Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Before the long weekend takes charge...

Drunk and Wild
Have you ever tried Amarula? The best I can describe it as is that it's like Bailey's ... except it's tastes so much better. And it's African! It is made in South Africa from a tree called Marula.
The trees themselves cannot be cultivated, and so the fruit must be harvested in the wild, where it stands ripening under the African sun. As they ripen the berry.s skin becomes a light yellow, with white flesh inside around a large stone. Rich in vitamin C, and the nut packed with natural oil, this succulent, tart fruit draws the animals of the plains with the promise of its annual feast. This fruit is the base ingredient from which Amarula is made.
So, I kinda knew all this. What I didn't expect was this - utterly hilarious!


Then the top 100 undiscovered websites, classic and for 2007. It was a fest.


Remember when Netscape used to have a built in wysiwyg basic HTML editor? I think that used to be about the only reason i ever used Netscape. It's a cool feature, I thought. Netscape didn't think so ... the feature disappeared (and/or Netscape disappeared from my list of apps). Anyway, I'm not sure what to do with this find yet, but here's a nifty plugin for Firefox. It lets you right click on a text box and Xinha then gives you a separate window or a sub-window to compose HTML, alternating b/n wysiwyg and source.

Spider Nation

This is one of those rare moments where a new discovery in science sucks.

Physicists have found the formula for a Spiderman suit. Only recently has man come to understand how spiders and geckos effortlessly scuttle up walls and hang from ceilings but it was doubted that this natural form of adhesion would ever be strong enough to hold the weight of real life Peter Parkers.
This will pretty much kill the sport known as rock climbing. There'll be freaking spider-wannabes everywhere. Or maybe that will be the new sport.

Khadja Nin

She's from Burundi, raised in Burundi and Zaire. I used to listen to her music a while back. A very long while back ... then I must have stopped.

I can't believe this CD has been out for over 10 years and I never got to it until recently. I only know 'M'barik Fall' in there. Well, better late than never.

Sambolera is an easy favorite ... of everybody, apparently. However, Sina Mali, Sina Deni stands as the most replayed in my book right now. You can listen to samples here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

UK, Japan & US

Amy Winehouse

I knew the woman was nutty, but I didn't think I was betting my money on it. Months ago a friend and I bought tickets to her upcoming concert in Darby/Philly, PA. It was supposed to be on Sep 13th, which is Jewish new year ... a day after Ethiopian new year. Since my friend is Jewish, and I Ethiopian, we figured, hey, what better excuse to party in the middle of the week?

But then we both kept coming across news articles that made us question our wisdom in buying those tickets. There was the spitting at fans, hitting her own head with the microphone, vomiting on stage, collapsing due to drug overdose ... you name it, she's done it. And she kept singing Rehab:
They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go
Well, there's only so much a (withered) human body can take. It seems she finally said, 'yes, yes, yes'. She's canceled her US tour and checked into rehab. About time.

If you've not heard her before, her voice/music is something. She is ... something else!

Now I need to hunt for my refund.

Kabuki in the 21st Century

There are a few places I have to visit. Japan's one of them.

The Matrix Ping Pong

Why is my girlfriend mad at me?


It started out well, with me packing 1/2 a box of books. It ended with me reading the books I was supposed to be packing. But that's cool. I figure, I never perform well while not under pressure. I never ever do. So to hell with packing. Today's chill day. Tomorrow's activitating. I'll start packing on Friday at 8pm and stay up all night.

Hey, at least it has worked before ...


So, went on vacation coz ... well, not too long ago yekolotemari stopped by my apt, and then claimed that it was his birthday (good one, yekolo ... nice stab at trying to get pampered). Well, there's no pampering at my place. But I figured I could masarer something in my underused kitchen and hope that siyayew dengiTo Tilo indemiTefa.

At that point I knew who yeqolotemari was coz .. well, there can only be one of such a person in North Jersey! I've seen him comment around here a few times but I never volunteered to share my blog identity, I never asked for his.

