Posts filed under ‘K’naan’

Countdown to K’naan’s Troubadour

It’s only one more week until the new album from Somalian hip hop artist K’naan is available to purchase. I’ve been catching the previews and videos over the last few months and I have to say I’m pretty hyped about “Troubadour“. And to share my excitement, here are a couple of videos for songs from the new album. Enjoy!

Somalia (This video has a snippet of Rachel Maddow)


If you would like to see a little more of this artist, tune in to watch Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday night. K’naan will be making his first National TV appearance in the U.S.

February 17, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

K’naan in D.C. – May 8th!!!

Sweet!  Just found out that K’naan will be playing in D.C. May 8th at the 9:30 Club.  He’s touring with Stephen Marley’s North American Mind Control Tour.  I’m stoked.

If you haven’t heard of K’naan, you should.  This young man, originally from Somalia, is amazingly talented and has equally amazing stories to tell.   He is wise well beyond his years and I have found myself contemplating his lyrics frequently.  I do not think you have to be a fan of hip hop or rap to appreciate K’naan’s work.  There are no genre prerequesites to enjoying K’naan.  Of course, I’m heavily biased– I think this man is brilliant!  🙂

Anyway, I’m going to try my darnest to attend this show.  If you are going to be in the D.C. area and would like to attend– let me know!

Related Links
K’naan’s web site (Tour Dates)
Stephen Marley’s web site
Other Posts of Mine that refer to K’naan

April 14, 2007 at 1:19 am 1 comment

Bethany Beach

This past weekend, I spent a few days at Bethany Beach.  At one point my cousin Jordan asked my Uncle Jonathan, “Why Bethany Beach?”

“The Sawyers have a strong family history here,” Jonathan said.  He went on to explain how this was where his parents (my grandparents) took all seven of their children for a two week vacation each summer.

This kept on for the next generation.  When I was a child, different branches of the family convened on the very same beach.  Here is a picture from my childhood days.  Three branches are represented here.  From left to right:

Jennifer (JULIE), Vicky (LOWELL), Adam (MARK), Louise (MARK), Carolyn (LOWELL), Jordan (MARK), Jay (LOWELL)

Now that we are grown and the fleet of great-grandchildren increases each year, the Sawyers continue their way each summer to Bethany Beach. 

I only made it for a couple of days this year.  Here is a recap:

Journey There
Keeping with my whirlwind week, I left work at 5 PM on Wednesday evening.  It gave me an ETA at the beach around 12 AM.  Such a long journey would have been a bit of tedious for me alone at the late hour.  Luckily, I had a companion!  Christina Geyer, still visiting from Germany, agreed to brave a household of Sawyers for an extended weekend!  I picked her up in Herndon and drove the remaining 3 hours captivated by great conversation and memories of our high school days.  The trip whizzed by.

We did have a little bit of a hiccup.  We arrived at 2nd Street at Bethany Beach and lo and behold the lowest house number was 97.  That made our address of “5” a little bit of a quandary.  I tried calling every cell phone number I had.  Uncle Jonny, Uncle Mark, Mom, Jay, Carolyn, Dad, Cousin Sam.  The only phone that was answered was Dad’s and that was answered by a complete stranger.  It turns out my father lent his phone to a friend who was still in the Occoquan area.  The stranger asked if he could take a message.  Somehow that didn’t seem like it would help me find a bed for the evening, so I declined his offer.

After another iteration through all the family cell phones, we reconsulted the email and saw the address was South Bethany Beach.  No biggie, we drove down there where we found two different 2nd Streets.  Of course the first 2nd Street we tried hosted a house number 5– but no familiar vehicles.  So finally on our third 2nd Street– we found our home for the next few days.

Sleeping Arrangements and the Turtle
Christina and I got to relive one particular high school experience– the sleepover.  We shared a room in the beach house.  She slept in a day bed and I slept on a mattress on the floor.  Christina reported my snoring was not that bad– but she did note something peculiar.  She described me sleeping all curled up in a ball with my legs and arms underneath my body.

