Monday, July 30, 2007

On Witty-ness

Two of my favourite comics in the whole wide world are The Far Side and Dilbert. The Far Side appeals to the side of me that's read some history and anthropology and psychology, and just enjoys the quirks of human nature, while Dilbert appeals to the "I spend 40 hours a week in an office and sadly most of this is relatable" side of me. But the thing I truly love about both of these comic strips is that they find a way to capture the hilarity of the situation they're describing with a very short amount of words and pictures (The Far Side tends to use 1 panel only for each comic). They're truly "witty", in the quick-witted sense of the word.

I take to forwarding my friends Dilbert comics almost everyday, because I could never say what they say so well in so few words, or in such an amusing fashion. I'm actually fairly long-winded (as if you haven't noticed!) and I often wonder if wit and long-windedness can go together, because I do like to thing I'm good with jokes and can make astute observations. But my conclusion is that for this to qualify as "wit", it has to be brief. Isn't there an expression: Brevity is the Soul of Wit?

I guess I don't qualify after all. Oh well.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Excercise Ball is No More

If you've been reading my shadow for a long time, you'll know that a few months ago, I was considering bringing an exercise ball to work to sit on for a few hours of the day, which would force me to straighten my crooked back. Well, my friends, I did, indeed, bring in the exercise ball and have been using it for a few hours a day (except when very lazy)... until today.

Today, the folks from the Workplace Health and Safety Group at work came by and told me that sitting on an exercise ball at work is faux-pas. And why, you ask? Well, it seems that if I fall off said exercise ball, I could hurt myself, and then it would be considered a workplace injury, and then any subsequent physiotherapy, medical procedures, etc, would be billable to work, and they would like to avoid that cost...

All fine and dandy, except have any of you seen an exercise ball? They're like 2 feet off the ground. First of all, I hope I would have the balance not to fall off of one, but say I was a total klutz, and I did indeed fall, the drop would not be far, and our floors are carpeted, and well, my point is, why don't they force us all to sit in bubbles and cushion the floors and walk 10 feet away from each to avoid the risk of tripping over each other's feet and - heaven forbid - fall the horrendous distance of 2 FEET! 2 FEET!

Now, I'm a compliant person, and I follow the rules, so I deflated my beautiful exercise ball, and took it home with me tonight, but I shook my head (in bemusement of course, I'm not bitter, just mildly irritated/amused) the whole way home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Below, some flowers from the party last weekend (I can't take credit for the picture, it was someone else who took it...)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Home Remedies in the Tradition of Buckley's

i.e., they taste awful, but they work...

Following in the "Noha has a BRUTAL cold" theme, here are some ways to deal with that scratchy, agonizing throat (that keeps me up all night, because every time I lie down, I feel the overwhelming need to cough), that congestion, and the constant sneezing and coughing:

  • honey, honey, honey... fill a bowl or a container or whatever, and take a lick every few minutes. By the time your cold is gone, you won't want to touch anything sweet with a 10 foot pole (so you'll lay off the chocolate for a while) and the honey soothes your throat, which helps with the coughing, not to mention it's a natural antibiotic. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) frequently recommended honey for its medicinal properties.
  • garlic. yeah, raw garlic. Best to do this one when you're not going out... but it's also a natural anti-biotic.

  • Oregano Oil; incredibly hard to swallow, somewhat numbing, and only for the strong of stomach, but one drop will clear your congestion through your sinuses and throat. It's hard, but if you can manage not to water it down with any water, juice, or food, eventually (and I'm talking 5-10 minutes) you start getting sensation in your mouth again.

  • Ginger tea; all you need here is hot water and ginger powder, great to help you clear your throat. Warning, the taste is rather strong, but the more ginger powder you can put in, the better (try 1/4 of a teaspoon for 1/2 a cup of boiled water
and lastly, if you're losing your voice (like I am), and you need to conserve it for a little party you're attending on Saturday (like I am), speak as little as you can... For those of you who know me, you know this is the hardest 'get better' task for me to pull off :0

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th, Y'all!

Random thoughts:
  • I find superstition an incredibly silly thing.
  • When my father played soccer in various leagues around the city while I was growing up, he often wore number 13, just to prove to everyone it wasn't a curse. This usually worked because he scored about 2 goals a game, on average.
  • Really, every Friday is a happy Friday, what with its strategic positioning right before the weekend. I plan on taking this weekend to recuperate and hopefully rest enough that my voice comes back (I've almost lost it thanks to the lovely cold I was telling you all about here and here).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Language Expressivity

I love making up new words, words that certainly don't exist in any dictionary, but that anyone with a good grasp on the English language will understand due to the their construction. Case in point: "expressivity" in the title above. I'm almost certain (didn't actually bother to check in a dictionary) that this word does not officially exist, but you know what I mean, don't you? It's like a more expressive way to say "expressiveness".

