Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Your World...Delivered

Often times we wake up wondering what the day holds ahead of us. We fear the unknown, the challenges, the struggles. Life itself is not a cake walk. It is filled with obstacles, detractors, critics and as you already know problems. But what makes a man is the tenancity with which we face our problems turning them into stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. It is expected of course that each new day is a day we owe our creator- is a day to make a difference. Casting behind you the hues and cries of the never do wells, remembering of course that backbiters do always remain at behind, you can look ahead and around you and see your world that needs you badly to make a difference. A world in need of true peace, love and fellowship. This is your world ...delivered.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Man Know Thyself

The refrain above is one of the mantra more closely associated with the Greek Philosopher - Socrates- generally regarded as a pioneer of western classical thought. The teacher's admonition to know thyself is borne out of the presumption that a man that is aware of his weakness first and then his strength is a better human being. Indeed, "Socrates is famous for arguing that we must Know Thyself to be wise, that the unexamined life is not worth living". It is often said that fifty percent of your personal problems is solved when you know you have a problem.

Every New Year of my life like today, I generally have two rituals. As many of my friends will testify, I do not celebrate in any grand way. Indeed, the last time I celebrated in any grand manner on the 21st of September was my 8th birthday - many years ago. However, there are two rituals that have been an act of self discovery for the past five years. The first is that I take stock of my friends. Today is the day I generally go through my phone records, delete a bountiful number of contacts as I will do in the next two minutes, and weed out the bad influences and those ones that do not meet my minimum standards of loyalty. Loyalty has always been my number one value. A loyal friend is better than a thousand family members I think. It is just the way I have done it, and it is also an exercise in self analysis and discovery.

This leads to the second ritual- which is one of introspection, question asking and indeed perception. I often carry out a poll of someone very close to me in the past one year to find out how I fare on their friendship scale. This questionnaire is usually made up of two options which might not necessarily be antonyms. Questions like Aggressive or Passive, Submissive or domineering, sympathetic or empathetic, problem solving or critic etc. shows up. The honorable subject generally has an option of both, neither or one. The aim of this ritual is to come out of it knowing who I am based on a secondary opinion, evaluating who I can be based on the predication of my goals and will of my creator and fashion a way to be a better individual in the New Year that resumes in every year like today.
Friend, do you know thyself?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Good Name is Better than Great Wealth

Born sometimes around 1905 in the scenic Hills of Iragba Community, in Odo-Oro Ekiti in Egbeoba Kingdom of Ikole Local Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria; Chief Michael Oluwagbemi I, the immediate past Elejofi of Odo Oro lived a good life . An hardworker by all accounts (including one that said he cultivated several acres for himself during a planting season and went ahead to do the same for his younger brother). One of five children of his mother and a father (whom he hardly talked about), he was a born leader throughout his lifetime until he passed to the great beyond in November 1995.
Grandfather worked very hard; once Osomolo (trader) with more than 5 apprentices whom dad grew up to know. He used to travel to Ibadan by feet to buy materials in the 1930s. Earlier, he was a labourer in Ile-Ife farms where he became a catholic, baptised in 1928 as Michael. He later dropped Osomolo in 1952 or so and concentrated on tobacco farming the proceed of which he used to build his upstairs: still a regal old fashioned mansion that sits atop a rising crest in Ikole today. One of the best in the town in early 1950s and still by far the most structurally sound older buildings in the area today. From the proceeds of his farming he trained his thirteen chidlren through primary and secondary education. He was a devout Catholic, business man, community leader and great family man.
A good father by all accounts, the only cross in his life was losing many children in infant which forced him to be a polygamist. A very successful and professional polygamist indeed who knew all the tricks according to my father. He later went to devote his entire life to grow cocoa which he used to train all his 13 children. Grandfather albeit was successful and respected: a man known for his generosity (sometimes called foolishly generous by dad) and great courage (speaks truth to power). He was a man of high integrity and discipline. He laid a good legacy passed down to my father: which I am following. Indeed, when people ask me today why I call myself Michael II (or if it is my "real name"), I am always quick to flaunt that I was named after Grand Pa, to whom I bear striking resemblance. Tall, cheerful and by every imagination handsome, Grand Pa left to our family a good name that I am proud of.
Thanks be to God for for his life. Baba rere ni baba wa! Sun re o! Adieu.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Aquadrenaline...sizzle with the nizzles