“Oh no!” I gasped, “That’s the turtle– you’re supposed to wake me when I do that!”

I told her what she couldn’t possibly know— that when I slept like that, all my extremities fell asleep.  Waking up with one asleep limb is painful (and unnerving) enough.  Two arms and two legs at the same time were unbearable.  Sean was trained to wake me when he saw me sleeping like that.

So I thought…..

Later during the trip, I was telling Sean that Christina spotted the turtle.

“Yeah, you’ve been doing that a lot lately,” Sean said.

“I have?  How come you didn’t wake me up?!?” I said.

Sean’s response?


First Day at the Beach – Dad
Thursday brought quite a surprise— my FATHER, yes, Lowell Sawyer, actually went to the beach.  Even as a child, I recall my father’s visits to the actual shoreline to be fleeting.  Everyone was surprised.

“Does Dad even have a bathing suit?!?!” I had asked.

It turns out (despite my mother’s original answer) that my father did not in fact have a bathing suit.  He did, however, have burgundy underwear.

Anyway, I rushed out to document such an event, but I was too late.  The biting flies had already scared my father away.  Hopefully this is proof enough– my father retreating from the beach with his chair:

First Day at the Beach – Nail Color
My cousin Samantha and I enjoy coloring our nails at the beach.  This year my mother brought some new supplies– Instant Manicure by Avon.  It’s a weird product.  It comes in premade strips where you can rub on color and it is instantly dry.

It seemed to take longer to apply than regular nail polish and it left quite a bit of trash, but it turns out the color was pretty persistent.  I made numerous trips to the ocean and went kayaking and the color still seems to be going strong.

First Day at the Beach – Swimming Challenge
While we were in the ocean the first day, my Uncle Jonny made jokes about swimming a half mile out in the ocean and then a half mile back.  My mother compromised and pointed to an umbrella down the shore and told us to see if we could swim parallel along the shore to that umbrella and back.  Little did my relatives know– I swim laps at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center!  I can almost do a mile in 40 minutes.  Of course, it would be a lot rougher in the tides, but the distance was significantly shorter, so it turned out to not be a problem.  My mom was so convinced I wouldn’t make it, when I was almost back, I passed my brother swimming towards me.

“Mom sent me after you,” he said, interrupted by a wave, “She was worried.”

It’s nice to surprise your kin once in a while.

First Day at the Beach – Controversial Place Setting
For dinner, Mark and Denise made homemade sauce and pasta.  As the hour of the meal arrived, Uncle Stephen and Aunt Kathy joined the beach house for a quick visit.  When they entered, they explained immediately their company would be short lived.

“We’re supposed to be buying rolls,” Aunt Kathy said.  They further explained that their dinner was almost ready and they would have to hurry home.  That was an important fact that my grandmother missed.

Shortly afterwards Mark announced that dinner was almost ready and asked for someone to set the table.  Christina and I, anxious to earn our keep, went ahead and set the table.  A little while later, Steve and Kathy departed to return to their casserole and their immediate family.

Dinner came along and we all held hands and said the blessing and sat down at our various tables to eat.

“Boys and Girls,” Grandma said, “I have something to say.”

I smiled and leaned in, expecting to hear my grandmother talk sentimentally about how nice it was to see so many family members gathered at the shore.


Grandma reprimanded us for setting the table in front of our “guests”.  She thought it was rude.  I think she even used the word “appalled”.  I believe she thought our act accelerated Steve’s departure.  She had no idea that he was invited for dinner but declined the invitation.  She had no idea he established an exit plan the moment he set foot in the house.

I apologized afterwards and she told me to never let it happen again.

I took the wrap for my Uncle Steve that night.  I doubt he or my grandmother will ever know.

