Saturday, January 27, 2007


One good benefit of sitting in the office with no active work to be done is the ability to think and come up with all kind of ideas (serious and stupid). Very long time ago (more than a year) I imagined myself being the Minister of Interior Affairs or the governor of Damascus, then started imagining what things I would do or change. And here is the part about trash (and trasholution is a merge between trash + solution).
1- Trash containers need to have a designated space on the street marked by two pavement extension to surround its sides. There should be some dimples in the asphalt for the wheels to rest in and make unintended movement of the can difficult. This location should not take a space that is intended for driving cars, and is preferable along the side where cars are parked.
2- All containers should have a covering that would be easy to use, and easy to put away for the purpose of evacuating the can in the trash car.
3- Our trash containers are ugly and dirty, which may make sense because they are designed for trash. I suggest that students of the high institute for arts (كلية الفنون الجميلة) put their mark on the containers, thus drawing and colorizing the exterior using materials that are not easily dissolvable and easy to clean. Sanitation workers should have the duty of cleaning the container once at least every week.
4- Ensuring the regular evacuation of trash containers (which I think already takes place).
5- In public area (malls, shops, fairs, walkways, bridges, etc...) there should be big trash containers with a nice exterior. These should be evacuated regularly more often.
6- On street lamp poles the current containers are narrow and rectangle like. Many trash items do not fit easily. I think they need to be round, and the wandering sanitation workers need to clean them as they move around.
7- Sanitation workers: for sure they will need standardized tools. The containers should be of appropriate size, and light material (not the current metal). There should be a place for the tools like the broom, the drawer, trash pickers and others. These tools should be designed as to spare bending as much as possible. All workers should wear gloves, and their suits washed or changed twice a week (by the government). And maybe changing the color navy to something else (dark gray or something)
8- Recycling should be encouraged. I don’t see us separating our trash yet, or ever, but it should start at the trash dumpster.
9- Education is not enough. It should start anyway at school, at houses, in mosques, churches and everywhere. But... Strict law enforcement should take place. Huge penalties against those who litter, including a mandatory public service in trash removal. And if one throws a piece of trash outside his or her car for instance, nearby citizens should pick that trash and throw it back in, and let us see how they’d feel.
10- Targeted advertising around this subject that should be emotionally effective.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Misc. News

Ok, here is some variety news at my neck of the wood.
News for single colleagues in USA, Michel Salookeh, a friend of mine have just finished a visit to Syria, in which he got engaged. Those of you reading this blog (you know yourselves) you should think of coming here more frequently and join the rest.
Over the past few weeks I have read a book called “أبو نضال، بندقية للإيجار” about the famous Abu Nidal and his organization by Patrick Seal (not sure of the spelling). It gives an insight to the relationship between different Palestinian organizations and the wars between them, and how the author concluded that Abu Nidal was either a Mosad agent or he had Mosad agents highly ranked in his organization. A scary book worthy of reading.
I also read again Firas Al-Sawah famous book “مغامرة العقل الأولى” about ancient myth among different civilization. I always enjoy his writings.
I try now to read a book about Camu and Sartre. I hate modern philosophy, but I have to give it a try.
I watched “The Departed” in theatre. It was a very nice movie, violent but this is natural for a Scorsese movie. If they don’t give him an Oscar this year, I am sure he will commit suicide.
On the other hand, they removed the booth “كشك” in Ghassani, the rumor says they will remove all booths. That is one sad thing, this booth has been there for ever and we had many memories with, and near it.
The minister of health said that he issued an order not to accept any new medical specialties, so this means I have done well withdrawing my application before they say No :-p
And by the way, does anyone know why we use the feminine words such as داعية، رحالة، علامة and others as adjectives to male persons??? This was a topic of a heated debate today. We got nowhere yet.
And finally, I will be lecturing on how to search medical literature Sunday after next.
That’s all folks

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Other Funny Typos

This is taken from a poster for a new place in town. I have never seen the work "pub" written in Arabic before, and thinking about it, I will never attempt to do that. بوب???? This was hilarious.
But the winner is of course "willcome".
-Willcome Sir.
-Sure I will.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On Blogging

