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Musings and Meanderings

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Do you enjoy reading this blog?

Want to meet other blogs on a random basis? This is mega fun. Click and Drag this link NextBlog up onto your links bar on your browser.

It is so much fun. That is how I found BlogLeft and a few other entertaining sites.

More later.
posted by Mike 2:55 PM

Monday, September 23, 2002

Happy Birthday to ME!

41 yrs ago in a hospital in Santa Monica CA, Kay Sprinkel Habiby had a bouncing baby boy!

My wife treated me like a king last night as she is going "over night" tonight by making my FAVORITE meal Pork Roast, with her special New Potatoes with Dill and a nice salad. Alexander got me the most wicked cool Raider cap and Liza gave me a gift card for Best Buy so I can buy more electronic toys for the house. We are thinking of getting a Surround Sound system now that we have a DVD player. My Dad also called yesterday figuring that he wouldn't get through to me today.

To celebrate my birthday I am having my lower wisdom teeth removed on the 26th. No joke. It is all in the timing.

posted by Mike 9:03 AM

Friday, September 20, 2002

Open House

We attended Alexander's Open House last night and we are very excited! His teacher (a man this time) seems to have a fantastic attitude about teaching. His class is small (only 17 students) and this teacher seems to believe strongly in free thinking (gasp!) and being a facilitator with the students vs. just droning on and on. This is a huge change from the two elderly harpies that Alex had last year. In fact I can safely say that his reading teacher successfully turned him off of reading. We are hoping that he will bond with this teacher and do well this year. This gentleman stays late three nights a week after school with the single intent of helping any students that want help. Those readers from the late great state of NY know that 4th grade is the year for the first "big test". I felt very strongly last year that they were already teaching to the test in a lot of ways. We were assured last night that this is exactly what he does not do! Apparently after 5 yrs of this curriculum that he teaches his student's scores on the "big test" are as good or better than those of the teachers' at the same level who orient their curriculum more towards the test.

How amazingly refreshing!

Be good
posted by Mike 8:23 AM

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Music Man

What I have been listening to recently.

Jam Bands
First of all I periodically go through a rediscovery of the Grateful Dead. I know that sounds almost like an oxymoron... periodic rediscoveries of the same band... but I get to the point where I will listen to too much GD and need a break. Anyway the most recent cycle started today by me replacing my copy of Without a Net. What great enjoyment I still get from songs like Cassidy, ChinaCat Sunflower (I named my last cat after that song), Eyes of the World and Franklin's tower. As you can imagine there have been quite a few bands that cut their teeth on the Dead in some form or another and have gone on to success in their own right. I would say the band with the most owed to the Dead, though not in a musical sense per se but in the sense of bring different types of music together to make something unique is String Cheese Incident . Like the Dead they are very taper friendly and I have quite a few of their live shows. Another band that is quite exciting now a days is the Trey Anastasio band. He is from Phish and again he bring a ton of disparate musical talents to the table. Plus I love his voice! LOL

Prog Bands
You know in a way I am still reeling from NEARfest 2002! The thrust of my musical adventures in Progressive this past few weeks has been either to explore bands that were there last year (or previous years that I didn't attend) or that will be there next year. There are four bands now scheduled for NF2K3 as we call it. Magma - an avant-guard band from France.. that has to be heard to be believed. Christian Vander is the leader and the best descriptions that I have heard are 1) "if Coltraine had done Rock Opera" and 2) Klingon Opera. Now that second description is only because Vander has actually created his own language called Kobian for all the lyrics to his music.

A small and fairly new band from Germany will also be there called High Wheel. They are more of the tight progressive fusion genre with excellent lyrics. Their two most recent CD's clock in at over 70 min each and seem to be theme albums.

Also there is a band opening on Sunday Am called - get this - Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum. They are in the RIO category (Rock in opposition) and apparently have a very interesting stage show. RIO is "A form of music coined by ex-Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler. This type of music consistently defies categorization (except for "RIO") and is extremely challenging and often hard to listen to. Only for the very explorative".

Just announced are the Flower Kings - a symphonic band from Sweden. This is also an exciting proposition because in many art rock circles this band is one of the biggest symphonic rock bands out there.

So follow some of the links and check out the web sites for these bands.

