Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva: Battle of the Bulge(s)

Bye-bye delicious chocolates! (Image source)

Normally I abhor making New Year’s resolutions. They seem fickle and useless especially if one doesn’t commit to them. Furthermore, such life-altering promises should be made anytime of the year and not pushed off until early January.

Yet in my case I’ve experienced many more downs than ups, particularly over the past three months. Now is the time that I have to make some serious affirmations and improve my life along with those around me.

So what resolutions will I make starting in 2009? I’ll be writing about them over the next few days. Today's resolutions is one close to my heart (literally):

Physical – I’ve ballooned in weight since early autumn and I’m at least fifteen pounds obese. I haven’t been this fat in years and I cannot afford to continue ignoring the warning signs (e.g. heavier breathing, more labored movement).

In addition, my legs have been feeling very weak compared to, say, six to twelve months ago. I wake up several times nightly with leg cramps and I cannot sit still during the day for extended periods of time. My disability cannot improve but can only get worse. I’ve allowed it to reach that point.

Thus, my strategy is twofold. First, go on a steady diet; no more sweets or overeating and less take-out. I need to curb down on my starches and eat more veggies and fruits.

The second part is one word: exercise. Stretch more often and do some leg-strengthening work. It’s a simple resolution but one that will be a challenge to keep.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I cannot believe that it has been nearly four months since I've written an entry here. In this span I've penned a few hundred entries here, yet I've kept this poor blog in terrible shape. I mean, I could dribble on and on and on about why I've abandoned my personal blog but in all honesty it's not worth it. I'm just not in the mood to recall all the personal struggles of the past few months. (This partially explains why I tend to postpone appointments to see my shrink).

So why am I posting today? You see, this morning I found the following video of a recent talk show appearance by Louis C.K. Superficially, his rant seems like an anti-technology speech. Beyond the surface, however, it examines how society takes certain things for granted. It's a sentiment I've known far too well lately and it's one that I must correct.

I cannot keep repeating the same mistakes. The sooner I correct them the better I, and my loved ones, will be.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I’m now watching the repeat of this morning’s Opening Ceremonies from Beijing. I’ve yet to glimpse at how the cauldron was lit but I’m sure it was done beautifully if the artistry of the first part of the ceremony was indication.

So far the coverage on NBC is in the final third of the march of nations; I really wish Matt Lauer and Bob Costas would not be so chatty and let the images speak for themselves. (I felt this way especially when the Venezuelan delegation came out and all they could do was launch these smartass quips about Hugo Chavez. Trust me, I’m not a Chavista and I tend to disagree with his initiatives. But please give me a break with the whole “tee hee, he moved the clocks forward by thirty minutes” remarks).

Regarding the Olympics, I feel pretty neutral and blasé over the Games this year; part of it is due to the difficulty in watching the events live and part of it is due to the whole human rights controversy. The only sport I’m truly passionate about is the U.S. participation in soccer which explains why I woke up at 4:30 in the morning yesterday to watch the U.S.-Japan match. Otherwise I feel pretty “meh” about the whole affair.

This brings me to the inimitable wisdom of Eddie Izzard. Stoned Olympics?” Yes please!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ads, ads, ads: Negativity

Which one of these ads is worse, dear reader?

Obama on McCain:

McCain on Obama:

It's a tough call; they both stink.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The only enjoyable opera

If only all opera were this interesting then I would try to go to the Met more often:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Five Alive: “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” in Colombia

Video link.

Two weeks ago, the second episode of the current season of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” visited Colombia. Naturally, the episode was a cannot-miss event at home and we huddled around the living room TV to watch the program. We all enjoyed it and were glad that he visited the country.

Admittedly, I should’ve written this up within 24 hours of the first airing of the program. Foolishly, I lost my notes and didn’t recover them until but a few minutes ago as I was organizing some papers in the pig pen that is my bedroom.

With twenty minutes to go before the next episode (Uruguay!) here’s a quick rundown of my impressions of No Reservations en mi madrepatria.

