Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stating the Obvious

Whenever I see a personalized license plate, my eye is immediately drawn to it and I puzzle over it until I can figure out its meaning. Some are clever and gratifying to understand, such as this one from our office: CVLR8S; or the plate of a physics professor I know: PH6RLS; or this one I saw on a minivan on the Beltway the other day: MUSAFAR. I was stuck behind this one in traffic the other day: 8YOPIA. (I know, I know – you’re all shocked I was stuck in traffic)

Others are less inspired. Obvious. Such as the green car with the license plate GRNCAR, or BIGTRUK on an F-350. Thank you, I might not have been able to tell without that helpful label. And this makes me wonder: if someone made the effort and paid extra money for a vanity plate, why would they choose something so useless? What’s up with that?

The way I see it, if I’m investing my concentration and precious eye-time while driving, it should at least be worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Whose idea was it to have miniature bananas?

I like to begin my mornings (most of them at least) with a smoothie. Nothing beats a fresh cup of milk, honey, strawberries, and a banana. This formula (recipe) has worked fine with me for years. That's until some agricultural genetic engineer (isn't that what they call them) decided that today's banana is not good enough. Someone out there figured that if he or she reduces its size to a finger size, there will be a huge market for it. It was assumed that there is out there a large number of people whose life has been miserable because bananas were two or three bites too much for them to eat.

So my wife decided to buy those tiny bananas (in all fairness, she bought them to support a good cause; a long story). Now, when I use one miniature banana, my smoothie has a weak taste of banana. When I use two, all I taste is banana. Thanks a lot Mr. Banana Einstein for this life-saving invention. Shouldn't you have started with something more useful such as seedless mangoes or a skiness watermelons!

What's up with that?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ahh...the many joys of parenting

My son, 9 months and counting Mashallah, has been teething big time lately. I could see his tooth just about to cut his gums and he was fussy and cranky, as are most teething babies. We have all kinds of teethers for him - plastic ones, colorful ones, water filled ones, gel filled ones, freezable ones, etc. He however, does not want any of them. Instead he wants a new one he TOE! If I am sitting on the sofa with my legs up, he will sneak over and start sucking them. While cooking, he will creep up behind me, lie down flat on his tummy and try to bite them. When I move my toe away and say No to him, he looks up and wails at me as if I just did the greatest injustice to him. (What he doesn't realize is I just saved him from the greatest injustice.)

What's up with that?

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training Dilema..Should I or Should I not?

Ever since my two inguinal hernia operations, I've stepped away from my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) training (now going on almost 3 years). The Jiu Jitsu gi (the uniform that BJJ practioners use which consists of a heavy reinforced cotton jacket and pants, kind of like a Judo uniform) has been calling to me from my closet...

Now I hope none of you think I'm insane or possessed by Jinn or anything like that, but I'm now at the crossroads of whether I should go back to BJJ training or simply retire and find less violent and physically demanding hobbies to take (like my recent return to bowling).

I'm not young anymore (I realized that when I started feeling sore from bowling) and at age 30 it will only get worse. My wife actually encouraged me to train again after I reassured her that I was not doing the stuff she saw on TV called the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I had to explain to her what the sport of Mixed Martial Arts(which involves boxing, muay thai kick boxing, wrestling, and BJJ. The sport is usually in a cage or boxing ring where two people duke it out and either win by knock out, submission, or decision.) is as opposed to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Plus she said the shorts that those MMA fighters in the UFC wear don't adequately cover the man's awrah (at that point I told her to lower her gaze lol).

I also asked my wife if she wanted to train with me but she preferred a tread mill at an all women's gym down in Chula Vista than choking and arm locking someone out with their own BJJ gi.

Thinking a little more about it, when I trained a lot back then, I saw people in their 40s training and it seemed fine for them. As with all matters I should seek Allah's guidance on it and do an istikarah prayer.