So, as I was mangodagoding in my kushna, I heard him yell, 'anch nesh demo lekas Tobian?' At first I said I'd no clue what he was talking about. Then I asked where he heard it from. He heard it from somebody who I technically don't know ... which was kinda odd. It bothered me. The first time was during New Year in DC. Somebody introduced me as, 'this is Tobian' at a party... umm, how about not? I don't even like being called be bet sim let alone some username. But the music was loud, the crowd was happy, alcohol was in the air ... well, I smiled and moved on. It never got better since.

Andrew noted that one of the similarities Sudanese bloggers have with Ethiopians is that we use a lots of pseudonyms. We've a few real lifers, like Noalwi, Yemi and Fezz. The rest of us stick to nicknames coz ... well, for whatever Habeshalacious reason I didn't create this account under my real name.

So, here's my resolution ... if you ever ask me to my face if I am Tobian, I will always answer that I am not. So don't ask. On that note, Tobian, whoever the hell she/he/it is, is back on ranting track.

Well, this has been a ranting ground all along.


So I put a functional template on this thing and started reading through posts from the past month and realized that they're a lil too peronal for my taste. Argh.

This is why I should instead be packing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I dislike packing. I hate packing. I loath packing. Arggghhh ... maybe this is it. I'm finally hitting my limit.

I've moved in 6 of the past 7 years. Wow. WTF? I hadn't thought of that until I decided to procrastinate by writing crap I shouldn't.

It's 10pm. I almost never sleep before midnight - it makes me feel like i'm wasting the day. Today I've been feeling like going to sleep since 8pm. So far I've packed 1/2 a box of books.

I need to start throwing out books. I've read almost every English book that's not school/work related and is not a reference.

I've not read most of my amharic books, but the ones I've read, I've read multiple times.

I've way too many bibles ... for a person who hasn't read the bible in over 15 years. Which reminds me ... i think i've an old post i should publish.

I should have paid for packers and movers.

I don't think I'll move next year. Or the year after.

That's a depressing thought.

Oh yeah, of depression & suicide. I always end up saying something that I think I'll regret when I speak of both topics. No regrets yet. I never mean to be disrespectful - it's just there's something that doesn't sit well with the way society expects me to react. It finally struck me, these two issues are much like homosexuality. A very common argument that you'll hear being thrown at homophobes is, 'you know statistics show that most homophobic people are gay themselves'. It may be thrown at pple to make them feel uncomfortable, but I think there's an element of truth in there. You can only make other people's business personal if it is personal to you as well.

The thing with depression/suicide is ... if somebody makes a conscious decision to not commit suicide after a difficult deliberation, then to say suicide/depression is beyond the control of the individual is to invalidate that person's state of conscious being. It can have a few alternative meanings. a) although the person has had previous brushes with suicidal thoughts the person was not truly suicidal to begin with b) the person is suicidal, but the conscious decision not to commit suicide was not done at the true testing limit.

So if it ever crosses this person's mind again that suicide is still an option, in both cases the person will now be thinking, 'maybe now I'm really suicidal and I can no more control it'.

Basically a suicidal person who makes a conscious decision not to commit suicide should not be encouraged or forced to believe that suicidal tendencies are beyond one's control ... as is commonly acknowledged of mental health in today's society.

That's what bugs me.

I think I'll go pack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

As the world marches on ...

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is looking to hire foreign pilots due to unprecedented fleet expansion. I understand they need to stay completive, but in a country where there's 90% urban unemployment rate, and being host to one of the best pilot schools in Africa, it seems to me somebody in EAL failed to plan well (even if staff left for other airlines ... every company has a turnover. Get with the program.)


Last year we got a group together at work and went for paint ball. One of my office mates, who happens to be an extremely tall guy, decided not to participate. His height had nothing to do with it, but if we didn't blame everything on his height, then he did. On this occasion the reason he gave must have been related to his hight, I think about how it would make him an easy target.

