One Last Glance

Adapted from photo by Extra Medium.

Winter of 2011 brought with it the regular grey skies and sheets of fog that roll in to Santa Cruz from the sea, spreading out into the valley, snagging on the tips of trees, and gently lapping against the pine lined peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains . This was a season of change. The weather grew colder and the sidewalks of downtown were quieter with just the feet of the locals. This was my first winter back to the States after having spent the previous eight years living overseas. I had a new apartment, a new job, and a new set of friends. And recently, my stepfather’s terminal cancer had taken a turn for the worse leaving us all wondering about the future.
I loaded my truck with the lumber I’d bought and headed up over Highway 17 through the Bay Area, and north toward my parent’s home in Oregon. I’d just moved into a small studio that would serve as a space for my photography and a place to lay my head. It was all about properly using the space, so I decided to build a simple loft. With Pat’s illness, I wasn’t sure how many more times I would be able to see him, so I thought the loft would be a project that we both could do together. A man who defined himself by what he accomplished each day around the house, he’d been growing increasingly frustrated with his physical limitations, and recently, with his cognitive abilities, as well.
Mount Shasta dumps down into Weed, California, and splits off east through a beautiful, flat landscape of shrubs and bare white branches that catch the sunlight and stand out starkly against the dark underbrush. It was quiet here. I drove along with my window rolled down and my heater cranked up, something I learned during my morning commutes along the ocean in Southern California. The cold air hits my nostrils while my body stays wrapped in the warmth of the heater vents. I looked at the clock and calculated my arrival time, grabbing another pinch of sunflower seeds I bought at the gas station in the last town.
I started to wonder how the loft project would go. Pat had always been a old codger even before he was particularly old. He dominated conversations and he knew something about everything under the sun. His years growing up hard and trauma from the time he spent in the Vietnam War left him rough and closed. He wasn’t one to admit to weakness or mistake, and praise from Pat was hard to come by. But when I’d come home from overseas, Pat had questions. We would sit on the front porch, and he would smoke and ask me about the food or if women could drive and then he’d repeat a story from his time in the army, one that I’d heard last year, probably. But I appreciated his interest and these moments of humility. “I’m still waiting for my coffee,” he would say. “Well, ten minutes ago you said you didn’t want any,” my mom would say. “Well, damn it, I do now.”
Pat was thrilled about the loft project and we decided we would start the next morning. I got up and poured some tea and found my seat in the morning room, looking out the window at a squirrel inching out onto a narrow branch of a pine tree, his tail twitching behind him as he went. “Alright, let’s get out there and get moving,” Pat said under his knit stocking cap.
“Pat, let me just check these emails and finish my tea, first,” I said, wiping my eyes.
“When I say I’m ready to go, I mean now!”
I took a breath and said nothing. I usually just went along with what Pat said and tried to let things roll off my back. And now that he’s sick, any thoughts to the contrary felt so insensitive. I grabbed my jacket and went outside. He had a plan, a sketch he’d drawn up, and it was much more intricate than what I had in mind. His had four inch bolts, a ladder made from 4x4s, and a bed over 3/4 inch plywood reinforced every few inches by a 2×4 strut. There were decorative post caps, and all screws were counter-sync’d and plugged. “This baby will support any of your fat girlfriends. You could get ten people up here if you wanted.” When I told him that I didn’t really want to get ten people up and that I was hoping to do something a little less expensive and little more portable, he snapped. “I don’t do anything half-ass, so you can get that #$% out of your mind right now.”
The work was tense and tedious. Pat was confused and the numbers weren’t sticking like they used to. Measurements were botched and my lack of carpentry skills drove him to fits from time to time. The loft was a beast, and once it started to take shape, moving it around was almost more than we could manage. My mother would peek out the window every few minutes and come out to the garage occasionally to check on us and mitigate the damage. She would give me an understanding look and offer gentle suggestions that would be answered with scoffs.
The next day required another $300 in hardware and couple trips to the store, but a night of rest did us both good and things started to come together much more easily. That evening, we sat in the living room looking out the window at the final product looming over my mom’s little Honda in the garage. “So, what do you think of that? Sturdy enough for you? You think it’ll do the trick?” It was sturdy enough to support a truckload of sumo wrestlers I thought but didn’t say. Pat’s eyes were full of pride as he stared out beyond me, warming his cold hands around a cup of coffee. He looked frail in his chair. The project had worn him out. “Yep, that thing will last forever,” he said. “It’ll last forever.”
Then it hit me. The last couple days had left my nerves raw and my wallet hollow, but now I felt a sudden shame for my pettiness. I now saw that Pat wasn’t just building a loft, he was building a legacy. Something that would outlive him. Something that would stand up against outside forces and win. Something that would weather the attacks of time, of disease, of our damned mortality, and stand firm and proud, and in one glorious piece.
A few days later we took the loft apart and put the three large pieces in my truck to take it back to Santa Cruz. It took a friend and I about 2 hours to wrestle the pieces up the U-shaped stairway in our building, gouging the walls and railing as we went. When it was finally in my room and assembled, we stood back to look at the fruit of our labor. “Look at that,” I said. “That thing will last forever.”
