Elephants and Grass

“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled”
-African Proverb quotes

Proverbs are very powerful ways to transmit knowledge from generation to generation. While formal education is the way that most of us get our knowledge, I believe story telling and proverbs are still relevant and important.

This African proverb makes me think of our current situation quite a bit. I could talk about politics, but I have the feeling other people are already having their fill of that. One of the news stories that has been resonating lately is the Enron trial.

I am not sure whose fault it ultimately was. What I am sure of is that a lot of little people ended up suffering loses that changed their lives. Same thing is happening locally with Delphi and the UAW. Again more elephants fighting and more grass getting trampled.

I could speculate as to know is right and wrong on the issues. I think that our society is becoming a sad place if we have to get our politics from Jon Stewart or Rush Limbaugh instead of making our own minds up. Politics used to be boring, the morning shows would never pay that much attention, but lately it looks like a circus. The morning show is full of politicians talking about the issues.

Reporters are scared to do their jobs. Journalism has become a game where credibility is not one of the pillar but just a goal. Again in the end we are the ones that lose because in the information age we are feed philosophy instead of letting us come up with our own. We have become birds that wait to be feed regurgitated news. Opinions and commentary are important, but they are worth nothing unless we are still getting the actual news from somewhere in an unfiltered way. It is time to stop being grass and begin making those elephants accountable.

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Wasteful Society

This morning besides road rage guy being behind me again, in a brand new Monte Carlo none-the-less, I was amazed by a story on the news. A family was kicked out of an all you can eat restaurant in Iowa.

Now, the first thought that came to mind is that the family, like some others I have heard about, spent 2 or 3 hours there eating more than their share. Nothing wrong with that, its an all you can eat place and well if you pay, why not. To my surprise, as the story was being told, they were actually kicked out for taking food, then a little bite and throwing the whole plate away.

What amazed me was not that this happens, but that the DJs on the radio were actually defending the family behavior. Their position was that they paid for the all you can eat buffet, so they should be able to get as much food and do with it as they pleased. What was even more amazing to me was the wacky DJs then switched to having people call in with stories of stealing food from an all you can eat buffet.

I am not sure if anyone of you has ever done this, I honestly cannot remember ever stuffing my pockets with egg rolls. I do however respect someone that does that a little more than someone that throws food away.

The family’s defense was the following…

”They told us we are not welcome there anymore,” said Dershem, a repeat customer at the Dragon House buffet. ”We waste too much food. But the buffet is all you can eat. And you know kids. They won’t always eat everything, and they want something else.”

The all you can eat restaurant replied with this…

“Shes done that too many times,” Cao said. “We would welcome her back if she has respect and knows what she wants.”

The people from the restaurant had observed the family on previous trips and this seemed to be a common occurrence. I do know kids, and yes they can be very wasteful in an all you can eat buffet, but after the first time in a new place I believe they know what they like and don’t. It is also the parent’s responsibility to either limit the kids on what they take or actually go serve their kids plate. I don’t agree with the free for all kids are kids, lets take four egg rolls eat half of one and waste the rest.

I worked at the fast food restaurant with the golden arches for a number of years. It was when I first moved to the US and was still learning the culture here. It was hearth breaking to me to see how much food was being wasted there every day when I came from a place where food was only thrown away if it was spoiled. There was always a neighbor or a less fortunate person that would get the food if my family could not eat it. One of my managers told me once to not make such a big deal, was I going to take the food to the starving kids in Africa?

Wasting food has always been something that bothers me. As I moved up at the restaurant I made sure that towards the end of the night or a food change, less and less food was prepared so the food wasting was kept to a minimum. It was good for profits and the owners liked it. Actually the restaurant is set up to do that very efficiently, but lazy people would prepare extra food so if we had a rush there would always be enough. I obviously don’t work there anymore, but I am still very mindful of food wasting.

