Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yay! I saw it. :)

I saw the International Space Station and ATV pass overhead tonight. It is a cool sight. It is amazing that people made that thing - it is so big and bright in the sky.
It makes me feel like a kid again when I was totally fascinated by astronomy and wanted to be an astronaut. Check here for sighting times near you.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Victoria trip

When I left work today I got into my car, looked over to see if any other cars were pulling out, and spotted this little bunny rabbit resting by the tire of someone's van in the parking lot. On my drive in this morning, a coyote ran across Mesa Road in front of me.

I get a thrill seeing animals in the "wild". This weekend, I went to give a speech in Victoria, BC. On the University campus, there were bunnies everywhere - but nothing like the bunnies I see here - these rabbits looked like the ones sold in pet stores - black ones, brown ones with black patches around their eyes, dalmatian ones (black and white), pure white ones, etc. Very cute. The kids on the bus that we took the university were quite excited to the see the rabbits, too.

On Saturday, I flew to Vancouver BC. I arrived at the airport apparently at the perfect time because all lines were short and it only took moments to get through checking and security. I changed planes in Denver. When I arrived in BC, the line for customs was a bit long but nothing like the incredible lines in Toronto. I saw birds flying around the airports both in Denver and Vancouver. I was met by close friends. The first time I visited them, I remember a child now in 7th grade was not yet weaned - how quickly time flies!

I was dropped off at one person's apartment building and spent the afternoon visiting and eating lunch and dinner. Then the wife and I were picked up by her daughter to go to a ladies-only program at the masjid. The program had two main parts; the first a lady told the story of Karbala in English and then after each brief statement, a short marsiya about that event was sung, in Urdu.

The second part was a play put on by ladies about Mukhtar. It was pretty funny to see the ladies with fake beards and dressed up but the play did a good job teaching about what individuals had done in Karbala in committing crimes against Ahlulbayt (as).

Sunday morning I was picked up by another lady and her husband who took me to the mosque again where we caught a bus to the ferry. A group of us took the ferry to Vancouver Island and then another bus to the University in Victoria. There, I gave my speech first and we had lunch and prayers and then more speeches – one from a university professor about early Islamic archaeology and the rest from Sunni and Shia speakers about different aspects of Karbala. I was relieved to go first and my speech was alhumdooleluh well-received. There were a few non-Muslim attendees for the conference. I think they hoped for more. But, if they really intend a non-Muslim audience, then they need to adjust the speeches accordingly, because as they are, they use too many non-English words and do not start at a basic enough level to be really understood or appreciated by the non-Muslim audience.

Then we caught the 7 o-clock ferry back to BC and I was met by a member of the family that initially met me at the airport. We had dinner at their house and I got to talk with all the kids except the youngest who was already sleeping as it was 10 at night with school the next day. In the morning, one of the family took me to the airport for an early flight back home. Their youngest son has been diagnosed with Crohn's disease at quite a young age and your dua'as would be appreciated for Mustafa Dewji.

I was so happy to see my friends; they are always very warm and welcoming and seeing them again felt wonderful; on the one hand it felt like no time at all had passed since I last saw them, on the other hand time is passing very quickly between opportunities to see them. I thank them very much for their friendship and hospitality.

In an e-mail group I am a member of, someone recently posted about changes in the group over the past decade. A decade ago, we were so much more energetic and optimistic. Now it seems we are more resigned and with more bleak outlooks. I think there are some good reasons you can probably think of that have played out in the past decade that has darkened our eyes; but I also thought how it has sneaked up on us and taken us unaware, this darker outlook on life, and how we should not have allowed it to do so - because regardless of circumstances there is always much to be grateful for and if we keep the right perspective and do the right things in life, one thing fuels the next in positive outcomes or new doors of opportunity. We need to be like children in some ways; a child who is seriously ill takes it in stride, living in the moment - not caught up in worry about ten years from now. A child gets excited about and really enjoys every good thing, too.