Pat asked me about the loft every time I spoke to him throughout the next year. He could no longer take on projects that were so physically demanding, so he began to make candles. He bought molds, waxes, and scents; glass jars, wicks, and a display shelf for his creations. He struck up a deal with the local coffee shop to sell his candles, but times are hard and people around here are just getting by, so not many sold. Pat made regular trips to the shop to chat with the kind and sassy owner, Teresa, and to check on his display, straightening candles and rearranging the shelves so they looked just right. Teresa wasn’t selling much coffee either. She talked of closing up shop and moving to the coast.
That Christmas, I got two candles from Pat. He had chosen three primary colors for the first one, while the second one was a pentagon of deep purple. He took me to the workshop and showed me how the wax was melted and layered in the glass jar. He showed me all the other candles he’d made and told me who each one was for. His hands were shaky and his fingers stained yellow from years of smoking as he turned off the light and pulled the door closed to head back inside. That evening as we sat on the front porch, I could see his mind was leaving him. His sharp wit seemed scattered and he would sometimes trail off halfway through a thought. “Yeah, those damn Koreans can make good products,” he said as we were talking about the new LG oven we’d bought. “But don’t try to read the manuals! Did you ever try to read the manuals? They don’t make a damn bit of sense…. and I just want the pain to go away.” Then his eyes closed and he nodded off to sleep.
The next summer, I moved overseas again. I had to demolish the loft to get it downstairs, something I never did tell Pat. He was furious when he found out I didn’t take it overseas with me. Each time he’d bring it up, I’d change the subject. When I got home for Christmas, I found a different man in the seat where Pat used to sit. His eyes were sunken in, and a trail of tubing from the oxygen compressor followed him through the house and got tangled on the legs of his walker. Pat had begun to push my mother away, his words angry and full of venom. His frustration made him even more stubborn. Sometimes she would call the neighbors to help lift him when he had tried to make it out to the shop without his walker, tumbling into the gravel path along the side of the house. He’d wander out to the porch in the middle of the night and fall asleep with a cigarette in between his tired, bent fingers.
He would nod off often, sometimes in between sentences in a conversation. And recently, he had begun a new and troubling habit. In his dosing, he would chant, again and again, slowly, rhythmically, in a voice full of desperation, the word “no”, until he would eventually wake himself up. It was this verbal battle against death that we would hear throughout the house all day long, every few minutes. No, no, no. Not angry, but sad and dry like the fall leaves.
The week before Christmas vacation, the purple candle burned down and went out completely. It was all used up except for a bit of wax stuck to the sides of the jar. As the days approached, I got occasional updates from Mom. Pat was not eating, and he was mostly bedridden now. I boarded the plane knowing that this might be my last Christmas with Pat.
When I pulled up outside the driveway that Christmas Eve afternoon, I met our family friend, Sandy. “Are you prepared for what you’re going to see in there?” she asked me.
“What am I going to see?”
“Well, he’s very thin. Not much more than skin and bones.”
I walked in and found his tiny form in a hospital bed that had been set up in the living room. His chest rose and fell, a labored, rattling wheeze escaping past his sunken cheeks and lips. He was sleeping and had apparently been doing so for the past day. On the table next to his bed, wrinkled and stained with coffee, was a stack of letters that we all had written to him a couple weeks before. Sandy and Cindy thought if we told him what he meant to us, if he knew we’d remember him, maybe he’d be able to let go. Mom said she’d come into the room several times over the past days and found him reading them. She said that one day, slightly panicked, he told her to call me because he thought he’d misplaced my letter.
Mom took his thin, pale hand. I stood back at a distance, looking on, uncomfortable, separate, awkward. This didn’t seem like Pat, and the distance between us seemed immense and unnavigable.
“Come say hi,” my mom said.
It didn’t seem right. I didn’t want to wake him or maybe I didn’t think that he would wake up. I came close and took his hand. “Hi, Pat,” I said. His eyes opened, but they weren’t aimed. They were rolled back and trying to right themselves. They settled on me. He opened his mouth but some moments passed before the sound came out. His voice was faint and skeletal.
“Are you comfortable?” Why did I ask if he was comfortable? I was just filling up the silence, and I felt stupid for my question. He looked like he wanted to answer, and then he closed his eyes and was off again.
I went to bed that night thinking I might never see him again. The next morning, it was Christmas. The light through my window was hazy and reluctant. As I left the bedroom, my sister who had slept on the couch next to Pat’s bed, met me in the hallway. She said she thought Pat had just died. She’d seen him take one breath… another breath… and then the third one never came. We got Mom and stood next to his bed. He was still and there was no pulse. The room was strangely calm. I glanced up at the ceiling looking for traces, looking for Pat. I’d read about people in near death experiences hovering over the room, looking down, giving us one last glance. But there was nothing.
Just before she woke up, my sister had had a dream. Pat had died and a woman and man were working busily around Pat’s bed. Suddenly, he sat up laughing and shouted, “I did that three times!” If this dream was some kind of a window into the supernatural, Mom thinks it may be referring to two other times when Pat almost died: once in Vietnam, and once in a terrible car accident. And now this time, the third time.
Later that day, when all had calmed down, and we sat in the hollow void, we tried to make sense out of this moment when everything faded. Pat fought and held on longer than anyone anticipated. He beat his original prognosis by 17 days. He had waited until both my sister and I were here to make his exit. It was for my mom. He wanted her to be surrounded by love. And that’s when he gave us one last glance. It was his gift to us despite his own suffering. Yet he was still ornery enough to do it on Christmas.

