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Wednesday
Jul232008

A Day Off From the Internet

I was listening to Sirius BBC Radio Forum in my car a few days ago, like I do whenever the 80s station is playing Whitesnake, and some Frenchwoman named Cecille was heading that day's discussion. Truth be told, I'm not sure if she's really French or not, but she sounded French. And I don't know why that would be important, but I feel like it should be.
Anyway, Cecille was proposing that the entire world mandate a day off from the Internet once a week. Furthermore, since most world religions approach Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as obligatory holy days, Cecille thinks that this day off from the Internet should be during the week.

Let me repeat that for dramatic effect: an entire day off from the Internet including e-mail one weekday per week.

Does anyone else think Cecille is kind of an idiot? I will ignore the most obviously idiotic parameters of her argument, such as the fact that this whole topic of discussion is akin to the "how many angels are on the head of a pin" discussion (for the record, I think there are only 3).  I will only briefly intimate that if it were up to Cecille, we would probably all be wearing loincloths, clubbing each over the head for raw meat and not using indoor plumbing.  I will, however, address Cecille's insistence that her value system be adopted by the entire world.
Miss Parlez-Vous thinks the world should stop using the Internet one weekday per week because she believes that people are not living life because they are too busy surfing the net, hanging out on social networking sites and (gasp) blogging.


Obviously, Frenchy wasn't talking about me because I live life.  And since it's 1a.m., I'm not ignoring the important people in my life in order to engage in Internet escapades.  True, the few hours of extra sleep might make me more pleasant first thing in the morning, but I think my grumpiness ultimately provides character building opportunities for my daughter and husband.  Nonetheless, I am a little irritated by Vive La Republique's complete and total lack of tolerance for people who want to be on the Internet all the time.


Frankly, people who don't like people should be allowed to avoid people if they want (does anyone else have a Depeche Mode song blaring in their heads right now?). The beauty of the Internet, French Toast, is that antisocial types can connect with people on their own terms whereas without it they might not connect with anybody, at all.


Finally, and this is the most important point of all, we need antisocial geekheads so that we can all feel good about how well adjusted we are.  Why does French Fry want to take that away from us?

Friday
Jul182008

Running on Empty

Did I mention that Tariq is training for a marathon?  Oh, well, he is.  And, frankly, I'm getting a little jealous of all the attention and admiring looks he's getting in our COI.

I mean, come on, it's running.  Like it's hard.  All you do is put one foot in front of another over and over again for an hour or two.
I spontaneously decided to start running today.  No plan, just decided.  I googled "running programs," and it turns out if you have never run before, you should walk five minutes at a moderate pace and then run for a minute at a light jog.  After a week, you increase to two minutes and so forth.

Like I said, is that supposed to be hard or something?

It went a little something like this.

1:15p.m. Google search took place

1:20p.m. I geared up for my first running outing since I was about five years old.  Oh, did I mention that it was 1:20p.m.? In the afternoon? In Florida?  Now, I'm no meteorologist or anything, but I'm pretty sure that the Florida sun is at its hottest at precisely 1:20p.m.

1:21 p.m. Moderate walking

1:25p.m. Break into a run.  Hey, this isn't so hard.

1:25 and 1/2 p.m. Could it be any hotter out here?!  Thank the Almighty I downloaded Van Morrison on my IPOD last night or I would have to do this and listen to "Pocket Full of Sunshine."

1:26p.m. I'm still alive and it is truly only by the grace of the Almighty.  Resume walking at moderate pace.

Oh, did I mention that I am pushing N. in one of those running strollers while I'm doing this?  I made sure to supply her with a Ziploc full of Teddy Grahams and a juice box so as to minimize any complaints of being hungry and thirsty.  The juice box and Teddy Grahams lasted about five minutes and now she's decided that she's training the Pakistani cricket team for their next match in India and she's yelling, "Faster, Mama, Faster!!"

1:50p.m.  I almost passed out three times before the end of the walk/run, but it's over.

I'm pretty sure that I saw my neighbor's lawn guy whip out his cell phone to call 9-1-1.

"Hello, 911?"

"Yes, sir, what is your emergency?"

"Umm, there's this Indian lady lying passed out on the lawn that I mow on Fridays."

"O.K., sir.  Is she Indian or Pakistani?"

"Umm, I'm not sure.  Is that important?"

"Well, a lot of people think it is.  Never mind, what was she doing before she passed out?"

"Running."

"Running?  Is she crazy?  It's 150,000 degrees outside.  What an idiot."

