Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Looming Tower

Where did September go?

I went to San Francisco for a business conference. While on the plane, I read Lawrence Wright's book "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." It was a fascinating story about how Al-Qaeda evolved and the personal histories of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"Not content to cleanse its own country of the least degree of religious freedom, the Saudi government set out to evangelize the Islamic world, using the billions of riyals at its disposal through the religious tax -- zakat -- to construct hundreds of mosques and colleges and thousands of religious schools around the globe, staffed with Wahhabi imams and teachers. Eventually, Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only 1 percent of the world Muslim population, would support 90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions of Islam.

Music disappeared in the Kingdom. Shortly after the 1979 attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Umm Kalthoum and Fayrouz, the songbirds of the Arab world, were banished from the Kingdom's television stations, which were already dominated by bearded men debating fine points of religious law. There had been a few movie theaters in Saudi Arabia before the mosque attack, but they were quickly shut down. A magnificent concert hall was completed by Riyadh in 1989, but it never hosted a single performance. Censorship smothered art and literature, and intellectual life, which had scarcely had the chance to blossom in the young country, withered. Paranoia and fanaticism naturally occupy minds that are closed and fearful.

For the young, the future in this already joyless environment promised even less than the present. ... Despair and idleness are dangerous companions in any culture, and it was inevitable that the young would search for a hero who could voice their longing for a change and provide a focus for their rage."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Injury TimeOut

Went to pick my son up from football practice Thursday night. As I got there, I saw a group of people huddled around someone laying on the ground at the far end of the field. One of my friends was running across the field with a colored afghan she must have grabbed from her car.

My son and other boys were running around the near part of the field so I was instantly relieved to see it wasn't him. Another father came up from the concession stand area calling for his son. I asked him who had been injured and he said I think it is Zach. Zach is the son of my friend who had been running across the field.

I walked across the field to find Zach lying on the ground with a coach (who is also a paramedic) also lying on the ground holding his helmet to keep his head and neck still. Zach's mother was sitting on the ground talking to her son. The ambulance soon arrived and drove across the field. Zach was moving his feet and hands so I felt sure he was going to be ok, but it was still very emotional to see him strapped onto a backboard with his head immoblized and then strapped onto the stretcher. Zach's mom drove in the ambulance to the hospital with her son and I arranged with her that she should call me when they were ready to be picked up. My ex-husband and another friend took her car home for her. She called me around 11 that night to say that they were done at the hospital and he only had a cervical strain.

This weekend, Zach is trying to take it easy. Not so easy for him considering Friday night, one of his friends had a sleepover party with 20 boys. He was there with my son for a few hours and then Zach went home rather than sleeping over. Today, Zach is here with my son and four other boys and they are trying to find things to do that Zach can also do.

My son asked me why Zach's mom was crying at the football field, even though she did her best to hide the tears from her son and the other people. She didn't cry in front of Zach but as she came back down the field to get in the ambulance, she was wiping her eyes. My son noticed that. Jason wanted to know why she was crying and when he hurt his knee, I was making jokes and I didn't cry. I said I didn't want to upset him and wanted him to feel ok - that if I cried in front of him or acted like it was serious, he would be more scared and anxious and it would hurt worse for him. May not have been the best explanation because he said he would know in the future and not believe me when I say that it is fine and not a big deal.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Eight Things About Me

Sully tagged me so here it goes:

1) I have a crooked face. The one side of my face is slightly smaller than the other. Most people don't notice it at all and even if I say something about it, they don't see it. Others notice it right away. At one of my jobs, I had to take a physical exam by the company doctor. As soon as I got into the exam room, the company doctor asked me what happened to my face and suggested that I have surgery to correct it. He was very rude and it didn't seem strange to him that he would suggest I have all the bones in my face broken so they would align up a little better.

I also can raise my one eyebrow (like Spock on Star Trek) which can really bug some people. I could never do Botox because I wouldn't want to lose that ability!

2) I am always surprised by my outward appearance and presence as compared to how I feel in the inside. When I see myself on video, it never seems to sync up to the inner person. Today, I was also thinking to myself that while I turn 45 in December, I don't feel 45 at all. At times, I feel more like a gawky teenager trying to figure things out.

3) When I was about 2, my family moved to Japan and lived on a naval base while my father served in Vietnam. When we left Japan two years later, I was speaking half-Japanese, half-English. Of course, now, I can't speak any Japanese. Always wondered if I would be able to pick it up easily or not. I spoke German fairly fluently in high school and college. When I was in Germany a few years ago, I could understand those around me, but could not speak as much as I used to be able to.

4) I learned how to drink Guinness beer in Germany at an Irish bar from a Scottish salesman who was dating the Croatian barmaid. They took us to another club where friends of their's were playing in the band. The lead singer of that band was a brain surgeon who had operated on the Croatian woman's son after a bombing.

5) When I was in elementary school, I was placed in a gifted program, an advanced studies program that took me out of class one day a week to go to a different school. I didn't like the program because it made me feel too different than the other kids. One week, I didn't want to go to the program because my class was doing something else I considered to be more fun. Since my parents wouldn't let me skip the advanced program, I decided I would miss the bus so I couldn't go. I walked the mile to school taking baby steps the whole way. It didn't work however. The school held the bus for me. When I got home, my mother wanted to know where I had been all day. Apparently the school called her and said I wasn't there. But they never called her back to say I was there.

6) My father was in the Navy so we moved around quite a bit. After Japan, we went to Rhode Island where I learned to read in nursery school. We then moved to Pennsylvania and I was asked to leave kindergarten because I was disruptive. They were learning the alphabet and I already knew how to read. We lived with my grandmother for a while in PA in a small coal mining town, Nesquehoning. I used to roam the streets and talk to the neighbors. There was one man, I called him the Onion Man, because I would talk to him while he was working in his vegetable garden. I told him that my grandmother could take her teeth out and kept them in a glass. He said, like this? and pushed his false teeth out of his mouth. I ran home and I'm not sure I ever talked to him again.

7) I graduated from college with a degree in business and a concentration in personnel management. I changed my major several times in college, starting out as a journalism major, then to social work and then to business. Before I graduated, I did my internship at Three Mile Island working in their personnel department for a summer in college. I remembered back when the accident happened at TMI. I lived nearby and my father was the town manager. As town manager, he was in charge of evacuating the town if it came to that. A 16-year old at the time, I decided I was not leaving. We argued about it but we were never evacuated.

After college, I took a temporary job at a trucking company that turned into five years. While there, I went back to college and started earning another degree in computer science. My daughter was born and I quit the trucking company to focus on school. My first computer science job was for a company who hired most if not all their employees in mid-June. They would have 200-300 people start every year at the same time. My IT team (10 of us) spent that summer in orientation together. They were all very early 20s and I was almost 30, married, and with a two-year old child.

8) I have always loved music even though I can't sing and my kids laugh at my dancing attempts. I played electric guitar in elementary school, then took drum lessons (got kicked out of the school band), and taught myself piano and some violin. When my daughter wanted to take an instrument in elementary school, I suggested she also take piano lessons. When she started, I started taking them as well. Figured I should learn to play the right way. So, now I take piano lessons one day a week, in the morning before I leave for work. My instructor comes to my house before 6 am - only time I can be sure that I have the time. Work and kids take up all the rest of my time. :-)

So now I have to tag eight other bloggers, so I'll tag:

Rich Greiner
Mermaid in MN