Tech Pirates

No, I’m not talking about those who use pirated technology. I’m talking about the movie I saw last night, Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999). I know, it’s super old, but since it covers the history, psychology, and business philosophy of the two major computer companies, the age of the movie definitely does not get in the way of its content. I feel like I’ve gotten a better grasp on the mentalities driving Apple and Microsoft. In lots of ways, it confirmed some theories I had, and in even more ways, it taught me the might of willpower.

What theories did it confirm? You know how every time Apple has a new product to launch, they build this big huge hype machine in the form of a Mac conference? I always thought that the hype was bigger than the product (not because Apple sucks, they clearly do not). While I always thought that the hype machine was probably something just created by the advertising executives in the PR department, I now realize (if this film is accurate), that the hype has always been created by the man himself, Steve Jobs. He’s got products, and he is happy, nay, bursting with eagerness to sell them. It also appears that at least some of the image-building is born in insecurity. I’ll let you dig up the film to find out how I come to that conclusion.

Another theory confirmed? Bill Gates is a serious nerd. Steve Jobs is an artist, a creator, but Mr. Gates is a bona fide nerd. Both companies could have had a nerd as the face of the company (Apple could have had Steve Wozniak as it’s primary face), but the person representing the company really is symbolic of the philosophies driving each company. While Mr. Gates was hacking out code and dropping out of Harvard, Mr. Jobs was out there developing a brand that people would buy into. This is seen most clearly in the difference between the offices of Microsoft and Apple. Apple’s office building is like their products: full of clean, uncluttered workspaces that look like they don’t need to be sterilized because they self-sterilize. Microsoft’s offices look like they have no idea what uncluttered means. You wouldn’t dare venture into the space of nerd, would you? The space of an artist, though, is more welcoming, more reachable. A compelling part of Apple’s face is Jobs’ notion that this whole tech thing is “a movement, a religion.” I found this particularly compelling in the link between his vision and the reality as portrayed by the film Macheads (2009), in which quite a few self-proclaimed Macheads do self-identify as cultists. This spiritual vision clearly contrasts sharply with the functional, just-make-it-work approach found in Gates’s company, products, and consumers. Which approach is right? Both. It takes all sorts to make the world go round, and how can one make fun of a “religion,” which is really a set of deeply held beliefs and ideals that serve to fulfill the human spirit? By the same token, the functional get-it-done method may seem boring, but may actually be just as fulfilling.

What did I learn? While Apple had no illusions about being pirates (as evidenced by the pirate flag they flew outside their new building in 1983), Mr. Jobs was easily placated into believing that Mr. Gates hadn’t a similar pirate’s nature. The way in which the two men made their early deals with Altair, IBM and Xerox is very revealing of the way their business minds work. Mr. Gates presented no illusions about being a go-getter, in the way he retained licensing rights with IBM for an operating system he didn’t even have yet, and in the way he got royalties for the Altair machine he didn’t even build. On the other hand, Jobs being given Xerox’s GUI and mouse-driven system, seemed to think that being given something is identical to creating it. The final confrontation between the two men is nothing short of spectacular.

Another thing I learned is that while Mr. Jobs was busy creating divisions between his development teams, the Microsoft group of very happy geeks was very tightly knit. I wonder how much more successful Apple would have been if there had been no strains of divide, conquer, and intimidate to contend with from within? It makes a very good case for the idea of just doing your thing, not giving a flying fig what else is going on in the world or what anybody else thinks about what you’re doing.

I also learned that vision really is the art of seeing the invisible*. Xerox’s execs literally had no idea what they were looking at when they saw the very first mouse. As the movie says, to them, it “might as well have been a dead rat.” Amazing.

Anyway, if you think I’ve written a lot but told you nothing that you wanted to know, then try to get ahold of this movie. You will not be disappointed. There’s so much that I haven’t even touched on. It’s good stuff.

*Vision is the art of seeing the invisible is a quote by Jonathan Swift that I used to integrate into my banner, until this current one.

