Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Y'all, I am wiped out.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's true, I do love systems


I drank the juice.*

Waaay back in the day, I found Hijabman’s post on GTD and immediately got excited. Y’all know how I love systems. I won't explain GTD exactly but just tell you about my experience with GTD.

I'm borrowing Hijabman's summary since it is more succinct than anything I could come up with:

Get everything out of your brain and organized into a system. If the system is good, you trust the system, and you don’t have to think about the bazillion things going through your head. This way you are more productive.

I put off the implementation but finally got around to it in April.

I collected. During the 'collection' phase, I gathered all my documents from all over the house and wrote down everything floating in my head on index cards. Each idea/task was on a separate index card. When I processed the idea/task, I just crossed it out and put the index card in my recycle bin. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I pull out my stack of already used index cards and re-use them.

I processed the information and then organized the information.

I set up the tickler file.

I started out with a notebook but have now settled on the ‘Amish Hipster PDA’ (index cards on a ring binder, with a pen attached). The index cards are split up into four sections:
  1. Daily Routines & Most Important Tasks to be done in one day
  2. To-Do, which is further broken down into sections: Calls; Emails; At Computer; Errands; Store/To-buy list
  3. Not tabbed but I took advantage of the already separate color index-cards to create a ‘Not-urgent’ section. This is also further broken down into the following sections: At computer (which has things like ‘research container system for recycling’) and; At home tasks (which has items such as ‘mend quilt’).
  4. Projects – This is a list of long-term projects that I’d like to do, some I'm actually doing and some I'm considering. I will probably put the inactive projects under a ‘someday/maybe’ pile.
I also have a small calendar that I use for appointments only (no tasks).

I’m really, really happy with GTD – even though I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate ‘routines’ and big projects into the program. It's a work in progress but I am enjoying the results already. My email inboxes are almost always empty. I still have too much to do but I am closer to being able to say no to new projects. Before, I said yes to all interesting projects because I didn't realize how much work was involved. I plan on cutting out projects in the future.

If you want to try this out yourself, I suggest buying the book. The system can be implemented without it but I don't think I could do it without the book.

On a side note, don't go shopping before you've actually implemented this program. I read the book on and off for about a month, then it took a few months before I actually geared up and implemented the system. The book, a paper and a pen are enough.

Heck, you don't need the book right away either. It was helpful for me because I didn't quite understand GTD at first. DON'T buy a PDA, don't invest in software, just use what you have. Buying and setting up new gizmos is procrastination.

Hijabman has a good summary of GTD on his blog and subsequent posts that discuss his progress.

I think the best thing about GTD is that I get everything out of my head and in a centralized location. I get all the little ‘to-do’ lists that usually clutter up my little brain and make way for the more interesting things (to me, anyway) that floats around my brain. I also get the ideas out of my head and on a piece of paper. This way, I can decide whether I want to pursue it, keep it on file for later or just toss it.

This is still a work in progress for me – but I recommend it to others who aren't naturally organized or are just looking for a new organizational system.

I check these sites on a regular basis:
zenhabits - Start with this post first: Beginner's Guide to GTD
GTD forum

Go on, drink the juice.*

*I am hesitant about using this phrase because I googled it and it refers to the mass suicide from poisoned kool-aid. But let’s all just pretend that it’s light-hearted and just about my being really happy about GTD and not joining a cult, which I would never do because I have enough people telling me what to do.

Will Our Fun With the Attorney General Never End?

I am getting more irritated with the media. A few lines illuminating the actual situation in Afghanistan rather than playing right into the hands of the political agendas of these dudes on a power trip.

So, our favorite dude on a power trip, Attorney General Sabit, has announced that NATO has refused to help Afghanistan with fighting corruption (i.e., disarming private militias):
Afghans seek help on corruption

Of course, it doesn’t mention that Sabit only wants help disarming specific private militias. Y’know, the ones that aren’t affiliated with Hekmatyar (I need to add that this wiki article is completely biased).