Upon hearing that, one other work mate disappeared for a while, came back and told us, "Did you know that Wilt Chamberlain was in the paint ball hall of fame?" Ok. I'd no clue who Wilt Chamberlain was -- it turns out he's a famous, tall (of course), American basketball player. "Really!", he assured us "Check Wikipedia."

So we checked Wikipedia and lo and behold, the entry said,
'''Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain''' ([[August 21]], [[1936]] – [[October 12]], [[1999]]) was an [[united States|American]] [[National Basketball Association]] [[basketball]] player. Known as ''Wilt the Stilt'' (a nickname he hated) or ''The Big Dipper'', he is regarded as one of the greatest and most dominant basketball players of all time for the incredible statistical achievements he attained throughout his playing career. Also a member of the paint ball hall of fame.
We didn't even have time to be skeptical. In a few minutes the original Wikipedia article had been reverted. We were as amused by our workmate modifying the entry as we were amazed by wikipedia's speedy reversion. Do they automate the supervision, or did somebody actually read through the modification and reject it in what felt like a minute?

Anyway, we thought it was the end of Wilt Chamberlain's Paint Ball Hall of Fame ... until this tool surfaced. It lets you search what wikipidia changes have been made from say, a range of IP addresses. In fact, it loads with IP range for your current location. As can be expected, Wilt Chamberlain's edit showed up under our work IPs.

It's kind of a creepy tool ... we were looking through the list and could sometimes guess who made the changes at work. Like, what are the chances somebody else at my work place will edit something about Ethiopia? (Thank god I don't have a wiki account :)

Of course it also has its good uses.

I forwarded a link to my tall, now ex-office mate, whose verdict was, "That sounds like a pretty sweet tool. It says to me: Run and hide!"

Pretty much.


I am officially procrastinating from packing ... and I will pay for it dearly ... soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The New Onion

I started reading The Onion before they got a website, or before I knew that they'd one. Their newspaper wasn't easily available in my area so I only used to read it whenever I went to visit siblings. When I found out that they had a website ... I no longer had reason to visit the siblings. Now The Onion has started video transmissions ... I no longer have reason to be literate. Yay!

The first (three) are flat out hilarious.

Military Ban On Gays For Their Own Protection, Says General

Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

Study: Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys

This is a great parody.

Live From Congress: Rep. Hardy Calls For A Ladies' Night Out

Talking of ladies nights, an American man was really talking of a 'ladies night out' time out. I guess everybody gotta get their 15 min of fame by all means necessary (I actually agree with him ... the issues just just doesn't seem worth the time)

Finally this, I just like the cover for Time magazine.

Time Releases Annual List Of Least Influential Americans

Monday, August 13, 2007

Multple Choice

Select one of the following
a) huh?
b) woha!
c) wtf!?
d) all of the above.
for each of the news items below.

Item 1 : 'Mooning' student in African jail

Item 2 : Texas goes exectution-happy. Again.

Item 3 : Hint: If it's not India, the dowry always comes from the man's side. Repeat after me. If it's not India ...

Item 4: Warning : Do not approach the police while high, or while looking to get high

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stuck & Restless

Getting stuck at airports is horrible. Partly because, well, it sucks. Also because it prompts me to do things I generally don't have time to fabricate. As it is I have to make a conscious effort to un-glue myself from my computer, but when I get stuck in a shitty airport with free wireless, what to do, what to do? Of course, there's a magazine in my bag ... but ... those papery things are so antiquated. It's more exciting to spend time on the computer trying to find a website that has hard-copy articles available online. Isn't ... it? Maybe I'm subconsciously an obsessive environmentalist. I've an aversion to leafing through dead leaves. Yup, that's it.

This is an attempt to de-glue myself from fabricating online adventures. (Maybe i should pick up WoW?)

