Life and Times Blog

Edge

Comfort makes you lose your edge. Comfort with what you know, or what you can do, comfort sometimes means you stop learning, observing, improving. You figure you know it. The game gets bigger, or changes, and everything always changes, you stay where you are.So you fall behind.
But of course self-development shouldn’t just be an egotistical/self-absorbed process.
Oh, wait, this sounds familiar, tortoise and the rabbit? Damn. Nothing is ever original.

Stay alert, stay alive. Comfort can kill you. Ganelo Banelo. For those in the know.

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January 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Kareem Salama

From Wiki:
Kareem Salama is known as the first American Muslim country music-western singer. His music is in fact a hybrid of country, pop and rock music. Salama was born and raised in Oklahoma

Lyrics of “Brothers in Passing” ( YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFZ5Hk1j_6A)
He was a soldier who’d only been married 2 or 3 years ago
And he put his hands on her knees that night and he said “I gotta go”
She said “Why would you leave this home and me? I thought I was your baby girl”
And he wiped away the tears from her eyes and said “They’re sending me to save the world.
And you know I love and I pray to God that He’ll join us once again
But now it’s time for the simple man to be one of the few good men

‘Cause Baby, I’m a soldier, and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice, and for the way we live our life
And Baby, I’m a soldier. In front of God, I swore I would, I would fight”

Across the ocean and miles away, there stood another man
Eighteen years, huggin’ his mama, sayin’ “I’ll defend this land”
Mama held her baby and cried and clutched him, tellin’ him not to leave
She said “What will I do without my baby boy? Son, I’m beggin’ you, please”
He said “I love you, Mama, but duty calls. I’ll write you everyday”
She said “I lost your daddy like this, and I don’t wanna lose you this way”

“‘Cause Mama, I’m a soldier, and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice, and for the way we live our life
And Mama, I’m a soldier. In front of God, I swore I would, I would fight”

Well, the battle raged, and shots rang out, and the two men fell to the ground
And they look into the eyes of each other, and were shocked at what they found
One man saw the mother of the other in that young man’s eyes
And the other man saw the crying and screams of the other man’s beloved wife
And the two men stared across that smoky field and whispered to each other
“Maybe you weren’t the demon they said. Maybe you were really my brother
But I’m glad we’re passing because I don’t think that I could forgive myself
For fighting you, but maybe God will, and we can leave together in bliss

‘Cause ladies, we were soldiers, and we heard those trumpets calling again
And tell the kings and queens that sometimes there are fights no one wins
But we know for sure that there’s evil out there we must fight
But please be sure that this is one of those times
And please be sure to remember my mama and wife
And please be sure to think of my brother on the other side”

Lyrics of “My Way Home” ( Couldn’t find the tune online, but I have it on mp3 )

Chorus:
And I’ll keep saying the same prayers over again ’till I’m withered and gone
And I’ll keep playing the same record in my head ’till I find my way home

Well, I learned
There’s much to learn when I yearn
When I cry
When I feel like I wanted to die
And I felt
How much memories hurt
When the years have worn on and the future’s unsure
And the world feels black and I can’t
And I can’t go back and make things right
And I’m scared that I might not live to tonight
But after a time I remember I can go back home

Chorus

Well, I know
There’s much to know
As I grow from the past
Like the moon comes to bloom and then fades on at last
And I know there’s a change in the season
And I know there’s always a change for a reason
And I handle the seasons
Of my life
It was winter before, but he’s gotta go
And only God knows what tomorrow will hold
So after a time I remember I can go back home

Chorus

I’m up, I’m down, I’m happy, I’m hurt
A prince amongst men, and I lay in the dirt
It really don’t matter, I really don’t care
As long as I know that You’ll be there

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

myTunes

I never did get classical music, but The Nooj introduced me to some damn good stuff, including the musical style called the Sonata Defn:”Instrumental genre in several movements for soloist or small ensemble.” as well as the Adagio: a composition played in adagio tempo (slowly and gracefully).

There’s a piece called Adagio for Strings.
It was on this album she passed on, I gave her Sh Hamza Yusuf, she gave me music, for the record…
This Adagio for Strings, it really is quite good. I was so impressed I Googled it and this is one thing that was written about it:

“You never are in any doubt about what this piece is about, says music historian Barbara Heyman. “There’s a kind of sadness and poetry about it. It has a melodic gesture that reaches an arch, like a big sigh… and then exhales and fades off into nothingness.”

A YouTube clip can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dPDO3Tfab0&feature=related

The link plays the tune against the backdrop of a poem, to make it ULTRA cheesy.But great nonetheless.Listen “slowly” though. There’s a part when it goes crazy intense. Then it just falls.And starts again, slowly. The audio I have is only about 5 mins long, the YouTube clip pasted is way too long, 10mins! But worth it. Be patient.But really rather try to get the shorter clip.

As for the Sonata, also from Nooj’s album (titled: Best Classical Album in the World), this one is ok: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQVeaIHWWck , by Beethoven.

But this other Sonata is really good, by some Satie dude, described as:

The melodies of the pieces use deliberate, but mild, dissonances against the harmony, producing a piquant, melancholy effect that matches the performance instructions, which are to play each piece “slowly”, “dolorously” or “gravely”

Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUJd_QPnuSU&feature=related.

