Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Brain is going to POP!

For anyone who cares I'm working on some API tools and my head is about to explode. Oh yeah, just because my boy needs a back link to get things rolling...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Aye Aye Captain!


I finally got tired of doing nothing (imagine that) and signed up for sailing lessons. I keep dreaming about sailing down the coast or maybe one day around the world. So what better place to start than the Oceanside Yacht Club? It's odd to think I'll be participating in a "Yacht Club"... I have a weekend class at the end of April and I'm sure I'll write more after the fact. Pray to Poseidon for me and I will be sure to toss my money into the sea.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I challenge you... design me a website. Well that is the premise anyway. The company I work for recently played host to a contest held at to redesign a website. In this case the reward was just north of $300. The results? Incredible. A swarm of designers turned in more than two dozen entries with multiple modifications over a period of two weeks. I'll be writing more about the specifics in another article (Shhhhh!). In reality, the quality of the designs and the professionalism of the designers were comparable to any professional with which I've ever worked.

What I'm really considering though is the bigger role these online contests could play in our society.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

"This is what war does." He said.

Last night Morgan and I had diner at a hookah bar / cafe with another couple. I thought the night would go well because they're, intelligent people who can always hold up their end of a conversation. They also tend to bring a unique perspective to our interactions because they are both Muslims of Middle-Eastern descent. They are both Americans and dress like typical Americans.

This night began at the Egyptian Tea Room. The tea room looks to be an old house that was soaked in orange paint and converted into a cafe. Inside, the burning tobacco mixed with aromas of traditional food filled the air. We eventually placed our order at the counter and went outside for a table on the patio under the outdoor heaters.

Our conversation began innocently enough with talk of traveling, life, work; the things everyone has in common. As many recent conversations have, this one turned to politics and war. Many people shy away from talking about these subjects, but maybe that is the point. I learned long ago it is easy enough to get someone enraged when talking about politics, but how difficult indeed for everyone to stay calm. I never imagined where our conversation would take us that night.

I had to ask what they thought of select Muslim groups using religion as a justification for atrocities. Their feelings were very clear; anyone claiming religion as a justification of murder is blatantly wrong, in any religion. They felt the current conflicts weren't about religion. It was about politics, like it always has been. It got me thinking... Are Muslims the majority of individuals waging war against America ? Sadly, yes. Are the majority of Muslims against Americans? Clearly, No. Yet the media is quick to use terms like fundamentalist Muslims. Why not call them fundamentalist men? Think about it. When is the last time you saw a woman running through the streets with an AK-47? Why not some crappy socio-political term? Why not refer to them geographically? Religiously?

As we talked of the war and the situation we are in, a man younger than me asked if he could join our conversation. I've thought of doing this many times yet usually abstained. So I was obviously intrigued now as to what he might say. At first glance I wondered if it would be of any significance though. He sat down at our table and held up a bloody napkin. "This is what war does." He said. "...and it's not about religion." He glances at the napkin as says "I got hit and now I get headaches that cause my blood vessels to swell and I bleed from my mouth."
I still didn't know whether he was crazy, lying or both.
"How Long were you there?" Our friend asked.
"Seven Months"
"Northern Iraq, by the Syrian border... Yeah..."

At this point I'm sure everyone had their own thoughts, but me personally, what could I say? I publicly protested this war years ago, before it began. Probably before this young guy had ever enlisted. What could I say to him? "Thank you for being strong enough to do something I never believed in?"

He began to tell us what he felt this was was all about. He described a land which had deteriorated into bitter clans struggling for resources and power. People who believed in anything from preordained destiny to just old fashioned capitalism. Stories of mercenaries coming in from Syria, snipers, improvised explosives, detainees, everything. He described 3-block urban battles and patrolling till someone shot at you. He talked of his general frustrations about being shot at and his eventual acceptance of the "annoyance." After we asked, he finally told us he was going back in July.

When I asked him where he thought the future lay, it seems he didn't know what to say to me either. I never asked him his name. I knew I didn't want to know it. But, before I walked away, I shook his hand and said "Be safe."