Posted in Couch Potato, Techno Babble

Privacy Matters

The LA Times this morning had a rather thought-provoking article on issues posed by the intersection of privacy, professional interactions, and the Internet (in particular, Google and Facebook). Since the article was in the health section, it was focusing on networking between patients and doctors. Is it ok for a patient to “friend” their doctor (or lawyer, or accountant)? Within what limits is it ok? Will it definitely cause problems down the road? Won’t it almost certainly cause the professional bond to become more casual? As the article discusses, there are definite cases where social networking between doctor and patient is useful:

Other situations may justify an Internet search or a visit to the patient’s social networking site as well, says Dr. David H. Brendel, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McLean. Maybe a psychiatrist suspects a patient has suicide plans, for example.

But doctors should ask themselves some hard questions before doing so, to be sure they are not just being voyeuristic.


And that goes both ways. Without revealing specifics, Brendel recalls a case in which a patient found information on a social networking site that “led to significant discomfort for the physician and the breakdown of their relationship to the point where the patient had to see another doctor.”

I don’t know why we got to a point where privacy isn’t the first consideration in forming relationships. For example, when I first meet someone face to face, I don’t make sure they’re in on all my insecurities, or all the places I’ve been, or all the things I’ve done in my life. Yet, when I let someone into a FaceBook profile, unless I take the trouble to adjust my privacy settings, they are immediately clued into everything I’ve done, everything I’m interested in, and everything I dislike. Even on a blog, you kind of have to search for all that information to get a good idea of who the person behind the blog is. This volume of information leads me to wonder how much further psychological and psychiatric therapy can go in a shorter amount of time if a patient’s therapist can actually observe, rather unobtrusively, his/her personal interactions.  I can’t wait for that study to be conducted (if it hasn’t already)!

Finally, I don’t get how one even gets to the first step of adding their doctor as a “friend” or why a doctor would approve (or initiate) the request. When is your doctor ever really your “friend” offline? If not offline, then why online? Is it like the obsession some people have with collecting and distributing business cards, a way of gauging how likable, popular, or relevant we are in today’s hyper-connected society? Is it a process of adding a million people in an effort to find that handful of people you can really, truly, and finally relate to? Is our disconnectedness causing us to no longer see when, where, how, and why we should connect to another individual?

Posted in In the News, Techno Babble, Think About It | Tagged , , ,

Wanting More

I was going to blog about a completely different topic, but I changed my mind as I was looking at this new theme that WordPress has just rolled out. (I think this might turn out to be a two-post day.) Fittingly enough, the theme is called Twenty-Ten, and since this is really my first blog post of 2010, I was happy to see that the theme is actually very blogger-friendly. After all, just yesterday, I was wishing that there was a good theme on here with footer widgets as well as sidebar widgets and changeable headers, plus a font size that is not excessively small, and background changeability, and all wrapped up in a theme that is crisp and uncluttered. And, voila, here comes this theme. It even has drop-down menus (which you can’t see until I have sub-pages)! Happy days, right?

Nope. Cloudy, gray, cold days. (Maybe I exaggerate, but please do take into consideration that the sun has yet to burst free.) WP even took the initiative to provide a selection of default image headers, so that I don’t have to rush headlong into a Photoshopping spree. Yet, it’s not enough. See those links on the sidebar? They’re blue, and I can’t change the color. That bugs me. In addition, the font isn’t quite…right. If it has to be a serif font, why couldn’t it be Georgia, or Garamond? Why does it have to be Times New Roman? I hate Times New Roman with a passion that you will not believe, yet here I sit with it on my blog, my very own hallowed ground. And the font on these posts? I’d really prefer a sans serif font, like a Trebuchet preferably. But no.

And that, my friends, is life in a nutshell. We can get everything we wished for, and as soon as we do, we realize there was just one, or two, or three more things we could have added to the wish-list. Or maybe I’m just excessively greedy, and impossible to please. That’s a distinct possibility.

Am I alone here in the “wanting for more” category?

Posted in Thats Life!, Think About It | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Peering out into the world…

Hello. Anyone out there? Or have I alienated you all so thoroughly that I’ve been banished from your bookmarks lists? Well, I guess there’ll be no response from those who’ve (rightfully) banished me, eh?