The nice thing about this last one by Satie, is the simplicity. It’s a SOLO act. Simple AND Solo.
I really like it.
Try and listen to it, forget the unpopular connotations of high brow classical stuff, it’s just a really good tune.
I don’t know much, and don’t intend to learn more about classical music deliberately, but these are just great tunes.

And for a blast from the past, here’s a tune I recalled recently with some old friends, can’t beat it for swagger and for schooldays nostalgia, HOTStEppER: another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7MK5Esy-L0

And if you’re still reading, I just want to take this opportunity to tell you all that I think iTunes SUCKS.
And if there’s any niche thing you’re into, that you’re willing to share, please do. Even at the high risk of me not getting it.

If you’re budgeting on bandwith, just watch the Satie clip, the Piano sonata.
If you’re NOT budgeting on bandwith check these two movie clips out, by Al Pacino:
Scent of a Woman –> Integrity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH4p9BQ3V9o&feature=related
Any Given Sunday –> Life’s a game of inches http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4tIrjBDkk

(I’ve had a 2 gig data bundle for the last few months).

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

2009 reads

I tried to think of the books I read in 2009, I couldn’t come up with a full list.
Below I have included some excerpts I Googled from 3 that I enjoyed. Others that i enjoyed, but haven’t pasted excerpts were White Tiger, and Road to Makkah.

1984 by George Orwell
“The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
“Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.”

“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in.Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”

“He wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”

“Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you—that would be the real betrayal.”
She thought it over. “They can’t do that,” she said finally. “It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.”
“No,” he said a little more hopefully, “no; that’s quite true. They can’t get inside you. If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”

“We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him.”

“Doublethink” is the major way the Partycontrols its members. Through “doublethink,” people consciously accept anything the Party tells them, even if it contradicts something they already know. Furthermore, they consciously suppress any thought or information that goes against anythingthe Party says. To complete the cycle, they must forget that they have even used doublethink.”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
“Community, Identity, Stability”

“You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk.”

“Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches.”

“The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects. Which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone. A chronic fear of being slighted made him avoid his equals, made him stand, where his inferiors were concerned, self-consciously on his dignity.”

“When the individual feels, the community reels.”

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert Pirsig (Only got halfway through this one, then got tired…)
“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

“Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.”

“In the high country of the mind one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty…”

“For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. ”

“If someone’s ungrateful and you tell him he’s ungrateful, okay, you’ve called him a name. You haven’t solved anything.”

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

“If your mind is truly, profoundly stuck, then it might be much better off than when it was loaded with ideas”

“Stuckness shouldn’t be avoided. It’s the physic predecessor of all real understanding.”

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dakar Rally

The Dakar rally doesn’t get as much coverage as other motorsport events, but it definately is one of the most interesting sporting events in the world. This years 17 day event ended on the 16th January.
From Wiki:

The Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid type of off-road automobile race. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres per day.

The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and decided that it would be a good location for a regular rally.

The three major competitive groups in the Dakar are the bike class, the car class, and the T4 truck class.
The total racing distance was 9,030 kilometres (5,610 mi) for cars and trucks, and 8,937 kilometres (5,553 mi) for bikes and ATVs. Of the fourteen stages, seven were in Argentina, and seven in Chile.

Passage from an article from the Telegraph:

Death and this race are not strangers. In its 30-year history the Dakar has claimed the lives of 51 riders, back-up personnel and spectators or other innocent bystanders.
For the participants the entire raison d’etre is to take themselves out of their comfort zones and visit areas – geographical, physical and mental – that they have never been to before and, occasionally, which mankind itself has never visited.

The Daker is ‘out there’, extreme and edgy. And unless human nature itself changes, it, or a race like it, will always exist. The thrill of living to tell the tale will never diminish.

From goafrica website:
The Danger
It isn’t called an extreme race for nothing. Every year people get lost or killed during the race. Some major incidents that made headline news include:
1982 Mark Thatcher (Prime Minister Margaret Thatchers son) got lost for 6 days in the desert.
1988 DAF the leading truck (which was also beating every car at the time) crashed and killed a driver.
2005 Two of the top motorcyclists to compete in the rally died within 2 days of one another.
2006 Australian KTM motorcyclist Andy Caldecott, in his third time in the Dakar, died as a result of injuries after a crash. 2 young spectators were also killed in the latter stages of the rally.
2007 2 motorcyclists died, a South African crashed in the 4th stage and a Frenchman died of heart failure during the 14th stage.

Some pics from theboston.com

BMW's driver France's Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret cross a valley during the seventh stage of the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally 2010 between Iquique and Antofagasta, Chile, Friday, Jan. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #


Russia's Leonid Novitskiy crosses dunes in his BMW during the 7th stage of the Dakar 2010, between Iquique and Antofagasta, Chile, on January 8, 2010. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) #


An aerial view shows the site where a Robinson 44 helicopter crashed in Fiambala, Catamarca province, January 4, 2010. The pilot, co-pilot and two reporters who were following the Dakar Rally sustained injuries when their helicopter crashed, local media reported. (REUTERS/Gendarmeria/Handout) #


A racer crosses desert terrain in stage six of the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally 2010 between Antofagasta and Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments