Friday, July 29, 2005

The AP picked up on the little league story.

Today I have been reading Richard Rodriguez Brown, which I should have read a long time ago. I seldom am captivated by a book like I am now. He truly has a great mind.
The detox regimen is on hold for now.

I ordered some protein shake powder online - I was unable to find the right kind at Whole Foods - and it is coming via UPS ground from Ukiah, CA. It is not scheduled to arrive until August 4. The shakes are an important part of the regimen's diet, so I will just have to wait.

As to why I am doing this. My body just feels out of balance and I think it would be a good first step towards gaining physical harmony. There has been a lot of stress in my life over the past two years, so I would not be surprised that there are a lot of toxins built up in my system. I generally eat well (healthy) when I at home - albeit probably a little too much. I do eat out and that can be unhealthy at times. Also my diet was not good during the cross-country trip - it is nearly impossible to do.

More details on the regimen coming up.

On the news last night...
In a Little League game here in Massachusetts an umpire threatened to toss out an assistant coach and a player for speaking in Spanish. He said players could only speak in English. The two Spanish speakers are from the Dominican Republic. How sad...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

There was supposed to be some nasty thunderstorms coming our way. I looked at the radar images online and indeed there was a line of storms with reds and purples (really heavy precipitation) coming our way. However, as the line got closer the colors changed to green and eventually fizzled out.

Bummer.

I like a good thunderstorm when I am safe at home. I particularly like the dramatic change in weather when you have endured an extremely hot and humid day like today (ok, I spent most of the day holed up indoors, so there was very little enduring going on). Nonetheless, I am disappointed.

I am going to go on a detox regimen next week - that is if the protein shake powder I ordered arrives by Saturday. I have never really done anything like this before, so it will be an interesting experience. As part of the program, I am supposed to keep a journal. I am debating whether I should do it here or not. Since I write more on here than anywhere else, it might be the most efficient form. On the other hand, it might just be me writing about bodily functions and other unpleasantness - and I don't want to gross out and scare away my few readers.

[IDEA]

I could just start another blog about it, that way I will write about it, the few strange people who are interested can read it and those who aren't can avoid it. Gosh, that was brilliant. Well, no. It was obvious, but sometimes the obvious takes me a long time to figure out. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

There are few things I find more entertaining than feeding dogs peanut butter.
Futbol!

This post will mean little to those of you who do not like/watch soccer. I watched the US play Panama last Sunday in the Gold Cup final. The Panamanians did very well - tying the US and eventually losing in penalty kicks. A few thoughts/observations:
  • Whenever the US played a Latin American team in the US, for it to be a "home" game they would have to play in some obscure place (like Columbus, Ohio - sorry Elenamary) or else it would really be an away game. If it were played in Miami, LA, or NY, there would be more fans cheering the Latin American team. There are probably two reasons for this:
  1. There is an unwritten rule in Latin America - root for your national team first and then for any other Latin American team.
  2. Given that the US seems to dominate almost everything in sports and otherwise, it was good to see them humbled on the soccer field.
  • In Sunday's game, however, which was played in NY, there were many L/H/H cheering for the US. This was something new. Are L/H/H finally transitioning from immigrants to Americans? Do they feel that the US is their home and worth supporting?
  • Soccer tournaments use the penalty kicks to decide the winner should the final game end in a tie. I hate seeing this. My solution - if no one wins the game, then declare that there was no winner for that year. Why must there always be a winner? Same goes for any other sport...

Monday, July 25, 2005

I began this as a response in the comment section of the previous post. As I kept on writing, I decided to transfer it to a new post.

Eric-
Ironically you are probably the only reader that knows Latin, so perhaps you are more Latino than anyone else.

Yes, there is debate as whether Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, and the French (mon dieu!) can also be place in the L/H/H category.

Oso-
Re: Immigrants from Guyana - that is one of the key questions. There seems to be a seperate category that places them in the West Indies.