So, today, I decided to log into this blog account, and had to pause for a few heartbeats to remember my username and password. I didn’t even want to face the state of the email Inbox for this blog. What motivated to log in, you may wonder? The beautifully realistic bird showed up in my other Inbox, and reminded me of the hobby I’d forgotten about. What have I been doing in the meantime that I’d managed to obliterate this blog from my memory banks, you ask? Not much, I must answer. Studying, planning a business, backing out of planning a business, planning the business again. I developed ulcers–I know, I’m supposed to be too young, but I guess Allah is reminding me of my fragility. I treated said ulcers with nothing but herbal remedies, and alhamdulillah I’ve never felt better. I’ve been snapping with my camera, while not photo-blogging, and keep vacillating on whether or not to upgrade my picture-taker…and still haven’t come to a decision. And I’ve managed to get a cold a total of three times since the turn of the decade. Exciting, eh?

I must say, I feel like I’ve got nothing left to blog about. Some days, I read the news, and don’t even have an opinion. Other days, I read the news and want to ask the author, “Really? You only came to this conclusion now?” Other times, I read an article and wonder what they were smoking when they came up with that particular theory (whatever the theory was). At the end of the day, I realize I’m entirely too critical for my own good, or entirely to vacuous for the Internet’s good, and so I just let it go. That’s my nature, to let things go, and if there is one thing I’ve noticed about blogging, it’s that it forces me to never let things go. Is that good, or is that bad? I don’t know; all I know is that it occasionally gets to be exhausting. And with the Twittering and the Flickring, it really did get to be overwhelming. All that hyper-networking was doing my head in.

Then, I logged in here…and saw some comments that made me see stars. Oh, the beautiful comments made my day, they honestly truly did. But there were some others that made me almost bust a blood vessel. Seriously, if you think I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, fine. Tell me so. But accusing someone you don’t even know and have probably only even read very little from of being “judgmental and thinking God has Enlightened you” is over the line. Yes, I have opinions. That’s why I blog! I’m not enlightened. Again, that is why I blog! Then, they compounded their ridiculousness by thinking I’m censoring comments. First of all, if I did censor comments, it’d be no crime against you–it would just be my house rules. Secondly, given that my last post was for Eid al Fitr of last year, it doesn’t take genius mathematical abilities to realize I’ve quite let this blog go. It’s not you, it’s me. Really.

However, I must thank such individuals for freeing me from the blogger’s malaise I’d buried myself under. You made me realize I do have still a few more things to opine on. So, thank you.

And a humongous thank you to those who still visit, and took the time to email me. I expected to see a flat zero line on the stats box, but I was given a pleasant jolt of surprise.  I can’t promise that I’ll blog frequently or at length, but I’ll certainly be around, inshaAllah. But before I blog, I must do something about updating that Ramadaan banner up there.

Posted in Lets Get Personal, Thats Life! | Tagged | 9 Comments

Eid Mubarak! Eid Sa’eed! Happy Eid!


So, is everybody ready and excited for Eid? Is everyone pleased with their accomplishments of the past month? May Allah accept our efforts, no matter how much or how little we did, and may He accept our du’aas, ameen. May Allah bless us with life for many more Ramadaans, ameen!

I am sad to see Ramadaan go. I wouldn’t have minded just one more day, to make it a 30 day Ramadaan. I am, in fact, a little displeased that so many ‘ulema have decided that tomorrow is Eid. However, the dices have been tossed, and tomorrow it is. It’s always bittersweet to see this final day end, without taraweeh and instead with intense cleaning for the Eid day to come. This time, for the first time in a long time, we have gifts for one another.

It’s not that we usually can’t afford or don’t think of or don’t believe in exchanging gifts on Eid. It’s just that usually we have no idea what to give each other in our family, so we give each other cash–which is quite a circular gift, when you think about it. This year, there were very definite ideas about what so and so would like, what so and so would want, what so and so has been eyeing all year long. It made it so easy and such a no-brainer to go shopping, that Eid kind of feels like the Eid of my childhood.

