Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Holidays 

I've been trying really hard not to pay attention to the recent U.S. controversy over using saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas but it's really starting to irk me.

First of all, let's set the record straight, most of us say "happy holidays" because there is another important holiday during this period: New Years. We are celebrating the holiday season which runs as far back as Thanksgiving through Christmas and onto New Years (and for me the Italian holiday of Feast of the 3 Kings on January 6 and for others their own holiday traditions).

Second of all, there is not some grand conspiracy to eradicate Christmas. It is still completely in your face in the states (something I've really noticed this year by spending the holiday away).

Whether we take this season as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ or just spend good quality time with our families, Christmas is alive and well. Frankly, this controversy will do more to turn people off of Christmas than a little "Happy Holidays" greeting ever would.

I've got to give the Jordanians credit on this front. For an Islamic Country, they do Christmas with class. The whole country gets Christmas day off. All the supermarkets and hotels put up big, decorative christmas trees, and Christians go to church, have nice dinners and spend all day visiting different family members and drinking wine together. Even many non-Christians get into the spirit. For example, my office had a "holiday party" to celebrate the whole season and even played some Christmas tunes.

Let's not forget that the U.S. is a diverse country and that is something we should be proud of (it has certainly been a source of pride for me living over here). Just like the Arabs respect the Christians during their holiday, American Christians can respect that everyone does the holiday season a bit differently.

I don't even know why I have wasted my time giving this debate credibility, but it's clear that the tolerance of Xenophobic and Totalitarian ideas are thriving again under the banner of fear and it's scary to think about what has happens historically when this kind of thinking goes mainstream and largely unchallenged.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Strike 

After being completely disillusioned after the 2004 election and having a rather extreme reaction (moving across the world) to my newfound cynicism towards all things political, I've found myself finally starting to engage again.

It reminds me of my turbulent relationship with Major League Baseball actually. Throughout my childhood I loved watching baseball, collecting baseball cards, going to the ballpark and I especially loved the Milwaukee Brewers. Don't laugh! Remember that at the time they had major All-Stars like Robin Yount, B.J. Surhoff and Paul Molitor. In 1992 the Brewers were 92-70!

But then the players went on strike for an entire year in 1994-1995 over salary caps! I mean c'mon now! Even the overpaid NFL players have salary caps. I was only 14 and to a young baseball fan this was a travesty. Then, of course, my team got progressively worse over the next few seasons and started losing its best players and I just got fed up I stopped caring about baseball altogether. Even my own successful little league career lapsed around that time.

However, after a few years of not caring about Baseball, I started to get over it. I began to enjoy going to the ballpark again. I went to a few White Sox games and Cubs games the summer I lived in Chicago. I went to a couple Orioles games while living in D.C. I even kept my loyalty to my home town team, the Brewers, and made it to a few games at their new stadium Miller Park.
But it's never been the same. Although I still love to play the game and be at the ballpark, my passion for America's game is gone.

In a nutshell, this is how I feel about politics right now. I'm sick of the players and completely disallusioned with my crappy team (the Democrats). Yet still, I feel loyal to the team I once knew and can't seem to get playing the game or being where the action is out of my system.

Ironically, I turned my back on baseball the same year I got turned onto politics . I was 14 when I met Sen. Bill Bradley and read his book Time Present, Time Past. From that time I knew that politics and current affairs would be my new passion. I'd certaintly found my new hard ball.

By the way, what I wanted to do was write this post on my thoughts about what Democrats should do to actually have a platform instead of simply bashing everything the Republicans do, but I got sidetracked with this long baseball analogy. I guess I'll wait until next post, it could be another long one...


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I need some advice from some local culinary connoisseurs.

I think I'm a pretty adventurous eater. My first week in Jordan I posted excitedly about the Asafeer (little bite-size birds) I tasted at Fakhr El-Din.

But besides the occasional trip to Fakhr El-Din or Tenurine, I have done an exceptionally poor job exploring the regional restaurant scene in Amman. Especially for a self-proclaimed "foody."

I mostly blame myself, but my Jordanian friends and co-workers should also share some of the burden. At lunch, for example, beside an occasional delivery of schwarma, Sauge or falafel, they suggest Bruschetta, Urban Grille, KFC or even Dominos. If we go out to lunch or dinner, they may suggest Fakhr El Din, Huara or Tenurine (especially if we are entertaining foreign guests), but 90% of the time it's Romero's, La Cucina, Living Room, Red, Bistro One, vinaigrette, you get my drift...

But I also must admit, they have some amazing international food over here. Romero's, for example, blows any Italian restaurant in Wisconsin away. I fully enjoy my experiences there.

However, I'm starting to feel cheated out of my full Levantine experience.

So I'm appealing to all of you for some advice on where to find yummy, friendly, restaurants here in Amman. I'm looking for some tzaki Lebanese or Palestinian cuisine, maybe some decent mansaf. It could be hole-in-the wall or a fancy dining, just as long as it has good Arabic food.


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