Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Reminder

We're in TO for the week, visiting with M's family, and we spent the weekend at the RIS conference, listening to a lot of great speakers talk about the importance of contribution and involvement, how being a Muslim is all about giving and serving. We heard a lot of great things, but one of best reminders I heard was the mention of this hadeeth (prophetic saying). So simple and succinct, but so clear in its message.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, will say on the Day of Rising, 'Child of Adam, I was ill and you did not visit Me.'

The man will say, 'O Lord, how could I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds?'

The Lord will answer, 'Do you not know that My servant so-and-so was ill and you did not visit him? Do you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me with him?

O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you did not feed Me.'

The man will answer, 'O Lord, how could I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds?'

The Lord will say, 'Do you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food and you did not feed him? Do you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found him with Me.

O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give it to Me.'

He will say, 'O Lord, how could I give You water when You are the Lord of the worlds?'

The Lord will say, 'My servant so-and-so asked you for water and you did not give it to him. Do you not know that if you had given him water, you would have found that with Me?'

So often, we make religion so complicated that we forget the essence. Visit the sick, feed the poor, care for those who need to be cared for. This we can do. This we should do.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


My older sister is on a trip to Egypt right now, visiting extended family. Below are her thoughts on Gaza and the atrocities taking place.

I can't tear myself away from the T.V. screen. News clips of people, normal people, desparate people, devastated people.

Mothers crying. People bleeding. Body parts. Running, running. Men grabbing people off the streets & rushing to the ambulances, and bringing more and more people. The news reporter tells me that there's no more room in the hospital for any more people.

Little Bodies wrapped in white cloth. A father breaks down crying next to the body of his dead child. I think of my own children, in bed asleep. Thank God. I should go in. I should sleep. I got up early . . . I wonder how long they've been up. I wonder if they will sleep tonight. If they will wake up tomorrow.

A mother is talking, her face is wet and tired. Her eyes are puffy. "They took away my children. This morning. I have 3 daughters and one son left. They took my 5 daughters this morning." Her daughter talks about this morning. She was telling her sisters "we're all going to die."

Five daughters. Five sisters. Five. Who will they mourn? How will they mourn? When will they mourn? They have to keep runningfrom the soulless, pilotless planes dropping randon bombs. But where to? Where do they run to?
"There's no safe place in Gaza, we've been told," an aid worker said.

I grab the remote. I want to see the coverage people are getting in Canada and the States. Is it like this? Do they see the suffering? Or is it watered-down, political collateral damage?

I'm searching for CNN. Finally, I find it. They're talking about Gaza, about the air-strikes. They're being sympathetic with the Palestinian people. They talk to an Islamic Aid Worker who's barricaded into his house. At first, I feel relief - 'they're acknowledging them - these poor forgotten people who's humanity is so rarely portrayed. But wait, I watch longer. No, no. They're rolling the same 5 clips over and over again while they talk about the attrocities: a burning building, people standing and shuffling in the street, ambulance workers gathered around somethng, a clip of the hospitals, people in the street. Again and again. No close-ups of people. No sadness, no tears, no children, no breakdowns. The rubble and the destruction of buildings, of overcrowded hospitals. Where are the pictures that I saw on the Arabic channels? What about the mother who lost her children? What about the little boy crying & trying to run? The look in their eyes? The fear? The loss?

"93 % of communication is non-verbal," I remember from my university days in psychology. Only 7% is the words that we hear.

I flip back to the Arabic channel. They are human beings and I must see their humanity. I don't know, after what I've seen today, how I'll sleep tonight. No. I know, deep down, that even if I stir for an hour or two, eventually, in the safety of my home, and the warmth of my blanket, and the company of my children, sleep will come.

How will they sleep, without safety, without shelter, without having had dinner, without knowing wen the next bomb will drop, without her daughters, without her husband, without his baby, without their their father? After they have seen today, how will they ever sleep?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Love My Gloves! I Hate My Gloves! I'm Confused!

So, random thing I did this morning while heading out for work - pre-drinking my coffee, so that's my excuse for why I was so low on brain-power:
I was leaving the apartment, and in one hand I was holding my pretty, fairly new leather gloves. In the other, I was holding a plastic bag from the kitchen garbage that needed to go down the garbage chute. I pressed the elevator button and walked to the chute. Then, I opened the chute, and tossed my gloves out -- Wait, what???
Yup, that's right, I through my gloves down the garbage chute instead of the garbage I had meant to throw out...
Luckily, I went back this afternoon to the store and they had another pair.
I think I need to sleep...
For those of you Christmas-ing, have a merry one. For everyone else, enjoy your inherent days off... I know I will :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Mom Song

This is for all the moms. Enjoy. I totally cracked up.

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Un-Random Acts of Kindness

This was a really neat article I just read about how practicing random acts of kindness, and how it actually raises suspicion, while practicing "non-random" acts of kindness actually achieves a lot more... Not sure that I actually disagree with the "random" random act of kindness, but the overall message is a good one. Take a look here. Nice reminder to be kind in general, and I think it makes the good point of putting your real time and energy into acts that really have a lasting effect.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Juliette et "Wow"! (or 'Must Love Chocolate')

Coming to Montreal soon? Want somewhere to majorly overindulge your chocolate addiction? I've got just the place for you: Juliette et Chocolat on St. Denis. As good as advertised (and I don't get paid for this, swear...)

'nuff said..

Eid Mubarak!

It's 20 below today in Montreal, for the first day of Eid Ul-Adha (makes me think of a Christmas song that starts with "Oh the weather outside is frightful...").
On this Eid, my sisters are
a) here with me in Montreal enduring the same temperatures,
b) in sunny California with my parents, or
c) in Egypt, praying the congregational Eid prayer in an outdoor field along with most of her husband's family's town.

We've been on an email streak for a couple of days, the entire family (4 sisters, 4 brothers by marriage, 2 parents), starting with discussion of funny things my little Angela's done recently and into "Happy Eid" exchanges, and what everyone will be doing. The Montreal crew? We'll be gorging on chocolate... (There's this place we've been meaning to try forever, and we figured a huge celebratory day is as good a time as any. I have book buying plans too, thanks to a bunch of recent exchanges with my favourite bookworm buddy about good reads - Glass Castle, March, here I come).

This year, I've truly been feeling the "internationalness" of the family. Everyone is everywhere, and yet with the Internet and phones and texting and VoIP being what they are today, I feel like we're all in the same place. I'm loving the stories from overseas and down-under (as we jokingly refer to Cali), and I'm loving being able to hear them so frequently.

Eid Mubarak to everyone, wherever you might be!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Food Fight

One of my brilliant friends, who pays a lot of attention to politics and who - in her own words - will one day win the Nobel Prize for Awesomeness (I agree) posted this clip on Facebook. It's a short film showing "... an abridged history of American-centric war, from World War II to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict. Watch as traditional comestibles slug it out for world domination in this chronologically re-enacted smorgasbord of aggression".
I LOVED! Not to say I understood it completely. Oh sure, I got the hiroshima, cold war, and WTC references, but I was mushy on quite a few other details. Then I went to the cheat sheet of foodstuffs to determine who was who and it made even more sense... If you are so politically inclined, enjoy the video below.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Life as Turkey

Courtesy of a hilarious card I got from my father. I realize Canadian Thanksgiving passed a while ago, but perhaps our neighbours to the south can enjoy this little poem...

Life As A Turkey
When I was a young turkey, new to the coop,

My big brother Mike took me out on the stoop;
Then he sat me down, and he spoke real slow,
And he told me there was something that I had to know.

His look and his tone I will always remember,
When he told me of the horrors of ... Black November;
"Come about August, now listen to me,
Each day you'll get six meals instead of just three."

"And soon you'll be thick, where once you were thin,
And you'll grow a big rubbery thing under your chin;
And then one morning, when you're warm in your bed,
In will burst the farmer's wife, and hack off your head."

"Then she'll pluck out your feathers so you're bald 'n pink,
And scoop out all your insides and leave ya lyin' in the sink;
And then comes the worst part," he said not bluffing,
She'll spread your cheeks and pack your rear with stuffing!"

