Saturday, May 28, 2005 

Beit Al Mamlouka Hotel, Damascus

On a recent tour of old Damascus, I happened to visit the “Beit Al Mamlouka” hotel, located in the heart of Old Damascus, Bab Touma. The hotel dates back to the 17th century and combines a mixture of Mamlouk and Ottoman influence.
“Al Mamlouka” in Arabic means “the possessed”.

The Liwan(Inner Patio)& Fountain

The hotel was previously a home to a Syrian family and was in a very bad shape. It’s current owner undertook the daunting task of restoring it to it’s previous glory, maintaining all of the house’s original design, and turned it to a 9 bedroom hotel.

There are 5 hotels such as this in Aleppo, but this is the only one of its kind in Damascus.

Each hotel room has a unique design as well as it’s own special name such as the “Suleiman the Magnificant” suite, the “ Antar&Abla” room, and the “Abu Firas Al Hamadani” restaurant and bar.
Suite Ibn Sina - living room&Suite Baybars - Bedroom

The Terrace& Abu Firas Al Hamadani restaurant

What I liked most about this hotel were the little touches displayed here and there and the attention to detail, such as the verses of poems written on the wall above the bar, the well in the courtyard, and the beautifully decorated ceilings.

Beautiful wooden ceiling, Poem verses by Hafez Al Shirazi located above the bar

Decorated ceiling of the Baybars suite, well in the courtyard(Ared Diyar)

I also learned a few interesting facts about old Arabic houses. Here are some:

-Apparently, people in old times used to turn on the Bahra(fountain) when they were discussing something private or of importance to drown out their voices so that no one could hear what they were actually saying.

-People in old times used to heat using charcoal stoves, and this emitted high levels of carbon dioxide, that’s why most rooms in Arabic houses had one wall built and layered in a special way with wood and other materials then covered with whitewash to absorb these toxic fumes.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005 

The Google Guys


The Guys behind Google

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not your typical billionaires. In fact, if you type billionaire into Google, the picture that emerges — fancy cars, private jets, mansions, jewels, and supermodel girlfriends — isn't anything you'd find in the lifestyle of the Google guys. Page drives a Toyota Prius, which costs around $21,000. Brin gets around for the most part on in-line skates, and he still lives in a rented apartment.

These two young men are the brains behind Google, the world's most popular Internet search engine. It now answers over 200 million daily requests for information from people around the world.

Since taking Google public earlier this year, each is worth an estimated $6 billion. Even the way they took their company public was innovative. They let ordinary people bid on shares in their initial public offering, not just the big banks, because they thought it was fairer.

With the investment revenue, Google now has more money to spend on the future. The company is already working on ways to search and read full libraries worth of books via the Internet.

How it all began

Today both barely in their thirties, the two first met at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, where they were doing doctorates in computer sciences.

Apparently, they did not immediately hit it off, but they became friends while developing a new system of Internet search engine from their college dormitory.

Initially called BackRub, they created a software system whereby the search engine would list results according to the popularity of the pages, after realizing that more times than not the most popular result would also be the most useful.

So after changing its name to Google they dropped out of college (although Brin is officially still on leave) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Pulling together $1m from family, friends and other investors, on 7 September 1998 Google was commercially launched from a friend's garage.

Family influences

Both Page and Brin come from an academic and computer science or mathematical background.

Larry - or Lawrence - Page was born and raised in Michigan, the son of Carl Page, a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence.

Page Senior earned a doctoral degree in computer science in 1965, back when the subject was still in its infancy, and went on to become a computer science professor at Michigan State University.

His wife, and Larry Page's mother, also worked in computers, teaching computer programming.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Larry Page says he fell in love with computers at the tender age of six.

Mr Brin is a Muscovite by birth, the son of a Soviet mathematician economist.

His family immigrated to the US in 1979. And Mr. Brin went on to get a degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland, before enrolling at Stanford University as a postgraduate.

Hippy mantra

Google today has its headquarters at Mountain View in the heart of California's famous Silicon Valley, where certain quirks are in place to keep staff happy.

These include weekly games of roller-hockey in the car park, an on-site masseuse and a piano.

And each member of the team is given one day a week to spend on their own pet projects.

In a nod to the county's former hippy past, the company's head chef is said to have formerly worked for the rock band Grateful Dead.

There is also something very 1960s California about what Page and Brin say is their philosophy.

As Page recently explained to ABC News: "We have a mantra: 'Don't be evil', which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone.

"So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing."

BBC News Online Buisness
ABC News

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Thursday, May 19, 2005 

The Fairy

A married couple in their early 60s were out celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table and said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish." "Ooh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband" said the wife. The fairy moved her magic stick and... Abracadabra... two tickets for the new Queen Mary2 luxury liner appeared in her hands. Now it was the husband's turn. He thought for a moment and said: "Well this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this only occurs once in a lifetime, so I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me". The wife and the fairy were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish... So the fairy made a circle with her magic stick and.... Abracadabra...the husband became 92 years old.

The moral of this story: Men might be ungrateful idiots... But fairies are...female.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 

Did this woman write Shakespeare’s works?