One of the things that I always heard my family said when they came back to Colombia to visit and I was still living there was that the US was a disposable society. Everything was to be used and disposed of. I did not fully understand their statement until I moved here. We compromise so many things for the sake of convenience. I am not implying that the restaurant owner here was doing it because he does not believe in wasting food or is an advocate for ending world hunger. For all I know his main concern is the bottom line. The statement that makes me almost believe other wise is the one that has the word respect. I just wish that as a society it would not be ok to take a full plate of food and waste it.

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Why do immigrants come here illegally?

Many people would argue that the reason so many illegal immigrants come to this country is because they are poor to begin with and our system is flawed not letting the poor people in. I think the real reason for the illegal immigration problem is a simple economics 101 topic. Supply and Demand.

Millions of people come to this country because America is addicted to cheap labor. We have seen a lot of jobs shipped overseas to satisfy corporate America’s addition to cheap labor. It is a drug that our corporate backbone cannot live without… or can it?

There are plenty of other rich countries in the world. In fact there are a lot of countries that have a more liberal political structure, better welfare and even a better happiness index. But why are illegal immigrants not flooding these countries? There are no jobs there for people that do not go there legally.

I am sick and tired of this whole topic. I am tired of hearing the half researched, CNN or FoxNews, told me so arguments. The solution to this problem is simple. If you truly want America to get rid of illegal immigration you have 3 simple steps.

One, send corporate America to rehab so they can get over the need for cheap labor. Not just illegal but also outsourcing to other countries. How? Simple, make fines so steep that the cheap labor would never offset them.

Two, introduce legislation streamlining naturalization for the people that are already in the country. Give a deadline for everyone to register as a guest worker, give them an Social Security Card so they can start paying taxes.

Tree, deny all government services to anyone that is not in the country legally. After a certain date, deportation would not be to the border, or country of origin. I cannot resist introducing a little humor. We are nice people, sun, sand and a pair of sandals. Lets send everyone that is here illegally to a nice place like Iran.

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I did not get the boycott memo

Maybe my Latin-Hispanic card got revoked and I did not even know, I had to wait until the news told me about this May 1st boycott thing. Maybe it is because my friends know that I am not the protesting kind of guy, especially for a cause that I don’t respect or quite frankly understand.

Our country has a lot of issues. If you want to pick a cause to fight for, why not fight to end poverty. Why not fight for the inequality that was rubbed in all of our faces during the Katrina disaster. I’ll tell you why not, because we are sheep. We have become followers of causes that we don’t even begin to understand.

Let me break the immigrant issue down for you. ILLEGAL immigrants want equal rights. They do not want to be looked as criminals, even thought they are breaking the law by entering this country illegally. They want a quick route to citizenship, the same citizenship that took me over 15 years to obtain the legal way. The U.S. does not have a good relationship with Mexico when it comes to immigration. There is no workers program that would allow Mexicans to come here and have a clear path to citizenship. The reality of the situation is that we have a neighbor that with a fail economy it’s bleeding its most valuable resource. It’s people.

I am not even going to address the people that are saying that California is part of Mexico. If we are going to call on history about ownership of land, the Native Americans are the only ones that even have any kind of argument here. Do you really want the Mexican government to take over U.S. territory? What are they doing right now for their people?

I am all for pride. I am all for Mexican pride… but there comes a point where you have to understand that being proud of your culture does not mean that it should override law and logic. I am proud of being Colombian, but that is not going to make me want to support drug traffic.

I do support the cause of someone doing everything in their power to take care of their family. I also know that the jobs that are being performed by illegal immigrants right now are not ones that have a line of people that want to do them. However I am prepared to pay what a strawberry is supposed to cost if picked by a legal immigrant or a citizen of our country.

I have a personal experience that I will share with you. I was hit head on during a heavy snowstorm on a side street. My cars front end was destroyed and the driver and passenger of the other car hit the windshield because they were not wearing sit belts. After making sure that everyone was ok, thank God their cuts were just minor; I called the cops to file a report. When the Police got there, they made me sit in the back of the squad while they talked to the driver of the other car. That has been my first and only time in the back of a police car. The cop and his partner came and told me that they were sorry but the driver of the other car did not have insurance, he did not even have a valid license.