Photo by Carol Lanctot

Photo by Carol Lanctot


The Little Man Took My Pants – Thoughts on Diversity.

Some rights reserved by Muffet

Some rights reserved by Muffet

The little man took my pants at about 10:30 this morning, and I was stranded. He left me with his shorts, but they were too tiny and I wasn’t able to get them closed or even find one hole on the belt to latch them up part way. I figured I would just pull my shirt down and try to make it to my car, but after taking three steps toward the exit, I realized there were people everywhere. And I looked a mess and creepy – like some low budget version of the Hulk wherein a Japanese school boy turns into a big, fat, middle-aged white guy. The clothes don’t rip, they just pop open and squeeze his thighs.

I went back inside. I was wearing dress socks and shoes and had pulled my shirt down for the most modesty I could muster as I stood in the lobby of the restroom looking at CNN on my phone. I realized people might think I was photographing them with it, so I moved as far away from the actual bathroom as I could without going out into the public area. To pass the time, I read the news. I learned of the latest school shooting in Colorado. Everyone said the kid looked so normal. An Omani man entered the restroom and gave me a smile that wasn’t as much friendly as amused. I, on the other hand, didn’t look normal. I looked like the love child of Eddie Munster and Barney Gumble, the drunk guy from the Simpsons. I dropped my head quickly back to my phone, trying to look nonchalant.

