I haven’t gotten a lot of chances to write recently primarily because of work consuming about 12 – 13 hours of my day. I am out of the house at 7 a.m. most days and end up taking the train (or bus) back after 6 p.m. I am a week away from completing my initial three month contract here at Chartis and it is remarkable how quickly time has gone by. There has been plenty of chatter about converting me to a full-time employee now but I have yet to receive an offer, so I will withhold further comment on that until there is actually something to write about.
As another promising but disappointing Blue Jays season winds down, it is important to note that the Yankees have played six games in Toronto since I have moved here. The more interesting fact is that the only two games they have won from those six happened to be the ones that I attended – including the Tuesday night. Jays have to find a way to turn things around quickly as the division seems to become more and more competitive every year.
Hockey season is right around the corner with the Leafs playing their season opener against Montreal a week from today (and about 3 blocks from my work). You can already see the swarm of blue and white jerseys around downtown with people heading towards the preseason games around the same time as I leave work.
I recently searched for Maple Leafs tickets as I have never seen them play at home but the cheapest available at the moment for a Hockey Night In Canada game is $100+ a ticket for a game in February. Maybe holding out on buying a Leafs’ ticket is the best option right now as I’m afraid the hockey season will be disappointing again as a Leafs’ fan. The Maple Leafs have missed out on the postseason in each of the last five years and the primary goal for Toronto this year will be to end the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s storied history. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are clearly the two new stars on the team and hopefully can spark something miraculous.
This is the place where legends are made of. Just like the players who ended the Red Sox World Series drought, the players who bring home the championship to teams like the Cubs or the Maple Leafs and hopefully something good happens soon.
Just like that, my mini-vacation is over. Last week, I had taken Thursday and Friday off and flew down to New Jersey via the great Porter Airlines for the first time.
A visit that lasted just over 3 full days makes it very hard to juggle anything else when I have well over 50 close relatives who were in the area. It is something I am becoming gradually accustomed to but visiting the family after a few months was really nice. Visiting at a time of a religious holiday can make it feel even shorter since we were busy pretty much the entire time I was there and even slipping away for a few hours to visit some old friends and roommates was hard to come by.
The airline and airport were a very pleasant surprise. I had never flown with Porter Airlines before but had heard some great things from some coworkers and an uncle. There is a free shuttle from the airline that runs about a block away from my place of work which became very convenient when my carry on bag became slightly heavier than I had anticipated. The shuttle took us to the ferry which motored all of about 200 meters (0.12 miles for you American folks) to the airport.
With minimal passengers, the time it took me to check in, pass security clearance and get to the waiting lounge was probably 10 minutes. That’s when things got to be really fun. I was still fasting the day of my departure and since it was getting very close to sunset time, I needed to find a place to eat. Since the airport was very small, I was having trouble find any sort of food vendors or even a vending machine to dispense so snacks. That is until I ran into a sign that said Café. As I prepared to dish out normal airport costs for minimal food items, I was shocked to see complementary foods and drinks for all passengers waiting in the lounge. It included items such as cookies, peanuts, coffee and all sorts of beverages. They even had a decent size “computer lab” filled with 10-15 Mac computers for people to use. I didn’t check if they offered free wifi but saw plenty of people using their own devices that it might have been the case.
The plane was about as big (or small) as I thought it would be, seating a capacity of 70 people but our flight had barely 20-25 people. The overhead compartment to place your luggage was rather small that it didn’t fit my bag but stowed away nicely underneath the seat. That was probably my only issue with the flight as food was served maybe 5 minutes after take off and the exotic vegetable potato chips probably were the craziest chips I had ever eaten. Besides the flight being just over an hour, I barely had any time to catch up on some much needed sleep – it didn’t help that I had taken coffee with chips earlier to kill off any chance of napping.
I am not sure what took me this long but I have been a heavy user of the program Skype to talk to both friends and cousins back south of the border. I recently got the 5.0 beta which allows video conferencing with up to 10 different people at the same time. It has also been pretty useful to stream videos between people at a much faster pace than each person having to get their own copy. If any of you out there use Skype, feel free to add me and maybe we’ll catch up sometime.