Someone that was undocumented and had no business driving in this country hit my car. I was left to deal with the damages to my vehicle and the guy’s punishment was that he would never be able to get a drivers license unless he paid for my damagers. We all know that if he did not have a license to begin with, why would he even bother now.

While this incident did leave a bad taste in my mouth, I still understand and respect the desire of so many people to come to this country and live and work. It does make me mad that they do not follow proper channels, break the law and overall disregard our society. Now we have people walking out of their jobs to protest about the inequalities. I hope that their attempts do not make Hispanics the target of even more hate.

I am not boycotting anything. In fact I urge everyone to go to work and not observe this movement. People need to understand the issues that they are fighting for and what they are going to be able to accomplish with their efforts. This movement is not going to help anything. Sure it might illustrate the buying power of Hispanics in this country, or their impact on some cities with a high concentration of Hispanics. But then what? Whose cries are going to be heard? Whose demands would be met?

If it was up to me, I would get another holiday out of this deal. May first is the International Workers Day and an actual holiday all over the world. We need more national holidays for sure.

I have felt like an outsider since I moved to the U.S. I am sure my position on this subject is not going to make me new friends in the community. I am sorry but I love America, I love the dream that I fight for every single day and I wish people would try to fight just as hard instead of waiting for a favor or a handout.

**** Update

For all of you making it seem like illegal immigration is no big deal answer me this.

A poor person breaks into your house, maybe an open window. They sit in your couch, watch your TV, make themselves a sandwich and then take a nap in your bed. To be honest, before they took a nap, the vacuumed and washed the dishes, not just the ones they use but all the dirty ones. When you come home to find them there, they tell you, hey I am poor and hungry. Can I be your roommate?

Would you call the police and get them out of your house, or just give them amnesty and let them become your roommate without knowing who they are?

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TaeBo is Dangerous

I have to admit that I was never a fan of workout tapes; in fact I was kind of cynical about the idea of following a bunch of people working out in a different physical location than where I am. I have been trying to lose weight since the beginning of the year. I started by doing DDR, even thought I have not been doing it lately, and a couple of months ago I joined a Kung Fu school. I also TiVoed a workout show from FitTV.

I was skeptical of the capability of a TV show to be able to get me to truly work out, but I was either super lucky or this Gilad guy is the best because the workout not only felt good, it really made me sweat in 30 minutes and not by jumping like a bunny from the first second. This made me think that TaeBo would be a good idea. The premise that a workout tape can mix martial arts and dancing intrigued me.

I have been hearing about how cool TaeBo is for quite some time. Mostly from their advertising machine. I felt that since I did practice TaeKwonDo for a couple of years before it would be something that I can jump right into. So I went and rented the new Boot Camp video and man was I disappointed. I tried it for the first time this morning and after 20 minutes I was disgusted. I cannot believe that a professional fitness trainer can truly sleep at night putting a product that I deem dangerous.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt and went to check out the website. I thought, hey maybe they have warning, or an introductory tape. I was surprised to see that the first thing they advertise is their new Boot Camp series and besides the warning to contact your doctor before you start a workout program there is nothing telling you, warning we are about to punish your back in such a was that a disk might just come flying out.

The tape starts at a rate that is unsafe without warming up… but I said ok, I can keep up. I did a couple of the initial exercise when Billy all of a sudden spread his legs and ask the viewer to bend down to touch the ground. I said OUCH and stopped to watch what he would do next. No warm-up, no stretching and this guy break into exercises that can seriously hurt someone, not just their muscles but also joints. I was just amazed that there is not a more of a warning before you start this program.

Stretching and warm-up is very important to every exercise routine. When starting to exercise, please consult a professional or a friend that does it in a regular basis. I see now why people get discouraged about exercising so easily. If TaeBo was my only resource or the first one I chose to look it, I would just give up working out and hit McDonalds on the way to work.

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