  1. The only section that disturbed me was at the beginning when he discusses that Colombia was not the cesspool of violence that it once was and that sadly continues to stereotype the country. Nevertheless, in his info he oversimplifies the decrease in violence of the cartels yet includes the paramilitaries as among those who have been “pushed back.” Understandably the show is not a political forum and some notes have to be presented in simple terms. Yet the “peace process” which led to the dissolution of the country’s main paramilitary organization was flawed and there are some who have retaken to the armed struggle. (See: Aguilas Negras). Compared to the rest of the program this was a minor gripe, however.
  2. With that said kudos to Bourdain and co. for heading off the beaten track and not focusing on the typical tourist traps. To see him wander the Cartagena market, travel to an impoverished island (Tierra Bomba) across from the affluent section of Cartagena, and visit the comunas in Medellin as a refreshing sight. Despite not trekking to Bogota or Cali, for instance, his enthusiasm to discover the distinct was rewarding.
  3. I was shocked that Bourdain didn’t mention President Alvaro Uribe during the entire program. I was convinced before the program that he would hop on the Uribe bandwagon and throw him at least a crumb or two of named praise. Instead, the only politico he mentioned was Medellin mayor Sergio Fajardo who was key in the city’s “unbelievable transformation” during the post-Escobar period. While Uribe’s accolades are deserved (for the most part) it detracts from the efforts of deserving local leaders like Fajardo.
  4. Good god the food was mouthwatering! Calentado, emapanadas, and chorizo were just a few of the divine dishes and tasty treats he encountered throughout the program. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his amazement over the massive portions given during each meal; a quality of Colombian cuisine that even caught me off guard during my first visit to Colombia as an adult in 2003.
  5. Finally, it was touching to notice Bourdain’s amazement at Colombia at the end of the program. “I hope I’ve gained a reason for optimism” he said; a sentiment that is shared by those who wish to see everlasting peace and prosperity reach Colombia after what seems like eons of lost potential and bloodshed. “It’s the people that make the place,” he mentioned in closing, and it is those people who break stereotypes and strive daily for a better future.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Patriotism or poor taste in Peru?

Lady Godiva eat your heart out:

Leysi Suarez, a Peruvian showgirl and dancer for Alma Bella band made international headlines when a naked picture of her on top of the Peruvian flag was published on the cover of a magazine…

While she initially affirmed there was nothing wrong with what she had done and stated she would do it again saying she loved Peru and would show it with her "body and soul", she has changed her mind and retracted her statements.
After Peru's Minister of Defense, Antero Flores-Araoz assigned the case to a public prosecutor and announced that charges would be pressed against Leysi, the Peruvian dancer has stated she is truly sorry.

BBC News covered the scandal surrounding Suarez’ snapshots in this video including interviewing the magazine’s editor who defended his decision.

The more intriguing video is the following were Peruvians on the street are asked which is more “offensive” – Suarez or a pair of “corrupt” legislators. (My favorite reply is about 1:30 in where a gentleman explains that “the lady isn’t offensive but her intentions are”).

Perhaps in 2011 Peruvians can enjoy the best of both worlds if former soccer cheerleader and TV presenter Shirley Cherres becomes congresswoman!

My p.o.v. - it is more than obvious that Suarez sought (and found) her 15 minutes of fame via the controversial photoshoot. (The term "attention whore" comes to mind, with all due respect to Suarez).

At the same time, Peru's government needs to focus on the bigger issues that need to be tackled such as an angry opposition, neighbor pains, and plummeting presidential popularity. Minister Flores-Araoz should zip it and stick to doing his job competently.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Colombians united against barbarism

How sad is that despite the millions who came together and marched on Colombia’s Independence Day against violence that FARC commanders say they will continue the armed struggle while paramilitaries may’ve been behind the massacre of five campesinos?

Nevertheless, Sunday’s rallies must not be in vain as Colombians deserve a stable, meaningful peace after so many decades wasted in cruelty among countrymen:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The meaning of July 20th

Image via BBC News

With Colombian Independence Day drawing to a close I cannot help but feel very proud to be of Colombian background. I feel this way when…

…hundreds of thousands of people Colombians representing distinct races, creeds, and ideologies united to march against the kidnappings, massacres, and violence committed by black-hearted criminal groups.

…I eat such lovely delicacies as bandeja paisa, calentado, and huevos pericos (naturally)!

…I visited the grave of my father and thanked him for sacrificed everything and moved to the U.S. to provide a better future for his children.

…I cheered for futbolistas such as “El Pibe” Valderrama and “El Patron” Bermudez and continue to root for players like Macnelly Torres and Juan Pablo Angel.

…I quietly took the brunt of the numerous taunts hurled at me during my childhood and vowed never to allow their teasing to shake my pride.

…I laughed during “Mi Papa, Mi Abuelo, y Yo”, cringed during “Rosario Tijeras”, and wept at the end of “Maria, Llena Eres de Gracia.”

…I look at the weathered face of my grandmother while listening to her sage advice.

…outsiders conditioned with the stereotypes of cartels, coke, and whores find out that the myths do not always coincide with reality.