The excitement of wrapping up gifts, and knowing how the recipient will be so happy or excited with the gifts makes it just a little bit easier to let go of Ramadhan. It’s one phase of the year flowing effortlessly into another, and the changing of the tides is something I almost welcome. I am, frankly, exhausted (but happily so) from this Ramadhan. The days were long and hot and hectic. InshaAllah, may next year be even better. If I learned anything from this Ramadhan, it’s that I need to rest up before the next one!

The devil is now free, so let’s all be on the lookout for him and his evil whispers. May Allah bless us for the next year with more of the happiness and bounties that we’ve seen this Ramadhan, and may He bless us with the ability to be appropriately thankful to Him for His Endless Mercies, ameen.

Posted in Ramadaan '09 | 21 Comments

The Big 10

So, here we are about to say goodbye to Ramadan. In true Islamic style, the goodbye is not a simple waving off ceremony; it comes with a bit of a treasure hunt. The treasure is the Night of Power (Laylatur Qadar); the hunt is on for which night of the last ten will be that night.

Most of us have been, at some point in our lives, students well accustomed to pulling all-nighters. Some of us are still in that zone. For the students among us, you can take a few minutes out of your exam preparation, paper-writing, and various other academic pursuits that cause you to labor under the moon’s oblivious gaze, to take a deep breath, head for the prayer rug, and make a du’aa or two. You can take out a minute to send salutations to the Prophet صل الله عليه و سلم. And then you can go back to your studying (and Facebooking, Twittering, and Flickring–yes, I know it’s not all studying).

As for those of us who’ve left the all-nighters behind, perhaps it’s time to get reacquainted with the concept, for just a few nights. Here’s a good list of things we can do these last 10 nights (or rather every other night, since Laylatur Qadr is supposed to be on an odd-numbered night).

May Allah grant us the strength to make the effort to find the Night of Power, ameen. This will mean switching off the computer earlier, of course!

Jummah Mubarak, and many apologies for not being able to see to the comments stacked up. I promise I’ll get to them this weekend, inshaAllah.

Posted in Ramadaan '09 | 5 Comments

Oh, my achy breaky skin!

You know how sometimes we girls just erupt for no good reason? No, no, I’m not talking about our tempers. As good Muslim women, we are pretty even-keeled in that department 😛 I’m talking about our skin: eat one bite of chocolate more than necessary, and although they tell us that what we eat doesn’t affect acne, that’s not my reality. Or eat French fries for a week, and see what happens! And how about using the wrong soap, that one that your friend, knowing you’ve got a bit of a makeup/skin obsession, swears is the best thing since we discovered that the Earth is round? Oh my God, that is a sure-fire way to turn my face red and fussy.

So, what’s a girl to do? All these experiments with products, and all this happy fatty food I just can’t say no to, means some amount of damage control is in order. Of course, keeping up my water intake usually keeps the zitty monsters at bay…but sometimes, I fill up my bottle, and sip only a little from it by the time the day is gone. Water is a pretty good acne defense…and what about the scars that are left behind from when you’re not so careful? Of course, for those, there are tons of home remedies, ones that many people swear to.

  • My mom swears by aloe vera as a great repairer of all kinds of skin troubles. The one that is fresh from the garden makes my facial skin itch unbearably, although it really does work when I can stand it.
  • A friend of mine likes to soak her face with a milk/lemon juice concoction to keep her face acne- and scar-free. Takes way too much time for me, and I easily forget to do it.
  • There is also a honey/aspirin mask one could whip up and plaster all over your face regularly to keep the nasties away–again, too much work for me to commit to.
  • My sister says to use honey and cinnamon to banish the zit before it can become nasty. Does nothing for me. Nothing.
  • My brother used to shove Vitamin E oil at me, and demand that I use it. I saw no difference. However, I tried it again recently, and voila–success. Who knows why it didn’t work a decade ago (or whenever) and does work now? However, the fact that it is working on pitted scars (thank God I don’t have many of those!) leaves me eternally grateful.
  • There is this turmeric skin creme that does a pretty amazing job of fading scars quickly and effectively.
  • And then there is neem oil, which does a pretty good job of not letting the zits come to the surface. Sometimes, though, it really could work better!

Are there any better solutions to the Attack of the Zit Zombies? What have you tried that worked…or didn’t?