I then went on to try my old gi hanging in my closet. It actually still fit me despite the fact of sitting in the CAIR office close to 8 to 9 hours a day (and access to the vending machine downstairs) has led me to gain about 15 to 20 pounds more than my competition and training weight (I leave all of you to guess that lol). My wife tells me that all the weight gain is part of the whole "nesting" phenomenon where a new married couple like my wife and I (Can you believe I've been married for 3 years now?) are settling in and beginning to start a new family (inshallah we hope to have some children someday).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Life in the great North

Having lived north of the border for the past 3 1/2 years, I've had quite an experience living as an American in the land of Canucks. My first year especially. Whenever I would meet new people and extended in laws, upon hearing that I was an American, all the "uncles" would let loose and vent all their frustrations against the Bush Administration to me. They thought that since I was an American, I would somehow be able to convey all their personal complaints to Dubya himself. Hello people...just because I'm an American doesn't mean I agree with everything, let alone have connections to Dubya.

What's up with that?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Driving in Florida

There's a phenomenon of driving in Florida that I still don't quite get. As I was explaining to my uncle who lives in California earlier, driving is, shall we say, a bit different.

Learning to be a defensive driver in California, I was taught the 3-second rule: that is, leave enough space as you can from the driver on the highway in front of you. You never know if you have to make an immediate stop on the highway or try to avoid some danger or accident.

Apparently someone has edited out this 3-second rule page in the Florida Driving Manual (if that's what it's called).

If there is a space in between two cars enough for a third to fit right in, a third car will just get into this space. It does not matter if the rest of the highway is wiiiiiiiiiide open. That space must be filled. There is barely a foot between cars.

Of course me, being an activist, I felt it was my duty to change this dangerous habit for the sake of Floridians. So I would always leave ample space in front of me.

Silly me, tricks are for kids.

What happened in reality was that all these cars would just cut in front of me and I'd feel so cheated for trying to do something good (and way behind so many cars). So now that's how I drive there. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I bet Floridians can parallel park really well in LA if they can squeeze in at 80 mph on a highway.


During this past weekend, i had the privilege to visit Columbus, Ohio for a singing performance. Mashallah, I'd have to say i was very impressed by the beautiful masjid and the great facility.
So the program was in the basement with "no AC" but HUGE fans, you know the type you see at warehouses!

So they had two shows, one in the morning at around 11 am and another around 7pm.

Besides the Noor Islamic Center hosting Noor
they also invited the comedian Muhammad Amer. For the morning program they had a dismal 25 people show up.
Now most entertainers out there will repeat their material. My friend Bassem, has heard Amer perform numerous times but to support him, he was cracking up as if its the very first time he heard the 'shib sheb' joke among others. I mean he was the loudest guy there!

So fast forward to the evening program, Amer repeated some jokes from the morning and had a few very funny jokes as well. But nothing tops this! During his performance a small 3 year old boy starts walking by the stage with his cellphone. Amer starts to interact with him and telling him to give him the phone. The boy doesn't really listen and then Amer suddenly shoats like an Arab parent "lik hata ya walad!" The boy gets scared and runs off.

Five minutes later, the boy returns without his phone this time. He starts talking to Amer in gibberish language. And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, this kid starts to take off his shirt!! Amer tells him "no you don't want to do that" as soon as he said that, the boy takes most of his shirt off! and then Amer had to say something like "give him some beads" :-)



CAIR staffers blogging instead of working...what's up with that? =)

A Return to Bowling

About two weeks ago, I decided to go back to a recreational sport that I once enjoyed as a junior high school student. Some of my childhood friends convinced me to join with them in a bowling league down in Brunswick Bowling Lanes in Chula Vista. I had several problems: 1) I didn't have a bowling ball 2)No Bowling shoes 3) I haven't bowled since Eid al Adha with the Brothers from Logan Islamic Community Center (several months).

