Sunday, December 30, 2007
I was running late for work, so I hopped back into the car with the thought, in the back of my mind, that I should replace the wiper soon. Time passed, without much snow, rain or ice, and the wiper never got replaced. This past Friday, it started to snow heavily in Milwaukee, with about 3 or 4 inches of accumulation and there was a lot of snow slush being thrown up from the road as well as falling from the sky.
I switched on the wipers, and upon hearing the back-curling screeching of the wiper on the windshield, added yet another reason, to my already long list, of why procrastination was evil and made my way to the post office by only occasionally switching on the wipers.
When I left the post office, I realized that I had a long drive to Chicago ahead of me and I couldn't possibly drive safely without a functioning set of wipers. It was too late to get it replaced at an auto shop and I didn't much feel like replacing it myself since it was night and cold.
So I looked around my car and thought to myself, "What would MacGyver do?" Surely, I could jerry rig a solution out of the random odds and ends in my car. I surveyed the interior of my car and saw that I had a small roll of floss. I instantly realized that I could use the floss to tie down the ends of the wiper so the rubber edge of the wiper would make contact with the windshield and the exposed metal part of the blade would be kept safely out of the way.
I tied the ends of the wiper blade down using surgical knots I learned during medical school - after all, if they are good enough to hold organs and blood vessels together, they should be able to hold a wiper down - and jumped back in the car to see if my little experiment would work.
Snick-slop, snick-slop the smooth sound of success - the wipers worked perfectly all the way home and the knots never came loose. Floss, not just for your teeth anymore...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
By Lawrence Carrel
TheStreet.com Senior Writer
12/24/2007 6:13 AM EST
While the S&P 500 remained up 4.9% for the year through Friday, a number of funds that invest according to the Koran have significantly outperformed the benchmark. The Amana Trust Income Fund (AMANX) return of 13.3% through Dec. 21, beating the S&P 500 by 8.4 percentage points, while its sibling, the Amana Trust Growth Fund (AMAGX), gained 11.7%.
The Amana funds, managed by Saturna Capital of Bellingham, Wash., are also ahead of the S&P 500's annualized return for the past three and five years, earning them five-star ratings from Morningstar.
The Amana Trust Income Fund, with $339 million in assets, posted the fourth highest return this year of large-cap value funds tracked by Morningstar, helped by its large holdings of technology, healthcare, and commodity stocks.
But since 1984 Nicholas Kaiser, founder and president of Saturna Capital in Bellingham, Wash., has managed two highly rated socially responsible mutual funds guided by Islamic tenets: Amana Growth and Amana Income.
Personal finance reporter Mark Schwanhausser talked about the delicate balance of principles and profit when Kaiser visited Palo Alto to speak to investors this month.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Surprisingly little coverage of this story, other than an article in the International Herald Tribune. A Common Word was launched in an effort to build dialog between Muslims and Christians, in the hopes of using values common to both religions to promote peace and understanding.
It could just be time for something new, as neither the players nor Skiles have had much passion this season given their anemic play thus far...I'm just not sure who they're going to go to next for the job. We're hungry for a championship in Chicago...
Some reactions in the sports media:
Skiles took over a proud franchise in a sorry state, and he brought it back to respectability. That wasn't enough, though. His teams never made it out of the second round, and this year has to be judged a miserable failure.Bulls Coach Skiles Fired from Chicago Sun Times
‘‘I don’t have a long-term solution as of today,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘I’m disappointed in the way we’re playing, the way we’re competing. The energy or lack thereof that we’re playing with on the floor. I know expectations coming into the year were really, really high and we’re not even close to those."Bull's-eye on Paxon now from ESPN
The Bulls' players and coaching staff simply weren't family anymore … if they ever were. It wasn't just Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas constantly clashing with Skiles; Bulls sources say that two of the foreigners we don't hear much from in the domestic media -- Andres Nocioni and Thabo Sefolosha -- were equally miserable with Skiles always grinding on them, just to name two.
Monday, December 24, 2007
FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics
$1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007; Page A01
CLARKSBURG, W. Va. -- The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.
Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I even went for a walk today in the abnormally warm weather, the snow has all melted, it's been raining with temperatures in the 40s and the grass looking as green as it does in the spring. Really quite a gift, this many days into December. Guess global warming isn't such a bad deal for the Midwest...
