Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Questions and Answers

A few weeks ago, my friend Hnk, who lives in Mosul, Iraq, posted the answers to some questions that she had received from her sister Najma. The questions were divided into categories requiring the recipient to list seven things for each category. The final part was to list seven people who she wanted to answer the questions. Actually, Hnk only listed three, but that's ok since I was one of the lucky new recipients. :) I e-mailed her that I would think about the questions and try to answer them. That was several weeks ago. Hey, I've been really busy! However, as I always try to keep my promises, I have finally drawn up my list of answers below. I must confess that I would probably give at least some different answers if I was talking to my best friend instead of writing in a public blog, but, I hope that my visitors, and especially Hnk, will appreciate them anyway.

Before moving on to my answers, I would just like to take a moment to tell you a bit about my young blog friends in Iraq. I have been reading Iraqi blogs for more than a year now. At first, I was trying to learn more about what was really going on inside of Iraq after the U.S. invasion (which, as some of you already know, I considered a very dubious endeavor from the beginning!). However, after a short time, I became really enthralled by the personal stories of the blog writers. So many people in Iraq have suffered the loss of loved ones, or at least of people that they knew, including most of my blog friends. I often felt rather helpless and wished that I could do something to make the situation there a little better. Finally, I realized that there was something that I could do. I could write positive and encouraging comments and e-mails. So, for the past year, I have read and responded and tried to be a good friend by providing a bit of light for some good people passing through a frequently dark time. Several of my Iraqi friends and links to their blogs are listed on the left side of this page (also here in the post for convenience). They are Hnk, Dalia, Raghda, and Maas. Hnk writes about her life, her school, her travels, and her feelings. Dalia is Hnk's cousin who lives in Baghdad. She is a wonderful artist and has posted some of her drawings. Raghda is another of Hnk's cousins who also lives in Baghdad. She likes to post pictures and stories about cats. There are so many cute kitten pictures at her blog! :) Maas is Hnk's best friend in Mosul. Maas likes to post puzzles for her readers to ponder (Dalia usually solves them before me!). Hnk's sister Najma is a bit older and is very smart. She writes very much like a journalist sometimes, reporting on what is going on in her part of Mosul. I have not talked much with Najma, but I do read her blog frequently. Anyway, I hope that you will find these blogs interesting. And now, on to my answers to the questions:

Seven things I plan to (or wish I could) do:

1. Visit California to see Giant Redwood and Sequoia trees. Actually, I like any sort of huge and ancient tree. There are so few left in the world. :( There is a story that I have heard from the time of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Caligula is said to have ordered the cutting down of a truly ancient chestnut tree called "The Tree of 100 Horses". I have wondered if the name literally meant that it took 100 horses to form a ring around the tree's trunk! Assuming a Roman horse to be 8 feet long, this would give the tree a diameter of 250 feet. This is a bit incredulous! Perhaps the tree could shelter 100 horses under its branches. That I could believe. Anyway, according to the story, Caligula ordered that the lumber from the tree be used to build a huge floating brothel, with the "working girls" being none other than the wives of the Roman Senators! If you would like to see some pictures of one of the world's largest living trees check out this link. The tree is a Montezuma Bald Cypress living in Oaxaca, Mexico and is estimated to be 2000 years old! I think this tree could be called "The Tree of 100 Children" (see the picture). :)

2. Build a house. In my mind, I see soaring vaults of stone and concrete, but this may be a bit grandiose! Perhaps I should start with a small log cabin. :)

3. Travel to more interesting places around the world. I have been to Italy and South Korea. Talking about soaring vaults, the ancient Pantheon in Rome is one of the most incredible structures that I have ever seen! It has an unreinforced concrete dome that spans more than 100 feet and it was constructed more than 1800 years ago! The tour of the Vatican was also quite awe inspiring! The enormity of the spaces inside of St. Peter's was truly amazing, as was the unrestored beauty of Michaelangelo's frescos in the Sistine Chapel. As for South Korea, it is a country of dramatic contrasts. Seoul, its capital, is a gigantic city with more than 10 million people crowded together. I have never seen so much traffic in any city that I have visited. The constant honking of horns was what I remember most about driving with my friend or riding the city buses. In the Korean countryside, I saw poverty the like of which I have never experienced in the U.S.: farming families that lived in small mud houses surrounded by flooded fields of rice. One great memory from that trip was a visit to Solag Mountain. This is a beautiful place in Korea to see a large area of unspoiled nature. I hiked the mountain trails with my friend up to an ancient Buddhist Temple. Along the way, groups of young school children (mostly girls) giggled and pointed at me, a few even had the courage to wave and say hello (in English to my surprise!). When I waved back and returned the salutation, there was much more giggling. :) I saw hundreds of people there that day, but I was the only non-Korean. It was obviously a very special place to Koreans that few Americans have probably ever seen. I felt privileged to have a Korean friend to take me there.

