just thinking out loud 0 comments on Thoughts as I leave Las Vegas

Thoughts as I leave Las Vegas

With this trip, I’ve now visited Las Vegas at least once per year every year since 1997 (I think).

In the 90s and 00s, I was going with my dad to all of his industry conferences. I snuck into Comdex, the Venetian Gold Room, and was the king of the Circus Circus midway games (at least in my own mind – but not my parent’s wallet’s). Las Vegas loved kids back then. TI was Treasure Island and had an awesome kid area. MGM had a theme park out back. The Venetian opened with its canal and the Bellagio with its water show. Without a single chip to my name, I fell in love.

As I got older, it was college trips with friends, bachelor parties, and of course CES. We were so desperate to be 21 and play legally. It’s such a funny milestone when I think back, but as I watch the newly minted 21 year olds now – who look like babies to me – it all makes sense again.

The last few years has seen Vegas become the site where our family reunites. And that family is my blood, but also dear friends spread across the country and world as well. We have our rituals. And we blend in new and old. And it’s wonderful.

On this trip particularly, I saw so many people here experiencing this place in their own unique way, and it makes me wonder how anything this dynamic and magical could exist.

But as I sit here at the airport, way too early because my dad is always worried I’ll miss the flight, I’m realizing it felt different this time. As if we may be coming to the end of this adventure.

One January 1 very soon I’m going to wake up and say – well, there goes that streak.

But as long as these annual visits continue, it gives me a chance to teleport through time – just like when I swoop through NC State’s campus and recall 23 years of memories. Birthday parties. Shows we saw. Places we ate. The first craps table I won at. That time John disappeared for half a day.

It’s a funny thing to realize you’re outgrowing something or that maybe it’s outgrowing you.

And yet – there we were. Laughing about life over dinner. And it was clear. The finish lines won’t define us. The journey will.

Until next time Las Vegas.

just thinking out loud 0 comments on A thunderstorm in the night

A thunderstorm in the night

It’s pitch black. Except for the occasional lightning strike. The rain comes down non-stop.

Sometimes the lightning is just a lamp from above being turned on and off by an unseen five-year old playing with a noisy switch.

Then – without warning – the picturesque bolt comes down from the sky and flashes the evening with a picture of the mountains to the west.

Despite the noise, the rain, the hour, fireflies flash away. The only sign of life. I guess love doesn’t stop for nature.

I need to learn to capture these bolts so others will believe they happened at all. They’re beautiful. And they shine on a scene that only the night owl ever sees.

But not tonight. Tonight I’m just thinking about it.

Ramadan 0 comments on Ramazan 2021 – Day 1

Ramazan 2021 – Day 1

Every year’s Ramazan (using the Turkish spelling) brings with it so many emotions. An anxiousness to reflect. A sense of doom. An optimism about the month ahead. But I think most of all a reminder of connectedness with something larger than myself.

The hours are finally reaching a point of not being physically destructive. After 25 years of experimenting I’ve finally figured out the best foods. And so as I down my first peanut butter, banana, and mom’s homemade strawberry jam, I’m focusing this year on three goals:

(1) Spend purposeful time in reflection and forcing myself to both write down and confront those reflections.

(2) No angry and negative thoughts about the people around me.

(3) Maintain an exercise regimen – no matter how simple – to invest in mind, soul, and body. But not in a way that would leave me worse off for trying.

My hope is that I can really unlock what this last year has done to me, and find the good and the bad and the growth.

But first I’m going to chug down another 20 Oz of water before the threads of the sun come over the edges of the horizon.

Good luck to everyone and may Allah accept your fast.

just thinking out loud 0 comments on When the President is a racist – call him one

When the President is a racist – call him one

The President of the United States told four Americans to go back to where they came from. This is blatantly racist, and disgusting. To condone him is to support white supremacy. To support his statement is to wish me gone. I know because I grew up surrounded by those who did – wish me gone.

