Friday, August 31, 2007

Back to Reality By Way Of Dubai

No pictures just yet. I forgot to pack my card reader, so I can’t move photos from the camera to my MacBook. I’ll get that sorted fairly quickly.

Back in Baghdad, this time by way of Dubai. I had never been to Dubai before but I had heard great things about it, so I was pretty jazzed to get to spend even a little time there. I ended up arriving in the early evening, spending the night at the Park Hyatt, and flying out at dawn the next morning. Even though I only spent a little time there I can’t say enough about how beautiful the city is. Some quick observations on Dubai.

-It is beyond clean. Simply immaculate.
-Palm trees everywhere, some of them are fake.
-Lot’s of construction, but they are really building stuff, unlike a lot of cities that fake it
-Marble, marble everywhere.
-I never actually met anyone that was from the UAE. Western workers seem to be running everything.
-Every car, building, street is new. I didn’t see anything older than ten years old aside from the single malt at the bar.
-A progressive Arab Muslim country. This should be the model for the Arab world.
- The Park Hyatt is the nicest hotel I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few.
- The harbor seemed to have a size requirement “Your big, white yacht must be this big in order to ride on this ride”.
- The city boasts the world’s only 6-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Someday I’ll stay there, or at least drive past it.
-All of the taxis have video screens in the headrests that play coming movie attractions. Sweet!

OK, back to reality, back to Baghdad. Since I left six weeks ago little has changed, aside from the kittens are now cats.

The media crews are out on embeds, so I’ve got a little chance to get settled in.

I’m waiting for that magical day when It’s not over 100 degrees at 5:00 a.m.

Pictures to follow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Adventure Continues

A perfect balance between the moss-covered stone, the old tree, and the fading flower.

I’m really digging this “retirement thing”. While my wonderful wife slaves away in corporate America, I’m content with my six weeks on/six weeks off routine. For six weeks I travel overseas, away from home and hearth, playing “miniaturized action figure”. This is followed by six weeks off where I really come into my own; two-a-day workouts, browsing the stacks at Barnes & Noble, playing with my three year-old son, sitting zazen in our tatami room, and working around the house on the Japanese garden. What more could one ask for?

I’ll soon be off again, so I’ve been collecting reading material, loading my iPod, and devising workout schemes to keep me fit while I’m gone. This next trip will take me to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and then on to Baghdad for another stint with the media. The adventure continues.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Wee Bit Of Age

My wife turns forty in a few weeks, and she’s not thrilled about it. She says that she’s OK with it, but after several years of marriage I know otherwise. I never understood why people get so hung up about being older. When we were teenagers we couldn’t wait to be older, now that we’re there everyone wants to be younger. Did we miss something along the way?

I take the attitude that I’m going to be the best 43 year old that I can be. If I make it to 44, then I’ll endeavor to be an even better 44 year old. We’re all right here, right now. There’s no going back, just as there’s no jumping forward. Be the best person that you can be day in and day out, and be happy where you are. It appears that everyone wants to be right where you are right now, so relish it.

Don't Worry, Be Angry

Yesterday was a particularly interesting day anger-wise. Some guy pulled his car out in front of me while I was descending a hill at about 40 mph on my bike, and the water aerobics class at the pool I was working out in decided to take over the water and pull all of the lane lines seven minutes early. Ahhhhh!

All of this caused me to take a closer look at my anger. First and foremost, I make it a point to never act out of anger. All that does is make the other person angry and escalate the situation far beyond what it needs to be. Next, I looked at the rush I got from being angry. If you look close enough you will realize that it actually feels good to be angry, to wade in a pool of self-righteousness. I’m right and you’re wrong, and I’m going to force you to admit it. Ahhhhh!

I think that I’m slowly getting to the point where I can recognize anger for what it is in me, my ego screaming for attention. Now that I know that it’s just my ego doing a little jig I’ve found that my anger just doesn’t hang around and sort of dissipates. Egos don’t like to be caught in the act and when they do, they slink sort of back to where they came from.

Anger is one of the best learning tools for practicing Zen Buddhists because it is such an obvious manifestation of your ego, and it’s so easy to recognize and examine. I think that I need to be angry more often.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some Moments Are More Perfect Than Others

Jody Foster had a great line in her 1997 movie, "Contact". While being transported into the heavens she was awestruck by what she witnessed. Jody’s character muttered something to the effect, “They should have sent a poet instead of an astronomer”. That’s how I felt this past weekend in Maine.

My parents’ house in located on a small, wooded hilltop in rural Maine. One morning I sat out on the old brick patio working on a first cup of coffee, and took in the entire moment. The silver-leafed birch trees were swaying in the crisp morning breeze, silhouetted against a clear, unbelievably blue sky. It couldn’t have been anymore than 65 degrees outside and all I could hear was the sound of morning birds, the occasional wind chime hidden away in the forest, and the wind moving through the leaves. Perfect.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


A quiet conversation

I haven’t posted in a while and feel badly about it. I’ve been home in Atlanta playing dinosaurs with my three year-old and teaching him to swim. Somehow I feel selfish putting up a post when my son is tugging at my sleeve imploring me to spend time with him, especially knowing that I’ll soon be traveling again.

I’m in the middle of Brad Warner’s new book, Sit Down and Shut Up. I’ve found Brad’s latest efforts a much better read than his first book, however both are excellent and well worth the effort.

I traveled this past weekend to Pennsylvania to spend some time with a couple of old high school buddies that I haven’t seen in years. The few days were passed playing golf, eating lobster (we grew up in Maine), shooting skeet, and taking some photos. Overall it was a great experience.

I’m traveling once again in the coming weeks, and looks as if I’ll be returning to the Middle East. I’ll endeavor to be more diligent with my posts.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Rebuilt 1968 Toyota Land Cruiser with a triathlon bike strapped to the top.

I think the love of toys is a “guy thing”. I have to admit that I love collecting cool stuff, much to the chagrin of my wife. I often have to juxtapose my toy collection with the Buddhist concept of non-attachment; remembering that it’s all just stuff, and one day it will end up in a landfill just like everything and everyone. Nevertheless, it’s all fun to play with while it’s here!