4. Write a publishable work of fiction. Some of the people that I most admired growing up were the masters of science fiction and fantasy whose stories I read. Those stories fired my imagination and came alive in my mind! As for writing my own book, I am realistic: I am not yet up to that challenge, but maybe some day...

5. Visit my last remaining grandparent in the near future. My father's mother is 91 years old and is not in very good health. She lives in Tucson, Arizona. The environment in and near the city is really beautiful, with many green desert plants, and a number of tall mountains which form a partial ring around the city.

6. Strive to reach a level of self-actualization. This is a psychological term that describes a person who is using his or her abilities to the fullest extent possible and who has also found happiness and satisfaction in life.

7. Know the joys and travails of raising a child. Of course, being single is not particularly conducive to realizing this goal!

Seven things I can do:

1. I can ride a motorcycle again. When I was a bit younger, I had a really nice motorcycle for 11 years. It was a 500 cc V-twin Honda that looked very much like a small Harley Davidson. I had a lot of fun on that bike and also used it as a primary means of transportation (as long as it wasn't raining!), I even rode it during the winter. Of course, I had to really bundle up to resist the chill factor! :)

2. I can play a classical tune on my guitar. I took lessons for five years when I was a kid. I wish now that I had taken more, but my teacher moved to another city and I didn't really look for another. Some of my favorite pieces were originally composed to be played on a lute more than 500 years ago!

3. I can visualize in full color and motion anything that I have carefully observed, or anything that I can imagine, all inside of my mind.

4. I can quickly invent solutions to physical problems with the tools and materials that I have close at hand (making good use of #3!). Lacking the proper tool or material, I usually know (or can find out) where I can procure either. Perhaps I have a genetic preponderance favoring some prehistoric Homo Habilis (aka "the handy man") ancestor. :)

5. I can take great pleasure in the simple company of good friends.

6. I can be trusted to tell the truth and keep all my promises.

7. I can make people laugh by making quick comments regarding things or people that I see or hear around me.

Seven things I can't do:

1. I can't understand high level abstract mathematics. In Junior High School, I aced geometry, but nearly failed algebra. Later, in college, I had some very good math professors and did much better. Still, visually oriented mathematics (graphing, integral calculus, etc.) was always much easier for me to relate to than a bunch of symbols on a page.

2. I can't sit behind a desk performing engineering calculations all day nearly every day for years while at the same time finding much enjoyment in life.

3. I can't read very fast.

4. I can't understand the blind devotion to a particular religious faith that would cause a person to label everyone with a different perspective on the nature of reality as evil.

5. I can't defy gravity, although I frequently dream that I am able to do so. :)

6. I can't drink a lot of alcoholic beverages without becoming sick to my stomach a few hours later. Because of this, I haven't gotten drunk for years. I have, on occasion, become a bit tipsy though. :)

7. I can't understand how the universe can be an infinity of empty space beyond the farthest star of the farthest galaxy.

Seven things I say most often:

1. Rats!

2. Dammit!

3. Crap!

4. That figures.

5. Ouch! (I get a lot of splinters in my hands and occasionally mash my fingers with a hammer!)

6. What the hell?!

7. Now, where did I put that damn tool?! :)

Answering these questions was fun. :) So, I will invite any of my visitors who are interested to answer them as well. Thanks for learning a bit more about me! Btw, some of you may recall that this month marks the one year anniversary of this little blog. Soon, my little baby blog will be out of diapers (quite a precocious little blog!) and on to the terrible twos! :)


Anonymous Jamak said...

Wow, there's so much here about you David. Could act as the Personals column as well, in a way!!
It's always good to list one's strengths and weaknesses through introspection and have goals as well.
From what I know of you, I'm certain that you can reach your goals and fulfill your dreams.
Best of luck to you.