First Day at the Beach – Jay and Vicky Bike
When my siblings were young, we biked excessively– especially at the beach.  For the first time in at least 15 years, my brother and I biked together.  We went from our beach house in South Bethany Beach to the Dickie’s Frozen Yogurt in downtown Bethany and back.  My bike was a little rustic.  I had dry rot on back tire and it liked to shift gears without my consent.  Nonetheless, I loved the ride.  It was invigorating and our return had us riding at dusk– my favorite time of the day.

First Day at the Beach – Nostalgic Second Wind
That evening, a number of people went to go see the new Superman movie.  Christina and I were deterred by the 10:10 PM start time.  We both believed we would fall asleep and lamented how old we were now.

Turns out we aren’t as old as we thought.  We ended up sitting in our respective beds and chatting….until 3 AM! 

Second Day at the Beach – Different Generations, Different Perspectives
The next morning, I spent some brief time on the beach.  I sat with my grandmother a while and chatted under the newly purchased beach umbrellas. 

At one point Grandma shook her head and said, “I can’t believe the swimsuits nowadays.”

Right on cue, a wet Uncle Jonny returned to the beach blanket.

“I need to get my sunglasses,” he said, “So I can admire these bikinis!”  🙂

Second Day at the Beach – Kayaking and Glasses Lost
Finally we got to do my favorite beach activity– Kayaking in Assawoman Bay!!!  This year it was Cousin Sam, Cousin Frank, Cousin Jordan, Uncle Timmy and I on the adventure!  It was a wonderful outing.  I got to chat with Sam.  I got to watch Frank and Jordan joust, capsize and wrestle in the bay.  And I got to have a secluded lap through a salt marsh.  The most predominant sounds were the rhythmic strokes of my paddle and the calls of various sea birds.  Then, periodically, off in the distance, I can hear Jordan and Frank yelling, talking smack! 🙂

Earlier in the week I discovered I left my old glasses (with transitional lenses) at home– which meant I didn’t have viable sunglasses.  Then later I made the chilling discovery that I also left my contacts at home.  The only thing I had with me was my brand new, week old, pink glasses.  Glasses with the most expensive, thinnest, clearest lenses money could buy (pictured below with my brother Jay).

“If I lose these glasses,” I told my family, “I’ll be screwed.”

This is what Sean would call an “Of course” moment:

Of course, I would lose those glasses!  I was very cautious kayaking.  In fact, I kept my distance from the rambunctious Jordan and Frank to ensure they wouldn’t flip me during their horseplay.  The journey was almost over– we were nearing the return spot when I got some sunscreen in my eye.  I went to rub the stinging eye and WHOOSH– my glasses flew off and directly into the bay.  Immediately I jumped into the water and started to fish around.  Soon all my relatives joined in the search, but to no avail.

My brand new glasses were long gone…. and I was left blind.

The scenario turned out to not be as bad as I had originally thought.  I was able to get a Lenscrafters in Salisbury, Maryland to fill my contact lenses prescription.  Not without its frustrations however– the whole ordeal took 6 hours and I was less than impressed with my eye doctor here in Christiansburg, Virginia.

I owe Christina Geyer and Stacy McMahon a big thank you for putting their plans on hold and chauffeuring me around to regain my sight.

This incident is making me think twice about two products:

  • Sweatproof sunscreen
  • Lasix Surgery

Second Day at the Beach – Walk and Story Telling
When we returned to the beach house, me the proud owner of new contacts, I decided to go for an evening walk on the beach.  It was a nice walk.  All over the waterline, I could see the silhouettes of little birds digging in the wet sand for food.  Every time a wave would arrive, they would run away and when the wave retreated they would run back towards the sea.  As a result, I had a living border to show me where the waves were.

When I returned to the house, I rotated between visiting with Christina and Stacy in the bedroom and visiting with my relatives in the kitchen.  My timing could be improved upon.  Christina reported that one two occasions, Stacy was in the middle of a story and I got up and left the room without a word.  Poor Stacy! 🙂

One surprising highlight was hearing K’naan playing from the house CD player.  My brother had borrowed it and liked it enough to play it twice!