(This was lurking in my brain for a few weeks, and Alisha inspired me to let it all out.)

Posted in Lets Get Personal, Thats Life! | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Watery Tales of Old

(I promised a few posts about water, and this is one of them. The point of this series is to make you think about what water means to you, and to motivate you to donate to a worthy watery charity cause, if you possibly can.)

FaucetWaterMy family has been in South Africa for a very long time, since around the late 1800s on my mother’s side, and the early 1900’s on my father’s side. As such, we’ve experienced a lot of South Africa, since before the inception of apartheid to beyond the end of that tragic legacy. Of course, the most “exciting” (or rather impacting) events for our family took place during apartheid. One of those events revolved around a dam and a waterfall.

Our family owned and lived on property out in the countryside. Of course, when they purchased the land, practically the entire country was all countryside! One piece of property had on it a few dams, some larger than others, and a pretty nice-sized waterfall. My great-grandmother’s property was surrounded by white farmers, either German, Dutch or English in origin. The Germans and the Dutch were particularly…white-oriented…and would do whatever they could to convince her to “sell” her property. The one entity that did not have to “buy” your property was the government. If the South African government came to you and said they want your property for some national purpose (building railroad tracks, train station, highway, park, electric utility), then you signed on the dotted line and handed it over. (Unless you were white, of course, in which case you’d get some amount of payment.)

Being out in the middle of nowhere meant that when electricity and pumped water became widespread human achievements that were supplied by most first-world governments (which South Africa considered itself), the required infrastructure was provided to all citizens. In South Africa, it was different. In the middle of nowhere, the rule of law was government for whites, everyone else for themselves. So, our family had their generators, wired their homes themselves, and drilled water bore holes, and laid down their own water pipes. When the government turned it’s attention to the countryside, my family knew there was no way government-supplied water and electricity would simply and effortlessly be provided to them. What they did not know was the following.

Electricity is powered by water. Everyone knew that. Water, out in the countryside, is a precious commodity. Everyone knew that, too. When the government noticed that our property contained some very nice-sized dams, they decided to set up a local electric utility on this property. So, along they came to my great-grandfather with papers specifying that he is voluntarily handing over a couple of the very large dams and surrounding property to the government “for the national good.” Of course, he did, and the electric plant was set up. Electricity was then piped to every home and shop in the area, 24/7. The only ones to not get the electricity resulting from their own water was our family. Nobody really expected that, although in retrospect it is rather unsurprising. Later, the government decided to build a park around the waterfall on this property. As non-whites, we never set foot on that park, and have no idea if the waterfall is really as glorious as my mother remembers it to have been on hot African summer days.

To you, this might be a story about apartheid. To us, they were realities far bigger than the nebulous, faraway concept of political ideology; these were very real stories simply about water. Because, when you have to fend for yourself, as most people who live in the countryside do, everything is about water. Those dams that you could never access again meant less water in times of drought—less water to feed your farm animals; less water to clean your clothes; less water for your crops; less water available for Friday ablutions; less water for the simple pleasure of merely admiring water falling off a cliff. Less water means you have to build expensive reservoirs to catch and save rainwater, reservoirs which will later crack and need repair. Less water means you will have to dig expensive bore holes, and you’ll never know if you’re digging in the wrong place until you come up dry and have paid for the privilege. Less water sounds like such a simple thing to live with. But having less of it makes life immeasurably less pleasant.

Earlier in the year, I wrote about the UN Water Conference, and the ridiculous question they were addressing, “Is water a human right, or merely a basic human need?” Again, that might seem like a question of simple politics. But it is so much more than political maneuvering to the people who would weep buckets for clean water. Imagine those who don’t have water at all? What do they go through? How do they live?

(Cookie Monster is attempting to raise $2000 here and here for charitywater, so if you want to pitch in a few dineros and have no idea where to begin, that would be a good place to start.)

Posted in Lets Get Personal, Thats Life!, Think About It | Tagged | 12 Comments

Fabulous Obsessions

The wonderfully creative and colorful blogger Nadia, of The Purple Journal, has seen fit to award our blog with the Freaking Fabulous Award! Ahhh, it’s been so long since I’ve been tagged with an award, that blogging suddenly feels all shiny and new again for me! Thank you, dear sis 🙂 The Jewel will come in with her five obsessions later, inshaAllah.