Well, the rest of his words were too grim to repeat,

I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat;
I decided on the spot that to avoid being cooked,
I'd have to lay low and remain overlooked.

I began a new diet of nuts and granola,
High-roughage salads, juice and diet cola;
And as they ate pastries, chocolates and crepes,
I stayed in my room doing exercise tapes.

I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
And tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed;
But 'twas I who was laughing, under my breath,
As they chomped and they chewed, ever closer to death.

And sure enough when Black November rolled around,
I was the last turkey left in the entire compound!
So now I'm a pet in the farmer's wife's lap,
I haven't a worry, so I eat and I nap.

She held me today, while sewing and humming,
And smiled at me and said"Christmas is coming ..."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Retirement Ceremony deep breath

It's sports weekend in Montreal. Tonight, the famous and infamous Patrick Roy will have his jersey retired by the Montreal Canadiens. Tomorrow, the Grey Cup, the Canadian much much much poorer cousin to the NFL's super bowl, is being played here between the Montreal Alouettes and the Calgary Stampeders... needless to say, my attention will be on tonight's hockey game.
The habs have been playing awful hockey lately, (scraping by with some wins, but not really deserving them) and they tend to play even worse on ceremony nights, so deep breath here... and in the words of the always hilarious Mike Boone:
The only thing that might mar a magical evening at the Bell Centre is the possibility, given the volatile nature of the honouree, that Patrick Roy Night could become the first jersey number retirement to degenerate into a lectern-clearing brawl. But we're probably safe. No one wearing a tuxedo has thrown a good punch since Frank Sinatra.

Friday, November 21, 2008


So remember waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when, I had a post where I explained how my food sensitivities turned me into a coffee-snob, and how I went from ordering the mocha to the soy-sugar-free-mocha, no whip (oh yeah, and please make sure that's plain soy, not vanilla flavoured)?
Well, this lovely blog post cracked me up because I'm not always like this, but once in a while, I do hover to make sure that my drink is being prepared the way I asked. I know it can get annoying for the barristas, but at the same time, I figure it's only fair: the obvious reason is my long list of food-ingredient no-no's, but there are some less obvious reasons too. I used to get lattes all the time, and I don't anymore, so I really want to make sure they're exactly how I asked for them. It's like dessert now, and at most coffee shops, you're paying at least $4 for that drink, so....... Anyway, take a look at the post. Can you see yourself in this woman? Are you a - gasp - latte spy too?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Complete Sentences are Bad! Bad! Bad!

Too funny!
I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't had much of my own inspiration to write about here lately. Not that things are bad or boring, just that I haven't felt that articulate. Having said that, when I find something someone else wrote amusing, I like to share. Here's a good spoof article about - what else - Barack Obama, and his use of complete sentences...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why the Economic Downturn is Good for You

Check out this great article at MacLeans about the joys of frugality, and how the recession could actually make you healthier, happier, and more environmentally friendly. Seriously, it's not just a way to make ourselves feel better about the whole thing. They make some very relevant points...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

IF by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more; you'll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Little Angela is 3

That's all... Happy Birthday to my articulate little darling...

President-Elect Obama

Pride. Happiness. Relief. That's what I'm feeling right now.
Everything that can and needs to be said about this election and this moment in history is better said by people more knowledgeable and articulate than myself, but I wanted to share this one beautiful phrase I saw on a message board last night:

Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama is running so our children can fly.

Congratulations to everyone for common sense and hope prevailing, and congratulations to all African people and people of African descent for what this personally means to you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Hope is....

The hope - and I'm being corny, using that word, but given that today we may end the day with a chance that the US has turned a corner on ugliness and greed in its worst form, I'm being corny - is that tonight, we will be laughing at how not close this election was, and how worried we've been for the last few hours/days/weeks/months...
The hope is that we'll watch our neighbours choose the way the rest of the world would have chosen, instead of inexplicable electing a 72 year old who says he'll be different than the way he's been 90% of the time, and expect everything to change.
Deep breath. Try to function normally today... We won't know anything until tonight so there's no point stressing about it while we wait.
And enjoy one last (I really really really really hope!) joke about McCain and co... and how they'd do a great job running their country, and by extension - and this is why this matters so much - driving the direction of the world:

7 Reasons McCain Will Win in a Landslide Today
by Seth Grahame-Smith

Back in July, I wrote a piece predicting a huge Obama win. I even offered a recipe for an Election Night drink called the "McCrush" (vodka and Orange Crush over crushed ice, served in a hollow flip-flop with a sprig of pandering). But that was an electoral eternity ago -- before the phenomenal rise of Sarah Palin, the phenomenal collapse of Wall Street, and the phenomenal scalp of Joe the Plumber. Call it my mea culpa, or my heaping serving of crow, but I feel compelled to state the obvious. John McCain will "McCrush" Barack Obama today. Here are seven reasons why:
1. The Power of Palin -- On paper, she sounds like a superhero: Attractive. Stylish. Handy with an assault rifle. Impervious to witchcraft. But when it comes to the power of Palin, that's only the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg. She's given a voice to America's willfully-ignorant secessionist religious fanatics, and energized women who haven't felt this eager to vote since Studdard vs. Aiken. She's a transformational leader, as evidenced by her unique ability to transform many longtime Republicans into Obama supporters.
2. America's Hunger for Change -- 90% of Americans think our country is on the wrong track. We want a leader who'll roll up his sleeves and start pulling survivors from the smoldering rubble of the Bush presidency. Clearly, that leader is John McCain. Who better to set a new course than a man who's been in the Senate for 26 years? Who better to lead us into the future than a seventy-two-year-old who doesn't use email? Who better to represent "change" than a man who changes campaign themes every few days?
3. The Economic Crisis -- Isn't it time for a president who knows how to spend money responsibly? Whether on nine houses, thirteen cars, or $150,000 in designer clothes? Isn't it time for a leader who understands that building a strong economy starts at the top and works its way down -- just like building a strong skyscraper starts with the top floor and ends with the foundation? A leader who's seen* workers losing their jobs and families struggling to get by on food stamps?
* (from the windows of his wife's private jet)
4. A Unified Republican Party -- To outsiders, it might look like traditional "Ronald Reagan" Conservatives and traditional "Ted Haggard" Christianists are slugging it out to see who gets to steer the SS Irrelevant. It might even look like John McCain and Sarah Palin are slugging it out to see who gets to steer their campaign off a cliff. Well consider yourselves duped, Liberals. It's all part of the GOP's elaborate plan to let you rule for the next few decades while we groom Bristol for 2044.
5. Joe the Plumber -- John McCain recently looked out into a crowd of supporters and proclaimed, "You're all Joe the Plumber." What he meant was, if we all look deep into our hearts, we'll see someone who seeks to cash in on his fleeting fame with record deals, corporate sponsorships, and paid personal appearances while pretending to be the quintessential "little guy." In other words, we'll see the perennial balancing act between old-fashioned American values and old-fashioned American greed. It was a powerful insight into our national identity. Or maybe McCain was just pandering out of embarrassment because Joe didn't show up to his rally. But still...
6. McCain's Experience -- Criticize McCain all you want for running a "disgraceful campaign." For "smearing" Obama as a Marxist Muslim elitist terrorist-lover who wants to enslave the white race and send our children to homosexuality conversion camps. But the reality is, John McCain is merely using his wealth of political experience -- by employing the same race-based fear-mongering that defeated him in the 2000 primaries. Experience counts, people.
7. Country First -- Loving America means loving every single thing about America. It means never, ever criticizing it. It means shouting down even the slightest whispers of dissent with wild-eyed chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" It means doing what's right for the country, not what's right for your campaign. People in the Pro-American parts of America understand this. Can you imagine what would've happened if our forefathers had been as unpatriotic as Obama's supporters? As elitist and arrogant? Can you imagine if they'd had the audacity to question -- or even rebel against their own country?
What a nightmare that would've been....
Seth Grahame-Smith begs your

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Daddy's (and Momma's) Girl...

Nothing quite like coming back from 7 weeks in the Middle East to the first snow... and not a light snow either; they're expecting 10-15 centimeters by the time it's all over tomorrow morning.
My parents, however, are not daunted by the prospect, and are happy to be home despite the dubious welcome.
And I am sooooooooooooooooo happy to have them back. Welcome home!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So what if he was...