Third Day – Departure
On the third day, we scrambled to finish up leftovers and reclaim everyone’s sheets.  All the Sawyers met in the road to say our goodbyes and get one last group picture.  My cousin Melanie walked around and hugged everyone goodbye.  I watched her as she made the rounds.

“Goodbye, Frankie!” she’d say and give him a hug.

“Goodbye, Sam!” she’d say and give her a hug.

She came to me and embraced me, “Goodbye……….Person.”

Apparently, I’ll have to make more of an impression on my youngest cousin! 🙂

Other Recaps
Christina Geyer’s Recap

August 7, 2006 at 9:43 pm 8 comments

“People Get Held Back By The Voices Inside Them”

With a few recent exceptions, every hike I go on, at some point I think I can’t make it.  That doubt typically surfaces during an ascent.  🙂  For example, last year’s Tinker Cliffs to McAffee’s Knob Hike– I made it up to Tinker’s Cliff fine, but at the halfway point when we started a slight rise right after Brickey’s Gap, a subtle lump rose in my throat, I thought about the path ahead and I wanted to cry. 

McAfee's Knob - Tinker Cliffs

But as with all hikes, I keep going and before I know it, I’m at the top or in sight of my car and I’m ready for a nice Fuddrucker’s hamburger or better yet, some ice cream.

It is my mind that doubts what my body can do!

This knowledge has come in handy in my professional life.  Last July, I had a very hectic travel schedule.  In looking over the back to back itineraries and flights, I thought to myself, “I can’t do this!  It’s impossible!”  Then I remembered all the hikes where a similiar thought crossed my mind.  I took it one trip at a time and like hiking, I drank a lot of water and ate well.  Before I knew it, I was through all my obligations and I had a great deal of fun while I was at it.

Unfortunately, now I’m on to myself.  On five recent hikes (Tinker Cliffs to VA-220, VA-635 to Pine Swamp Shelter, Blackhorse Gap to VA 652, Mount Rogers and Bald Knob), I knew better.  I never thought I couldn’t make it.  But, with Mt. Bierstadt I definitely had my doubts!  Those doubts were a slightly different species, however– they occurred before I even arrived in the state.

When Mike Newman first emailed me the trail info, the elevation gain of 2,850 feet stuck out to me. 

Bierstadt Elevation Profile

Although I had ascended 3000 feet on a hike on an Appalachian Trail, that was spread out over the course of 13 miles.  With Mount Bierstadt, the elevation gain was pretty much compacted to a 2 mile area. 

Anyone who has hiked with me, knows that I am quite slow on the steep inclines and take a lot of breaks.  Add the thin air to the mix, it seemed to be an impossibility.

“It’s like two Angel’s Rests back to back,” I lamented to friends, “with 1/3 the oxygen!”

Enter Mike Newman who was not deterred one bit by my concerns.

“I honestly think you can do it, and you won’t exhaust my patience–you’ll just have to trust me on that one,” he emailed.

It turns out, Mike Newman was correct on both accounts.  As soon as I was on the trail, I was no longer concerned.  And although I was challenged by the rocky, steep sections– there was never a time where I wanted to turn back…and certainly never a time where I wanted to cry.  By the time the trail got hard, the summit was close enough that I knew it was obtainable (though I still reveled in my surprise that I was going to make it).  The whole while, break after break, Mike Newman proved to be a very patient and pleasant companion (He also demonstrated an uncanny ability of estimating the number of paces to the next cairn).  It turned out to be a wonderful, fulfilling day.

If I had listened to my own doubts or let my worry of irritating Mike Newman win out, I would have settled on a very different hike.  I would have missed out.  And ultimately what was I worried about?  I was worried about looking like a wuss.  I would have missed out because I was trying to save face!

This all reminds me of another K’naan quote from The Beginning

People get held back by the voices inside them

I’m glad, thanks to Mike Newman’s encouragement, that I did not fall into that tempting pitfall.

I’m glad that I did not get held back by the voices inside me.

Vicky at Summit!

July 16, 2006 at 9:30 pm 5 comments

Single Sided Stories

General Store
A few years ago, my car broke down at a very inopportune place and time.  I was in the middle of a small rural town, during an ice storm …after dark.  While I waited for my hero (aka Sean) to brave the icy roads in his dinky Audi TT, I sought refuge at the only place that was open– the General Store.  The couple who owned the store were nice and pleasant and very hospitable to let me wait inside.

They did not, however, let me use the restroom and they had quite a tale for why not.  Being near the Appalachian Trail, they come in contact with a lot of thru-hikers.  In fact, they used to let the hikers camp out in their backyard.

"The whole field would be filled with tents and sleeping bags," the man had said.

Well, one year, the hikers got dreadfully ill and as can be expected, made quite a mess.  The couple even described vomit on their walls.  As if that hoopla wasn't bad enough, the hikers then turned around and blamed the couple for their illness.

"The authorities even came and investigated us.  They didn't find a single thing wrong," the woman had said, "What they don't realize is hikers always get sick.  It's normal.  [she named some virus].  It's from lack of hygiene."

Because of that horrible experience and how ungrateful the hikers were, the couple no longer let thru-hikers camp in their backyard and they wouldn't permit anyone, including me, use their restroom.

The next day, warm and safe and sound in my own home, I did a web search so I could get the couple's names and address and send them a thank you card.  It was then I discovered, the couple left out a key piece of information:

During the investigation– the authorities found FECAL MATTER IN THEIR DRINKING WATER!!!!

A convenient tidbit to leave out, huh? 

Bloodhound Hero
Well, today I had a similiar discovery.  Last week at the Brookfield, Wisconsin Farmer's Market I was drawn to a booth that featured a live bloodhound.  I pet the dog and then listen to the handler, a woman named Penny Bell, talk about the dog's capabilities and all the wonderful finds and victories her other bloodhound has done.  She bragged at how her dog was the only K-9 unit authorized to go to 9/11.  Then she went on a rant for sometime about how the police refuse to use her dog. 

"They would rather get their overtime pay knocking door to door than find a lost child," she said.

I have to admit, it really was infuriating to hear her tales of how the police would rather fill their wallets than to let a dog (whose services are free) help local families.

Anyway, I didn't have any cash to contribute last week at the booth, but it did seem like a worthwhile cause.  So today, I did a quick Google search so I could send this dedicated dog handler a donation.

Lo and behold, the top results are affiliated with FRAUD.  

Mystery River

Bloodhound Handler's Credentials Questioned in Search for Local Men

Fradulent Use of Canines in Police Work

In Penny Bell's rants she left out a couple of details– including how she was witnessed dragging the dog in the direction she wanted it to go, how for one of the dog's key "finds" they were actually nowhere near the body and how experts agree bloodhounds can't pick up scents that are over two years old.  Also– it sounds like she wasn't the only K-9 unit at 9/11 either.

I suppose it is possible this is a smear campaign by those who feel threatened by Penny and her dog (I'm skeptical though).  Either way it does serve as a good reminder to me that there are two sides to every story. 

Until the Lion Learns to Speak 
So I'll wrap this all up with another K'naan Quote:

Until the Lion Learns to Speak, Tales of the Hunt Will Be Weak

It's a paraphrase of a Muslim saying reminding us that history is often written by the victor, the conqueror, the hunter.  Until we hear the stories of the "loser", we really won't know the full story– We won't know the lion's side.

Recently Clint posted an article about the Baltimore Police arresting a couple for merely asking directions.  I was just as outraged as Clint at the story (especially knowing how many times I've been lost in Baltimore and D.C.) and also wondered what kind of horrible, unreasonable people are being staffed by the Baltimore Police.  But after this morning's Bloodhound discovery, I think I'll hold back for now.  Maybe…. just maybe, there is another side to this story as well. 


May 20, 2006 at 5:42 pm 1 comment

Water vs. Fear

It isn't a new observation– how much Americans are motivated by fear.  I think the first time I was personally exposed to that message was in the film Bowling for Columbine.  Since then I readily run across the same conclusion communicated and drawn from a variety of sources.  Recently, I found those lessons reinforced by my own CD collection.