Rules of the Award:

  • List five current obsessions.
  • Pass the award on to five more fabulous blogs.
  • On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them.
  • When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well.
  • Don’t forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by leaving a comment on their blog.

All right, so here goes with my obsessions. They’re not that exciting, but I spent days thinking about this; I swear, I am so completely out of touch with myself. Also, I’ve happened to have given up a few obsessions lately, so I had to dig deep to find myself!

1. I am obsessed with water. I have four water bottles (there used to be five), and I never ever go anywhere without one. My mom, anytime we’re going somewhere, will usually ask, “Did you take your water?” Or when we get out of the car, she’ll hand me my water bottle, saying, “Don’t forget this! It’s still cold!” I realized one day when I was passing by a mirror in South Coast Plaza’s Saks Fifth Avenue (haha I don’t shop there, I go there in relation to my fifth obsession),  how absolutely dorky I look with a water bottle in my hands–and I didn’t care! When it’s Ramadan, it’s really difficult to leave my water bottle behind when I head outside. And speaking of water, I am going to be posting a lot about it in the coming days, inshaAllah.

2. I obsess over keeping our computers clean. The firewall is a must; I run my anti-virus once a week and I sometimes run Spybot and LavaSoft AdAdaware two or three times a week. Not only that, but I used to be so paranoid about keeping our computer clean that even if someone wanted to install a font file, I’d give them the third-degree to see if they really need it, where it came from, and by the time I was done with them, they’d just quit and say they don’t want it anymore. One day, I decided I was being way too paranoid and draconian, so I let my siblings install this really cool screensaver, of fireworks going off (it was in honor of the 4th of July)–no third-degree questioning involved. As soon as the screensaver was installed, it crashed my computer the first time it ran. I went back to grilling them like they were informants on a drug lord.

3. I love makeup, and I love simple, natural method of face care. These are competing obsessions, because makeup is anything but simple or natural. I can’t go to sleep without washing my face with a really inexpensive olive oil soap made in Syria, and if I use anything else, my face complains. Rue the day they stop making that soap. And I just counted the number of foundations I have, and it’s no less than 5, and I really truly have no idea how this happened. I think I will not be buying another foundation product for the rest of my life.

4. I love digital photography. Sometimes, I get so obsessed with taking pictures of food, that my dad goes, “Are we ever going to get to eat this?! Or will it be stale by the time you’re done clicking?” The fascination began when I was an undergrad and had to do a web project for class. While everyone else used pictures taken from the web, my dad’s friend had just bought a digital camera (1 megapixel, back in the day!) and let us be the first to use it. So, my mom spent the day cooking (it was a food-based web site), and I spent the afternoon snapping. Some of the pictures came out so good according to some school administrator (it was really all the camera’s doing), that she complained to my professor that a student was, and I quote, “using school resources to run a business.” haha that amused me, and started a love affair that I just can’t turn my back on.

5. I love to sew, analyze clothing, and admire textile art of all sorts. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve sewn anything, it is one of my enduring loves. I tend to look at what people wear, and try to figure out how it was made, the mechanics of a garment’s construction. I also tend to notice flaws in the way a garment fits, and I think that mass production of clothing is one of the worst things to happen to human beings. It really pains me to see everyone dressed the same in ridiculously uncreative clothing, that, to make matters worse, reveal flaws rather than enhance positive body characteristics. I go to the mall just to look at the clothes, not to buy them…and then I go to the fabric store to look for patterns that are similar to the ones I liked.

And now, I get to pick 5 people to pass this award on to. This is fun, but it’s also a wee bit difficult, for I read so many absolutely fabulous bloggers, mashaAllah. So, I’ll pick the ones from each of the different groups I read, and hope you guys pass it on further to the rest of the wonderful bloggers out there:

1. Realistic Bird of Zee Thoughts; she never fails to inspire me, and has an aura of strength, calm and peace that is unmatched.