…I listen to the myriad of musical styles from artists like Grupo Niche, Los Aterciopelados, Pinker Tones, and El Binomio de Oro.

…I wear the bracelet given to me with the yellow, blue and red colors of the Colombian flag which was a gift by my extended family when I visited them after going nearly two decades without seeing them.

…I explain to others that “I’m an American of Colombian background” and the joy that I feel of being part of two vibrant, warm, diverse, and generous cultures. The best of both worlds!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Charlie Haden

The soothing styles of Charlie Haden and co. are perfect at a time like this as I wrap up my work, settle into the evening, and calm down before heading to bed:

That hits the spot. Like a glass of warm milk.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My day off!

So where am I going on Saturday after busting my back all week? Here's a hint - a free concert in Central Park starring the one and only Julieta Venegas! (Along with some primo opening acts, too).

I'm excited not only to listen to some wonderful music in a unique setting but also glad to meet up with some friends and possibly be surprised by those that I haven't seen in a while. (The latter happened when I unexpectedly met C. at the end of the Aterciopelados gig in 2005). Then there's also the mini-picnic we're going to have (including some meat empanadas I've got to buy). All-in-all I'm going to try to enjoy things.

Afterwards, I'm going to catch a bus and be picked up at the Apple Store at 8pm. Why there? No, I'm not giving into the hype over the new iPhone. (At least not until I can afford it, all the bugs get worked out, and there's more flexibility with the service plans). Rather, it's an easy address for the Access-A-Ride to pick me up and the store's bathrooms are decent.

Depending on time constraints and my appetite I may eat at nearby Pop Burger; I have an Achilles heel for sliders.

Lastly, if I'm lucky I can catch Manhattanhenge depending on what time my ride picks me up and if my camera can hold out.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Earlier today my Internet connection went out as I was in the middle of doing some important work. After several hours of laying in the corner of the apartment curled in the fetal position and babbling incoherently I decided to try and type up a quasi-poem in the order of the alphabet. It’s a little nonsensical and it doesn’t strictly obey all the laws of English grammar. But it was good enough to kill over an hour today and keep me from going stir crazy:

As a wise man once proclaimed

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Caring words like those often make sense

During times of high esteem and confidence.

Exceptions must be taken into account, nevertheless

For those who aren’t feeling so pleased with the appearance.

Gestures mean more than words

However simple or minor they may seem.

It’s a lesson that at times can be overlooked

Just like so many things in our daily lives.

Kind and generous actions

Love, unselfishness just to name a few

Mean a great deal to those who receive them.

Now and again it may be possible that what we do

Often can provide a dual benefit

Pleasing ourselves and others.

Quick minds can usually ascertain

Reasons why we do what we do.

Still, actions are meaningless if those who receive it cannot appreciate it.

“To err is human;”

Usually that is the case.

Vexed as we may seem with human understanding

We hope that our gestures are not in vain.

“X” person did this or “x” person did that

Yet in the end we interpret things as they happen

Zipping along and living as best we can.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The mayor's wife

After yesterday's downer of a post I was desperately in need of a good, cheap laugh. Thankfully an old favorite- "Reno 911!"- came to the rescue:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Happy birthday dad

To rephrase this song:

Pain, pain fatal pain

It plays hideous tricks on the brain

Today was my fathers’ birthday. Had things gone ideally he would’ve been 62 years old and starting to enjoy retirement. Instead, he’s been dead for nearly three years and his remains are in a cemetery in a small Colombian town.

I want to say so many things; chiefly I wish I could lash out for his passing away and to let go of all the sadness and misery I’ve bottle up regarding his death. Yet for the sake of my family’s unity and progress (especially my mom’s sanity) I continue to look out for them more than me and I try to help them trudge forward.

It is this sacrifice for others which embodied my late father and that followed him to his last moments. (When he died he had been sweeping the floor and doing some light cleaning despite needing the rest after a ridiculously hard week at work. He didn’t have to do it and he was physically beat, but he wanted to neaten things up for us).

A quick anecdote: many years ago I was conversing with my dad. I asked him if he had such such a wonderful job, increased income, and was constantly surrounded by family in Colombia then why did he leave it all behind to start from square one in the U.S. His reply was simple: “I did it for you and your brothers.” Naively I couldn’t comprehend what he was saying; it seemed irrational that he would leave behind the cusp of his youth and so many things that gave him joy and satisfaction. He wanted to provide his future wife and kin with the freedom that he knew they would enjoy. His life in the U.S. was filled with obstacles especially in the first few years but he derived joy from our comfort and well-being. It was a concept that at the time seemed alien to me.