Sherri-
Just as a question the L/H/H categories, I also question the overarching "white" category. There are so many differences and subtle forms of discimination that occurs within that category too. Of course, skin color is the prima facie (I just had to use some Latin here - I could not resist!) form of classification, yet our categories don't fit skin color. Language is a close second and this is where there is a lot of distinction even among "whites." Southern accents are frowned upon in New England. Student in the classroom would respond very differently to my lectures if I delivered them with either a "barrio" accent or a Mexican accent.

EM-
More irony - L/H/H having to speak in English in order to understand each other.

PLT-
You are in one of those places where cultures intersect (Puerto Rico - for those of you who do not know). It is usually in these places that the validity of our categories are shown to be false. I look forward to reading more about your experiences there.

I think the previous post and the ensuing discussion illustrates the disconect between the way the collective and social "we" contructs and visualizes culture and the way cultures exist. We see culture as categories, entities, things, yet cultures are more like processes and experiences. Thus culture continually changes and by doing so challenges our categories. It is what makes culture so fascinating (at least to me), yet at the same it can make it distressing. If we use culture(s) to construct our identites (what we are/what we are not), we expect it to be stable and it can be alarming when we discover that it is not.

Ok, I will end my brain deluge there. If people are interested, we can continue the discussion, if not I will ponder these things on my own.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Thoughts

Today I got a new pair of glasses - finally. I went to the opthomologist last November, but I had to wait until 2005 to get my glasses so that the insurance would cover it. Of course, the spring was busy and I did not get around to doing it until now. The pressure was on because my insurance ends in August. I will get new insurance from my new place of employment, but I don't know if they have an optical benefit.

Returning to the glasses, I am learning today why you should not wait six years to get a new pair of glasses. While the world is much crisper, I still feel like I am living in a fishbowl (of course the humidity also contributes to that feeling). It is going to take a while to get used to these. On the plus side, whenever I wear my contacts, there won't be that drastic change.

Yesterday I took the car that Sara drives to get washed and waxed. It desperately needed it because it had not had a good wash since I left last year. As the guy was hand waxing it, I sat and overheard the various conversations among the workers at the car wash. They were mostly from the Dominican Republic. There was one short and skinny guy (who also seemed a little slow) who was Puerto Rican. All the others made fun of this guy about his lack of success with women and his not having a car.

As I sat there evesdropping on their conversations, it was clear that they did not know that I could understand what they were saying (barely, though - the Domincan accent in Spanish is a tough one). I also started thinking about the categories in which we are placed in and those in which we place ourselves.

Why am I placed in the same categories as these men at the carwash?

We are Latinos/Hispanos/Hispanics.

Why?

I guess we speak the same language - barely.
We are part of the Latin American brotherhood/sisterhood - whatever that means.
We share an "immigrant experience". But not all L/H/H do. And I am quite certain that my experience has been quite a different one than theirs.

We can't deny that these are categories people use whether we place ourselves in them or not. How are these categories determined? Recently there has been a lot of debate here in Boston as to whether Brazilians are L/H/H. The debate has highlighted that these categories are not synonymous. We could ask the same about Haitians, Belizians, and Guayanians. And how about someone from Trinidad who is from South Asian/Indian herritage who migrates to the US? Is she Latina? How about a Peruvian with Japanese ancestry?

These are things I need to think about. I am teaching a class called "Growing Up Latino" this fall and I have no clue as to what that means. My goal for the class is to get the students to ponder the questions that entered my head while waiting at the carwash. I am just not sure where my own pondering will take me.

