Friday, December 27, 2013


Today Nooriya tackled me and with her arms around my neck as she smiled she told me, "this is the biggest hug ever and I'll never let you out". 

If you ever read this Nooriya, you will never have to let me out:)

Friday, December 13, 2013


Today I listened to a RadioLab podcast on how the dinosaurs went extinct.  It was very science-y and cool.  The podcast talked about lots and lots of cool things like by looking at different types of pollen in a rock it can be determined that a meteor hit the earth in June.  That's pretty precise and pretty amazing.

The part that amazed me most was that it can be determined that the dinosaurs went extinct in roughly two hours.  It took just two hours for the world to end if this theory is right.  Two hours?! I think about different ways that I spend two hours to put this into perspective.  This post basically took 15 minutes.  Yesterday, I spent more than two hours in meetings at work that didn't amount to anything really.  Earlier this week, I spent almost 2 hours commuting to and from work in a single day.  I've spent more than two hours being upset about nothing.

This reminds me that time is precious.  Without warning my time may be cut short.  There's right now that's for certain and that's all.  Make it count Taher.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

4 years

Happy birthday Nooriya!  We are having pancakes for breakfast, currently Nooriya's only reliable meal that she finishes with me. Our special breakfasts are coming to and end for now when she goes to madrasa soon.

It's strange being here today. Behind us there's a table of four teenage girls with their high school jackets and talking about whatever teenage girls talk about. There's probably a bit of dad-bashing in there😄. 

Lately Nooriya has been tough. It feels like a glimpse what it will be like in ten years. She acts like a teenager sometimes, but at least this year she's at breakfast with me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The other day Nooriya told me, "I drink duud and I get's magical"

It is kind of magical.  So many wondrous systems are around us, like digestion which is pretty complex and cool.  It's so easy to take so many amazing things for granted.  Don't take things for granted.

And Nooriya way to not take this for granted.  But really?! THIS is what you don't take for granted.

Friday, October 11, 2013

1,000 marbles

A friend pointed me to one of those cheesy yet inspiring stories today.  I want to write it down and remember it.

“Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."
And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles." "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."
"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.
Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."
"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."
"So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."
"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."
"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Keep your eye on the ball

I constantly heard this or some variation of this for years when I was in little league. I learned today when the ball goes a little bit fast that it is impossible to keep your eye on the ball. Turns out that really good hitters anticipate what the pitcher is doing in a nutshell and practice. Basically they visualize where the ball will be and get there with the bat. 

I hate sports metaphors, but have always resonated with "keep your eye on the ball". 

Now I'm reevaluating what the metaphor means to me. I think knowing that "keeping your eye on the ball" is not possible makes the metaphor so much more powerful. I can't do it, but if I keep trying I can achieve what I'm trying despite that fact. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Days, Weeks, Months...

Today is the 22nd consecutive day that I've woken up early and started my day with a workout.  I'm past my physical prime, but I still have it in me to be in great shape.  I feel great.

I made a goal 3 weeks ago to exercise every day after seeing someone else talk about the same goal they had that turned into years.  I've passed the 3 week mark and it's routine now.

Exercise isn't the only thing that's changed.  My brain and stomach have come together and I've chosen better food to eat.  It wasn't really intentional to "fix" my diet, but rather it has been a...consequence.

My point isn't really about exercise or diet or anything specific really.  This exercise thing is reminding me that good choices start one day at a time.  Good habits and routines start from a beginning.  So do bad ones.  Often, too, for me good choices lead to other good choices.  And probably the same for bad ones.

I'm looking around me at my wall of pictures seeing how the important people in my life have changed so much over the days, weeks, months, and years.  My walls of pictures serve many purposes.  One of them is to remind me that things change faster than I realize.  Do good now.  Be good now.  Think about what you have right now.  It will be easier to do/be/think tomorrow.

It's never too late to be great!  (I'm a poet in my spare time:P)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A small step...

NASA made it official, the Voyager crossed into interstellar space.

I wrote about being fascinated by the things the golden record contained in the Voyager.  I am so inspired by its grandness.  It opens my mind further to the giant universe we live in.  At the same time and probably more importantly, it reminds me of my smallness.

I'm also reminded to reach for the stars...literally.

Monday, August 19, 2013


"I have seen the future and it's still in the future"...the future of George Jetson at least.  I'm not quite sure when that quote was written originally, but it us just as relevant now.

I'm rereading a book originally written over 10 years ago that is a compilation of the previous 10 years marvelling at the technology advances in the 90's and also making light of some of our collective notions of the future back then.

As my thoughts often do, they turned toward the family. In a week Yusuf will start kindergarten which just blows my mind and Nooriya is on the verge of reading and doing so many new things.

Yusuf is asking me so many intelligent questions and Nooriya is following his lead. The questions are getting to be too hard for me and we are frequently looking things up in books and Googling. The last few months have been very transformative for me as a parent. Much of my caregiving is becoming teaching and explaining. Less is meeting their basic needs. It's awesome. I am in the best place I've ever been with Zahra too.

I feel much the same as I have for the last twenty years or so. Feeling as if I'm in and just entering the best stage of my life.

Zahra and I think about the future as in the next six months or year, but I don't really think seriously past that.