Colin Powell has officially endorsed Barack Obama in an appearance on Meet the Press today, giving a thoughtful, detailed explanation for why he'll vote Obama on November 4th. I was impressed with the whole endorsement, but nothing touched me quite so much as the part where he spoke about people attacking Obama for being "Muslim":

"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America"

To which I say 'Thank you Mr. Powell, and about time someone in the political sphere stood up and called out these comments for more than Obama-smears, but for what they really are: an attack on Muslims.
See a clip of his whole endorsement below...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Teeheehee - Hockey Infused Corny Joke of the Day

Q & A fromHealth Canada

  • Q: TheStanley Cup was recently on tour in my town, and I kissed it. Do I have toworry about being infected bylisteria?
  • A: You are safe. The Stanley Cup has not been in contact with any Maple Leaf product in over 40years.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What do you think of Barack "Hussein" Obama?

Oh, they've come out swinging now: for the second time at a GOP rally, one of the introductory speakers referred to Obama as "Barack Hussein Obama". Now, if all they meant was to introduce the man by his full name, this would be fine, but it's so disgustingly obvious what the "Hussein" is supposed to do here... Make us sick and scared of Obama, of his otherness, of his blackness, of his father's Muslim heritage.
Yes, of course, now that I'm reminded that his middle name is Hussein, I'm certain he eats babies for dinner and hunts small kittens for sport...
Please! and the sad thing is, for some people, this works. Now, I'm not a McCain fan. I'm not a conservative fan in general, but I'd NEVER NEVER call out "Kill him" at a rally. It's dangerous. It's despicable and it's prejudice no matter how you spin it.
Thankfully, not everyone seems to be falling for it. Some Obama supporters are adopting Hussein as their middle-names to show support.

Of Old Commercials and Singing Cows

I've always been a fan of commercials. Done right, they are often more entertaining than the program you were actually watching, and there are a few that are just classics. My uncle and I were reminiscing about this commercial last night: the HP "makes beef sing" slogan with the cow singing what I always took to be Elvis... I'm pretty sure the reason we both remember it so well (to the point where, embarrassingly enough, I can essentially sing the whole thing from memory) is because we had taped something once and the commercial was on the tape for years and years... Anyway, like everything else, it's up on Youtube. And because it makes me happy every time I remember it, I thought I'd pass on the ridiculousness...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vote Smart

I've been having a lot of conversations about strategic voting, and how to avoid a Conservative majority, with different friends. Some people think it doesn't make a lot of sense, that you could choose your second or third choice party just to avoid the Conservatives, but for me, a Conservative majority is sooooooooooooo frightening, and all the other parties are soooooooooo much more appealing, that it makes more sense to vote strategically than any other way.
How do you do this? Simple: you find out if your riding is close, and how the different candidates are doing in the polls. A lot of ridings that are won by the Conservatives are won by a close margin, and if there was less vote-splitting on the left, can be won by one of the three other parties: Liberal, NDP, or Bloc. Heck, maybe we can even get a Green MP in there!
You can find out whether your riding is a close one here. Good luck and happy voting!

A Great Article on Political Smears

So the early reviews are in and so far (yay!) the pundits seem to agree that Obama won the second... I go forward with fingers cautiously crossed, and hoping that people are smart enough to see past the non-stop smearing the Republicans have been relentlessly pushing on him... It's amazing, the Conservative party here in Canada has treated Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion in much the same way, and they certainly didn't wait for a campaign in order to do it... I heard on CBC radio a few days ago that 10 days (10 days!!) after Dion was selected the new leader of the Liberal party, the Conservatives were launching anti-Dio attack ads. We've seen everything, and - granted - the man is not the most entrancing or charismatic speaker, but to listen to these ads, you would suspect he's a bumbling fool so indecisive he can't decide what colour shirt to put on in the morning... If you watched the debates, or tuned in to any of the radio programs he's guested on since the campaign began, you would know this is far from true.
The sad thing is, parties continue to smear because smears seem to work... They're one of these things that work even though they shouldn't. Even though they're beneath us, and and beneath our decency, and beneath our idea of fairness and common propriety. Why is it okay to tell lies about someone? If you really, truly think you're better, argue why you're better on true merit... Don't lie because you're afraid....
This article asks what would happen if Sarah Palin was running against Sarah Palin, and thinks of the possible smears... It's a good one. Take a look.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Little Angelas Love to Play

So, as promised, here is the story of how my Little Angela spent her first Eid in a faraway land named Dubai:
To start, let me give some background about how we tend to do Eid when we live as a minority, i.e. in Canada or the U.S. The community focus in this case tends to be about making it special for the little kids. Since the rest of the world is going about their day-to-day business and there are no pretty lights in the street or Santa's in the malls, we do everything we can to make little kids feel like it's a special day. Also, since most of the Muslim population in Canada or the U.S. is living far away from their immediate,or at least extended, family, visiting family is replaced with community get-togethers.
When I was little, we had some very good friends who would have a 'Eid Open House' party every year, and just about the whole Ottawa Muslim community would end up at Uncle Sulayman and Aunt Rafi's house at some point during the course of the day,and we'd eat tons of roti and cake and play on the swings in backyard. Now, whereas I had loads of fun, I can imagine the day was always exhausting for Aunt Rafi and Uncle Sulayman. Eventually, this activity shifted to renting the hall where the Eid prayer took place in the morning for the remainder of the remainder of the day so the families could all visit their together without anyone's house getting taken over (plus the community was really becoming enormous), and different community associations would take on the task of running games for the kids and arranging for yummy food and every other thing you'd want to have around at Eid.
What this means is that, when Little Angela was born almost three years ago, her Eid celebration included a pile of presents and new clothes and yummy food, but also that immediately following Eid prayer in the morning, the hall was transformed into a child's version of heaven, with circus games and magic shows and balloons and those crazy blowup castles with slides that kids love so much,and Little Angela would spend all day running around and playing and looking and doing everything her little heart desired until she fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, and this was Eid...
Now, in the middle-East, where just about everyone's in on it and the streets are decorated and everyone gets the three days off work, Eid tends to go more like this: they do the new clothes and lots of candy and presents thing too, but they go to the prayer as a family in a mosque, not a rented hall, and then they go to visit family and close friends and just generally spend the day together... no day-long child's heaven circus included.
Little Angela was devastated. Where was her beloved Eid? Balloon's? Blowup Castles? Magician's? Animals? My understanding is that the poor thing cried and that eventually they took her to a kids playground (in doors of course, the heat is brutal), and my brother in law ended up gathering all the kids around and telling them a story, and then invited Little Angela to join in the storytelling. Which she did. For a few seconds. Before she decided she'd rather sing ABCDEFG to her delighted audience of children...
Good God, I miss that child.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy Eidin' to All!

And to all a good night... Heheh, no just kidding.
Yesterday one of my colleagues at work asked me what we said to each other to wish each other a good Eid: Merry Eid? Happy Eid?
I guess everyone says their own thing, right? When I'm saying it in English, I tend to say "Happy Eid". "Merry Eid" just sounds too Christmas-y, and "Blessed Eid", which would be a literal translation of "Eid Mubarak", which is how we say it in Arabic, sounds too old school in English. It makes me feel like pronouncing the second "e" in "blessed" and getting all Shakespeare-like...
So, Happy Eid it is. I hope those celebrating have a fabulous day, filled with their favourite things, whatever they may be (friends, family, sugar, chocolate, laughter....)
Tune in soon for a great story on how my Little Angela handled her first Eid in Dubai... and in other important Little Angel/Angela news, my Little Angel is now able to say "Nonno" (which is the baby-version of my name that Little Angela came up with). For this delightful tidbit of info, I must take my sister' and parent's word: he refuses to say it into the phone to me... Ah well, good enough I s'pose.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch both of these

One video is Sarah Palin's actual appearance on Katie Couric's show. The other is the SNL spoof. You know we have a huge problem when the spoof is almost exactly what the woman actually said. Sigh...

The real ridiculousness in the second video starts at 1 minute 40 seconds:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let's Do the Twist!

