Categories
Geek Personal

I don’t Google anymore

This is a bit of an odd one, but I haven’t used Google as my primary search engine in three months. Instead, I’ve been using a search engine called Kagi and I love it.

I first heard about Kagi through the blog Daring Fireball or maybe his podcast “The Talk Show“. I tried it out for a few days and liked it, so I subscribed and I’ve been using it since.

I like Google a lot obviously and I’ve been using it ever since they launched. My favorite search engine before Google was HotBot which was launched in 1996 by Wired Magazine, but I haven’t used anything other than Google since. I tried Bing, I tried DuckDuckGo but neither of them did anything for me.

This past year I’ve been experimenting with trying new things that could possibly improve my online experience. Earlier in the year I dropped my favorite browser Google Chrome for Apple’s Safari. It’s been nearly a year and it’s still something I’m getting used to. Google Chrome had become too bloated and on Macs, it drains the battery a lot quicker than Safari. So I dropped it. It was difficult at first mostly because of some extensions that are only available for Chrome, but it’s been a mostly positive experience and I’m glad I’m now using Safari. It’s so much faster and feels lighter.

With Google, my issue was that it became harder to find what I wanted quickly without having to first sift through a bunch of shitty websites that are filled with Ai generated content, or I have to dig past sponsored posts to get to what I want. So I decided to try Kagi and it works really really well.

I started with the free trial which is limited to 100 searches but I went through it really quickly. I then had the choice to pay 5$ a month for 300 searches, or 10$ for unlimited searches. I went with the unlimited searches which was the right choice because looking at my search usage, I’ve exceeded 300 searches every month.

Usage
Oct 2023: 739 searches
Nov 2023: 1319 searches
Dec 2023: 643 searches

Setting up Kagi as my primary search engine on Safari on the Mac and on my phone was a bit of a hassle since Safari doesn’t have Kagi as a search engine for me to pick from, but Kagi have an easy step by step guide which did the trick.

The experience has been really good, I mean it has to be if I’m paying 10$ a month for it instead of using the free Google. All the results I get are relevant all the time. I no longer, or at least very rarely get sent to one of those Ai generated sites and the whole search experience is ad free.

The only time I ever use Google is when I want to search for images. Images.google.com is still better than Kagi’s image search so I always check Kagi first, not find what I want and then head to images.google.

So yeah it’s weird but I don’t Google anymore and surprisingly it’s working out really well. The next step is to try to use Apple Maps over Google Maps just to see if there are any benefits, but I think that is going to be a struggle since Google Maps is pretty great at what it does.

If you want to check out Kagi, here is the link.

Categories
Personal

Salmiya Garbage Update Part 2

So this is a quick update on my previous post about the garbage issue behind my house. It’s taken me a while to post this update because I was waiting for things to settle but I do have some very interesting information.

In my last post I posted about how after complaining to the baladiya about the overflowing garbage, they started removing the bins one by one until there were none. After sharing the photo of the huge pile of garbage on the floor because there were no bins, the baladiya came and cleaned it up. They didn’t replace the bins but went around warning all the buildings not to dump garbage there anymore. Overnight there were no longer any bins or any garbage.

So I was talking to our building manager about the garbage situation and he filled me in on how the whole thing works and this is where it gets interesting.

If you look at the photo above you’ll see the bins are different colors. Each color represents a different garbage collecting company. There are a number of companies that are licensed by the baladiya to collect the garbage, different buildings work with different companies. Our building works with a company that has blue bins and we pay 50KD a month to dump our garbage in their bins. The building next to us might have a deal with the red bins or yellow bins and pay 35KD a month to dump their garbage in it. When I flagged the garbage issue with the Baladia, they told the companies to remove their bins which is why every day one bin was disappearing, it was the companies coming and collecting their bins.

So when that happened, the buildings in the area got stuck with no where to throw the garbage. If you have a contract that says you can throw your garbage in the red bins, you can’t throw them in the blue bins and vice versa. Luckily for our building, there was a blue bin down the street so our building cleaners had a place to dump our garbage, they just had to walk further down the street. Not sure what other buildings did, but for a few days, there were no bins and no garbage in the sand lot.