Was the Bard a Woman?
A new contender for authorship of Shakespeare's works

By Anne Underwood

June 28 issue - For more than 150 years, literary sleuths have questioned whether William Shakespeare—a man with a grammar-school education, at best—could possibly have penned some of the greatest works in the English language. "You can be born with intelligence, but you can't be born with book learning," says Mark Rylance, Shakespearean actor and artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London. But if Shakespeare didn't write the plays, who did? Dozens of candidates have been proposed, most of them men. But at a conference of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust in London next week, American writer Robin Williams will argue that the true bard was a woman—Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke.

Sidney (as her biographers call her) is a logical suspect. Sister of the Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney, she was a poet herself and one of the best-educated woman in England, along with Elizabeth I. Perhaps not surprisingly, her name has surfaced before as a possible collaborator on Shakespeare's plays, although never until now as a candidate in her own right. Scholars are unlikely to be persuaded. "The very fact that there are so many candidates is almost a proof that none of them is the author," says Stanley Wells, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon. But that doesn't deter Williams. "One homicide detective told me, 'You're using the same reasoning we use to track down murderers'," she says.

In short, Mary Sidney had the motive, means and opportunity to write the plays. At her home in Wiltshire, she fostered a literary circle whose mission was to elevate English literature—a strong motive. Gary Waller, a Sidney scholar at Purchase College in New York, has called her salon "a seedbed of literary revolution" and Sidney herself "the first major female literary figure in England." With her vast library, education and command of foreign languages, Sidney also had the means to create the works. And with her extensive connections in the literary world, she had opportunity to smuggle the plays to theater companies. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but the first eight Shakespeare plays were published anonymously—"and three of them," says Williams, "provocatively note on the title page that they were produced by Pembroke's Men, the acting company that Mary Sidney and her husband sponsored."

Sidney-as-Bard would solve a number of riddles, argues Williams. It would explain why Shakespeare wrote love sonnets to a younger man. (Sidney had a younger lover, Matthew Lister.) It could clarify why the first compilation of Shakespeare's plays, the First Folio of 1623, was dedicated to the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery (her sons). And it would explain Ben Jonson's First Folio eulogy to the "sweet swan of Avon." Sidney had an estate on the River Avon—and her personal symbol was the swan. "There are swans in the lace collar and cuffs of her last portrait," Williams notes.

Even her dates dovetail with Shakespeare's—which is more than one can say of some of the other candidates. Edward de Vere, widely regarded as the leading contender, died 12 years before Shakespeare, requiring a revisionist chronology of the plays. And to embrace Christopher Marlowe, one has to believe that he faked his murder in 1593 and escaped to the European continent. "But there is growing evidence for this," says Michael Frohnsdorff, head of the Marlowe Society, adding that a new commemorative window in Westminster Abbey gives Marlowe's dates as "1564-1593?" Sidney's are more straightforward. She was born three years before Shakespeare and died five years after. When she suffered a series of personal losses, the plays turned darker. "It all fits," says Williams.

Case closed? Not yet. As intriguing as Williams's argument is, her evidence is circumstantial. Proof, says Sidney biographer Margaret Hannay, "would require things like letters from contemporaries praising 'Mary Sidney's Hamlet'." Until that proof turns up, scholars will stand by the man from Stratford. But that won't stop mystery lovers from trying to unseat him. The intrigue could prove as immortal as the works of the Bard—whoever he or she really was.
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Note: I know you may have found this long, but isn't it interesting?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 

King of Hobbies

“King of Hobbies, Hobby of Kings” is how stamp collecting has often been described.
The endless panorama of world events and scenes which is opened to the viewer of a stamp collection is perhaps why stamp collecting fascinates so many people.

I started collecting stamps when I was 11 but unfortunately I rarely do that now because less and less people send me letters by ordinary mail and prefer to write emails instead.
But I can happily say that I own a humble collection of 2 albums.
And here are some of my favorites


Saturday, May 07, 2005 

Marketing Made Easy

What is marketing?

You see a gorgeous girl at a party.
You go up to her and say, "I am very rich. Marry me!"
That's Direct Marketing

You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a
gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, "He's very rich. Marry him."
That's Advertising.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party.
You go up to her and get her telephone number.
The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm very rich.
Marry me."
That's Telemarketing.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl.
You get up and straighten your tie; you walk up to her
and pour her a drink.
You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she
drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, "By the way, I'm very rich "Will you marry me?"
That's Public Relations.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl.
She walks up to you and says, "You are very rich...
That's Brand Recognition.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party.
You go up to her and say, "I'm rich. Marry me"
She gives you a nice hard slap on your face.
That's Customer Feedback

Friday, May 06, 2005 

Wide Eyed Wonder

He might look like ET’s midget cousin, but this is in fact a tarsier monkey from the Philippines. One of the world’ smallest primates, the little cutie comes out at night.

Hello magazine

Monday, May 02, 2005 

Funny Link

  • Bird singing Scorpions
  • A friend sent me this link. I found it quite funny and thought I would share it with you all :)

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