One little misstep is all it takes... To be honest, I'm not actually sure which misstep I took, but I had a little "incident" stepping out of the mosque last night and now my ankle is twisted...
One night's sleep, one pressure wrap, and one chocolate bar later, I'm feeling fine, but boy was it sore last night!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yay for Attack Ads

From Last week's SNL

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Celiacs, do you miss Pizza?

This is just a quick tidbit to share with my fellow allergy sufferers about a yummy product I discovered in the frozen food section of the grocery store yesterday.... Glutino frozen pizza. I have a problem with wheat, not specifically gluten, so I tend to buy or make spelt / kamut bread, which have a small gluten content that can cause problems for those with celiac. Glutino products don't use spelt or kamut, but rather rice flour, tapioca flour, and the like... The last time I bought gluten-free pizza, I wasn't impressed, but I decided to treat myself to a frozen pizza anyway (somewhat overpriced in a pretty tiny package at about $6, but hey, that's why I said "treat") and - are you ready for this - it was really.really.good.
Their other stuff is probably okay too if you can't have any gluten at all... Hope you enjoy like I did...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clichés for the Campaign

From the latest Issue of MacLean's:

I come to praise this land of bounteous clichés

SCOTT FESCHUK September 17, 2008
My fellow Canadians:
Election day approaches. We have as a nation arrived at a juncture near a precipice that is located alongside a crossroads on the edge of the potential of a new horizon. So, please, watch your step.
My friends, I have been travelling our vast country to spread the message that we must bring change to Ottawa. But not just any kind of change. It must be bold change. It must be progressive change. It must be crazy change. I'm talking about change for its own sake — wild, flailing change unburdened by rational thinking.
My opponents talk about change, but what kind of change will they bring? Will it be unthought-through enough? Will they, like me, replace O Canada with Sign of the Gypsy Queen? Because I'll do it. If it makes you vote for me, I swear to God I'll do it.
In the 21st century, we must move Canada forward, not backward. Upward, not downward. Diagonal, not perpendicular. Also, Barack Obama was on CNN talking about the world becoming more competitive. So we should probably look into that, too.
Now is not the time to retreat to the garrisons of fear or the barracks of prejudice. Now is the time to push ahead toward the huts of progress, the condominiums of hope and that huge castle of unicorns. You see the one I'm talking about? Next to the Arby's of common purpose? Just hang a left at the forest of metaphor.
Let me say for the record that my rivals in this election are good people. They are decent Canadians who happen to require medication to combat their fetishes and chronic narcolepsy. In their defence, there is nothing in our Constitution that disqualifies a Canadian from seeking public office just because he killed a hooker.
Besides, I want this to be a campaign about the issues. I want my words to serve as eloquent testament to the power and virtue of my ideas. For more on my solemn commitment to elevating our public discourse, please visit my website. Just click on the ostrich that's taking a leak in my rival's ear.
My friends: this is the most important election since Canada was formed, since democracy was birthed, since prehistoric man gathered to focus-group the discovery of fire (consensus: too orange). The differences between my positions and those of my rivals are enormous and critical.
I would lower your taxes by a negligible amount. My opponents would lower your taxes by a slightly different negligible amount. I would reduce greenhouse gas emissions eventually. My opponents would reduce greenhouse gas emissions ultimately. I believe children are our future. My opponents told me they think your children are ugly and stupid. (You're not exactly easy on the eyes yourself, they said.)
People of Canada: I come before you tonight as just a man — a humble, ordinary man wearing a sweater selected for me by a team of stylists and advisers. The sweater is powder blue: feminine enough to appeal to women 35 to 44, with just enough navy undertones to keep men from actively debating my sexual orientation. Got it at Banana Republic.
At this point, I would like to mention my family in a forced and obligatory manner.
I love my family. My family provides me with strength, spiritual nourishment and heartwarming anecdotes for my television commercials. Basically, I'm just a family man. In fact, I'm such a family man that one family is not enough for me. I must travel the country meeting other families, entering their homes and yards trailed by 50 reporters, pretending to find their children adorable. There may even be a family standing awkwardly behind me right now. There usually is. Hello, Wongs. What's that? But I asked you if you needed to go before the speech, Grandma Wong. Just hold it, okay?
In conclusion, let me say: Canada is a country whose health care system defines us — as a nation with tremendous patience and a high tolerance for pain. Canada is a country with old people in it, and they must be pandered to, often while using the word "dignity." To them I say: you deserve to live with dignity!
From the down-home hospitality and fishing villages of the East to the open spaces and soaring mountains of the West, Canada is a land of bounteous clichéd images used by politicians to crudely evoke patriotic sentiment. Also, there are prairies.
Canada is a great country. In fact, it's the greatest country in the world. What I'm saying is: Portugal can suck it. Ditto Japan. Those places are holes and we all know it. Don't even get me started on Greece.
shall now speak French in a manner that suggests I'm merely repeating what I just said in English — when in fact I'm telling Quebecers they're my favourites and giving away the farm.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cell Phone Funnies (Explainable This Time)

A couple of weeks ago, while waiting for my sister in front of my building for an errand we were going to run, I found a text from Rogers on my phone saying I could pick and download a free ring tone. Among the options was Julie Andrew's "My Favourite Things", so click I did, and my ring tone was downloaded.
I didn't get any calls for the rest of that day, but the next morning, as I sat down to work, I suddenly heard Julie Andrews singing at a surprisingly high pitch... I had completely forgotten. Instead of checking my phone, I assumed I had a window open on the Internet on some site that had audio attached, or that some pop-up was taking over my computer. I hurried to close all the windows, but couldn't find any pop-ups. Still, the singing had conveniently stopped (this, of course, was my phone going to voicemail). Twenty minutes later, she was back:
Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens!
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens!

It clicked: that's my phone!!

I'm such a nerd.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slightly Less Depressed Now

Yay! We do have a thinking population... One of my least favourite shows on CBC Radio is Cross Country Checkup with Rex Murphy, mostly because he's too right wing for my tastes... But today, while I was doing some cleaning up around the house, I turned on the radio and there he was, taking calls from across Canada about peoples' concerns/impressions about the election so far. The calls were overwhelmingly anti-Conservative and anti-Harper. These people were knocking the puffin ad, the sweater-vest family-guy ad, the attacks against Dion, all of it. They were also pointing out the fact that we need to focus on issues, not the leaders' personalities, and finally, they called out the media on the poor job they've done of fair and balanced coverage, instead of just mimicking whatever insults the parties (principally the Conservatives) have been throwing at each other. I found myself agreeing with almost every caller's points. Such a relief! I hope enough Canadians are thinking this way next month that we can avoid a Conservative majority.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Do you play nasty so you can eventually play nice?

Back to my current obsession: politics... So, we're off here in Canada now, and the polls are showing a possible Conservative majority. *shudder*. I had a good email conversation with a friend of mine about how we're all in a lot of trouble if the Conservatives get a majority and if the Republicans *shudder shudder* manage to win AGAIN to our south.
One of the reasons we're convinced these parties are doing well? They play negative. Sometimes, they downright lie. The lies in Sarah Palin's speech at the GOP convention last week are documented here, but you can bet that most people won't bother double checking whether she was telling the truth or not. And the jab at Obama's community organizer job in Chicago when he first finished university? I'm trying to understand why it's funny or witty to belittle the people Barack Obama was trying to help...
Here in the great white north, the Liberal party has decided to go negative against Harper. It's something that's been debated back and forth. Attack ads are typically nasty and below the belt, but they're also exceptionally effective. Can you say you're going to be above the political bickering, as Obama has done, that you're going to stay above "politics as usual" and then run attack ads against your opponent? It becomes a question of "does the end justify the means." This article argues that you have to, that the stakes are too high otherwise. At this point, I'm okay with the Liberals or the Democrats running attack ads. That's the game right now, and without it, their chances of winning, (or stopping a Harper majority here in Canada) are slim. And besides, there's lots to attack the Republicans and Conservatives on that wouldn't involve lying. They've set themselves up.