...well, it'll be back to work on Monday, until next time...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Barak Yalad is a hip-hop artist that's got some jams with lyrics that make you notice, going back to the roots of hip hop as music of political dissidence and awareness. His latest album, Loss for Words, is being released by Rawkus Records, the same label from which Talib Kweli and Mos Def got their start. Barak's got the requisite myspace page and a great interview on From Da Bricks which gives you a sense of his career, collaborations and influences up to this point. He's actually being managed by my boy Tareq, so if you want to book him, let him know I sent ya.
You can download the song, Music, from the album Loss for Words, here (explicit). Enjoy!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Barred by the Soviets for decades from carrying out Islam’s most sacred rite, such pilgrims were among the tens of thousands of Russian Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia to join the masses in Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, or hajj, to one of Islam’s holiest sites. Their numbers have swelled in the last several years thanks largely to Russia’s growing wealth and increasing stability in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, including in Chechnya, where the effects of nearly a decade of war have begun to fade.
More Chinese Muslims to join Hajj to Mecca
Ningxia is home to 1.8 million Muslims of the Hui minority group, who worship in more than 3,000 mosques. The nine million Hui across China are the descendants of Arab traders who started to arrive in China in the 7th Century.
After hundreds of years of inter-marriage they are indistinguishable from the majority Han Chinese population, apart from their adherence to Islam. Now more are re-discovering their roots by learning Arabic and adopting Islamic customs.
It's nice to see that after years of suppression of all religions, China and Russia are opening the doors to religious freedom and expression. Hopefully, the start of something good for both countries and its religious minorities.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Second, one of the things I remember most about a trip I took to NYC was the subway culture, and a key part of that would be random musicians with full bands setting up and just playing for the people...and maybe a chunk of your leftover subway fare...
Susan Cagle is one of the better ones, apparently she just signed with Columbia Records...
Friday, December 07, 2007
...so anyway, by the time I get to the parking lot of the VA, I realize that I am all out of windshield wiper fluid and that my windshield is just filthy. I was wondering what I would do when I realized that if I kept wondering any longer I'd be late for work...
Around lunchtime, I bought some bottled juice, I think it was Nantucket Nectars, pomegranate pear. I was about to throw out the bottle when I thought - hey, why don't I save it, fill it up with some warm water and clean off my windshield at the end of the day...
So the end of the day comes, I grab the empty glass bottle and try to fill it up with hot water. Of course, at the VA, the water only comes out lukewarm, if that. I still think it's warm enough, grab my coat and head off to the parking lot.
I should mention, it takes at least 3 minutes to walk out to your car at the VA, by which time my lukewarm bottle of water wasn't so lukewarm. I, of course, being warm in my coat didn't think that the bottle of water should be any less warm and just poured the water all over my windshield and watched it run down.
I ran into my car, started the engine, and by the time I looked up at the windshield, realized the water wasn't running down the windshield, washing off the snow sludge, it was frozen, forming a layer of liquid ice all across the windshield...
Wow, I, thought to myself, I guess water still freezes at 32 degrees, and, for that matter, temperatures colder than 32 degrees...so, I spent the next few minutes scraping the ice off of my windshield, covered with snow sludge and wondering how in the world it is that people trust me with anything more than taking out the garbage...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I was fortunate enough to have the day off and spend it at home with my family, eating some great food...hmmmn...but the sweet dessert that was served on that day did not come in the form of ice cream. No, this delicious dish was a long overdue victory against my younger brother Imran, in Madden NFL 07.
Long, long, sooo freakin' long, have I endured the humiliation of loss and defeat. In our house, if you lose in Madden, you can challenge the winner at any time, but you have to set up the Xbox, including the controllers, hand it to the winner and set up the "winner's chair" a rocking video game chair that we have that is oh-so-comfortable (with built-in speakers). This ritual has become the equivalent of a public shaming in our household, a veritable scarlet letter.
For the last like 20 games, I have suffered loss after loss against my jubilant younger brother, whose delight in my having to set up the Xbox was only exceeded by his love of trash talking me throughout the games ("remember when this used to be fun for us?" "okay, do you want me to just let the computer do all the plays on this drive?" "should I fumble the ball so you can at least score once this quarter?").
Finally, redemption came Thursday night in an epic battle. I picked my favorite AFC team, the Colts, and Imran picked the Steelers. I found myself winning at the end of the first quarter after an interception resulted, later, in a touchdown. I was still winning at half-time, and I cried out excitedly, "Mom, I'm winning!" (our Mom happens to know how much these games mean to us) and she gave some words of encouragement from the kitchen, but sort of half-heartedly, as if to say, "son, you're only going to lose in the second half."
But not this day, no, on the day of thanks, it was Umar who would pull through. I maintained my lead, despite a strong comeback attempt, and capped off a 50 to 41 victory against Imran that felt so good my spleen was smiling...
