leave to join the science group. And my other kids decide to join the painting group. See the problems with choice and freedom?

Oh, and last August is when I started this blog, so that's either a good thing, or time for you to tell me to stop wasting my time.


I just added the title and I must say I dig how it sounds like an old soul song. I can hear it being crooned now, "since I've been back..." If only the events described fit the song's ambiance.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I'm flying out tomorrow; should be back in two weeks.

This site then comes in handy, dedicated to getting you to pack light, and appropriately titled "One bag." I just skimmed the one-page packing checklist to refresh my memory.

Great for packing related stress, which I have.

Funny how packing for a trip really brings home what you need. Or think you need. I've long since discovered I don't need music on a trip, but a good book is appreciated. And that trick of only taking only one book that I feel I should read doesn't work. Given the option of dull (or heavy) reading versus no reading, I choose no reading. And then I'm just bored.

See you all in two weeks.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writing Link; Paper Chinaman

I made this happy-looking Chinaman with my origami class yesterday.


Good link for the writerly-inclined: How to Become a Famous Writer. An excerpt from a book of the same title at the No Media Kings website, where she advises to publish as much as you can, however you can. One suggestion: "Print poetry on stickers and post them around town and in train bathrooms." Ariel Gore, the author, also has a cool blog.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Educational Comics, Finding Your Life Purpose


It's funny how a job confers life meaning. It shouldn't; shouldn't there be things I want to do naturally?

But there aren't. What I want to do is eat cookies and watch Sex and the City and check my email a hundred times a day.

I'm thinking about the dreaded life purpose.

There's the obvious "make the world a better place," which is all very nice and good, but incredibly vague. All kinds of tiny and humongous actions would fall under this broad umbrella of leaving the world better.

A most interesting website, Anxiety Culture (they have features about why phoning in sick is the best thing you can do for the economy and how to avoid responsibilities, all written in complete earnest), offers something more specific in an article entitled, "How to Find Your Own Purpose."

They offer a simple formula:

Your purpose is what links these three things together. In other words, it is the way you can use your favourite characteristics, abilities and attributes in activities you like best, to manifest your vision of a perfect world.


I've never seen it explained so succinctly.

Here's another web page I liked with information on finding your purpose:

Finding Patterns to Find Your Purpose at the blog Success from the Nest.

I've already tried answering these questions quickly, (both from Anxiety Culture and the 'Finding Patterns' post), but have yet to tie them all together to discern my life purpose.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Feeling Unslept; Eating Locally

These days I feel like I sleep enough, but wake up feeling as though I spent the whole night tossing and turning. S. suggests my lack of exercise might be to blame, and I know she could easily be right. But feeling tired hardly inspires in me a desire to jump onto the stationary bike in a burst of fitness zeal.


Here's a link to check out: The 100 Mile Diet, found off the No Impact Man blog. It's about eating locally (defined as anything within an 100 mile radius, about 16o km - so a little more than the distance from Cairo to Ein Sokhna) in order to reduce your ecological footprint (impact on the earth). A concrete way to put into practice the environmental maxim "Think globally, act locally." Check out as well their 13 reasons to eat locally.

As usual, the information on the site is specific to the US and Canada, and as usual, I'd be interested to know what the situation is like here in Egypt/ the region.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Guilty Liberal

Some cool links I've come across:

  • Life Remix, a frequently updated collection of interesting blogs (I found it through the Happiness Project, one of the featured blogs).
  • No Impact Man, another of the blogs in the Life Remix collection, is the blog of a man who is trying to live a zero (net) environmental impact existance for one year while living in New York City. He classifies himself as a "guilty liberal" who basically decides to put his money where his mouth is. So far, his posts are honest about what's involved (one of the first posts ends with, "God save me, please, from myself and this crazy project." I really admire his guts and the lack of nambsy-pambsy approach, it's not just about "two paper napkins a day less" but a hardcore thorough attempt. The existentialist ideal of having the courage of his convictions, in other words. 'O'balna.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Come back birds, please?