Finally, check out Jon Stewart's clip below, illustrating some typical hypocrisy on Palin's qualifications, and playing the sexism card.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


This is the word for "breakfast" in Arabic, both breakfast when you're having it any day in the morning, and breakfast when you're breaking the fast after a day of no food, no drink, no bad behaviour, no blowing up...
Back in university, we would be sitting in the computer lab pre-iftar. At first, this was "the Cube", a grey little cube shaped building filled with computer stations, for Computer Science students, and then we would be in the cornily named "library of the future", in the basement of the SITE building, once it existed. We would be scrambling to finish up some assignment or another, perhaps writing the last few difficult lines of code, or hitting compile and praying there would no compile errors, knowing we still had the horrible run-time errors to face. Maybe we'd have already found them; maybe we'd be debugging slowly, exhaustedly, ready to pull our hair out from the effort at looking the same line that seemed fine but was clearly throwing our whole program into disarray. Or, possibly, we'd have given up on all of the above, and had our programs open in some random window on the computer but were only pretending to work. Possibly, instead we were chatting, or checking hockey scores, or surfing away those last few minutes until we had a mandated break to break our fast and clear our heads of the "if-thens" and "elses" of the code that had started to infest our heads...
The SITE building was on one end of campus and Iftar was in the University Centre (shortened to the Uni-Centre, because what's the fun in saying the whole name of anything?), and we had two options to get there:
  1. Follow the long, wining path of tunnels through about 5 buildings, zigzagging across campus from the inside to avoid the cold.
  2. Take your jacket, go upstairs and brave the elements in what was a shorter trek than in 1, but also a colder trek.

I used to alternate between the two, depending on how much time I had, how cold it was, how long of a break I was affording myself for this communal fast-breaking and prayer.
In the Uni-Centre, dates were passed around or set on a table. Milk or water in Styrofoam or plastic cups was also there, and the desks had been pushed aside in the small room to make space for prayer. Half the time, you didn't know half the people you were breaking fast with, after all, this was a campus of thousands of students, in thousands of programs, and you overlapped here because you were Muslim, and you had class or lab keeping you here to this hour, and so weren't already home. Regardless, you said salaam (peace, our greeting in Islam), you said taqabbal Allah (May God accept your good deeds), and there was a sense of being in it together, of having spent the last 12 or 13 hours in a state of un-having, of emptiness of material so you could fill yourself with something else, some form of perspective, or discipline, or appreciation for the rest of the world, who fasted, not voluntarily so many days of the year. After prayer there were tables set up for big foil containers filled with rice and salad and chicken. If we were lucky, there was samosa, every one's absolute favourite. The food came from people in the community, and it was free: in Islam, we believe there is a great reward for helping the fasting break their fast.
We would sit on the floor or lean against the pushed-back tables and desks, those with classes and labs to get back to eating quickly, those with a little more time winding down. We'd learn each other's names, forget, and ask again a week later when we happened to overlap at another iftar. We'd clean up and go.
This was one of the things I missed most about university, this ad-hoc coming together of a community in a place where the world doesn't revolve around your traditions, where the days are not cut short during your month of fasting and the schedules made more lax. Last night, I felt it again at the McGill MSA iftar. There is something about students and student culture. Something more fluid, more flexible than at the office, where things are set and established, and it's really very... nice. I sat with girls I'd never met and some whom I'd met once or twice, or three WHOLE times, and laughed and talked and got to know them better. We turned the cafeteria into an iftar hall, pulling tables together and pushing them back when it was over. There were those same, massive foil pans filled with rice and salad and a pot full of delicious, Indian style meat. There were taqabbal Allah's and come again's exchanged. I think I will.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Let's Impeach the President!

Yet another reason to love CBC radio. I heard this song today and just really really enjoyed it. Thi is Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President". My apologies to non-political junkies who follow this blog. It's just impossible to ignore politics right now with everything being the way it is, an election campaign happening south of us and one about to get called here in the great white north... Bear with me. Eventually, I'll be writing more and sharing less youtube vidoes.
In the meantime, enjoy:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For One Month

This is Ramadan. Between dawn and sunset, we don't eat. We don't drink. We don't ingest in basically any form (because I've had questions about chewing gum, popping mints, cigarettes, etc. But no ingesting happens. Nothing.) Before dawn, most Muslims will get up to eat something in order to go the rest of the day without. After a couple of days, the hunger pangs tend to subside and you get used to feeling a little emptier. One of the hardest parts for me is going without the coffee. I've taken to just drinking it before dawn...
The other, less talked about aspect of Ramadan is controlling your temper and behaviour. The food we don't eat is really more of an outward manifestation of the self-control we're supposed to exhibit through out every aspect of our lives. It's almost what I'd call a spiritual-detox period. We use this time to get back on track in our habits, our behaviours, our spiritual / ritual devotions, etc. Things we've let creep in that we don't like, we try to stop. Things we've let slip by the way-side that we want to do, we pick back up. It's like New Year's Resolutions in some ways, except for one month, as the whole community prays together, fasts together, and spends more time together, the hope is that the resolutions won't be broken a few days later, but become ingrained into our daily lives, at least for a while.
Happy Ramadan to all!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hilarious Videos

I can't really help it now. After three days with M's family, I have completely converted into a politics addict.
These two videos K shared this afternoon, and they're so hilarious I thought I'd share with the rest of you...

22 Minutes: Support our troops

John.He.Is with the spoof for John McCain

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Great Angry Song

Still on a political tear... I have a feeling the next couple of months are going to be very intense as the election(s) gear up... Harper won't say anything officially yet, but we're almost definitely having one in Canada too. If only Dion wasn't so.... what? Nerdy? Un-charismatic? I'm afraid the Liberals will find a way to lose this even though most people aren't thrilled with the Conservatives either.
Anyway, I'll be off in TO for the long weekend, but wanted to leave you with one of my favourite angry songs, a perfect "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" song.
This is "Excuse Me Mister" by Ben Harper.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics - Lots of it

I think I've always been mildly interested in American politics, if only because it affects the rest of the world so much, but this year (and I can almost totally say this is M's fault) I've switched from "mildly" to "very" interested. Like, possibly "ridiculously" interested considering this is not my country...
I've watched all the key speeches at the Democratic National Convention so far: saw Michelle, saw the Clintons, saw Jo Biden. I plan on watching Obama's speech tonight of course. I'm not just watching because it's important though, I'm watching because I'm honestly, actually moved. Because (and I'm sorry, this is cheesy, but it must be said because it's true) this version of the Democrats gives me hope. This isn't Kerry-Edwards '04, where I wanted the Democrats to win simply because they weren't Bush-Cheney. No, this time around, I actually think Obama-Biden have good ideas and a more sympathetic, merciful, cooperative outlook towards their own country and towards the rest of the world. This time around, I actually like the politicians.
I never like the politicians. Never.
I came home from the book signing and panel discussion for Dark Days, and the politics seemed infinitely more important, because I had just finished to some very knowledgeable people talking about what happens when politics get out of hand, when the wrong policies turn into law unchecked, and the truth is it's frightening. It's easy for us to forget that because we're comfortable, but last night I was reminded that some of my fellow-Canadian citizens found that out first hand. And they'll spend the rest of their lives trying to recover from that knowledge.
Politics matter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today: Book Launch in Ottawa

