Monday, March 12, 2007

Further Reading

The internet is driving me crazy these days. I can't get a page without refreshing it a thousand times. I have to check most of my emails on my cellphone with is the most convenient and the quickest way to do it. I barely see any other blogs, I read the comments as they arrive to my email, and am having a hard time commenting on my website. It's all the fault of internet assholes in the Itisalat.
Any way, most recently I finished two books (rather eight if all were summed up together)
The first Statistical Evidence in Medical Trials: What Do the Data Really Tell Us? This is, I think, a must read for everyone who will come across medical trials, whether reading or designing them, in order to understand what those statisticians are talking about. The book is very smoothly written, loaded with examples, and funny. It comes in around 190 pages and can be finished in a good two days. It is written by Stephen D. Simon.
The other book (seven books) is The Chronicles of Narnia. It took me about 3 weeks or so to finish the whole seven adventures, but it was well worth it. I can't see myself in a position that allows me to criticize it, as there is much to write about, but I'll just say it has many meanings, mostly related to christianity. Once you start reading an adventure you'd want to finish it sooner than later. They are written for children but as an adult, some say am not yet, I liked them a lot.
In fact now I have read and watched both the Lord of the Rings, and Narnia. I am getting more fond of fantasy writings. I think my next reading project will be Harry Potter. In the meantime I would value any other input about excellent series of fantasy worlds.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Arrival at the Airport

Mother is coming today from London where she has spent a month at my newlywed brother’s. I got a call yesterday from them saying that the flight going from Damascus will be late, and subsequently the departing flight from London, and they wanted to know what time should she be at the airport.
It is a weekend in UK so the Syrian Airline office is closed. Thankfully they had a back up emergency phone number that no one ever answers. Thus, forget London. No one here was able to figure out what is going to happen either and they all referred me to London!!
Today, here is what happened:
10:15 Airport information: the flight is scheduled to arrive 15:30 (regular arrival time)
10:30 Brother called: Mom has checked in, she’s in the airport
11:15 Airport information: the flight may arrive at 2:30 (AM) after midnight
12:45 Checking Heathrow airport website: plane is being taxied (meaning on the runway)
12:50 A friend of Dad’s calls: They sent a telegram from Madrid!!! The flight will arrive at 17:00
12:55 Checking Heathrow airport website: plane is airborne (meaning it’s in the air)
13:05 Dad calling airport information: when is the flight arriving?
- At 15:30
- Are you sure we were told it may be later?
- (after a pause) Oh, we don’t know, we haven’t received the telegram yet
15:00 Checking Heathrow airport website: flight is not found (never been, never will be for today)!!!
15:10 Airport information: the flight may arrive at midnight or 1:00 AM, call after 20:00 to check
15:25 My fiancée asked airport information: the flight will arrive at 23:30
17:12 Mom calls from Damascus airport. No one is there to meet her. She got a taxi and came home
17:40 Mom is home
17:50 Airport information: the flight will arrive at 20:00
18:52 Airport information (I am speaking now): the flight arrived at 17:00
- (me screaming) what kind of behavior is this, first you say at 23:30 and now you say it arrived. It’s not right, I have people arriving at the airport and nobody there to welcome them!!
- (not knowing how to apologize) we’re really sorry... bla bla bla...
- Who is your boss, who is the superior guy?
- The civil airlines general manager
- How can I get to him?
- I don’t have the number, why?
- I wanna complain to him; don’t you guys receive telegrams for the flights?
- (now explaining their tragedy) we don’t have the machine anymore!!
- So how do you know when the flight is coming?
- We ask the companies, and from what this and that say. We have information as much as any normal citizen.
- When did they take it away?
- Almost a month ago
- Why? Did they wanna use it somewhere else?
- No, the civil airlines طيران مدني is not paying the SETA (I hope this is the right spelling) money, so they stopped the telegram line. It’s only $400 a year (20,000 SP). Please if you are able to convey the message to the manager (I have his name) do, because the machine is all what we have for work.
- I’ll try my best
So if you know me well, the story must have a sequel. I in fact called Al-Thawra newspaper and talked to one of the editors or reporters with the story. How much influence my phone call will have I don’t know, but one has to hope. In the meantime, if any reader (doubtfully) can convince the طيران مدني to give up 20,000 SP for such a simple thing (it’s barely a phone bill) then do.