Fare thee well now
May your life precede by it's own design
Nothing to tell now
Let your words be yours
I am done with mine.
posted by Mike 10:39 PM

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

WAMC Commentary

Paul Elisha of our local PBS station WAMC has this to say today. I think it is very deep and thoughtful. If you are reading this as an archive, look for Paul Elisha's 9/17 commentary on the page that comes up. Usually Paul and I don't always see eye to eye. I think he is a "libertarian" as sometimes is sounds knee jerk conservative and sometimes neo-liberal. But he is always refreshing.
posted by Mike 1:54 PM

Monday, September 16, 2002

Thinking of my Grandfather(s)

I don't know why but I have been thinking about my Grandfathers recently. Both were amazing men in their own right, but for now I have been most recently thinking of my Grandfather on my Dad's side. Sadly I don't know a lot about his life. I know I should, but he was much older than my Grandmother and other Grandparents so he passed away when I was a young man.

What I do remember is a very stern man who was also very loving in his own way. Grandpa Habiby was very much of the "old world". Indeed he lived in the British Mandate of Palestine and then Israel and the occupied territories all his life. My family has been Christian (Anglican) for generations. My understanding is that he was a high court judge in the British Mandate and was a friend of Christians, Jews and Moslems alike.

Apparently after he retired from the bench he kept his law practice helping the poor on a pro bono basis regardless of their religion. Indeed my understanding is that he was such a friend of all peoples that during one of the Arab Israeli wars, the Military had a warrant out for him. Apparently spent that entire conflict hiding in a friend's basement. The respect of his fellow Jerusalem residents was so high that the sign advertising his law practice still hung on the building many years after his death.

I think by now you can probably understand why I have been thinking of him recently. What, I wonder would he think about the horrifying developments in his native country since his death? I think he would be appalled of course, but appalled at all the players in this deadly struggle: his fellow Palestinians, the Israeli government as well as the Americans ( to whom he sent ALL of his children when they attained the age to go to college).

Appalled as to what incredible bullies the Israeli Government has become. Would he wonder if they even remember the horrible ways that the Jews had been treated over the years of pogroms and the Holocaust? Would he wonder if any lessons had been learned?

I know he would be appalled by the behavior of Muslims in their violent perversion of the Koran. Anyone who has read the Koran comes away with two overwhelming things: one that it is very difficult to understand. But in that understanding the second thing is that it is a non-violent relic. How would he feel knowing that in the desperation of these people, children are blowing themselves up in the name of religion? I think it would have broken his heart. But he would never show it.

So how do I think that a man of his caliber would have suggested solutions to this intractable problem?

Beats me. But I know that he would have had some very good ideas.

Pity there are not more men and women with good ideas in that theatre of conflict and less men who seem hell bent on the destruction of two cultures.


posted by Mike 10:48 PM

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Know thine Enemy

So when I drive around in the afternoon out on sales meetings or picking up equipment to repair I listen to Rush Limb-erger (you know the "big fat idiot of Al Franken's book). Ok don't freak I have not lost my mind. Actually the reason is SSIA (Subject Says it All). Anyway.. I listen to Rush for a laugh. He is very bright and so incredibly the tool of the Conservative Right. In fact in the lexicon of the Gen-X ers he is a TOOL. It is very sad to me to hear what is obviously a very sharp mind just ramble on and on about the Left Wing Conspiracy and how the Clinton Administration is the reason for (basically) all the world's woes. The one that really amused me was how Rush blamed the Clinton Admin for Saddam Hussein's presence in the world. I'm sure I don't need to elucidate on the absurdity of this Bush cheerleader blaming the Dem's for the situation in Iraq.

ANYWAY! I turned the radio on after a meeting yesterday and Rush announced he was having a telephone interview with the Veep. Honestly at first I thought it was one of those joke interviews you hear on the radio. But it was Cheney's voice! I was appalled. Pardon my bad language but what the F**** is the VP of the US doing on a show which is so out there only crackpot's are allowed to call in?? (If you doubt that try calling Rush. If you are not on HIS agenda then you can't get through).

If any of you had ANY doubt that this Admin is WAAAAY out in right field this is all the proof you need.

Try to have a good day.
posted by Mike 12:06 PM

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Wow 14 years!

Yesterday was my 14th wedding anniversary. 9/10/88. Took the night off from the computer. Seems like just yesterday that I married my blushing bride. Other days it seems like we have been married forever. Now I mean that in the best way, don't you ever feel about a friend or loved one that you have JUST gotten to know them but have also known them all your life? Well that is the way with my wife and I for me.

We have had our ups and downs. The downs have been pretty heavy and fairly personal so I won't go into details. The ups have been the perfect Yang to the Yin of the downs, or is that the other way around? We didn't have our son till we had been married for 5 years and didn't buy a house till we had been married for 10. In fact it was our 10th wedding present to ourselves. (Kind of makes it hard to top with something at 15, maybe we will renew our vows).

