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Happy Birthday Betizuka

Stop by my wife’s blog and wish her a Happy Birthday :)

Blog Evolution

Barry has been one of the most important commenter on my site, he has always brought a perspective that is at times so different than mine that it comes as a surprise when we end up being so similar on personality test on facebook. I am not even kidding he is the top % match for about 6 different tests. It is always a pleasure when I get to mention a fellow blogger and maybe get people to go and read some of his posts and the latest meme gives me just that chance. He tagged me for a meme called Blog evolution where I am supposed to choose 5 posts that serve as markers of the evolution of this place. After you read this make sure you go and visit the Inn of the Last Home.

As I started to do it I realized how difficult it really was to get this done. I have been blogging now for 4 years and have created quite a bit of content, over 1100 posts to be exact. I have also had some articles reposted on blogcritics, phoronix and even had some serious traffic spikes that made me upgrade my hosting plan. So how do I chose just 5 posts out of 1000?

My blog started as a means for my writing to improve. I feel it actually has, even though judging your progress is kind of hard I know that when I go back and read old post I do find plenty of things I would do differently. My first posts were very much mundane details of my life and being new to Michigan. My life was beginning a rollercoaster phase and it was just about to take off. Even though when I got off the roller coaster I ended up puking my guts out, I did end up meeting my future wife via the blog world so it could not have been too bad. Back then I started to write once in a while about my passions and my ideas and one of the first posts that shows this is when I wrote about Colombian Art. I have since started a whole blog dedicated to Colombia and showing some of the positive stuff, but that post shows how my blog was back then.

Slowly but surely I went into a Quote phase. I would use quotes that talked about my current mood and then explore them in a totally different way. I hardly ever spoke about what I was really feeling or going through but dissecting the quotes truly helped me cope with some tough times. Here I wrote about stress and it is amazing how relevant this post is even now.

At the end of 2006 my life changed quite a bit, I met my wife face to face after knowing each other for years online. I also finally realized that this blog was a lot more than what I gave it credit for and I started to use it as a direct outlet for my thoughts. I did not feel like I had to beat around the bush anymore and I could express myself. In this post you can see how much more direct my writing became and how supported I felt by having the woman that would become my wife by my side.

During this last year I have been trying to write about more set topics. I have really started to document more about my KC experience and have done some comparison posts. I like having two subject to write about in one post, it does not put me in the box that sometimes a single post does, and then I start to ramble. Here is where I started the series of KC vs Chicago that I have not completed yet, but really plan to.

My blog has changed a lot, I write about a variety of topics. Some are very geeky like how cool Ubuntu is or how to travel through the animal kingdom. Some topics are a little more serious and filed under culture, to the point that I was accused to have not been as funny lately. I am pretty happy with how this place is now and I hope my readers are too, I am also very open to suggestions on topics… if there is ever anything you want to learn about that you think I might have a perspective on, don’t be afraid to ask… maybe it is time to start another round of interviews.

In the mean time I am supposed to tag 5 people so my victims are…
Bea, Daniel, Filegirl, HitCoffee and Andrea.

Can an interpreter save a life?

I am very passionate about languages. I wish I spoke more than what I do right now, and hopefully some day I will fulfil my goal of speaking 5 languages fluently. Even though the world is getting flatter and flatter, there will still be a need for people that bridge that language gap.

While at Vegas, a coworker and I were waiting by the elevators for the rest of our party. I saw a Japanese couple walk around the elevators looking very confused. I knew they were Japanese because I have had enough Asian friends that I can recognize the sound of the different languages. I can understand more Japanese than I can actually speak, but it is still very, very minimal. I was able to use numbers and charades to point them to the right floor so they could find their room.

I have worked as an interpreter before and enjoyed every single minute of it. Helping people understand what a doctor is telling them is very rewarding. Every single time I get an opportunity to help I do. I even applied at an agency that offered over the phone 3 way interpreting but I am sure they already had enough Spanish speakers to fill their need. I have never saved anyone’s life but I believe an interpreter could have saved someone’s life.

Robert Dziekanski got on an plane and expected to see his mother when he arrived in Canada. Much like me when I moved to the US he did not know English. I knew enough to order a hot dog in the Miami International Airport and that was about it. Unfortunatly for him he became confused and for hours tried to look for his mother. He went through immigration and actually entered the country, but when he exited the area all he wanted to do was go back in thinking he might have missing him Mom.

