Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eid Mubarak: The one with the sheep

This week, Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha, or as I like to call it, "The one with the sheep".

It's a traditional sacrifice story which is shared in all three religions of the book (Christianity, Judaism and Islam). Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, is called upon to sacrifice what is most dear to him, in this case, his son. At the ultimate moment, God declares that Abraham has accomplished his duty by his intention to sacrifice his son and replaces said son with a sheep.

And then there was a feast with the sacrificial lamb as the centerpiece.

For more on this, check out The Ismaili's writeup on the Festival of Sacrifice.

For Muslims, this is kind of the Thanksgiving equivalent. Coincidentally, the lunar and solar calendars matched up this year so that Eid al-Adha fell around American Thanksgiving. Now, we've already been through all the gazillions of things I'm thankful for, but in honour of the sheep, here's another:

I am thankful for life. With its ups and downs, confusions, tears and all, there's nothing more precious to me than life. Especially when you truly take the time to enjoy the little things. Oh, and giggle a lot. Which I do. A lot.

On that note... Eid Mubarak, Happy (American) Thanksgiving, and may the Christmas-Hanukkah-Kushiali holiday season begin!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just a few bites...

What are you doing this weekend?

It's been a while since I've updated, and because you're all dying to know what I've been up to (and assuming you don't follow me on Twitter), I figured I might as well type up a new post. Especially since I get to start with something tasty!!

  • Cupcake Camp Montreal! You've probably heard of the concept: it's a fundraiser organized entirely by volunteers who use Twitter to get the local community involved in the cause through a fun activity. In this case, cupcakes! Who doesn't like yummy cupcakes? It's too late to sign up to be a baker at this weekend's event (I'm sorry, I procrastinated!), but you can still show up and support this first annual (?) Montreal event. This year's charity is Kids Help Phone, and if you can't show up, you can donate online. The event takes place Nov 22, from 2pm to 4pm at Restaurant Bitoque and $10 gets you through the door with 3 cupcakes and a coffee. And if you need more convincing, check out this awesome animated promo video:

  • On a more personal note, remember my whole H1N1 kick? Yeah, guess who got the flu? It's pretty ironic too! In the evening of Monday, November 9, I learned that Quebec had accelerated its swine flu vaccination programme and I was now eligible to get my shot! I made plans to go the next afternoon but instead woke up with the flu -.- Of course, I can't be sure that it was H1N1, especially since they are no longer testing for it, so I'm going to get vaccinated anyway... just in case.
  • In other news, I booked my flights for the Vancouver Olympics! I really wanted to rack up the Aeroplan miles, but Air Canada just didn't compare to WestJet, so I cut my losses and went with the more flexible, cheaper itinerary. Of course, I would have flown Porter if I could have! I also thought about taking the Canadian train across the Rockies, but as much as I love VIA Rail, I'm pretty sure that that trip is best done with company. Plus, after working away from home for a month, I know I'm just going to want to get to my bedroom, my bed, my space. So flying it is!
  • I've been reading a wonderful book series suggested to me by J.T., the wonderful author behind The H does NOT stand for Habs. I'm sure you've all heard about it by now (I'm kinda late to this game). The first book was called "Outlander" and it's written by Diana Gabaldon. WOW! I can't wait to go to sleep and immerse myself in Jamie and Claire's world! If you're looking for a series that will captivate you like Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth/World Without End, or even like Harry Potter did way back when, you have got to try this one out. The series is up to seven books with the release of An Echo in the Bone, and so far, it's totally worth it. I'm on book 3, Voyager. Trust me. Twilight doesn't even compare!
  • Apart from that, I've got a whole lot of translations to do thanks to end-of-year budgets. I can't complain! It'll make for a nice chunk of Christmas cash. Speaking of which, I'm almost done my holiday shopping! Are ya jealous?
  • And World Partnership Walk season is almost underway... We've got our first few meetings this weekend and the next. Are you looking for a cause you truly can commit to? What about improving the lives and livelihoods of some of the poorest people in the world by empowering them to invest in sustainable community development? Whether it's in education, health, rural support, civil society, the environment or gender issues, the Aga Khan Development Network does just that. And by volunteering for the World Partnership Walk (or Partnerships in Action walks in the US), you're helping to make a difference in the world. A real difference, since 100% of the funds raised by these walks go directly to supporting Aga Khan Foundation Canada projects, which are non-denominational, by the way. Drop me a line if you want to get involved! Even if you're in another city, I'll hook you up with the right people!

And that's about it for my roundup! Don't forget, you can get more tasty little bites at Cupcake Camp Montreal, tomorrow!

See you there!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On Linking

I am a sponge. I absorb knowledge and I can't stop sucking it all in, even when I'm full. It's an unquenchable thirst, a never ending search.

People say I post cool links. Whether it's on Twitter, on Facebook or by email, they laugh, cry and wonder along with the variety of stories I help them discover. The truth is, as with anything else in life that is successful, I have a little help from my friends.

I don't find all these stories by myself - I'd never sleep! No, instead I rely on a well-knit network of sources who provide me with the most interesting articles in their niche and other stories that tickle their fancy.

Back in the days before Twitter, I did a lot more link exploring than I do now, but mostly because I wasn't satisfied with just the stories my Facebook friends posted (no offence!). My RSS feeds weren't enough to keep me occupied either. So I browsed Yahoo! News -gotta love their oddities section! - and clicked through Propeller and other sites I stumbled upon through previously linked stories.

But Twitter! Ah, Twitter changed everything! Now I have access to a wealth of stories in all kinds of interesting fields and - dare I say it? - sometimes too many articles to read! I often end up simply browsing before retweeting or Facebook posting, and then I'm forced to awkwardly add a belated comment on the story. (The secret is out!)

Still, I do end up reading everything I post, though certain links sometimes remain on my desktop all day or taunt me annoyingly from a perpetually open browser window.

At least I've evolved from my early Facebook years, when I felt almost compelled to post nearly every story I came across. It's a wonder my friends didn't de-friend me for spamming them with links! (Although in those days I guess they didn't really have to see them if they didn't want to).

I've often thought of turning this obsession into a potentially profitable venture. Why not collect all the cool stories I find and turn my blog into a news wire of sorts? Because then I would be forced to comment on each and every link when some of them deserve nothing more than a "Heh. Interesting." or are posted more for general knowledge than life-enhancing purposes.

Someone recently suggested to me that I might use my link-finding talents while hosting a radio show. Sure, that could be fun. But then the pressure of finding cool, creative and original stories each and every day would definitely take the enjoyment out of it. And who needs all that extra stress?

The fact remains that I post stories because I'm interested in them or because I think people should know about them. It is a truly selfish endeavour, at once feeding my incessant need to know (NOW!) and making me look fairly sociable - not to mention knowledgeable!

So while I have my reasons for retweeting and reposting, I am left with a feeling of emptiness at the end of the day, when my prolific sharing has resulted in no interesting conversations or additional sharing by others. Which is why I always appreciate the "likes" on Facebook... Simple and to the point: it can loosely be translated into a "This is cool, thanks for posting!"

And since I post mostly for me (now that I've gotten over my awkward Facebook adolescence stage), it always warms my heart to hear someone say in a private conversation when I'm starting to think no one is reading: "I really enjoy all the links you post." These comments are always exquisitely timed and give me a renewed enthusiasm for sharing what I think is cool with my little slice of the world.

But I wonder... Why do you post links?

P.S.: You're welcome.