Then I saw an article with the breaking story of a thwarted terrorist attack in an airport in Kansas. The man said it was his duty to kill in the name of Allah. “I feel so guilt ridden sometimes for knowing what’s required of me but yet doing little or nothing to make it happen,” he had told an FBI informant. The irony wasn’t lost on me that I was reading that story in the restroom of a mosque and that the walls around the courtyard just a few meters from where I stood sheltered in the shadows were engraved with homage to Allah. The grounds of this place, from the flower-fringed lawns and courtyards of bubbling fountains, to the graceful white corridors dotted with colorful hand painted tiles, vibe with something different – something much more gentle. “Those who do those things in the name of Islam don’t really understand true Islam,” the lady at the reception center had told me on my first visit here as she poured more coffee into my tiny cup.

I thought of last week’s field trip and our picnic at a park on the side of the highway as we stopped for lunch. A group of our ten year-old boys excused themselves and gathered at the edge of the lawn to pray. Other students lowered their voices out of respect but kept chatting quietly as they finished their lunches in the shade of the trees. To them seeing different faiths practiced is a normal thing. All these kids play football at recess with Christians, have birthday sleepovers with Hindus, work on a research project with Muslims, and laugh so hard with Agnostics at lunch, that milk comes out of their noses. They are so used to diversity, homogeneity seems otherworldly to them.

I stood and watched a group of tourists enter the mosque grounds through the doorway at the edge of the courtyard, and I thought about how they must feel. For so many of them, it must be like they are crossing over the threshold into mystery. All come with their biases shaped by Hollywood, CNN or BBC, and by their life experiences. Many have never had a Muslim friend before. But I think that most are here with at least a reasonably open mind.

In my experience, the farther off the beaten path you go, the travelers and adventurers who have walked the road to get there are usually people who value difference, appreciate variety, and like the rub of life that happens where cultures collide. I know that I came to this country much like these people, much like the little man who has my pants. I came with questions, I had some answered, and I formed others. I realize that we are all works in progress and that our thoughts and opinions form and reform every time we have a new experience. I now have more Muslim friends than I’ve ever had, and I have experienced the compassion of gentle people wearing abayas and dishdashas, others with red dots and ashes on their foreheads, and others who don’t believe in any God. We don’t all agree on everything, but that’s okay. Maybe we should hang out more often and talk about this stuff, or laugh until milk comes out of our noses – Maybe we should take a moment to walk in someone else’s pants.

The little man was true to his word and in about five minutes he had returned with my jeans all cinched up around his stick man waist. From there down they hung like cheap curtains. “Thanks, man,” he said, tugging at the material trying to keep it from dragging on the ground. “Can I pay you 5 rial? Are you sure?” he asked before I even had a chance to decline his offer.

“No, man, that’s alright.” We switched clothes.

“It turns out I didn’t even need long pants to go to the outdoor parts of the mosque,” he said, “only for the main prayer hall. I could’ve just poked my head in there instead of troubling you,” he said. “It was beautiful, though, so thanks.”

I put my sunglasses on as I left the bathroom for the parking lot hoping the people in the courtyard wouldn’t recognize me as the same guy wearing tiny pants who had been lurking in the shadows of the mosque restroom.

Has a stranger ever asked you to lend them your pants?

Dear Nawras

20131129-183445.jpgI logged into the wifi and got this message:
Dear Customer, you can now start enjoying Caribou Café Wifi. Your username is gprvidmb and your password is 44695212. Your purchased plan is valid until 30-11-2013 Nawras – Get closer.

Dear Nawras,
Thanks for the kind words, but I’m not “enjoying” the internet as you suggested I might do. I’m working on report cards which sucks and is dumb and makes me wish that instead of being a teacher, I could sell pencils in the Ruwi Market at a little wooden table with one wobbly leg. I would sell blue and yellow ones, only. I wouldn’t sell red ones – just blue and yellow and they would all cost the same amount, but if you buy like maybe ten of them, I’d give you two for free. If I know you, I might just tell you to take one free even if you only bought one, but most likely you’d buy more than one because you’d see my beard stubble and the graphite hand stains and you’d feel a little sorry for me. But don’t feel sorry for me, because at least I’m not doing report cards.