Yet in the many months since his passing I’ve grown to truly appreciate his words and the impetus behind them. His unselfishness and care for others was his legacy and it is something my brothers and I try to carry on. His memory and spirit will continue and hopefully grow in the upcoming years. He deserves it as he rests in peace from the heavens above; pleased, happy, and looking down upon us.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

And I'm proud to be an American (wierdo)

I figured I ought to take a head start in celebrating the Fourth of July:

Note the band's diversity. (Sorry, lame quip).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Workout and haggle

I'm trying my best not to be a mopey pessimist today but it's a little difficult.

I haven't been feeling well lately on account that several small things have ganged up on my such as my bursitis and my delicate stomach. I have P.T. which should help my aching shoulders. But I'm also stressed (what else is new!) but over an appointment I have in a few hours at the local Medicaid office.

(Why such a mess with Medicaid? In short, they want to force me to choose between my Access-A-Ride and my health insurance despite my winning a fair hearing decision in the Spring. There are more details though suffice it to say they are being absolutely unfair and I'm going to fight their red tape and incompetence).

Yes ladies and jellyspoons, I'm not at my best right now. Then again, things change and who knows if by the end of the day fortune will shine my way.

Update: Yes, fortune did smile down on me in the sense that P.T. helped reduce some of the aches in my shoulders and my stomach was able to relax. More importantly, the visit to the Medicaid office went without a hitch except for one or two minor misunderstandings and some well-played passive-aggressiveness on my part.

Now I can get some good night's rest (or more specifically, as much as I can before walking up a little dazed at dawn)!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Manu is the man!

It's been a looooooooong time since I've written here. Why such a delay? The usual suspects are to blame (e.g. thesis, "work") though my health has been kind of iffy lately. Thankfully I've been working harder in order not to be swamped and playing catch-up. The toll is that blogging here and even there has taken less of a role. I had to readjust my priorities and in doing so blogging dropped down several rungs of the ladder.

So why am I blogging tonight even though I'm supposed to wake up in five hoursand I could really use the rest? Just to wish a very happy birthday to Manu Chao and because his music has helped pick me up when I need a quick boost late at night or in the pre-dawn hours. Just watch this and perhaps you'll see what I mean:

p.s. Apologies for the terribly corny post title!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vids, vids, vids!: Interview with Thomas Lennon

"Reno 911!" is one of the most recurring topics on this sad, sad blog of mine (Exhibit A, B, C, D). Naturally I haven't missed an episode and I'm keen on the fifth season; for example, I absolutely love the faux-PSAs in Spanish. Admittedly, there are times that the plots and stories become a little predictable yet the way the cast handles the different siuations remains as quite a sight to behold.

With that said, I found the following video roughly two weeks ago. It's a neat interview with actor/writer/"cop"-in-short-shorts Thomas Lennon where he reveals a few interesting tidbits about the show and other projects past and future.

And yes, he looks tre bien in the Morrissey tee!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A little food, a little dance....

Well, I'm off to the luncheon. I feel confident and I know what to talk about. After thinking it over a zillion times I decided to change the speech significantly and not touch on Dr. Viscardi's legacy. I just thought of something better; that's all.

More to come later...

Update (11:55pm): Perfect. Everything went as close to perfection as possible. The speech was by far the best one I've given in years and the audience- young and old, Irish and American- enjoyed it completely.

Other than that I got to meet some new friends, reacquaint with old pals, enjoy a great meal, take a few snapshots, and more.

What can I say? I'm a lucky blankety-blank!

Update (June 4, 2008): I don't mean to sound vain but I look pretty damned good in this pic!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Five Alive: Janeane Garofalo's HBO Special

Whenever I'm at home during the mornings I sometimes watch the stand-up comedy hour on Comedy Central from 11 to noon. It's a nice way to get a good laugh during the day and it's a nice break after working over the previous 4 to 5 hours.

