Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pray Up

As a person who prays and likes to see others pray, I am just curious when this Israeli solider pray to God...what would he ask of him? How will he justify the consequence of his action, the intentional and or the unintentional ones?

Maybe he is praying the Lord to have mercy on the nearly 400 causalities of the strike he is about to take part of...or maybe he is just praying that the 1000 plus injured will heal quicker...or maybe he is praying that he will survive this Armageddon he is about to bring upon unassuming civilians who are also militant in his eyes. The only thing were can be sure of is that he is keeping himself close to God.
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Gaza Toast

My family is well, but as you know far from safe...all my uncles now live with us, since they relocated from their Hamas dominated neighborhood, ours is not so much of a target area. Two distant cousins have been killed, one lives in el zaton area of Gaza city, I did not know either of them, but I know their parents.

People will wait this out, I check with my family every few hours. I spoke to more people in the past 24 hours that I have in a month. Although the fear is both real and near, those who I spoke do, are resilient.

Since people in our town of residence are land owners and farmers, they have everything to lose if the Israelis entered the town, so not much fighting goes near my house. Occasionally though if their is a ground invasion, they Israelis will camp near our neighborhood (it's a hill)

The area where my uncles live (my uncles own a five story building with 10 apartments) is a block away from a local mosque and an area with lots of families that lost a family member to the constant fighting with the Israelis. So to make a long story even longer, the Israelis target the area regularly. Their building wasn't targeted, but was rocking like a 70s band. Needless to say, their apartments do not have windows anymore.

My mom was really worried because the constant bombing is everywhere in Gaza and can be heard and seen either live in person of courtesy of the 24 hour cable networks (assuming there is power). My mom asked me to forgive them if they have done me wrong (something most Muslims do in their finally days before they kick the bucket) this is the first time mom mentions that which indicate how serious the threat they face.

While, I do care for the wellbeing of my family and residence of Gaza, I would be dishonest to claim that I am suffering, because I am not. It's painful, but I cannot let fear of the unknown ruin my life. In the meantime, I am grateful for the friends who have reached out to me to check on my family and please keep them in your prayers.

P.S. For those well meaning and kind hearted bloggers and activists who blame Fateh, Abbas, or Egypt for the carnage in Gaza, I say you are making a grave mistake...with all their imperfection, there is little any of those can do.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gaza Update

Israel killed roughly 300 Palestinians; Fateh is blaming Hamas and not their own silence; Hamas is blaming Fateh and Egypt, but not Israel or their own mistakes. The Arab countries are angry in the streets and their leaders are fastest to give them a painkiller, send more food to Gaza; The Europeans are observing like a passive vegetarian at a meat shop. The Arab league wants to yet hold another summit, the entire United States is on a vacation. In the meantime, Palestinians are out in the cold, the Palestinian who does not starve or die of lack of medical attention, dies in an Israeli air strike. It's bad all around. My family is alive, but not safe; as so many families now are neither alive or safe, the well being of my own family is insignificant

Here is my wish list,

I hope the Israelis cut the crap and stop killing civilians, I pray for America to wake up and smell the burning flushes of Gaza. I plea with the Arab leaders to send more than food, send some dignity. I ask of Fateh to shut the heck up and stop the blame game. As for Hamas, because I appreciate my life, I won't say anything.

P.S. While, the net is loaded with graphic pictures of the carnage in Gaza, I chose not to post one here.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Running to the Hills

About 30 minutes ago, I just got back from the cold, where I ran in Provo to Orem via the River wood mall. It took my a bit over one hour and twenty minutes to run the route I had wanted to run for years now. I try to keep my running regiments to about one hour plus minus ten minutes. But today, I did not have major plans so I decided to go for it. Tobe honest the rather large and tasty Christmas meal I had yesterday had a lot to do with me running in the cold. Plus my pal Jehad gave me a nice running elastics. Two problems, I run into as I run; the first as I run in the cold, my nose starts running as well; the second problem, not being able to change the songs on my MP3 player because of the gloves that are keeping my warm; third problem not to slip on the black ice. I am glad to report that with extra napkins, tolerance to bad music, and cautious steps, I have avoided all these problems!

I must confess though that it is harder to run in a higher altitude like here in Utah. but if anyone needs to run is people in places like Utah where large portions of food (good food and otherwise) are customary. Since we are on a confession road rage here, I have recently came across a British heavy metal band "Iron Maiden." Their music literary pumpbs blood through my head to my legs in seconds!
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Litigious Elves Sue Santa for Labor Abuse!