Alhamdulillah, there happen to be a bowling ball pro shop about two minutes away drive from the CAIR SD office. I called them up and asked if they had this one particular ball in stock, it's called the Black Widow made by a bowling ball company called Hammer. Well the reason by behind choosing that one was it was the only ball that looked really nice (it was black with a hint of red and had a picture of a black widow drawn in red). I ended up buying the ball, a matching bag to carry it, and some nice Dexter bowling shoes (in black).

My first week at bowling league was dismal. I ended up averaging 92.5 and my fingers started to hurt a bit. I guess I shouldn't have bowled two full games before my league started. I ended up averaging 138 on those two games!

My fellow teamates also asked me what would be a good name for our new team. Well, the people we bowled against, coupled with all the people bowling league around it me or are we the only young guys here? The people in the bowling league were at least in their 40s. On our team the oldest person is 32 years old (I'm 30). So we decided to call our team Young Gunz (nothing to do with the movie).

After bowling two weeks, I'm getting back into the groove. Alhamdulillah I'm now at 105 average and seem to be getting better each corresponding week. It's nice, Mashallah to go back to sport I always had fun with.

The downside was after each day at bowling league, my knee would hurt to the point that I would have to ice it and take a couple of motrin. Also, not related to the bowling, I think something is wrong with my dominant (left) hand. It might be broken (not seriously but it annoys me). Need to go to the doc for that inshallah. I guess I'm coming to the realization that I'm not young anymore and my body is slowing a bit and does not recover as fast as it used to.

I would be nice to have some sort of CAIR bowling game at one of our national or even state retreats. Now I can bring my black widow!

My Knee is Sore

Can someone please explain to me why people slap their knees when they laugh hard?

Is this some kind of genetic response, human reaction, or can we blame the Republicans on this one. (I'd like to blame the Republicans on this one!)

Everyone knows someone who slaps their knee when they get a good laugh going. But why the knee? Why can't we tap our heads or rub our tummy's. Why slap our knee when we have so many other body parts to slap.

Why can't we be like the Pillsbury Dough Boy...where we get poke our tummy then rub it while laughing? Not only would that be even more funnier, but it takes talent. Imagine poking yourself in your tummy while laughing...then, rubbing it right afterwards while still maintaining that laugh. You have to burn at least 50 calories, and come on...everyone loves the Pillsbury Dough Boy!

Whenever my friends (or my boss) says a really corny joke, I say sarcastically, " that's a knee slapper," and people take that as a compliment. Now I do not know if the quality of jokes in America have been digressing, or that knee slapping is now a custom trademark of a funny joke but I say nay nay as a compliment.

But back to my root question, why slap the knee? I have seen people slap their knee when they are standing and laughing! And people grow into knee-slapping right. Nobody does it when they're young, only when you get older and it just happens!

Why can't we stick with something like the liquid coming out of your nose? Come know what I'm talking about! It's when someone is drinking something while laughing, and they are laughing so comes out of their nose! If you haven't seen or experienced is by far one of the most funniest things you will ever see in your life! Trust me...especially with milk, because no one can hide milk gushing out of your nose! (**ONLY FUNNY TO THOSE WATCHING THE MILK COME OUT SOMEONES NOSE**)

Wow...I am way off topic.

But seriously, why the knee? (Damn those Elephants! Damn them!)

Passing the buck

Are you like me tired of receiving all those emails or forwards that fill up your inbox folders?

Do you receive forwarded emails which usually include a useless urban legend, a photo of someone driving a car into a river or a hate message about some group.

Why on earth would any person forward such messages is beyond my comprehension. Did someone really believe that I am interested to learn how to prevent someone from stealing my kidney when I am at a party (I am the party type anyway; it is hard to with 4 children)?

Another type of forwards are those daily emails from CAIR, MPAC, MAS, ACLU,, Interfaith Alliance, and tons of others activist groups? Actually, many might not even be subscribed to such lists, but receive them as forwards from others.

The problem is that many of us are just forwarding without taking any action. Of course, we convince ourselves that we are busy or that our voice or action is not going to make a difference. But to avoid guilt, we just forward.