This is tonight at 6 p.m. Should be fascinating. I will be there.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I wrote to be more like you, started it because it was something I could copy you at and then realized - wow, this is actually something I might be good at! - and started to enjoy it myself but even then, it was always linked to you in some way...
you were always the first ear to listen to my voice re-reading the words off the page, the first critic with a verdict - It's good. It's sad. It's strong - always so kind about it, lifting the grade of the words a point or two above what I would have given myself, turning average into nice, nice into moving, moving into powerful. I would read you those words still fresh off the page, still scribbled in my illegible handwriting, read them to myself aloud for the first time in that recital, for the first time since writing them, stumbling over the scratches and the underlines, the changes in mid-sentence, the run-ons, the flows that didn't flow and needed fixing.
For years, you read your novels through me, through the dog-eared pages of the latest book under my pillow, and I would breathlessly explain the circumstances of the last 2 pages, the lead up to that perfect sentence I had highlighted, that perfect sentence I needed you to hear... When the book was just "ok" I might have two passages to share, when it was amazing every second page was dog-eared, every second page needing reading aloud and after twenty-or-so sessions it was just "You need to read this book!" - to which you might answer "you're reading it to me anyway".
I still underline and dog-ear. I read more now that you're away, actually, read in some of the time we might have spent talking, some of the time I might have spent on the floor of your living room, playing dress up with my Little Angela or giving pony-rides to my Little Angel. Maybe when you visit I will greet you with a barrel-full of books and say "here, read the underlined parts". Maybe you'll move back someday and we'll spend the next three years working our way through the pile slowly, between our day-to-day. Maybe you'll never read them, but it makes me feel better to mark them up for you just the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hands up whoever loves Seinfeld...
That's what I thought, everyone. Such the most hilarious show about absolutely nothing. Have you ever tried to explain a Seinfeld episode to someone, and after five minutes of ranting looked up to see their bewildered face as proof that you should stop, that this show really is about nothing, that it's the absolute "you had to see it" show, because if it was actually about something then it might actually make sense in an explanation later. Have you ever had that same person later see the episode and then, and only then, understand that it truly was hilarious and brilliant? I'm blabbing... I should stop.
So, what brings me to Seinfeld today? Well, news that Microsoft is paying Jerry Seinfeld $10 million to promote Windows Vista. Except, well, except that Seinfeld had a MAC on his desk for basically the entire duration of the show, so.... who's gonna buy that he really likes Vista versus the idea that he's just getting a ton of money for it? This guy over at Computer World made a great list of 10 reasons this partnership won't work... Take a look.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eat Like Mike

So if you're living under a rock, you don't know that Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals at this year's Olympics. Ok, so everyone knows that, but did you know that he eats 12,000 calories a day? I read this hilarious article about a journalist who decides to attempt the Phelps diet for 1 day, and suffers brutal consequences, and liked it so much I had to share:

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
August 20, 2008 at 2:50 AM EDT
In bloated, panting-for-breath retrospect, it was crazy to think I could match Michael Phelps.
Not in the pool, of course. That would just be stupid. No, I had the audacity to think I could tackle Phelps at the kitchen table.
Where do I stand against Phelps? He is: 23 years old. I am: 31 years old. He stands: 6 foot 4. I stand: 6 foot 4. He weighs: 195 pounds. I weigh: 198 pounds. He has: more gold medals than any Olympian in history. I have: too much time on my hands.
But I've been swimming laps all summer in an effort to work off my gut, so it really did seem possible. I know, I know. I can hear all the incredulous voices and the head shaking that goes with them: Do you know how much Michael Phelps eats?

It's a whopping 12,000-calorie-a-day diet.
The average 23-year-old man consumes about 2,000 calories a day. And even on the best of days I have to wake up pretty early and work pretty hard to reach the category of an average man.
But who knows, I thought, maybe to swim like Phelps you first have to eat like Phelps.
Breakfast: Obviously, if you're going to attempt the Phelps breakfast you have to work up an appetite. So on Saturday morning, I begin the day with 30 minutes of yoga, 30 push-ups, 90 crunches and a three-kilometre run, burning 936 calories, according to an online calorie counter.
I probably expend more energy prepping breakfast: It takes 45 minutes and uses every single kitchen utensil I own.
I start with the fried-egg sandwiches. I feel it might be possible to eat the whole meal. After polishing two of them off, I move on to the French toast. After eating all three pieces, I'm doing some pretty laboured mouth breathing.
Forcing myself to buck up, I start eating a chocolate-chip pancake the size of my face. Both cups of coffee are done.
What's missing from the meal? Fruit. Seriously, Mike, would it kill you to eat an orange wedge? Parading your bazillion gold medals around is no fun when you've got scurvy.
On the verge of nausea, I force myself to take one bite from a bowl of Cream of Wheat (my substitute for grits, because good luck finding grits north of the Mason-Dixon line).
Feeling like Mr. Creosote from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, I'm one bite away from asking my girlfriend for a bucket. I call it quits after an hour of eating in earnest, leaving one fried-egg sandwich, two chocolate-chip pancakes, most of a bowl of Cream of Wheat, and a five-egg omelette on the table, laughing at me from the heights of Phelpsian wonder.
“Dude,” I curse my Olympian nemesis, “how do you not weigh 700 pounds?”
Lunch: It takes about two hours after breakfast before I can even think about going to the pool, but eventually I get there. I feel more energetic than usual, my front crawl moving me through the water with more power than it has all summer.
Nor am I as tired as I usually am when I hit the wall to turn. But with this many calories coursing through my veins, I should be able to tie a rope around my waist and tug a freighter in to harbour.
My go-for-the-gold confidence crashes when I decide to try the butterfly stroke. I'm able to do about four strokes of what must easily be the most embarrassingly awkward misrepresentation of the form before nearly sinking. The teenaged lifeguard is suppressing laughter.
I swim for 45 minutes, burning 472 calories. When I get back from the pool, I go through my morning exercise routine again, shaving off another 936 calories. By 3 p.m. I'm not even remotely hungry, but I have to have lunch because dinner is fast approaching.
I eat the two ham-and-cheese sandwiches and drink two Gatorades while out on a friend's boat, which surprisingly is not heeling to the side I'm sitting on. When I get home, I eat the pound of enriched pasta with tomato sauce, which works out to be three heaping platefuls.
Starting my third plate, I'm forced to ponder a question I've never faced at a meal in my entire life: Am I having hot flashes? A strange sensation of heat is emanating from the pit of my stomach and working its way up through my shoulders. This can't be good.
Just before the clock strikes 9 p.m., I've consumed in 12 hours almost the same caloric intake I would normally eat over the course of three days. The mouth breathing continues. I have to lie down on the couch.
It's only a mix of what willpower I have left and the sheer terror of eating dinner that forces me out of the house to go running again. My 30-minute run burns just 562 calories. I feel like an over-stuffed sausage.
Dinner: What, no dessert? I'm surprised the guy doesn't finish off the day with 16 quarts of double-churned chocolate ice cream topped with an M&M the size of a country ham.
Still, the carb-heavy menu would have most South Beach dieters making the cross with their index fingers in horror.
OK, throw that pizza in the oven, and let's do this. While the pizza cooks, I turn on the TV and see the U.S. Men's Olympic swim team – fit, trim, healthy as oxen, none of them looking like they would cry like a toddler at the sight of another plate of spaghetti. I don't even bother cooking the pasta.
I manage to drink three Gatorades. After you've been eating all day, each big chug of an energy drink feels like a mouthful of pot roast. I decide to eat only as much of the pizza as I can. I make it halfway through. As I look at the other half, my girlfriend looks at me as if she will never find me attractive ever again if I so much as try to cram just one more piece of pepperoni into my gullet.
I need to lie down.
As I collapse on the couch, Phelps wins his eighth gold medal. My awe for him has tripled.
If he ever retires from swimming, he could make a killing at those competitive eating contests. That hot dog guy's got nothing on him.
I've spent an entire day pushing myself to the limits of intestinal explosion and I still fell short one fried-egg sandwich, two chocolate-chip pancakes, a bowl of grits, a five-egg omelette, a pound of pasta, half a pizza and more than four litres of Gatorade. I feel humbled and crestfallen, the way you do when forced to confront your limitations.
I wonder if I will spring out of bed tomorrow ready to run a marathon, or if I will hide under the covers in fear, trembling at the prospect of eating again. Both seem like distinct possibilities.
Michael Phelps now has 14 gold medals from two Olympics, the all-time record.
He should bring me one of those medals just for eating what I did today. But I'd settle for a bucket.
Special to The Globe and Mail

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Catching Up

I, too, have succumbed.

It's like my willpower was only as strong as the self-control of those around me. I always swore I wouldn't get on Facebook, that I wasted more than my fair share of time on the Internet as it was. I even had allies in the resistance. And then the unthinkable happened:
I found out that my kid sister had signed on. Then...
I found out M had signed on (Gasp. Cough. I could hardly breathe!)