Last week I caught a Janeane Garofalo comedy special from 1997. It was interesting and I jotted a few notes down after it was done. Here are five of those points:

  1. What a difference 11 years makes with some items that are terribly dated. Case in point - quips on Jack Kemp and "who's your favorite Spice Girl?" (Janeane's answer: Sporty. I always had a small liking to Ginger).
  2. Still, some things aged rather well. The use of "Cannonball" as the show's intro song coincides well with The Breeders' return, and Jeneane still looks really nice as evidenced by the 2007 photo above.
  3. Her comedic anecdotes were solid, especially those that were non-political. For instance, she told about the time she saw a businessman getting hit by a taxi and, as painful as it sounded, I shared in her humor when retelling the incident and how even the cops laughed about it. Then again there were some stories she told that I unintentionally laughed at such as the concept of a holistic pet store.
  4. If excessive muffin eating means that you have an eating disorder (as she jokingly said) then I'm worse than your average bulemic.
  5. I can emphatize with her claim that telling someone that you like them is like "the kiss of death." (Mainly since that's happened to many a prospective relationship I've attempted). But being overly distant doesn't work either. Does it?
Oddly enough when the special was done and I was looking for paper to write on I couldn't find anything either big or clean enough. After rummaging through the trash I found a suitable writing surface in the form of an envelope that was used to send a free antacid sample. Mercifully, the paper did its job and I didn't need to pop any antacids after the show was done. It was a damn good special.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The disabled treaty and LatAm and the Caribbean

As a service to the public (so to speak) the following is a list of Latin American and Caribbean countries and what they have done regarding the "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities". The source comes from this U.N. website and the list is written from least to most action taken by governments:

No action
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
United States of America

Signed convention only

Signed convention & optional protocol
Antigua and Barbuda
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic

Ratified convention

Ratified convention & protocol
El Salvador

What observations can I draw from this? Here are five quick points:
  1. Just over one-quarter of states have yet to sign the convention. I expected a lower figure though I see that most of those countries are small and/or developing.
  2. Of that list of countries who haven't signed two stick out: the U.S. and Venezuela. From the get go it was obvious that the U.S. would not sign to the treaty despite participating during several Ad Hoc committee sessions. Venezuela does surprise me since they seemed to be active during Ad Hoc committee sessions and their government has placed such a strong emphasis on social services.
  3. The Colombian delegation was one of the most passive ones during the Ad Hoc committee sessions I attended. (I'll explain why another time; all that I will say for now is that I was not proud of their attention to distractions). Thus, imagine my shock when I find that they at least signed the convention.
  4. The five countries that ratified the convention & protocol where very active during the Ad Hoc committee meetings not only through their government representatives but also via NGOs.
  5. Fun facts: Jamaica was the first country to ratify the treaty in March 2007 while Ecuador's ratification last month allowed the treaty to go into effect.
Could more countries from the region ratify the treaty? I honestly don't know though that can certainly change in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Speech time!

For the third straight year I will be going to an annual luncheon sponsored by the Physically Challenged Irish And American Youth Team in honor of a delegation of disabled children visiting from the emerald isle. Last year I was a nervous wreck preparing and then giving a short speech to give to the event’s attendees but it thankfully turned out very well:

In the end I got a standing ovation (from those who could stand, that is) and it was then that I was filled with pride in accomplishing both what I had been sent out to do as well as to overcome the mistakes I made in previous occasions.

This year I will probably be made to speak again. Honestly, I don’t mind having to talk in front of crowds big or small. My main preoccupation is with saying the right thing in the right way to the right crowd. In retrospect, I nailed the first two parts but I don’t think it resonated well with the kids.

Yet if I’m granted the opportunity to speak at next Tuesday’s affair I anticipate that I will have the kids’ attention. The topic for my speech will be on the late Henry Viscardi Jr. - a visionary who emphasized that disabled people deserve to be empowered in order to be functional members of society. I was lucky enough not only to graduate from the school that bares his name but to also have met him on several occasions. He was truly an inspiration and someone I have never forgotten.

In a small cabinet in my bedroom I have a copy of one of his books: Give Us the Tools. I believe it is in that book where he said:

"Life demands love. Loving means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all. Faith means believing the unbelievable, and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless."

I am ready for the luncheon.

Monday, May 26, 2008


My hand was still bothering me today which is why I’m going to link to a video tonight. I think I’ll try icing my hand up tomorrow morning before it gets puffier and more painful. The last thing I want to do is visit my doctor; I’m thankful that have good health insurance yet I really need to play catch-up after pretty much taking last week off.

Airiel is a Chicago-based shoegazer outfit that I adore listening to. (I’ve previously professed my love for shoegazer music here). The following video is of them singing “Thinktank” at a ’07 gig in Lima, Peru. The clip is pretty damned loud and there are annoying strobe lights but I could listen to that music all day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Puffy hands

Bloody hell, this poor blog has been way too abandoned!