I’m doing report cards. So far I’ve finished about two-thirds of them and a mocha coffee cooler, and a chicken and cheese sandwich, and two cups of mint tea, and about 5 wifi cards that Milton gave me because I asked him and because I’m a regular customer, so don’t ask him, because you’re not a regular customer.

Nawras, I like my job. Don’t get me wrong. But I like the other parts of my job. The parts where I get to listen to my kids’ writing and make smiling noises because Jason says something like “my hands are rough like the rusty edge of a leaf” or Maria’s character is “staring down beyond the metal frames of the window, to the emptiness of the hollow streets of Moscow”. Besides writing, I love math because fractions are not fun, but I like making them fun. I love it when kids who usually hate math cheer when it’s math time. I love that they pay me to read to the kids about Aslan the King of Narnia and that some of them cried when Aslan died and cheered when he came back to life and shook his mane.

Nawras, you are right when you say “Get closer”. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? In the end we just want to belong somewhere – belong to something and to someone. The Narnia kids were transformed not because they got cool gifts like swords and potions, or even because they were made leaders over the other creatures in Narnia. They were transformed because they were accepted by Aslan, because they were loved. Even Edmund and he was a real jerk for the first half of the book.

I like my job because I get to accept my students and teach them to accept each other. I put Edmund in the front row, because he has a hard time controlling his wandering mind, and every now and then he annoys the others, but we all love him anyway. My kids get it most of the time, that we are all Edmund and that we all just need a little patience and grace. Because really, we are all on the same path, just walking and trying to figure stuff out.
Nawras, I’d better get back to my report cards. Thank you for your interwebs and your kind and accommodating Wifi that rains on us all no matter who we are. I can’t avoid the inevitable any more. Back to the grindstone.

Hail storm in Muscat

When they do storms here, they don’t play around. Storms mean business. We knew rain was coming, but I did not expect golfball sized chunks of ice falling from the sky. This week I’m filling out forms for my insurance company to collect for the multiple dents on my hood and roof of my car. Here’s a video from the evening. Notice the crazy cloud of swirling windy devil rain that blows in from nowhere at about 20 seconds on the video. What you can’t see off-camera is someone’s awning blowing by at 30 feet off the ground and several wooden chairs blowing down the sidewalk. What you can see is me turning in fleeing like a little schoolgirl back into the safety of my house.

Red Bull Car Park Drift Final – Dubai 2013

I know I’ve been posting a lot about Red Bull lately. You’ll have to forgive me. But that just goes to show how much a part of my life it has become. Last weekend was incredible, shooting the preliminaries in Oman. But this weekend, my blogger friend, Andy, and I were invited to Dubai to watch the regional drifting finals. This time, I didn’t go as photographer, but as “journalist” of sorts. Instead of sweating on my camera grip, I was eating spring rolls and pasta in the media/VIP section. It’s amazing how much of the event I miss when I’m shooting. I catch it in flashes of 1/250th of a second. At times I don’t even really know who’s ahead or behind, who had a bad or good run. This time was different. We weren’t even allowed to take photos during the event, so that allowed me to focus on the action… and the spring rolls.

(All photos courtesy of the Red Bull Content Pool)

Competitor - Action

The event was set at the World Trade Center with the Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building, framed between two glass towers right out in front of us. The skyline was accented by the movement of floodlights. The scene was quite stunning, really. And thousands of car fans who had been attending the Dubai Motor Show for the last several days, were in attendance.


Although all the competitors were top class drivers, it was obvious from the beginning that a few stood out above the others. Their maneuvers were tight and precise, and they were able to work the crowds by hitting difficult transitions at higher speeds, revving their engines, and kicking up huge clouds of smoke with their tires. The best drivers seemed to risk more by hitting seemingly precarious speeds while still maintaining control during maneuvers.