Forget Hitchcock's The Birds.

The Mice or The Rats is far creepier, and actually taking place in my own home as we speak.

They are threatening my way of life!

I feel I'm in some kind of "your mother told you so" hell.

This can only mean war... Peaceful cohabitation will not be possible.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pandora's Box

You buy a simple little device, about 3cm long and 2cm wide. Blue. Maybe 2mm thick. It isn't cheap, but not terribly pricey. All you want to do is take more photos with your digital camera.

But then, you realize you need a high-speed USB port to upload your photos faster. After all, now you have more photos stored on the memory card. And they're bigger, because bigger photos are better. So they take up more memory. So you need a computer with more memory. And Photoshop, too, so you can tinker with your photos. And actually, now that you're going to take so many photos, shouldn't you really invest in a high-quality digital camera to make it all worth it?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Notebook Notebook Notebook

Things I did while on my intense long weekend away.

The first is a time-intensive design for the back cover of my notebook. The productive powers of boredom. "I'm so bored, I'm so bored, I'll write 'notebook' as many ways as I can on my notebook." I also wrote 'bag' three times on my bag. But decided 'hand' as many times as it would fit on my hand would be pushing it (besides, I'd already done a strange fusion oars/sun/flower design there).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mouse Comics 2

They say the mouse is gone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mouse Comics

I've been slightly busy recently, but drew this comic yesterday to document the past two days.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Last Man

Thinking about yesterday's post today, I remembered Nietzsche's idea of the last man (or woman). The last man is basically a loser. In today's world, he would probably watch TV nonstop, eat only fast food, never moves. He has no goals, no ambition. Actually, as far as I recall, the last man is madiocre and satisfied with what he's got.

Nietzsche says to be an artist, athlete, or I guess anything else worth being, is to to experience freedom in chains. You can't have everything; something's got to give. You sacrifice watching five hours of TV nonstop to have a social life, to work, to do everything else you want to do.

Compare and contrast with the Buddhist/ Daoist ideals of being and non-doing as opposed to 'Western' ideals of action, doing, progressing, etc.

Oh, and take everything you read on this blog with a grain of salt, especially if I happen to mention anything mildy related to physics (like yesterday).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I took a break

I took a break yesterday. I met the one-week blog challenge, posting everyday for a week. I'm trying to acquire new habits: daily exercise, blogging, the daily cartoon.

According to Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project blog, the way to maintain your exercise regimen is to never skip more than one day. Gretchen says: "Never skip exercising for two days in a row. You can skip a day, but the next day, you must exercise no matter how inconvenient."

I think the same applies to anything you want to do on a regular basis, like the things I listed above.

Still, you have to fight. It feels you have to fight. After all, isn't the 'natural' impulse laziness? (See last post, plus think of that physics theory (I think it's entropy) that says things revert to their lowest (or laziest) state.) So unless you are breathing down your own neck to get things done, things that you say you want to do, nothing gets done.

keri smith once wrote on her blog (an excerpt from the longer entry):
What if all you had to do was to "do nothing"? The fear in my mind says all hell will break loose, or the opposite, nothing will get done. I might fall into the abyss along with everything in my life. people would yell. the house would be a mess. no, the house would be gone, i would be out on the street begging for food. (does that count as doing nothing? or is that something?)
Isn't the zen way to let go, to truly do nothing and see what happens? But if you let go, as keri wonders, the house could "be gone" and you could be "out on the street."

Is there some kind of perfect balance between just being/ doing nothing and doing things? Is it really a struggle, or dare I use the word, kind of jihad, fighting to make things better better better?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Damn you, cave people

I read an article in Psychology Today* (as I was doing my daily 15 minute stationary bike exercise - yes, pedaling nowhere fast) about how humans are hardwired to be lazy. Well, not exactly. But back in the caveman and cavewoman day, the main goal at hand was to survive. So one was motivated to do things by hunger and thirst and the need to get out of dangerous situations. Once all that was taken care of, it was important to sit back and relax to conserve energy. Of course we haven't evolved that much - we're basically the same biologically and we have the same "evolutionary hardwiring" (um, whatever that means) as our cave people ancestors. So now that our survival is ensured (more or less), we can't deal with the contemporary world where we have long-term goals to worry about. We're still conserving energy because our survival needs are met. In contemporary world terms, it's called laziness and procrastination. (Are ambitious people who do stuff on time more evolved?)

Some of the solutions suggested to getting over our evolutionary 'handicaps' are not to freak out too much about long-term goals which require lots of little steps to accomplish and to just dive in, and to have daily to-do lists to stay focused on the long-term goal. Also, think about how accomplishing your long-term goal will enhance your life.

I'm writing about this because I have just made a major life decision (grad school: to go or to skip, I've chosen skip) and I can't help wondering how much this bears on my decision. Certainly grad school requires long-term planning, and not going doesn't threaten my survival, and it promises hard work. It's not what I based my decision on (dwindling interest is), but still.

* Psychology Today doesn't have this article online yet. Maybe next month.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In the Box Comics

In the book Gulliver's Travels (which I only read half of, I don't think even the nerdiest/ smartest kids in eleventh grade English read it all the way through) Gulliver travels to the land of horses, and the horses only speak the truth, because the purpose of language is to communicate, and what's the point of false communication?

I'm thinking about that.

Think tary'a and saying things just to move your vocal chords. In this context it makes no sense.

"Enjoy the silence?"*

* Depeche Mode song: Words are very/ unnecessary/ they/ can only do harm.
Click here to watch the video. It's really cool. And here for the complete lyrics.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pink Comics

A veritable smorgasbord of comics - discovered yesterday in the treasure trove that is keri smith's archives (think way back, I started from the beginning, 2003): Drawn and Quarterly. Clicking on the 'Artists' tab will lead you to little rooms for each artist where you can see previews of their work. Check out Joe Matt's. (Everything is in PDF).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Maintain Your Sanity; Escape Cairo

Escape from Cairo can be a very good (and necessary) thing. I had a super relaxing weekend away from the Big Bateekha.


Check out this newly discovered blog, Dooce, which belongs to a previously Mormon woman who suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her now five year old girl.

I found it in a list of the most popular blogs in New York Magazine. A good chunk are not USian and not in English. Yes, one of them is in Arabic. Lots are political. I recognized a few that I'd heard of before, but the only one from the list that I frequent is PostSecret.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

DIY Reality TV

We all love to hate reality TV. Hell's Kitchen, Survivor, Supernanny, Brat Camp - there seems to be an endless stream of innumerable genres of reality TV.

I wondered, how does watching reality TV impact us in our everyday relationships and interactions? Does it maybe make us more dramatic? How would we behave on a reality TV show?

What if we could be in our own reality TV show?

Part sincere, part fine line between genuine inner drama queens and a satire on the whole reality TV show concept...

How best to go about doing such a thing? I think a vacation with all the participants would be ideal, except for the fact that it would be hard to round up a group of people (I'm thinking at least five) together to go on vacation. So the next best: a large gathering.

No, I wouldn't seek syndication with ABC, Foxx, or O TV. Not even youtube.

Watch this space for updates.

Potato & Victim Comics

Apologies: I was away for the weekend and my system of proxy posting didn't pan out.

Good news: I'll post til Thursday to make up for it.

This is from my back log.


Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

Cool stuff:

Naptime Writer blogeress wrote an interesting post about blog inhibition: "...trying to be clever and funny and insightful in every's inhibiting, unless you're having a particularly clever, funny, and insightful day." Leading people not to post.

I'm attempting to get over this by posting more often.

