If Today Was Your Last Day…


“So how do you wish to be remembered?”, asked one of my colleagues casually as we strolled down the road towards his car. For a moment, I felt stumped, but then, suddenly, as if someone kicked in a supplement of dose of wisdom into my brain, I nodded, took time to carve a smile on my face, and said:

“The best thing that could happen for any one would be a mass funeral, full of weeping mourners, and an epithet that reads, ‘And when the sun had set itself in the right direction, did you see how a very small man casted a very big shadow?’”

Mic drop.

We didn’t speak for at least, the next 10 minutes that day. He was probably more astounded than I was.

Vicissitudes


When things go wrong as sometimes they will,

When the road you’re struggling seems uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t quit.

 

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learn,

And many a fellow turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out,

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,

You may succeed, yet with just another blow.

 

Often the goal seems nearer than it seems to a faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up, when he might have captured the Victor’s cup,

And he learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

 

Success is a failure turned inside out,

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near, when it seems afar,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things seem worst, you musn’t quit.

 

 

The Morning I Killed Myself


The morning after I killed myself, I woke up.

I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.

The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.

The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.

The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.

The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.”
—Meggie Royer

Implications of Big Data Revolution in the Middle Eastern Region


Emerging economies, such as those in the Middle East, are poised in an excellent position to take advantage of all the information that big data has to offer. With the explosion of mobile phone and other electronic device ownership rising in the Middle East more, and extensively detailed, information is available to be captured by big data companies. Once processed, this information can then be sold to government agencies as well as private sector businesses. Whether you’re utilizing the rich information that big data collects, or are the collector of such information, the Middle East is the place to be to reap large profits.

Rapid ownership growth of digital devices heralds large amounts of data that are far too big to be processed by traditional data processing methods. These large sets of data have to be processed by computers with specially designed software programs. What makes this data so valuable, is that it can be used to predict human behavior. The data analyzed can uncover trends and patterns which can help businesses position products and services in the right place at the right time. Emerging big data companies in the Middle East stand to profit richly from collecting and analyzing this information and then selling it to governments and private businesses. New big data companies created to manage the influx of data will create many jobs in the Middle East as well.

The highly detailed information that big data analysis produces is of high value to commercial and retail businesses. This information allows businesses to target customer bases that they didn’t know were available. Additionally, businesses can target specific market areas by demographic, location, etc. This highly targeted marketing reaches consumers who are most likely to buy the businesses’ products and services, thus increasing sales.  Not only are sales increased, but businesses save money by receiving a higher return on their advertising investment money. The increase of profits into the Middle Eastern economy is going to positively affect job growth and consumer spending. The potential for higher employee wages is also a distinct possibility.

Governments are equally as eager to get their hands on this information as private businesses are. Data, such as which roads are traveled on most and a how often, can support expenditures on infrastructure that needs the most repair the quickest. The analytics that big data offers can also assist with improving a government’s health services. The more information governments have, the more efficiently things will run. When things run efficiently, governments save money and have the option of lowering taxes. Such data will also allow governments to manage natural resources more efficiently as well.

As the usage of smartphones, sensors and the IoT (Internet of Things) grows in the Middle East, more and more information will be available to be used. The emerging companies who compile and analyze this data, as well as the private businesses and governments who use it, will have a competitive edge over those who don’t use it. The Middle East is about to experience substantial market and economic growth, and those who are first to take advantage of big data will no doubt profit the most.

Accolade


Imagine a boy standing on the shores of an obstreperous harbor. Two miles away, faint, lying on the horizon, panting out of his sense of achievement – gazing right into the sun as he postulates on the golden sand.

All the other boys said that it was impossible to go there. But this one boy thinks it can be done. The others gaze as he kicks off his shoes, and plunges into the water. They watch with shock as he goes farther from the shore. They whisper to each other solemnly that he would drown, and never make it, and in case he turns around, he’ll just make it harder.  The others propagated that it was just another belligerent stunt in a series of his self assertive, unilateral moves.

The water was cold, and the current was strong. With every stroke, the boy had to fight off the chills, and battle with the tide rushing in from sea. Anyone watching him, as his schoolmates did from the shore, who barely made out anything other than a tiny speck moving through the sea, would have thought he stood no chance against the waves. But that thought never entered the boy’s mind. His muscles and his heart, pounded. But the water would not defeat him.

The ramparts of the fort were still a mile away, but he stood at the point of no return. Turning back was no longer an option. Why did he cross that invisible line? Why risk his life great odds that stood against him? The question now in front of him wasn’t why did he make a move; it was, what kept him from drowning, while he was mid way across the shore.

Another day, with warmer water, but currents carrying him, he might have made it; but on this day, he would only make half of the way as his arms gave out and numbness overtook him. The coast guard pulled him out of the water despite his protests. Was he reckless, or was he foolish? Possibly. One thing can’t be denied however. What others considered to be as impossible, he refused to believe in such. The water proved him wrong, and he fell far short of the other shore, but yet, he made the attempt. And that, is everything!

Phobia


Everyone is hiding something. Hiding from the change, from the repercussions of what might turn against your way, what might not work, if circumstances go beyond your control. The phobia creeps up in your spine and hits back right when the results are about to surface.

Worse, you fear taking responsibilities, or dread accountability of your project plan, and cower from asking questions or reassurance when needed. We cocoon ourselves in a never ending nexus of ‘problems’ that we assume could overtake us by storm.

We’re lucky enough that the things we used to fear don’t happen so often any more, so now we fear feelings.

We will rationalize in extraordinary ways to avoid coming out of the phobia.

My standpoint: When in doubt, do not look into the hiding places. Face it.

 

In Pursuit of Happiness


It’s early winter morning here in Dubai. My alarm finally gives up on me as I endlessly hit down the snooze button and crib into the sodomy of my warm bed. Of course, it’s another day at work and no matter how many excuses and pledges my heart wants to make in order to avoid work, there is hardly anything that can salvage me from this morning frenzy. I frisk around looking for my cell phone and pull the covers from my head. As I squint through the Twitter timeline, all I see is people ranting about how their “agency life” and work places.

I don’t blame people for doing what they’re doing. It’s not their fault. Perhaps, each one of us was programmed that way. Contrary to what makes us happy, each one of us is thoroughly convinced on trodding ourselves on the path to happiness.

It comes down to this: only people can have ethics. Ethics, as in, doing the right thing for the community even though it might not benefit you or your company financially. Pointing to the numbers (or to the boss) is an easy refuge for someone who would like to duck the issue, but the fork in the road is really clear. You either do work you are proud of, or you work to make the maximum amount of money. (It would be nice if those overlapped every time, but they rarely do).

I worry that we absolve ourselves of responsibility when we talk about business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Corporations are collections of people, and we ought to insist that those people (that would be us) do the right thing. Business is too powerful for us to leave our humanity at the door of the office. It’s not business, it’s personal.

 

Obstreperously maverick vagabond