Before the month ends!

It has been difficult to create content lately, not because there is a lack of stuff I want to talk about but because the blog format is simply not lending itself to me right now. I do have some good news though, a group of friends and I have started to work on a podcast. Episode one should be coming soon, but I think we might wait until we are in about the third one to actually start really spreading the word. Call it proof of concept for now.

Surprisingly enough I think that doing the podcast might make it so I blog more. I think being able to explore topics that I talk about in a podcast format might make me want to expand on them… maybe even blog before the podcast so that I get my ideas in order. Not sure if I am just hanging on to a dead medium or not… but hey sentimentalism is not a horrible thing now is it?

Horrible segue coming,

Not truly a dead blog, but a dead person talking to us from beyond. “A local sportswriter blogs about committing suicide.” I had heard about this story the day that it happened from a local radio station that basically figured it might be a hoax… it was not. The website he left is truly haunting in many respects. Not the least haunting is that I know people that think like the guy does. As some of you might know I have had to deal with death quite a bit lately… loss sucks… it is hard to get over, but it also gives us an opportunity to appreciate life.

I had a very informal conversation with someone after a business trip. I was not a fan of the place I had just visited for many reasons, I did not feel safe, I did not like the food, etc. The person responded with the ‘MURRICA is the greatest. I really hate that point of view, even more so when it comes from a person that has never traveled outside of ‘MURRICA. That coupled with death got me thinking more and more about retirement and getting old in this country.

I really don’t want to spend my “golden years” here. I think there are plenty of better places to retire at and I lean towards Colombia being a possible destination just because of familiarity. Trust me it is not the violence ridden nation it used to be back in the 90s, and while it is not a perfect place, no place in the world is. Getting old here in the US sucks because this society sees everything as disposable, including people.

It might sound like I am depressed but I am really not. I am not saddened by the thought of getting old, in fact I look forward to be able to do some things in my later years. Who knows I might even be in the kid making business still. I do want to be realistic about the future and about retiring. Maybe it is just wishful thinking about making it to old age.

* If you are thinking about suicide, there is help!

Boycott Colombiana!

So I guess as a Colombian I am supposed to be pissed about a movie that looks so kick ass I cannot wait to see it.

The name of the film is Colombiana… and here is a snip of the movie plot…

Zoe Saldana plays a young woman who witnessed her parents’ murder as a child in Bogotá and grows up to be a stone-cold assassin. She works for her uncle as a hitman by day, but her personal time is spent engaging in vigilante murders that she hopes will lead her to her ultimate target: the monster responsible for her parents’ death

My Mom, Bea and I discussed the film over dinner on Saturday. We laughed and concluded that it will be cool to see a “Colombiana” portrayed as an all kind of baddass assassin.

I have always tried to be careful when Colombia is portrayed in a public light. I even saw the Colombian coffee growers being sue happy over a cartoon as somewhat of a publicity stunt. Boycotting a movie over the use of the name of the country and location seems ridiculous. As ridiculous as a Mexican saying that they would not see “El Marichi” with Antonion Banderas.

Zoe Saldana is all kinds of cool. You might not recognize her, but she was the main chick in avatar and also played the crap out of Uhura. However, I though she was cool since she played Eva in Center Stage… don’t hate, watch the movie is actually a good movie. I want to see her more as an action Hero than Angelina Jolie… and she was one of my favorite actresses in the past, but I think Zoe will be awesome as an assassin. That she is Colombian is no big deal to me at all.

I have come to expect Hollywood to portray Colombia as a place that you have to ride with chickens and pigs both in the plane and public transportation to get around. Heck, even “Colombian-Americans” think that way the first time they go visit the country if they are going for the first time.

If anyone watches this movie and it cements for them their view of Colombia, well, we are dealing with the same level of intelligence of someone that thinks every Russian is in the KGB and thinks that Meesha was in Argentina simply looking for other secret operatives.

Its a movie people, go see it if you like action. Try to be entertained by it. I am going to see it, I don’t expect anyone with half a brain to ever think of Colombia as a one dimensional place that is all about violence. Isn’t that place Mexico now? I keed I keed!