This year, Ramadan started on August 11th 2010, and is expected to end either on September 9th or September 10th (29 or 30 days from the day it started depending on the sighting of the moon via several methods) and there are mounting fears that Muslims all around America may suffer a backlash on Eid al-Fitr. It just so happens that this joyous Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan coincides with the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
For those who may not know, the Islamic calendar uses the lunar system and that is why it rolls back 11 days each Gregorian year. The average length of a 12-month lunar year is 354.37 days, which is 10.8751 days short of the average length of the solar year (365.2422 days). Most lunar calendars (ie. Hebrew, Chinese, etc.) add a 13th “leap” month every 24 to 36 months. They do so to maintain the synchronization between lunar years and the four seasons. This is not the case with the Islamic Hijri calendar.
Eid al-Fitr, expected to be on either Sept. 9th or 10th 2010, celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions. On this day, Muslims all over the world thank Allah for his blessings upon them and for the gift of fasting.
Although, there is the sense of excitement between Muslims in America about this Eid, there is also a great sense of fear. These fears do not seem unreasonable in the current climate of heightened attention and sensitivity with the media fiasco surrounding Muslims, the “ground zero mosque” and the “National Burn the Quran Day” sponsored by the “Dove World Outreach Center.”
These recent events and the adverse media coverage have left some second generation Muslim Americans feeling like pariahs in their only land. Some of us have come to realize with certainty that there are Americans who are publicly and subliminally promoting the idea that Muslims are outsiders in our own lands and are unwelcome to stay here.
In light of these current events, some leaders of Islamic centers around the nation are worried and many ordinary Muslims fear celebrating our post-Ramadan festival as normal as in every other year. Some have even gone as far as to cancel their annual carnival held the Saturday after Ramadan because it falls on September 11 and they do not want to be seen celebrating on that day. There is a difference between canceling their carnival due to the sensitivity of this event versus canceling it due to fears of violence. One is being considerate of the situation while the other is being terrorized and scared!
Fears of aggressive violence and retaliation against centers and places of worship are rising to new levels given some of the aggressive protests and vandalism that has taken place at various mosques around the country in the past few weeks.
In the face of such terrorizing events, we the Muslims are left with one of two solutions, a) just don’t show up to the Eid prayer and stay home in fear of any aggressive confrontation, or b) disregard those threats and show up and celebrate our Eid as we normally do. It is my opinion that if we don’t show up, we will be declaring our defeat to bigotry and xenophobia. That is why I highly recommend that everyone show up and encourage other Muslims around him/her to make an extra effort to show up this year. As a matter of fact, please invite one or two of your non-Muslim friends or coworkers. Also make sure you bring your camcorder or have the video recording option on your cell phone ready, in case any bigoted event takes place.
Either way, whether peaceful Eid celebrations go on as planned or are interrupted by protesters, please go to the Eid prayer, dress nicely, exchange gifts and take this as an opportunity to educate the majority of our American neighbors that are misinformed about our religion and celebrations.
An excellent post from MuslimMatters.org.
For anyone interested in the Stevens Athletics’ calendar, I have created an unofficial once again this fall. The fall sports include Equestrian, Field Hockey, Men’s Golf, Men/Women Soccer, Men/Women Cross-Country, Women’s Tennis and Women’s Volleyball. As more schedules get released, I hope to keep updating this calendar so even if you add it now, you’ll get all the updated scheduled into your calendar automatically. If you are interested, I have embedded the calendar below and given the link if you would like to add it to your calendar as well. For those only interested in specific sports, I will also attach individual sport calendars and you can pick and choose.
Here is also the iCal and HTML link to the calendar:
If anyone needs instructions on how to import these calendars into your own, feel free to ask.
Here are the individual calendars by sport which are in .csv and are formatted to be simply imported into your calendar. I would recommend right clicking on each link to save the specific ones you want and then individually import them to your calendar. You can also just click the link to open up the calendar for viewing purposes.
Men’s Cross Country
Women’s Cross Country