The Playground

David is a normal kid, he loves to play basketball every chance he got. His most prized possession is his bike. Tommy is David’s neighbor, and even though they both go to the same school and frequent the same places they are not friends. Their relationship consists of constant insults exchanged back and forth. Tommy is a little younger than David and thanks to that at times he gets away with a little more. There has been occasion when Tommy even has thrown rocks at David even hitting him and he is left to just reply back with insults, he feels powerless to stop the abuse.

David has a group of friends that plays basketball with him. He loves playing when his older cousin John is around; he loves to show off his moves to him. They play at the local playground, this playground is not just theirs, other kids like Tommy’s group of friends also like to play basketball there. Tensions always flare when one group want to play there and another is already there, for some reason they chose to never want to share it or even play against each other.

Tommy also has a cousin, his name is Sammy. Like John, Sammy is a little older and they both go to the same high school. It is a rough neighborhood and both Sammy and John have chosen the wrong path. They have recently joined opposing gangs and lately there has been a lot of talk of guns, how to get them, and how useful they would be on settling the dispute over the playground.

David wakes up early in the morning, its going to be a nice day to play ball. As he approaches his bike he sees that his tired seem to be flat. As he gets closer he realizes that not just the air has been let out like it has happened in the past, they are slashed. He has always suspected that Tommy was the culprit of this tasteless prank, but this time his temper is raising and he feels like this is way out of line.

He starts walking down the street and sees that Tommy is sitting on his porch with a couple of other people, he approaches and asks, did you touch my bike. As the other kids laugh and start egging Tommy on he gets up and says to David, “yea I did it and what are you going to do about it?” as he steps and get right in David’s face.

David remembers that his cousin John has been telling him how he needs to stick up for himself, how he cannot just take the high road in every situation. Out of the corner of his eyes he sees his friend John pedaling towards the scene, the laughter, the anger and the need to impress his cousin take over him… he punches Tommy right on the nose knocking him down, as the blood start dripping off his nose the heartbeats from all the young kids start beating so loud that it feels like a drum roll of deafening force is only a preamble to what will come next.

Now change the names of these kids for countries and you will get an idea of how I see the conflict in Lebanon. Say that David is Israel, Tommy is Lebanon, John is the U.S. and Sammy is Syria. That said, I have some questions for you… Do you think that Israel use of force is excessive? Do you think that both Israel and Lebanon are almost like pawns in a game of chicken between Iran and the US? Do you think that religion is at the root of this conflict?

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Mini Hiatus

Sorry for being away for a while… the good news is that we are almost all moved to KC. We are all here now, and our stuff is on its way. We are hoping it all gets here safely on Monday. Funny thing that happened was that we had kept some clothes off to the side for the weekend… well as the people came to load the van we kind of forgot about it and everything got packed away. We had to go and buy clothes for the weekend as a result. Hope everyone has a good weekend and keep cool! is hot out there.

Rincon Colombiano

Rincon Colombiano

El Rincon Colombiano (The Colombian Corner) is a Colombian restaurant here in Kansas City. Even though this is a little place with limited tables and space, it really made me feel welcomed. I looked for a Colombian restaurant in Michigan since I first moved in, but I only found one down in Detroit and I never had the chance to go. I was lucky enough to find El Rincon to be only about 20 minutes from where we will be living.

I have been to about 4 different Colombian restaurants in the US. Some were even in the “fancy” side, people were always friendly, but nothing like I experienced at El Rincon. I had a great “home cooked” flavored Colombian meal with “chorizo, chicharon and empanadas” but the cool thing was that in one afternoon I made some new friends. Even a famous one, I have DJ Kiko’s cell phone number who is the authority in the Colombian community when it comes to music in this city. I also have someone that can do my taxes and help with accounting and legal matters. I met more Colombians in an afternoon than I did in 10 years in Chicago. It is nice to have a very close nit community here in Kansas City.

The food was awesome and the company second to none, so my first full day as a Kansas City resident couldn’t have been better.

I’m Insane

I am very stubborn and when I set my mind towards a goal – I accomplish it. Most of the time. Too bad that does not apply towards chores and housework. I have been working a lot of hours and this past week was a marathon. Monday – Wednesday I went to MN for a work conference, with about 6 hours of sleep for the past couple of days Wednesday was my first “crash” day. I slept most of the afternoon and all night. I worked again on Thursday and Friday until my DSL was finally disconnected.

The task of packing the fishies and tanks began. After most of it was done and I took some sleeping pills around 5 PM. I needed to be knocked out so that I could wake up in the early hours of the morning. I fought the weird half awake half numb state that the sleeping pills caused as long as I could. A little bit before 7 PM I crashed again and woke up to my honey hugging me and letting me know she was not letting me go alone. After talking her out of it, ( and I claim this win only to her half asleep state after she stayed up until 1 AM packing for me the necessary stuff and other miscellaneous things for the trip) I set out into the night.

The first 4 hours were good. A fresh pot of coffee in the morning, half I chugged at the house and the other half I took with me. I was only going to stop for gas, bathroom breaks and caffeine consumption. Right before dawn I ran out of coffee, and my brain started to tell me… dude you are in trouble. I stopped for gas and my first instinct was to replenish my caffeine stash. I blame this brain-fart on the zombie like state I was driving in, I had mentally turned off everything except for my driving skills and my ability to sing girlie songs (I was listening to Maroon 5 by this point). My barista by nationality abilities were checked at the door when I chose to refill my travel mug with French Vanilla Cappuccino from a machine. My brain woke up its emergency alert system and tried to spill it, but I ignore the warning. At this point I am getting close to Indianapolis. I start to notice that I am actually starting to feel tired. I am not even half way into my quest… so I upped the situation to DefCon 2 after realizing that I was using faulty fuel. I chugged the remaining coffee by-product and let nature take its course. I figured that my bladder would keep me awake until I could get some real caffeine in my system again.

The plan had worked. My body was awake again and I made it to my next stop. As I walk into the gas station, my first question was, where is your restroom? before the lady behind the counter responds like a sign from the heavens, red bull 3 for 5 dollars in a huge tub full of ice. I was saved; red bull was going to give me wings. I am leaving Indianapolis, which btw is far less impressive than I thought… I am sorry if there are any people from IN that read this, but seriously your State needs some attraction because it is still on my list of States you just drive through even after seeing Indianapolis. I looked at my map and saw that the best course to get to St Louis the quickest was I-70. So, I take that route thinking that around 7 AM I was going to wake up Travis and guilt him into meeting me for breakfast. I waited until 7 AM and somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I woke him up. After wrestling with the signal I figured out that I miscalculated. I thought he lived close to I-70 from my past visits to him, but I was always coming from Chicago, this was the first time approaching him from the IN side… well, he lives close to I-72 which was about an hour North. I blame this miscalculation on the lack of caffeine and just being in Indiana.

Making killer time I made it to St Louis. I had hoped that I was going to be able to take a good look at the Arch which I have never seen before. However there is a section of I-70 that kind of circles the city, but also a more direct way that cuts that loop which is 270… so I chose to save the time and skipped seeing the Arch. To my surprise while crossing the river I find that I can see the Arch and downtown from a great distance… it is an amazing thing to see that huge arch just as tall as the big buildings. I am looking forward to seeing it up close. I then continued to Kansas City. My body had been cooperating until I entered Missouri. I then had to take my first real break and go into a Jack in the Box for some food. I actually sat down and took the one and only break.

I made it to KC in about 13 Hours + gas stops and breaks. No one believes me that I set the cruise control the whole time and I did not go over the speed limit more than a couple of miles here and there. But I did… I don’t recommend it since it takes someone really crazy to actually try it, but it can be done. Surprisingly I did not fall to sleep right away when I got to our new place… I had time to kill all the fish that I kept alive during the whole trip. Only about 5 of them made the first water change… I am not sure if KC puts something different in their water but they did not like the change. I know quite a bit about fish, I have been a fishgeek for years, so I know what to do, I am sure if I would have cycled the tanks for a week things would have worked better, the fish were pretty hardy but could not take the shock… it could have been that KC water if fille with chemicals… So, unless you have some great insight into KC water chemicals, keep your fishy suggestions to yourselves! (I’m still mourning the death of many beloved fish so, touchy subject… you have been warned). Before I close this post I want to say that there were two reasons for me to make the trip straight, one I had to get to the leasing office before it closed, and two I wanted to keep the fish alive… which I was successful in doing until the were tanks set up.

One thing I do want to note about my new hometown, people are really nice. I had stopped in numerous gas stations along the way in 3 other States, and it was not until I got to MO that I was greeted by a stranger… It makes me happy to live in a place where everyone holds doors for you and greets you like a friend.

Lately

It has been crazy. Try to start a new job and do an interstate move at the same time. I know I am a little crazy for taking on that much, but thankfully I have always had perseverence on my side. I did not expect to be traveling as much as I have the last month, but duty has called and it feels good to be able to hit the ground running at the new company.

I spent a couple of day in Minneapolis. I’ve stopped at the airport there a couple of times, but this was my first time actually going anywhere. One of the things that business travelers will tell you is that you can go to many cities, but not see anything besides the hotel and the route to and from the airport. This was the case for this visit where I was trying to cram about 2 weeks worth the knowledge into 2 days. It all worked out pretty good and I am doing a lot of information digesting still. Add to that about 4 hours of work at night and you get a couple of sleep deprived nights. All that was remedy last night with an all time Logtar 6 hr nap, plust 7 hours of actual night sleep.

Staying in hotels sucks. I just cannot get used to sleeping in a bed that is not mine. I have been told that I should travel with my pillow, but I am a light traveler. Suitcase that fits in the overhead comparment and laptop backpack. I cannot stand having to check luggage in.

Just to share my latest travel story, I will tell you a little about my returning home flight. I love flying. I love the fact that humans have been able to invent something that can do what only birds could do in centuries past. However, I dislike airlines, all of them… they truly don’t have a clue. I get to travel first class once in a while, and while the experience is a little better, no one is free from airline incompetence.

Yesterday as I boarded the plane I had a feeling it was going to take a while, not sure why but I could feel it. I had woken up super early, around 4 A.M. and had gotten to the airport with plenty of time to spare. So I print my e-ticket after chaning my last row seat to a sit at the front of the plane… for those that have never traveled in a airplane, riding towards the front of the plane is a better experience.

I took my seat and was lucky enough to sit right next to an older couple, polite and with good personal hygene. I’ve had to travel with people that tempted me to give them the deodorant from my bag. I still had a nagging feeling that something was just not going to be right… then I see the people loading the luggage loading pets. Mind you, this was not someone’s pets in the airplane but about 25 pet carriers from either a breeder or a store… followed by some other “live animal boxes” that could have been either chickens or lizards. I understand animal shipping, I worked at a pet store and have done some online fish shopping.

I also understand that the right paperwork has to be filled in when you are shipping live animals… what I do not understand is why the plane had to go back to the gate twice because the paperwork was not right. In todays day an age of the digital transmissions when even my cellphone is equipped with the capability of sending data across the air, why can an airport, or airline have the techology to electronically transmit paperwork? I could ramble on all day, but I have to get back to work, so until next time…

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