Jean Railla of the Get Crafty website mentioned how much she liked Ethan Lipton's music on her blog. I loved the song Pirates of the Heart on first listen.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Running Away Theory

I have this theory, that as soon as people are presented with what they claim they want most, they run away. Then again maybe it's not everyone, maybe it's me and a few people I've observed. The person who wants to make more friends yet turns down opportunities to hang out with new people. The dude who wants to get a date but runs away if someone shows interest (even if he happens to be interested as well).

I guess it's fear based; fear of success, fear of failure, they are almost the same thing, or at least they seem to make people behave in similar ways. Of course, sometimes it isn't just an opportunity that knocks, but more or less exactly what you wanted that jumps into your lap, and indeed it was invited, by you.

I have no remedy for this as of now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A comic & a drawing

The comic and the drawing are not fresh, I must admit. They are a few days old, like the vegetables in my fridge (purchased Saturday). Why insist on buying food then leave it? Why? How to overcome laziness?


To the left, you will notice a small notice in the sidebar (right above the links) that says: "Subscribe to Posts [Atom]." It's basically an RSS feed. It will go into your bookmarks, in something called Bookmarks Toolbar Folder (if you have Firefox). Then when you see my blog's name, to the right will pop out my most recent posts, thus enabling you to discover when I've posted something fresh. Which should be everyday, for at least a week.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Torn jeans & recent cooking endeavors

List of recently cooked/baked things (listed chronologically, from most recent):

  • Oats (a bit of a cop-out, but still, 5 minutes of cooking time)
  • Soy milk (it's not technically baking or cooking, but it created a food and it was the most labor intensive)
  • Cool cucumber soup
  • Banana bread (see previous post)
  • Chocolate Wacky cake (from the glitter cookbook, which I cannot find in the web archives)
Photos: the jeans: they are torn, as you can see, and I wanted to turn them into shorts, so thought I would picture them first (from a tip saying if you find it hard to get rid of old clothes, try picturing them first - don't remember where I read that). It didn't work, and they live on - for now.

Non-jeans photo: paper cranes hanging from the ceiling. Probably not a permanent home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Banana Bread

Problem: Overly ripe bananas (black, truth be told)
Solution: Banana bread
Recipe: At Post Punk Kitchen.

Result: Not bad at all, even with my modifications. (2 bananas instead of 3, regular white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, "Salt and herbs" mix instead of allspice).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Missing: Art Supplies

Today's creative endeavors, inspired by seeing these awesome webcomics:

xkcd - "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." The disclaimer warns "may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors," but I proceeded recklessly anyway. Check out the featured comics in little boxes.

Also check this out. The story of stereotypist, a webcomic artist who decides to move to Mexico for a year. His comics are awesome too. You can see some here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma

by Michael Pollan.

I'm an omnivore by [genetic] inheritance, and vegan by diet of my own choosing. Still, despite the potential for exclusion, I wanted to read this book, probably because of all the buzz it seemed to generate online. (I don't remember where specifically, but probably Salon* and Amazon).

The book certainly didn't disappoint; it totally surpassed my expectations. I thought it would be a simple rehashing of animal abuse cases involved in producing the meat and dairy we consume; news to some, but not me (there's a reason I became vegan).

But it was much more: Dubbing itself as a look at the journey of food from field to table, the book indeed does that, looking at traditional industrial agriculture, organic, and even hunter-gatherer.

Pollan reveals that traditional industrial agriculture - probably the source of most of our food - is based on corn. Forget everything you learned in third grade science (where the sun is the primary source of energy allowing the grass to grow which the animals then eat), because the reality is really different. Corn is grown in huge quantities (intermingling of government subsidies and corn's ability to grow in different environments) and then, because it is so cheap, put in just about everything we eat. Most animals we eat and get our milk from are fed corn as well, even though their digestive systems can't really handle it, and the majority are factory farmed, where they never get to see the light of day crowded together.