"Umm, 911?  Her daughter keeps yelling, 'faster, mama, faster.' What should I do?"

"Huh.  Do you have a juice box and Teddy Grahams handy?"
Friday
Jul182008

Who's The Boss?

Let me tell you what, working for your husband can be a total pain in the keister. (Yeah, I just used the word keister). Last night at 11:30p.m., I sat down to update this blog and Tariq came in and said, "Are you creating those social networking accounts for the site?"

"No, I'm updating my blog."

"Oh." Insert long, awkward guilt inducing silence here. "I guess you'll do that tomorrow, then?"

"Yesss," I hissed. Deep breath, stay calm, do not kill your husband. Teach your daughter, who is standing there (yes, at 11:30p.m.) how to maturely diffuse a situation that could rapidly escalate into an all out brawl.

I looked at my computer screen, then turned to him and snapped in a pretty ferocious tone "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!"

Who came up with the calming deep breath technique, anyway? It's totally useless. I mean, why would doing something like breathing, which I do involuntarily anyway, keep me from getting mad? I proceeded with the following argument.

When was the last time your boss called you at home while you were anesthetizing yourself in front of the television to ask you if you had completed this week's work? Could I please just sit here and work on something that does not revolve around you and your goals in life? I felt tremendously victimized, and the best thing to do in a situation like this is to stand up for yourself and really assert your right to do the things that you want to do for yourself without regard for someone else's guilt inducing agenda.

So, you know what I did? I gave him a dirty look, looked back at my laptop, and logged out of blogger and started creating social networking sites for our business. (Insert anticlimactic music here). Consciously, I am a Malcolm X, don't take no crap from nobody. Habitually and reflexively, I am a dead on Joan of Arc. Viva La Martyrdom. I really showed him.

In the end we worked it out. By "worked it out" I mean that I badgered him with guilt trips until midnight, he said at least fifty-five variations of the phrase, "I'm sorry," promised never to do it again, and proclaimed me as being "Her Exalted Faiqa-ness, queen of Justice, Being Right All the Time, and General Superiority."

Working for your husband has its perks, after all.
Wednesday
May282008

Catching Up with Canada's Capital




It's been a busy month.  In-laws flew in (not on their broomsticks, ha ha) about three weeks ago, left to spend a weekend in New York with some friends the following week, and then went to Toronto to see my brother-in-law's adorable newborn son.  So, between all that traveling, my mind is pretty much spent.

Forgive me for the lack of depth in this post.

I tend to be one of those people who try to rebuff all that others deem awesome, but I just really do love New York City.  I can't believe I don't live there.  Oh, yeah, I just remembered.  If I tried to buy a place there with the same square footage I have in Florida, I would have to be Bill Gates. But, I wonder, what is square footage when compared with the prospect of going to the Met every single day of the week.


Visiting New York did make me play, however, the "what if" game in my head.   You know, what if I had gone to university in New York instead of staying in Florida, what if I had moved there after getting married, etc.


About halfway through that thought pattern, I got bored and moved on.


I know some people find the "what if" game interesting, but I just don't get the point.  The same is true of Sudoku (or however you spell it).  Remind me, why would I want to play with all these numbers unless I am balancing a checkbook or doing Algebra homework?


Anyway, New York was awesome and in some indescribable way, it was empowering.  Until I tried to hail a cab in Times Square.  Then, it was just demoralizing.  Oh, by the by, a shot out to the wonderful husbands of the ladies in the preceding photo who tirelessly and selflessly took care of our kids while we acted like high school students on Spring Break for three days in New York.


Three days later, left for a five day stint in the Toronto area.  O.K., Canada has amazing foliage, their side of the Falls are waaay better than ours and the citizenry are just super nice. Other than that, not so impressed with Canada thus far.  Something about every building in Toronto just screamed, "I've been built by the lowest bidder for a government contract."  The suburban areas where I stayed was nice, but the city itself was just kind of shabby.  I just wasn't feeling the majesty that one expects when visiting the capital of a country.


Wait, Toronto is the capital of Canada, right? Oh, crap, it's not the capital, after all.  I just googled it and it turns out Ottawa is the capital of Canada.  I can't believe I didn't know the capital of Canada.  Talk about demoralizing.


P.S. Amreen, I hope you're happy now.

Sunday
May042008

Voter Apathy

"Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."
- Jerry Garcia.  Yes, Jerry Garcia.


I have no idea who I am going to vote for in November.  There.  I said it.  No idea.


