Amused or Offended?

From the files of LB:

-----Original Message-----
From: Augusta
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:33 AM
To: Brian
Subject: FW: website details
Please look over the show information provided by "LB" at PBS, it is below her contact info. Let me know when you get a chance and I will confirm it with her.
A :)

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 10:51 AM
To: Augusta
Subject: RE: website details
Augusta -
Careful, if I'm not mistaken - I think "LB" is actually of the "male" gender. One of those Muslim names, ya know? I don't know for sure, but he/she has already probably encountered some confusion - part of the territory WHEN YOU LIVE in the U.S. right?

From: Augusta
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:50 AM
To: Brian
Subject: RE: website details
I talked to her on the phone, it's a lady. She speaks clear as a bell English! :) SCORE!!
A :)

M is for Mystery

Coma. Comma.
Then what?
I don't know
which is worse.

No pain.
No joy.
No suffering.
No ecstasy.
No worries.
No chocolate.

, but then he had a miraculous recovery!
, but then he had a successful recovery!
, but then he recovered.
, but then he woke up . . .
comma. ellipse.

Coma. Comma.
Then what?
I don't know
which is worse.


Uncle Bhai Jan

My Nanaji (Grandfather on my mother's side) was born in Hong Kong, has been an army man, a Japanese prisoner of war, graduate of a poultry farming course, and a journalist -- not your typical Pakistani resume. He has traveled the world and written tomes about his observations at home and abroad. I think his sense of travel adventure, along with his sense of humor, are what I inherited most from him. This is not to say that the other side of the family doesn't have its share of cut-ups. It's just that their sense of humor leans towards the fart jokes, the ribald limericks, the reverse prank calls. My Nanaji's sense of humor was more light-hearted and a constant presense in his every day life: any time there was a lull in the conversation (or even when there was not), he was at the ready with an amusing anecdote, a riddle, an outright jokey joke.

A few days ago, my Nanaji suffered a stroke. He seemed to be in stable condition for a while and managed to drink some milk, chat with my Dadaji, and go out for some fresh air. But he is in his 90s. He has already gone through one quadruple bypass surgery, he has been feeling weak for months, and his prognosis was not good. My parents were vacationing in Florida and when they got the news, booked their tickets, packed one handbag each, and headed to Pakistan for a few weeks. They arrived at 3:30 a.m. and planned to visit the Naval Hospital where my Nanaji was being cared for later that morning. Apparently, the situation has taken a turn for the worse and some time during the night, he slipped into a coma. Nothing is certain. Nothing ever is. My father is consoling the family by gently reminding them that at least in a coma, he feels no pain, no suffering, no agony.

Please pray for him. May Allah (swt) bless his soul, show him mercy and love, and reward him for his good deeds. Ameen.

**UPDATE: your du'as seem to be working - he is out of the coma and is eating, sleeping, and chatting with friends and family. Thank you and keep 'em coming!


Abandon Brain Cells, All Ye Who Enter Here

In response to several suggestions/requests on various topics, I present to you the following:

1. Horsepower is not the only thing it takes to go fast. A car’s power-to-weight ratio is a huge factor, and it’s overlooked far too often. Think about it: 400 ponies should give you great performance. Definitely true in a lightweight sports car, but 400 ponies in a lumbering tour bus, not so much. Same horsepower, different vehicle weights, different power-to-weight ratios. It’s calculated by dividing the horsepower by the vehicle curb weight. The result equals the number of pounds each horsepower has to motivate -- the lower, the better. Improving a car's power to weight ratio involves reducing the overall weight of the car and increasing its ability to produce horespower and torque. By eliminating unnecessary accessories and replacing existing parts with lightweight alternatives and by allowing the engine to burn fuel more quickly, you will be able to increase your car's performance.

2. Batman is the best because unlike other superheroes who can fall back on their God-given/Gamma-ray-given/Spider-bite-given/Alien-given powers, Batman has to rely solely on his wits, his cunning, and his own human strength. Yes, he has money, but what he chooses to do with it in conjunction with his self-reliance and his love for the city and its inhabitants is what lifts him above the rest. He has to fight evil in the form of villains but also the darkness within; which means every time he chooses to defend the good or beat back his own vengeful wrath to avoid killing mercilessly, he is winning a battle . . . a jihad, so to speak. Wait a minute. Is Batman a Muslim?