It's all a bit dizzying - or maybe it's just these new glasses with a different prescription. Who knows?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Today's Achievements
  • Avoided all sorts of information overload on the Supreme Court nominee.
  • Got my driver's license transferred.
  • Got my license plates for my car - I got Red Sox plates (the extra proceeds go to Cancer research - something that is important to me because my mother is a cancer survivor and my best friend from high school's daughter is still engages in a nasty fight against it).
  • Got the car inspected (it passed).
  • Put up a sign asking people to keep our gate closed - greyhounds are hard to catch once they get loose (picture to come).
  • Seem to have both dogs healthy.
  • Found a fantastic way to procrastinate (thanks goes to a new discovery) - while this is very cool, it also seems very creepy.
  • Bought more pita which is so good at the Lebanese/Syrian bakery nearby.
  • Had more ice cream - what day isn't improved by a bowl of ice cream?
  • Cleared up (sort of) some insurance/hospital billing issues - getting sick is a long term pain.
As you can see, today was rather productive - in a way.

Random observation of the day: our "mafia" neighbor has a guy who comes and drives his cab. They guy always parks his old and faded red Ford Escort in front of our house (maybe I will post a picture of this too) when he is out driving the cab. I noticed today that he puts a "club" on the steering wheel when he parks it. This is funny because no one in their right mind would steal this car. Ah, paranoia...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Just when...

...you thought your pet was healthy, the other one gets diahrrea with a little bit of blood in it.

...you thought it could not get any more humid, it does.

...you thought you could settle down and get some work done, numerous things interrupt your progress.

...you thought you couldn't love your wife any more than you already do, you find out you can.

Monday, July 18, 2005

You know you are in for a bad day when...

You are awoken by the sound of a dog vomiting at 5:10 am.

Indeed, things did not seem to work well today. First of all, I could not get back to sleep after the puking incident. So I watched the day arrive from our living room with the dogs sleeping next to me. Then when I went to clean up the dog's bed, I managed to get vomit all over me. Hmmff...

It is also so incredibly humid. Thank goodness for air conditioners. We have two window units at opposite ends of the apartment. The keep the air in here livable. The bathroom is not privy to the luxury of a/c though. It has become our own little steam room. You go in for a good sweat, have a cold shower and then return to the comfort of the apartment. The orchid in there is loving life.

Back to the humidity. Those of you who have heard me whine about this know that I just wilt in humidity. It is hard to function. Nonetheless, I decided I would put on a brave face and go to the RMV (DMV for those of you not from Massachusetts) to change my registration and license. I know that DMV's are not that fun in most places, so I was ready for a bureaucratic morning.

I decided to do the registration first. Massachusetts has some convoluted way of doing registration that requires you to get some form from your insurance. The you bring in the form with the title and some other form to register your car. Problem is that Washington state has an electronic titling system, so I don't have a paper title to give them. After some consultation, they said I could do it but I needed a different form which needed Sara's signature. So it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Ok, I thought, I can do the license and come back for the registration tomorrow. I took another number and waited to do my license. That did not work out either. You need FOUR forms of ID to get a license and I only had three. Stupid Patriot Act! I had a passport - a document which allows you entry into the country AND my old driver's license. Why is that not good enough? Ugh. So tomorrow I head back with my marriage certificate to prove who I am.

Things got better, though.
  • The dogs stayed alone together (before I would put Zephyr in her kennel if we were going out) without incident. Actually, it seems to have been a bonding experience for them because they do seem to be getting along better now.
  • I also found out that my friends in Merida made it through Emily safely. I was worried about them.
  • I got some affection from Sara this afternoon and we took a nice nap together.
  • We had some very good ice-cream for dessert.
In other news, we went to see Charlie and Chocolate Factory yesterday. It was very bizarre, but I liked it. It was very well done. I never saw the first version of it and I never read the book, so it was all new to me.

In the film there are references to other films. There is a particularly strong reference to Kubrick's 2001 in one scene - I think it is some kind of tribute by Tim Burton. It was eerie for Sara and me because we had just watched 2001 the night before. How fortuitous is that?

That's all for now. Maybe I will go have one more scoop of that ice-cream.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Scenes from a Stange State

Montana is a bizarre place. The nature there is remarkably beautiful yet the people there make you feel rather uneasy. Of course, my impressions are based on experiences with people at gas stations and "fast" food establishments. I use the quotes around fast because they were anything but. Everyone seemed to be stuck in a mental slow motion mode.