Then bins started arriving, but it wasn’t like before:
– The bins were newer and cleaner (photo on top)
– They were laid out in pairs with two from every company
– We finally got 6 bins instead of 5
– The garbage hasn’t overflowed since

It’s been over a week since the new system was implemented and the garbage hasn’t over flowed since. Not sure if adding one extra bin is the reason the garbage stopped overflowing, maybe the red company had too many contracts for one bin and the Baladia forced them to put a second bin, I’m not sure. Also, there no longer is a blue bin so I’m guessing our building has now signed up with another collector, or we’re still dumping our garbage in the bins further down the road.

Whatever the case, the whole thing was interesting and the garbage situation seems to be sorted… for now.

Categories
Personal

Did it only rain in Salmiya last night?

Yesterday I experienced the worst rain I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was insane, and it feels like it only hit Salmiya.

Last night I decided to walk to Marina Mall but as I left my apartment it started to drizzle and my Apple Watch told me there would be light showers. So went back home, took my car and drove to Marina and then Symphony Mall since I needed to pass by AAB World.

While in Symphony I started hearing loud bangs, one of the shops under construction hoarding was fluttering from the wind. I looked at my Apple Watch and it said the windspeed was 24km/h which wasn’t that bad. But then I noticed people starring up at the glass roof and thats when I realized it was raining, heavy.

My car was parked a short walk from the mall and because I didn’t have an umbrella, I kinda was waiting for an opportunity to get to my car when I got a call from my building guy telling me I should get home and move my cars because the parking was starting to flood.

My underground parking is 3 basements, the last basement usually floods ankle deep during storms and so I tend to move my cars up to the middle or top level basement. When there is a storm warning, I sometimes move my cars to a multistory lot down the street and park it on the high floors. This time I didn’t get any warnings (light showers my ass weather app) and ALL my cars were parked in the most bottom basement.

Realizing the urgency of the situation I ran to my car (getting super soaked in the process) and drove back as quickly and safely as possible. Traffic was moving slow on the Gulf Road but thankfully it was moving. The water was so deep you couldn’t tell where the road ended and the sea began. You also barely could see because it was raining so heavily and there was even hail.

By the time I got to my neighborhood, the rain had stopped but the roads were all flooded but I was in my lifted Hilux so I wasn’t too worried (thank you Hilux for being a beast). I knew I didn’t have much time, I only had three out of seven car keys with me with the rest up in my apartment, but my priority was the Lotus since it’s the lowest of all my cars and I had that key on me. When I got to the basement the water was still shallow but there was a river coming down the parking entrance and a pipe in the basement had burst.

I first moved my Lotus up right away and then I’m not sure how, but I managed one by one to move all my cars up to the higher floors safely. I started with my lowest car and moved to the next tallest car until they were all on the safer higher floors. My Datsun had a fuel leak which I luckily just repaired this past weekend. My BMW M3 had a dead battery but I knew that and had a battery booster with me so managed to start the car easily. Suburban I hadn’t started in months and luckily just started. I feel really really lucky all the cars started and I was there in time to save them.

The water eventually got knee deep in the basement to the point even my tall knee high Hunter boots were filling up with water. I actually had four shoe changes starting with the sneakers I was originally wearing, to my water proof ankle hhigh hiking boots, to tall knee high boots to finally realizing I should just be in shorts and flip flops cuz the water was too deep.

I’ve never seen a storm like this. Sadly one of my neighbors wasn’t home and couldn’t get his car out in time and it’s now half deep in water and flooded on the inside.

After I calmed down and my adrenalin rush subsided, I decided to get online to see how the rest of Kuwait coped. To my surprise, all the drama seemed to have just been in Salmiya. wtf!

Categories
Personal Reviews

The iPhone 15 Pro is the Best iPhone Ever

I wasn’t planning to review the iPhone 15 Pro this year and mainly because I didn’t think people were still interested in the iPhone anymore, but I was wrong. After watching countless TikTok’s of the long queues in Dubai and then similar long queues in Kuwait of people lining up to get their hands on the new iPhone, I realized, people still care a lot.

