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Hacked! Slaves to technology, tech companies and their “enemies”

My computer was hacked apparently due to no fault of my own and my only realistic youve-been-hackedoption was to send it for recycling.

You need technology for your work. Technology messes up your work. You have to spend your hard-earned money to buy new technology that you didn’t want to buy; money you would have rather saved or used for something else. And the cycle goes on and on and on. We’ve been turned into slaves of technology, the companies that produce it, and the hackers that often control it.

It’s been difficult coming to terms with it all. I’m not very tech savvy, but I know enough not to respond to e-mails from Nigerian princes or acquaintances saying they are traveling and lost all their money. I know not to click on suspicious links. I know how to recognize a suspicious link or a suspicious-looking e-mail address. Often, if a friend, a real one, sends me a link in my Facebook inbox without an introduction, I’ll suspect that maybe that friend’s account has been hacked. Before clicking on the link I’ll ask them to prove to me that they really are that friend.

So when my Macbook shut down and I restarted it only to get a screen asking for an activation code that I did not have, telling me to e-mail an Apple-looking e-mail address that clearly wasn’t Apple’s, my first terrified thought was: BUT I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!  (more…)

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The Ramadan Workout Final Report

For all intents and purposes, my Ramadan this year is over. That means I can sit back

Swimming-clip-art-vector-swimming-graphics-clipartbold-clipartix-2

Because this is how I THINK I look while swimming in open water.

and reflect on what was a relatively intense training schedule while fasting this year.

Ramadan officially ends near the end of this coming week. But women don’t fast when they get their periods. There are other exceptions as well: those who are too ill don’t fast, and travelers don’t have to either. I feel fortunate to be a pre-menopausal woman. Sadly, that can’t last for much longer.

I’ve been exercising during Ramadan for a few years now. Every year I’ve pushed it just a little bit more than the previous year. The gradual progression has helped me understand my limits; or rather figure out just how far I can actually go.

This year was a particularly challenging year because I have a couple of important (to me) long distance events that require lots of training. I just couldn’t afford to pull back on the training too much for a significant amount of time. But I did need to pull it back enough to make sure I didn’t hurt or deplete myself. (more…)

Peeling faces

Several years ago, I was in such a bad place that, for a few moments of time, I considered suicide.

In those moments, I truly thought that death was my only way out.

I am so grateful that someone inside me allowed those moments to pass.

It took me a few years to get myself out of that bad place. Things got worse before they ever got better. But I’m glad I let that moment go.

And in a way, I appreciate that I had that moment. (more…)

Male misbehavior, self-blame and cultural boundaries: A glimpse into a woman’s mind

I’m one of those women! I repeated to myself incredulously.

For weeks on end, I had allowed a man to do something to me he shouldn’t have been doing, all while I blamed myself.

Had one of my daughters told me the same story, I would have picked up on it immediately. If it had happened in Egypt, I would have immediately turned into a full-blown monster.

Why had it taken me so long to realize what was actually happening?

I had a brief glimpse into the mind of abused women without having an experience nearly as horrific. It has caused me intense distress, however.

Part of me still thinks it’s a petty thing. And that gets me even angrier with myself. (more…)

Training me…and me

“WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO MEEEEEE?” yelled the complainer, thrashing her arms and pounding her legs on the ground. “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF IT ALLLLL!” Had there been others, she’d have made quite a public scene. Fortunately, as always, they were alone.

“You know very well why I keep doing this. Now, when you’re done throwing your little tantrum, you will get up, put on your running clothes, do your warm-up drills, and get out there and run,” said the wiser one, very matter-of-factly.

Sometimes the wiser one makes the complainer go swimming at 6:30 in the morning. Other times she makes her go cycling in pelting, freezing rain. She’s a relentless slave driver. Just as the complainer never gives up on her whining.

My training is probably more of a head battle than anything else. (more…)

Guest Post: Myelofibrosis and Willing to Live

“Diseases are only rare until you know someone with that disease” – Amy Dockser Marcus Myelofibrosis_MF_awareness_badge

I first read this some eight years ago in an article in The Wall Street Journal, but I only understood what it meant when I suddenly found my life turned upside down.

Six months ago, I was diagnosed with myelofibrosis – a rare type of blood cancer where the bone marrow cells, which are responsible for producing the different cells of the blood, die off and are replaced by fibrous tissue.

These fibers disrupt the body’s normal production of red blood cells (which carry oxygen to all organs of the body); white blood cells (which protect the body against invading diseases); and platelets (which help the body form clots when we are injured to stop bleeding and allow our bodies to heal).