This was especially the case in Butte. I know there is a huge mine and contaminated pit there. I just wonder if some harmful metals have made their way into the water supply there. It would go a long way to explaining things.

Some other thoughts:
  • Montana is VERY big. It takes a long time to drive through it.
  • Montana has the nastiest rest stops in the country. Some have wonderful views. It sure makes me want to go behind a bush rather than venture in to the smelly building.
  • It seem like there are more pickups than cars in Montana.
Without any further ado, here are some of the images:


Montana by Car Posted by Picasa



More Montana Posted by Picasa



View from a Montana Rest-Stop Posted by Picasa

We actually ended our day in Buffalo, Wyoming. I reserved a place in a log cabin. It was not as rustic as I expected.

Listened to audio book "The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs" by Alexander McCall-Smith. This is a great collections of short stories that follow the adventures (mishaps?) of a German professor. It is absolutely hillarious.

Coming up next - the "fun" day.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Have you ever developed a fictitious life for people you see?

As we drove cross-country, I would make up elaborate life-stories for people who passed me. The stories went along with their appearances, facial expressions, and type and condition of the car they drove. I tried to include Sara in my little game/exercise, but the stories developed too quickly in my head to be put into words. When I spoke it out, it just sounded trite and convoluted. Somehow, in my mind, it was fun and just possibly plausible.

The game continues here in Boston. My home office looks out onto our neighbor's yard. The neighbor is an older, slightly overweight man who speaks in a deep voice colored by a heavy Bostonian accent. He is always about his house or yard with a slightly contemptous look on his face. Now that it is summer, he is either in sweatpants or shorts often without his shirt on (no need to mention his hairy back here). His house is a two story typically middle class Boston house. There is a small above ground pool which takes up most of the yard behind it. In front of the house there is a driveway that houses a taxi cab which belongs to them. The neighbor has another man who looks slightly older and slightly in a worse mood than the neighbor drive it. In addition to the cab driver there are numerous middle aged men who come to call on him. There is also a young woman who drives a Landrover who comes by once a week. His daughter or possibly a lover? In either case, the Landrover seems out of place and just fuels the story in my mind.

It is hard for me to do anything on the computer without noticing his activities in his backyard. He spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning his pool, however I have yet to see anyone actually use it.

Common sense would dictate that this man is a retired man who has too much time on his hand and tries to fill it by grooming his yard and house. My mind, however, has concocted an elaborate story about how he is a crime boss who is laying low in this inconspicous middle class neighborhood of Boston. The man does have a working-class Tony Soprano air to him. I like the thought of some powerful boss cleaning his own pool in the hot muggy summer sun.

I won't go into detail about how the story plays out in my mind because if I do, it will probably just sound silly. Kept in my mind, it is a tale of intrigue and power that keeps me fascinated and thoroughly entertained when I should be working.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

[BLANK MIND]

I woke up too early. I was stirred out of bed by two very eager dogs. As I followed them towards the door, I saw Zephyr veer into the living room and crouch over her hand-me-down floor pad we had set up for her.

No! It was too early for this.

But yes, we had our first accident. She may have been marking, making her pad hers. She may have had too much water last night. In any case, the pad went out with today's trash and we went to Petco to get her a new cushion. I was not about to have a pee marking battle in the living room.

So no stories or pictures today. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Thoughts from a cross-country trip (Part I)

You see and experience quite a lot during a cross-country trek. You also have many hours where your mind wanders, has random thoughts, or plain just goes blank. That said, I will chronicle some of these thoughts and non-thoughts here. I will spread them out as to not make the whole process overwhelming for myself or tedious for the reader.

