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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Junior Olympic, Baltimore

Photos of my Niece at USA Junior Olympic Track and Field in Baltimore. She was doing the Long jump. I'm so proud of her.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is it the job of retailers to be the Gestapo of the US government?

Recently, An Apple store employee in Atlanta, Georgia refused to sell an iPad to a Farsi-speaking customer claiming that they are simply adhering to the US policy of sanctions against Iran.

When the customer contacted the Apple corporate office to complain, they simply told her, no worries, go buy it online. WOW!!!!!!

I don’t know about you, but I love to window shop and sometimes when something special catches my eyes, I go ahead and buy it. I don’t want to be forced to sit behind my computer and shop when I can just as easily walk outside on a nice beautiful day and browse the stores in my neighborhood. After all, I live in the U.S, the so-called “land of freedom.”

Now, comes in Apple telling me that I’m only allowed to buy their products online and that I’m not allowed to shop at their store simply because I’m "Iranian". What an offensive thing to say. And what if I was Cuban or North Korean? Will they soon have translators in their stores, eavesdropping on their customers? Should we all soon be afraid to talk in our mother tongue when we enter a retail store?

Do retail stores have the right to stick their nose in our business and ask us about our nationality before selling us a product? Isn’t this discrimination? It wasn’t as though this customer was purchasing a weapon. Even then, they simply do a background check regardless of nationality, race, religion or sex. But in this case, the argument is even weaker. This poor customer was simply purchasing an over-priced, over-rated stupid electronic gadget called an Apple ipad.

Personally, I would never go back to a store that would discriminate against me and I would go even further and slap them with a big lawsuit for discrimination and tell everybody I know not to shop there unless the store was willing to give me the product I was planning to purchase for free, a minimum of a $100 gift certificate and a big public apology for behaving like an ass.

Remember the Nokia-Simmens story & how their stock took a nose dive when Iranians all over the world boycott their products? Same can happen to Apple. As arrogant as they may be, no company is too big to fail when they mistreat their customers.

Retailers are retailers. The government is the government. The police are the police. It is not the job of retailers to police the country.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Girls’ Day Out

My sister-in-law asked me to baby-sit on Friday because she and my brother both had to work. My schedule is more flexible than theirs and I love spending time with my nieces, so I said yes. I asked my nieces if they wanted to go to The Jump Around – an indoor inflatable playground with games and slides, cushions and seats on which they can jump up and down. They said no. They wanted to go to Color-me-mine and later to go get their nails done and in that order because they didn’t want to get their nails ruined by getting watercolor paint on them.

When we got to Color-me mine, it was empty. A young and friendly dark-haired girl, the only employee there, finished ringing up her one customer as my older niece picked out a jewelry box in the shape of a pie, my younger niece a rectangular bank with letters and peace sign and I chose a traveling coffee mug. Next, we each picked out five colors. The teenager working there gave us paper towels, brushes and hints on how to create various designs. We decided to go with the free form, making sure it looked handmade, forgetting about perfection and letting the paints run into each other.

We were having so much fun and then two toddlers came in with their mom, picked out their ceramics and colors and sat down at a nearby table. We got paint all over our hands and helped each other with the colors as we went back and forth, deciding how to make our “creation” more artsy. By the time we were finished, we were hungry for lunch. The girls wanted to go to Subway. The cashier at color-me-mine took down my number so that she could call me the following week and let me know when to pick up our art creation. She had to glaze and cook them.

At Subway we chatted about my brother, another cousin of mine who is getting married in May and my mom. My mom loved dolls and she had just started collecting when she got ill. So, I told my nieces that I wanted them to have the dolls as long as they took good care of them. My brother doesn’t want them to have the dolls because he says they will mess it all up. But something tells me that my mom would want them to enjoy the dolls now instead of years later. 

After lunch, off we were to the nail shop. I had already had my nails done earlier that week. My nieces picked out their colors and their design as I watched them and marveled at how quickly they were growing up. I walked around the shop, making sure that the manicurists don’t take advantage of them and a good thing too because they were trying to skip steps and get my nieces out of there quickly even though they charged the same amount as they did their older customers.

Our next stop was to going to be Toys R US to buy characters for their Sky Lander Game. On our way, I put gas in my car. My nieces told me that my car was dirty and that I should wash it at the gas station’s drive-through car wash. This was my first time doing this and would definitely be my last. What a waste of money and a potential damage to the car. Not only did it not wash the dirt off, it made my car look worse, not to mention that my windows were almost shattered from the force of their dryer. It was a worrying experience as my nieces giggled. They said their dad does it all the time.

At Toys-R-US, we spent about 40 minutes. As all parents know, once you get the kids in the toy store, it’s hard to get them out. But that’s okay, I had fun with them. After that, off we were for some ice-cream, the good old fashion way – at the Rite-Aide. The young guy in a white shirt and dark slacks behind the counter was kind and patient as we sampled a few things. He even gave us a discount. We left the store, ice-cream cones in hand and walked a few shops down to the pet store. My nieces wanted to buy a hamster. I said no way; their father would never talk to me again. They already have two finches, two parakeets, two guinea pigs, and two gold fish left over from the Persian New Year. 

