Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keepin' On Keepin' On.

Keeping with my desire to write at least something each day, here is a new blog post.

Ummmm.....errrrrrr......uhhhhhhh.....hmmmmmm. Can anyone tell me what I should put here? Developing as a writer is very difficult if I cannot actually write stuff. Mind you, it is almost 10 at night and my brain is a little on the fried side. Maybe if I tried writing earlier in the day? That would make sense, I suppose.

I have several posts that I have been working on for a while that I will eventually put up. They are, as blogger refers to them, drafts. So, I have these drafts, and I do work on them, and I will get them up. But, in the meantime, I still have to make sure that I am writing something each and every day. Must keep the fluids and chemicals and blood and icky bits of matter working up there in the skullery region.

With all of this said, it is now time to go and listen to my ipod which has me thoroughly annoyed. It likes to skip to the next song half way through a track. Why does it do this??? Why, Mr. Jobs...WHY! I have always been impressed with Apple products. I have only ever owned one Apple product previous to this, and it was an ipod nano that my wife found in the bathroom of a movie theater. That one worked well. This newer ipod classic with a 160GB hard drive... wellll, it's not impressing me quite so much. I've been seriously considering buying a Mac computer of some sort. But, my concern is that because Apple seems to have grown into such a massive company, and it always wants to be on the cutting edge of a very competitive industry, that quality is starting to decrease in the quest to get the "best" thing out there onto the market as fast as possible. However, I do say that without having any knowledge or understanding of how the electronics industry actually works, or whether or not this may or may not be the case. So, please ignore the last few lines of this post.

Goodnight. May all of your ipod songs play through to the very end.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Quick Post on Afghanistan

Writing something each day is important. I gotta keep the brain working. But, I'm pretty tired, so this is going to be short.

I've been thinking about Afghanistan. How can a conventional army succeed? I don't see a possible way. When guys who can survive in the mountains, know the land inside and out, do what they are doing out of pure single minded dedication and unbelievable will, and be able to blow up multimillion dollar pieces of military equipment with 100 dollar homemade bombs, can a bulky army of paid soldiers without a clear, decisive mission, distanced from the terrain and their counterparts by being in their tanks and planes, coming from a completely different culture and mindset? This war has been going on for 8 or 9 years now. There isn't an end in sight. There seems to be no shortage of those who wish to fight against NATO, and particularly the US. With each bomb that falls and destroys another persons life, there is the potential to create another warrior to deal with. Billions...TRILLIONS of dollars have been spent bringing the best trained fighters and the highest of high tech war toys to Afghanistan, and they are struggling against dudes rigging up cheap, small bombs in caves or in a tucked away part of a remote village.

For the purposes of this post, it doesn't matter if the war is right or wrong. The point is more can anything be accomplished? What will happen in Afghanistan? Where will it leave NATO in the end? If they lose in Afghanistan, what is that saying about the future of armies around the world? Are armies as we know them officially obsolete? They don't seem to be able to fight the types of wars that seem to be more common now.

Just a few thoughts before bed. Speaking of bed, I'm going there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Companion Post: Pictoral References

Here are some pics to go along with the "Desert? Dessert?" post from the other day. As you can clearly see, I did not lie. The water is there. I hope you will also take note of the picture of the two young fellows who befriended me. They showed excellent Qatari hospitality. Thank you young men!

Beautiful Mosul

After spending Christmas in Munich, we took to the skies to head back home to Doha. The flight was good. The service was fair. The food was edible.

As the sun began to set, we crossed the border of southern Turkey into Iraqi airspace. I was rather shocked to see that this was the route we were taking. On our way to Germany, we skirted right around Iraq. I thought there was probably a valid reason for that. But, heading home, we flew straight down the middle of the country. From the air, I looked down and was able to see cities that I had heard about in the news. Mosul was one that we passed over. The lights were bright and easy to see. The sky was clear. There were cars and trucks driving on the highways leading in and out of town. The way the city is set up, it looked like a spiderweb, with well lit main roads circling towards the center. From where I sat, there was no way to tell that below laid a main city in a war torn nation. When I got home, I checked the news on the internet to find out what was going on in Mosul; to get a sense of what was happening there. All I could find were tales of kidnappings, bombs, arrests, fire fights and death...all within the week prior to us flying over. I would check the news again periodically only to see that the situation seemed to worsen as the days went on. Yet, from the sky, it looked like such a peaceful place...a city like any other, with people living as normally as anyone else. The view from above betrayed the horrors and mayhem of life in Mosul. What looked like a decent place from the sky is really rather scary. What looked pretty from a distance is really quite ugly close up. There must be a lesson or two to be learned here, no?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Uh oh.

Progress has come to a screeching halt. Where did the motivation go? Where did the ideas go? Where did my brain go? Where am I?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Desert? Dessert?

Driving in the desert on the outskirts of Doha yesterday, these two very friendly Qatari kids stop me and ask if they can help me at all. I said, "Nah, I'm just driving around." They asked if I wanted to see some birds. This sounded good. "Sure!" I said. So, I got into their little 4x4 and off we went. They took me to this little 'oasis' type place just up a dirt trail. They did not lie. The place was teeming with birds. I don't know what kind of birds they were exactly, but there were a lot of them. Ducks I recognized. They were the first I had seen in Qatar. Overhead, giant falcons cruised the skies looking down for food. A giant crane like bird lifted off from the tall reeds that ringed the water. Dragonflies darted around. The water was perfectly still. It was a green, watery paradise surrounded by miles of sand..

The one kid said something interesting to me. I said we had no deserts in Canada. He said "To us, if there is no desert, there is no life." To many, the desert is the opposite: void of life, a harsh place, brutal place. I remember being taught the difference between the spelling of 'desert' and 'dessert' in this way: 'dessert' has two s's because you want more, 'desert' has one s, because you want less. Deserts are graveyards, hot and dry, inhospitable. In movies and cartoons, the desert swallows up poor, delirious people who end up lost with no water, dragging their weakening tattered bodies as they hallucinate and see mirages.

Turns out that the desert isn't a wasteland. It can be a harsh place, but it is still filled with life. Where ever a bit of water can be found, a spot of shade can be seen, a small hole can be dug, and other food can be caught, there is life in the desert. Plants and animals have adapted, figuring out ways to survive and thrive, just as this kid knew how to use the desert for his benefit. He told me about hunting hares and birds. He would point out the birds that were particularly delicious as they flew off. As it turns out, he owns and trains falcons in the north of the peninsula. Falcons have been used for generations to hunt. He knows where to find animals, food, water. The desert sustains him and his family. It has kept his lineage alive for decades...even centuries.

This was an important meeting for me, personally. One can easily look at Doha and see a very shallow place. Big glassy buildings are going up everywhere. SUV's rule the roads. Money is in obvious abundance. It seems as though there is no traditional culture whatsoever. But, as it turns out, that isn't the case. The land is still important. Traditions are still very much alive. The desert still means life to many Qataris. I saw a different side to this country, and this culture...this complex culture, where things are never what they seem to be, and just when I think I have things figured out, I discover that I don't.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Would YOU Wear This??

I'm no fashion expert, I will freely admit that. I have no clue what is going on in the fashion world. I skip over the fashion channel on TV as fast as I possibly can. I can't say I have ever read a fashion magazine. I couldn't tell you what is hot and what is not. I wouldn't know high end, trendy fashion if my life depended on it. BUT, I do know what I would never wear, and that is a giant bug on my head. Who the heck would buy this hat??? It's in a shop in a very chic part of Munich, Germany. It MUST be expensive. There is nothing on that street that isn't expensive. Okay, let's face it, this is an expensive hat! To wear this hat, someone would have to shell out some mighty big dollars!

Honestly though, I would love to go to a dinner party where someone was actually wearing this...this...thing. What would one say to someone wearing a hat with a giant bug on it? Could I lie and say, "Nice hat!"? How could I not stare? How long would it be before someone smacked her on the head thinking it was a real bug? How long before she would leave in a huff saying, "Hmph, those peons wouldn't know fashion if their life depended on it! Take me home Armando!"

So, am I missing something here? Have I not been paying attention? Are more and more ladies wearing giant bugs on their heads?? Is this the 'in' thing to be doing? Am I that out of touch?

Quit Messin' With My Head!

Okay, okay, okay. I'm confused. It's 2010. I think it's the end of the decade, right? But people are telling me it's not the end of the decade until 2011. How exactly does that work??

Regardless, Happy New Year. I'm sure we can at least all agree that it is officially a new year...right? Please tell me this is so. I'm confused enough already!