Here’s a tip for journalists covering Afghan politics:

- Get on Dr. Rubin’s listserve
- Read Ahmed Rashid’s articles
- Read e-ariana or Afghanistan News Center to get a general sense of the news in Afghanistan

It's not that hard and you'll be doing exactly what the people of Afghanistan need rather than some dude on a power trip.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

35 Killed in Afghan Bus Bomb Attack

35 Killed in Afghan Bus Bomb Attack
An enormous bomb ripped through a police academy bus at Kabul's busiest transportation hub Sunday, killing at least 35 people in the deadliest insurgent attack in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The thunderous explosion _ which sheared the metal sidings and roof off the bus, leaving only a charred skeleton _ represented a leap in scale from previous Taliban or al-Qaida bombings here, raising the specter of an increase in Iraq-style attacks in Afghanistan.
Stil waiting to hear my from my friends.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Afghan Engagement Parties

K: Did I tell you that I'm invited to an engagement party tonight? Any tips on what I'm supposed to do or not do?

Me: well, you're probably going to be bored. wear LOTS of makeup and the shiniest or fanciest outfit you have. Afghans like bling. pretend you are a jingle truck and adorn yourself accordingly.
smile alot, and say everything is beautiful, inshallah they will be happy and etc. oh and get a ride arranged, you may feel like going home early...blame jet lag.


Despite my attitude, K had a lovely time.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Adventures with the Attorney General

We've been having SO MUCH fun with the Attorney General in Afghanistan. There doesn't seem to be very much outcry in the U.S. but I think his case is an example of inept meddling and its repercussions.

President Karzai presented Abdul Jabar Sabet to the National Assembly for the Attorney General position earlier this year. He faced some opposition, since the post was promised to an Uzbek and he’s Pashtun but the National Assembly finally approved him.

Hmm, I wonder where he got the support? He doesn’t seem to be affiliated with any of the bigwigs. He did work for Gulbudin Hekmatyar at one point. But I’m sure that there is NO current connection, seeing that Hekmatyar is labeled as a ‘most wanted’ terrorist.

Oh, right, I see now where the support came from: was U.S. Justice Department advisors who helped promote Abdul Jabar Sabet to the office of Afghan Attorney General – a quid pro quo for Sabet giving the Guantanamo Bay detention centre the Afghan government’s seal of approval.
Still, Sabet started out strong, speaking out against corruption. He gained the endorsement of many – he spoke out so well and so strongly against corruption. Fearlessly and perhaps a bit bombastically stating that he’ll eradicate corruption wherever it is and whatever cost.

I was excited. It was awesome, this is what Afghanistan needs! Fight the man!

Oh, but wait.

Then, the Attorney General accused the airport police chief, General Amanullah Amerkhel of corruption. He threatened to arrest him and denounced him in public. But, by several accounts – he was actually doing a good job.

Amerkhel was later cleared of all wrongdoing but Sabet is still the Attorney General and obviously as busy as ever:

Afghan TV Station raided for inaccurately representing the Attorney Generals’ remarks
A statement issued by Tolo alleges that the raid was illegal because none of the 50 police presented a written court order or arrest warrant. It says that when asked to present such a document, a deputy district police commander simply scribbled a note on a piece of paper.

"The police beat us with the butts of Kalashnikovs and with the barrels of Kalashnikovs. And they punched us and kicked us," Ahmadzada said. "And...they took us and the other journalists to the attorney general's office."

Link to the video clips
Which all leads to this: Afghan Journalists Jailed

Y'know what makes me the angriest? The fact that the US supported Sabet in exchange for 'official' Afghan government approval of the Guantanamo detainees. This is not the assistance that Afghanistan needs. Is this supposed to make local Afghans trust the US? Is it supposed to make Americans believe in their government?

My friend once said, "It was terrible through all the wars, but the Taliban was the worst because we couldn't speak. We couldn't say what we wanted to say at all."

We are headed on the wrong path (Afghanistan: Latest Female Journalist's Slaying Highlights Plight).

Edited later to provide these links: Thugs attack, beat Afghan attorney-general and Top Afghan law officer assaulted

It's interesting, they make no mention of his recent clamping down on media rights, I would've thought that the author could insert a line saying something like, "Sabet is a controversial figure since he has attacked corruption but has also clamped down on media rights." I guess that isn't newsworthy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lurker Amnesty Day

Yes, people, it's Lurker Amnesty Day. Consider it the one day that my blog dictatorship becomes a democracy. Make your voice be won't even be deported!

I thought this was an original idea but when I googled 'Lurker Amnesty Day,' I saw this description: That is, lazy bloggers avoid posting original content...Well, then.

I've noticed that my readership is steadily increasing. The locations are quite diverse and I'm curious.

Go ahead, make up a nickname and say howdy, hey or maybe even hi. You can say what you want but here are some ideas: How'd you find me (but please keep my anonymity in mind)? Do you want me to discuss something in particular? Ask me a question if you like, I'll answer it.

Go on, you know you want to.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New pictures on the other blog. If you forgot the blog address, send me an email. And if you don't have my personal email address...sorry.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm big in Dubai

This is why I've been getting so many visitors from Dubai. Welcome!

8 Things You Don’t Know About Me

You like me, you really like me!

Okay, probably not, but I got memed by Froog, which is flattering.

Unfortunately, I think that most friends know all of this (I talk too much) and the lurkers on this blog (we will be having a lurker amnesty day soon) probably don’t know anything about me at all.

At this time, I’d also like to give a shout-out to my cousins who chanced upon this blog and figured out my identity.

I accept the baton and here are my attempts at being interesting:

1) I was born during an earthquake. Whenever my parents tell me this story, my parents have this conversation:

Bobah: We didn’t tell your mother so she wouldn’t get scared.
Madar: I knew though, I could feel it.
Bobah: No, it was very mild, so you couldn’t.
Madar: I could.

And then I rarely hear the rest of the story because they continue in this fashion for a while. Actually, everyone probably knows this since this is my response to “Tell me something interesting about yourself.”

2) I was not an experienced traveler before going to Afghanistan for the first time in 2003. I was 2 when we left and I went back at 25. Prior to this jaunt to Kabul, I had been to Germany. In my trip to Germany, I visited family. In Germany, I was scared to go on the train by myself (I did, but I was very frightened). So then I decided to go to Afghanistan. By myself. Thank God for my uncles who met me at the airport.

3) I don’t know how to peel an apple.

4) I love soccer. I played when I was younger. I wasn’t very good but I loved it then and love it now. I forgot about it when I got too busy (I shake my fist at you LAW) but now I follow DC United again. I know random facts about DC United, the Women’s & Men’s US National Teams (past and present), thanks Soccer America subscriptions in the 90’s and blogs by soccer journalists now. I know who Cle Kooiman is.

5) I worked on an American Indian Reservation for a summer. It was my study abroad that was not abroad.

6) I have been telling people that I am 30 from the day I turned 29. I don’t know if I should go to 31 on my actual 30th birthday or just consider 29 as my practice lap at 30 and be 30. I just confused myself.

7) Yesterday, I chatted with a lady at a coffee shop. I asked if I she had enough room and should I move my stuff over? She assured me that she was fine. We chatted a bit more and she told me that I was lovely and obviously smart (I was studying & HA), but being lovely helps, doesn’t it? It was quite nice and an unexpected compliment. She left a short while later and as she packed up, she turned, handed me a yellow sheet of paper with a quote and three book recommendations.

I couldn't think of an 8th interesting thing about me. Oh wait, here we are:

8) I was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. I wasn't breathing when I was born. Once, when my mom told me this story, she turned to me and said very seriously, "It's a good thing you're not an idiot."