Unfortunately this past week has been (surprise! surprise!) a very busy one. Yet what's made it worse is that my right hand has puffed up around the knuckles, outer edges of the palm and some of my fingers. It hurts to use it for things like holding utensils and writing; thus, typing has been a great inconvenience.

Thankfully, most of the swelling has gone down especially after I visited my doctor last Friday. She said that it was an "accumulation of fluids" due to my lack of mobility and she recommended that I try to move around more. I've been dutifully heeding her suggestions and they've worked relatively well.

Despite all the work that I've accumulated and that I must tackle in the next few days I'm going to try my best to post here over the next few days. There are far too many issues stewing in my mind that I want to touch on such as this and this. I will try not to write as much as I had in this post though something substantial is better than nothing.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I'm too sleepy to blog anything above 100 words tonight. Hence, I'll play it lazy and merely post the below video. It describes how I was feeling late last night. (Maybe I'll explain why tomorrow).

Thursday, May 15, 2008


No matter what I do and regardless of how content I may feel something will get on me and drive me down.

Tonight was no exception.

Although I was busy mom interrupted me this afternoon to ask that I prepare a check to pat a bill for one of my brothers. I did it that night and I wrote the check for a few dollars more than the bill requested. (It’s something I usually do as a sign of good faith and it’s usually good to leave a bit of credit on the bill whenever possible).

As I was trying to finish some typing at 10 she barges into the bedroom screaming.

“Why did you pay so much on the check?!”

I explained to her quietly and calmly that it’s something I always do as a sign of good faith, etc.

“Why are you gifting the clothing store so much? They just take the money and run! Don’t you know that by now!!!”

Naturally her yelping woke my brother up; the one whose bill I was taking care of and who was trying to get some rest before getting up at 4am.

My attempt to explain again was rebuffed anew. This time, she took the check and emphatically tore it up while admonishing me for my check-writing abilities.

By then I wanted to scream at her not so much because I could have been wrong but due to her taking such a simple task and blowing it way out of proportion. I am the one whose job is to pay the bills and I write out roughly 6-7 per month. I never get thanked for what I do.

What also perturbed me was that yet again she took me for granted. For the past 32 months I have sacrificed far too much of my sanity and well-being for her and the good of my family. Most of the time I don’t mind doing so and I realize that it’s a task thrust upon me since dad died. Yet a little gratitude can go a long way; a simple “thank you” can suffice. There’s no need to scold me like a toddler or yell like a banshee if I make a mistake on a silly task. I have to endure this huge burden of stress and responsibility upon me and it’s unfair to have to be treated as if I were an immature, unkempt child.

Ultimately I decided to throw in the towel and not refute her anymore. I interrupted her scolding, told her I would write a check, and promised her that I would take care of it. She kept up with her nagging though my calm assurances finally convinced her stop and she left the room.

Mom has gone through countless emotional outbreaks since dad passed away three years ago this September. Even when they would argue he served as her emotional keystone; one which was removed when he died. Though my brothers and I try our best to replace that keystone it’s just not the same. No matter what we do she will never recover from the mighty blow she received from his death. All we can try to do is lessen it as best as possible.

Unfortunately, my sympathy is tempered with rage; a tempestuous anger thriving off of stresses big and small. 9 times out of ten my calm demeanor really reflects the tranquility and rationality I feel. Yet there are occasions like tonight when it is merely a façade; a mask which hides my sorrows, rage, and disappointment. I would have loved to scream back at her and quell some of the rage that had built up in me. Doing so would have been fatal since she would’ve lashed out with even more anger and alibis, justified or otherwise. It would’ve shattered her own emotional state and brought forth who knows what. I did not fight fire with fire and though emerged burned it could’ve been worse.

Rarely are the occasions when I curse at my father whose soul is in the heavens above. I wonder why he had to go and leave me stuck with such an enigma. What did I do to deserve someone so loving and kind yet also so paranoid and crazed? In the end, whether I like it or not, whether I am happy or sad, calm or enraged this is what I have to live with. I have no other option but dutifully accept the positive with the negative and hope that the future can be better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lousy Smarch Weather

If there’s one thing that annoys me is when my best laid plans became thwarted despite my best intentions.

Today I was supposed to head to a special ceremony at the U.N. commemorating the entry into force of an international treaty for disabled people. I touched on the convention briefly the other day, and expressed my pride and joy that such an accord could come to fruition. My hope was that I could attend today’s event and be one of numerous disabled individuals present and showing support to what can hopefully be a new era for the disabled.

Alas, it was not to be since I was unable to make it to Manhattan.