I have expressivity in English because my language is strong enough. Currently, though I speak both French and Arabic, I DEFINITELY lack expressivity in either of these beautiful languages. BUT, and this is a big BUT that I'm quite excited about, I'm working to change this. For French, I've taken to listening to French radio basically all the time (in the car, as white noise at work (I work so much better with background noise)) and it does seem to be helping. My French teacher actually told me to "entendre sans ├ęcoute" (hear without listening) and just let it seep in. So this is what I'm trying to do. I don't concentrate, I just leave it go in the back ground, and once in a while, my ears perk up at a specific "je ne sais quoi" I find interesting and I pay attention for 23 seconds to the story. It's actually quite easy. Anyone who wants to try this and is a CBC junkie like I am, I recommend 90.7 FM in Ottawa, which is the French equivalent of CBC Radio One (91.5) and really quite a fun station...

For Arabic, my plan is much more elaborate. It's to talk talk talk all summer, and eventually the expressivity will come! You see, my Arabic is actually much much better than my French, but also significantly weaker than my English. I can say almost anything in Arabic, but I lack the 'thesaurus' element of extra vocabulary when discussing "deeper" topics (aka emotions, belief, philosophy". I have Zero problem discussing a recipe in great detail (chop, dice, simmer, boil, stir-fry, pan, pot, ladle, grater, etc... all of these I can say in Arabic) but the different words for "confounded" and "confused"? or "ecstatic" and "delirious with happiness"? or "thoughtful" and "pensive"? I don't know these. Every time I've needed to really "express" myself, I've switched to English, even if I've started off in Arabic.

Fortunately, I have something that will MAKE me improve my "expressivity" this summer, and that is the fact that I have 4 adult relatives around this summer with limited or no English visiting from Egypt, and I really do want to have these great, deep conversations with them. I know it won't be that easy at first, but language is something you only master if you use, and I'm okay with using it and making a slight fool of myself at the expense of coming out on the other side of this with expressivity... Those of you who live in Ottawa and speak Arabic, remind me of this when they leave in the fall and I laze back to almost exclusive English, please...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Head Case...

Nothing quite as fun as getting a classic Ottawa-winter head cold with all the trimmings in the middle of a semi-heat wave in July. My body wants iced tea and lemonade, but my throat is screaming for hot ginger with honey. Is it hot? Is it cold? I can't tell anymore... I wear sweaters inside our air-conditioned building and then step outside for a second and WHAM, the stagnant, humid air hits me and I want to go for a swim... (There's one of those outdoor fountains near my bus stop. I swear, one of those days when the humidity is just too much, you'll probably find me sitting on the edge dipping my toes in!)

In the last day and a half, I've finished a full box of Kleenex, the size of which I usually take 2 months to get through; I'm so congested that I was joking with a fellow-down-with-a-cold co-worker that we should just forget about breathing and grow gills. Now I just have to figure out how to do it.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I had lunch with a dear friend from high school today who was in from Vancouver (very sweet of her to come down and meet me at my place of work because things are just a little too hectic for me to actually make it anywhere after work these days) and we just ate Chinese in a food court and chatted away about wedding planning and being busy in all the happy ways that a million things happening at once can make you feel...

I used to be bothered by the being busy, see... I used to feel like "how am I going to get everything done?" and look at the clock each night and realize it was past eleven and that half the things on my to do list from 2 weeks ago were still there and this was the day I was going to finish everything and I hadn't and I still had to be up at 6 a.m. for work and I was coming down with a cold and ... well, you get it, right?

Factually, not much has changed. I'm still rarely asleep before eleven. I'm still usually up at 6, my to-do list is never finished and I'm still perpetually coming down with a cold and I've temporarily (I don't even think about when I'm going to make my next attempt) shelved my quitting coffee attempts, because I can't imagine getting through the day without it right now, but you know what?? All of that is OKAY, and it being OKAY is a conscious decision...

Because right now, my life is busy, and that's lovely. It's lovely that I have loads of my beautiful, wonderful, extended family coming to visit for the summer. It's lovely that I can get a hug from a niece or nephew, or three of them at the same time (and get them a glass of water, and sing "Allahu Rabbi" with them (or "Bubby", as my youngest toddler-angel calls it in her toddler-talk), and kiss their knees when they get a scratch, and try to burp them and feed them and wash their hands after they've made a mess, and try to quiet them down when they're crying) whenever I so please. It's lovely to be getting closer to the day when I will, insha Allah, get married, (and thus spending a lot of time planning a wedding, remember the table linen colours I never thought I'd get excited about?). It's lovely that when I get to go out for a bike ride, I really truly savour it because I figure it won't happen again for quite some time. And it's lovely coming down with my perpetual cold, because every time I do, my sweet, doting parents bring me honey and chicken soup and make sure I'm eating enough and tell me to take care of myself and sleep on time, but we all know there's no possible way I can with all the awesome conversations and catching up happening in the living room.

Life is happening this summer, and when I come out on the other side, I'll have my memories (and lots of pictures) to remind me of how fun it was, despite the insanity. and besides, all I need to do is grab a cup of coffee and stay awake to enjoy it, right?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


The last two days of cloudy weather have made me rather thoughtful/introspective... I read this lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, whose poetry I usually can't relate to, and felt the words were so accurate that I thought I'd post it. Hope you like:

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops . . . at all
-- Emily Dickinson