I am not someone given to taking to much risk; but a little bit of adrenaline rush will not spoil. However, by far the best place to get this rush is the ultimate aquatic environment. As I have said earlier, I am in love with water. As Fela talk- "water no get enemy". The most natural human environment is an aquatic environment with man, land, water, animals and air in synchronized oscillations with one another. I see nature when I see water and it puts me at peace with myself. Nothing more relaxing than a swap of clean fresh air, as you zoom across the surface of fresh clean lake water.

That was why last weekend, I went out with friends on one of those adrenaline pumping Jet ski trip. The location of interest was Just for Fun Marina on Lake Conroe, Texas. It was the ultimate boys time out. Armed with desire mixed with valor we took no prisoners as we zoomed at 35-45mph plus on water to momentary bliss and occasional sagacity. Without waxing too poetical, I must say that it was fun and couldn't have been better.

To have a peek at my Aquadrenaline voyage, hit here. By the way, How have you been? How is life today? Have you said "well done" to someone lately? What have you done for mankind lately? What are you doing next? Remember a life without hope is a life without expectation; a life without expectation is one without a future: a future undreamt of is never been given to mankind or earned by any mammal. Till next time: Peace!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Our World: On Darfur, Iran and the Middle East

We live in a troubling world today and above all things the world is in search of peace and quiet. Indeed, I reckon it needs all the help it can get but everyday it seems we just drift from one chaos to another. No part of the world is immuned from crisis- every continent has its rebel group and blood seeking brigand. From street gang banging on the streets of America that takes the life of a college basketball player to everyday drug deal driven murder of citizens, criminals and law enforcement in Mexico and Central America to the rebel groups that span the vast continent to the South of New World. Europe is not free from the shackles of hate either: Ireland, Spanish Basque movement, bombings in Turkey and Italian Mafiosi remind us of a bloody world. Asia and Africa have a fairly larger share of this mystery - with actively fought wars and retribution exhaustively taking the time of governments instead of the real work of development. Today I will examine three of these conflicts.

Darfur: The conflict in the Western part of Sudan is nothing short of genocide. Black people of Sudan have been raped, killed and turned to overnight refugees in their own land by their Arab Northern countrymen that have sought to monopolize the oil wealth of the Black people of Sudan for the Northern and National Islamic Government. Pressure from the world powers in their thirst to get oil deals is making the central government rethink its position albeit from the position of strength. The inability of the Arab League to condemn the madness being wrought on the Animist south by the northern Arabs smacks of opportunism and racism; indeed, while it is convenient for the same Arab League to cry for the people of Palestine they will not do the same for the Sudanese blacks. It is a shame. It is a lesson to Black Africans that on the world stage no one can protect our interests better than ourselves. There is serious need to bring all the leaders of this genocide to justice as soon as the conflict is resolved. Indeed, ideas on a standing force for conflicts in Africa is very good but I also think patronizing. What do they mean by they need standing force? Is it not somehow expecting that we Africans will just take up arms against each other at the slightest excuse?