I like My Coffee like I Like My

The lunch in Colombia is at least a two course meal in most households. Breakfast and lunch are the heavy meals and dinner is always smaller. “Sopa y seco” or soup and the dry stuff is what most Colombians will consume today. That is how it was always at my Paternal Grandma’s house. I still enjoy having a soup and a sandwich and kind of miss the big meal during the day rather than later. There is one particularity about how I used to enjoy my soup, a quirk of sorts. I did not mind using the same bowl where the soup was served for the dry part of the meal, but It would have to be rinsed.

This might not be a good idea for an early post because I am already getting hungry. Lets say that the soup was a chicken on the bone soup with potatoes and vegetables. Some people like to get all the liquids out of the way, then go back to the kitchen and load the chicken and vegetables with rice, friend plantains or whatever the rest of the meal includes. My quick has always been that I like most of my meal component separate and I would simply finish everything that was included in the soup and rinse the bowl.

While visiting distant relatives one summer during lunch, I asked to be excused after I finish the soup to rinse my plate before I got the rest of the stuff from the table. Everyone was kind of in a weird shock at first, and then it was explained to me that one of my distant cousins that had passed away (who they had been finding other similarities in personalities with mine) also had that same exact quirk.

This was the first time that I started to think that even though we are only scratching the surface when it comes to genetics, maybe, just maybe weird quirks could be passed down from one generation to another.

I know nothing about genetics, and this is purely speculation; but there are weird things that we seem to acquire from our genes that are not just environmental or learned behavior.

This is where coffee comes along.

You can ask my wife how annoying I can be about coffee. If you make a coffee for me, I don’t care how you make it, I love coffee I will drink it. However, at home, there is a method to my madness. I like the coffee to be somewhat strong and scolding hot. I start by putting sugar in the cup and then pouring coffee 3/4s of the way. Then I like putting cold milk to fill the rest of the up… not cream, but cold milk. That is how I prefer to mix my coffee. My wife often mixes the milk and the coffee and pour the sugar last and of course I cannot tell the difference, but the whole “coffee mixing ritual” is just one of my obsessive compulsive type of quirks.

This is when things get really interesting. My great uncle is not able to do a lot of tasks that require manual dexterity now, so other people are mixing his coffee in the morning. While talking to his Mother in Law who has been helping him with meals, she stars saying how particular my uncle is about mixing his coffee. She then starts explaining the whole process and how its just nuts that he has so many specific things about how he likes his coffee mixed. The very weird part about the whole thing is that when I asked for the details on the process, she starts to describe the very same little quirk of mine as if she saw me doing it in the morning. Weird isn’t it.

What about you guys, have you ever noticed a seemingly weird inherited quirk?

Greed

Recently I have been thinking a lot about happiness. I posted recently about being the positive, half glass full person I try to be, and also about how to me it does not seem like people rationalize the connection of money and evil.

This morning I was listening to sports radio on the way to work and Troy Aikman of all people started talking about greed. I am not a fan of Troy, mostly because he is always with Joe Buck and I just dislike the way he calls games. If you don’t follow the NFL, basically the next year could make or break them. There is going to be a new labor agreement as well as potentially turning the pre-season’s game into actual games that count towards the season. I was just having a conversations last night with Jimmy about how the Thursday games just seem like way too much NFL (specially with college games, etc). Troy brought that point up as well and said that he thinks the NFL is too greedy and in our lifetime football might not be the most watched sport. Again, the show must go on.

I believe NASCAR also got greedy and has seen a decline on their revenue. I don’t know much about that sport so if someone has some insight there, it would be interesting to hear if maybe greed was a player there too.

The greed of some affects many… but aren’t we the ones that perpetuate the cycle? Or in the case of baseball just stop watching?

I seriously don’t know how to begin digesting all this information. I know that if the NFL missteps in the coming years they could suffer like baseball did and become second or even third watched sport. I know college sports are really becoming more popular and soccer is becoming stronger in the US.

