Antonio Jose Guzman

This morning at 2 A.M. Mi Abuelito (My Grandpa) passed away. This blog has been the means to express myself and it has helped me through some rough times… kind of like a friend that always listens without judging me or my feelings. I am extremely sad about it and would love to go to his funeral but at this point I am not sure if the time and money will cooperate.

I would like to take this opportunity not to mourn but to celebrate his life and what he believed in. Accepting others for who they are, higlighting the importance of education, knowledge and respect. He leaves a huge void in my life and heart. I miss you already Grandpa, even though I have not been able to see you as much as I wanted to for the last 11 years…

My Grandfather’s Favorite Quote – La Frase Favorita de mi Abuelito

“Estudia y no seras cuando crecido, el juguete vulgar de las pasiones, ni el esclavo servil de los tiranos”
Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia

Version en Español

The quote translates as “Study and while growing up you will not be, the vulgar toy of passions, nor the servile slave to the tyrants.” I was very young when I first heard this quote. Come to think of it, I think my love for quotes and proverbs came from my Grandfather.

“Mi Abuelito” (My Grandpa) is in the hospital in critical condition. I got the call last night that I have been dreading for quite some time. It makes me mad that I am so far away and I cannot be by his side right now. It frustrates me that I might never get to see him alive again. It saddens me that I did not get to spend more time with him as an adult and learn more life lessons from him.

Growing up I was always spending time with my Grandfather. I loved listening to him, to his stories, to what he believed. A lot of my values and respect driven life come from him. While my father always led by example and reinforced the values, my Grandfather was the one that educated me in a lot of life lessons through his words. He is a very generous person, and even though he never had real monetary wealth, what he gave me in knowledge is worth more than all the gold he could have ever given me. Compassionate, accepting and always in the search for justice.

My Grandfather led one of the first unions in Colombia at one of the big chemical companies. He accomplished everything he could not just at work but bringing up his family. He is the first one to admit that he is not perfect, that he made a lot of mistakes while growing up, but he tried to always be true to what he believed. I hope he gets better and I have the opportunity to hug him at least once more. I have told him how much I love him over the phone but I just don’t feel like he can truly know until I wrap my arms around him. I miss him so much.

The quote is a beautiful one that I will always remember and keep close to my heart. It really encompasses what education should be about. Sometimes we think of education as the means to money, but in reality education gives us so much more. My Grandfather always advocated education as one of the most important things you can obtain. If you think about it, everything in life can be taken away from you, money, family, dignity, even your freedom… but knowledge is something no one can steal from you.

Read more My Grandfather’s Favorite Quote – La Frase Favorita de mi Abuelito

Street Smarts

What would your rather be, school smart or street smart? I am lucky enough to say that I have a little bit of both. I am not sure if I can really equate street smarts to common sense, but I believe that to be street smart you have to begin by having common sense. I think you learn to be street smart by learning common sense the hard way.

Colombia is a country that is portrayed as dangerous and full of violence. While some of those reports are over inflated and at times misleading there is true to some of the insecurity in the country. There are a lot of people that are living in very precarious conditions. Some are simply thugs; some are people that need to steal to survive. Living in an environment where you have to always be alert changes things about your world perception. The Unites States is no different. There are places where people struggle or chose a life of crime. There are neighborhoods where you also have to watch what you do and how you do it.

The big difference between the US and Colombia is that there are pockets of innocence all over the US. There are plenty of communities where the “Pleasantville” atmosphere still lives. Is this a false sense of security? Or Are their communities really that safe? I am not sure, but I believe that in today’s age, everyone can do with a little street smart.

Is it something that can be taught? I don’t know. Let me tell you a little story of how I learned to be street smart. Before I moved to the US I had a fascination with baseball caps. Here in the US they are both cheap and attainable, but in Colombia they were kind of a hard to get accessory, especially if they were team licensed. I was about 12. I was painting the fence in our front yard when a couple of guys in a motorcycle approached the fence. I was wearing one of my baseball caps. The guy pretended to ask for directions and kept on lowering his voice so I had to get closer… I wanted to help him out, so I kept on getting closer… when I got within an arm length he reached for my cap and took off. At the time I felt safe, I was behind the fence inside my own front yard, but I still got mugged. That thought me a valuable lesson about talking to strangers even in my own house.