Why are they just treating the symptoms? Is it not true that the root cause of the persistent crisis in Africa and the resultant underdevelopment, poverty, disease and deaths is a direct result of the evil Berlin conference that drew up for the most part the current variegated political map of Africa as slavery/colonial plantation of Old Europe? Is is not the evil milestone in the history of our continent that lumped together people of unrelated history and of improbable monolithism and then expect them to work together towards a national aspiration based on a foreign concept, document or idea like donkeys fed water at the river side?I think it is high time for a new conference in the mould of Berlin conference now planned, ran and controlled by Africans in Africa for the benefit of all Africans. It might take the pressure of the same world stage technocrat that somehow always amass a superior argument to force African dictators to take more loans from their sub-prime international loan shacks and Shylock monetry institutions going by exotic names like Paris Club and IMF; it will require the cooperation of the world for Africa to re-emerge in it true self. This new conference will look at redrawing the political map of Africa by Africans based on willingliness of neighbors and resources at the disposal of constituent parts. Mini republics whose military can be over run by the police service of another will be a thing of the past and the miniaturization of our continent can also be conscripted to the history books.

This is my new concept of Pan Africanism not the aged concept of African unity that can hardly garner support among common people. If we must be united, we can only unite on our terms not on terms dictated by outsider. May be I am just a dreamer, may be this dream is coming way too early before its time; but who says I cannot dream? I can dream- I can dream of a renewed motherland whose resources keeps it factories humming and its people busy. A continent free of crisis and fracticidal killings and misplaced priorities. A continent we all can indeed be proud of. A continent we can call the last bastion of man at peace with his environment and natures heritage to homo sapiens. That is the Africa of my dream, that is the continent of our aspirations. I can dream.

On the two other crisis I speak of here are my opinions:

1. US refusal to fund Hamas led Palestinian government because of Hamas Refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exists: Arrogantly dumb I say and stupid stubbornness are the words that come to mind.

2. Iran's insistence on Nuclear power: This is what you get when you sacrifice your moral authority by lying to Allies, friends and country men. Even a mad dictator will stand up to you. But can the world suffer a fool for too long? Let us wait and see...siddon look.
Till next time...stay on top of what goes on around you, because whatever goes around comes around.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I am a Gadgetzidimo...Not a Gizmodo

Do you like gadgets like I do? I think I have an addiction- an addiction for electronic appliances. Oh yeas, it started way back. Way back when I blew up the family TV at age 8 and fiddled with live wires from the socket. Indeed, I got shocked a couple of times: nothing serious, just a couple of blood cleansing current (at least so the fable went). I was enthralled with anything that blinked light when I was young, I wanted to know what made gadget tickle. I fiddled with ‘em and I fumbled. Somehow, I think it is in the genes. Father was a perennial “radiotrician”...I used that word to mask his penchant to buy new radios every other fortnight and destroy them by trying to tune them better by opening them up. Somehow, even after old man is past fifty years hitting sixty he still thinks he has a career in electrical/electronics engineering. Over 30 radios damaged, and cassette players destroyed and father is still experimenting his way to the radio store! But I have decided to somehow formalize my genetic bias; yeah...I am an electrical engineer. Not like I could be your next door radio repairer but at least now I know not to touch live wires and get shocked...or at least I know how to acquire a lot more gadget these days.

Being a pragmatic person by nature, the gadgets I acquire are structured after my lifestyle. That is to say, unlike geeks (Gizmodos) whose life is built around their gadgets my gadget is built around my life. That is why I call myself a Gadgetzidimo...more like generalissimo. Yeah, a general and marshal of gadgets. Somehow, I enjoy combining the operability of my gadgets these days. But it just struck me ....which of these gadgets can't I do without.

