Be Better Than the GAP.

Scene taken from “Crazy Stupid Love” – which is a good romcom that’s actually not really a romcom because it’s ridiculous and funny. And not in the Will Farrell way, it’s actually funny. PLUS, Emma Stone (my imaginary best friend) is in it. I was never a fan of Ryan Gosling’s The Notebook-ness but after this movie, he’s got my vote.

So for those of you suffering these last few weeks of the pseudo-Spring season, unable to go to the pool, suntan or just be absent minded and carefree because you have these weird things called “responsibilities”, this is for you.

Don’t get slumpy and lazy.
Don’t get boring and safe.
Don’t wear mom jeans.
Don’t become the GAP.
Why? Because you’re better than the GAP.
Be better than the GAP.

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6 Tips for Effective Studying

William Wallace studying biology

1. Read your notes/chapters to yourself aloud in a foreign accent. I prefer Scottish although it tends to morph into an Irish barmaid as I go down the page. This usually works best when you’re studying alone.

2. Creating acronyms for important theories/categories/names/things-you-will-never-use-in-regular-conversation-with-human-beings-who-were-smart-enough-to-study-something-other-than-what-you’re-studying. However, not plain boring acronyms. Make them inappropriate, offensive or inappropriately offensive. It’s the one time you will talk dirty to a textbook without feeling like a sad human being. I hope.

3. Make up a dance to go along with a theory you need to memorize. Turn on your iPod and recite the theory to yourself while breaking it down in your pajamas. You can make up moves to virtually any process. Cell cycle? Pretend your fingers are chromosomes and spirit-finger the heck out of that anaphase. The movement is good for mental stimulation and it helps you burn off some stress too.

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4. Study on a daily basis. No, just kidding. If you try to keep up with the class regularly, it’ll be much easier to hoover the info a few days before…but realistically speaking, this rarely happens. What they forget to tell you is to zone out on a daily basis. Take about 30 minutes to just vegetate, recuperate, doodle, work out. Take a bubble bath. Do anything that has nothing to do with the task at hand.

5. Create rewards for yourself. This is a lot like how they train a dog – if you do the trick, you get the treat. Following the same logic, if you do the chapter, you get the Snickers bar. Or the latest episode of 90210. Whatever floats your boat.

6. Instead of making a schedule just write a list of everything you have to do. The problem with schedules is it’s hard to stick to them – when writing them, we tend to be too optimistic in our ability to finish things. It backfires when you don’t finish all the things you wrote down for that day and it ends up being discouraging. The list however will still give a lovely sense of accomplishment when you scratch a line through something once it’s completed. Do have a general deadline in mind though. It’s not a bucket list. 

Ferris Bueller, You’re My Hero.

Great scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of the best movies of the 80s (there are a lot).

It was back when Matthew Broderick was young and cool as opposed to “that guy from Godzilla who’s married to the horseface from Sex in the City.”

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller

What’s Your Punch Phrase?

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So in the hectic moments when you have so much on your mind, what is the one sentence that pops up? What are the words that help you figure out what to do? What is your punch phrase? 
It’s probably a cliche, isn’t it…no judgment. 

When I’m feeling just down right confused about which road to take, there is a little something I do to put my “problems” into perspective. Ask this question:
What’s the worst that could happen?
And you know what you find out? You realize that a majority of the stuff you’re fretting about isn’t worth the headache. Granted, I am not saying this phrase applies to serious situations. I am referring to the typical worries and issues we obsess over. When you realize that [insert event here] is NOT the end of the world, that there are more important things to spend brain power on, that there are bigger concerns, you will instantly feel more relaxed. 
It really is all about perspective.
I think we have a tendency to make things more dramatic than they really are. We forget that the biggest problem we are faced with could actually be a blessing in itself. In other words, there is someone out there that is happier with less than what you have. If the biggest problem you have right now is finishing finals or getting that weekly report over and done with – you should think about how lucky you are at this moment. Things can always get worse so when you’re feeling down, don’t forget to remember what you do have rather than what is missing. Count your blessings.
There are things in life that need attention and will take up a lot of space in that noggin’. But there are others that don’t. The sooner you figure out which is what, the sooner you will feel at ease. You will be more productive. You’re energy will go into things that really matter to you and that’s exactly how it should be. Because after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

7 Dilemmas of 20-Somethings

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1. You want to be independent. You want to be able to pay for everything on your own without your parents’ help. You want to sleep till 1pm and watch cartoons all Saturday afternoon with a bowl of Cheerios on your lap. Wait, what?

2. You want to be in a meaningful relationship with someone of substance. While in this age range of unstable uncertainty, you want to have your person, the one who gives you something concrete to hold on to. But you’re too young for that Grey’s Anatomy crap. You’re not going to officially commit to anyone or anything now, why risk getting hurt? 
3. You want to have a job and a bank account that has more than enough money to buy 6 meals at Burger King. You want to be able to abolish Mondays, vegetate through Tuesdays, see live band performances on Wednesdays, sleep off the hangover on Thursdays and go to the beach on any non-Sunday*. Your boss would love that.

4.  You want to graduate with honors/keep your scholarship/brag about your GPA on your resume. You want to be a beach bum in the middle of your finals because God decided now was a good time for the sun to laugh at your pale ass.

5. You want to get in shape for the rare moment that you might actually make it to the beach…on a Sunday. After all, you’re not a kid with magical metabolism anymore. Puberty isn’t going to make that jiggle disappear because you’re “shedding adolescent baby fat and growing into your body.” Now you have to work at it. You also like cheesecake. And BBQ Pringles. And Oreo Cakesters. Damn them.

6. You want to be taken seriously by parents, professors, and/or other professionals. You want to make “That’s What She Said” jokes until you’re 85.

7. You want to think rationally and have a plan. A 5-year one? A 5-month one? You want to be able to go to the ticketing counter and just go to any destination the bored employee randomly chooses because you’re young and spontaneous and you just CAN. You can’t afford to financially. Maybe in 5 years.

*Sunday is the official day off in Lebanon.

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

I haven’t been up to doing anything lately so for those of you who are also suffering from summerwheretheheckareyouitus, here’s a motivational clip from one of my favorite films, The Dead Poet’s Society, starring a young Robin Williams and a younger Ethan Hawke.

For those who haven’t seen this movie, do so because it’s awesomesauce.

First Arabic Printing Press in Lebanon

View from the monastery
Up, up, up high in the mountains of Khenchara, you can find the very first Arabic script print house in Lebanon.  Since I’m not very familiar with the directions there [I thought we were going off somewhere near Tripoli and I was disappointed when I learned we weren’t getting halawet-el-jeben], according to Wiki, it’s located between Bologna, Bteghrine  and Dhour El Choueir. The village is 30 kilometres (18.6 mi) north east of Beirut.

Inside one of the churches (St. Nicolas I think) 
The press is located at Deir Mar 7ohanna, St. John’s Monastery, which dates back to the 12th century. The first printed book was Mizan al Zaman (The Balance of Time) in 1734. Founder of the press, Abdallah el-Zakher from Aleppo, Syria, built the oldest machine between 1726 and 1733. 

Our guide was Brother Theodore, a slightly intense religious man who explained the history of the churches and the printing process which sometimes took 6-8 years per book. One of the things he said that stuck with me was his analogy of love and a knife. He said that, love is like a knife that can stab you in the heart or cut you open to remove your appendix; it can wound you or it can heal you. He is a bit enthusiastic about faith so if you have an allergy towards religion or are sensitive to such things, be prepared. 

Engraved decorative elements

Cliches

Arranging the letters for words

Galley used to set up the page

Titles

Used to make the space between the lines of text

Letters

 The type would be set letter by letter, line by line and placed into a plate. The plate would then be put into the printing mechanism where ink would be added and impressed onto the paper when pressure was applied. The ink was made from ground up walnut branches and the paper used was 100% organic making the books completely natural products. This could explain why the books are still in incredible condition.

The first printing press machine
The larger printing press

Once the pages were printed, they were dried using an accordion fan similar to the ones used to keep the chimney fire going (bellow blower). The books were stitched and bound with leather then placed between wooden planks to keep shape. 

Stitchers
Binding 

Books placed between planks

Tools for leather binding

Woodcuts of sacred scenes

Brass scene
Commemorative plaque for Abdallah el Zakher

The way that el Zakher made sure to keep the correct order of pages was pretty impressive: instead of using page numbers and getting lost, they would print the last word of the script at the bottom of the page outside the framed text. This last word would be the first word of the next page and those words would never be found twice so there would be no confusion. That’s pretty difficult when you think about it. The Arabic script used is based on el Zakher’s own writing and it is said that you cannot tell the difference between his actual handwritten pages and those that were produced by the press. 

Notice the last word outside the frame on the bottom left of the right page is the first word on the next page