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Saturday, May 28, 2011

What 100 means to me!

My son's teacher gave her class an assignment to complete sentences regarding the number one hundred.  Below I have listed his completed sentences in red:

If I had 100 dollars, I would buy a lot of Wii games that I like
I wish I had 100 Wii games.
I wouldn't want 100 daddys.
I can eat 100 beans.
I could never eat 100 pies.
Having 100 babies could really be a problem.
In 100 years I hope that I can walk.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Confessions of a gym dweeb Part 5

Continued.

I try to visit the gym at least three times a week, and it's not unusual to see the same individuals working out next to me.

As I have indicated in previous blogs, I do cardio for about 45 minutes before doing some circuit weights. 

When I get to the gym, I check in by swiping my keyholder tag across the scanner and greet the girl behind the counter.  Sometimes she says hello.

After we exchange gestures, I make my way upstairs towards the cardio machines. 

When I workout, I try to avoid direct eye contact with any other person there.  I figure people at the gym don't want to be disturbed or ogled at by other people.

Well, I will admit that I was recently caught ogling the girl in front of me.  Of course, my defense is that I was really struggling with the elliptical I had set at level 10 and my focus was at the young girl jogging on the treadmill.

What makes this worse is that my focus was not at her upper torso or head.  Had it been, then I would have recognized her turning around.  Feeling like my body was running on slow-speed, I raised my head and noticed her looking towards me.  As our eyes met, my brain finally kicked in to yell, "Hey dummy!  Turn away.  Now!" 

Embarrased, I lost control of my footing.

Confessions of a gym dweeb Part 6

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A quick history on Cinco de Mayo

The day is in celebration of Mexican army’s victory over French troops in Puebla, MX (about an hour east of Mexico City). The war took place in 1862.

President Benito Juarez had stopped making loan payment to France, Spain, and the UK. The countries decided to invade Mexico and pressure Mexico to pay their debt.

Spain and the UK, however, withdrew their forces when they realized France wanted to conquer and occupy Mexico.

After a couple of defeats, Mexico finally won in the Battle of Puebla.

French forces eventually went on to win many battles and capture Mexico City. In 1866, France withdrew their forces from Mexico.

Ironically, today is not a federal holiday in Mexico.

Sources: wikipedia; http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/2007/05/cinco-de-mayo.html

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.
 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Confessions of a gym dweeb wimp: Part 4

Continued.

For the past few months, I have been going to the gym at least twice a week. 

My routine goes something like this: 12 minutes on the elliptical; 12 minutes on the power cycle; 10 minutes on the strider; and sets of twenties on the upper body circuits. 

Okay, for those of you who aren't familiar with working out, you're probably thinking I am really doing great and must be slim, trim, and well chiseled.  Wrong.

I'll be honest, I'm a wimp.  I don't have upper body strength.  I never have.  My great legs compensated for my weak arms.  I've recently noticed, however, the need to build strength on my arms after struggling to pick my six-year-old son who weighs 50 pounds.

Therefore, I've made it a point to dedicate a few minutes on the circuits to begin building my upper body muscles; although, doing so has been a humbling experience working out amongst guys and girls who can lift more.

I try to avoid eye contact with people around me and listen to the TV stations on my Insignia HD Radio as I take my turn on the circuits.

Setting the weight dial at the lowest possible level, I tell myself that no one is watching or cares what I am lifting. Of course, passerbys do notice and if you forget to reset the dial, the next person will definitely notice.

From afar, one may assume I'm lifting a heavy load with my strained facial expressions.  At closer observation, they'd notice I'm only lifting 10 or 15 pounds.  Pitiful.  I know. 

What's worse is after leaving a circuit I noticed the next person, a girl, reach over to the weights, reset the dial and added extra weights.  Yes, embarrasing.

Again, I try to avoid eye contact and remind myself that Mr. Olympian Dorian Yates resorted to lighter weights and more repetitions.  Of course, I'm not Dorian Yates.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Killing an evil man

US FLAGI've made it a policy of mine to avoid blogging about politics; however, there are certain occasions that I feel I need to--tonight, being one special occasion as President Barack Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

We all remember where we were at that terrible September morning. 

I was at my parents' home in McAllen, Texas getting ready to go into work.  I was watching Good Morning America when Diane Swayer interrupted to report a possible plane crash into one of the World Trade Center towers.  My attention was glued to the tube for more information.  My then girlfriend called me to ask if I had heard about the terrible crash.  It was soon revealed that it had been a terrorist attack on our homeland.  We were terrified. 

A couple of days before, my now wife and I were in Western New York for her grandfather's wedding.  When it was easy to change flight reservations, we actually debated whether to fly into New York City on September 10th.  You can read more here

Had we decided to visit New York City, we would have been in the middle of the chaos.  I would have probably made my then-girlfriend wake up early that morning to visit the various landmarks--the Statue of Liberty or maybe even the twin towers.   

Some higher being was with us both.  Perhaps an angel.  Maybe God or even our ancestors.   Someone was there with us to change our minds and return back to Austin.

So, I am jubilant this late hour. Ecstatic for a huge accomplishment--the killing of an evil man.  A man who symbolized hate at its worse.  A man who misrepresented a religious belief and practice that turned many of us against each other.  A man who I pray will suffer many thousands of deaths before reaching eternal hell for the loss of innocent victims since he first attacked lives.



"THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
 It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.


And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.


On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.


We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.


Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.


Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.


And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.


Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.


Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.


For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.


Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.


As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.


Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.


Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.


The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.


So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.


Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.


We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.


Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.


And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.


The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.


Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.