Full disclosure, I have a long-standing relationship with Xcite who provided me with this iPhone to review. They’ve been very supportive from the very early days of the blog and I’m a huge Xcite fan.

I’ve been using the phone for over a week now after upgrading from my iPhone 13 Pro, and to be honest, it doesn’t feel any different. This isn’t a phone that’s going to make Android users want to switch over, and it also isn’t a phone that’s going to make existing iPhone users run out and buy one.

But, this is the best iPhone ever made.

People complain about Apple’s incremental updates but I don’t understand why they make it sound like it’s a bad thing. The new iPhone is faster, has a better screen, better camera, better battery life, is lighter, and now even has USB-C. It’s better in every way compared to the previous iPhone but that doesn’t seem enough.

I tend to want to upgrade to a new phone because of the camera which I use a lot for my blog. I do have my Fuji X100V always nearby, but the iPhone’s standard 28mm and the ultra wide lens tend to be more useful than my Fuji’s 35mm and the iPhone is always on me while the Fuji isn’t. So any extra bit of improvement in the camera is always beneficial for me.

So, should you upgrade?

I upgraded from an iPhone 13 Pro and didn’t really notice much of a difference overall. If a friend with a 13 Pro asked me if they should upgrade, I’d tell them they didn’t have to. On the other hand, if you’re an iPhone Max user, the weight difference alone might be worth the upgrade. A friend who uses a Max felt a huge difference moving to the 15 Pro Max.

In any case, as of right now it’s still difficult to get a hold of an iPhone 15 Pro in the color and size you want from an authorized reseller. So good luck with that.

Categories
Blog Info Personal

248 Instagram Posts

Last time I posted an Instagram update was back in March and since I hit 248 Instagram posts today, I figured I’d post another update.

Since March things have changed a lot. I’m now a lot more comfortable posting on Instagram and I’ve more or less figured out how it works best for me. I also now have a better understanding of what kind of content I can post here and what kind of content I should post only there. For example, this post isn’t going to be on my Instagram account.

The blog is where I can be more personal, or complain about things if I need to, while my Instagram account is more positive feel good entertainment. Back when I started blogging there weren’t a lot of platforms for people to voice their opinions on so I used to criticize and complain a lot because I felt I had to (I was the only voice). Now with Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter etc.. everyone has a voice and everyone is complaining all day. There is so much criticizing and complaining online that I no longer have to do it hence why I’m more chill here (can’t remember last time I complained about something) and which is why I want @248am to be a feel good account.

One way of keep @248am a positive place is by censoring the comments. The comments on @248am are heavily moderated, anyone who shit posts gets their account restricted instantly. Basically by restricting an account that person won’t know they’re restricted and can continue shit posting as they want but their comments are hidden to everyone else including me. Anyone who leaves racists or hateful comments gets a straight up block. This allows me to keep the comments section a healthy place. People can still have different opinions and discuss them of course, but it’s all a lot more civil without the shit posters and haters.

Something about Instagram which is great is the ability to watch a post go viral live. Best example of that is my Chipotle coming to Kuwait post. Firstly how cool is it that I broke the news back in November? I know Alshaya probably hate me because I keep doing this but I really love them because they keep bringing all these cool brands for us. That Chipotle post blew up, I knew it would but did not expect this much. That post got over 6,000 likes, nearly 20,000 shares, 248 comments and reached nearly 77,000 people. Keep in mind I also have less than 30K followers there. I couldn’t put my phone on mute because I need to moderate the comments so the constant buzzing of my phone was super annoying, but watching it blow up from behind the scenes was actually thrilling as well.

I’ve also realized, all these local influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers are most likely all fake followers, or if not fake they have like 0.3% engagement rate or something. How do you have 3 million followers but only get 100 or 200 likes per photo? Someone was once telling me likes aren’t important anymore, everyone is just watching stories etc. I don’t think thats true and I think I’m proving it. People want good content and they will appreciate good content when they come across it. People also read, I was worried no one would read my Instagram posts but they actually do and I love that.