This book makes so obvious to me how fast things change. I don't know if the author's intent is to push me to dream about the future that might be. If that's the case the author has failed because it is making me focus on right now. Right now is a 'simpler time' just as two years ago was 'simpler' and six year's ago was even 'simpler' and a hundred years.... Inshallah ten years will pass and instead of longing for a 'simpler' time then I will look around and appreciate the simpleness then. And Inshallah ten years after that and ten years after that and ten years....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Life as a zoo

I'm rereading a book I first read almost ten years ago. A small chapter I read fast the first time caught my attention and is packed with lines to remember.
The short passage is about taking care of animals in a zoo. The thinking about animals resonates so much with me about people and ourplace. In essence, the chapter is about escape. This quote sums up the chapter very well.
"Everything in an enclosure must be just right-in other words, within the limits of an animal's ability to adapt"
We parallel animals in a zoo in so many ways. There is one major difference I see. Unlike animals that may try to escape the zoo from something, we are escaping to something.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Attitude and Intention

It's Ramadan and every year I turn inward and think about all that's been given to me and do my best to appreciate it. I think a lot about the illusion of control and everything that really isn't in my control at all. All with the goal of trying hard to be aware of all the things in my life.

The last few weeks and this Ramadan I'm taking the opposite approach. I think so much about what isn't in my control that I forget about what is. My attitude and my intention are the two things I can think of that are truly in my control. Also gifts to be sure, but up to me how to make use of these tools.

This year, alongside remembering all the things that are in my life because of no effort of my own or at most the illusion of my effort, I will remember constantly what is in my control. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


I love math because it is full of very abstract concepts with implications about our world once you get passed the foundation stuff.  I'm guessing this is just as true for any of the other sciences that attempts to describe our world.

I'm rereading a book from the bookshelf, "Chaos".  It's probably very boring to most, but I find it fascinating.  The book talks about how the study of chaos began.  If nothing else, I want to remember it is a study fundamentally about perspective.

Nature has this property where no matter how much you zoom in or out things look irregular. A snapshot of a coastline at 1000 feet altitude or 1 millimeter altitude will look pretty much the same. The study of chaos has the central theme that there is a "regular irregularity" to the world.  Mind blown!

Reading this book has also got me remembering the painter's paradox or Gabriel's horn.  Basically, it's a shape that has the property that you could fill it with paint, but never have enough paint to paint the outside.  I learned about this in high school basic calculus and my reaction was probably not much deeper than "this is cool".

The point I want to takeaway from this is to remember in math and in life there are things I can and can't understand AND I need to be aware of that.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I'm taking an interest in digital privacy or lack of.  I'm learning that nothing I write in an email (whether sent or not) or blog or anything digital and connected to the internet isn't mine anymore.  All that (and this) is relinquished by me and recorded.  I have some strong opinions about privacy, but that's not what's on my mind today.

Today, I'm thinking about what kind of trail I'm leaving and what I will continue to leave. I think it's really great that we now have a record to pass down to Yusuf, Nooriya, and next generations.  I also think it's really not great that it's so easy to mold someone's digital historical record this way or that. Just the same way numbers and statistics get skewed and misinterpreted all the time, so too will our records.

A couple of stories in the news right now are taking a people's digital history and compiling them to portray them as this or that.  Technically, I guess they're speaking for themselves which is great, but probably a lot out of context and over many years.  A "regular" guy is a hero or a villain or a genius or a moron depending.

I think back at the last 15 years and all the things I did as a dumb kid without foresight and I'm thankful that not much of that is recorded, at least not that I know of.  I have, though, recorded a bunch of stuff and am concerned that taken the wrong way and out of context.  I know how I would like to be remembered and I hope whatever I leave behind doesn't get twisted into something else.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


"A prediction that the sun will rise is no more rational than a prediction the sun won't rise...don't blame nature because you are too daft to understand it"

Baye's simple description of the world is rich with philosophical implications. If you believe something 100%, no amount of evidence can convince you otherwise.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Yesterday Yusuf told me that we "should get a pool in the backyard because it is awesome".

It is awesome.  The more I thought about it his logic is flawless.

I'm going to do more stuff because it's awesome...maybe not a pool though:P

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I read about a solar powered plane that could fly through the night.  The plane is not practical.  It's slow, difficult to maneuver, and has other limitations.  The scientist summed up why all the effort was being put into this project as "breaking the assumptions of what's possible".

It is amazing to think about where we are compared to were not too long ago.  I am amazed by the things I now think possible that I couldn't really imagine just a little while ago.  I write this as both a warning not to fall complacent and a reminder to myself to keep moving towards something.  Anything is possible.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Order out of disorder

I saw this and first thought that it was just cool.

I think back to every summer and seeing fireflies and watching them randomly flicker and remember thinking nothing of it.  I then saw this video of thousands of fireflies flashing in unison.  Amazing.

 Among other places where fireflies live, they flashed in unison on this river in Thailand.  Just discovered, maybe 50 years ago.  In the dark, silent night.  Amazing! and for no one to see.  And they've probably been doing it for thousands of years.

And my immediate assumption is that there is "no one to see".  Subtle, but I realize that my assumption that there should be someone to see, someone to understand is very presumptuous.  My reaction of isn't only wonder and appreciation, it's something more and marked with hubris.  I also think of my definition of the word random.

Random is a human construct, a human definition.  It's an explanation for something that can't be explained.  Just like fireflies who appear to flash randomly one at a time, but thousands together have a pattern.  Random is just a matter of perspective.  Things may appear random to me, but I shouldn't think they aren't without a purpose.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Cookie time!"

I love having cookies and milk with the kids. Nooriya is learning how to dip cookies in milk, it's a little messy:-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday mornings

I love my Saturday mornings, most Saturdays in the morning it its just me and Nooriya. Too soon she will go to madrasa too:'(

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Who's who

I'm pretty sure I didn't encourage either one of them to say this:-)

"I want to be a builder when I grow up"

"I want to be a princess when I grow up!"

Saturday, January 19, 2013


After many many times gong to Storytime at the library she finally sat by herself. I'm proud of her, but mostly sad she's not cuddling with me in my lap:'(