This is a symptom of a bigger problem. My theory is that many people are not sufficiently intellectually stimulated anymore. We are not busy doing serious and hands-on activities to help society at large. We as a human race are replacing real activism with arm chair behind the computer active forwarding. No one writes letters to the editor anymore. No one visits or even calls their member of Congress or city hall to express a view. No one protests on the streets. No one wants to meet and organize people over political or social issues. At best, we forward a good article, an action alert, or a strongly opinionated comment to our small circle of friends. That's it. We have done our part. That's what we believe to be the extent of our moral and social responsibility toward our society or world.

The Internet and computers might very well be one of our most useful inventions in modern times. However, those great tools are guilty of turning us into a nation that forwards its social activism to others, in a passing the buck manner, in the hope that someone will act upon it. Until each one of us (or at least most of us) realize that the buck stops here, with each one of us, I am not betting my buck on any change (anyway, betting is Haram).

Meanwhile, please do not forward to me anymore emails about the Bill Gates/AOL giveaways.
(it is an urban legend!!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Should be studying for the LSAT, but I couldnt stop staring

I take the LSAT on Monday. I am having a difficult time studying, in this state of mind I decided to take a dinner break.

I ordered a great meal at one of my new favorite places in Little Gaza, off of Brookhurst in Anaheim. Its wonderful, not just the food, but the fact that at these places you get such a diverse group of people.

When you get all these groups in one place, the cultural characteristics start popping out in sharp contrast. I enjoy these sorts of social points, they firmly buttress my belief that all people can get along no matter how different we are. Also, that unlike the default tolerating others that Californians do on a regular basis, in these circumstances there are great potentials for cross cultural experiences and "fusion".

Well as you can tell I have had numerous experiences like these. My recent visit brought out a "what's up with that" moment I felt I had to share.

I was casually sitting at the restaurant doing some practice problems and through the door walked in a family. Father, Mother, two daughters, another person that seemed to be an Aunt maybe. Anyway, even before they entered the restaurant they stopped at the door. I was sitting near the door, clearly visible- wearing my favorite plaid pants, with a bright green shirt, long hair- no way you could miss me. I also happen to be clearly South Asian.

The parents stopped to measure me up. I think you can, if you are not South Asian, come up with seventy excuses as to why they did this- my "weird" attire, the bright green shirt, my long hair, I don't know could be a number of things for an outsider.

But I immediately knew what was up. It was the South Asian stare. Many a times I go places and found myself being stared at by fellow South Asian-ers. Cold, calculating, verifying stare. The type that you are trying to measure the person up, if you were Cyclopes from X-men, getting ready to fire his laser beam at the object of your gaze. Any moment you would think they would stop staring at you. But no. This stare continues. Other people would just look up, acknowledge and that would be the end of that.

However, with South Asians, the stare only becomes ever more present. Trying to rip you apart molecule by molecule. You know, if they stare at you long enough then you would just vanish. If it were the stare "Oh I might know this person", once acknowledged there would be a shaming smile and an immediate glancing in other directions. But no. They just keep staring.

At a convenient store, Disneyland, the Mosque, college admission days, grocery stores, gas stations, here at this restaurant; they stare and stare and stare. Its a bit overwhelming. Have they confirmed that I am South Asian too? Do they now know after staring at me for two minutes where my family is from, when I was born, that I have a birth mark....I mean these people don't stop staring. (There are only 1.5 billion South Asian people in the world, but every time we meet each other the stare must a be a shock of realization that, yes, there are other South Asian people out there!)