Remember those good old days where Santa used to rule the world and used to be more popular than that shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist and those fine days where Santa was a respected celebrity around the globe? Chances are you've forgotten about those days, which is why this post comes at no surprise.

A number of elves working at the Santa Christmas shop in the North Pole are filling a class action lawsuit against Saint Nicholas and his top productivity managers. "Who do they think we are? We are little people, but we cannot work as hard as Mexicans," said Rasheed Wallace, one of the few Muslim elves working in Santa's shop. "Since I do not celebrate Christmas, I love putting in extra hours." But Wallace said the stress and pressure this time of the year are 'unbearable' some elves go as far as equating their work condition with "sweatshop except that neither Bono nor Angela know of our struggle" Chris O'Keefe another elf took part of the lawsuit, "this is not against man in red suite," "we love the guy" "but rather we are going after the establishment"

Other concerns in the North Pole is the high unemployment rate among the elves population due emerging Chinese low labor costs are undercutting cheap elves labor and North Pole jobs are being outsourced to China.

It remains unclear whether Santa will be appearing in court anytime soon, but his lawyers' assured the media that the elves' case not only lacks merits but plain ludicrous. It seems that both Santa's legal team confidence and his sleigh are high in the sky.

American anti-Santa defamation league has came to his defense on a statement on their website "Santa brings Christmas cheers to us all" "we need to do whatever it takes to defend the man against those reindeer's chasers"

As if things cannot get any worse for the fat man in a red suite is caught in his own legal battle with a New Jersey Arab American kid who left him a plate full of falafel and mint tea, and not cookies and milk as it is customary! Santa who has allergies to anything where peas meet the chicks!
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Weddings, Birthdays, and Funerals

In the course of three days, I have taken part of a birthday, a wedding, and a funeral in three different places. The b-day was for a close friend at a Turkish restaurant out in DC, the funeral was for the mother of law for one of my colleagues, and the wedding was for one of my best friends from college. I had to dress up for all these events. The b-day was right before the funeral that required a dark outfit, and the wedding to my surprise was more casual than I thought. Needless to say, there was food on all these occasions. The funeral reception was a lot more relaxed and laid back than I have anticipated. Since I have manged to avoid going to weddings most of my time in the States, this was my third wedding--not my own. This wedding was in Utah, and I guess Utah weddings are a low profile and all about making an appearance than participating in a festivity. Thus, the wedding has great company, the birthday had good food, the funeral had the best food and a wonderful company

So in a nutshell, I was overdressed for a wedding, overstuffed in a funeral and overjoyed for a birthday that isn't mine.
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Its and Bits

I ran into an old acquaintance of mine the night I arrived to Salt Lake City and he was telling me about how wonderful life is, since he lives across the street from the U of U stadium, literary you can see the stadium from his bedroom. He is only paying $250 for a nice room in the heart of the city. I almost cried when I though how much I am paying to live in DC, a city with very few friendly faces.

Brad had just purchased a book that is 101 year old, published in 1907, a book about Latin, he paid 50 cents for that book. His concerns was that if he learned Latin form that book, he might not be up to date...I assured him that he has nothing to fear, since it is a safe bet that the Latin Language has not evolved in more than 101 years...but it was funny that till this day they still print new Latin dictionaries every year...and it says updated edition.

When I arrived to Provo, I was greeted with a nice snow storm, which was really cool since I have been in DC, I have not spotted snow. I was reminded with the college days back in this little town. I had to switch to my contact lenses becasue my glasses do not do well with snow all over them.

I also passed the MTC, that's the Mormon Missionary Training Center, where for a class assignment I had to volunteer 10 hours to take calls of people wanting to order copies of the Book of Mormon and other LDS promotional material. No seriously what was I thinking? I could have gotten away with not doing that assignment on the premise the absence of my faith in the Church. No, but I wanted no easy way out! I only did four hours however and I felt weired, maybe a feeling only matched if I was a vegetarian who works at a butcher shop answering a question of a curious and confused customer who wants to know my personal take on what piece of meet is best for his dinner?

Stay warm and enjoy the holiday season, we are about to go pick my bud from the airport, in the meantime, I will be working to digest those fine pancakes I had for breakfast this morning.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Happes in Vegas Stays in Cairo?

I have been to many cities around the States and few around the world, but I had to think of something to link two of my favorite destinations to visit. Cairo, Egypt and Vegas have more in common than they think.

Both cities have hot temperature that makes your brain boil. Both cities are dusty due to desert.

Las Vegas is the driest state in the Nation. Both cities are battling water shortage and pollution in Egypt the Nile sources are drying up.