Here we go:
  • Spokane, what little I saw of it from the road, seemed nice - nicer than how I had pictured it.
  • Lake Coeur d'Elaine in Idaho is absolutely beautiful. It is a great place for a cabin if I ever have the resources to purchase a cabin. I probably won't, so the point is moot.
  • Driving with a roof carrier (mine is soft) really lowers your gas milage.
  • I saw signs for "pre-owned cars". I know they mean used cars, but to me pre-owned means before being owned - in other words, new. Unless pre-owned is just an abreviation for previously owned. In any case, I don't like the term. They should just say used.
  • It is hard to drive for eight hours after you spent a morning cleaning out a house and packing a car.
  • Music during Day 1: Beck - "Guero", The Offspring, Los Abandoned.
As long drives can be dull, people often find ways to make them more entertaining. Some of these diversions include visiting kitchy roadside attractions, taking scenic routes, eating at local dives. For us it has been taking pictures of Zeus peeing on different states. So here is the Idaho installment:


Pee on Idaho Posted by Picasa

More to come...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Canine Saga
Keeping the peace is hard work.

Zeus is unsure about the presence of another dog in the apartment. He is especially protective of the living room.

Zephyr is slowly coming out of her shell, but it is hard when there is an intimidating dog looming.

The dogs do fine in the bedroom where Zephyr spends her time in her kennel and Zeus is either on our bed or in his bed. They walk extremely well together, pointing out to each other the best places to sniff.

It is going to take some time and we need to be patient. There is a lot of learning going on. Zephyr did not even know how to walk up/down stairs. She is almost a pro now.

Tomorrow we go to the vet for a checkup for Zephyr. Zeus will hold down the fort.

I need to get back to my life and the numerous things that I need to get done. But dogs are an extremely useful form of procrastination, especially when there are two of them.

Coming up - pictures from the cross-country trip. I haven't forgotten.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Everyone, please meet the new addition to our family:


Zephyr Posted by Picasa

And this is the old addition of our family:


Zeus Posted by Picasa

It has been a stressful day for all involved, but I do think things will work out nicely. Zephyr is a little freaked and exhausted. Zeus is a little unsure about the new situation. Sara is generally stressed. But all are doing well.

As far as the name goes, I thought of Zephyr after the name post. We were down to Metzli and Zephyr until we were at Petco getting her tag made. We went with Zephyr because it keeps in the Greek diety motif going and the alliteration of the names. Ok, truth be told, we flipped a coin, but we were leaning towards Zephyr anyway.

We found out today, however, that her racing name was Spellbound (what they told us at the adpotion agency) or Kerryhills Spell (what we found on her online pedigree chart). We still like Zephyr the best and it doesn't really matter because she doesn't respond to any of her names.

I am sure there will be more tales to tell about the adventures of Zeus, Zephyr, Sara, and Xolo...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We have a name for the dog!

Thank you all for your input.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

All right, folks, we need to get serious here about a name for our dog. So far we have been calling her "The new dog" or "no name".

Her name at the moment is "Holly", but she barely responds to it and frankly I don't care for it too much. I would also hate for her to have a default name.

I thank you for all your suggestions so far. Unfortunately most of them have been vetoed by either Sara or myself. Some of the limitations are that it really can't be more than two syllables long, it should be easy to yell out, and it should not be trademarked/copyrighted.

I guess you should know that the dog is a retired greyhound with a brindle coat.

I have put up some of the names we have come up with so far in the poll (scroll down - it's at the bottom of the sidebar). Vote for your favorite. If you vote other, leave the name in the comments.

Thank you for your assistance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

FINALLY!

I got my computer set up and going. Sara will be happy that I will no longer be loitering on her laptop. I will be able to upload pictures and post them here.

Having a working computer also means that I will need to start working. I am already quite far behind. Boo.

Monday, July 04, 2005

We adopted another dog!

We don't have her yet. We will pick her up next Saturday.

Sara and I have been brainstorming to come up with a name for her - from a few we like to the utter ridiculous.

Any suggestions out there?