Even organic food, we learn, is divided into industrial organic and 'beyond organic.' Industrial organic mimics traditional industrial food, the difference being organic alternatives are used instead of traditional pesticides for crops and antibiotics for animals. For example factory farm chickens aren't given antibiotics, but extreme measures are taken to ensure that they don't contract infectious diseases - in such close quarters and without antibiotics there's a huge risk of infection outbreaks.

Beyond organic, or what we would assume all organic farming looks like, shows us a (rare agricultural example) where the energy depends on the sun and is grass(not corn)-based. Everything is a cycle, or a series of cycles, very much like what we learn in third grade science: sun nourishes grass, animals eat grass (and their manure fertilizes the soil), and humans eat animals. It's much more complex than that, but that is the basic idea, which adapts natural ecosystem to a farm.

Finally Pollan sets out on a mission to create a meal composed exclusively of his own hunting and gathering efforts, a meal where he not only knows where all his food comes from, but faces the ethical responsibility associated with consuming it.

Pollan succeeds in breaking down the science simply even for non-science folk like myself, always employing an engaging tone, and very often relating the information to himself. He also includes his own struggle to make sense of whether eating meat is ethical, and managed to make me rethink my own views. Although I don't know how much of this applies outside the US, it's definitely a fascinating account of where the empire's food comes from.

Also check out this funny and informative clip on Amazon where Michael Pollan discusses the book with Bill Maher.

* Check out a Salon interview with him here, and an excerpt from the book here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heat and Hatred in Cairo

The heat of the summer seems to have gotten everyone around me in a bad mood. Or at least definitely me. S. thinks it's the lack of escape from chaotic Cairo, which everyone seems to agree needs to be escaped on at least a semi regular basis.

The heat hasn't let up, but my hatred has, for at least a little while. Long enough for me to, in the little cracks between hating, think of ideas of things to do in an upcoming zine workshop I want to conduct.

No, I haven't conducted a workshop before, and yes, I'm excited.

I think the idea was at least partially inspired by finding my beloved missing "Invincible Summer" zine anthology by Nicole J Georges.

Also (this is kind of to a side) I am really loving Summer Pierre's blog these days. She just posted a variation of her 'traditional' fliers that she does - leading me to dig into the archives of other wonderful fliers she's done - an illustration a day combined with stories from her past. Very inspiring and just cool to look at. Plus they're cross posted on her blog itself (the archives link takes you to flickr).

Back to battling the heat. And Cairo.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Keeping a blog

According to Ryan Healy who writes for Penelope Trunk's blog The Brazen Careerist (whose blog I actually read very often), who blogs about the "intersection of work and life," keeping a blog is a smart career move. Not a blog like this of course. A proper blog where you choose a subject and focus on it til eventually you become an expert. (Think Ramit Sethi's blog, or the Happiness Project. Or 52 Projects.)

Alas, my blog is far from that, but besides from the career impact, or lack of it, I often find myself not posting at all because I just don't know what to write about.

In a sense, writing is selfish. Or writing about myself is selfish. Who cares?

Nobody needs to care; my blog hurts no-one. Very few people are even aware of it's existence.

Anyway, check out my delicious list here. Basically bookmarked links I found interesting.

Oh and check out Scott Adam's blog, the man behind the Dilbert cartoon. His blog is serious and funny, and sometimes both at once. Check out his "Meaning of Meaning post." There's something I think about a lot.

Til I can figure out a decent direction for blogging or just make my peace that I can't/won't.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Screen Time & Links

Well, seeing as I'm currently rendered brainless from too much TV (ouch, yes, I know, TV Turnoff Week* - I'm sorry gods of Intelligent Media Land or Adbusters and my own higher self), I may as well forgo my pretentious pseudo-intellectualism and just deliver a few links to my one reader out there in cyberspace (thanks A!).

One of the best new finds was the funny and educational Things I Hate blog by Ramit. Alas, the last blog entry is dated sometime in July of last year, and an email from Ramit in response to my query revealed he is now too busy to blog there. However, Ramit also runs an up-to-date blog about personal finances, I Will Teach You to be Rich. RIP Things I Hate. The (blog) love affair was brief.

