A distant dream became a reality thanks to six months of perseverance, patience, and the help of my incredible team.

A bottle of champaign, a bottle of sparkling apple cider, two paper cups, and a house key.
A bottle of champaign, a bottle of sparkling apple cider, two paper cups, and a house key.
Celebrating closing day. Photo by author.

It was a Saturday morning in September. I walked into my kitchen to find a steady stream of water leaking from the popcorn ceiling. The new air conditioner that my landlord had installed a month prior was leaking yet again. The HVAC installers had been out to my rental the day before and assured me that they had fixed the source of the leak.

It was their fourth visit to fix the leak.

And that was my breaking point and the moment when I decided I’m going to buy a house.

In Silicon Valley.

In the middle of a pandemic.

You can get a selfie with a cutout of Dr. Fauci at the Mountain View Community Center. Photo by author.

When the pandemic first started, I wanted to journal and write about my experiences during this time. A year into the pandemic and I’ve yet to write anything. Earlier this week, I was blessed to get my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine at the Mountain View Community Center. I’ve spoken to a few different people who’ve had their shots in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Since it seems experiences are varied, here’s a short account of my experience.

Getting an appointment

The hardest part of my experience was actually getting an appointment. A few weeks ago, I signed up with Dr. B

NUMMI, a joint partnership between GM and Toyota, offers lessons in teamwork, leadership, and quality control.

An incomplete car on a production line in a car factory.
An incomplete car on a production line in a car factory.
Photo by carlos aranda on Unsplash

About a decade ago, I learned about a defunct car plant in Fremont, CA, called NUMMI through a This American Life episode. It’s one of my favorite This American Life episodes — it’s meticulously researched and well structured and narrated. It’s OK you can go listen to it now. I’ll be waiting right here.

The NUMMI story has stuck with me and I’ve even listened to the episode a few times since it’s original airing. As a Bay Area transplant, the idea that there was a time when actual products (let alone cars!) were manufactured in Silicon Valley fascinates me…

Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1998 — my senior year in high school. I had stayed a few minutes late after my first period class, Advanced Placement English, to ask my English teacher a question about an assignment. As I was gathering my stuff and getting ready to hurry to my second period class, my teacher casually told me, “You know you’re a good writer, right?”

My English teacher was notoriously difficult. And the class was ridiculously demanding. It was the sort of class where we’d read two books at the same time…

Khallo Adel in Kuwait in 1980 or 1981 (screenshoted from one of his many family videos).

August 2nd marked the 30th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The invasion uprooted my family’s life and changed the trajectory of my future. Like the nearly 400,000 Palestinians who lived in Kuwait at the time, we had a really good life in Kuwait. It was a life that was built around a large community of friends and family.

And the foundation of that community was my uncle Adel Samara. Khallo Adel passed away yesterday and with him a big part of that life left the world.

Khallo was an extraordinary man. He was so much more than an uncle…

Woman sitting at a coffee shop with a notebook open and a pen in her hand.
Woman sitting at a coffee shop with a notebook open and a pen in her hand.
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

I spend a lot of my time at work writing research plans for my research projects and providing feedback on other researchers’ plans. I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-scoped and documented research plan. It’s the foundation of your work as a UXR (I’ll spare you the house metaphor). A good research plan sets you up for executing a successful research project. Without a good plan, you’re unlikely to produce good research. Engineers use the expression “garbage in, garbage out” and the same is true with research. …

Finding closure with a long-lost childhood classic

I recently wrote about my Sakhr, an MSX based video game console designed for the Middle Eastern market that my parents bought me when I was about 8 or 9. I also wrote that my favorite MSX game was Penguin Adventure but I sadly no longer had the original cartridge.

For years I longed to play Penguin Adventure on my Sakhr. Every now and then I’d look on eBay for it but wasn’t able to find it. I figured it was too old and too niche of a game for me to ever find a replacement cartridge.

After I wrote…

Noor Ali-Hasan

I’m a UX research lead at Google, where I help teams design and build desirable and easy to use products. Outside of work, I love art, Peloton, and Lego.

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