I have never been a TV person - even though I have a couple, so count that out. The best thing I do with and on TV is to record those documentaries (from Discovery, History, Discovery Times, National Geographic and Military Channel) on my ILO DV-R recorder making them into DVD discs I hope to watch someday on the plane and share with my companion in arms in documentary watching...yeah, you guessed right...my dad. Yeah, my X-Box Console was not good enuf, not until I disposed of it and now I miss it enough to purchase it back. Sorry. But this does not count as much as my beloved laptop. Yeah, nicknamed: Tabular Kingmon. Thou shall not deny me access. My Inspiron 6000 widescreen laptop computer is the bomb. You with the Apple or Sony whateva- congratulations for paying more for less functions. God Bless you. Anyway, my laptop is a favorite- on bed, sitting, working, riding and flying. And guess what? It just does not serve me when I travel. It is light yet because it has a widescreen it is not as portable as I will like. So my dear leather cased Dell Axim PDA comes in handy. Don't jump to conclusion, I have no brand loyalty. Dell just happens to be the only brand in this computer and handheld that combined quality with good pricing. My pragmatic side will be hard to convince to shell out extra $400 for a Sony, HP or whatever expensive brand name that will crash on me faster than my reliable Dell Axim will. With an inbuilt wireless card, my PDA comes in handy when I travel. On it, I can browse do my word processor works and can even play games. It is just a great companion- especially on the beach: where I hop (okay, steal...sorry snoop) on other people's Wi-fi network while pretending to be enjoying the sea breeze. Tried it in Miami Beach- splendid!

But the PDA doesn't come as close to being my favorite gadget i.e. most useful. Yeah, I have a favorite past time- photography. In this direction, my ever ready Samsung 4MP digi-camera is small, portable and practical enuf to get those shots. I must confess that it is cheaper than you will think it costs; but it does way more than it sets my account back...who cares? In combination with my JVC camcorder, it works well to bring back memories. But those don’t even cut close to my favorite gadget. Indeed, my Apple I-Pod Video is a close second. But while this important piece of accessory is by far one of my most expensive, I must say it is worth every dime it costs. Plays video, stores my over 12500 song music library, carries over 300 of my pictures and keep me incredible company when I want to relax and tune out the whole world either at work, home or on the road. My Black Apple Video I-pod is the bomb. And the winner is...? Oh my cell phone. My humble Sony Ericsson k750i is my ultimate "all in one". A camera, camcorder, mp3 player and PDA all rolled in one; it is small, has long battery life and has a beautiful design to complement Sony's reputation for quality as well. And yes, Sony didn't ask me to break the bank for this either. And it serves me just right- most of the pictures on this Blog were taken using my cell phone and most if not all short clips I play on my I-Pod - were from my cell. Its size saves me the hassle and makes it easy to get cameos of actions most people will want concealed- it my 007 James Bond device- clicking and recording silently anything from voice to conversations to pictures and movies. Be careful around me. I love my k750i...and it is officially crowned my most "Practical" gadget from my collection.

I do have a couple of other mundane electronic assets that I will not bug you with but I can't close here without acknowledging my only human gadget. Yes, my first child. Her name is Tan Brisquick. The Tan Brisquick is a special breed of Honda Accord of The Bull Dog Series. My perennial workhorse will drive from Texas to Alaska any day without blinking. And this by way of acknowledgement a show of my gratuity. For without the "Tan Devil" my back will be coal tanned in Texas Summer...all hail the Tan Brisquick. Check out the movie album here.

Indeed, some people (names witheld) ask me why I can't just buy combo devices that do all that I have separate devices for ..but I laugh off that suggestion. Because they just don't just seem to get it. I like each of my gadget for the different things they do. That is why I don't have a "best" gadget even though I have a "favorite" one. Like a parent, there is a lot of sentimental value attached to each of them, and no single device can equally replace these "babies" of mine- so to you Mr. PDA phone- go kiss your pillow good nite cos I am not selling any of these devices neither am I buying your under efficient, poor battery life, expensive multi- tasking anit-christ device. Until I meet you next time...so long.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No Brake - No Jam

Since the past ten weeks I have been enduring an unusually heavy traffic driving to and fro my workplace in Houston's central business district. Houstonians love to drive: with wide roads and expansive highway network Houston can rightly be called a city of highways.However, beneath all the traffic and the associated noise and environmental pollution is a often neglected public transport system. Cars are cheap here- you can get a used Japs for less than 2 thousand buck and an American jalopy for about five hundred buck. So why bother? But after going through this stress for ten solid weeks I finally decided to try what is more convenient- take the bus baby!