In Cairo, you can get anything for the right price, same goes for Vegas. Food is way cheaper in both cities, and juices, ice cream make a big part of the local culture.

Both Cairo and Las Vegas have a legal drinking age of 21 (http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/facts-about-cairo-1756.html)

Also known as the 'The City of 1000 Minarets', Vegas is also known as the city of the 1000 Casinos.

In Clark County where Las Vegas is and Cairo prostitution is illegal and a crime publishable by law. But everyone knows that this is not the case, prostitution is alive and will in both cities.

Hoover Dam is the largest public works project ever undertaken in the U.S. and so is the High Dam in modern Egypt.

Vegas has hotel than looks like the sphinx, Cairo has the real deal.

Like Egypt many residence of the city make earn their break and butter working for the entertainment business.

Migrant workers come from south of the borders. in Egypt boys of the South who are usually shorter and darker and enjoy less education than their peers to the north. Vegas migrant worker core hails from various cities and towns of Mexico.

People who live in Vegas want nothing to do with the Strip where tourists flock, in the same manners, residence of Cairo despise all that obsession with their city that foreigners bring.

Cairo has more residents during the day (due to central government office), Las Vegas has more residents at night (blame night owls)

Like in Vegas, it is normal in Cairo to run into individuals who want to scam you of your money, but in Vegas they wear suits.

Vegas is not as liberal as you may think, Cairo is not as religious as you might believe.

Residents of Cairo have a high tolerance of tourist sometimes erratic behavior, Vegas residents on the other hand exploit it for profit.

Al-Qahirah, which is Arabic for 'the Conqueror' or 'the Victor'. Both translations are good attributes if you want to do well in Vegas gambling circles.

It's true both places are cheap, and both dirty in their own ways!
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Freind @ the Liquor Store Misses Me! Oh BoY

I was at the liquor store the other day, not to buy liquor nor to purchase cigars, but rather to send money for a friend. Surprise, surprise most of the money transfer services are located at liquor stores where they also happen to sell lottery tickets. So now you can imagine my relief when I hear the guy who sells alcoholic beverages, tobacco, lottery tickets and offer money wire services miss me! Why would I want to visit you more often? It's not like I enjoy any of the goods or services that you offer! So go ahead and miss me, and while you are at it, send my regards to my accountant, lawyer, and the plumber who is not named Joe ! I am like Yes, We Can!
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Get Me Something to Write With

I just made an observation, it takes an average American friend of mine (that includes any person in this land) roughly less than 1 minute to grab a pen and a paper to write whatever information I want to dictate to them. at 5 cents a minute, it costs me only 5 cents to get few digits to the person on the other end of the line. In most cases when I am calling someone in the Arab World, it often takes them 2 minutes to realize that there is nothing to write with where they are standing, another 3 minutes to get someone t grab them something to write with and another minute to replace the pen because it does not work! a total of six minutes to give someone a phone number at $.25 a minute, I pay a $1.5 to get few digits cross the ocean. I wonder why the people I call in the Arab world are costly friends to have? Here are few spculations about who it takes longer in the Arab world to find something to write with:

1-Arabs do not like to plan ahead for emergencies like someone giving you informartion over the phone. "Thanks for lack for natural disasters in the region!"

2-Too many people at a house move things around and makes it harder to keep track of where you pet your notepad! That makes people in the West are loners.

3-Arabs have a much better memory, thus they can remember more numbers without getting confused!

4-Asking for a notepad is "old school" my friends use a mysterious technology to save important dates and numbers.

5-The only numbers my friends use is the size of their shoes, everything else just ask mom!

6-Everyone my friends know lives in the same house, so no need to save numbers, just shout their name and they will show up. Unless your name is Muhammad, that would not be a hassle.

7-My friends are all broke, no need for a bank account number. Whatever you have is stashed under your bed.

8-The people I call hate me and just want me to waste my money and my time asking them for 10th time "Kifak?"