Imagine being in a foreign land, not knowing the language and spending hours waiting. Imagine becoming very frustrated when people do not understand what you are trying to say. Imagine then, being scared, frustrated and probably in the middle of a panic attack when a group of police man taser you to the ground eventually taking your life.

I really do not know if tasers are safe or not, nor do I care to discuss it. My issue is that it is very simple to get an interpreter on the line and I am almost certain that the life of this man could have been saved. There are plenty of services that can get a interpreter on the line for almost every major language. Also like my wife pointed out, it would have been easy to figure out what the man spoke if an airport official simply looked at his passport.

I am almost irate after watching the video of this man being taser.(beware, it is not an easy video to watch specially knowing that the man died) While they have not released the official statement that would tell us what he died from, I am pretty sure that if he was not tasered and just calmed down by someone talking to him he would still be alive. While everyone can concentrate on the taser usage, or abuse of authority in this situation, I blame airport staff for not serving this man. I have experienced first hand how people are treated like caddle by immigration officials both in the US and Canada. You are afraid to ask questions because if they question you, you will most likely miss your flight.

The sad part is that if this incident was not recorded on camera we might have never heard about it. In fact the police even took the camera and Paul Pritchard (The man who took the footage) had to fight them in court to actually get the footage back. I really hope that at least the mentality is changed when it comes to the use of force on a person that does not understand you, and that at least at an airport there is access to some kind of interpreter, even if it is just over the phone.

Not Down with the Cholos

I went shopping today. I needed a couple of gifts, something for my wife who was not feeling well so she did not come with me and a couple of things for my soon to be Godson. I found everything I needed at amazing good prices and not a lot of browsing. I am a sniper shopper, I know where my target is and go for the kill.

A cholo is a Chicano who dresses like a gang banger. They are not necessarily criminals nor up to no good, but their style choices makes them stand out. They obviously want to portray a tough persona that does not want to be taken lightly. I have not seen many cholos in KC, but I also don’t really hang out in malls or arcades anymore.

My wife has had a stomach ache all day and was taking a nap to try to feel better so I was on my own for dinner. I decided to go to the food court at the mall after I finished shopping. I walked with my bag trying to avoid all the kiosks with the latest gimmicks. I see a couple of cholos sitting on the massage for a quarter chairs and then a couple of more leaning on the hood of the car on display from the local dealer. One of them gives me the stare down but I keep going.

For some reason some Hispanic people have a hard time picking me out as Hispanic. I am not sure if it is my built, I am huskier and a little taller than your average Central American, or maybe my eyes, they are lighter than average. I keep my summer tan all around and always speak Spanish when around people that I suspect speak it. I prefer to be wrong and switch to English than not use Spanish, still today I was once again singled out.

I stopped at an Asian food place, as Asian as Taco Bell is Mexian food, and ordered something. The cholos happened to follow me to the food court and a couple of them decided to order at the same place. As soon as they got in line the Spanish guys behind the counter started to joke with them informally. They did not sound like they knew each other, but they were being friendly.

I tried to order my drink in Spanish but like the hicks on the gas stations in the middle of nowhere that yell “Whaaaat” before I even open my mouth, he spoke in broken English back to me without even listening to what I had just said. When he handed my drink to me I said “gracias” and it finally clicked in his head that I spoke Spanish and maybe that I was also Hispanic.

I sat down in a table where there was not a lot of people around me. Put my bags on the table and started to eat my meal and people watch. A couple of college guys sat adjacent to me with some sandwiches and the cholos sat right in front of me. A couple of them started staring right at me but I ignored them and looked elsewhere. All of a sudden I saw a couple of kids on full punk wear and purple hair.

The cholos kept up their staring down at everyone around them and I thought of the time when my friend Travis actually had a physical confrontation in a mall. I have at least 100 pound on even the bigger one out of the group and I doubt they have any other experience but street fighting which is still dangerous but people tend to freeze after an elbow is dislocated or a wrist is broken. I certainly did not want to get into a fight, so I continue to ignore them and finish my meal.

Then a sad thought entered my head. I actually would have felt more comfortable sitting with the purple hair girl and the kids with the ripped jean than with the cholos. I see no point on trying to be tough or intimidate people or wear clothes that are way too baggy. I am glad I have so many friends and they are so different from one another, I even have a lot of Hispanic friends but I cannot seem to be down with the cholos.

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