3. Owl - possibly because she is so smart, has big eyes, and is most active at night?

Chai - because she likes chai?

2 Scoops: As far as my ailing memory serves me, I remember that one of the first times LB and I met "Najm" (now my cousin in law! see what happens when I like you? I make you part of my family!) and "Taha," (which i guess makes THAT the first ever blogger newunion), we were a little hesitant and just sort of took it easy at the beginning to get to know one another. Solidifying my permanent "Baji" status, I treated everyone to sushi in Georgetown and then to ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. We all got in line and Taha had some difficulty choosing just one flavor. By then (a whole hour into meeting each other) we were comfortable enough with each other for (a) him to plead to his new baji if he could have two scoops and (b) me to agree. He was so freaking excited about having two scoops of ice cream that, as we stood outside of the store and watched his unbridled glee and enthusiasm spill willy nilly, his nickname was born.

Icubaji: Five years ago, when I was first introduced to the world of blogs, I decided to create my own. The name "Baji" had already been taken by some ignorant fool who clearly did not know that I am the one and only Baji around. Toying around with some variations, I recalled a time when a bunch of us drove from Louisville to Florida one year and the young cousin of my friend picked up a toilet paper roll, used it as a spyglass, and excitedly exclaimed in a childish, lispy shriek, "I thee you, Baji!" Voila.

4. Trademarks are not the same as copyrights or patents so stop asking me about the latter. If you want to trademark a word or design or both, you should file the application through TEAS PLUS (which is $50 less than regular TEAS) online. If you are already using the mark in commerce and can submit a "specimen" (i.e. evidence of use such as a tag or label for goods or an ad or website for services), then you should go under 1(a) which is use-based. Otherwise, if you go under 1(b) for intent-to-use, you'll have to pay $100 down the line when you do, eventually, start using the mark in commerce. There is no need to hire an attorney UNLESS there is some complication (such as someone already using the same or similar mark in commerce for the same or similar goods/services or the mark is descriptive of the goods/services or the mark is scanalous pandalous, etc.). If there IS a complication, the USPTO will let you know and you can decide at that point whether or not to hire an attorney to respond. More info, can be found on the USPTO's website. If you want to try to search the public records yourself to see if anyone is using the mark, you can use TESS which is also on the USPTO's website.

5. Abez: Her Scrabble skills are lethal. Her baking skills are world renowned. Her web designing skills are wicked (this blog case in point). Her "Right Brain/Left Brain" dialogues would leave me rolling in the aisles. Her brief but exciting visit to our humble abode was too short. Her generous heart, strength of will and faith, and sense of humor are a source of inspiration and joy to others - whether she knows it or not.

Your turn. My mother is on the search for a new, simple, inexpensive computer. Suggestions?


Turning Japanese, I Really Think So

There is a small travel agency down the street that specializes in arrangements for travel to and from Japan. Recently, presumably because there was not enough demand for trip arranging in this day and age of travelocity, orbitz, etc., they pushed the agency part into the back and renovated the rest of place as a Japanese grocery store. I stopped by there yesterday to stock up on Pocky Sticks* and ended up perusing the entire contents (they boast something around 700 items) of the store. It reminded me of a miniature version of the mega-grocery store H Mart. It reminded me of my desire to visit Japan (with Gojira who, hopefully, will advise me on what is a soap dispenser and what is an air freshener). It reminded me of this excerpt from David Sedaris's "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" about his trip to the grocery store in Tokyo:

We went there twice yesterday and found ourselves completely lost. The milk I recognized by the red carton and by the silhouette of the cow, but how do you find soy sauce when everything on the shelves looks like soy sauce? How do you differentiate between sugar and salt, between regular coffee and decaf?
There was an abundance of "chicken flavored" items, a smattering of "salad flavored" items, and the rest was a mystery to me. In the end, I could only buy a few other goods that I recognized by the photograph on the packaging or else by the English translation. Again, score one for subtitles!

*We are in the midst of Toilet Training Boot Camp for ZP and one thing that seems to work is offering Pocky Sticks as a reward for each successful trip to the bathroom. Half a stick for number one, a whole stick for number two.