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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Logtar 3 – GeekSquad 0

It was not enough for the GeekSquad to pirate software, they had to mess with my family. Even though being Tech Support is not one of my hobbies, I enjoy doing it for my family and friends… just not friends of friends that I don’t even know. This weekend I played Tech Support to my family after one of my Great Uncles got his computer technically molested by a member of the GeekSquad.

I am not sure what the standard operating procedure for fixing computers in their manual is, but I hope that they don’t just routinely wipe out harddrives. Lucky for my uncle he did not have any data that needed to be recovered. The GeekSquad charged him $229.00 for an “Operating System Service” which was supposed to “If your PC is infected with viruses, infiltrated with spyware, reacting sluggishly or if it has crashed — Agents can fix the damage to your operating system.” After 2 hours the guy just formatted the harddrive and asked my uncle for the recovery disks… which my uncle had no clue about. The guy just took off and said that he could come back. After missing an appointment my uncle got frustrated and just called me.

My family is actually pretty understanding when it comes to Tech Support, they don’t expect me to fix their computer every single time it breaks. That was the reason they did not call me first, but I think after this experience they will. I don’t mind fixing their computers when they need it; I just want to be appreciated for it. And believe me this weekend they did.

My uncles computer was an easy fix. The hard drive was already trashed beyond recognition. After partitoning it properly and installing the Operating System again it worked like it should have. I am not sure what the problem was originally but I am sure that a good virus scan would have worked… maybe even a scandisk. My uncle has subscribed to Norton since he bought the computer, so I am sure that it was a combination of his DSL dropping and his virus software not being updated while a virus might have done some damage. It was a shame that they had to pay that much money and not even get their computer working again that day. While I don’t blame the GeekSquad for my uncle not knowing what his recovery disks were, I do blame them for trashing the partitions and doing a bad format on a computer before they knew they could leave it operational.

While in Chicago I had the chance to do a couple of other Tech Support calls for my family. These ones were a little easier. Both of them had to do with hard drive failures and I was able to save the data (mostly pictures) with not much trouble. Even got to use the freeze a hard drive trick. While they had not called the Geek Squad I still call them as victories over them. They are now the enemy, unless they refund my uncle the money they charged him for a service they did not perform.

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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.

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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Trained Killers

Besides all the innocent people that are losing their lives right now in the middle of the war, one of the things that worries me the most is the generation of young people that are fighting it. I am not talking about just the ones that are losing their lives, or the ones that are going to come back without a limb, I am talking about all of them. War changes people. Boot camp changes people.

Boot camp is a process that is designed to strip you of individuality, make you programmable and able to respond not to your conscious though but to either directions or programmed behavior. The worst part is that it takes away your natural aversion of taking another human life and replaces it with the ability to kill others. People become targets and killing without hesitation is the ultimate goal of your training.

Not only do we have one of the deadliest armies in the world, it is growing every single day. I am guessing that, as much research that is being place into creating the best soldiers in the world is not being balance to reprogramming. I have talked to veterans of the first Golf War as well as some from this one, and let me tell you that I feel really bad for them. While I am extremely proud that they defended our country and did their duty I am sadden by the empty look in their face and the horrid images that they are not even able to share.

One of the first things you learn while in basic training is attention to detail. In the age of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) your survival depends on your attention to detail and changes to your environment. This is all necessary knowledge that will save our soldier’s life, but what happens when they come back home? Do they shed that thought skin? Are they still paranoid about a car backfiring?

I read an article in Rolling Stone about a soldier that came back from the war and ended up dead after taking the life of a cop. The story is not conclusive and does not really point fingers one way or the other. I also watched True Life: I’m coming home from Iraq. It was really sad to not only see the young people there having changed so much that they are even uncomfortable around their own family, but watching their fear build as the shadow of redeployment was cast over them.

The military offers services to help with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but I believe that is not enough. I am truly afraid of the amount of soldiers that are coming back to our country and their mental state. Are we losing a generation of our young people to this war?

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