...how sweet the taste...and next time, friends, it will not be me setting up the Xbox...boo ya!
Friday, October 12, 2007
First some local pics, the Chicago Tribune posted pictures of an Eid celebration in Bridgeview held at Toyota Park (photo by Antonio Perez).
The Empire State Building was lit up in green to celebrate Eid in NYC (check out full photo gallery at the BBC):
In many Muslim countries, people leave the big cities (where they work), in order to celebrate Eid with their families in rural towns. Here's a video of the happy chaos in Bangladesh:
Girls who've decorated their hands with henna in Pakistan (photo by Reuters/Athar Hussain):
Eid in Southeast Asia (click here for link to news story):
Where's mum? (Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta, Indonesia; AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
The Philippines (Luis Liwang/AFP/Getty Images):
Sunday, September 23, 2007
1. TheOnlyWord.com - Qur'an for your iPod. This is pretty cool, go to the website and check out how you can set up your iPod to have the words synchronize to the recitation. If you don't have an iPod, you can download an entire recitation of the Qur'an by Shaykh Sa'ad al-Ghamdi (I use DownThemAll in Firefox to manage downloading multiple files).
2. The Ashraf of Ramadan - beautiful talks by Shaykh Amin with important insights on the three ashraf of Ramadan.
3. Blessings of Ramadan - an excerpt of a sermon by Shaykh Zulfiqar that is quite motivational.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
It's time to drop the Rex experiment and put the veteran Griese in the lineup. Heck, I'm still behind my guy Kyle Orton, who I think should have been given a second chance, rather than Rex who has gotten one chance too many. There is no explanation for the turnovers, and lack of production, by the offense. It was a painful game to watch, even for the only fan of both the Packers and the Bears.
I will not mention how the Pack did, other than to say they totally embarrassed Trex's Eagles with plays like these. Old man Favre has still got some shine to him...
The thing that's upsetting about the Bears is the dismissive way sportscasters talk about them, as if all their success over the last few years has been largely due to luck. Then the Bears go and have a day like today and it just seems to reinforce the idea.
If things don't turn around soon for the Monsters of the Midway, it's going to be a long season...
Sunday, September 02, 2007
army aerial surveillance videos of the incident proved the children were simply playing tag."Children of War", excerpts of article by Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist:
The public indifference to their killing...cannot blur the fact that the IDF is waging a war against children.The victims were two boys, 10 and 12 years old, and one girl 12 years old.
This then is not a series of unfortunate mistakes, as it is being portrayed, but rather reflects the army's contempt for the lives of Palestinian children and its terrifying indifference to their fate.
Inna Lillahi wa inna elayhi Rajioon
Sunday, August 19, 2007
We all laughed at this unusual turn of phrase and he enlightened us that this was a popular saying in Turkey. Useful tidbit if you should ever be wandering the streets of Istanbul, looking for grandpa...
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Open Letter to Laura Bush
by SHARON OLDS
[from the October 10, 2005 issue, The Nation]
For reasons spelled out below, the poet Sharon Olds has declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, which, coincidentally or not, takes place September 24, the day of an antiwar mobilization in the capital. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their works. Three years ago artist Jules Feiffer declined to attend the festival's White House breakfast as a protest against the Iraq War ("Mr. Feiffer Regrets," November 11, 2002). We suggest that invitees to this year's event consider following their example.--The Editors
The White House
Dear Mrs. Bush,
I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.
In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.
And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.
When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.
So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.
I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.
But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
We reached the next patient room and our attending introduced himself to an 89-year-old female patient who was in with some heart trouble. After discussing her medical issues, she gazed out at all of us and asked our attending (who is ethnically Korean), "Are these all your children?"
We all laughed, as our group is something of an ethnic rainbow, consisting of heritages ranging from German to Pakistani. About the only thing we all had in common was the color of our coats. That seemed good enough for our nice little old lady...
Friday, July 06, 2007
My muscles allowed the fantasy for about 1 minute and 30 seconds, which is precisely when they went to politely saying, "ow, ow, ow" to "OUCH MAN, I'M NOT PLAYING, SLOW DOWN OR YOU'RE RIDING A CHARLIE HORSE ALL THE WAY HOME." At which point, I obliged by slowing to a walk, heart pounding, all out of breath.
As I half-jogged the rest of the way (I figured a minute thirty doesn't count as much of a work out), I had some time to think about the past year and how draining it's been. By draining, I don't just mean physical, you can get through that with coffee, Snickers bars and energy drinks (though it does add up over time, as the adipose starts to settle).