11/09/2005 2:26 PM  
Blogger The Humanity Critic said...

Those were some great answers, providing some insight into you a bit. Great post.

11/09/2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger David said...

Thanks Jamak! Mostly, my goals are short term, just taking care of business stuff, but having things to wish for can be a very positive motivator. :)

HC, glad to see you back again. I feel so naked after my revelations! :)

11/10/2005 1:21 AM  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

Well the Iraqi haven' been enjoyin the wheels of fortune for a long long time. They have suffered loads & well pain enlightens brains more effectively than any other stimulus.

P.S: building a house all on your own!!?? that will take ...!

P.S 2: David don't even think of another long term silence after this one or else ;-)

11/10/2005 7:16 AM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Yes, David, good to see a new post from you. I live in the region of the huge redwood trees, and hope that someday you will get to see them. When I first came to this area I amused all the folks who were born here and were used to the trees by how I stared and stared. These forests are special, and yes, they are diminishing. One year I was sent by my clinic to a conference, and flew over the area and saw the scars on the land where the trees had been clear cut, the ground stripped bare. I cried, which surprised everyone traveling with me.
And may all your other dreams come true. (I appreciate your talking about the young Iraqi bloggers; I too have been obsessively reading them, and wishing they were all safe and happy.)

11/10/2005 3:13 PM  
Blogger David said...

Dr O2, I had a friend in High School who once said to me that misery breeds maturity. Actually, we both suffered depression at times. I think he was right to some extent, but to be honest, I would have preferred to be an ignorant happy fool! Regarding Iraqis, I wish that their enlightenment could have come a lot more peacefully! Also, I think that it is still too early to predict their future. I hope that it will eventually be a bright one, though. Regarding building a house, you are right, it could take quite a long time. Prior to modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and electricity, a house was a much more simple thing to construct. Just building a foundation, four walls and a roof, with an entryway door and perhaps a few windows, was something that a few people could accomplish rather quickly, given the proper tools and materials. Today, things are a lot more complicated!

Jarvenpa, glad you liked the post. :) I am sure that I would stare and stare at the redwoods, too! I hope that my blog friends in Iraq will be safe and happy, too. I get worried every time I hear about a new bombing there. I feel for all the innocents who are killed, but it would be much worse if it was a friend.

11/12/2005 2:13 AM  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

well as one who is living somewhere where we can be the next target I rather say I do agree with ya. I can never imagine nor would ever favor anything like that happening to our country. Living in limited freedom is much easier than living in ruins under a freedom brought to U & not fought for...

11/12/2005 9:01 AM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Actually, about building a house--I live in a cabin (when not at my bookstore) in the woods that was built by my partner and friends and me. But it is not a very modern house! It started (29 years ago) as a 12 foot by 12 foot "garden shed" (we were going to build the real house later--ha!). Over the years we added two small rooms and some big windows but it is still small (and we raised 3 children there). No electricity. Just a couple years ago got water to run from the spring to the sink and out. Amazing. My father used to wonder that we could live in such conditions--but it's fine. And it is amazing to see your own work turn into a place to live!
You couldn't do this in the city though. We are very remote, and Official Rules don't apply much.

11/12/2005 5:28 PM  
Blogger David said...

Amen to that Dr O2!

Jarvenpa, I am amazed that you live off the grid! Do you have a wood stove for heating and cooking? Or, maybe you have a propane tank? When I was a kid, I roughed it every summer for a few weeks at boy scout camp (nasty latrines!), but I wouldn't be much good without electricity these days, I have lots of power tools and I'm rather hooked on a few TV shows. Have you thought about installing some solar cells and batteries, or perhaps a small windmill generator?

11/13/2005 1:38 AM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

We have thought about solar and such, but we joke that if you can see the sky (and therefore the sunlight) you are not on our land, which is dense second growth forest--so solar isn't really very possible. For years we cooked on a woodstove (still heat with wood) but my father bought us a small propane powered stove (with an oven, joy!) some years ago. It runs from a 5 gallon propane tank. In a way we cheat, because we spend a lot of time at our bookshop, which is firmly on the grid--it's where the computer is, and lights. And my children really like town better by far than life in the woods. But for me, life in the woods fulfills a childhood dream. (My children will fulfill different dreams than mine!)

11/13/2005 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Iranian Idiot said...