If you think of any other reasons, please do tell! And as for me I do not mind hold yes, I will!
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Chocolate Times

I was thinking the other day about the chocolate business and how chocolatiers get away with many things that other professions do not. First, they are exhibitionists, whenever they get a chance they will expose their goods and in most cases offer you free samples. Any town or city you visit there will be a chocolate factory where the store would have huge glass windows showing the chefs or artists making the the goods. After all, you do not give breweries a free hand to seduce us with their beverage. Second, people working at the chocolate factories are always cheerful and have the biggest smile, a smile even bigger than Kanya West's ego. Granted workers at chocolate factories might be obese, but they are not as obese as those who work at the ice cream shops. I have noticed the smaller the dark chocolate (my passion) selection at a chocolate store, the more obese the employees of that store are. Third, chocolate is way overpriced. I do not need my chocolate to come in a colorful sexy box and nice wrapping, I guess in that way I am like the alcoholic who does not read the label on his bottles. Fourth, you can get a chocolate addiction, but no good religion of philosophy preaches against such addiction. Perhaps because preachers have taken away so many things from us, that when it comes to the mysterious brown treat they are willing to look the other way. Or because they cannot hold back on it, so they do not want to violate their own teachings.

In the meantime, I need to take care of few things such as finishing a piece of Ghirardelli and Choxie dark chocolate who according to a new scientific study are good for your heart tissues.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sweet Soundtrack O'Mine

I just came up with a new criteria for any person I like enough to be with. when I see this person I am hoping that one and only one song will automatically play in my head the moment I see them. I know this is presumptuous of me, but I couldn't help but notice how much I like this tune. I even played in retrospect with a pictures of the people I had crush on, it actually worked. With the probable assumption that I will still be the same person, so if it works in retrospect it must be valid for the future. Now if you care to find out the song, click here!
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Kick The Man When He's DOWN

Three weeks ago, I was enjoying the company of a group of friends at a local lounge in Mount Pleasant area. The conversation was wonderful and the people were fun and fun loving. I met many new friends, the group mainly was Arab American second generation young professional from States like Montana and Michigan.

The majority of the folks at the gathering were journalists so you know better not to have strong feelings either way. Someone brought up the gay marriage in California and the Mormon connection to Proposition 8. It was rather funny to see a group of people who subscribe to many various religions and come from different upbringing not shy away from attacking the Mormons for their "role" in passing the ban. I have noticed that whenever a group of people with similar background gather, they tend to unload on the "absent other" and adopt the common attitude, "Screw them, they are not here" I have diffidently done that myself and also have seen Later-day Saints do the same.

I do not know, but I know that good people of religion are not necessary cheerleaders of gay marriage. They might not appose it, but they are not going to advocate it. At best, they would preach against discriminating against gays. So, I made the LDS argument that the Church members are only 2 percent of the California population and it's unfair to stick it to the religion. There are far more Hispanics and Blacks who voted the same way as members of the LDS faith. In other word, because Mormons are viewed as a free game for all haters out there, we look the other way when people unload on them. do not get me wrong, there are parts of the LDS faith that I do not grasp, there are also parts that alienate me, but as I told the group, most of my good friends in this town are members of the church who do not wake up everyday thinking "oh, boy how can I make life more miserable today for the gays?"

I also had to evoke my libertarian roommate from Missouri who was against the whole idea of the State granting him a license to get married. they only reason he obtained a license was when he learned that the Church won't allow him to get a Temple marriage unless he has a State issued license-to his credit he tried to resist that too, but the House of the Lord is a house of order after all.

As lo there's the polygamy argument that Mormons were forced by the US to ban the practice of polygamy in the State in order to be admitted to the Union. This argument is a knockdown, but i did not want to come across as polygamy advocate--which I am not.

I have also noticed that many people of faith might not denounce gay marriage because it does not affect them or because they feel alienated or disfranchised with the American society and adopt the attitude "this is their country, let them take it to hell" But the money those individuals have to confront the issue at close like having a gay son or a gay teacher who is close to a member of your family, they change the rule and flip to the other side.

I did not mean to unload on you the details of my adventures with Yuppies in Washington DC, but rather try to put my thoughts in order to the best I could.
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Monday, December 01, 2008

Free Food For Those Who Can Afford It....But

I became upset upon learning that the Palestinian Mission in Washington DC, will be holding a banquet, an event that will be attendance by many leaders in the Arab and American political scene in Washington, DC. Usually, I would cheer such events because they raise the profile of the Palestinian issue and generate some good media coverage. But my sole concern about the event is the timing. No, I am not mad because I did not get invited or because they will be serving food that I do no like. But it's unfortunate that hard working people of Gaza are starving in the dark and those who sympathize with them are stuffing themselves in a fancy hotel. It's insensitive and you know that people will jump on this to point the alienation between the Palestinians as people and their leadership.

I do like receptions and banquets, I go to as many as I can since it's now about reception season, but I am just not feeling it in my heart to go eat overpriced meal as an over rated hotel to celebrate the Palestinian cause. I think with that kind of out of touch mentality, we are better off celebrating the cause at a funeral home, not a five star hotel.
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