Overall, and in relation especially to my parent's generation and others in my generation, we have had a very stable and loving marriage. In fact I would say that each year is more comfortable that the last. I guess we are very lucky.

So 14 yrs is gold or ivory. Being very PC I didn't see any point in killing elephants to celebrate my anniversary so I went with the gold.

The best thing I can say about anyone's upcoming nuptials is that "I hope you are as lucky as I to have married your best friend".

Be good.
posted by Mike 4:53 PM

Monday, September 09, 2002

So now I gird my loins for what will be the annual chest beating and all around maudlin remembrance of September 11, 2001. And what have we really learned in 12 months? We have learned that Americans really do care about each other. In times of adversity we pulled together as we have not done in a long time. We also learned how the average Joe can be a hero, especially when looking his own death in the face. I think we learned something basic about the American spirit and Sept 11 brought that out in all of us.

But the commemoration of this horrific event is now bringing out some of the worst of the American Spirit. Every network from ABC to ESPN (oh yea they are the same) are rolling out their Special, Exclusive, No one else is doing what we are doing, So watch us and feed our advertisers special. This is that part of the American spirit if you will that is sensationalist. We seem to have a hunger for endlessly revisiting stories that get so "up close and personal" even I shy away from it.

I also think that this horrible event has unfortunately brought out the dark side of the American spirit. Call it the Jingoistic or Ugly American spirit. Seems like every mean and nasty person out there is now sporting some sort of patriotic T-shirt or whatever stating how great it is to be an American and if you aren't then you are going to straight to hell. Somehow being a patriotic American citizen has become entangled with being a good Christian. Now how did that happen? This is a country of immigrants who brought their own creeds with them. This growing intolerance of anything not Caucasian and Christian is probably what makes me the most angry. It is a perversion of the American Spirit.

That's right folks the biggest problem with this American over reaction to last year's events is the bully we have become. All of a sudden from individuals to the Government itself if you are not "on the program" you are being UnAmerican. It's Unamerican to question if the President is doing the right thing. It is Unamerican to question if the Civil Rights of immigrants. It is Unamerican to ask what exactly is going on in Guantanamo Bay. I'm not asserting that the President is not doing the right thing, nor that these Civil Rights are being violated nor if anything funky is going on in Guantanamo Bay.

What I am asserting is that there is a general air that the simple Asking is not American.

Somehow the one lesson that American's did not seem to learn in the last 12 months is that the world is a VERY small place. Instead what we seem to have learned is that because due to our unique place in the world at this time and moment in history we can do as a country whatever we damn well please in the rest of the world. Allies? Who needs them!

posted by Mike 8:55 AM

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Kodak family moment.

Son and Wife watching Willy Wonka together. Sigh. Sometimes life is very precious.

Presently reading: Time Zero - Justin Richards
Last listened to: Trey Anastasio show from 5/31/02 that I downloaded off of Furthernet.
posted by Mike 9:13 PM
Added bonus of homeownership in our neighborhood.

When we bought this house in this neighborhood we had no idea of the great added bonus. Twice yearly full fireworks displays viewable from our back yard. Remember sneaking to the outside of the Drive in to watch the movies for free. (ok maybe not). Well this is better. The town across the river has two annual festivals that end with a fireworks display that is usually pretty good. Just finished watching this year's which was better than ever. All from the comfort of our back yard. Cool.
posted by Mike 8:56 PM

Don't ya just love it when on a nice Saturday morning when you have been planning for three weeks to sleep in instead of get up and do some family thiny or clean house you get awoken at 7:30am by your child laying in doing forced coughs? When does the child become part of the community in the home and start being considerate of others? I'm just wondering here, cause I hope I don't have to wait till he is 18.
posted by Mike 8:04 AM

Friday, September 06, 2002

The Troubling New Face of America

By Jimmy Carter
Thursday, September 5, 2002

Fundamental changes are taking place in the historical policies of the United States with regard to human rights, our role in the community of nations and the Middle East peace process -- largely without definitive debates (except, at times, within the administration). Some new approaches have understandably evolved from quick and well-advised reactions by President Bush to the tragedy of Sept. 11, but others seem to be developing from a core group of conservatives who are trying to realize long-pent-up ambitions under the cover of the proclaimed war against terrorism.

Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, our country has become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life. We have ignored or condoned abuses in nations that support our anti-terrorism effort, while detaining American citizens as "enemy combatants," incarcerating them secretly and indefinitely without their being charged with any crime or having the right to legal counsel. This policy has been condemned by the federal courts, but the Justice Department seems adamant, and the issue is still in doubt. Several hundred captured Taliban soldiers remain imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay under the same circumstances, with the defense secretary declaring that they would not be released even if they were someday tried and found to be innocent. These actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that historically have been condemned by American presidents.

