Being driven crazy

That’s what driving 12 hours a day make you feel, like you’re being driven crazy. You gain a whole new respect for truck-drivers, who are usually only appreciated by me for the shade their huge trucks provide when the sun is beating right into my left eye. Anyhow, we went and we came, and I’ll entertain you with pictures in a few days time. In the meantime, I’d like to know how it’s possible to be so fatigued from all that driving that I’m no longer an insomniac. I go to bed these days promptly at 11pm, and certainly no later than 11:30, and sleep a full eight or nine hours and still feel drained by about 5pm, at which time I can go for a 3 hour nap. Except that sleeping for three hours is hardly a nap, is it?

Well, as many of you are probably well aware, much happens when you’re in travel, as you’re whizzing by scenery that could make your heart stop. And then the lines on the road disappear just as darkness falls, and your heart speeds up like a drum at a rock concert. You come across crazy drivers, and compassionate ones. Your car, or was it the pavement, makes funny sounds while you’re surrounded by wheat fields without a Toyota dealer in sight, and God Alone Knows how long it would take for AAA to get to you. You drive through cities that confuse the hell out of your GPS, cities that were surely designed by mad geniuses men. You navigate through freeway loop-de-loops that certainly were dreamed up by one of the 50 roller-coaster engineers in the nation (well, that’s what it felt like, anyway!) You see clouds in the distant sky that look like illustrations out of a children’s book, fantasy clouds I call them. And you see clouds that are nothing short of nightmare clouds. Of course, the nightmare clouds are the most, what’s the word?, eventful. You drive through country that’s most bleak and drips of desolation, and you wonder, am I in the USA? And yet, that country, with all it’s desolation, feels like the perfect place to live and forget about the world, perhaps because the world has forgotten about those places. And then you drive back into California, with it’s crazy speeding and traffic and over-crowding and the concrete canyons and say, “Thank Allah I live here!”

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of our trip. Not enough, you say? Well, I’ll tell you about the more interesting bits of the above summary in a little bit.

Posted in California, Lets Get Personal, Thats Life! | 5 Comments

BRB

You'd be surprised how much fit in there.

I must take leave of you all for now. Please remember me and my family in your prayers. We’re quite nervous about driving all this distance. We thought we’d like the opportunity to see the land we live in, but now…maybe flying would have been a better idea. But, it’s all about the adventure, right?

Be good, and keep on smiling.

Packed up, and away we go.

Posted in Lets Get Personal, World | 4 Comments

This Has Been a Busy Week

…and in the midst of the busy-ness, it occurred to me that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Now, I’m not speaking of bad or on-the-fringe-of-bad things to do. I’m talking about those completely well-intentioned projects we decide to shoulder because we either can’t say no for the guilt it plagues us with, or because we like a little bit of inopportune challenge, or maybe a combination of the two reasons.

Last week, our new camera arrived, and this week we’ll be going away to the Mid-West for a course my brother is interested in taking. We decided to go by car, all of 2000 miles, and of course road trip means Camera Must Be Packed. Since I purchased an additional lens and a few filters and a couple spare sets of batteries, and these are all relatively sensitive things that should be packed properly, I needed a camera bag to pack it all into. Of course, in the course of looking around for an appropriate gadget bag, we found those that were too small, too large, just right but can’t be shipped in time, or simply perfect but too expensive. My brother, while looking at the one I was considering which was both slightly weird looking but just the right price, said, “You can make those,” pointing to the ones that were too expensive.

And I, like an idiot, agreed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I could do it. But there was absolutely no reason for me to cop to it. Except for the fact that I did not want something that looked like a glorified lunch pail. Pride cometh before the falleth*, people. If I could tell you the amount of grief it put me through, to do simple things like stitch in pockets, put in the zipper, and the mother of all battles: putting in the foam, I would. But I can’t, because a) I have too much respect for your sanity, and b) more honestly, I’ve got a trip that I still need to finish packing for.

I will leave you with this, though: Just because you can does mean you should. Coz then you know you really could. Yes, I’m glad I went through the grief. Next time, I know what to do to make my task easier. Oh, look, there will be a next time!

*falleth isn’t a word, is it?

Posted in Lets Get Personal, Thats Life!, Think About It

Any PhotoShop Procrastinators Around?