I dealt with this language and viewpoint growing up in NC. I was often reminded how I was less than my neighbors for not being Christian, and for not being a white southerner. My friends were called “sand niggers” for being Arab. My soccer team often broke up into “US vs World” when we scrimmaged. I never really understood that one. I was born in Greensboro, NC. Why did I end up on the world team? My friends reminded me that I was going to hell for not being like them, and believing what they believed. This all came with the best of intentions. But yet another reminder of how I wasn’t like them. And that they were the ones on the right side of history.

These words are powerful. Destructive. They go straight to the core of a person’s self-confidence and self-worth. And they just tear you down.

You lose your sense of who you are.

And now the President is doing that to every non-white, American child with his hateful and racist rhetoric.

Through all of this, what I’ve learned from so many who were stronger than me – I belong here. Those scared, American children born on American soil to immigrant parents belong here.

And those who think otherwise? They are the ones on the wrong side of history.

New Year Resolutions 0 comments on 2018 goals – August & September updates

2018 goals – August & September updates

;tldr I missed a month, and no one said a thing :-p And life is good; so nothing to worry about

Get to 175 lbs

Very slow progress, and yet it feels good. Lots of ups and downs, and as you can see in the graph the number is better than January, but not moving anywhere fast.

1 book per month

Tons of reading in the last few months whether because of vacation or reading on the subway instead of playing video games. It’s a good pattern to get into for sure.

An American Socialist 0 comments on Why we need to publicly fund students beyond high school

Why we need to publicly fund students beyond high school

I believe the federal government should fund the education of all Americans for up to four years beyond high school.

Why? The federal government owns three large problem areas – (1) passing, enforcing, and deciphering laws, (2) defending the nation, and (3) regulating the economy of the nation.

It’s this third area into which I want to dive.

We provide for public K-12 because it benefits us as a society to have an educated electorate and an educated workforce. Let’s ignore the fact for a second that our electorate may or may not be served by this system, and focus on the workforce piece.

There are fewer and fewer jobs for which a high school education is enough to be able to contribute to society. And simply changing the high school curriculum isn’t enough.

Without paying for further education beyond high school, we will have failed as a society to build a 21st Century job-ready workforce.

I disagree with many on the Left who immediately go to paying for a college education. Going to a 4-year Tier I research university isn’t the right choice for everyone. But we do need to make sure that we allow future truck drivers, engineers, farmers, doctors, lawyers, and small business owners the opportunity to learn not only how to excel in their trade, but also how to build a business.

Imagine that there is money for a student to not only learn how to be an electrician, but to learn how to run their own company.

There is money for the artist to not only learn how to sculpt, but to learn how to market their work as well.

There is money to allow someone to earn their commercial driving license, establish their own LLC, and a loan program to buy their first truck (ok, now I’m pushing it a bit).

The 21st century needs a populace with a different set of skills and knowledge than the 20th century did. To try to look at what worked in 1984 and compare it to what will work in 2024 ignores how much the world has changed.

And by investing in our children, and funding education beyond high school, we will create a more resilient economy and a more robust society.

For those reasons, I believe you should vote for candidates that support publicly funding students beyond high school to help build a 21st century workforce for America.

An American Socialist 0 comments on My Primer on American Socialism

My Primer on American Socialism


They’ll go to the moon
                   and beyond,
to places even telescopes can’t see.
But when will no one go hungry
                                                               on earth
                    or fear others
                    or push them around,
                    shun them
                    or steal their hope?
Because I responded to this question
                                    I’m called a Communist.

Nazim Hikmet (1958) 

A combination of factors over the last 18 months – my lack of enthusiasm for Hilary Clinton as a candidate, the election of Donald Trump as President, the rapid growth in wealth disparity in America, and the ever increasing prospect of a high growth, jobless future economy –  has jump started my search for a new political and economic identity. 

So I did some reading.

Polyani’s book forced me to ask myself why I thought we lived in an economic model that was a tide which lifted all boats, and I realized – very quickly – that we don’t. His clear – yet dense – treatise on the imperfections of our economic & political system helped me start to build a framework and a new political identity built around Socialism.