It was an expensive day. But I don’t get to do it that often and I really loved being around them as we enjoyed our ice-cream, admired the pets and later headed to their house to hang out with my sister-in-law and my brother who were going to be back home from work. Oh and did I mention that that night I had no trouble falling asleep. I was so tired that I passed out without needing a sleeping pill :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Nowruz

I am not able to celebrate Persian New Year aka Nowruz with my family this year because I'm taking care of my dad who is visiting from Iran and has the flu. But no worries.  Nowruz lasts 13 days and I have plenty of time to enjoy it. 

Persian new year reminds me of brand new clothes - velvet dress, lace pantyhose that itched my legs and shiny patent leather shoes that my mother bought me every year. It reminds me of the lovely aroma of Haycinth, the beauty of tulips, gold fish, colored eggs and yummy sweets.

There are so many traditions connected with  Nowruz that I could  easily write an entire book about it.  So, I will not try to tackle it in my blog except to say that Persian New Year has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with giving gifts to children and young adults, dancing, singing, laughing and eating with family and friends. 

So, here are some photos reminiscence of my childhood years and a brief video about this 3000-year-old celebration. Happy Nowruz to everyone.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There is no time for death

I’m to go to a funeral. It’s for someone I really care about. It just happened so quickly right when I was trying to get all these things done before my father comes into town. I really want to spend time with him and so I need to get a bunch of stuff out of the way.

When I heard that she passed away, I got sad. I cried and remembered my mom passing away not too long ago. Then I started thinking about how I was going to find the time to pick out a basket of floral arrangements, look up two addresses on the mapquest on how to get there (I hate the GPS. It always gets me lost. Mapquest has worked for me 99.9% of the time), and spend more than half a day at the memorial and reception when I have so much to do.

Shame on me right? Of course I want to go pay my respect and mourn with the family. So, why the tug and pull? I know that nothing is real and meaningful in this life except the relationships we build with one another, but even then, it is so easy to get lost in the game we call life and lose all perspective.

I start to think about my own mortality. When I’m on my deathbed, will I be saying, “Not now. I don’t have time. I have so much work to do?” How ridiculous am I to think this way. I just have to keep reminding myself not to get caught up in unimportant temporary tasks. 

Nothing in this life is real except for human connections. Everything else that surrounds it is just fluff. So yes, from now on when there’s a funeral, I must slow down and make time for death just the same way I make time for life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reason why I joined Twitter Blackout

No matter what excuse anyone, any company or any government gives, censorship can never be justified. There is a time to compromise and time to have the guts to stand up for what is right. Twitter should have had the spine to stand up for freedom of speech even if it meant getting blocked in its entirety by oppressive regimes. By agreeing to censor certain tweets locally, twitter compromised every value it represented and disappointed its global users. When we sit in our warm cushy chairs in
United States of America, it is easy to say, don’t worry; it’s much ado about nothing, but we must never forget those who live in countries whose rights are stolen by their government every day. Oftentimes, their only way of escape is through writing. If we take that away from them, even on a local level, we too have stolen from them.

I am a writer. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t participate in twitter blackout. Accepting any from of censorship goes against every inch of my values, morals and principles. Governments, big businesses and a handful of billionaires/trillionaires start taking away people’s freedom gradually. First they get a population used to the idea, then they get them to agree to the small stuff and before people know it, many of their rights will be taken away. This is only the beginning. Caving to censorship will contribute to assassination of freedom of speech in years to come.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA and PIPA are in violation of our constitutional rights. End Piracy, Not Liberty. Tell congress don't censor the web.

Photo Contributor: Idea go

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NDAA violates the US Constitution and must be dissolved in its entirety

More than a month ago, I signed a petition complaining about the NDAA – National Defense Authorization act. A few weeks later, I received an email from California senator Barbara Boxer assuring me that she will do everything she can to assure the safety of “Americans.” The email disturbed me because I thought what about the safety of people who are not “Americans?”

Some time after that, I received another email from a well-known organization expecting me to applaud Senator Dianne Feinstein and other senators for introducing legislation to undo provisions of the NDAA, in the form of the Due Process Guarantee Act. This is what it said:

The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 amends the Non-Detention Act of 1971 by providing that a Congressional authorization for the use of military force does not authorize the indefinite detention—without charge or trial—of U.S. citizens who are apprehended domestically.

WOW!!!! These senators along with the organization asking me to sign on must think that the American Public is really stupid. I deleted the email because it didn’t deserve a response. A few days later I got another email asking why I didn’t join in and sign their petition and spread the good news through twitter and facebook. I decided to give them a piece of my mind. This is what I said:

The NDAA must be reversed in its entirety. By signing this, you are asking me to agree with the rest of the crap in the NDAA. I am absolutely against the NDAA in its entirety. And this statement that you emailed me and dear Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer agree with is an insult to my intelligence.

If apprehended domestically??  What does this mean? What if I happen to be visiting France or Germany? Then they can take me away for no reason and dump me in some foreign prison? And what about those who are not American citizens? They are human beings. There is no difference between an American and any other nationality. Humans are humans. We must care about all humanity. We must protect human rights no matter one's nationality. So I say No to the entire inhumane NDAA!

And to be honest, I hope that one day soon, the NDAA will bite back those who signed on to make it into law.