Instagram has actually made me confident again with my blogging skills. I think because I wasn’t on Instagram I felt a lot of people had forgotten about me or I felt like because I wasn’t on Instagram my content wasn’t as good. But now that I’m there I’ve realized I’m still the best at what I do which is finding great content to post every single day. There aren’t a lot of people in Kuwait who can do it (if any), and the crazy part is, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now and haven’t run out of ideas yet.

Categories
Personal

On Vacation

I’m currently in Barcelona on vacation hence the lack of postings. I should have posted this before I left Kuwait but I just had so many things to do I didn’t have time. I’ve been here for 4 or 5 days already and today is the first time I got my laptop out. Thats how much I don’t want to be online posting while I’m here. Will be back to Kuwait in a few days and things will go back to normal then. I actually have a couple of really interesting posts lined up so can’t wait to get started on them.

Categories
Personal

@248AM Instagram Update

So it’s been 3 or 4 months now since I started my Instagram account and things aren’t going to plan. I mean they are in one sense, the account is doing really well and my engagement level is extremely high, but it’s also what’s causing issues with the blog.

I’m now running basically two completely different platforms whose contents aren’t very interchangeable. Originally the plan was whatever I post here, I just republish there, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. A lot of the content that I post over here wouldn’t work for Instagram like the one I just posted about the newsletters from the 1990 Gulf War. There is very specific content that my Instagram followers like and it’s not easy to come by, so I’m constantly thinking about what to post next on Instagram and not thinking about what to post next on the blog. It’s a total mess.

To make matters worse, Instagram is draining mentally because every post is being judged publicly. If a post gets a lot of likes, shares, interactions etc.. that’s a thumbs up. If a post doesn’t get a lot of likes or a few interactions, that’s a thumbs-down. So it feels like I’m performing at a talent show every single day in front of judges. I had one post that went viral and got over 9,000 likes, then it’s like ok how do I top that for my next post? I know how I am, I keep trying to top or match my previous post and eventually I stop posting because nothing is good enough. It’s why I no longer post photos on my personal Instagram accounts and it’s something I went through with this blog as well. So I’m trying to loosen up and not try and have every post be THE POST but it’s hard to do when I treat the number of likes as a rating.

But honestly, it has reinvigorated me. Launching the blog on a new platform and having to deal with those challenges has gotten me excited again because it’s completely changed my routine. I feel like the underdog on Instagram and I really like that. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years and it’s working.

I’ve also started generating income from my Instagram account in the form of promoted posts. I didn’t have plans for it originally but I started getting DM’s from businesses wanting to advertise so I quickly had to figure out how I could make that work. As always, I’m fully transparent with which posts are paid for and so all my paid Instagram posts are marked with a “Promoted” logo and labeled as a “Paid Partnership” on Instagram.

So that’s pretty much where I am with this whole Instagramming thing right now. I’ll post another update maybe 6 months from now, maybe things will be different then.

Categories
Personal

And we’re back

That was too long a holiday to spend all of it in Kuwait. I don’t think I’m doing that ever again.

Categories
Automotive Information Personal

My Car Auction Experience

Last Wednesday I decided to head to the car auction in Ardiya. They were auctioning the 60+ cars I posted about earlier that week which were confiscated from one guy. Many of the cars were now classics and so I went with a friend who was interested in one of the cars so we could try and bid on it. The experience was pretty interesting to say the least.

This must have been the most popular car auction ever held in Kuwait due to all the hype built up around the cars. I’d guess 99% of the people there, and there were A LOT of people, had never been to an auction before including myself. Due to the number of people they were expecting to show up, a makeshift setup was put together across the street in an empty lot.

The auction was meant to start at 3PM but ended up starting shortly after 3:30PM. Basic rules were announced at the start, if you win a bid you must come up to the front and give them your civil ID card. You then get it back once you pay for the item. You need to pay on the spot. Knet only, no cash. Pretty simple although no idea how you can pay KD30,000 for a Ferrari Testarossa on your Knet card since I thought there was a 10,000KD limit? No idea.