Competitors - Action Competitor - Action

Of course, Andy and I were rooting for our two Omani finalists. When the final four were announced, the Omani driver who was first in the Oman preliminaries, Ali Al Bloushi, was among them. He ended up finishing third while Jad Himo from Lebanon won the contest, followed by Othman Al Takriti from Jordan in second place.

Competitor - Action Competitor - Action

We were grateful to Red Bull for the invitation and happy to be able to cheer for our local champion.

Abdo Feghali and some other Red Bull athletes thrilled crowds with their performances, as well.

Abdo Feghali - Portrait Shady Al Daheri - Action Competitors - Action

Red Bull Car Park Drift Photo Shoot

I started the photo shoot this weekend at the Opera House thinking it might give us some interesting graphic elements to work with for our background. Abdo Feghali, champion rally car driver and holder of the Guinness Book‘s world record for “longest drift”, was to be the subject. I was really lucky to have Brian’s help. We got there about an hour early and had the chance to set up lights and test settings ahead of time.

Abdo got there and we were able to pretty quickly hit several backgrounds around the location.

Abdo Feghali - portrait

Abdo Feghali - portraitAbdo Feghali - lifestyleAbdo Feghali - portrait

A few more shots, the briefing, and some waiting. And then things went loud and steady for the next 3 hours. The highlight was going out onto the track while Abdo was driving and perching up on top of a one-meter-tall, wooden cable spool while he drifted in a complete circle around me. His bumper was literally like 2 feet off the spool. Here is one of the resulting images from that vantage point.

Abdo Feghali - performance

Here are some more pics from the day.

Abdo Feghali - lifestyleAbdo Feghali - performanceParticipant - ActionWinner - ActionParticipant - ActionAbdo Feghali - performance

What Happened to Quicksand? Top 10 Things that Have Changed Since I Was a Kid

quicksandWhen I was a kid, quicksand was on our school playgrounds and in our backyards and bedrooms. At recess we’d push the girls in and their friends would have to lay down on the grass next to the sand pit and stretch their arms in to pull them back to safety. In my bedroom a line of Legos marked the edge of the pit and sheets of paper were stones. We’d teeter on the edge knowing that one slip would drop us to our deaths.


I was listening to a podcast this week about the cultural phenomenon of quicksand. Daniel Engber interviewed a group of fourth graders and they all agreed that quicksand wasn’t very scary at all.  “I think people used to be afraid of it,” one kid said. “It was before we were born. Maybe it will come back one day.”


In the early 1900’s quicksand appeared in one out of every thousand movies. By the 60’s it was in one out of thirty. Quicksand was huge! And it wasn’t only in the movies. Vietnam was the “Quicksand War” and Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about it in his “I Have a Dream” speech: “Now it is time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.” Quicksand, a danger hidden along the beaten paths of many an adventurer, had now become a metaphor for a generation exploring the uncharted territories of the moon, of racial equity, and of the literal and metaphorical jungles of Vietnam.


And just as quickly, quicksand faded into our cultural review mirrors.
This got me thinking about what other things, aside from the obvious examples from the fashion and technological worlds, have changed since my childhood. I came up with a list of ten:


The Karate KidWhen I was eleven, karate was magical. Bruce Lee could pull a man’s heart out and show it to him before it stopped beating. He could jump over a ten foot wall and kill an attacker with just one punch. In our minds karate was supernatural and if you were a black belt, you were impervious to harm. You were immortal. I remember when the UFC came out and pulled back the curtain on our fantasy. The karate guys were beaten every time by the lowly wrestlers. It had all been an illusion.


Keep on Truckin’! Remember that t-shirt?  I watched “Raising Hope” last week and saw the guy wearing it. Trucks were huge when I was a kid. At one time there were several truck themed TV shows running at the same time. Remember “BJ and the Bear” and “Movin’ On”? We would walk around saying, “Breaker, breaker, good buddy,” and ask about each other’s 10/20s.



