Friday, 29 June 2012

Shimmer



My entry to the Writers Online One Word Challenge Prose - June 2012

Word - Shimmer

Painting by Stewart Platt  

  


First Born

A hot June day. Sleek fronds of sea weed lie sweltering in the sun’s rays at the water’s edge. Pebbles smoothed by endless tides piled in mounds where they’ve been deposited and tiny pieces of shell and glass glint in the strong light. I stare out to sea.

   The boat was your pride and joy. When other’s named theirs Lady Mary or Sea Breeze, yours was “First Born” and you cherished it as such. My feelings could hardly compete with the empathy you shared with this wood and canvas. Sailing with only seabirds for company was the best time spent and I understood because you were my child, now grown.

  If life had not impeded on your chosen simple one, maybe things would have turned out differently. Solitude is not for us all, but for you it was everything and though I knew this, somehow I failed you. I knew you’d not return. As you set sail the heat shimmered above the water forming a mirage of reflections, quivering and dancing in the stillness of the air.

Today I wait, watching the horizon for some sign that you are still near. Knowing that a mirage is all I will see.


   

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I Am Neveen


I am Neveen. I am Palestinian.This is my sto­­ry. This is the Palestinian Story.
I'd like to take you back to 64 years ago, to the fertile rolling hills of Palestine.
To the land of orange, lemon and olive trees, to around mid May1948.

My Grandmother, heavily pregnant quickly picks 2 or 3 oranges. She hastily feeds the chooks, cuts homemade cheese taken from brine and spoons out salted olives from a large clay pot .She packs red, ripe tomatoes and bread.

Her father rushes to hurry her & help with the children and Grandmother locks the wooden door placing the key in her clothing for her return.
They leave scared, but certain they will return soon.

She walked and walked travelling a long journey to safety. She gave birth along the way, to my Uncle, her third child.
Fear, cold, hunger, thirst and the ghost of death, were their companions, in fact they would be for many years to come
She did not return within weeks as she had thought. Nor would 900,000 others who are now called Palestinian refugees.

My family would make their difficult way across unknown lands, living in large camps, and finally settle in Yarmouk Camp, Syria in the early 1950's.
Here I was born. The culture from the past is still touchable for me.

I was born with Palestinian culture around me and with a Palestinian accent. The sound of a grandmothers voice singing Palestinian songs passes through my ears. My sisters and me are part of a larger family.

I enjoy eating msakhan, one of our special Palestinian dishes - a lot of onion with chicken and spices. I smell it with joy as I enter our narrow alley. My family and I share similar foods from the past. We sit closely together on a carpet in a circle eating Arabic and Palestinian food.
Cheese in brine, salted olives, hummus, red ripe tomatoes, salad, oranges and lemons. We love sweets of hot Knafah and Arabic pastry.

I love watching my Grandmother  moving with her beautiful black dress embroidered with red & green  cross stitches.
"We used to have other colours and stitches, each for every occasion, every town had its own",  she would tell me and her eyes would glitter with pride.
I enjoy our simple life gathering on the floor with all my family around me.
I love spending some evenings listening to my Grandmother’s story. We spend other evenings listening to our favorite poet Mahmoud Darwish and the famous oud player Marcel Khalifah .

Sometimes we go out to visit our family .We drink tea and share food. Men gather playing dice and cards. The women settled in another corner, talking, laughing. I love to sit with my sisters and my cousins laughing and chatting.
We dance the dabka and share each other's celebrations.

When one day I marry, I would like to gather with the women as my Grandmother did. In the Bride’s home, singing amazing traditional and poetic songs. Placing henna on our hands and wearing the traditional embroidered clothes.

Today, when I walk in the streets of the camp, I sense sadness and despair in elderly people's eyes, but when I go quietly onto our roof top, although I see pollution I can still see a blossom on a tree, oddly planted in a drum filled with soil.

That blossom will be an orange one day .


Conversations With Neveen ....

Today I am proud to introduce Neveen, an aspiring writer and poet and a very good one at that.

Neveen is a Palestinian girl and lives in Syria. She is going to introduce herself and share some of her thoughts and writing on this blog.