My bro-in-law recently wrote something on facebook that made many people think, including me. Colombia is being hit by one of the worst rainy season in 40 decades. The climate is attributed to “la niña” and it has affected millions of people. The government does not have the resources to deal with the issues, his point was simply that all the festival and big city wide parties in December were still being planned like nothing was going on. I guess the show must go on in this situation as well.

I am not the most charitable person and while I do give to some causes, I am probably part of the problem. I guess the choice to consume or not is a powerful thing, but cheap products at Wal-Mart are sometimes too good of a deal to pass up. I am not sure if I would have stayed in Colombia and never moved up here if I would be partying this December or looking for a way to help those less fortunate. I am sure by tomorrow I will have another personal endeavor that will take up my thoughts, but at least I wanted to write this to remind myself that sometimes greed can damage not just the sport I like to watch, but might deny people the resources that are necessary to simply survive.

Colombia or Chicago home?

One of my friends asked me a question upon my return from our trip to Colombia. It was one of those hard questions that I was not prepared to answer, even though I ask it inside my head often. He asked “So now that you are back in Chicago, does Colombia feel more like home?”

It is hard to put into words how many thoughts go through my head when I start thinking of it. This will be a mental dump of some of them. In Chicago, I spent shaping my life as my adult. In Chicago, I finished high school, went to college and worked (and work) for some amazing companies. I have a lot of friends here from school, college and previous jobs… in reality it is too many to even count. Most important, I have all my immediate family here and most of my extended family.

KC is still a home for me, because not only did I leave some great friends there but Bea and I lived the first years of our marriage there. In many respects KC felt more like home for the two of us than Chicago does now. It feels goodto go back there and know that we have many people that would be thrilled if we said we are moving back.

But then we go to Colombia and nothing else feels more like home. Even the polluted air when you get into traffic behind a not-so-well maintained public service vehicle seems to not smell unpleasant but familiar. The weather is just so mild compare to the harsh changes that sometime plague our life here. I swear that yesterday I did not feel like I was breathing but rather drinking air; it was so humid. Then there is the people… the people is what makes living here so difficult sometimes.

Colombia is one of the happiest countries in the world, sometimes even being the number one. From year to year the United States is well bellow 100. When someone asks you, “hey how are you doing?” they do care. Here is a little story that illustrates what I mean.

Don Hernando (Er nan do, no Her.. silent H) is the doorman at the building where Bea’s family lives. He opens the door for you as you arrive or the gate to the garage. If I walk down the street to get something from the store I get to chi-chat with him. If someone arrives with groceries, he helps bring them up. He still remembers that last time we were there we gave him a tip when we left and is very thankful for it. He understands that the people that live there pay his salary and not some management company in some undisclosed location. He knows that each day he does not have to bring coffee to work, because someone in the building will call him up to have some coffee and bread. I think those little deeds are what helps you stay connected and happy.

While we were there Bea’s Mom had a little problem with her blood pressure and had a hard time making it up the stairs. Don Hernando was there every step as we helped her up (she refused to let me carry her.) He stayed vigilant by the door until the ambulance arrived to help stabilize her. He came back often and checked with us and seemed extremely worried, almost as much as we all were. He seemed to actually care.

In today’s world of iPhones and Androids we are supposedly more connected than ever before, but with hundreds of Facebook friends I felt more connected to that doorman every day there than with the people that could reach me even an ocean away.

I cannot help to think back of my next door neighbor in KC that died of cancer and I only found out days later when her son’s whom I had never met were moving out her belongings.

Going down there is not just fun as you will see from the pictures I will post soon; it’s heartbreaking when I know I have to head back. Whenever I think of pace of life I think of Travis’ face, and his face when after we had dinner I told him to relax and have a cup of coffee with me. He still remembers that just as fondly. That is my pace of life, being able to connect, being able to have conversations… I think that is happy living.

Chicago is home for now. When answering that question I cannot ignore that Colombia would feel like home the minute I get the chance to move down there permanently.

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