I saw a workmate online and we started talking about a wedding he just returned from. He mentioned there was a gay reverend at the wedding who asked one of his buddies to a dance-off. At the dance-off the reverent started groping his buddy. Nice. I told him that's like a multi-purpose reverend ... of spiritual, entertainment and ... other values.

I'm not sure what led to what but my workmate then created a blog called "had-to-take-out-link-to-his-blog-coz-he-posted-the-image-below-w-my-full-name-which-is-a-no-no" - his line of thought when he's not talking work is often random and ridiculous, which makes him an awesome person to talk to.

Then we somehow got onto online ordinance. I mentioned I knew somebody who presided over a friend's wedding after getting his ordinance online. He'd to pay some minuscule amount but was legal enough to preside over the wedding ... which worked out perfect for the couple who were non-practicing Catholic and Jewish. That led to a google search and discovery of The Universal Life Church Monastery . Somewhere along the way I got ordained as :

I can get a prettier hard copy of my certification for some amount, which I've differed at the moment. Do you see the recurring theme here? Save the environment! Dyum, it's in my frugal blood.

It occured to me only after I submitted my real name goodbye that I'd not actually checked their tenet. What if they're into killing babies, i asked? "Even so, the certificate would be worth it", he assured me. Hmm. It turns out :
The Universal Life Church has only two tenets:

* To promote freedom of religion
* To do that which is right.

It is the responsibility of the individual to determine what is right as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and is within the law.

And this is their logo:

I can live with that. In fact, I support that.

Is the church 4Real? I don't know. Regardless, you should henceforth refer to me as Reverend Tobian.

Where is this fucking plane?? I've run out of stuff to ramble about.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not so mid, not so late

A couple of years ago a few things came up and knocked some sense into my perspective of the world. First was the realization that I am fully responsible for my happiness, and the other was a realization that our bodies are, God forbid, fragile. For a while I didn't quite know how to react. At first I buried my head in a pile of work and by the time I was done working, I was lucky if I had time to sleep. After around 6 months, I burned out. I took a few days off and went on a long drive by myself. The drive spanned a few of days. It was interesting but didn't like being by myself much. When I got back home I was clear about one item : I did not want a life that I would look back and regret.

I went on a rampage. My weekends started getting booked 5 weeks in advance. I jumped out of planes, i splashed, i ran, i boarded, I danced, I sang (in the shower mostly), I climbed, I threw parties, organized trips, I drove ... my god, I drove.

Now it seems I've come to the end of the circle - once again I'm not quite sure how to proceed. My trip to Ethiopia was a good needed pause. In a way it seems to me I went from one state of non-thinking (working on end) to another (playing on end). On a good note, I don't regret either. But as I transition from my mid-twenties to not-so-mid-twenties, I have have to suck it up and ask, 'Where does this yellow brick road lead to?'

Somebody once told me, 'you can't reach your destination if you don't start out with a goal'. I didn't really have a goal over the past couple of years.

So, on this birthday, I have the set myself the goal ... to set a goal :)

For enduring the past few years' time and taste : Tizibt.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tempted New York

I had been thinking a lot about moving to Manhattan, but battling with the idea of trading my currently calm surroundings of statewide, littered 2 story buildings and strip malls for the hustle bustle of preoccupied, perhaps a tad self-important new yorkers pouring out of skyscrapers at odd hours of any day. I feel like if one has the opportunity, cities like London, New York and Tokyo are must-live-in places, especially in the absence of kids and family.

I gave my notice to the management office of my apartment and now, whether i like it or not, I've to be out of my place by the end of the month. Looking for an apartment is a daunting task. Looking for an apartment in Manhattan is a daunting task and a half. It so happens I had to be out in Ohio last week, and I’ll be back there again next week. I attempted a bit of apartment hunting this weekend and here Sunday evening approaches with nothing to rave about.

I went up in Spanish Harlem to see two apartments, one of which reminded me a the meqabir houses you'd see in the country side in Ethiopia - tiny, windowless and dark. The street scene, on the other hand, was my kinda scene. I've never liked prim and proper places. Harlem streets, in my opinion, have personalties you can never characterize. This time a rushed Hispanic man stopped me and fired a couple of inquisitive sentences. I responded, 'No hablo Espanol', with a weak smile in what I know is a decent accent (well, Americans have a knack for butchering pronunciations and I'm not there yet) . He looked at me for a second more and walked on. (Ok, I speak a bit of Spanish but I hear it less, and specially less when it's fired at me at 5 words/second rate). Then there was an old man sitting with a very nice pile of stereo system, drumming well (very well, to my untrained ears) to blasting Caribbean music. A block lower was a lady who screeched away on a microphone in Spanish. She paused in between to interject 2 or 3 English sentences, the gist of which was, 'Evil, evil is no good for you. Evil takes away your ignorance.' I do hope she meant innocence, or arrogance. Maybe she means both. Oh wait, the latter is ... bah ... who knows what she meant.

The better of the apartments was owned by a guy who turned out to be a funny Israeli who's lived in new york for 'toity' years. 'Twenty?', I asked. 'No, Toity'. Huh? 'Toity, toity ... three... zero'. Oh. I don't know if that's an Israeli thing. 'I hate rent', he told me. I told him, likewise, and if he figures out a way for me to have that apartment sans rent, I'd take it on the spot. He pauses for a bit and goes, 'You mean like a sugar daddy?' I guess I had that one coming. I told him that, in my book, would still be considered as rent.

I filled out an application and pointed out that somebody will have to clean the kitchen more. He called me back and said, 'let me see your knees'. What? 'let me see your kneeeees'. I'm standing right there in a pair of jeans. I stare on. I had no clue what he was getting at. 'Good knees!', he goes, 'Woman, get down on your knees and do some cleaning.' I briefly thought of a HBO documentary I saw last week of Billie Jean King handing Bobby Riggs a pig symbolizing male chauvinism at their Battle of the Sexes match in '73. But this man was laughing at his own joke so hard that I'd to let it go. Later we walked by the kitchen when he said, 'oh, gross', like a 13 year old kid. I said, 'Exactly!'. But surely, he must have seen it before.

On my way out of the city, I parked my car 'near' (4 avenues out) my office to grab my laptop. I was legging it and on the phone with a zemed when i noticed a car slowing down on my right and a man saying something which appeared to be directed to me. I figured he was asking for directions. I got closer to the curb, leaving a parked car between myself and this car. There were three men in the car, the one in the driver's seat yelled out,

'I've been waiting for you for 30 minuites. You never showed up.'



It took me a while to acknowledge that there was no way I could have misconstrued a question for directions into that statement. I start laughing and walk away. The car continues to crawl at my pace.

'Come on. Let's go have breakfast'.

I keep talking on the phone but the guy is relentless.

'What do you say ? Let's go to a MacDonald's'

At this point I start laughing again and ask my zemed when MacDonald's started serving a breakfast menu, and more importantly, when did pick up lines become so bizarre as, 'hey babe, let's go have breakfast at a MacDonald's'. I glance towards the car, nod my head yeah-rrrrite, and continue walking.

The next thing I know the guy has pulled the car into a spot by a fire hydrant and is following me saying, 'Let's at least have a talk, sweetie ... I'll make it up to you', when it occurred to me, holy shit, he thinks I'm somebody else.

I opted to bolt. I was in mid-town at 11am. I didn't expect anything weird to happen, but I crossed the street and hastened my pace. The next time I looked back either he'd given up the chase, or become indistinguishable in the crowd. I stayed in my office for an hour before I made it back in the streets again.

The thing is, when you start apologizing to a girl who you presumably ... let's say, slept with but can't even remember what she looks like, shouldn't there be a rule of thumb as to how far you'll go to apologize ... for whatever it is that you've done?

And for heaven's sake, don't take her to a McDonald's!