DUDE!!! You're Kidding ME!!!!! I was Shocked When I read Sll Those Things You'd Like To do!
I DO really Like To Have a Chance To see Those Giant Trees!
I Do Want To Build My Own House, (I've Got Plans as Well)!
I Do Love To Travel, Specially Foreign Countries! I Just Love it So Much!
AND I DO Have some Relatives In Tucson Arizona that I'd Like To visit Them! although they are not that Old!!
About The Sixth Part... I Guess most Of the people would like to be such a person. so I wont consider this as something in common! although it somehow is!
Well... As Long as I'd Seen EYES WIDE SHUT movie and as I Would like to take too much responsibility for My child, I dont Want marriage! and I Dont Wanna Have a child in the following 10 years!!

Dude I love Music! and I was playing Piano since I was only 4, my first performances were just with my forefinger!!

I'd better say more about this face to face!!! Where do u live?!! Are you coming to Iran?!

as you might visit my weblog... I had used some words... I mean Some Words...!

11/14/2005 4:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Iranian Idiot,

You and I do indeed have some things in common! You know, I have seen some pictures of Tehran, and there seems to be some similarities with Tucson, with respect to the geography. Do your relatives in Tucson see this similarity too?

I have seen the movie "Eyes Wide Shut". In some ways it was very exciting and stimulating, but in other ways, it was very disturbing. Personally, I don't really care for movies that combine extreme violence and sexuality.

I have known a few people that were very musically talented. I always enjoyed their company and found them to be very interesting people!

I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have made some nice Iranian friends in the past two years through blogging. They have taught me a lot about Iran and I think that I would like to visit Iran someday. I am especially intrigued by the very ancient history of Iran, and the many ancient sites that can be visited there.

Thanks for visiting. :)

11/15/2005 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Somehow I see (or wish to see...? :) beyond the wishes that you posted :)
Take care, David, and good luck :)
Good thoughts :)

11/15/2005 6:46 PM  
Blogger David said...

Manuela, maybe you are a psychic! :) Thanks for visiting.

11/16/2005 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Hahaha :) Mmm, I don't know... :) I don't think so :) You're welcome :)
Take care
This has been a very interesting post, anyway. I also liked the comments, very instructive.

11/17/2005 9:25 AM  
Blogger Melantrys said...

Thanks, but no thanks, I've already been tagged by somebody else, but maybe you saw that.

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving an intelligent comment. (The last stranger dropped by to tell me "This blog is stupid" *rofl's)

11/18/2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger Pinkfloydish said...

wow David! I never got the chance to come and read your blog and haven't been writing my own either! but you say it's now a year since you started! damn! time flies,
and this was a very informative post :) nice to know whose writings we're reading, eh? write on :)

11/26/2005 1:55 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Pinkfloydish! It is a very pleasant surprise to see you here! :) Time really does fly, although sometimes, I wish it would walk! Its funny, but when I was a child I always wished for the opposite! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :) I will continue to write, I hope you will too! Thanks for stopping by. :)

11/27/2005 5:33 PM  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

David guess my calender indicates you have kept us for too long this time ;-) how much longer should we await it man!!! :-) I am starting to shake & shiver... tic-tac, tic-tac...

11/28/2005 2:07 AM  
Blogger Lavinia said...

David this is an absolutely amazing post. I have learnt a great deal about you from it. It reminds me of that film, High Fidelity with John Cusack, where he lists his All Time Top 5 breaups and everything that's shaped him.

I also want to let you know that you are a winner in my HNT story competition.

Congratulations^_^ and thank you so much for the effort and creativity you put into the entry. It was just great.

Your prize is either the full, uncropped image you wrote the story about or a picture request.

You can ask me to take a picture of anything you like while I am on my holiday here on South Africa's magnificent Wild Coast. I will do my best to get that pic for you.

You can let me know by dropping your email address in a comment on my blog and then deleting the comment. I will get the initial comment you posted:)

Have a beautiful day


12/06/2005 8:46 AM  
Blogger Melantrys said...

Hey, this post is a month old already; do something about that! ;)

12/07/2005 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Lady Sun said...

Wow! Nice work! It was my first time reading your blog and I’m quite impressed. :) By the way, thanks for not forgetting about my blog. You have always been one of my best friends in English blogsphere and I’m happy to see you still check my blog.

4/18/2006 5:10 AM  

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