I (re)tag OMG, the Constant Socialite, Dr. Shannon (can I link to your blog?) and PFR's family (can I link to y'all?). I'd tag Frida but she's busy being saucy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Stolen Child

I stepped into this novel and couldn't come out until I finished reading it.

The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue

It's the type of book that I am glad I didn't read as a child, or I'd constantly be on the look-out for hoblogins masquerading as children.

Umm, okay, I am doing that now.


I think I'll have to call this bootleg Sunday Scribbles. I thought it said 'Single' instead of 'Simple'. But my mind was already on the road with 'Single'...So here we are.

Okay, I accept that traditional Afghans get freaked out when you're 29 and unmarried. Look at it from their perspectives: At 29, you should be married with 3-4 (or 5,6,7,8) children. You're settled and comfortably enmeshed with the laughter, gossip, love, scandal and drama of an extended family. There isn't much you have to do except look for other single women to marry to your brothers, brothers-in-law or male cousins.

I accept it from Afghan-Americans. They want you settled (but with less children) so you can go through the same rigmarole as above. They want you to be part of their life.

To them I say, “Oh, it’s Qismat (God’s Will), Inshallah (God Willing), you know I like to travel.” and they fall back, satisfied that they brought it up, so at least I’m thinking about that quickly ticking clock. They’re more willing to accept it, thinking that I have one foot firmly planted in American culture.

But what's up with the non-Afghans? Why are y’all freaked out?

What am I supposed to say to them?

I had an interesting chat with an American man living in Dubai. We were flying on Ariana Airlines and discussing the country's progress. He showed me pictures of his family and we were discussing Dubai versus Las Vegas. Then, before he could stop himself, he says, "So why haven't you been married off yet."

What am I supposed to say?

This has happened before. It always makes me pause.

What do I say? Well, you see...My parents didn’t have an arranged marriage and they’ve always wanted me to focus on my studies. They didn’t get married until they were older. How do you explain such an integral part of your culture to those not of it? Those who have been exposed to more traditional Afghan culture assume that we’re all the same. How do I explain that the women of my family are generally strong? We carve our own path in life. How do I convey that within a culture, attitudes and mentalities vary widely from family to family? That, despite the slight angst of not seeing me married, they’re proud of me and content.

It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen (and did you see so and so, she married him before she got to know him and NOW look at the shambles of their lives, she divorced him and didn’t return his mother’s jewelry. Now their families can’t socialize anymore and they had so much fun before.)

Or do they want to know that?

Or do they want to know each twist and turn of my life? That left turn I made back there, those months were I felt like I was standing still in the blistering summer sun, when really I was cooking up something new. Do they want to know about that march, which turned into a run and then into a stroll, leaving me standing where I am today?

Do they want to know about the months and years when Afghanistan beckoned me with black and white pictures, stories of wild roses growing on the family land, graves of elders? Or do they want to know about now, when maybe it’s Afghanistan beckoning me or maybe just my future?

Do they really want to know all that?

Because that’ll take a lot longer and you might as well brew up some tea and settle in on the couch, cuz y’all know I like to talk.

Is it just gentle curiosity?

Because, dammit, it’s rude.

A random American woman in Kabul announced in a room full of new acquaintances, “So, are you here to marry your cousin?”

I restrained myself from saying, “No, are YOU here to marry my cousin?”

Afghans, if it's a true curiousity and not malicious, at least try to corner you in moments when there aren’t that many present. They’ll wait a few months, after we’re friends, and start asking. I know now when to expect it and have a sweet reply (Unless they want to set me up with someone and that’s another post).

If Afghans trying to embarrass you with “Why are you still single” talk, it also doesn’t bother me as much. There are ways to deal with those folks (Say something noncommittal and bring up the good-for-nothing relative that they are ashamed of. Everyone has one and I generally don’t like to do this, as the person they’re ashamed of is probably pretty cool – but it works).

But with non-Afghans, it’s a blundering pounce, or maybe more like farting in a room of people.

Do you acknowledge it? Or try to hold your breath and go to the next room?