Of course, every generation has their monsters, but in my childhood we still celebrated all the classic ones. Frankenstein was alive and well, and Dracula was cool. Vampires have had a resurgance with the Twilight series, but Frankenstein has been forgotten, it seems. I had a glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein model that I built. I can still picture it on the shelf and I remember the thrill I had when I turned the lights out and saw his green skin glowing. Glow-in-the-dark stuff has kind of gone away too, hasn’t it?



I was listening to “This American Life” in the car the other day and even though I arrived at the mall, I turned off the engine and sat there awhile to hear the end of the story. Starlee Kine was talking about her quest to be a child actor. When asked to make up a character in her acting class, most kids chose to be orphans – troubled kids in movies were always orphans. In the same class today, there were no orphans present. Their angst came from divorce, from racial and sexual discrimination, from substance abuse. Little Orphan Annie has grown up and Oliver Twist, forgotten.



alienWe loved aliens. We still love aliens. They are still abducting and probing us, trying to conquer the earth, battling us in space. But when I was a kid, they weren’t “aliens”, they were “martians“. Now, they are never martians. I guess Mars isn’t the mystery it used to be. Now we have photos and there are no little green men there.



My mom was about to remarry and my new stepfather was telling me about our family plans for the future. We would be getting a boat and sailing to the Bermuda Triangle. He was just messing with me, but I realize that I was super gullible back then. I remember being completely freaked out. The Bermuda Triangle was a big deal back then. Ships and planes went in and didn’t come out. Maybe this was MY metaphor. Maybe this was my quicksand. Do any kids today know about the Bermuda Triangle?


Remember rainbows? We drew lot of rainbows – a picture wasn’t complete without them. I don’t remember if this stopped when the gay community adopted the rainbow as their symbol or before that. But I miss the rainbow.



bigfootEveryone from my generation remembers the episode where the Six Million Dollar Man battled Bigfoot. We didn’t know the word Yeti, but we all knew Bigfoot. There was no doubt he was real and he was big and because he was a mystery, he was terrifying to us. When the writers matched him against Steve Austin, they knew it would strike a chord in the hearts of a whole generation of kids. We ate it up.


Every Scholastic book order had at least one scratch-and-sniff book available. There was always a page with something floral and another with something fruity. Then there were the books with disgusting smells. I still remember clearly the smell of “witches brew”. It was a little skunky and as an eleven year-old, there was nothing better than gross stuff. I don’t remember the last time I saw anything scratch-and-sniff. This, too, has gone the way of quicksand.


Can you think of any I didn’t mention?

Red Bull Car Park Drift Oman 2013

How much better can it get than a driving contest where you’re judged by the amount of smoke your tires make, the rev of your engine, and the cheers of the crowd in addition to your driving skills on a narrow, tight-turned track. Drifting is coming to Oman and is brought to us by Red Bull.

You free this Saturday?

Abdo Feghali - Action

It’s all happening at the Oman Automobile Association on Saturday, November 2nd at 2:00PM. The Automobile Association is located on the service road that runs along the Sultan Qaboos Highway between Ghala and the Golden Tulip Hotel near the airport.

Abdo Feghali - Action

Here is the Red Bull bulletin: (Arabic info at the bottom of the page)

Adrenaline-fuelled drift shows on the map for the fourth season of Red Bull Car Park Drift in Oman

Oman qualifier to be held in Muscat on November 2nd

Oman is gearing up for the Red Bull Car Park Drift Oman qualifier for the fourth consecutive year, and will showcase some of the most phenomenal drift performances in the region.

Earlier this year, qualifying rounds kicked off across the region in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia opening a whole new season of heightened challenges. Oman is the final stop before the regional final which will be held in Dubai on November 8th at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The Oman qualifier will be held at the Oman Automobile Association and is the perfect opportunity for motorsport lovers and drift fans to enjoy a hands-on experience of high speed and excitement. This year local championship competition will take place at 2:00pm on Saturday, November 2nd with several extraordinary rounds of exhilarating shows to crown the King of Drift. After the tremendous success of the past three years, two Oman representatives will be selected this year for the regional finals.