Other blogs -
Get Crafty founder Jean embarks on a personal challenge to host 25 dinner parties in 12 months based on the idea that dinner parties build community. Pretty entertaining read so far. And nearly inspired me to throw my own dinner party. Alas, still too lazy.

Also check out Naptime Writer, a recently-signed book author (and literature Ph.D.) who writes while her three year old son naps. Clever and feminist (check out the discussion on chick lit in the archives).

Finally, I love the website design of Clock Crew. I actually have no idea what this website is about, but the design is really cool. (Note: link from Dinosaur Comics, where the site was attributed to one Zombie Lincoln, who designed this poster).

* TV Turnoff Week is this week, from today until April 29. Good luck observing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome once more to this humble blog.

Welcome to the internet, the great 'wasteland,' as one of my professors once put it. The internet, he said, is a wasteland.

He meant for finding useful information, I think. What about Web 2.0: Facebook, Myspace, Hi5, Flickr, Blogger, Delicious, digg it, and all that other stuff? And Stumble. (BTW, I have no idea either what Delicious and digg it are or what they do. And I still don't know how to subscribe to or use RSS feeds- confessing to computer/internet illiteracy is so en vogue now).

On the one hand, it's ironical. We use the internet to communicate, we communicate presumably to share and so to feel close to people, but... by hiding behind a screen. I don't get it. Yeah, people can be scary, at least I think so, and I'm quite socially inept. So what of the bright young things that aren't? What about "normal" people, i.e. everyone else, what's their excuse?

I want to figure things out. I want to take the formal logic I learnt, FOL, and apply it to everything. To make sense of stuff. I wonder if I really had the patience and intelligence I would need to do that, would it actually work at all?

Like, why are people stupid? I know, it's mean & elitist to call people stupid. It probably reveals my neo-colonialist elitist education with capitalistic and classist tendencies.

And then, why do stupid people make up the majority of people in the world? And then make a bunch of decisions that everybody has to live with? I'm not even talking about politics, although you sure could go off in that tangent. I'm talking about things like ads (their existence in general, but also the way they choose to sell us things), and low quality magazines, and just poor decisions in general... being close-minded.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm going through something. Learning, growing, changing: the new age mantra. Evolving, even, if you're feeling especially optimistic.
The point, the point, the point.
The nagging voice in your head: no point, no meaning, you make the point, you make it significant.
How then? Little things? Try and be a better person, try and document things, try and remember, try to cling to what is vanishing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You know what? I like blogs. I like reading blogs by people I know (or know of) and people I don't know. I guess it's a voyeur thing, like much of the internet. The interesting part is that people want to be exposed too (or maybe that's just called expression and communicating). See this is what I don't understand. What's the difference exactly between personal expression, well a phenomena I'll just refer to as 'hiding your paintings beneath your bed and showing them to no-one' and taking those paintings, sticking them on your wall, and trying to get them seen by as many people as possible, however you can (exhibits, etc?). Something to consider: by exposing your stuff (ideas, art, writing, etc) you are opening up to judgment. Clearing the ground for judgment, so to speak. So exposure is always a risk, at least for me.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's been a long time since I've posted. Okay, I won't say, "what originally began as a light-hearted hobby has taken on a new more urgent betengan." It's not that I haven't felt like posting - I have. But somehow I've been muzzled. A muzzled blogger.

I'm trying a new psychological approach on my sister. She just called me on it though, not sure if that will make it less efficient.

New* friends have joined the blogsphere since I took my little posting hiatus. And some have... ended their own hiatuses (that's really a word?).**

It's okay to be self-indulgent on your own blog. Isn't that the whole point? Or not? I'm not sure.

Quality control issues.

Well anyway, the ubiquitous links (it is the internet after all).

