The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I just finished a book.

The Reluctant FundamentalistHave you caught your breath yet?  Ok, shocking as it may seem–this one was pretty short, and a quick read.  The book is by Mohsin Hamid and is called “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”  A story about a young Pakistani who comes to the US for school (Princeton), graduates at the top of his class, and goes to work for a big shot valuation firm in NYC.

I can’t say that this was a literary masterpiece; I don’t think they will be talking about it in 50 years like we talk now about Catcher in the Rye (notice my skeptical preface so in case anyone has something bad to say I have a nice out?  …don’t we do that with lots of things lately?  Yeah the movie was ok…great cinematography, but the plot was lacking, and the acting was just so-so.  It’s easy to take a non-stance stance.  Also, isn’t this a really long parenthetical?  I mean come on…isn’t it over with yet? Yes.  It is.  Now.) , but I still have to throw some props to the author for giving some outside perspective, and the storytelling is unique as well.

I’ll start with the storytelling style:  everything is being spoken from the mouth of Changez, the brilliant Pakistani.  We find him in Lahore (a city in Pakistan), and he runs into an American and strikes up a conversation with him since he spent time in the US.  There are no words in the book that aren’t being spoken by Changez, but the author still gives context as to what’s going by using his narritive to tell what the other person is doing/thinking/saying:

 Ah, they have begun to turn on the decorative lights that arc through the air aboove this market! A little gaudy? Yes, you are right; I myself might have chosen something less colorful.  But observe the smiles on the upteurned faces of those around us. (p. 47)

That is done pretty often.    He’ll infer questions from his American acquaintance out loud, and then answer them.  It actually gets annoying at times, but again, it’s very unique story telling, and it held my attention for 184 pages (if you know me, you know that is an accomplishment!).  The story is 90% retrospective on his time in the US, and 10% present sense stuff.

Ok, now onto the perspective.  This will get me in trouble with some of my red blooded ultra conservative friends.  You won’t like this book.  So don’t read it.  And I won’t try to explain it, or explain that the very reasons you won’t like it are the reasons that you should read it, because that never works.  Changez found himself living the American dream.  Ivy league graduate, white collar wall street executive, beautiful girlfriend, and lots of money.  This all takes place, not surprisingly, leading up to, and in the months following 9/11, and the attacks on the World Trade Centers.  Even though he was living like most Americans hope to live, he was still at his core un-American, and as tensions here and in the middleast rose following 9/11, he started reflecting very deeply about our country.  The following was, for me, the most poignant (Adam, don’t say it) collection of thoughts:

 I had always resented the manner in which America conducted itself in the world; your country’s constant interference in the affairs of others was insufferable.  Vietnam, Korea, the straits of Taiwan, the Middle East, and now Afghanistan: in each of the major conflicts and standoffs that ringed my mother continent of Asia,, America played a central role.  Moreover, I knew from my experience as a Pakistani–of alternation periods of American aid and sanctions–that finance was a primary means by which the American empire exercised its power. (p. 156)

I know someone will shoot me for being unpatriotic here, and please don’t think that I am not well aware of what a privilege it is to even write a post like this one without fearing for my own well being.  But I have always felt–even as a young teenager and cheerfully guzzling down whatever uber-conservative evangelical cocktail of mis-truths I was handed by my church, school, and sometimes family–that the whole “Team America: World Police” (a movie which I’ve never seen, but wholly support, if for no other reason than an awesome title) idea is just not right.

I can’t say that I would have done a better job, if the decisions were up to me (which is why, I will NEVER be involved in politics).  And I don’t even know how to conclude my own rant.  Other than to say this: I hope that those of you who are in any position of power (government, business, financial, what have you), will take into account who you affect with your decisions, and what it is like to be in the shoes of each of those affected…not just your own, or your co-powerful, co-rich, co-management, but everyone.

For more info: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid – Main – Harcourt

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Wild Turkey

I’m in Brady, TX right now.  It’s 4am and I can’t sleep, yesterday was an interesting day–thought I’d share:

Not Wild Turkey4:30 am  Dad picks me up to go to the airport.  We’re flying to San Antonio to go Turkey Hunting with Cuz Strickland ,who is a client of mine and probably the world’s best Turkey hunter.

5:45 am get through security and onto the plane…barely.

6:15 am learned that my dad likes Sudoko–this is funny, if you know my dad.

6:30 am Bored, picked up the magazine and started Sudoko’ing myself.  I finished my first puzzle, dad was still working on his 2nd when we landed.

8:30 am Land at DFW.  McD’s for breakfast; Cuz missed his flight, try to get him on ours, success.  Cuz is fun times 🙂

10:30 am Land at San Antonio.  We’re the only 3 people in the entire airport who did not come to watch the Final 4 Basketball games.

11:00 am Whataburger, with fries and sweet tea.  Hit the road–it’s over a two hour drive from San Antonio to Brady, TX.  A beautiful one.

1:30 pm get to Brady–the Days Inn–meet the othe guides and the other cameraman.  His name is pronounounced “yock” I’m not sure how to spell that, so I’ll just go phonetical.

2:00 pm It’s hunting time.  We drive out to the ranch–20 minutes outside Brady, first we pull up and shoot the shit for a few minutes while Cuz and Yock get there camera gear all setup (there cameras are all decked out in camo–so were all of us from head to toe.  I have pictures, but no way to upload them).  Cuz and Dad have been talking about the “Old Lions vs the Young Lions” (Cuz and dad are close to the same age, so are Yock and me).  There is clearly a competition going on here–we must kick the old farts butts.