The real challenges are mental, emotional and spiritual. Can you keep your cool with an unruly patient at 4:00 AM on a night with no sleep? On call nights, do you take a few precious moments out to pray, or do you go straight to the call room to veg out? Do you get upset when a nurse bugs you about something unimportant in the middle of a rough night? And in the flow of the regular day, do you remember to pray for the health of your patients, no matter what they are like?
Physicians seem to be losing the mantle of "healers," and with it, its connotations of confidant, of high character. Instead, we are "service providers" giving our "customers" the best service experience. The problem with a service model is that one's character is valuable only while a service is being provided. So for the 15 minutes you're in clinic, you're entitled to my "professional code of conduct" but the second you step outside the office (or the second you can't pay for the services); well, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
When physicians were healers, their role was not limited to the walls of a clinic or a hospital and you expected them to have high moral standards. How many people today would use the words "integrity" or "kind" or describe their physician? The most popular doctor on TV is "House," a guy with no personal morals but excellent technical/diagnostic acumen. Is this really the new incarnation of the modern physician?
At the end of the day, I can only hope to keep pushing myself forward, to not only be a knowledgeable "provider" of health care but to also develop the characteristics of a healer, no matter how backward that seems today.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
But, there are some serious omissions from the list and much more deserving of inclusion than Mighty Max, Gummy Bears, Pro-Stars, Power Rangers & Sonic the Hedgehog. Here's my revised list:
Jem, Truly Outrageous
So, there I was one afternoon at the Milwaukee VA, trying to get a patient ready for transfer to the GEM unit, which is sort of like a temporary nursing home. Anyway, while doing the paperwork, I was singing, "Jem, truly outrageous, Jem!" After a few minutes, I came to a few realizations: (a) I was singing out loud (b) the entire room was silent. Two female medical students looked at me, jaws open, and asked, "How do you know that song?" at, which point, I had to make my confession - my brothers used to watch Jem all the time.
Well, actually, I think I'm the one that got us watching. In retrospect, I think we started watching as a sort of sociological experiment, to see how such shows affected the acculturation of chicks. At least, that's what we tell ourselves. But, we started watching it more often than could be accounted for by simple "experimentation." I think Jem is a character from Marvel, or was at least part of the Marvel Super Sunday. No matter what you think of us now, you can't deny the theme song is way better than Mighty Max, it's pure 80s synthesizer.
How could any list not include the Smurfs? I mean, that theme song is so classic I don't even need to comment on it any more, la la la la laaaaa!
I didn't always understand the show, but I could tell it was cool. It was like the first soap opera I ever watched and remains one of the best...plus it had an executive producer whose name was Ahmed Agrama, a cool sounding name...
I'll admit it isn't much of a theme song, but any theme that has the voice of Optimus Prime in it is automatically cool and worthy of inclusion. Plus, I remember as a kid walking around and making the little computer voice at the end, "Voltron, Defenders of the Universe."
Another confection of 80s-style pop, how can you not jam along to the M.A.S.K. intro? I mean they were fighting crime, over time, all the time? Rock on! I think some people knocked the show a bit, because it does seem to be a cross between GI Joe and Transformers, but hey, give the people what they want, right?
How come no one ever talks about the Silverhawks anymore? I mean, any starship that has a rainbow as its emissions has got to be cool...any theme song that has an eagle screeching in its theme song is not only cool, it's pretty darn patriotic too.
There's so much more, but this'll have to do it for now...
Well, fans, and I mean all five of you, the silence is shattered, and I bring you forthwith, and with much ado about nothing, the following insight and introspection:
Man, I've been busy.
I'm in the fourth of five months working what we call the "floor" or the general medicine wards. While those who trained before the 80-hour work week was mandated will tell you we have it easy, it's still draining. Plus with only 4 days off each month, you just feel tired all the time - it's work, sleep, eat & repeat.
All of which takes a considerable toll on one's desire to blog away. But, I'm back, for now at least, because the inertia of not writing was starting to become too much and I felt like if I didn't get back into it, I may forget how to write altogether.
So, a couple of posts coming your way, dear readers, and the internet is fresh and new once more...
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Also, it has links built in to a bunch of music websites that are focused on new bands that haven't been discovered, which is nice if you're into that and don't know where to start.
And, lastly, check out a band called Voxtrot which my man Trex recommended to me, they have a really cool song called, "Trouble", which is well worth the free download from their site...
Don't say I didn't ever give you anything...