The whole experience was really casual. The cars weren’t there, so if you hadn’t seen them last weekend in person at the police lot and noted down details like the license plate number, then you were pretty much screwed. There was just a list to go by which you had to print out yourself from their Instagram account or just keep looking at your phone. Most of the items on the list were misspelled and many lacked any details. For example, there were three BMW 8-series for sale and the only way to tell them apart on the list was with their license plate number. So if you hadn’t written down their plate numbers when checking the car out you were out of luck.

The auction moved fairly quickly but because we were right next to the mosque they had to stop twice for a prayer break. Not sure if that’s what they usually do or if they had to do it because we were right outside the mosque and the mosques speakers were louder than the auctions. By 7PM we had gone through two pages worth of cars and it was getting pretty chilly. There were no outdoor lights so the auction turned into a moonlight auction. The majority of the people must have been there for the two Ferraris since most of them left once they were sold. By the time I left only the first few rows of seats were filled.

My friend didn’t win the car, he was interested in a Volvo which he was willing to pay up to 2,000 for but it ended up going for 2,700. I had my eye on a 1997 Alfa Romeo Spider but I wasn’t going to pay over 250KD for it and the car ended up going for 350. Overall I had a good time, it was an interesting experience for sure.

If you ever want to go to a car auction you can find out about upcoming ones on the Instagram account @mzadmoj. The location of the auction is at the Deposit Reserve and Judicial Arbitration Sector Building in Ardiya, here is the location on Google Maps. They usually have the cars on display there it’s just this specific time that things were a bit different due to the circumstances. Let me know if you have any questions below.

Categories
Automotive Personal

My 1972 Datsun 240z is done!… kinda

Back in June 2019, I purchased a blue 1972 Datsun 240z (it’s not blue anymore). It was my second 240z since I sold my first one and regretted it, so I bought another one. The car wasn’t in the best of condition so in October 2019 I dropped it off at a garage to get it fully restored. The project was estimated to take around 5 months, 3 months for bodywork, and then 2 months to put everything back together again. That didn’t happen, instead, the project ended up taking over 2 years to complete! 27 months to be exact and last week I finally got my car although still not 100% complete with a bunch of things that I still need to sort out.


Photo I took when I first found the car

So where did things go wrong? Everywhere really, issues popped up every step of the way. I had issues with the body shop, the mechanic, the electrician, with parts I ordered, and then to top it off Covid hit and slowed everything down considerably. Generally speaking, everyone was super slow or very sloppy and I had to and still am double-checking all the work that was done myself. When we first started stripping the paint away from the car we spotted issues that weren’t noticeable before and so that took longer than expected. Thankfully the body shop guys were chill about it but they were also very slow, and with Covid lockdowns and curfews, it brought the work down to a stand still a number of times. Then I had issues with the mechanic who a friend had recommended and that guy’s work turned out to be really clumsy. I brought in an electrician that specializes in Datsuns to wire the car back up and his work also turned out to be very rushed. So now I’m taking note of any issues I spot so I can get them sorted.

I also ran into issues with some upgrades I had for the car. Since I wanted this car to be a daily driver, I upgraded the engine with a modern electronic fuel injection system (FAST EFI), I installed AC and I upgraded the brakes to much more powerful Wilwood’s. The problem is nobody I dealt with had fitted a similar electronic system into a 240z before and I couldn’t find someone who did. So I had to learn everything about it and install and set things up myself.

The previous sentence really summarizes the whole experience. There was no way the car would have been done the way I wanted it to be done if I wasn’t very knowledgeable in the car or researched and learned so much about how things work. When I picked up the car last week for example I barely got it home. Actually, I only made it home with the help of a tow truck since the car switched off on my way home after misfiring and running terribly. After getting home and googling the car symptoms, I realized I might have a problem with the spark plugs so I checked them. Turned out the plugs weren’t screwed in properly, were the wrong size, and were carbon-fouled (you can see how black they are in the photo above). I had a new set of correct plugs that I had previously purchased and after installing them the car started and ran perfectly.