I asked her this morning if she is well and if she is doing any writing. School has finished in Syria for the summer months and the situation is becoming worse by the minute.
This is what she said :

It is painful to write when you know that nothing will ever change.
Writing about it just makes it more clear and raises the pain level.

But Neveen will continue to write and share her thoughts. And we will be fortunate enough to share.

Write- Place  gives Neveen a very big welcome !










Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I have "Mummy Porn " on my Kindle !

Thought that might catch your eye.
But it's true. Seems I have had downloaded onto my Kindle for a number of weeks now "Mummy Porn"  and it has shocked me, for a few minute anyway. After all I am not only a mummy but a Grand mummy too.  I'd never heard of this genre of fiction until reading a BBC online article by Will Gompertz  Have to say I 'd never heard of him either until yesterday.
So, what is this pornographic material that I have not only downloaded but paid for as well ?
It's Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. 


Apparently, Fifty Shades of Grey sold 205, 130 paperback copies in the past week
The sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed sold 132, 174 and 115,086 copies. 
That's more than on next 50 bestselling paperback novels.


Now I do appreciate that by writing about this 'phenomenon' (as I have now heard it called)  that I am giving free promotion to the author and as this blog is read by millions I am sure sales will increase dramatically (!) too. Well good luck to EL James. Maybe one day she will blog about something that I have written, even if it's only on what I have written about her books.

For my bedtime reading last night I put Stuart Ayris and Vivien Hampshire to one side and began to read Fifty Shades of Grey, which I honestly knew nothing about. I'm not sure who recommended it or why I downloaded it and don't know what I was expecting porn-wise. But after the first 3 chapters I was bored with the repeatative descriptions of  "cold white sandstone and glass"  and "cold steel and marble" which seemed to be applied to every thing from the entrance lobbies of  hotels and offices, to the body language of  the main character and his many receptionists. The asides of the character of the story to herself , in italics, also got rather annoying - "Damn that woman" "Damn that man"  "Damn that elevator"  "Damn this feeling" ...  

It's probably a sign that I am well passed the middle aged woman who is titillated by "racy writing" stage. Or maybe it's just not my style of reading.

Either way, the FSG trilogy is going into my Kindle archives, unfinished.

Don't suppose it will affect my reading habits in any way except for being more careful what I download as so called 'recommendations'. 
















Sunday, 24 June 2012

How Smart - Algorithms, Passwords & CAPTCHAs

Thought that might catch your eye.
But it's true. Seems I have had downloaded onto my Kindle for a number of weeks now "Mummy Porn"  and it has shocked me, for a few minute anyway. After all I am not only a mummy but a Grand mummy too.  I'd never heard of this genre of fiction until reading a BBC online article by Will Gompertz  Have to say I 'd never heard of him either until yesterday.
So, what is this pornographic material that I have not only downloaded but paid for as well ?
It's Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. 


Apparently, Fifty Shades of Grey sold 205, 130 paperback copies in the past week
The sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed sold 132, 174 and 115,086 copies. 
That's more than on next 50 bestselling paperback novels.


Now I do appreciate that by writing about this 'phenomenon' (as I have now heard it called)  that I am giving free promotion to the author and as this blog is read by millions I am sure sales will increase dramatically (!) too. Well good luck to EL James. Maybe one day she will blog about something that I have written, even if it's only on what I have written about her books.

For my bedtime reading last night I put Stuart Ayris and Vivien Hampshire to one side and began to read Fifty Shades of Grey, which I honestly knew nothing about. I'm not sure who recommended it or why I downloaded
                            "Hackers use dictionaries to guess your passwords ! "


                                                                                         

When I read this headline on a dictionary website, I first thought - they'll not find mine as I forget them on a regular basis and spend a lot of time creating new ones before I can get to do what I intended on the internet. It's quite rare for me to be using the same password for any length of time on one site, but of course I do shuffle them around. Sometimes my limited mental capacity is not enough to produce a unique word or set of letters and numbers that can be re used.