In the ninth grade, I had to take a course called "American Government." In this class, I only learned two lessons, both of which are summarized here:


#1: It should be illegal to leave a senile old teacher who should have retired ten years ago alone in a room with twenty adolescents who have as a group ingested twenty Snickers bars, forty packs of M&Ms, and twenty five Coca Cola's within the fifteen minute morning break that was allotted to them just prior to their American government class.


#2: Low voter turnout in the United States can, for the most part, be attributed to a phenomenon called "voter apathy."


Lesson number one was imprinted in my mind the day that I talked this kid Sean into putting an entire packet of ABC gum (that means "Already Been Chewed" for those of you who are no longer in touch with your inner junior high school student) on the seat of my hapless teacher's chair, and lesson number two stuck with me because it outraged my inner geek to no end that people who could vote just chose not to because they thought it didn't matter.


In many ways, it was my first glimpse into human suffering.  Think about it, what is more tragic than someone thinking that they don't count?


Almost two decades later, I have found that far more tragic things take place than voting populations that don't think their votes count, here are a few:


* Stolen elections

* unjustified wars and the subsequent alienation of almost the entire international community

* a foreign policy that consists of quips such as, but sadly not limited to, "Bring it on" and "Wanted dead or alive."

* constitutionally questionable wiretaps, e-mail taps and "what are you reading" taps

* illegal torture of prisoners of war

* the kind of, sort of, suspension of habeus corpus

* ill thought out environmental policies that have led to an impending food shortage

* ill thought out economic policies which some doomsayers are saying will lead to a "depression" (I don't know about you, but I'm already feeling a little depressed)

* and, my favorite, last but most certainly not least, an impotent opposition party that doesn't have the gahones to impeach this guy




Speaking as an individual who has become politically mature in what some astute American historians are calling the "worst presidency in American history," I am not apathetic, I'm...well, generally pissed off and a little angry.  And not just at Dubya, but at everyone charged with the responsibility of running this nation.


Yes, Democrats in Congress, I am talking to you, too.




Voter apathy?  Hardly.  American votes counts, I know they do.  They count the way the principle of "buy low, sell high" counts in the stock market.  You're supposed to buy a stock at a low price and sell at higher one, right?  American votes are bought with cheap currency like fear, xenophobia, and ethnic and religious alliances.  Sadly, the currency that these votes generate for politicians does not translate into health care, better schools or a safer world for Americans.  The currency these votes generate translate simply into the ability to win another election.  The point is that I'm apprehensive about casting my vote not because I don't think it will count.  I'm apprehensive regarding voting because I am not sure exactly what my vote will count for.


Because I'm an Independent, Florida's closed primary let me off the hook in terms of making that decision in January.  But, November is approaching faster than I care to admit.  I have thoughts on the candidates which I am going to present in freestyle...

John McCain

That beach boys song, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran ... I still can't believe he said that, what a jerk ...a hundred years, he's joking, right ... talk about a flip flopper, wasn't he against the war a few years ago ... a summer gas tax break, whoop-dee freakin' doo, now i can buy a Snickers bar (in honor of my 9th grade American government teacher) with all the savings ...  he's not looking too healthy, he should really work out a health care plan soon because I think he's going to need it in order to get to the end of his term if he gets elected...




Hillary Clinton

A total and utter disappointment thus far... she's such a credible and intelligent politician, why is she being so mean to Barack Obama ... red phones, mailers, why not just run on your own merits instead of trying to tear other down ... obliterate Iran, obliterate, that's harsh ... reading letters from a "fan" at some Midwest primary where the writer is thanking her for running because it shows her daughter what is possible for women in the U.S, that makes me uneasy, doesn't that kind of sound like, "vote for me because I'm a girl"... I'd always admired her, but something doesn't feel right about her...




Barack Obama

He's not Muslim, but even if he were, does that make him less American, that issue makes me feel sad ... proud of him, he represents what any American can become ... not very experienced, though... a few Pakistani friends told me he said he was willing to bomb Pakistan, so I looked up the speech... turns out he said he would bomb the Northern frontier if  General M. wouldn't contain the terrorist cells there ... still bad news, but, let's be real, they're all willing to bomb Pakistan, at least he made himself accountable to some set of parameters ... at least, he didn't sing a tune set to a Beach Boys song, or use the word "obliterate"... are people really going to vote for someone whose middle name is Hussein, it shouldn't matter, but it does... idealistic, too idealistic, I don't know, I kind of need a little idealism in my life... people don't think he's going to win if he does end up running as the Democratic candidate, but that doesn't bother me, I am a Red Sox fan, after all.

v>

That's it.  Looks like Obama is in the lead.  I'll keep you posted.