I even ran into issues financially with the car even though that was under my control. When I first started the project I wanted the total thing to cost me KD10,000 including the cost of the car (I bought the car for KD2,750). When I started the project I created an Excel file to track all the expenses and late last year I realized I was going to exceed my budget by a pretty good chunk. The car has to date cost me KD13,800 including the car purchase price. I really didn’t want to pay this much yet it was all my own doing since I kept wanting more and more things.

While thinking about this post one question that popped into my mind is if I’d recommend a full restoration to anyone. I was going to say no at first but that really isn’t fair. I currently actually have another classic that’s being restored right now, a 1980 Toyota FJ40 (the green one above). But, I chose to restore it in the UAE and not here. There is a garage based in Abu Dhabi called Classic Drive (@fj40uae) that specializes in restoring old FJ40’s and Landcruiser 60’s. So far they seem to be doing a great job with the car and moving at a fairly quick pace although they are also behind schedule. All the parts they’re using to build the car are either brand new or restored back to new condition so I’ll basically be getting an FJ40 that looks like it rolled out of the dealer today. So what I will say is this. If you are thinking of restoring a car know that it is going to be a big project and there will be things for you to do as well once it’s done. You need to really love cars, understand them and be patient with them. I know of a lot of people who had their cars restored only to sell them right after since they didn’t want to deal with sorting out the issues that would pop up. It also doesn’t help since we don’t have that many if any specialized garages for classic cars here.

And that’s where I am with the car right now. I’ve been driving it daily since I got it and loving it. Now I just need to finish going through the to-do list and sort all the issues out as they pop up. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

Categories
Personal

How many birthdays do you have?

Before my trip, I booked a car to pick up at the airport on my arrival to Amsterdam and due to Covid, my rental company had a new service where you could fast track the pickup using an app. I’d just have to upload all my info onto the app and once I get to the airport just head straight to the car and pick it up. Only every time I uploaded my information it kept getting rejected. So I finally got in touch with them by email and turns out the reason I kept getting rejected was my birthday on my driving license didn’t match my passport.

Technically according to Kuwait, I have three birthdays.

Passport: 22/08/1978
Civil ID: 22/09/1978
Residency: 01/01/1978

Last year I fixed my Civil ID birthday since it was also causing me issues but didn’t realize my driving license had a different birthday as well. I tried to explain Kuwait to my rental company but they wouldn’t understand so, in the end, I gave up trying to get fast track working and just picked up the car the old-fashioned way by waiting in line.

Now I need to figure out how to synchronize all my birthdays since everything seems to be moving to digital here as well.

Categories
Personal

It’s Unfair

A couple of days ago a new announcement was made that only vaccinated citizens can travel. Expats on the other hand (and they made this part very clear) are still banned from entering Kuwait. Keep in mind most citizens would most likely travel for leisure purposes while most expats would travel for family reasons. A lot haven’t seen their loved ones since the start of the pandemic, I haven’t seen my dad for two years but I know of people who haven’t seen their wives or kids for as much.

I’m fully vaccinated now with my two shots which is great. I have the immune app and I’m all green and on the Mosafar website, my vaccination circle is also fully green. Yet if I fly out of Kuwait I can’t come back in because I’m an expat?

I was annoyed but I had decided a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t going to post about this stuff anymore. Citizens are equally upset by these bizarre decisions and they’re all being very vocal about it on all the social media channels. So I left it at that.

Then last night, my sister calls me from Lebanon and tells me my dad has fallen ill. He’s fully vaccinated so I don’t think it’s covid, but he’s old and frail so I don’t know. This morning I wake up to a message saying things have taken a turn for the worse and they had to admit him to the ER.

So now I have to make a choice.

  • Fly out to Lebanon as soon as possible and get stuck outside Kuwait for months. I’d have to decide to leave my friends, my job, my blog, my life, (everything basically) and be uprooted for an indefinite amount of time.

  • Or, stay in Kuwait and possibly never see my dad again.

This rule isn’t just unfair, it’s illogical and unrealistic and because of it, I’m unable to do the right thing which is to be with my dad and family, especially when I know I’m needed.