I lasted a week after that point. And now, I, too, have a Facebook account. But believe it or not, Facebook is not responsible for my temporary lapse in posting on this blog. No, that has more to do with the general blogapathy that seems to have taken over the blogosphere... That and general beautiful weather in Montreal for a few days, followed by my sudden panic that the summer is about to disappear and so I have to take advantage of what's left of the fabulous weather.
As if to prove my point, the fire alarm went off at work today and we all FROZE in the 10 or so minutes we ended up standing outside, every one of us missing our pullovers/sweaters/light jackets that we'd left at home/on a hanger in our office... Anyway, I digress, back to Facebook:

In my first log in after signing up, I spent about 1 hour surfing to find some friends and rooting around other's pages. But the real kicker, the part that made my new "facebooker" status all worth it, happened a few days later, when I had an impromptu chat with a great friend who's been in Japan for over a year teaching English. There I was, on my bed in my old room in Ottawa, while she was typing away at a desk (in the staff room?) at her school in Japan, and we were writing as though we were talking. It was our first true conversation since we spoke the night before my wedding. Catching up is soooooooooooooooo delightful, and that, alone, was worth the sign-up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Little Angela Dialect Mix up

The latest adorable phrase out of my Little Angela's mouth in Dubai, via my fabulous, beloved sister whom I miss enormously...
Little Angela speaks the Egyptian dialect of Arabic, but in Dubai is being exposed to other dialects on a more regular basis. She heard them here too when her family was around the Arabic community, but in Dubai she hears the other dialects everywhere, including on TV. There's a great station that plays a lot of kid's music, including a song called "Baba, telephone" (That's Arabic, by the way: Baba = Dad, and Telephone = surprise, surprise, telephone... heheh) about a kid who answers the phone for his dad and then calls out "Baba, telepone."
There's a line in the song that says "tell them I'm not here", using the Palestinian dialect. This is said, "Uleelo moo hon". In Egyptian dialect, this would be said "Uleelo mish hina".
Now that I've laid the foundation, the following conversation took place between my sister and my Little Angela:
Little Angela: Mama, what does "moo" mean?
Sister: It means not
Little Angela: It means not?
Sister: yes, we say "mish" but Palestinians say "moo"...
Little Angela pauses to consider. Then: and cows say "moo" too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Minor Non-Joy of Summer

Have you ever had a great creative spurt interrupted by the incessant music your neighbour plays at full volume ON THEIR PATIO for the benefit of all around him? Musical taste is definitely in the ear of the beholder, and while "I love Rock and Roll" is not an unpleasant song, it certainly shuts off the creative juices for me, and so my lovely typing is now hampered by the fact that I can't hear myself think. Instead, I can hear a fantastic collection of 80's and 90's music. I'm too lazy/nice to actually go outside and figure out which neighbour this is, and then request a volume modification, but this is one of those things where you expect the courtesy of those who live nearby, is it not?
I'm reminded of a family that lived across the street from us growing up. We were good friends, playing constantly with their daughter at their house, having her over, riding our bikes up and down the street together. One thing though, her father decided to take up the clarinet one year, and he liked to practice with the windows open at 9:30 p.m. He was a novice. End of story.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

About the Tea...

I started taking this a while back and posted about it. I've been taking it for a few weeks now, so I think I'm ready to step back and assess, and my assessment is (drum roll, please):
It's a hit! The tea tastes rather plain, which is a good thing. Nothing too unyummy about the flavour, it's like you're essentially drinking mildly flavoured water, so it's easy to just swallow it down hot or cold. And as for the results, it does clean out your system. I feel more energized and I think my system is digesting better now than it normally does.
A moderate change I would make: take less at the beginning depending on your weight. They recommend two 8 ounce glasses with lunch and dinner, and one 4 ounce glass with a snack. I think this might have been aimed at people who are larger than I am (5 foot 4, average weight), so this amount kinda cleared me out a little too fast. I was very low on energy for a few days. The pharmacist recommended Gatorade which got my electrolyte balance back up after I'd been completely wiped. I'm now drinking about 16 ounces a day instead of 20.
Do I recommend it? Yes, especially if you're someone with a sensitive stomach. I'm going back to buy more tonight, about a 6 week supply. I don't know how long I'll keep doing it, but so far, so good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Can I at least consider it a healthy addiction?

So M and I went to Paragraph, our favourite Montreal independent bookstore, yesterday, so that I could buy or order the remaining Ann Patchett books. Unfortunately, the only ones they had in store were Run and Bel Canto, two of the three I already own. I left the store having not placed the order, but instead with three other books. One, a classic that I've always loved and always wanted on my bookshelf, To Kill a Mockingbird. Two, The Gathering by Anne Enright, winner of the Man Booker prize for 2007, and three, a non-fiction, the latest by John Esposito, called Who Speaks For Islam.
I still have to finish Run before I can start any of these, but I think I'm actually dangerous to myself in a bookstore. If you left me there for a few days, I could easily run myself into debt. I can't stop...

You've been Barack Rolled

If I had a vote, I'd vote for this guy. Since I don't, here's my version of spreading the love:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More of my favourite pictures from Calabogie last weekend... Although these were taken with my dinky digital non-fancy camera... Check out M's pics for the good stuff...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Everybody has a story

My usual Thursday afternoon bus ride had a slight twist yesterday. I often pass the time sleeping, reading, or listening to the radio, but once in a while, the person I am sitting next to exchanges a few words and the conversation doesn't end, and so continues on in one form or another until we arrive. Yesterday, I was sitting next to a lovely Francophone woman who was going home to Repentigny after visiting her grown daughter in Outaouais. We spoke on and off the whole bus ride, mostly about the weather, about whether she'd catch her connecting bus or whether we'd get to Berri on time, about where she lived, about her niece and my niece. In short, lots of small talk.
At one point, our conversation turned to the importance of a positive outlook. How some people manage to get really upset about small things and how we really rarely experience catastrophe's in this part of the world, and so really, we ought to stay relatively calm when we're faced with the small "not good" situations that we're sometimes faced with.
Until this point, the main reason we kept speaking was not because the conversation was particularly interesting, but to pass the time (for her, I suspect) and to get some French practice, for me. A few minutes later, she told me two things: One, her husband had died 7 years ago from prostate cancer that had quickly spread to other parts of his body, and two, she had lived with epilepsy until the age of 42. She'd had three brain surgeries, here was the scar on her head, and she showed me a minor mark which I'd been looking straight at most of the bus ride without noticing anything was there, and was now fully cured and needed no more medication. Her husband had taken such good care of her for close to 20 years, that when he'd become sick, it was as simple as being her turn to take care of him.
The rest of the way home I thought about my own health. My biggest issue is my food restrictions, and honestly, everyday I realize how tiny something like that is. I have never known catastrophe, but this woman had faced difficulties I only imagine. It was very eye-opening.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Ugh. Blogger stole my post, so this is my second attempt at it:
I can't stop. I can't help it. It started with Bel Canto, the Ann Patchett book Jen suggested I read when I put out my plea a while back. and it was fantastic. Brilliant. (Hyperbole, XUP, I know, but I really, truly LOVED it). After that, I read another good book by another good author, but then I stumbled upon more Ann Patchett in the form of her non-fiction book Truth and Beauty. And it was on sale. And it was really good too. I finished it yesterday and went on my quest to search for more today. I can't get enough. This woman writes the way I wish I wrote. I flatter myself to think we have a similar style, only her writing is 18 million times better. Today, I started Run.
The good news, and the bad news, is that she's only published 5 novels. I'll be done soon. And then I can come up for air...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

As Promised (the ultimate cover)

A few posts back, I posted Native Deen's version of Tala'albadru Alayna, and in the comments there was a discussion about the Yusuf Islam version, which some of you weren't able to find. Well, here it is.
Basically, he uses voices and percussion drums as the instruments in the background. Enjoy:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Too Funny Not to Post

Stolen from one of my favourite hockey sites:, here. Don't actually know if this is a true ad, or someone's brillaint photoshop job. Regardless, too good.