The fault lies with the crummy weather today. I don’t mind if it’s cold and today was a bit nippy. However, 30 MPH winds along with 45 MPH gusts are dangerous for those in wheelchair with a high center of gravity like mine. Worse still was the steady rainfall which made commuting a pain in that it was a perfect day for delays and late pickups on the Access-A-Ride system.

In the end, I stayed at home doing some cleaning and organizing of paperwork. I was feeling a little too crabby to do any meaningful work.

At least there’s a bright side; I’ll try tomorrow to catch the archived webcast of the ceremony despite my having more pressing matters to attend to. Furthermore, I’m going to accompany my mom and one of my brothers on Wednesday to his medical appointment. That should give me the chance to enjoy some time with them outside of the sometimes claustrophobic confines of the apartment.

A little fresh air never hurts!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bert and Ernie on Clinton and Obama

I don't like to cross-post with The Latin Americanist but I can't help myself on this occasion:

It’s silly.

It’s juvenile.

It has no direct relation to Latin American affairs.

Yet it’s funny:

For the record, I’m not gung-ho on any of the presidential candidates.

(Hat tip: Wonkette).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Off to see the wizard…

It’s been roughly a week that I’ve been stuck at home playing catch-up with several projects. Thus, its’ a relief to be able to head out for a few hours today. First, it’s a quick jaunt to Bobst Library in order to return a recalled book. Then, it’s a slow but steady trip on the M5 and M16 to go see my shrink.

Mercifully, I'm not as wound-up as I was the last time I saw my shrink two weeks ago. Then it was a chore to see him and try to explain how I was on the verge of a breakdown. Today's appointment should be less strained since I feel upbeat and grateful for his advice.

It isn’t a glamorous outing, admittedly. But it’ll be a relief to be able to step out and do a few productive things.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A New Era for PWD

As I mentioned on Saturday, an international treaty for disabled people took effect on that day. Thus culminated the efforts of hundreds of people who dedicated lots of time and energy to creating the accord and the beginning of a new hope for disabled individuals around the world.

I had the good fortune of attending several of the conferences of the ad hoc committee which worked diligently and (for the most part) in good faith to create the treaty. The sessions were marathon events taking two weeks at a time roughly twice a year and convened government representatives along with members of numerous NGOs. My role was mostly an observational one; showing up to workshops, gathering notes, and talking to different people. It was a refreshing look at how group efforts can (usually) work and it provided me some valuable insight into the inner working of the U.N. bureaucracy.

Next Monday there will be a special ceremony commemorating the entry into force of the treaty for disabled people. I may see some familiar faces during the event, though to be perfectly frank with you that isn’t my primary concern. My main issue is that the pact can lead to significant strides for the disabled, especially in underdeveloped nations.

Disabled people receive the stigma of being complainers who are wholly uncomfortable with the world and whine solely for our benefit. That may be the case for a small amount but I’ve found that what we, the disabled, really want is the opportunity to perform to the best of our ability. It may involve asking for some help but in the end we are empowered and given the chance to reach our goals.

I suppose the best and most succinct way to say it is by using the title of a book written by the late (and missed) Henry Viscardi, Jr. – Give Us the Tools

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A New Era for the Disabled

Today an international treaty aimed at improving the lives of disabled people around the world went into effect. I will discuss this in further detail on Monday, but not without mentioning that I sincerely hope that the convention can help those achieve the equality that they so richly deserve. It may not have a huge impact for my generation though I have faith that it will for future generations to come.

(Video link):

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coachella Livecast

As a public service to the very few readers, (assuming that there actually are any), I'm linking to the livecast of this weekend's Coachella Music Fest. I don't want to say much more except to mention that I'm really looking forward to seeing Portishead tonight!

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was watching a bit of the Colombian news tonight on Caracol Internacional when one of the reports focused on the brouhaha over ratifying the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact. During the news piece (which I unfortunately cannot find online) the reporter claimed that the talks over the agreement where (and I'm slightly paraphrasing here):

The most contentious free trade agreement in the history of the United States.


Have we not forgotten the firestorm over NAFTA roughly 15 years ago? In the days before up-to-the-nanosecond news and a plethora of blogs the discussion over NAFTA seemed to be out of control. I even remember that it was a huge deal when Al Gore and Ross Perot debated the pros and cons of NAFTA on CNN. The tension was thick ebough to cut with a machete, and more so when Gore gave Perot a framed photo of Senators Smoot and Hawley as a "gift." (Yes, those were the architects behind the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930).

