Saturday, October 29, 2022

All the Old Paintings on the Tomb, They Do the Sand Dance, Don'tcha Know

I made it to Egypt this month. My employer, Microwize Technology, now has a team working in Cairo, and our CEO promised the rest of the management team and me late last year that if we hit a particular milestone in sales this year, he'd take us to Egypt (well, those of us who don't already live there). We did, and he did!

It was great to meet in person many of my Egyptian colleagues, and to check out the gorgeous office space we have in a modern area in Cairo. We got to see some incredible beaches, from El Alamein and Alexandria on the Mediterranean to Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea. We admired the exhibits and the mummies at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. We also cruised down the Nile River and visited several ancient temples and the Valley of the Kings along the way, with time for a hot air balloon ride in Luxor (what a view!) and a sailboat ride from Aswan to lunch at BenBen Hotel. And of course we went to the Giza pyramid complex, where I got to ride a camel.

I enjoyed all of it, the amazing views and the terrific food and the fantastic weather (16 sunny days with no rain? yes, please... and yes, I did return to the US with a tan), the camaraderie, the chance to run my fingers across hieroglyphs carved over 3,000 years ago and to dip those same fingers in the waters of the Nile. I've always been interested in ancient history, and to set foot in places that were so pivotal to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman history, to Amenhotep III and Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, left me feeling awestruck.

Modern Egypt is quite the marvel itself. There is a lot of construction going on, with infrastructure and improved transit a goal of the government. (Traffic in Cairo and Alexandria is, it's, well...) The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP27, is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh next month. Don't worry, guys, I turned off all the lights and water faucets before I left. Of course, none of this really masks the fact that the country's human rights record and freedom of expression leave a lot to be desired, or the fact that its president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is a retired military officer autocrat intolerant of dissent.

Speaking of retired military officer autocrats intolerant of dissent, Brazil's version, Jair Bolsonaro, will hopefully have his grip finally peeled away from the country's neck in tomorrow's election. His mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, his disinterest in the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous population, and his ignorant yet inflammatory rhetoric have led him to be nicknamed the "Trump of the Tropics." I don't know that his opponent, Luiz InĂ¡cio "Lula" da Silva (no relation), can right the ship, but I have much more faith in him as a leader and as a human being. Yes, he was found guilty of corruption and money laundering, but the convictions were later annulled and the Supreme Court ruled that the judge who oversaw his corruption trial was biased. Even with that recent history, he's the preferable candidate to someone who admires Brazil's former military dictatorship. #ForaBolsonaro!

The reports of Twitter's becoming a free-for-all hellscape have been greatly exaggerated. I am wary, to be sure; Elon Musk is capricious and prickly. But all the pearl-clutching and running for the exits is just silly, and even if he did want to burn it to the ground, that doesn't mean that he'd be able to do so. I'm not deleting my account(s) anytime soon. Let's just wait it out and see what happens, shall we?

So bummed to hear about Jerry Lee Lewis' passing yesterday. We shared a birthdate, and I actually got to see him do a show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on our mutual birthday in 2017. The Killer was another prickly man, and hardly a hero, but few could rock a piano, or embody rock 'n roll, like Jerry Lee.

All right, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to watching episodes of "iZombie" and "Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities."