Ruminations

My daughter is away now at a four year university. I am extremely proud and happy for her and of course, as always, I want the best for her. At the same time, I can’t help feeling somewhat sad for myself at times. There are elements of her personality for which I find commonalities not present in any other of circle of family or acquaintances. Parenthetically, this is not to deprecate my relationships with any others as there are ways in which I relate to my other close family members in friends which are unique as such but I digress. Suffice it say I will miss our frequent discussions about the nuances of particular language variants and her specifically weird sense of humor.

I’ve felt a little out of sorts of late, a condition I attribute not so much to depression so much as to the fact that I feel burnt out from constant work. This is a situation that might be alleviated in the near future but until that time I hardly get a minute to myself to think, much less to blog. There are some events that occur which I might have occasion to write about, most notably the fact that the finest girl working at my job actually took a bite out of a cookie as I was holding it out in my hand offering it to her. I can say without exaggeration it was the single most unexpected and awesome thing that has ever happened to anyone in this history of anywhere and for the next two hours I could have chopped my fingers off along with the vegetables and I might not have noticed it. Add to that the fact that she studies Arabic and is going to give me her old Arabic textbooks from MSU and it appears evident (to me at least) that my current burn-out from work has been well compensated, at least in the present.

I also have been offered the opportunity to sit in at MSU Arabic language tutorial sessions which is more than I could have ever hoped for in getting hired at my current job. More on this situation to come as this situation develops. I must go at the moment.

Grilled Hot Dogs (Halal)

The other day I brought a package of halal all beef hotdogs into work and cooked them on the grill. I put the hotdog buns face down on the grill until they got nice and toasted and garnished enfixened them with mustard, pickles, diced onions and jalapeño. I topped it off with a nice side of fries and that was my Friday meal.

On a funny note my Iraqi co-worker took some of the hotdogs home and gave them to his mother. He assured her that the hot dogs were halal. Immediately after she finished them he said they were lahm khanzir (pork) at which point she went Islamically ballistic and he had to calm her down saying that he was just joking and they were indeed halal. Saif has a strange sense of humor.

Ahhhh what to cook next time? I wish I knew how to make samosa. Oh wait, there’s a link! :D

Visit

Bigby lady (to Kristen): Do you have a Bigby card?
Me: She’s never been to a Bigbys before. She’s from the internet!

American Food

I was in Phoenix in 2007 when my friend Guy in a UNLV Jacket’s wife was visited by a good friend from her native Botswana. The friend (I cannot remember her name at this point) complained after eating at an airport restaurant that she didn’t like American food. “An airport restaurant isn’t going to give you a good example of American food”, Guy tells her. “We’re going to have to take you out for tacos.”

Tacos. . . American food. At first I laughed but the more I thought about it it made sense. Mexican cuisine has become a significant part of the American foodscape for at least as long as I’ve been alive (yes foodscape is a real part of the English lexicon because I don’t feel like looking up culinary vocabulary.) Not only is Mexican food legitimately part of American culture, it has largely (especially in the case of the Tex-Mex variety) evolved as something distinctly different from the original cuisine of Mexico itself. Tacos are at least as American as apple pie and now, with the advent of a truly multicultural United States, if you want truly exotic cuisine you don’t think Mexican, you think Korean or Indian.

I recently made the acquaintance of a Saudi student who eats at the restaurant where I work every day. At first I thought it was because it’s middle eastern food which would make it kind of like home but then it occurred to me that it might also be because we exclusively use meat that is butchered according to Islamic standards. When I asked her if she only eats at restaurants that serve halal meat she replied in the affirmative. “That means you’ve never eaten Mexican food?” She replied that she had not. That seemed to be incredibly sad. The next time I saw her after she greeted me I said “Sooooo if I made Mexican food with halal meat you would eat it?” She smiled and said yes. I said “I should make Mexican food with halal meat and I’ll bring you some.” Her eyes kind of widened in awe and she said “That is so nice!” Yes that’s me, Mr. Nice Guy.

I might be a cultural ambassador of tacos. I’m thinking shredded beef, Spanish rice, and guacamole.

Heh

I was talking to this Saudi customer at work who wears hijab and eats there every day. I asked her (in Arabic) what her name was. She said “Fatimah” and I was like “:D” and she was all like “????”. What are the chances. Pretty high actually, it’s a popular name but still. She was impressed with my Arabic language skills. Working there is fun!

Trading Specialization

This is not a post about what a nice guy I am for fixing my co-worker’s computer. It’s a post about the efficiency of trading expertise.

I have a 19 year old co-worker from Iraq who has about half a year’s worth of English language skills under his belt. A few months ago he bought a laptop which he began using prolifically to (what else?) use Facebook, access music, and do whatever else it is that the average young adult does with the internet. One day, however, the computer became virtually unusable. “Computer fucked up man”, he said dejectedly. Apparently he had resigned himself to the fact that his once beloved laptop was now useless and there was nothing to be done. Apparently he had no idea who the fuck I was.

“I don’t work Tuesday” I said, “but I will come in to work. Bring your laptop. I will fix it.” He appeared doubtful at first although I assured him I knew what I was doing. His doubt quickly changed to hope and on the designated day I came in to work, created a little work station for myself, and proceeded to do my thing.

He thought it was a virus. As I suspected it was really just a shitload of malware along with some debilitating toolbars and addons. When I first opened up a web browser other tabs started popping open on their own with a lethal quickness. I can only imagine the difficulty he had trying to troubleshoot a computer with a lack of experience and a language barrier. What was next to impossible for him was simple for me and after disabling the addons and toolbars, uninstalling the malicious programs that come bundled with intentional downloads, and installing and running anti-malware, I got the computer running once again in good condition.

I returned the laptop to my co-worker and pronounced the problems fixed. A couple of days later at work, he pulled me aside to thank me for the work and said the computer is running very well. “No problem”, I said. “I put two Arabic songs on your computer desktop. Did you see them?”

“Yes.”

“Just listen to those songs and type the lyrics for me in Arabic script. That’s all I want in return.”

He laughed but I assure him that this will be a big help to me. I’m good at reading Arabic but absorbing and understanding it verbally is still something of a problem. What I traded with this guy was my ability to troubleshoot his laptop, which he couldn’t easily afford if I charged him money, for his expertise at Arabic language which would have cost too much for me if I had to pay an actual language specialist. This is yet another example of how trade is not a zero sum game.

:D

I saw her again. . . . like 2 days ago. Yay!

Struck Dumb

Ever see the most beautiful chick on the face of the earth and she speaks to you and you smile but every time she looks at you you have to look away for fear that you’ll instantly turn into a pile of ashes if you look into her eyes? Yeahhhhh so that happened to me today. I don’t see her that often but no matter how often I do it never gets old.

Older Blog Entry

A co-worker’s last day is today so I gave her the blog address and told her I would repost an old blog entry. Instead I will post a link to it. Click here to see a blog entry from when commenters still existed. To be honest the comments were sometimes more interesting than the actual blog entries.

The Art of Trolling Without Trolling

A Time.com article about Obama meeting Malala Yousafzai check the comments section.