Note: I just want to add that I wasn’t planning on publishing this post. I originally wrote it as a way to vent and self-therapy. I don’t like sharing personal parts of my life so it feels very awkward putting this out there but I just felt that if this post somehow helps change the rule, even if it’s a very small chance, then it’s worth putting it out there. Thank you for your messages.

Update: My dad is doing a lot better now, thank you everyone again.

Categories
News Personal

I Live in Salmiya, Voted the Worst City in the World for Expats

This is pretty random but according to the latest InterNations Expat City Ranking 2020, Salmiya was voted the worst out of 66 cities analyzed and described as “a city of unhappy, overworked, and homesick expats”. I mean we do have major issues in Salmiya but no way is it the worst city in the world for expats. I’ve been to Khaitan before, and I’m in Hawalli regularly, and as bad as both those places are I wouldn’t even consider them the worst in the world either.

Welcome to Salmiya, the Kuwait city so unloved by its expat population

Expats in Salmiya say they are unhappy with the local transportation (61st), with their health and the environment (66th), as well as with climate and leisure (66th).

Nearly three in five said they dislike the local leisure options (vs 15 percent worldwide). In the Getting Settled Index (66th), expats do not feel at home and they describe the local population as unfriendly (48 percent vs 17 percent globally), and they are also unhappy with their social life (56 percent vs 24 percent globally). Source

But Salmiya does have issues, a lot of them, which is why over the past 15 years I’ve been half-jokingly asking to be made the mayor of the city. I’d be to Salmiya what Leslie Knope is to Pawnee! It’s hard to imagine anyone is more passionate about the place than I am.

Make me the mayor and I’ll initiate a mass project making Salmiya more pedestrian and bicycle/scooters-friendly by taking back the sidewalk from all the illegal construction, I’d create bike paths that run across the city and turn sandlots into proper parking lots to reduce the cars on the streets. I’d replace all the bins with ones that have lids and I’ll personally lead on a massive beautification project. I’ll also protect old and landmark buildings from demolition and crackdown on all the buildings that have illegally converted their basement to warehouses depriving the building residents of parking. So go out and vote for me in the next election if you want a better Salmiya!

Categories
Mags & Books Personal

Visiting the National Library During the Pandemic

When I posted about the National Library last year, most of the comments were regarding their operating hours which is 9AM to 1PM because it was as if they didn’t want anyone to visit the library. Well now with the pandemic, things just got a bit more complicated.

Last week I dropped by the National Library because I needed to flip through their newspaper archive. Usually you just give the security guard at the entrance your civil ID and then go in. But, because of the pandemic, they now have an appointment system like all other government offices. So while at the security desk I created an account at meta.e.gov.kw and booked an appointment before being let in. Once inside I had to have my photo taken at another security desk for some reason, that wasn’t there last year and they took my photo with my mask on so not sure what the purpose is.

I was told that nobody was allowed to go upstairs where all the books were. Instead, I needed to wait in a small room for someone to come to me so I could tell them what I wanted so they would go get it for me. This works if you know what you want exactly, but part of the experience of going to the library is finding books on a subject that you also didn’t know about.

I must have been the first person to ask to check their newspaper archive because they didn’t know how to go about it with the new rules. I spoke to two girls first who then had to call their boss who then told them to go get another guy, who then came and left again to go get someone else who finally could help. But he needed to know exactly what year and month of the archive to get (they’re large books archived by year and month). Luckily I knew which month and year so he was able to go fetch it for me but if I didn’t, not sure what the process would have been like.

So if you were planning to visit the library during the ongoing pandemic it’s no longer a good experience. I used to love dropping in randomly every now and then to go through their books and newspapers so it sucks that I can’t do that anymore. If you want to check out my previous post on the library, click here.

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Live Love Beirut

With everything going on in the world, nothing has really given me anxiety as much as the shit that’s been going on in Lebanon over the past year. I tend to tune in and tune out of Lebanon related news because I can only take so much. But what happened yesterday has honestly left me speechless. I don’t even want to be writing this post right now so I won’t. It’s all really sad and I can’t help but feel useless right now.