Last week I read that LinkedIn which has 161 million members, had their passwords hacked and published online. This news didn't bother me particularly as of course I have no idea what my LinkedIn password is and don't really use the site since I set it up about 8 years ago. I used to get emails messages that some one somewhere had joined or had linked to someone who had linked to someone else etc. But I managed to work out how to stop those 'alerts'.
Passwords are hacked into by a 'dictionary attack'. Apparently with a smart algorithm and a dictionary (I know what smart means as many things today are 'smart' - from my phone to a TV to a car, but I did have to check a dictionary for algorithm, which I seem to remember is something to do with maths) So, an algorithm is a procedure for calculations and a smart algorithm is one that works with computer data. 
For those who are inclined to know more on the scientific aspects of smart algorithms click here and for information on the very clever man who knows all about this, Joseph Bonneau, click here

By using the 1,000 most common words in the dictionary and separating passwords from user names an algorithm can correctly guess up to 10% of a passwords users.

If these algorithms are so smart, how can we prove we are who we say we are when we sign into our emails, bank accounts or make a comment on a blog or Facebook ? We have to encounter a  CAPTCHA   which tests if you are a human or a machine. 
From my experience of CAPTCHAs, they also test your eyesight, your ability to recognise a capital letter and, if you resort to the audio version, your hearing.

This is all very "smart", clever and ingenius. But it doesn't help me when I have trawled through notebooks, diaries and scraps of paper from the year dot and then still resorted to making a new password - which involves a CAPTCHA - just because I fancied doing an online shop from Tesco.

Still, keeps my brain semi alert I suppose and I am actually working on a piece of writing (not sure if it's a poem or not yet - might even be a new language) using numerous CAPTCHAs that I now make a note of, in case I need them in the future. 

Who says paper and pencil is dead ? 







it and don't know what I was expecting porn-wise. But after the first 3 chapters I was bored with the repeatative descriptions of  "cold white sandstone and glass"  and "cold steel and marble" which seemed to be applied to every thing from the entrance lobbies of  hotels and offices, to the body language of  the main character and his many receptionists. The asides of the character of the story to herself , in italics, also got rather annoying - "Damn that woman" "Damn that man"  "Damn that elevator"  "Damn this feeling" ...  

It's probably a sign that I am well passed the middle aged woman who is titillated by "racy writing" stage. Or maybe it's just not my style of reading.

Either way, the FSG trilogy is going into my Kindle archives, unfinished.

Don't suppose it will affect my reading habits in any way except for being more careful what I download as so called 'recommendations'. 
















Thursday, 14 June 2012

Another New Look ?

All prepared to write a blog on a particular issue this morning to find the announcement that "Blogger has a new look" .
Well, I'm very pleased for you Blogger. Maybe you have decided to give yourself a different image and colour scheme - a sort of Spring clean that cheers you up as well as your bloggers, especially in this dank, dreary weather we are having here. Actuallly, the sun is trying to struggle through here right now, but the forecast is rain, rain and more rain and some strong winds to accompany it
"Flaming June" is the phrase that comes to mind, as it's probably better to use the word flaming instead of another profanity.


I would like to say people at Blogger, that I love the new look and it has really given me inspiration to get blogging and reading blogs a lot more. Unfortunately it wouldn't be right for me to say that as basically, I can't see any difference to the last time I looked.  But I am writing and reading and I am coping with the new format of the blog, if there is one.


Have a feeling this is a bit like that moment when you buy something new to wear and when anyone comments on it you say... "What this old thing ? Have had it for years !" 


Nice one Blogger, you might just have got away with this without having to explain expenditure !















Saturday, 2 June 2012

Survivor - One Word Challenge entry May 2012



Writers Online One Word Challenge

              May 2012 

           "Grotesque"





                                                                               


                                                                                     Survivor



        They came by force into our homes                   
to tear our lives apart
with shouts of “Allah Akhbaar” 
with hard fists clutched to the heart.
While others hid in shock and fear 
and envoys talked of ways 
of making resolutions 
in the coming hours and days



I just played dead …                                              




and listened to the sounds of death and pain
not understanding how these “men”
could be so inhumane.
I heard the crack of gun shots
I felt my father’s shame 
I cursed the ones who gave birth to
the feared Shabia’s name.
Kalashnikovs and rifles, 
sharp knives of gleaming steel,
a grotesque show of atrocities,
a nightmare that is real. 
An armed militia massacres 
in an unrelenting game.
But no one is responsible 
so no one is to blame.
Ten thousand human lives wiped out 
with shells and bombs and guns.
Oh, villages of Allawite -
Pray for your murderous sons !