This is my first full week of taking the Metro Bus using the Park and Ride system that allows me to drive five minutes (from home) to a parking station from where I take the bus to work and back using the high Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane which facilitates quicker access endless traffic. Normally, I drive 40 mins to work and 1 hr 10 mins back(Total: 110 mins). Indeed, today it is 45 mins to work and 50 mins back; plus 10 mins (making 105 mins) as the handover time from the station to my house I figured out I saved couple of minutes. And then that is not real time. Since I can do what the heck I want to do while on the bus (like sleep or read) and not suffer the fatigue and hypertensive pressure of driving- this makes it an even greater plus. Indeed, I don't have to put up with Houston drivers anymore- a breed of drivers I think require psychological examination plus driving test. And add this- I save on gas and car maintenance: it costs me approximately 30 dollars weekly, plus $12 weekly toll road expenses-now $20 will just do for the whole week. I feel good about this new way of getting to work.

The Bus drivers are very polite, the system buses are very clean and well kept but heck I miss something. One observation though, most if not all of the drivers are African Americans; it appears to me that the Whites prefer to drive the school buses a sector they seem to dominate in Houston- excuse my stereotypes. In any case, I miss the noise inside naija danfos (Hiace buses) and the crankiness of the bus driver/conductor. Everyone is proper here-no smoke, food or radios. But is all good-Houston indeed is the home of the playas and pimps. I hope my parked car helps preserve the clean air of this great city and reduces my insurance: Heck, it is America and I am always trying to save on something; much like the good people of Richmond Avenue/rd are trying to save their neighbourhood (see last picture in album) through which the next phase of Metro Rail will pass. They are trying to save it from metro riders like me: talk about one man's meat is another man's poison.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Beach Going Spring Vocation- Spring Bling!

I am back to town from a short weekend business-pleasure trip; I was out to the beautiful Island of South Padre off the coast of Texas and Mexico for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city of Houston to let out and have a good time. This was my first getaway in a year since my trip last year to Miami Beach. It was a hugely successful one also for the matter.

Somehow in my heart I am a beach boy. I love the beach - it is the ultimate rest laboratory for me. In fact I consider the beach God's purest creation of nature, an opera house of earth's creatures in beautiful harmony creating music sweet to nerves and beautiful to the soul. At the beach you find the sand from which man was made, as well as water and the creature it holds that sustains man. Air which is a basic necessity for living on this polluted planet of ours is also bountiful and mostly purer on the beach side. When I walk the beach I see the beautiful creation of God in the blue sky and the beautiful people that walk on it. The diversity of our earth and the wonderful chirps of birds even make the music sweeter and the beach irresistible for me.

South Padre was a blast. The people were friendly- and the service were superb. For a trip planned in 4-5 weeks it was extremely cheap too. The spring breakers were in town and there was no shortage of reveling. However, for those that had to go back to work on Monday- exit day was Sunday. It was three nights well spent and I perhaps did inculcate the lessons of my trip to Miami last year which was very helpful in planning l, especially traveling with a buddy - I had Hendrik Mason my college day friend and ex-student political associate with me; we both held it down before, and did it again. While he is considering entering the Catholic Priesthood we indulged ourselves for the weekend from the burden and pollution of the city.

Back to South Padre, I find the people here spectacularly nice. It was at South Padre I met the nicest waitress ever - in Dennys Called Lorraine (Lori for short). A 20 years old Hispanic girl that works 2 jobs and attends university (University of Texas at Brownsville studying management) and still manages to flash a smile that brightens up your day and be extremely polite to the extent my friend and I had to excuse her courtesy! She is well noted. The Hotel, Airline and Car Hire attendants also proved extremely accommodating allowing us slack on time for 30 mins to 1 hr as any young men will- no extra demand no waiting on tips (like everyone in Miami seemed always to be). How can I forget the French tourists we played soccer with (see picture 4 in album) and the group of 4 locals that played beach volley with us (Picture 8)- they made the journey worthwhile. These is a city nice people, and I will recommend South Padre Island and the Valley Area (including Harligen) to any beach going tourist any day any time. If you don't have a flash player to see the album here is a LINK TO THE PICTURES.

However, I must confess I am glad to be a home: Houston. Coming back to Houston and feeling like I missed out makes me realize how much I have come to fall in love with this city that I live, work and school. H Town! I hardly call anywhere home- for a a true son of Ekiti, born in Ibadan and raised in Warri - later schooling in Lagos and Texas, home is everywhere. But everyday, Houston seems to assume that title more than any place else. I am back to my Bachelor's pad- my little palace, it is quiet- heck, it is a well deserved one.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Life ...Just move on!

I often ponder what life has wrought me. Don't get me wrong - I am an extremely lucky person. What others dream of , I achieve - what many imagine, I live. Life itself have dealt me varying luck, but one thing is permanent : my actions often times seem planned, many times seem precise. Where I am at, what I do or what I engage in not only intrigue me, but virtually everyone around me. But alas, even though I am a man giving to much planning I will say I have less than 1% to do with what side of life I find myself. In many ways I am learning in life- one thing I always seek to learn is how to handle disappointment.

Life is full of ups and down. The life of those that have gone before me have taught me to enjoy the ups and revel in the downs. I am a freespirit more so I am a lively highspirited fellow. Gloom and I are totally diametric opposites! That is why handling disappointment often comes with its own challenges- but I have learnt. I have learnt dry jokes work, self deprecation is a sure fire way and forward planning provides a soft landing. But knowing that life deals you the hand that the Almighty uses to favor you, is a comforting feeling. Like it said in the good books: "All things work together for good..."

Any disappointment lately? Sure you bet. Georgia Tech. Sure they suck! I loved to be at Gatech. Everyone that knew me in the undergraduate years knows Atlanta was my exit point. I wrote the GRE with the Gatech cut off points in mind, all roads led there! But alas, I had not even finished applying before I got that dreaded letter: Rejected. Sad, sorrowful, mad? NO! Disappointed? Maybe. I moved on- I wasted a lot of money on applying to other schools I didn't even like- but even B Schools had the nerve to create one road block or the other! Damn they suck! But I realized at one point- maybe afterall it is not grad school I was supposed to go in January. I gave it all up, focused on getting me a good paying dream job- and guess what? What others find so hard came so easily.

Such is life- for what the creator wants is beyond your imagination. Just move on!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Poetry to My Motherland

Mother Africa!
Oh mother Africa!
Have you heard?
Have you not seen?
Will you ever feel?
Can you ever perceive?

Oh mother Africa,
Ancient in age,
Ageing in civilization.
The cradle of man,
The origin of the sapiens,
Wholesome in creation,
Whole in incarnation.

Nature's endowment,
Shall it ever depart?
The greenery,the waters,
The vegetation,
Beautiful to behold,
A land of contrast!
Mother Africa,
A paradox in its own self!

Olubusayo Michael Oluwagbemi
Copyright ©2006 Olubusayo Michael Oluwagbemi

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thank God for the New Year

The new year is here- yeh! Last year was a very tumultuous year for our world. This year promises to be dramatic. In Africa there are some changes at hand: a woman president in Liberia and a new government in Burundi among many. Africa might continue her one step forward and two step backwards this year as well: Museveni is Contesting another election, while my own President "absence" is yet to come out of his nightmare of thirdterm...by the way my people- me think it is high time I set my resolutions for the year: Below are three:
1. To help the needy less with my money, more with my time
2. To update this blog as often as possible
3. To Stop making these resolutions that might be difficult to keep- what do you think?


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