2. Ajla of Naturally Dramatic; it is a pleasure reading her confident yet realistic takes on life, and I so enjoy reading of her growth spiritually, philosophically, and professionally.

3. Dot of The Lost Dot; this blogger is never ever boring, and always has posts and pictures that make you smile and think. Her Last Dot message of this week was powerfully simple.

4. Falak of Starry Eyed Book Lovers; she will make you laugh so much, you will cry. And then you’ll name a star after her.

5. Raspberry Scrubs; she is a blogger new to me, discovered via twitter (a semi-obsession 😉 ), and I have to say, I love reading her thoughts on life. And what a cool name is Raspberry Scrubs?

I’ll be obsessively checking your blogs, ladies, for your lists! 🙂

Posted in Tagged! | 17 Comments

Ramadaan, week 1

Oh my, so where has the week gone? It went in a blaze of heat, and allegedly there is a cool-down coming soon. I’ll believe it when I feel it.

In the meantime, there is so much to be thankful for. This Ramadan began with a re-building of familial bridges, and while bridges take a long time to build, and to build strong, inshaAllah at least the process has begun. Bonds may never be the same again, but if Allah Wills it, it might be better than ever. I didn’t dare hope that our relative would reach out, but on the first night of Ramadan, we got that Ramadan Mubarak call. Seeing that name flash on the caller ID screen made my heart speed up, jump out of my throat, and then jump back into my body, all within a second. And then the voice on the other end was normal as ever, like there really were no hard feelings. Then, today, we called, and there was an aloofness in the voice on the other end, but it’s as Allah Wills. He Knows why it’s two steps forward and then one step back. Perhaps this is the reality that is best for us all. Time will tell. Whatever it is, may Allah be Merciful, as He has already been. May He soften hearts, and open eyes, ours included, ameen.

Then, there was a birthday (DigiJ), and cake, of course. We (the bro and I) decided to make a scramble to the mall to buy her a gift, which is not our usual protocol. The poor kid thought we were just going for some errands, and we had to make up some really mean excuse to keep her behind at home. My mom gave her some kitchen work to do, and the sweet thing must have felt so lonely while we were off galavanting at the mall. Well, we kept the gift really small, simple and useful, something she would have bought herself anyway, so there was no birthday bid’a committed and no candles were harmed in the execution of this birthday.

Next, Dad had a blessed visit from some old friends who are really eager to see him retire happily. It was another moment to reflect on how much people can change, and makes me wonder, are first impressions really lasting impressions? Or is there merit to people who make a bad first impression, see you survive that, and then decide to make a better last impression? Nevertheless, first or last, it really is the good deeds which bring a smile to your face that make life happen.

After that, we saw someone seeing the error of her ways. While I’m happy for her, I’m also grateful that she is nowhere near me. I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in staying the hell away from foolishness, because I can’t yet tell the difference between repentance and manipulation–too much history there for me to sort through. So, repentance is great, and greater when it’s out of my space.

On the fourth day, Praise Allah!, the elliptical machine company’s technician finally came out to see what was wrong with the console of this new machine, which was simply displaying zeros. Turns out, when we assembled the machine, I didn’t clip one wire in all the way. So, I was very happy to not have to take apart the machine ourselves–the dude did in 15 minutes what it would have taken us an hour to do. And it was all on the company. Ahhh, bliss.

Some days, I can’t have more than a vitamin supplement for suhoor, because I am so nauseous at 4:30 am. On those days, I actually feel less hungry during the fast. I guess this is my body’s way of telling me I ate enough the night before. I mean, how much food does a body really need? 🙂

I’ve fallen way behind on my Qur’an translations. I hope to start catching up with it tomorrow, inshaAllah.

Last year, Ramadan felt a little less…Ramadany…to me; I remember being completely out of sorts. To be honest, I was more focused on the presidential elections than anything else. This year, I could hardly care less about the news at all. People tell me this happened, or that happened, and I’m like, “Oh, really?” This zen zone of newslessness won’t last long, I know…but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. So, what have you all been up to? Is Ramadan very Ramadany? Or not? Tell me, amuse me, enlighten me, interest me. I’m looking forward to hearing about it!

Posted in Ramadaan '09 | 5 Comments