I've mentioned the Somalian rapper, K'naan before.  The first song on his CD is called "Wash It Down" and it highlights how in America we get so swept up in the stresses of life ("hassling creditors, hazardous accidents, driving with negligence, too many beverages") that we forget the importance of water– not only as a life-giving liquid, but as a means of relaxation.  He ends the song with the repetition of the lines:

My people drum on water
Drink on water
Live on water
Die for water

When I take a break from listening to K'naan, I frequently fall back on my favorite artist, NOFX.  They have a song called "Eat the Meek".  Although K'naan makes his point very well in "Wash It Down", I think his message is even more effective when you constrast it to these lines NOFX wrote about fear:

The people, they love it, they feed it
Brush with it, bath with it, breathe it
Inject it into the blood
It seems to be replacing love.

Both artists were describing an item that was indispensable in their culture.  For Somalians, it's water.  For Americans, it's fear.

And here's another little interesting tidbit.  K'naan grew up in Somalia during their civil wars.  When he was eleven, all three of his best friends were shot and killed on the same day.  In another song on his Album, "What's Hardcore", K'naan describes some of the violence and danger of his home.  In the midst of his description he adds:

Is anyone scared to live here?
Not in the least.

So in a community where the people have very good grounds to be terrified, they aren't.  And here in Christiansburg, Virginia…. the hair stylists are terrified of suicide bombers.

America's "Culture of Fear" isn't a new observation, that's for sure.  But it is one that still warrants discussion.

May 1, 2006 at 7:40 pm 1 comment

New Appreciation of Road Rage

On the weekends, Sean and I often ride in the car together.  Mostly to lunch or to Larry's, sometimes a trip to Target is in the works.  It's not an enviable time of the week.  Regardless of whether Sean is the driver or passenger, his eyes are alert and constantly scanning the road for someone doing something stupid.  Even on a five minute trip to 7-11, he'll spot someone doing something that isn't to his liking.  And when he does, he announces it.   He'll cite cell phone usage, point out red light runners, complain about cyclists and ostracize those who abstain from cruise control.  He's even speculated on a variety of lane change conspiracies.  (It is no wonder he was called to create the Jackass Driver Registry back in 1998)

Sean's verbose road presence is something I've built up a tolerance for in the past decade.  However, I'm still not fully adjusted to when he rolls down the window to share his insights with the offending drivers.  The other week, we were driving down the road and we found our path blocked by a car with all its doors open and a couple taking their time unloading items from the vehicle.  I slowed down and waited for a good time to go around the car in the opposite lane of traffic.  Sean was, of course, complaining all the while.  As we cautiously inched around the car, I heard a familiar whir and felt a gust of fresh air.  Before I could even think about hitting the child lock button, Sean had his head out the window and was yelling at the couple.

"Why don't you just stop in the middle of the road next time!?!?"

My reaction at the time was irritation with a little bit of humilation mixed in.  I promptly complained to Sean to which he pointed out if he didn't say anything, the driver would never know any better.

"Next time they'll think twice before they do stupid shit like that," Sean said.

The Somalian rapper, K'naan has a quote in his song Hoobaale:

How come you turn the deafest ear when it's your own brother calling?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I am certainly susceptible to a similiar phenomenon.  Sean's explanation of his behavior certainly made sense and I may have even admitted as much at the time, but I still did not appreciate it.

Well, it took another K'naan quote for me to fully convert to Sean's way of thinking:

 It is better to light a candle than to curse the dark.

For a couple of weeks now, I've being very fond of that statement.  Instead of complaining about something, do something about it.  It's a good thought and I looked up to K'naan for articulating it so.  Then I realized that is exactly what my husband was doing that I found so distasteful.

Like many great scientists and artists, Sean was unappreciated in his time.

April 3, 2006 at 7:39 pm 2 comments

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