Anyone who’s been following my photo-blog realizes that it’s been as silent as this blog had been since Ramadan of last year. What you may not realize is that I have been snapping pictures relentlessly, saving and intending to upload. But I never got around to it because, well, I was lazy. I got a little tired of processing my photos in PhotoShop and Picasa, because repetitive tasks bore the life out right out of me.

But last month, I realized I’d better use those photos I took, or my memories will be lost forever. Oh, the horror. For the last month, I’ve been sorting through the pics, trying to decide which ones I really want to upload. I don’t even know how many I selected, but I know that it’s a lot. Oh, wait, I just checked, and see that I’ve got 221 + 219 vacation pictures. Now, I know why I was so terrified of beginning the editing process.

I got to thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice if we could automate the edit, resize, and watermark process?” I know that Picasa does allow for Batch Edits, but you’re on your own with resizing and watermarking. Then, I got to remembering seeing something about Actions, a PhotoShop concept I was too intimidated to look into. Well, put four hundred and eighty photos on one side of a scale, and intimidation for PhotoShop on the the other side, and you can guess which scared me more. So, I fired up Google in search of the easiest explanation and how-to guide for PhotoShop Actions.

What are Actions? They’re a recording of the steps you take to edit a file. So, if you’ve got a bunch of steps that you automatically do over and over again, those steps are the perfect candidates for being saved as an Action Set. I found a simple tutorial for the Watermark Action on DPChallenge that is worth looking into, if you’re into processing your photos with PhotoShop. Do you know how long it took to edit half my pictures? Just a couple of interrupted-with-other-activity hours.  My pictures finally get a chance to be eternally saved on the great wide web.

If anyone has any other processing actions worth knowing about, please let me know about them. I think I can really get into this whole action thing!

Posted in Techno Babble | Tagged ,

The Politics of Beauty

I’m sure you can guess from the title of this post what I’ll be writing about. Yes, nothing other than the results of the Miss USA beauty pageant; not so much the winner of the contest, but the resultant overflowing of “support” from Arab/Muslim communities and the subtle sense of “you have overcome and achieved because of the tolerance and acceptance of the white man” from the rest of the media. Now, don’t get me wrong: I in no way, shape, or form desire or expect the respective communities to which Miss Fakih belongs to condemn her or call for head on a platter. Nor do I want the media to be aghast at the notion of a “foreigner” winning any type of award. Continue reading

Posted in In the News, Think About It | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Niqabis are Just a Bunch of Criminals!

I swear to God, once I come up with a decent blog name and leave digitalniqabi behind, I will never speak of the niqab again. (Yeah, who am I kidding more than myself?) However, I’m going to address this whole Belgium/France niqab ban thing because I simply can’t keep it bottled up inside any longer. The trigger for this need to offload was seeing people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, write that one reason they could be for the ban for the “security” advantages that it would bring to such countries. At which point, I just felt like unloading all over these blogs and forums, but that would be rude and intolerant, not to mention that it would display a decided lack of control, and hey, look, I have my own blog to unload all over.

To start with, it doesn’t shock me that non-Muslim countries would want to ban symbols of Islamic faith; after all,  since Muslim countries have imposed limitations on hijab and niqab, how can we expect any better from non-Muslim nations, especially in Europe? Turkey and Tunisia are notorious for giving women a hard time with the hijab (hard time meaning they’ve banned it in government buildings and universities in the case of Turkey) and women in Morocco are regularly face discrimination while hijabed, although there are no laws in place to officially make life for hijabis difficult. I recall a Moroccan friend during college telling me that she wanted to hijabify her life, but her aunt would tell her father, and then she’d be on the first plane back to Morocco because her father would be outraged. Outraged over the fact that his daughter is covering up more and that he is losing control.  Imagine women in those countries wearing the niqab! So, my anxiety over women in the West being prevented from wearing the niqab is not as great as it could be, considering we’ve got our own intra-Muslim hijab bans to deal with. Continue reading

Posted in Think About It, World | Tagged | 9 Comments

Spoiled for Choice: A Camera Hunter’s Dilemma

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself always completely befuddled when I go shopping for the simplest of things. I can stand in front of a single make-up or socks display for 10 minutes just trying to decide if I should buy this one or that one? So, you can imagine the agony of shopping for a new camera. The fact that there is really nothing wrong with the camera I’ve got (other than the fact that it’s a 4 megapixel snapper that takes great pictures that don’t print as great as they look on a computer screen) doesn’t really help the situation.