But Socialism is a bad word in American politics. I think this comes from misinformation, and charged rhetoric. So – I wanted to start a different conversation where we can share in this framework together, and have a better informed conversation about the America we want to build in the 21st Century.

What is Socialism?

American Socialism is a theory that proposes that, at the same time, we maximize wealth and minimize poverty. American Socialism is a system that says that American citizens should bear the cost of minimizing poverty while guaranteeing the integrity of free and dynamic markets that make Americans rich. With Socialism, a business, corporation, or market that can only exist by maintaining, or expanding, poverty, will fail (primarily because it cannot support basic costs that a Socialist society would demand). A recent example –

  • A local bookstore shuts down because it cannot afford to pay its workers a livable wage – This is the right outcome for a Socialist because the bookstore can only exist if the people who work there are willing to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

What is Socialism NOT?

  • Socialism and Communism are not the same – Communism removes the ability to accrue wealth by ensuring that all wealth is redistributed  to the maximum ability of the state. Communists believe less in the power of the market, and instead focus on the power of the commune. Much of the Left in Europe is Communist. The Left of Nancy Pelosi politicians in America are not communists – they are Socialists. 
  • Nor is Socialism and a Centrally Planned economy the same – Socialists in America do not seek central planning of the economy. They believe in the power of the Market. They also believe that the Government unfairly favors Corporations at the expense of workers, and wish to see that imbalance right-sized.

What would be different if America were more Socialist?

  • Creative destruction wouldn’t destroy local communities at the expense of innovation – Today when we have innovation – let’s say a new trade agreement that allows less expensive t-shirts to come into America from Mexico – there are winners and losers as discrete groups. In a Socialist society, the winners in that scenario are no longer discrete and disconnected from the losers. Instead, they are responsible, through taxes on their innovation and a government who is committed to retraining, retooling, and reinvesting in the losing community, for ensuring that their innovation IS a tide that lifts all boats.
  • People wouldn’t die because they were too poor to live – 40% of Americans can’t find $400 in the event of an emergency. 1/3 of the fundraisers on GoFundMe are for healthcare costs. A huge portion of Americans are too poor to live, and a parking ticket, a malfunctioning car, a missed bus, or a sick child is the difference between a roof over their head and living on the streets. The wealthiest nation in the world shouldn’t have such a huge part of its population living at such a precipice.
  • Citizens United would be overturned – And with it, the impact of corporations, unions, lobbyists, and PACs in our government at all levels would be reduced. We the People would once again be the influential force behind the politicians who we elect. This comes from both a belief that the individual citizen must be as powerful as the Corporation as well as a belief that protecting the ballot box is a key function of a successful democracy.

Why does 21st Century America need an American brand of Socialism?

One key thing above all else pushed me in this direction – if we are going to reap the benefits of more technology and automation to build a wealthier society at the expense of jobs (which means at the expense of healthcare, housing, and education for almost all Americans), then we need a political system that will catch the disenfranchised, and give them the opportunity to stand back up.

And as we continue to increase the ability of machinery and technology to accomplish our jobs, we increasingly build a society that is wealthier (everyday things cost less), but in which fewer can participate (no jobs).

A more Socialist America would support the market movement towards innovation while ensuring that there was a path to dignity for those who are now replaced by technology (which will increasingly be white collar workers, and not just their manufacturing and construction counterparts)

New Year Resolutions, Uncategorized 0 comments on 2018 Goals – July Update

2018 Goals – July Update

;tldr Some wonderful new patterns are emerging, and I think I’m more sustainably finding a path towards health. Also shoutout to John Holland and all the other folks who always have my back on these goals.

Get to 175 lbs
July weight chart

July weight chart

The last month has been an exercise in teaching myself how to fit health into the life I live today, and not comparing it to what health looked like when I was younger. The constant need to catch up to where I was in college and high school has killed me – mainly mentally due to an inevitable feeling of constant failure. As I’ve found a way to reframe my own expectations, I’ve also found myself much more satisfied with one pick up soccer game per week, or one rock climb date with Amelia.

It won’t get me where I want quickly, but I can now see a way to actually get there, and be happier along the way.

1 book per month

I kept the fiction genre going for another month with The Early Short Stories of Truman Capote. It’s a great combination of seeing how genius develops with seeing the process of how creativity works. Some of the stories were just brilliant. Others – were just eh. But I’d definitely recommend it.

2 date nights with Micky

We only pulled off one date night in July, but it was AWESOME.

We went out with a group of Luka’s classmates parents, and did Korean BBQ and karaoke. The food was good. The singing was awful. But the night was great. In August we’ll make up for some lost time with Geoff and Wendy in town to save the day!

1 date per child per quarter

Amelia and her friend M have decided to try out for the local rock climbing gym competitive team. I told her she could only do it if she practiced, and listened to instruction while practicing. And she said sure! It’s been a blast doing this together. She’s getting really good, and it’s awesome to see her practice something methodically and get better at it. A fun activity that we can do together for a while yet. Very excited to support her in this.

The big kids left at 7:15am for three weeks to hop on a bus, and go to camp. One of those weeks, Micky was out of town, and so sleepy head Theo had to wake up and take them to the bus stop with me. We’d drop them off, and have the most fun morning together. We made kofte. We chased Pokémon. We hung out at Starbucks. He’s so magical, and it’s amazing to have this time with him.

New Year Resolutions 0 comments on 2018 Goals – June Update

2018 Goals – June Update

tldr; Losing track, and losing motivation 🙁

Get to 175 lbs
It’s worse than May, but realistically that was unsustainable. I’m starting to ask myself whether driving towards a number really matters. Or whether I’m really just looking to sustain a lifestyle, and the number is a barometer of if it’s getting worse or better. Nonetheless, this is the most demotivating of the set :-/

June 2018 weight update
June 2018 weight update

1 book per month
I hopped into some classics this month – specifically Of Mice and Men. I can’t figure out if I love it or hate it, but I completely understand why it’s different, unique, reproduced, examined, and the like. I also love reading stories that are set in places where I’ve been. And Steinbeck did a great job storytelling that road and the scenery that is Salinas and the surrounding area in California.

2 date nights with Micky
I don’t remember if we pulled this off or not 🙁

1 date per child per quarter
I also have no idea if I pulled this one off or not. I’m almost certain the answer is no though 🙁

New Year Resolutions 0 comments on 2018 Goals – May Update

2018 Goals – May Update

tldr; Nothing like Ramadan and Strep Throat to get you back on track!

Get to 175 lbs
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what healthy means. Is it the number? The lifestyle? An ability to do something that I can’t do today? I’m not quite at an answer yet, but in the month of May I made a ton of progress (unintentionally) towards this goal. The line is steep, and the probability that I keep it with an upcoming trip to Turkey is – zero.

1 book per month
Great book month! I’m almost done with my Nazim Hikmet book. I finished a book on Quantum Physics called Reality is Not What it Seems, and I also knocked out The First 90 Days as I prepared for the new job. I’m ahead of schedule on getting to 12 books read this year, and I’m both excited by it, and a bit stuck. I genuinely have no idea what to read next – so all ideas are gladly welcome.

2 date nights with Micky
The one date night I know we had was with Nikki & Maddie, and that was AWESOME! We went to some place on Flatbush (I can’t remember the name), and had a bunch of dishes, shared them all, and just laughed the night away. I love them so much. Just so much fun every time we get together.

But I have no idea if we did a second date night or not 🙁 For the life of me, I can’t remember if we had a second date night this month. It’s been really intense with closing out work at Hearsay, starting a new job, Micky’s work getting intense, and the like. I’ve clearly got to get better at documenting date nights.

1 date per child per quarter
No solo dates with the kids this month. It’s getting harder to do this with the big two. They just have too much going on. It’s a bit easier with Theo because he does his own thing, and you can just join in. I’m going to have to really emphasize this one as we push into the summer months.