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I woke up this morning and came out of my room to find one of my cats intensely looking out the window. First I thought it was a bug she was watching on the window only to realize that in the bitter cold of winter there are no bugs. So I came up to the window to figure out what she was looking at. Sitting right outside my window in the tree was a beautiful hawk.  

I quickly ran to grab my camera, got out on my balcony, and snapped.

I was not very far from this creature and we looked at each other for a few moments. Me admiring its absolute, breathtaking beauty, all the while shivering in my PJ’s. I have a feeling the hawk was not admiring me, instead was attempting to understand what the heck kind of creature I was (I could tell from the look on its face, or beak?).  

Then after having contemplated my existence it silently unfolded its wings and lifted off of the tree branch. With perfect precision and grace it glided away leaving me to watch its image grow smaller and smaller across the horizon.   

Seeing a creature such as this, up close, is something I can not describe. I feel elated, blessed, and awed to have had this experience. Elated because I was in such close proximity to an aspect of creation that I have only been able to admire from a distance. Blessed to have had the chance to gaze upon the absolute perfection of one of Allah’s creation (absolute, utter, unequivocal, perfection). Awed at the magnitude of its splendor.  

To me this experience was a form of prayer, a form of worship. Where, within a few short seconds (though it seemed much longer) I connected in a deep and meaningful way with my Creator and somehow life seemed to be infused with meaning and joy. Where I was present in the moment, no thought of the past or the future, just knowledge of the “now”. Where comfort and calm, that, at times seems to allude me, at that moment surrounded me.  

A gift from the Universe that I will treasure.

Note: The picture of the hawk I have included here had to be sized down for WordPress. It is difficult to see the full details and it does reflect how close I was to this creature. If you would like the original picture please send me an email.


 funny pictures

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I just arrived back from Pakistan a little while ago. By the way my family and I were in Pakistan when the assassination took place and I have to say that I found the media coverage here to be very distorted…but we can discuss this later. 

I have not been back for several years and each time I go back I am surprised by the changes taking place. When I was in Pakistan seven years ago businesses had started converting their diesel vehicles (mostly trucks) to use bio fuels. This was due to the high price of petroleum.  

This time I noticed a plethora of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations across Lahore. CNG is now being used by individuals and businesses, again due to the high price of petroleum. When people use CNG they do so primarily to save money, but an off shoot of this is cleaner air and less greenhouse emissions (about 90% less as reported by  

The International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV) ranks Pakistan as second in the total number of CNG vehicles on the road. This might not be the most accurate figure as Green Car Congress reports that some “50, 000 vehicles a month are converting to CNG” in Pakistan.  

Another great thing about the current proliferation of CNG is what it has done for passengers of rickshaws.   

Two of my cousins and I decided to go for a trek to the Lahore Fort. Unfortunately the vehicles in our household were being used so my cousin suggested going by rickshaw. Having traveled by rickshaw seven years ago I hesitated. “Listen why not just take a taxi” I said. “Then we don’t have to deal with the fumes and the bumpy ride.” 

However the new CNG rickshaws emit little fumes, are not as loud, and have a smoother ride. I can’t say the smoother ride or the reduced noise had much to do with CNG. It may have had more to do with the fact the rickshaw was new and was fitted with a better suspension system and a noise reducing device thing-a-ma-giggie.

The use of CNG seems like a win/win situation where people and businesses benefit with reduced costs in fuel, the creation of jobs that helps the economy. Plus many countries have huge reserves of natural gas which eliminates the need for oil transportation (and potential spills). And everyone benefits with cleaner air (unless you really enjoy breathing in diesel and petrol fumes…hey you never know). 

The potential downside is that CNG still produces greenhouse emissions (though significantly less). As well, (and this is dependant on what report you read) CNG takes up four times the space of petrol to provide the same amount of energy.

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