While the president has reserved judgment, the American people are inundated almost daily with claims from the vice president and other top officials that we face a devastating threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and with pledges to remove Saddam Hussein from office, with or without support from any allies. As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad. In the face of intense monitoring and overwhelming American military superiority, any belligerent move by Hussein against a neighbor, even the smallest nuclear test (necessary before weapons construction), a tangible threat to use a weapon of mass destruction, or sharing this technology with terrorist organizations would be suicidal. But it is quite possible that such weapons would be used against Israel or our forces in response to an American attack.

We cannot ignore the development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but a unilateral war with Iraq is not the answer. There is an urgent need for U.N. action to force unrestricted inspections in Iraq. But perhaps deliberately so, this has become less likely as we alienate our necessary allies. Apparently disagreeing with the president and secretary of state, in fact, the vice president has now discounted this goal as a desirable option.

We have thrown down counterproductive gauntlets to the rest of the world, disavowing U.S. commitments to laboriously negotiated international accords.

Peremptory rejections of nuclear arms agreements, the biological weapons convention, environmental protection, anti-torture proposals, and punishment of war criminals have sometimes been combined with economic threats against those who might disagree with us. These unilateral acts and assertions increasingly isolate the United States from the very nations needed to join in combating terrorism.

Tragically, our government is abandoning any sponsorship of substantive negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Our apparent policy is to support almost every Israeli action in the occupied territories and to condemn and isolate the Palestinians as blanket targets of our war on terrorism, while Israeli settlements expand and Palestinian enclaves shrink.

There still seems to be a struggle within the administration over defining a comprehensible Middle East policy. The president's clear commitments to honor key U.N. resolutions and to support the establishment of a Palestinian state have been substantially negated by statements of the defense secretary that in his lifetime "there will be some sort of an entity that will be established" and his reference to the "so-called occupation." This indicates a radical departure from policies of every administration since 1967, always based on the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories and a genuine peace between Israelis and their neighbors.

Belligerent and divisive voices now seem to be dominant in Washington, but they do not yet reflect final decisions of the president, Congress or the courts. It is crucial that the historical and well-founded American commitments prevail: to peace, justice, human rights, the environment and international cooperation.

Former president Carter is chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company
posted by Mike 8:58 PM

Thursday, September 05, 2002

E-gads I have three weeks of archives. Seems like I just started doing this...

"Not just a cup but a just cup" I read somewhere that there is a initiative on the ballot in Berzerkely this year to make it a crime to NOT serve Fair Trade or Organically Grown coffee (not necessarily the same thing by the way.) While I think that this is a noble effort.. only in Berzerkely would they legislate this. I just love California and miss it terribly. From a distance of course. Here at the Habiby Household we only buy Fair Trade or Organically Grown or Shade Coffee but that is our choice. I don't see the need to legislate this. But it is a nice idea.

Opening night 2002 - 2003 Football season. My second most loved team (the Niner's are playing my.. well they are in the top 5.. the Giants) BOTH offences look anemic at best but the defense has been outstanding. Alexander sat up and watched the first half. He is asking a heck of a lot less questions this year so I think he was actually listening last year to all my explanations. You know I remember the last year of Daryl Lamonica playing for my favorite Football team the Raiders. I was born in 1961. I looked it up on the net, and Lamonica's last year with the Raiders was 1967 - 8 season. That means I've been watching and following Raider Football since I was... in Kindergarten?? So something doesn't add up. Either I Don't remember the last season of Lamonica or the information was wrong. I'm thinking I've been a Raider fan since I was in 3rd Grade so that means since I was 8.

John Ashcroft. I knew this guy was a bad idea when he came on board. Talk about throwing a looser a bone. This guy couldn't beat his deceased opponents' wife for Senate and then gets handed the single most important domestic cabinet job. This to a man that holds bible thumping prayer sessions IN THE FEDERAL OFFICES. So I was listening to a moderate to liberal talk show host here locally (yes there are moderate to liberal talk show hosts) speaking about the chief suspect ( a Dr. apparently) in the Anthrax mailings. This person has not been charged with anything. The man has not had any hard evidence show against him. However the Justice Department and the FBI felt it would be prudent and appropriate to hold news conferences saying the poor guy is a chief suspect. Now he may end up becoming the MAN who did the mailings. But that is immaterial now. See we have a Justice System that was built on the axiom that we are innocent until proven guilty. Apparently the one man who is supposed to uphold the legal basis of this country forgot this. In fact if he smoked cigarettes I think Ashcroft would be happy to just to use the Constitution as rolling paper.