I also believe that knowing street smart also encompasses being able to talk to people from all different backgrounds and social statuses. Being able to roam around different social circles has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I attribute a lot of it to street smarts and respect. Knowing what to say and what not to say can open door for you everywhere you go.

I’ve had plenty of people make fun of me for the use of the word Sir. I use it quite often during conversation specially when I don’t know a person. I also use it with my friends when I greet them. A lot of people from past generations still regard that as a sign of respect, even if some people from my generation might see it as a way to put myself down or kiss butt. I believe that my elders should be addressed as Sir or Mam in most situations.

There are plenty of other stories that I can tell you about learning lessons from just being in a tough environment, but would you really learn from them or do you have to live in a city to really learn street smarts? I think it is a good skill to have.

Biggest Loser

Well, I am starting a little game at work… we are going to see who can lose the must weight in a 2 month period. And I wondered, why not keep track online too… so if you want to play send me your weight and height and I will include you on the game (weigh in will be on Mondays at 2:00 P.M.) Starting today!

Lets shed some pounds!

*** Update

Erin, from GiggleChick already had a weight loss challenge that I was late to sign up for… even though this one is started more because of work than because of the blogsphere she deserves some kudos for the great idea.

*** Update 2

Ok so now I have created a page to keep track of the weight and a flickr group to upload pictures of the scale if you chose to. If you do not want to use your name for the challenge, you are welcome to e-mail me the info (logtar has hotmail) and I will give you a non descriptive nick name instead of the link to your blog that I am planning… it is up to you. This is for fun and whoever wants to participate should… they say the best way to lose weight is by staying motivated.

We will have a grace period for the initial weighing this whole week.  As many people can join… so go ahead and send me your weights!

Also Mark told me about a cool website that is free and keeps track of what you eat… I am checking it out. Here is my “progress“.

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So the Easter bunny is gone

I hope everyone had an excellent Easter. I did, great food, better company, enjoyed the weather… what else could I ask for?

I could talk about how a bunny has nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter for Christians… or how the whole lent, lets not eat fish on Friday began as a monetary driven thing… but I would like to talk about religion.

Are you still reading? Good. I am not going to get too deep, I just want to talk about the resurrection theme. Christians do not believe in reincarnation, but I believe is a pretty cool concept. Having the opportunity to start over in some cases with a better foundation in some others as a bug to pay for bad karma. Some Christians believe in the concept of being born again via accepting Jesus as your lord and savior. The theme over and over is change, a clean slate of sorts.

Lent is all about that too, we give up something we really like for a period of time so that we can reflect on what is really important in our lives. At least for the followers of Cathol (isn’t that we Catholics are 😉 ) we tend to let Easter pass by and forget about so many things… we can again eat Chocolate or drink pop (some of the popular things people give up for lent), but what change have we really made in our life? Did we really reflect on what changes should be made? Why not start a new life today, the day after Easter?
For those of you that don’t believe on an imaginary friend, what about thinking of Tax day and making it a catalyst for change. I believe we can all make a difference in the world if we commit ourselves to looking inside ourselves and changing something.

This weekend I watched a couple of things that actually moved me. One was Born into Brothels, a documentary about a group of kids that through the art of photography change their lives after being born in the red light district of Calcutta. Kids with Cameras was born from that film and I believe we need more people like Zana Briski to change this world. Do you think you can be one of the people that will help the world become a better place? I also watched Oprah do a show on the new documentary by the guy the brought us Super Size Me. He and his wife lived for a month on minimum wage, and while the documentary itself does not show me anything new, I have lived in a household that was bellow the poverty line of income, it did bring up a good point. Is this the America we want to live in?

So, in conclusion after my various tirades. Let Easter or Tax Day be the start of internal changes within you. Take a little time to reevaluate what could make you a better person, a better family member, a better friend. If you are perfect and need no changing, then help others by supporting the cause of the less fortunate, the least you can do is contact your representative and tell them, we should raise minimum wage.

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