Before this, I never knew what myelofibrosis was. My quick reading on my phone as I drove back after getting my results from the clinic showed that it is a fatal, rare disease that usually hits people over 60, with an expected lifespan of two to seven years after discovery. It very rarely affects young people. Every new piece of information I read came as a shock to me – I was in my early 30s, I was part of a small and very loving family, and I realized I had an untreatable type of cancer.

I spent several weeks in a very, very dark place. I was confused, desperate and had nowhere to turn. The only thing that kept me going was support from my partner who stayed strong to help me through this confusion – even though it was confusing for them as well. (more…)

Cycling Europe Days 26 & 27: Italia! My Beebol!

Fatwa #397 issued by Sheikha Nadia El-Awady: Married women are not to travel unaccompanied by their husbands in Italy. Italian men are too handsome and their smiles too charming. Single women, on the other hand, should get their butts over to Italy PRONTO. 

Yesterday was a very happy day for me.

The day before, shortly after I published my last blog post, I went out for another walk

Really, Monaco?

Really, Monaco?

around Monte Carlo. My afternoon walk made me feel very overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. My evening walk made me feel very uncomfortable with the excessive opulence I was witnessing. There were escalators and elevators to take people from one level of the city to the next. You heard me. The most expensive cars roamed the streets. I walked to the casino. The cars standing in front of it! The people going into it! I watched people sitting on their extravagant yachts sipping champagne. It was the stuff of movies. And it wasn’t for me. I needed out.

I left early the next day and had another wonderful and peaceful cycle along the

Italy!

Italy!

Mediterranean. It wasn’t long before I saw it: the sign that indicated I was crossing into Italy. “Oh white day!” I said out loud in Arabic. It sounds silly in English. آنهار أبيض is what I said and kept repeating with a very silly throaty laugh. I then started getting carried away with myself. One of my many personalities started saying, “Who woulda thought? Me, Nadia El-Awady, from the fallaheen in rural Egypt, cycled from Portugal to Italy!” And then one of my other personalities interrupted, “You’re not from rural Egypt! That was your father! YOU were born and raised in the US until the age of 15!” “Oh yeah,” the other one said. “Still. Nadia El-Awady, daughter of Abbas El-Awady who WAS from the fallaheen, cycled from Portugal to Italy!

It was Italy! I was home! The Italians! My beebol (people in Egyptian English)! My most favorite beebol among all beebols. This was something I already knew about Italians. I have been to Italy many times. I know the Italians. I understand them with their loud voices, their belly laughs, their expressive gestures, their hot tempers. They are people who leave nothing on the inside. It’s all out there. And I get that. I relate to that. I understand that.

And the Italians made sure to leave no room for doubt that they were mine and I was theirs. (more…)

Achieving the Ever Effervescent Work-Life Balance

How can one strike a healthy work-life balance? Is it possible to be successful both in your professional life and your personal life? These are questions that we all ask ourselves at one or more points in our lives. The fact that you are asking yourself these questions is good. It means you have slowed down enough to evaluate where you are now and where you would like to be heading.

Defining success is a good place to start. Each one of us defines it differently. A good general definition that can apply to anyone is that success is what gives you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Success depends on what your objectives are. Imagine yourself after retirement looking back on the past 40 years. Do you feel you’ve accomplished something with your life? Do you feel you lived your life to the fullest? Do you feel you’ve left a positive lasting mark on society…on someone…anyone? Is your life now – at retirement – as satisfying as it was before you retired? Have you structured your life so that satisfaction lasts a lifetime?

If your answer to one or more of the above questions is no, you need to re-think your life strategy. (more…)

It was a moonless night… A social networking narrative experiment

It was a moonless night. They had been at this for hours. Their heavy, tired feet were moving in synch with each other creating a rhythm that cleared their minds of the arduous task at hand and the more difficult task to come. For the moment, all they needed to focus on was keeping up the rhythm:  Tap, plump, crunch, drag, tap, plump, crunch.

 

This is a social networking experiment in narrative writing. I invite you, the reader, to engage now as a writer. Add a paragraph in the comments section that builds on the first paragraph in the story and subsequent paragraphs developed by others.

You are allowed only one paragraph per post. You are allowed one post for every three posts made by others. Your words may be subjected to some minor editing. Your post may not be used if it does not flow properly with the rest of the narrative or if it is deemed inappropriate for other reasons. Do not let this last statement stifle your creativity, however.

Develop the storyline and the characters as the process progresses.

Identify yourself as the owner of your words unless you wish to remain anonymous. But do realize that the final product may possibly turn into a New York Times Best Seller or a Hollywood movie, in which case you might regret not making mention of your name to get credit for your words.

Now have fun! And let’s see what this story is all about!