This behavior irks me to my core. Long time ago, I decided that I would fight back. Its comical because I take advantage of this for my personal pleasure. When I get stared at like this, I started to stare back. The stare that is more like, "what you want to fight with me". Then I slowly found that wasn't enough, so I started to stare back steadily, with confidence, relaxed body language (yeah, I know I am cooler then you) with a smirk on my face. That got some responses where the South Asian person staring becomes a bit uncomfortable and starts glances sideways- but NO! they fix their gaze back on me as if I stopped staring at them. I went to the next stage of communication, body language obviously was not enough, where I would say "hello" or "what's up?" or "how are you doing?" and this totally took South Asian off guard. They were really affected by this and I would see them trying to scramble to find a way out of this unexpected conundrum.

I have tried to go back and think of any time where I might have done this. I can not recall ever exhibiting this South Asian behavior or characteristic, so its not genetic. Are South Asian people socialized this way? Many questions come to mind, but I am always left with unanswered possibilities, because each time there is a new twist. With my recent escapade they sat behind me and kept on staring. I could sense it, and to verify I would get up often and go to the counter start a conversation with the owner the waitress and each time they would glance away or rather pretend they were staring into blank space- but that's hard to do when you have three sets of eyes constantly staring into blank space! It only brings me to ask, frustratingly, What's up with that?

Monday, June 4, 2007

What’s up with rubbernecking?

City traffic is a phenomenon with which I’ve become all too familiar in the past year and a half, and some aspects of it never cease to astound me, such as the strange ability of a relatively small thing to bring hundreds of people to a standstill.

For example: this evening as I was driving home, traffic piled up in an unusual way for that part of the highway. We all proceeded to crawl along at about 7 mph for the next 3 miles or so before I could see the cause of the delay. On the far side of the HOV road (“carpool lane” for you California people), a car had run off the road into the barrier. [Alhamdulillah, it didn’t seem to be too bad – no ambulances or shattered glass, just a tow truck.]

Now, on this particular highway the HOV lanes are a totally different roadway separated by concrete barriers, so there should be no connection between traffic problems in one and the other. Still, that amazing phenomenon occurred that made someone feel obliged to slow waaaaay down to look, and then the people behind them slow down, and so on until we’re all sitting still, drumming our fingers on the steering wheel and wishing we had a snack to sustain us – perhaps a banana to restore sore muscles after a fundraising walk.

I know it was only rubbernecking and not a real problem because traffic resumed a normal pace almost immediately after the accident site. So it’s kind of incredible to think that a fender-bender on the shoulder of a separate road had brought 8 lanes of traffic to a crawl for miles.

I guess in these situations I can just be grateful that it wasn’t my fender-bender, alhamdulillah – and that helps me not get quite so frustrated with the whole thing. And of course venting about it helps too :)

I hope it is something important!

The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) taught us that once the Khatib (Imam giving the Friday sermon) begins his Khutba (sermon), one is not allowed to distract himself or herself in any action or talk. It is such an important rule that even asking someone to be silent during a Khutba puts one at the risk of actually losing the reward of the Jum'aa (Friday) prayer. Of course, this does not stop some Muslims from engaging in greeting everyone they pass by, as they enter the Mosque late while the Khutba is going on.

Every once in while, while I am giving a Khutba, someone's cell phone starts ringing. Most people rush to silence it. I can see the guilt and embarrassment on their faces. However, I also witness the rare cases of those who reach to the phone and answer it. I vividly remember the time a middle-aged man sitting in the 2nd or 3rd row answered his cell phone and angrily and discretely (at least he thought he was discrete) whispered to the caller (who I guess was not Muslim): "I hope it is something important. I am in the middle of a sermon and the angry preacher is looking at me now!"

I have to admit, while this was a "what's up with that" moment, I struggled hard to keep myself from laughing in the middle of the Khutba.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Whats up with Desi weddings?

I get a kick out of this. If I was ever an emcee at a wedding, if ever I was asked to do something that gave me THIS MUCH power- surely I would abuse it.

Going to the story. You got a nice gathering of totally decked out women. Wearing expensive jewelry to the hilt- this would be the perfect time to rob desi's when all the goods are on the person and every single person in a room of 300 is loaded with gold, gems and expensive watches- and dresses that easily are no less then $300 bought here in the US that is. Everyone is looking nice.