- Wreck this Journal - the site of a new book coming out by keri smith, and a whole concept. Fantastic.

- Also generally have been reading a lot of stuff at Their content is great. I especially like the advice column by Cary Tennis. And this is one of the best I've read yet.

- One more. A nostalgic reminisce by Baheyya the blogger about Korona chocolate and other Egyptian goodies.

Alright all. 'Til the next post.

* This isn't really a 'new friend.' Old friend and new blog.
** Yeah yeah, I speak in the plural for both categories though only mentioning two 'friends.' To make myself look like I have more than I really do.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The photos are of my view from work. The first picture is what I'll see just looking up from my desk out to the window and the world beyond.

Not very cheery.

Recently, reading the HappinessProject blog really has contributed to my happiness, in small ways. Appreciating little things, like the cool side of my pillow.

Anyway. Honestly the last paragraph sounds a touch too
sentimental for my taste.

I've been spending a lot of time
online, and have been planning to
have some kind of "super links"
post. But for now I think I'll just put the ones I can think of off the top of my head:

Musicovery. Lets you select exactly the kind of music you want to listen to (e.g. jazzier, dancier, darker, lighter).

Artist Trading Cards
like baseball trading cards, only for art. flip through the gallery. you send in 20 self-made artist trading cards, and get 20 back. they can only be exchanged through trade, and not sale (isn't that cool)

Chief Happiness Officer. A blog about happiness at work. Lots of interesting articles.

Stumble upon. In case you run out of sites to surf online, this downloadable thingy sticks itself under your tool bar and effortlessly transports you to sites you'll think will be cool (based on you preselecting things you're interested in).

Finally, a quote:

"These aren’t Promethean
geniuses willing zines into existence, but garden-variety cool persons saying “why the hell not?"

I love that: garden-variety cool persons.

From Why Publish? about why people publish zines, an free online book available at Zine book, page 4

Saturday, February 03, 2007

  • from The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank, p. 199

"When Matthew and Dena go swimming in the lake, I ask myself why I've never learned to swim or skate or draw or sing or play the piano. I'm lazy; I lack discipline; I have no patience. I can't think of a single skill I've mastered or a single talent I have. I barely have a job, let alone a career."

  • Freegan: " person who chooses to eat food thrown away by stores and restaurants to avoid waste and limit their impact on the environment." Definition found at freegan kitchen. Includes recipes. I thought I was a picky eater. Seriously though, I'm not dissing freegans. Link found at the Post Punk Kitchen journal .

Friday, January 26, 2007

Post Punk Kitchen

for vegan recipes.

Bug Me Not

To bypass sites that require (free) registration to check out their content.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Working world, working world. (Employ sing-song voice).

It's funny how fast the excitement over a desk and your own computer monitor in a 9-5 environment goes away.

Well, another big adjustment: my grandfather dying. I know, my blog is a supposed to be a "lite" thing. But, it feels light. I feel like I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, he was available almost all day, plus I didn't have a job, so I could spend as much time as I wanted to with him, and I did spend a good chunk of time with him. But now he's not available, at all.

What else is there to say?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Well, January and the new year. Really it's just the earth going around the sun and all that so don't get too worked up. Seriously though, January is important since I decided I'd start editing nano in this month. Also, this month marks a big transition in my life: Career woman. Deep breath.

So here we go. Good luck to anyone who made new year's resolutions, mine is to be on time (not very exciting, I know).

Now for some links.

- An article on "Cause Marketing," which is what happens when Corporation X says to buy its products and they'll donate cash to a certain charity. It always seemed a bit fishy to me (why not just donate to the charity directly?). At the Anti-Advertising Agency website, found on keri smith's blog.

- An article over at the Guardian about "Ashley's treatment," in which parents whose daughter's mental development stopped at three months decided to surgically remove her womb, breast buds, and give her strong hormone doses to keep her body like a nine year old girl's for the rest of her life. Her parents have a website about the situation which is also worth checking out.

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.