Then again, Caracol's reports are pretty solid...if you agree wholeheartedly with the free trade deal. With such a complex issue, the network's report can boil down to free trade/Republicans = good, while tariffs/Democrats = bad. Therefore, to emphasize hyperbole makes sense for Caracol. Unfortunately, it is ultimately to the detriment of the viewer.

By the way, before some of you get this idea that I'm some pinko/Commie/red, allow me to clarify a few things:
  1. Between the two options I believe that free trade is a better option than protectionism.
  2. Yet not all free trade agreements work alike; the pacts between the U.S. and Chile or Peru allow for better guarantees to labor and worker's rights than the one with Colombia.
  3. Both Democrats and the GOP have done an awful job of treating the agreement as a political hot potato. President Bush miscalculated horribly by thinking he could get away with trying to ram it down Congress' throat and the White House argument that no free trade = a victory for Chavez/populists is woefully misguided. At the same time, the Democrats are doing a terrible job arguing against free trade as a concept and are perpetuating the notion that they are not "friends" of Colombia.
  4. What should be done? Hopefully cooler heads can prevail after the presidential elections in November and both parties can rationally analyze the pact. I feel that the agreement needs to be renegotiated (see item #2) yet the benefits of a free trade pact outweigh the negatives.
Maybe I'm correct or maybe I'm wrong. One thing is for certain: hyperboles are oversimplified distortions.

Prologue (May 26, 2008): It occurred to me this morning that there's a kink to my argument over hyperbole and the past controversy over NAFTA.

Wasn't the gesture of Al Gore giving Ross Perot the "gift" of the framed Smoot/Hawley picture on CNN the epitome of hyperbole? Could that be the reason why I seemed to recall that moment more than other discussions or arguments over NAFTA in the early 90s?

I wonder...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

De Musica Ligera: Spring Cleaning

*Cough!* *Cough!* *Cough!*

Pardon me; I’m trying to clean up some of the dust and cobwebs that have accumulated on this abandoned blog.

One would assume that by blogging here several times a week I would also keep my personal blog up-to-date. Alas, that has not been the case.

I won’t get into why that us the case; I’m not in the mood to do so now. To be more precise, it’s not that an abundance of good things have occurred to me lately. Rather, I’m getting a little tired of constantly whining and bitching.

Instead of embedding videos or complaining about how I need to be better organized I’m going to share the first five songs on my iPod/iTunes player. Last night, I chose nearly 150 songs by several artists and after shuffling them this is the exact order of numbers 1 to 5 on the playlist:

  1. Guess Who - She's Come Undone
  2. Cinematic Orchestra – Burnout
  3. Brief Candles - The Patron Saint of Hopeless Cause
  4. A.C. Newman - Homemade Bombs in the Afternoon
  5. Controller.Controller - Magnetic Strip (Live 2004)

I can’t explain why, but those songs seemed to be the perfect mix to pick me up after a rough day yesterday. Might as well enjoy them and leave certain things unexplained.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Revisit, reexamine, rethink

To paraphrase the great film director Federico Fellini:

Blogging is like returning to the womb; you sit there, still and meditative in the darkness, waiting for life to appear on the screen.
With that said, I feel repentant returning to blog for only the second time in nearly three months. Unfortunately, several responsibilities have taken precedence over blogging here:
  1. I was rushed into handing in a few reports for my U.N. "job" in January and I've followed it up a few times since then.
  2. I caught the flu in February and it knocked me down pretty hard during most of the month.
  3. I preferred blogging here since I enjoy informing others on the news and communicating over important issues.
  4. More than anything else, I have been very occupied taking care of my Master's Project with the hope that my dream can come true.
At the same time, I feel comfortable writing in this blog again. For me it is a very handy vehicle of personal expression. As I look back in hindsight as to why I rarely blogged here, I understand that the brief list of rules I made created in November were serving as an obstacle. Along with the aforementioned excuses, the list hindered more than it helped. Hence, I'm tossing out the rules for the next few weeks while I hope to establish more consistent posting here.

I don't want to promise more than I should (like I did here), yet if I play my cards right I'll be blogging here quite often.

Otherwise, I might as well shut this all down and figure out a better format for expression.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New year, new video

For the past few days I've been trying to come up with a solid topic for the first post of this year. Should I focus on my thesis work? Maybe I ought to go on a diatribe over the problems with Access-A-Ride? Perhaps I could discuss the new season of Reno 911! What about how I've gained a few pounds instead of beng more weight-concious?

For today, however, I'm going to play it lazy and post a video. In honor of Groundhog Day, here's "One Meat Brawl":

(Hat tip)