Preliminary rounds will take place the previous day, on November 1st to select the best of the Omani elite drivers to battle over the drifting title. Registration to compete in the event is open until October 28th.

Last year’s local competition saw Mohammed Al Asmi retained his crown as The King of Drift, for the second consecutive year and compete in the regional finals in Jordan.

This event is in partnership with the Oman Automobile Association, and sponsored by Chevrolet, Total, Bridgestone, Nawras, Merge 104.8 and Al Wisal 96.5.

Before turning into a break through motor sport in the Middle East, the concept of this motorsport originated in Japan during the 1970’s based on the idea of competing in parking lots.

image_proxy_large Event Participant - Action

I’ll be out there taking pictures this Saturday. Come out and join me. It’s sure to be a fun day.

Here’s a direct link to the Red Bull information page

And if you want to drive, but you’re not into burning out the tires on your car, Red Bull has some karting and motocross video games here:

تصفيات ريد بُل كار بارك دريفتفي مسقط في 2 نوفمبر

تستعد سلطنة عمان للتصفيات الإقليمية لمسابقة ريد بل كار بارك دريفتالتي تعود للسنة الرابعة على التوالي لتقدم أكثر عروض السيارات روعةً في المنطقة. وكانت المسابقة جالت في وقت سابق من هذا العام على بلدان عدة في المنطقة بينها البحرين ومصر والأردن والكويت ولبنان والمملكة العربية السعودية، في موسم جديد من التحدي المتزايد ستشكل السلطنة المحطة الأخيرة من تصفياته، قبل النهائي الإقليمي في مركز دبي التجاري العالمي في 8 نوفمبر.

وتشكل هذه البطولة التي تنظم في الجمعية العمانية للسيارات فرصة مثالية لعشاق رياضة المحركات وعروض الانجراف لاختبار السرعة والإثارة.وتقام المنافسة المحلية هذا العام يوم السبت الموافق 2 نوفمبر وتتضمن جولات استثنائية عدة من العروض المبهجة لتتويج ملك الإنجراف. وبعد النجاح الهائل على مدار السنوات الثلاث الماضية، سيتم اختيار ممثلين اثنين من السلطنة هذا العام لخوض نهائيات دبي.

وتقام الجولات التمهيدية في اليوم السابق للحدث المنتظر، أي في الأول من نوفمبر، لاختيار الأفضل من بين سائقي النخبة العمانيين للتنافس على لقب البطولة، علماً أن التسجيل للتنافس في هذا الحدث مفتوح حتى28 أكتوبر.

وقد شهدت المنافسة المحلية العام الماضي احتفاظ محمد العاصمي باللقب للسنة الثانية على التوالي وهو نافس في النهائيات الإقليمية في الأردن.

ويقام هذا الحدث بالشراكة مع الجمعية العمانية للسيارات وبرعاية شفروليه وتوتال وبريدجستون والنورس، وميرج 104,8 والوصال.

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أن مفهوم هذه الرياضة قبل انتشاره في الشرق الأوسط، بدأ في اليابان خلال سبعينيات القرن الماضي، مرتكزاً على فكرة التنافس في مواقف السيارات.


The Applause of Pebbles

another poem from this summer written while camping on the beach in Southern California


And catching only slightly on the manzanita leaves

The fog bank hangs his head and lumbers on

The seagulls as the wind lulls stretch their alabaster wings

And ride the offshore breeze until they’re gone


The applause of pebbles peppered by the tides upon the shore

adds treble to the rumble of the seas

and humble souls find soothing in the moving of the waves

proving where there’s thunder there is peace

photo by Kris Williams

photo by Kris Williams


Thomas the Underachiever

“Perhaps I’ll take some classes or start selling real estate,”

said Thomas as he settled down to eat.

“This mundane life is killing me; I’ve so much more to give,”

he mumbled as he stuffed his mouth with meat.

He chewed each mouthful fourteen times, the way his mother taught

and shuffled to find footing for his feet.

“But first a nap,” the vulture said, forgetting all his dreams.

He burped and wiped the corpse off of his beak.