I'm trying

to improve my French in simple ways, and all of my French teachers have suggested that letting the radio play in the background is a great idea. My problem is that almost all of my radio listening takes place over the internet, streamed from the station's website, and while I've found, once I click on the "Listen Live" icon (okay, okay, it doesn't say listen live, it says "ecoutez en direct", but you get what I mean) it basically freezes. The best I've managed is to get a 4 minute clip of a segment from the night before to play, but nothing resembling live streaming. Very annoying. I'll have to give it a shot again soon, but until I muster up the energy, my English radio listening continues unabated...
P.S. If anyone knows how to get radio canada, premiere chaine, to stream, I'm listening!

Monday, August 04, 2008

This Was Saturday

We're back now. It was awesome. I spent 2 and a half hours at a walk-in clinic this morning only so that the doctor would refuse to give me a referral for the chiropractor without first sending me for X-rays. The X-rays would have also been a walk-in, so I really didn't feel like spending 5 hours of my day off in various waiting rooms. I got to read in my fabulous book, Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, while I waited (thanks for the suggestion Jen. It's nearly impossible to put down). I also got my other referrals, so not all bad, but still... I know the chiropractor works for me: exhibit A is having my jaw reset after my bike accident... I love the system (sarcasm, sarcasm). They tell you to be proactive in taking care of your health, and then they make it harder for you to do the things that help your health. Not impressed.
After that, I bought more groceries then I could carry back comfortably home on my bike, and so tottered home. But we needed them. And now there are cherries in the fridge. Mmmm... Nice to have a day off for nothing, which becomes all the loose ends you planned on doing at some point, but never had a chance to get to. What I haven't done yet: write. But I always comfort myself that all the reading is necessary to get to the writing, so really, I'm doing my homework.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Calabogie 2008

It's that time of the year again. We're going to be in Calabogie (see it here and here), but this year, we go for only the weekend. Our internet access is dial up there, so if I happen to have something brilliant to communicate, I will. Otherwise,highly unlikely...
On Monday, I have a holiday, and it's another perk of living in Montreal but working in Ottawa... M, my sister, and my brother-in-law will all be back at work. I'm planning a cross between some laziness and some getting things done for my extra day off. Maybe cook? Maybe sleep? Take an extra-long bikride? Maybe read and write? We'll see what happens...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Great Cover

This song was first sang by the people of Medina to Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him, as a welcoming when he migrated from Mecca, fleeing religious persecution. I think it's safe to say that it's the most famous song in Islamic tradition. Countless Muslim artists have "covered" it over the years, and I've known it for as long as I can remember. My favourite version has always been the Yusuf Islam version. Today, my sister sent me the link to the Native Deen version. Also very very beautiful. Enjoy:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shopping in my mother's closet

There is massive "summer cleaning" happening at my parents' place in Ottawa. Left with a huge pile of stuff to store/get rid of from my sister's house now that she is in Dubai, we, or rather they, are going through everything and trying to get rid of what can be gotten rid of to make space for new storage. My instant coffee supply has been instantly replenished. I also now have new scarves (fabulous, I might add), a new skirt, and a new pair of pants, courtesy of some boxes and my mother's closet. I talk to my Little Angela on the phone every two or three days. She tells me every time, as if I don't already know, "Khalto Nonno, I'm in the Emirates." Sometimes, her voice is excited when she says this, other times, it's tinged with sadness. It's hard for a two-year old to understand moving across the world. Exhibit A: a conversation that took place with her mother a couple of days ago (translated from Arabic to English for your benefit below):
"Mama, I want to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house."
"We can't sweetie. They're in Ottawa. It's too far away."
"No it's not. It's close." A pause. "Sacramento's far."
Sacramento is where my other little angels and angela live, with my eldest sister. Everything is relative.
Speaking of little angels, the last few months I've been savouring every last moment with them before they left when I came to Ottawa, but now I focus on some of the big angels in my life. My parents really, truly are angelic. They're brave, they're generous, they're giving, they're impossibly hardworking, they're not tireless, but they don't quit a moment before their bodies just can't take it anymore from pure exhaustion. They are such beautiful, beautiful people, and while it can be tiring to get up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesdays to catch my bus, and while I miss M insanely for those 2.5 days we're in different cities, this is an atypical kind of blessing I have, to spend such long moments alone together with my parents as a grown woman, to have the great conversations we have so often, to find myself shopping in my mother's closet, kissing my father's cheeks after sunset prayer, eating leftovers together. To bond.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Because it Made me Laugh

I wish I had watched more Muppets Show when I was young. I don't think I truly realised their brilliance. Anyway, here's a hilarious little clip, just for the purposes of silliness. Enjoy:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our Telephones are Haunted (or else crazy)

I woke up on Saturday night/Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m. to the sound of my cell phone ringing. This, of course, terrified me. There aren't that many people out there who have my number beyond family and very close friends so of course, I assumed something was very wrong with someone I loved. Not the case, thank God. No, this was the case: M's cell phone, sitting on the dining room table, charging, had LOST it and was dialing and redialing my cell phone over and over. Essentially, even though M was inside asleep, his cell phone was crank calling me at3:30 a.m. I checked all five messages that had been left. They were all empty. In the last one, I could here me walking across the room to check my phone.
I couldn't figure out how to just turn off my ringer, so I turned off the phone completely. In the morning, there were 7 more. SEVEN!
It hasn't happened since. We'll see what's next.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Must-Listen for All Canadians

We're so proud of ourselves in this country for being an open and equal society, for not discriminating against people based on any unreasonable basis, especially race. For the most part, we succeed. But there is something sad and horrible in our past which still exists in our present: the treatment of our First Nations people.
Very little time and energy is spent in the media actually discussing the plight of Native people. Sure, we hear about protests and land claims, but how much do most of us really know about the back story of what these people suffered at the hands of the government. What were you taught in 7th grade social studies? Me, I was only taught about the part where everyone cooperated, not the part where they were killed and manipulated and stolen from. This program on CBC Radio called Revision Quest really helps to shed some light on a serious topic. Don't worry though, if you're not into feeling rotten, the host is a Native comedian, so even though he's dealing with heavy material, he manages to address it in an easy manner. Give it a listen.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tea Detox (and a little pampering)

I'm drinking this for the next month and seeing what happens. Considering I have the most sensitive stomach of anyone I know who doesn't have an official digestive disease, and considering my crazy list of sensitivities, and considering the fact that all the traditional medicine solutions (ending with the "it's all in your head" diagnosis from that un-fabulous gastroenterologist I went to) haven't worked for me,I figured why not give it a shot... I started this morning. I'm not sure exactly what I'm expecting, but just generally a happier stomach and less feeling sick would be great.
I'll report back after enough time has passed to assess.
I decided this week that I'm going to be nice to my body for the next little while and see what happens. That means more exercise and more sleep, and better eating. Now, I'm not going to deprive myself. If I want a spoon or two of sorbet, okay. But no full-fledged, massive cheating attacks. I've been pretty good so far. We'll see how long it lasts.
Now excuse me, I'm off to get a massage.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Because There always has to be follow-up

Vanity Fair's answer to the New Yorker's Barack Obama cover:

I love that they're "terrorist fist jabbing" too...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If you're not outraged...

Have you heard that expression before: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention?
Every once in a while, something comes along and really bothers me and I have to rant about it. The latest in this series comes via XUP's cucumber post. Go read it here.
Done? Good, now let's discuss. So, how many people in the world are currently malnourished, underfed, suffering from hunger and starvation? I don't know. I don't have the statistics, but I know, know, know for absolute certainty that the number is high. That too many go without food. That too many have nothing and would take anything just to survive. But we can't eat crooked cucumbers? We can't even display them on our grocery shelves? At least in the EU, they're going to start selling them again, but what about here?
People, let's think about this, food is eaten, i.e. chewed up, turned into a pulp, gets digested and will look much more disgusting by the time we get any nutrients from it than anything we could imagine on our grocery shelves, so does it matter if it's not perfect when our privileged hands select it at the store? How spoiled are we? How far removed are we from what our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering?
I'm going to put out a request regarding food: Let's all be more careful. Let's buy as much as we need and cook in the right amount and serve ourselves as much as we need and not throw any away. Let's not buy twice what we eat and dump the rest in the garbage. Let's remember those poor kids with convex stomachs because they have nothing. It's the least we can do. Really, it's minuscule.