–I’ll stop with the timeline and just tell you about the hunt now.  We pulled up to a grove of trees and Cuz and Yock gave us a quick class on how to sit.  Seems silly, but turkey hunting can involve sitting absolutley still for a long time–I think I sat under one tree for about two hours today.  Team Young Lions went down to the canyon, team Old Fart–er–Lions went somewhere else.  Oh–and this ranch has 6,600 acres, which is “A little small” for Cuz’s liking.

We hunted till sundown, and we worked hard, but we left empty handed.  I did see two hens (the lady turkeys), and we walked about 5,000 miles, and right at the end of a very long walk in the opposite direction of our mule (the ATV that drives us around), when we knew that we were going to have to walk back to it–we heard a “gobbler” on the other side of the trees.  This is exciting.  Have you ever been excited to hear a turkey gobble?  Me neither–but I swear after a whole day of walking, crouching, calling and listening, this was music to my ears.  We never did get him to come out into the open…but this morning, the pro’s assure me that we will see some “Gobblers” coming down off the roost.

I’ll post pics when I get home.  Oh, and Amy–I don’t have cell phone reception anywhere out here, but I’m in the Days Inn in Brady, and the number is 325-597-0789; room 126.  And I love you.

PS We ate last night at “The Hard Eight” BBQ.  I had Prime Rib, Brisket, Sausage, and Chicken by the pound. Plus sweet tea.  It was awesome.

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Twitter is my Boba Tea.

Have you ever been to a smoothie joint, or one of those asian tea places and ordered a drink with “boba” in it?  If so, you know that boba are these marble sized balls of tapioca that they put into your drink of choice.  Then they have to give you a special fat straw, because these slimey spheres would instantly clog a regular straw.Boba Tea

So as you start to take your first sip of this beverage (I usually go for a smoothie with some combination of mango and another fruit), you are surprised–although it’s not like you can’t see the buggars–by about 4 or 5 boba balls leaping up the straw and into your mouth.  You then have to sort of chew on them…or if you want, they’ll just slide on down your throat.

If you have never experienced boba, or even if you have only tried it once or twice, you are saying to yourself: what’s the point?  That doesn’t sound very enjoyable at all!

You might also feel the same way about twitter.  This farily new (actually it’s about a year old, which makes it old school in the internet world) web-phenomenon where you can post your answer to the question “What are you doing” in 140 characters or less.

Again…what’s the point?  That doesn’t sound fun?  I don’t get it?!?!Twitter and boba,  both share a strange trait, in that they are both “acquired tastes.”  Strange at first, even awkward, but once you try it a few times, you start to become addicted–even obsessed!  I will leave the boba tasting up to you, but here are a few reasons why I am addicted to twitter:

1) No need to be eloquent!  You’ve got 140 characters to say your piece.  It’s not like it needs to be Pulitzer material.

2) Finding stuff.  People use twitter to send links to interesting stuff around the web.  Good times!

3) Meeting people.  Since everything seems to revolve around “the almighty network” twitter is a cool place to find friends in similar industries.

4) Twhirl.  Oh man, just when I was starting to get hooked, I download twhirl, now I’m really hooked!  Twitter clients like this one let you “tweet” with friends almost like instant messaging.  They only difference is that the rest of the world can see your conversation.

5) Shameless self promotion.  In all honesty, I started tweeting because a friend suggested I use it to help build links to our website at work.

Sometimes (like just now) I have to check myself and not get too silly on my work account, and save the antics for my personal one.  I forget that I’m representing more than myself on there, and that it is entirely possible (although highly unlikely 😉 that my wit and charm would be a turn-off to potential clients; *sigh.

But do yourself a solid.  Try twitter.  Try boba.  Both very weird at first, but addicting after a few rounds.

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If you are a male, and have a signifficant other, please take this poll

If you are a male, and either have a signifficant other, or can pretend that you have one, please take this poll.  You can be honest, it’s ok.  But would you rather have a high-def, flat panel (LCD, or plasma–you pick),  big screen TV…

or

a very thoughtful gift that has lots of sentimental value, and obviously took a lot of thought, time, and energy to produce.  Which would you pick?

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www.rockworms.com has just fou…

www.rockworms.com has just found it’s arch nemesis: http://perfectporridge.com/ this town isn’t big enough for 2 mediocre music blogs.

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Twitter + WordPress = Matt’s inbox is full.

In case you were wondering what happened, I tried to introduce my twitter account to my wordpress blog this afternoon.  I find keeping up with twitter to be a lot easier than blogging–mostly because I’m lazy, so if I can share something clever in 140 letters or less, I’m all for it.  Somehow my wordpress decided to retroactively re-post all of my “tweets” as blog entries.  So Matt (the sole subscriber of this blog) probably got overloaded when he opened up his outlook 2007 RSS reader.

I hope this teaches us a valuable lesson…don’t use any sort of Microsoft Product to read RSS feeds.

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definately my favorite band ri…

definately my favorite band right now: http://www.myspace.com/romantica

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Craig’s Tweets 2008-03-13

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Record Labels like Feudal Lord…

Record Labels like Feudal Lords? http://tinyurl.com/2lhc5e

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What I do for a living, and what I think about the music biz.

These two are completely separate, and unrelated ideas.  But I’m proud of two things that I’ve accomplished lately (actually three, but it’s hard to post evidence that I worked out twice this week!), so I thought I’d share.

If you have 4 minutes and want to know a little more about what I do for a living, click here.

If you have 3-5 more minutes (depending on how fast you can read), then I invite you to read about my comparisons to the Music Industry and the Feudal System.  Then take the poll at the bottom…puh-leeease???

Have a nice day.

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