After 18 months of blogging on “Bassam In Syria”, I thought to myself I should say something about blogging. Sometime in the future, blog will be the word of the year. I am not sure when the culture of blogging started, but I got introduced to it in 2003. Then I decided to write a blog: “A Syrian Abroad”. I was in USA at the time and for reasons beyond what my memory can tell I decided not to make it public, so I started to write to myself, and had some 34 posts before I stop. I used to title my entries like the one of this entry: “On ......” Just personal thoughts of certain subjects, and sometimes I just needed to express my feelings. It is still not available to public.
Of course, I decided to write this as a way of staying in touch with my friends in USA after I came back to Syria. I think only 4 or 5 of those friends continued reading, the rest had better things to do, lol. But all of a sudden I had a different community of readers, not big, but varied. Every now and then someone gets interested enough to write or post a comment. In the beginning I was very involved, both in writing and reading other blogs. But I have spent some times away, and on the list of favorite blogs on my internet explorer many have taken a very long time away. Regardless, I was happy to meet, even only mentally, others who may or may not share the same ideas.
So why do we blog? There are millions of bloggers and blog servers, beside, and it will be hard to summarize it all. But I think I can give it a try, and am sure if I Google the question there would be some answers somewhere, but I will not.
First, some, like me, would want to write about their experiences. Some try to make a point, whether social, political, religious, etc. Others have a talent for writing that they would find a place for publishing, readers, and commentators, for free I might add, all of which are usually friendly. Some bloggers, I think, like to have their voice heard whatever it is they have to say. And there must be zillions of other reasons.
In looking at blogs, I believe it would be interesting to stratify them into categories. Maybe I should do that someday with the Syrian blogs. There is the sarcastic, the funny, the critical, the political, the creative, the angry, the biography, the opinionated, the news parrot, the not-so-well-specified, and many others. I personally like the ones that are personal, and related to everyday experience and to personal thoughts, that has nothing to do with politics.
And I still don’t know why is blogspot banned in Syria?

Blogging History

This is my version of the who, how, when, and what of blogging.
God created the world in six days, and many think that on the seventh he rested. Wrong... On the seventh day he, or she, created a blog after making Adam and Eve. He called his blog: “Fools in action”. We can’t read this blog for two reasons: the first is that the host server was not linked to earth and stayed celestial. The second is that God was fed up with all the action the fools did, and in a moment of anger he deleted the blog, and with it the whole universe. This resulted in an explosion called by today’s scientists “the big bang”. So the big bang is actually the end of a previous universe and not the beginning of ours. Then God got bored and decided to recreate the universe attempting to control his temper this time. On the seventh day he created another blog and called it “Oops, I did it again”.
But as far as our earth, the first mention of blogging was by the cave man hundreds of thousand years ago. Their connection was so slow to the point that not until now we were able to read them (connection was something like 1 bit per decade). Some blogging attempts by the Pharos, Sumerians, and Babylonians where done, but have not been very successful.
In the modern history, blogging was mentioned by many philosophers and authors who influenced the world. Descartes said: “I blog, therefore I exist”. Quoting one of Shakespeare’s plays we find: “to blog or not to blog, that is the question”. There are blog songs like “The blog must go on” by Queen, “How deep is your blog” by the Bee Gees, and “My blog” by Frank Sinatra. Motion pictures like “Vanilla blog” starring Tom Cruise, “Blogs of the Caribbean” starring Johnny Depp, and “Blog wars” produced by George Lucas.
So we see that blogging is a universal phenomenon, and thanks for the gift of blogging that allows people like me to write stupid things like this here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

End of the line

Some of you who followed my blog know that I have applied to create and register a new subspecialty in medicine: palliative medicine. And this has eventually come to an end after 14 months. And this is how it ended.
Last month I went to ask about the appliacation, which have surely accumulated by then a 10 cm worth of dust. The clerks told me the same old story about putting new specialties on hold and that they are "discussing them" in general. I also learned that no one has looked at the application yet.
Upon asking what things they are discussing, I just want an answer even if it was no, and I will happy with that. And here is what they are rationalizing these days. It is a legal matter, and the doctor sitting there gave me this scenario.
Let's suppose that there is such a registered specialty as palliative medicine. And that there was a person who is dying but taken care of by another general practitioner who is not specialized in palliative medicine (which happens and happened since Hippocrates). Now let's say that a relative decided to sue the doctor, then the judge would say is there a specialty that deals with this situation, and someone would say: yes, palliative medicine. The doctor will be found guilty because he is taking care of things that are not his specialty. Meaning that the existence of a specialty limits what other people can do.
So I said: this means if I am an internist treating someone for high blood pressure, and that guys decided to sue me, then I will be found guilty because I am not a cardiologist or a nephrologist!! And guess what the answer was??? Yes, something like that.
Can anyone here tell me where is the logic in that??? this means if no one else but me have a palliative medicine specialty, then I should be involved with every single person who is dying in Syria or having a end stage disease, and furthermore anyone else who gets involved is interfering with an area that is not his business. And what role do general practioners have anymore??? Killing flies?? "Ohh, you have tonsilitis! You need to go to the ENT doctor. You have some diarrhea, can't do anything for you, go to a gastroenterologist. You have a tiny burn?? sorry, not my field. You need a dermatologist!! You peed yesterday twice instead of once? better see a nephrologist or a urologist.... What is this???
This is not the end. At the same time you are told that as you have a valid license why care?? you can practice however you want.. (I can probably do surgery at the time that the last time I sutured anything it was a pig's skinn in a training course 5 years ago).
Needless to say, they informed me that chances are little they would let it pass. So I requested the withdrawal of the application, and took it back home with me. My dad said he'll try with the minister of health directly, I said good luck to that..
And someone still talks about wanting to move the country forward... not with this mentality... Shame on them

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Road Trip

I need to say first of all that I am incapable of writing comments now even using the inblog website from my home computer, so there will be no replies until further notice.
I went to Safita after the New Year Eve, as I recovered from my “flu”, and today we came back. The travel was the worst I have ever been to in Syria. First there was rain, then before we reach Homs there was snow again on the sides of the road. Traffic Police (aka 115) said the roads are patent with difficulty. We stopped in Homs for a bit then took off. Then came the foggy part; visibility was anything from 3-40 meters at most. An area of clear roads followed, then snow started to fall near Qastal – it was more like small hails.
Here, dad made a mistake and hit the brake. The car started swinging and my dad fought to keep control. I must have been thinking to myself: oh no, not again. My mother definitely had flashbacks of a previous similar incident (check my post on Nov 17th 2005), in addition to her life before her eyes. As the car was getting out of control it decided to face the right hand shoulder and make a jump off it down to the lower land (1.5 meters deep roughly). It was like the movies. As we made the jump, dad was dead silent, mom had a panic attack for sure, and I was like: Shit, we’ll miss lunch.
Luckily enough the van on our right side was slowing and didn’t hit us on the side...
Luckily enough where we landed was drivable...
Luckily enough the car didn’t break, no engine damage...
Luckily enough there was a sand ramp 30 meters ahead we could use to get back to the freeway...
And luckily enough no one was hurt.
As we got out of the “ditch” there was an accident 100 meters ahead in which a car had a smashed front as it apparently ran into, or under, some big vehicle. In retrospect, I preferred our luck. Needless to say we didn’t exceed 70 km/hr afterwards. And yes, we made it to lunch (we were invited).
And as usual, here is a drawing of what I think has happened then.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

After two months...

Ok. Here I am back on popular demand... just kidding. That was a long vacation from writing, I think I deserved it. But now it is getting serious, so I'll attempt to behave and be consistent. And here I will summarize things that happened with me; nothing exciting I might add.
Trips: I went once to Lebanon for a medical conference. We stayed at the Movenpick and what a lovely hotel. I tried to use there gym but the machines where somewhat sofisticated I had to use the help of a young chick to tell me what to do. I also attended a male belly dancer session in one of the restaurants. That enforces the notion that men are superior, best chefs, best beauticians, and now best dancers... and the poor Harvard prof had to suffer all the propaganda last year.
Reading: I read a book called طيور الحذر by ابراهيم نصرالله. I read about it in another persons blog and it took me ages to find it. very nice indeed, very creative except for the ending chapter which I couldn't decifer. And currently am rereading an old book "Physics for fun الفيزياء المسلية". It is an old book (Written by a russian phyisicist, Yakov Perlman, in 1940's) and has lots of useful and fun information, am not sure if it exists in English. I also tried to read a book on Buddha in French, to my surprise I was able to do that despite not touching anything French for over 14 years.
Movies: Nothing outstanding, but I spend a lot of time in front of MBC2 (a movie channel) watching whatever is on.
Writing: I finished my chapters, my excuse for the vacation, and that gave me such a relief... at least for a while before they start editting and correcting.
Relationship: My finacee travelled abroad for few weeks but she's back for the holidays. Needless to say we spend most of the time together.
Xmas: It feels like it is using its glamor. There is more and more light decoration every year, but that's all what's left. With the mobile trend, visiting people became something of the past for many people. You only need ot write an SMS template or forward one that you already received to everyone you care about in your contact list. Mission accomplished. This is very shameful, and I am part of it. I got a couple of presents though, even this is not becoming exciting.
New Year's Eve: I went with my fiancee and siblings in law to a party. Danced, sang, shouted, ate, and stayed up late. That night and next day I had the worst cold you can imagine. I felt like drowning in my own secretions, suffocating, had no voice, no energy, was pathetic. And I thought to myself, if this is how the new year is starting, I'd rather spend it comatose.. lol.

And for these occasion I would like to say, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Adha to everyone.