[Tarot's Scrapbook] The Stacked Deck

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The player scrapbooks forum is literally a place for writers to warm-up, brainstorm, keep little scraps of notes, or just post things to encourage themselves and each other. Each player can feel free to create their own thread - one per account - and use them accordingly.

[Tarot's Scrapbook] The Stacked Deck

Postby Tarot on December 31st, 2012, 12:41 am

Quick note...

Dear banner42, also known as "naked handcuffed open-mouthed male person banner":

I'm afraid you have crossed my path once too many times and you give people an entirely inaccurate impression of this site. I have nothing personal against you, but you are going on a long, long vacation studying wildlife in the Bluevein river. Please enjoy this gift of concrete shoes to see you off on your journey!
Tarot's thread tickets: sold out. Not accepting any more threads for the time being unless I promised you one. Sorry for the inconvenience!
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[Tarot's Scrapbook] The Stacked Deck

Postby Balderdash on December 31st, 2012, 1:08 am

And the minors rejoiced.
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Postby Laszlo on December 31st, 2012, 1:13 am

Thank. You.

Banner42, your reign of terror is over. Here's a sendoff, just for you.

Secret :
In the daytime I am one of Syna's fallen.
At night, I am Symenestra.
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Postby Echelon on December 31st, 2012, 12:56 pm

haha AWESOME. Thank you Tarot! (Have no idea how many times I've griped about that banner)
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Postby Tarot on January 22nd, 2013, 10:31 pm

Syrian sweets
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Right, it's not Syliran. I had original Syrian sweets at work today. My father is a professor and, whenever his foreign colleagues visit on some conference or symposium, they tend to bring gifts. I have been exposed to these visits from a very young age, and they've probably influenced my love for languages and foreign cultures. As a child, I remember the jovial attitude of the Russians and the stares the Japanese couple drew across the town with the wife walking three steps behind her husband. Americans, Europeans, Indians... they've all come here and brought something as a gift. Of course, the edible variety is by far the most welcome - would you rather get a dish or something to put in one? And this time, a young professor from Jordan came with Middle-eastern sweets.

It's not the first time, actually. The professor in question owes much of his career to my father and he's always been grateful. Back in the day, he was a PhD student here and my father jumpstarted his career in Amman. The guy has changed, though. In the years he was here, he was pretty much a Western man. Ever since taking on professorship in his country, he had to give up our ways in favor of theirs. He now acts like a very orthodox Muslim in all regards. He lets on that he doesn't have a choice in the matter. It's just the way things are there. We were all very disappointed when he once bailed out of a collaboration with my father and others because one of them was Israeli. He said they'll never let someone co-author a paper with a Jew and get away with it. Apparently, this is the very same 21st century science that's supposed to get mankind over its petty squabbles. Can you even do any science at all with premises like these? Where's the truth in that?

Anyway, he always brings a lot of sweet things and this time was no exception, only he didn't buy them at the usual Amman patisserie. Instead, we got pastries from Syria (and some from Saudi Arabia too.) So much of it, in fact, that I brought the excess to work and shared it with my boss and coworkers, as the photographic evidence shows. Please do not judge my desk too harshly. It's not messy... just tidily challenged. I tend to organize my things into geological strata. There are printouts from about five different projects, uncapped pens, and even a page from a Turkish newspaper my boss brought back from Istanbul for New Years'. I'm a packrat, always have been. Also, INTJ logic suggests that I shouldn't waste time tidying up the place as long as I can find what I need, so I don't worry too much about it.

The sweets were delicious, some of the best I've ever had, in the rich, high-calorie, honeyed way of Middle Eastern treats. My boss asked if I wasn't by any chance aiming at swiftly advancing my career through mass poisoning, to which I replied I'd be more subtle about it if that was the case. After this initial hesitation, everyone was literally ecstatic and at least one diet got its daily goal completely ruined. But then I was the only one who stopped to consider that I was actually eating wonderful treats from Syria. Not just any other place, but a country ravaged by death and cruelty. These had certainly been exported after the onset of the bloody civil war that's currently gripping the country. We tend to think of war as some condition in which people are hiding, fighting or running, but the truth is, people still work through it. I looked up the company's name and it turns out it's based in Damascus. People went to work and made great food in a war-torn city with battles sometimes being fought street by street. Some of them might since have fled or been killed for all I know.

Something else did catch my attention. Activists claim that the company is linked to president Assad's dictatorship and are asking for a boycott of its products. I don't know why this particular food was chosen this time instead of the local Jordan source - I certainly don't know much about regional politics and diplomacy. Still, it doesn't change the fact that the people who work there are not at fault and it got me thinking about a semi-forgotten tragedy elsewhere in the world, for which I am thankful. Terence says "I am human and nothing human is alien to me" and I tend to agree.

It certainly puts our own problems into perspective, but a lot of the time it's really the same problem on a different scale. "I'll never write a paper with a Jew." "I'll never step down from power." "That will never happen." "I'd never do that!" If words were objects, 'never' and 'always' would be the heavy guns, I'm sure of it, to be employed sparingly and to great effect. For every time they are used in such a way, there are a few hundred instances of their being used simply out of ignorance and to fuel further ignorance. 'Never' is the word that makes boundaries ("You shall never cross this!") and it's a big commitment to make, as individuals, cultures or nations. If we make too many of these commitments, we find ourselves living in our very own grain of sand, grating against all the other grains of sand and oblivious to the sea. Which is a rather ugly monkey to have on our backs.

So I'll let this be my thought of the day, courtesy of the Syrian sweets. And to end this scrapbook on a light and random tone, here's St. Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant me chastity and continence... but not yet." Saints can be badass too. :)
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Postby Paragon on January 23rd, 2013, 2:59 pm

That was a wonderful read Tarot. I think people forget (scarily often) that we are all the same species. We are all people, and the only reason cultures can seem strange and alien to us is that we didn't grow up surrounded by them. Judgements often show ignorance (even I've been known to make disparaging judgements, usually not seriously, but not always), and we really should make the effort to be accepting. :)
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Postby Crypt on January 27th, 2013, 9:24 am

Well... *shrugs* we're all humans, trying to survive in this harsh world of ours. Sometimes this comes out in weird (and stupid) ways. At least the Muslims that act like that one professor in Tarot's post aren't re-enacting the Final Solution. I'd like to think that there's still hope for everyone (which is being stupidly optimistic) but after I've seen what some humans can do... I can't be blamed for losing some faith in humanity.

I can't really do much to help in such affairs - the most I can do in a few years' time is to donate as much time and money and effort as possible to helping the less fortunate, while at the same time ensuring that I continue to survive. But there's always prayer, and sometimes it works. Or rather, sometimes we can see the effects, and sometimes the effects are hidden from us.

Since Tarot has deigned to grant us mortals the knowledge of an excellent (not to mention humorous) prayer, I shall try to do the same. I am not Christian, but I believe in someone up there. This is one of my favourites.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

P.S.: How the hell did that picture get chosen to be a banner?
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Postby Wrenmae on September 12th, 2013, 5:36 am

Happy Birthday, GP! Thanks for all you've done for Mizahar.
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Postby Kreig Messer on September 12th, 2013, 5:45 am

Happy birthday oh great and mighty Tarot.
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Postby Elysium on September 12th, 2013, 11:18 am

Happy birthday, GP. :)
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