Grrr Argh!
posted by Mike 10:33 PM

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

End of Summer... wahhhhhhh

Baa Dee Baa Dee that's all folks!

Well tomorrow the roads will be jammed with Staties going back to work after their obscenely long Union guaranteed Vacations. Kids back in school on Wednesday here in NY. Ended the Summer with a bang with Alexander's 9th birthday party. And I did need the Advil before it was over! No the kids were great.. I just had the mother of all toothaches. Not nice. Great 3 day weekend. Mom visit. Alex's birthday.

And to cap it all off I think I broke a record. I ripped 11 discs and burned 25 this evening. Not sure how I did so many but with a 24x burner it takes all of 5 min to do up one disc.

You know I heard that the Stewardess' Union for some airline was looking for a 15% increase in wages over the next three years. Lets see.. no inflation.. economy in a recession. HEY CAN I HAVE A 15% RAISE TOO??? Makes me ill.

In fact we had Black Thu/Fri at my office. 6 layoffs in the back. Bookkeeper got her hours and pay cut dramatically. Allegedly even the Owners and the CFO took a cut. But not little old me. Apparently I have been doing a better job than I even thought with the new division. Go figure. I WAS going to go ask for a raise. I guess in a bizarre bas-relief sort of way I did get one.

And yea I'm happy that the Baseball people got their act together for the first time in 9 tries. But ya know what? The A's will loose to the Yankees somewhere in the playoffs and then it will be the Braves and the Yankees again in the World Series. YAWN. Deja Vu all over again.

Reading: Ghost Ship - Keith Topping
Listening: Steve Hackett from his 2002 tour. I can't tell you what venue. I'd have to kill you.
posted by Mike 12:33 AM

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I already love this Pro version.

Gosh I am a poor speller and I type too fast. I just got the Pro version of this service and found TONS of spelling errors. So I apologize to all (ok one or two) readers. In the future you will not have to pain through the misspellings.
posted by Mike 11:05 PM
I am going to be changing the template of this page occasionally. I just did and I am about to do it again. So you are not loosing your mind.
posted by Mike 7:51 PM
Well the Mom visit went of wonderfully. We had a great time. Picked her up from the Airport on Saturday and it was off for a pleasant 2 hr drive to NH to meet with her cousins (well mine too of course) an older, well off and very well educated couple who live in a beautiful part of South West NH. The view from their house was breath taking and Alex even learned to drive their golf cart they use to get around the property for gardening. I took lots of pictures of the gardens which I understand have been written up in just about every gardening magazine and are included in any gardening tour of the area. Actually both are Master Gardeners and studied the craft for a time in England.

The drive back was equally enjoyable as MW and I discussed my essay (archived) on my call for the removal of Saddam Hussein. We agreed that he needs to be removed and agreed that it needs to be a multilateral effort. I think this was missed in my essay on this subject and I do firmly believe that America going off half cocked invading Iraq with no Allied support except Israel is deeply stupid.

On the other hand as GWB is about to loose both houses perhaps this is a last gasp effort to wag the tail of the dog, or even more insidiously calculating to win enough of the traditional Jewish vote away from the Democrats to not loose both houses. GWB plays a very dangerous game and risks destabilizing the entire region if he does this wrong. If he does this right then I think it will be one of his better achievements.

I digress.

Saturday dinner was wonderful and we had a relaxing evening. Today she went off back to the Left Coast at 5:30 after a lovely lunch out and a leisurely morning.

Next up.. Alex's birthday party tomorrow! Pool Party!! Cake!! Ice Cream!! Lots of kids!!!! Hand me the advil NOW!

In my Quote of the Day e-mail I get from Topica my old friend Will Durst was quoted. Now I know he has really made it. See brother Greg ages ago worked for Walden Books in SF. The head of the Comedy Underground, an Improv group in SF was the Manager. So I was already going to see the Comedy Underground before this but it gave us an "in" and I got to know Will and Debbie Durst before Will got big. Trust me Debbie was actually funnier than Will and that is saying something as Will slays me.

So it is nice to see the gang moving up in the world.

I'm blatantly stealing an idea from my friend "McSnarkster" here. Well I guess it's not stealing if I credit the idea?

Reading: The Ender saga: Vol 4: Children of the Mind. (small essay in near future over this series).

Listening: Magma's 30th Anniversary performance of their Trilogy Theusz Hamtaahk, Wurdah Itah and Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh.
posted by Mike 7:32 PM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind