Your Subconscious Mind

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You know how sometimes you’re working on something and no matter how much effort you put into it, it doesn’t seem to want to resolve itself? Then some online guru tells you that in order to solve a problem, sometimes you need to step back from it and look at the whole picture, focus on the forest, because your nose is buried too deep in the tree, and you wish you could take a step back…and you promise you would take a step back, if only you could solve it…

Well, take that break. It does work. Sometimes. When you’re consciously not thinking about the problem, your subconscious mind back there is working. Plus, sometimes it works as a valid excuse for procrastinating. “I’m taking a break so my subconscious mind can work on the problem.”

I remember an exam I sat for once. A question annoyed me during the exam because I felt like the answer was lodged in my brain somewhere, but for some reason that section was inaccessible. Needless to say, I submitted the exam, went to my room, went to sleep and when I woke up…seriously, the moment I woke up, I found myself thinking about the solution. “Way overdue…way overdue…”

Mental note: next time you get stuck in an exam, put your head on the desk and take a nap. Just don’t take my word for it.

So my friend and I were talking about Facebook today. I have personally developed an unfathomable aversion to it, which is why I deactivated my account even though it used to boost my blog stats. But seriously, how many of us, on some subconscious level, use facebook (and/or twitter) to feed the narcissistic part of us? The part that loves the attention and comments and the likes.

Personally I like twitter because it allows me to follow ideas and not people. I’ve written about it before here.

Last but not least, if you’ve read this post to the very end then you’re disproving statistics on that say that the average attention span has dropped from 12 s in 2000 to 8 s in 2012. Compare that with the reported information that the attention span of a gold fish is 9 s. Of course, anyone would eye that sort of information with skepticism (especially if you’ve taken a statistics course where you learn that the numbers can say anything you want them to if you know how to play with them).



Four years and 413 posts later…Click to win a prize

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I know this is way overdue, but…as a token of appreciation for everybody reading this blog, I’m offering a prize. The rules of entry are easy. All you have to do is leave a blog comment (don’t call me, don’t whatsapp me, don’t email me) with a method of how you would like to receive the prize (1,2 or 3 below), then I would collect all the comments, assign a number to them and use a pseudo-random generator to select two winners. To increase your chances, you can also share a post on twitter and Mention me @ahechoes.

However refrain from spamming please and I do get your IP addresses, so do not try to put multiple blog comments using the same IP address. As much as I would love you to tag me on twitter a lot, I would only consider the first mention for each twitter handle (if you have different twitter handle, then I can’t really know right?) .

Each of the two winners would get around 25 USD (rounded up to 2200 Kenya Shillings and down to 90  UAE Dirhams).

I would pay them through the following medium:

1) gift card (not

2) Kenya’s M-Pesa

3) AlAnsari Exchange or Bank Deposit if you are in the UAE

I apologize if none of these are applicable to you but that’s the best I could do.

This will run until 18 November 2013 (12 pm UAE time) In Sha Allah. You can also follow this blog by email, and  like my facebook page on

Also, please make sure you mention explicitly which method of payment you would prefer, but do not leave your personal details on this blog. Also note, it usually takes me some time to moderate comments so refrain from posting multiple times at the same time (in case you refresh and don’t see your comment yet). The last time I tried something similar, it failed miserably so for the whole competition to be initiated, I would need at least 5 comments (and/or Twitter mentions) to proceed.

Also note that I will keep this post at a top until the 18th, so new posts will appear below it. For those who visit the homepage to see if there is anything new, you might need to scroll down just a little bit.

So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below and spread the word.


Instantaneous-ness of news

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If you’re in my field you run across the advection-dispersion-reaction equation a lot. While I will not delve into the scientific aspect of the equation, what made me think of it is: News. Yes, news. Local news, world news. Whatever news. The instantaneous-ness (repeat this word three times if you can) of news [actually repeat the whole sentence three times if you can]. When the #Westgate attack happened, I knew about it immediately. We had just finished lunch and I opened twitter and was wondering why a lot of people in Kenya were talking about #Westgate. The first tweets coming in were of people who thought it was ‘just a robbery’. So naturally, I myself thought it was a robbery as well and I made the mistake of spreading that news to my immediate family [dispersion].

Following the news on twitter made me think of how at some point, getting the news to the public was the task of journalists in media houses. Now with the spread of social media, anybody who can type (even if they cannot spell) can go with the flow [advective term], become the source of news [ the reactive term] and spread the news [dispersion term]. Now what is happening is the big media houses ride on the social media wave and start believing and spreading without verifying their sources, like the time some big media houses (*C*ough*N*N*cough*) have fallen for fake twitter accounts. The dangerous cumulative result is that social media helps in building gossip centers, fanning the fire and one is left wondering who to trust anymore. And funny enough, sometimes we end up trusting bloggers with no official titles because of their work ethics and how accurate their ‘rumors’ turn out to be.

There’s no big conclusion that the scientific advection-dispersion-reaction equation can help with in this situation. It just describes the news situation as it currently is. But I guess Edgar Allan Poe was right when he said, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” Because nowadays, twitter handles have provided microphones for just about anybody to blabber anything they want. It can be a good thing for the creative community of course, but when it comes to spreading news and ‘facts’, people have to share responsibly.

So I guess that’s my message for tonight; whenever you share something on social media, share responsibly.


Heard the one about the JKIA fire?

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On the 15th anniversary of Nairobi’s US embassy bombings, people woke up to discover smoke billowing from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. A raging fire swept through the arrivals terminal, which lead to its closure. It took around 4 to 5 hours to reduce the blazing fire to a smolder because some of the fire engines had run out of water, so some of the emergency crew had to manually use buckets full of water to help extinguish the fire.

jkia fire (c)
jkia fire (c)

The good news is that no injuries were reported.

The bad news is that the airport was closed for a while then operation began but has not returned to full capacity. The airport set up temporary tents to offer some of the services then the VIP Presidential Pavilion was opened up to process international passengers.

Of course, on Twitter, the jokes have been plenty. Some tweeps were saying, “Dear US, please do not issue travel advisory, we have no airport anyway!”

Then we joked imagine after all this passenger departure resumes from the main bus-stop! Because apparently that’s what happened with the domestic ‘flights’. Some passengers had to go to their destinations by road.

So if you’ve been following my posts long enough you probably know how in 2009 we got stranded when the Kenya Airways crew went on strike, and how we continuously suffer from delays with Kenya Airways. So this time under the light of the current crisis, the flight I was supposed to be on tonight headed for Nairobi got cancelled altogether. We are currently on standby, imagining them calling us suddenly and saying, “Haraka haraka! Tushapiga ndege starti hapa.” (Hurry, we turned on the ignition here).

I’m just glad we’re not in the airport itself because that would have been totally inconvenient.

La3alo kheir.
P.S. Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters.