The list

It’s sometimes amazing to remember our childhood dreams. Yesterday I remembered a nice list that I used to do over and over when I was a kid, it was a list of all the countries that I want to, or would visit when I grow up. I think it included a little more than 30 countries. However my visiting each country of them wasn’t anything like having a few weeks trip. I had my own interpretation of visiting a country. I had two categories, places that I want to know very very well, and others that I just want to visit. I used to say that what I want is to go to every one of the top list countries and stay there for a year, during which I would learn the country’s language, listen to its music, read its books and take pictures of all the beautiful places!

As kids, we didn’t really know what was waiting for us :) We live in a world of boundaries and visas. I didn’t know that to realize this dream, the least I need is to be a multi-millionaire. I also didn’t know that citizens of many countries of the world are not easily welcome everywhere. People are merely papers, it doesn’t matter who you are, your qualifications, your ambitions, you first have to be on paper in order to think of transcending the paper one day, and be just YOU.

It’s nice to go back in memory and see our previous dreams. Even though they might look extremely unrealistic, we might end up doing something that’s close to them. Not necessarily spending one year in every country and the rest of my kid’s imagination, but at least visiting and knowing the world and its people. Learning more languages. That could be possible, I am optimistic still. Even though it took me years just struggling with my “paper self” in the first foreign country I’ve ever been to, USA, I am still optimistic. My hope doesn’t come from how reality is, it’s generated from within myself, from where I know a value in me that’s above and beyond human-created boundaries and obstacles. We can do it!

Healthy discounts

In my last post I mentioned a brief personal experience with how businesses can be irresponsible as far as the health of our world (called environment). Just a few days after this experience I had another one, this time positive. I’d like to talk about it here as an example of how businesses can encourage their customers to make better, or cleaner shopping-style choices.

I was shopping at Vitamin World, now my favorite supplements store. They offer a member’s discount for 2 days every month, it’s free to become a member, and you get 50% off, which is a great deal (well, I wish I was paid for this advertisement now, but in case you are wondering, I am not!). I became a fan of natural healing, supplements and especially herbs. I might have inherited this passion from my mother, who is the family herb specialist, however I only realized my passion for this field in recent years. Anyway, while doing my shopping for herbs that I know, and some others that I wanted to experiment with, I found this nice offer, and I immediately grabbed it. It’s the store cloth shopping bag, which you can now find in many stores as an alternative for the monstrous plastic bags. However in Vitamin World they did something different to promote the usage of this bag, a $1 off your purchase every time you use the bag. That’s what I am talking about!

One dollar off is no big deal. But it can be an incentive for people to get it, since they will be saving on the long term. People already look for $1 off, or less, coupons, so purchasing a bag for $3 and saving $1 for the life of the bag is a good deal. I particularly wish that grocery stores would go for the same promotion. People go grocery shopping at least twice a month, if not more, and you can imagine how much of the plastic bags usage grocery shopping account for. Again, if I was a ruler, I’d probably start by forcing grocery stores to do just that. Well, I guess I might be lying here. I think I will force them to eliminate plastic bags altogether. People adapt, and they always use and live with what they have available. It’s doing them, and their children, a great good by forcing them not to hurt… the air they are breathing, and much more!

I loved it, but hated it!

Yesterday I had lunch at Taco Bell with my dear niece, who is visiting from Egypt and staying with me for a few months. I decided to go for a new meal that looks beautiful in the big and colorful picture. My niece didn’t really know what to chose, so she ordered the same. I waited for a few minutes, then saw a tray with two huge platters on the counter, with my order number on it.

The first thing that caught my attention, and actually shocked me, was how the meals were served. We took them “for here”, so we didn’t need to have them wrapped up. However, the meal was served in a big plastic platter, and, even worse and even more frightening, it had this HUGE, still plastic, cover. The cover looked nice, but I was just unable to understand why use it when it will be discarded right away. I thought that all it serves is to look nice for a few seconds, and it lasts only until we go to our table, take it off and eat the meal. Then, you know: throw it in the trash :( What an incredible and meaningless waste! Imagine how many of those are served every day all over the country, they will add up and make a nice hill of plastic covers, made only to last for a few seconds, then be discarded!

To say the least, that’s irresponsible. But it’s not only Taco Bell, fast food places insanely add tons of plastic, one-use containers to our trash. You know, when trash goes out of our sight, and we have a clean apartment or restaurant with a new and empty trash bag, it doesn’t mean that all we have just discarded is eternally out of sight. No dear, it’s going somewhere else, and it’s going to accumulate there. It’s adding to millions and millions of tons of disposable material that we use for one time then kill the earth with it. Sometimes I imagine when our grand-children, or, hopefully, our children read about these past (for them) practices, they will look at us and say that they are really unable to understand how stupid and irresponsible our civilization had been!

Now, if I was a ruler, I’d start by regulating all those fast food places. It might be difficult to start by individuals and change their lives and practices. But businesses make money, and we can ask them to implement some new procedures. They also contribute a great deal to the problem. I’d simply force them to eliminate unnecessary packaging, add recycling to their facilities and actually recycle all that can be recycled. When talking of packaging, all manufacturers must also be forced to stop using stupidly big and useless packaging. If they are not forced, by law, to do it, most businesses will never do it. It’s as simple as that. However, the consequences are not simple or small. I am looking forward for a time when hurting our environment will be seen and treated for what it is, as a crime.

Winning!

If you live in the United States and watch television, then you know Donald Trump. He is a business man, yes, but he is as famous as a Hollywood star. His show “The Apprentice” must have been a big factor in his becoming a star. I believe he represents a better model of being star. The model of success through intelligence, hard (passionate) work, personal branding, knowledge (continuous learning), and common sense.

Once familiar with the show, I started to look for Donalds’ books. I do declare that I like him very much as a writer. This fact only proves my belief about success: truly successful individuals, in any field, seem to always have a solid intellectual ground. After all, every human has exactly the same form of material manifestation in the world: one anatomy, one body. What we have up there makes all the difference: vague things that reside in our chest, and in our head! When I started this blog, I posted my selected quotes of the following books by Donald Trump, check them out: How to Get Rich, and The Way to The Top. I will post my quotes of his other books soon, insha’Allah (God willing, in Arabic).

Well, I am from Egypt. Trump is not a famous name there. So I knew nothing about him in my first years in the country. Until I met “The Apprentice” on TV. I think the first time I saw the show was in its second season. I am only an occasional TV watcher, but this show captivated me, and it soon became my favorite. May be it’s my business sense. I gradually came to like business. However my interest in business didn’t start early in my life. I grew up in a business environment. My family had a ready-made clothes factory, established by my elder brother, who created this business while he was in medical school. He truly is a multi-talented entrepreneur, and I always believed that if he had come to a business-friendly country like the US early in his life, he would have been a billionaire by now. Even my mother, who has, all her live, been a housewife, never working outside her home, was very involved in the business. Growing up with business all around me, I didn’t really like it. I was more interested in intellectual pursuits. I never even liked to read about business. May be I didn’t like the fact that all my brothers went into the family business. I didn’t want to do something unless it’s genuine and of true personal meaning to me. I didn’t want to be a slave of money. I, as a human being, as a creature of the greatest Creator, am ABOVE money. I can have it as a tool, but I won’t work for it.

Then something changed. May be it was in my genes, hidden there til the time comes. My first personal, or face to face experience with business came my way when I was in my last year of college, studying French literature and translation. One of my professors approached me and asked if I a good Internet user. I wasn’t even a bad one! I had never used it at the time. My professor said that she, along with two other partners, were interested in establishing a translation company, and they wanted me aboard. I was a unique student in the institution at the time (in a good way), which is another story. That’s probably why they chose me.

I immediately accepted. I knew nothing about the business. But I loved the people I was working with, and I was very appreciated in return. In the spirit of a team, exploring and learning about a world unfamiliar to us, everyone took charge of what they knew best. Well, what I knew best was to learn what I didn’t know! And to become an expert shortly after. I didn’t think of what I was doing as a business. I just did it, but I didn’t name it. When I look back, I see that as a revealing of the entrepreneur in me.

See where the chain of thoughts took me! I started this post with the intention of writing a “brief” post about MY WINNING. You still don’t even know what I won! I am going to tell you very, very shortly.

Back to Donald Trump. Well, I didn’t win The Apprentice, otherwise this would have been already known all over the nation! Not that I don’t qualify for it, I know I do. I even qualify for much, much higher things. But my winning is related to Trump… University. Yes, Trump University.

Shortly after I discovered Trump Blog, a contest was advertised: readers were asked to post their questions to Donald Trump, restricting their questions to “success-related topics about personal achievement, real estate investing and entrepreneurship.”

I did post one entry, with three questions. I don’t know yet which question of mine was selected by Donald Trump. I’ve been checking the blog for news about the winners. I had a feeling that I could win. I knew there were hundreds of other entries, but I thought that my questions were well to the point. However, I wasn’t sure. When I saw the post about the winners tonight, my name was eight on the list. As I was quickly getting to the end of the list, without seeing my name, I expected that it wasn’t going to be there anyway. May be after five years of struggling as an immigrant, five years of suffering from not being able to live up to my potential, I sort of got used to losing. I was used to winning back in my home country. My immigration experience taught me that I was wrong when I took it for granted. I won’t say that I wasn’t prepared for that, I did leave my comfort zone to put myself in difficult circumstances. I saw it as a means to build my character, and to teach me more about the truths of life and of living.

I won a free course offered by TU. A new and different chance of learning. The ability to learn is a blessing. I am grateful to God for giving me a mind capable of understanding, and the resources necessary to find knowledge.

See my name among the winners in Trump Blog

“O my Lord! advance me in knowledge.”
Quran: Chapter 20, Verse 114

Black or red?

The two colours in the title refer to a worldwide spice: pepper. I haven’t been to many places in the world, but to me, pepper, especially black, seems to be known and used all over the world. I love spices, and all my life I used black pepper on almost everything I ate. Sometimes I even added as much black pepper to my eggs that it made a visible black layer on top! That’s how I used to eat my eggs years ago.

I also like red pepper. I don’t know why the black and the red are both called “pepper”, because I just learned that they actually come from two different plants. I guess I need some more knowledge in order to know what’s common in both of them.

Anyway, what I want to share with you today is a nice info for pepper lovers. Black pepper is said to be ok if consumed with moderation, but when it comes to red pepper, there is more good news. Red pepper is actually good for our health. It even has a history of medicinal use! Even though I have a longer history with black pepper, I guess, from now on, I will go red!

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