Most women at these shin digs do not wear the scarf, generally these people are "liberal" to use a term in a general fashion. At one point during the course of the event, the cultural thing, an obligatory thing is to begin with a reading from the Quran. Begrudgingly some child gets up, cough, clears his throat and in a laborious fashion begins to read the verses from the Quran.

Everyone in the room knows, in fact its usually even announced, "Now such and such, son of such and such who made this such and such event happen, is going to recite from the Holy Quran". You would think people are dying from anticipation. But no, the kid gets up fidgets and begins to read.

Somewhere, at some point, I think the crowd finally understands- "oh Lord, the Quran is being read" and there is rush, like a wave of hands- almost like a crowd cheering on their club as the striker goes to kick in a penalty- hands goes grabbing for the miles of cloth that make up their scarves. The boy reading the Quran, his voices is drowned out by the clanking of bangels and russling of cloth, as the women are trying to find, figure out and adjust their scarves on their heads.

It's quite a spectacle. No matter where I am at, whether it's a wedding or at an event, I never stop laughing out loud at this spectacle. But the best are weddings. Where during the short sermon and the supplication that is made, you see these women struggling to keep the scarf on their head and at the same time not ruin their hair.

So if ever I would be asked to be an emcee at these events, every so often I would bust out with some verses from the Quran, sometimes I would even do the longer chapters I have memorized just to get a laugh out of the spectacle. What's up with that?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ways to keep a healthy level of insanity

(not my ideas, but I thought they were funny and make good therapy!)

Page yourself over the intercom, and don't disguise your voice.

Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

Put Decaf in the coffee maker for three weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to Espresso.

In the 'Memo Field' of all your checks, write, "For Smuggling Diamonds."

Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat -- use a serious face.

Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.

When the money comes out of the ATM, scream "I Won! I Won!"

When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling, "Run for your lives, they're loose!"

Really, no comments!

Must have been designed by the same smart guy who discovered the WMDs in Iraq.

driving in california

Salams to all,

I think driver's education in California should be revised....I always see the too often: either toooooo slow drivers who think time is of no essence or people driving too fast and too close /or on the cell phone. I think most of the accidents according to some TV commercials is due to NOT PAYING ATTENTION to the driving. I try to take my time so I dont have to be speeding, but usually I do encounter the above on a daily basis. At school, I have been almost run over 3 times because parents are saying "goodbye" to their kids while not paying attention to the driving.....

Any comments????

The Importance of Coffee Placement

While traveling recently, I was reminded of a hotel oddity that has bothered me for some time. Why do they insist on putting the coffeemaker – and all the ingredients – in the bathroom? What’s up with that?!

I tried to figure out the logic behind this, but the best I can come up with is that they thought it ought to be near a sink, even if the wrong kind of sink. Still, it seems odd to me to store foodstuff (coffee, sugar, creamer) in the bathroom. It strikes me as less than hygienic, even with the little paper hats on the cups.

The whole situation just makes me glad I’m a tea person :)

What's up with Kobe!

What's up with Kobe wanting to be traded from the Lakers? He is acting like a selfish player who never passes the ball, which is very unlike him. The Kobe I know is a team player!

So to honor Kobe demanding, or once demandng a trade here are the best trade scenarios for all the Kobe Haters!

1. Kobe Bryant for Dwayne Wade.

(I'm sure we would all love to see Kobe and Shaq team-up together and then kill each other afterwards.)

2. Kobe Bryant for anyone on the Denver Nuggets!

(What better then to remind Kobe of his trial in Colorado!)

3. Kobe Bryant for anyone on the Memphis Grizzlies. *pending Jerry West comes back to LA*

(I'm sure Kobe would love it if he's traded to Jerry West's old team)

4. Kobe Bryant for Pluto

(Yes, Pluto is no longer a planet, but I'm sure they have room for a selfish basketball player!)