I’ve been shopping for the perfect camera for the last six months. That’s right, six months. At first, I couldn’t decide if I wanted a DSLR or another bridge camera in the point-and-shoot category. So, I figured I’d just find the best one of each category and decide later. Just finding the best of two different types of camera has eaten away hours equaling weeks of my life. Continue reading

Posted in Lets Get Personal, Techno Babble | Tagged | 3 Comments

More From the Why Files

Speaking of why and kids, we were browsing the candy aisle at Wal-Mart this weekend. A kid comes rolling by in a shopping cart being pushed by his mother, and upon seeing my sister and I, he asked her, “Why are there ghosts here, mommy?” And she launched into a very nice explanation about how we weren’t ghosts and why we are dressed the way we are. We only caught the beginning of the conversation, but it illustrates the beauty of why. Why opens doors to understanding, no matter how “rude” or “stupid” or “irritating” the why questions seem.

Posted in Amusing Tidbits, Thats Life!, Think About It | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

And they ask, “Why, Mommy?!”


I just watched this really awesome video from TED called, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and everyone, but everyone, can benefit from listening to Simon Sinek speak on the power of why over the mechanics of what. You know how kids are always asking “Why?!” and we adults are always giving them dumb answers to shut them up? The kids are onto something when they want you to verbalize why you want them to do something, or why the world is functioning the way it is. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, anything, then why bother doing it?

The next ten times you hear a kid ask you, “Why?!” do him/her a favor and give a real answer.  As opposed to the rest of us dummies, whose why moments were stifled to the point of extinction, the kid will learn the power of why and just might end up building the next piece of gadgetry that we simply must have.

And if you don’t have any kids around to bug you to death with “Why,” then just start learning to why everything around you. It’s never too late to become an inspiration. Besides, asking why and irritating everyone around you is just plain fun. (Don’t overdo it, though; you might end up being a frustrated blogger. Don’t ask me how I know.)

Posted in Couch Potato, Think About It | Tagged | 1 Comment

Have you got Connection Addiction™?

So, I was reading this article where the author mentioned the following statistics:

  • In 2009, the average American watched more than 151 hours of TV a month — an all-time high
  • 84% of people check their PDAs just before bed and as soon as they wake up — and an astounding 85% peek at their PDAs in the middle of the night!
  • One survey found that over a third of smartphone users would pick their BlackBerry over their significant other if they had to choose one to live without!

and the first one doesn’t shock me too much. I mean, more Americans were unemployed in 2009 (and in 2010!) and probably need something to take away the job-less days. TV is usually a sure-fire way to fill in time when you desperately want something to do, but either can’t find that something or are too depressed to make the move to at least try.

I can make sense of the second statistic, too, because you have to check if you missed an urgent call or text message during the day. It’d be like not checking your answering machine when you step back into your house, and then realizing days later that you missed the birth announcement of your best friend’s baby–it always happens that when you don’t check, important stuff comes in. Checking the phone on waking up, well, that makes sense to me, too: it’s my clock/alarm clock/calendar all rolled into one tiny package. I don’t have an alarm clock with gigantic red LCD digits glaring at me, and the wall clock is too far away for me to read without my glasses on. And for some reason, the first thing I think of when I wake up in the middle of the night or at the first sign of light is “what time is it?” Time is one of those all-important markers which, if you screw up, ruins your whole day. So, checking the phone might just be more innocent than the mark of Connection Addiction™.

But the third stat? What the heck is up with people choosing their gadget over the significant other in their life? Either they’re just filling time with people they know are wrong for them, or they are just really cold and disconnected. Well, there may be a few other reasons, but those are the top two explanations that occur to me.

How much have you scaled back your Connection Addictions™ (if you ever had one)? I know that in the past few weeks, my sister and I have been replacing Internet time with cooking (in her case) and sewing (in mine), and it’s been awesome. I keep thinking to myself, “why did I stop sewing? That was such a dumb thing to do!” As far as hobbies go, it’s way more productive and satisfying…but fulfilling the Connection Addiction™ is definitely easier. Cooking and baking just leave so many dirty dishes behind, and sewing requires all the cutting, and thread snipping, and what-not…but the internet is clean, clicking fun.

But it doesn’t leave snazzy outfits hanging in your closet. Or tasty treats on your kitchen table.

What have you given up for the Internet, if anything?

(Yes, I’m “trademarking” the term Connection Addiction. Unless somebody else already has.)

Posted in Techno Babble, Think About It | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments