Thursday, December 19, 2013

A hole in the sweater

My nine year old son went to school with a hole in his sweater. The hole was from his armpit down, and it was the size of a baseball.

He didn't know he had a hole until one of his friends pointed it out during art class. Embarrassed, he wore his thick jacket for the rest of the day.

Like my wife, my son functions with linear thinking--resolve the hole in the sweater by putting on the jacket he went to school with.

Had he thought creatively, he would have asked his teacher to call his Grammy to drop off a new shirt. Or he could have also remembered that he had a shirt in his backpack from the day before.

Instead, he wore a jacket throughout the school day to avoid being embarrassed.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Honest review of Joss Whedon's Firefly

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fox News and the color of Santa and Jesus

I will admit, I enjoy watching Fox News. They provide "fair and balance" news that usually leans more to the right. Their reporting are at times off the cuff, with little to no research, which makes it more entertaining. For example, last year, Fox News highlighted their Santa, actor Sal Lizard, aka Vampire Santa, MILF lover, and Trekkie.

We all know the "War on Christmas" started with Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly and other conservatives after they felt Christmas was being censored by the media and government. Since then, every December we find ourselves in the imaginary War on Christmas, which Fox News covers so well.

This year Megyn Kelly, Jedediah Bila, and Monica Crowley took offense and commented on a tongue-in-cheek article written by Slate culture blogger Alisha Harris where she suggests Santa Claus ought to be a penguin.

In the article, Alisha reflects on her youth and her personal confliction of whether Santa was white or black; Alisha Harris is black. When she sought an answer from her dad, he responded that "Santa was every color" -- an answer I and probably many other dads would give to their inquisitive child.

As a resolution to this confliction, she suggests in the article that Santa ought to be a penguin. She argues that "making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame..." You can read her complete article HERE.

The discussion started with Megyn Kelly stating, "For all you kids watching at home, Santa is white," just in case white, black, Asian, or Hispanic kids were watching Fox News instead of Nick Jr., Disney, or Cartoon Network.

To be honest, I don't take offense with Kelly's statement regarding Santa's skin color. Growing up in a Mexican American culture, we accepted Santa Claus as white. We also accepted Pancho Clos, Santa Claus' brother, and even los Reyes Magos. To us it meant more presents.

Similarly, after reading Alisha Harris' article, I take no offense with her suggesting Santa Claus be a penguin.  I get the joke -- it would be absolutely impossible to change the standard image of Santa Claus. I also get that Fox News needs to add fuel to the War on Christmas fire to keep it going, and this article was perfect tinder.

I do, however, disagree with Kelly's statement that "Jesus was a white man too...he was a historical figure and that's a verifiable fact..."

"Jesus" was white, according to King David's Psalms and Jeremiah's Lamentations in the Old Testament. King David was about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth. Jeremiah came 400 years before Jesus.

His skin color is not a "verifiable fact." In fact, historical and biblical scholars are still debating Jesus' skin color.

One should consider, however, that Jews, during Jesus' time, were dark complected. Many professions during that time included farmers, merchants, fishermen, and carpenters, like Jesus. Carpentry and masonry were done outdoors. And since Jesus traveled from Nazareth to Cana to Sea of Galilee to Golgotha preaching and performing miracles on the way, one should be open to be idea that Jesus was probably not white.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meeting William Shatner


Last year, I got to meet Patrick Stewart at Austin's ComicCon. I remember being in line waiting to take a photo with Stewart and trying to memorize what I would tell my role model. I was so nervous that the only thing that came out of my mouth during that 10 seconds was "Thank you for everything you have done." 

I was shaking with excitement after exiting the photo room. Then I started to think about what I had said. I thought, "Ah... shit. I can't believe I said that." The phrase has bugged me to this day. Plus, I didn't have anyone to share that experience.

Fast forward a year and I've learned since then. This time around I stood in line for William Shatner. Instead of being by myself, I was joined by my good friend, HK. And rather than trying to memorize what I would say, I stood quietly waiting for our turn for the photo op.

My buddy, however, was like me the year before and tried to come up with something clever to tell Captain Kirk. I begged him to not make it too cheesy and not to embarrass me. At one point, he had mentioned going up to him and saying, "I'm here as a fan of TJ Hooker."

Shatner was sitting on a stool wearing a sports coat as we walked into the photo room. We approached him and stood on each side of Shatner. Before walking up to him, HK said him, "God bless." To which Shatner responded, "Thank you." Snap.

What an adrenaline rush! We walked out high-fiving and sharing our excitement as if we had climbed the highest peak in the world. Totally, geeking out.

I had shared my dream experience with my close friend, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spoofing Kanye West

Twenty years ago, Bobby Brown and late and great Whitney Houston released Something in Common. At the time, one could say the music video was a bit corny, but at least their love at that time was very genuine. You can see music video HERE.

I have to admit, I'm not a fan of Kanye West's music. There are a few songs I like, but I don't go out looking for Kanye's latest single or music video...until now.

While filming their new movie, Seth Rogen and James Franco made a parody of Kanye West's new music video featuring his beautiful bride, Kim Kardashian. Ironically, Rogen and Franco's version has more likes than Kanye's original version.

You can view the videos below. Enjoy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"But then the freaking Creepers came..."

My son found this parody on YouTube the other day. After him playing it over and over again, we decided to purchase the song off iTunes. Since then, this song has replaced Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball song that we had downloaded days before. In fact, I am now finding myself singing the lyrics of Wrecking Mob instead.

via CavemanFilms

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Damn Creepers

I've been playing Minecraft for over a year now. It's probably the most enjoyable game for me. I can mine. I can make things. I can build. I've made castles. I've made cities. However, I do hate those Creepers.

Captured on the iPhone 5S.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Companies can offer truth in labeling

There was a time when I didn't care about what I ate. I thought that if it was consumable and if everyone else was eating it, then it must be safe.

It wasn't until I consumed a product I had purchased from a Chinese store when my way of thinking changed. My wife was cooking Asian food and I figured bao pork and veggie buns would add to the experience. My son and wife didn't have any, but I helped myself to a few of them.

The next morning, I woke up with hives covering everything except my gentiles. I had immense itching to the point that there was discomfort. A day later, my doctor gave me a cordisone shot and steroid cream. My body was covered with remnant bruises where the hives were for about two weeks.

I had to find out what caused my hives. After visiting a allergist and doing my own research, I found that the issue was a reaction I had to salt enhancing flavor known as monosodium glutamate or MSG. In fact, I would purposely test my hypothesis to evaluate my symptoms. Sure enough, any foods that contain MSG or artificial sweetener such as saccharin will cause me to have a reaction.

So what's in your food? It's something I've made a habit to check before purchasing and eating. What we may learn is that many of the foods that we consume daily have been genetically modified. Basically, this means that the food's original DNA has been modified in some way to enhance desired traits and be resilient to plant disease or tolerant to herbicide.

Sound great, right? However, there are some risks to making super-foods, such as antibiotic resistance, and introduction of allergens and toxins to foods.

In the past few years, industry have fought any government requirements of labeling products as genetically modified (GM) foods. The great thing about living in a free market, however, is that companies can provide their customers truth in labeling without government control. For example, national fast food chain Chipotle has decided to eliminate any GM foods from their menu.

If you are a consumer that is looking for "Non GMO" companies visit HERE.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb - Members Survey

I received an email from my gym asking if I would participate in a member survey.

...we are working hard to ensure that your experience with us is not only a positive one but one that also delivers the results you expected when you joined our gym. 

Please tell us what we're doing right and what we can improve..." 

As I indicated in the survey, my experience at the gym has been satisfactory. Not great. Just satisfactory. As I explained in the survey, there are several treadmills that are either out of order or not functioning properly. For example, on one treadmill the belt slips. On another machine, the speed button gets stuck and the runner that is going 5 miles per hour is then running at 10 miles per hour. These issues can cause injuries.

So, I was pretty honest in the survey. And to be honest, I thought the survey was going to be anonymous. My assumption was proven incorrect when I received a email response from the general manager of the gym.

First I would like to thank you for putting in the time to take our survey.

Okay, that's nice. He appreciates my thoughts.

It has taken me a few days because after reading your email I spned (sic) time going on all of our equipment and as of... through today we have only a few piece down and after using all the treadmills I would love to hear which one you have issue with as all worked fine when i was on it. 

Okay. I understand he'd like for me to point out the treadmills that I've had issues with.

We have been planing (sic) catch up on fixing equipment due to a staffing issue but Hoping that is not going to be a issue anymore due to fact we have a great new guy putting in alot (sic) of work to get up back up and running.

Now he's sounding defensive.

I have to say, however, that the gym has been working on the equipment, especially the treadmills. The one that was slipping has been fixed. The one that has the sticky button, however, is still being worked on.

Naturally, it is expected for equipment, that is being heavily used, to show signs that required maintenance. Regardless, I appreciate that the manager responded to me about my response. And it is great to see machines being worked worked on.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Photo: Watching the Texas Longhorns play

Photo taken on November 9, 2013 using the iPhone 5S.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Last Game of the Fall Season

...and fall season finally comes to a close.

After weeks of encouraging our son to swing and not take a walk, he finally did swing on his last pitch of the season. Although we are proud of him taking the swing, he did strike out.

This was also the first time that he has played innings in the outfield. While other kids would be bored in the outfield, my son stays involved in the game. He was "baseball ready" as he stood his position in the outfield.

His stats for the fall season:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (Against the Orioles)
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3 (Against the Giants)
Game 3: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 0 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Orioles)
Game 4: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 0 SB: 4 (Against the Giants)
Game 5: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 1 (Against the Yankees)
Game 6: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Red Sox)
Game 7: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 2 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 3 (Against the Yankees)
Game 8: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Red Sox)

Total:     AB: 19 H: 1 R: 6 BB: 10 RBI: 2 SB: 13

Photo taken on November 10, 2013 using the iPhone 5S.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb - Preggo Creeper Part 2

Wow. It's actually been over a year since I posted about me staring at a pregnant lady while working out at the gym. You can read the "Preggo Creeper" post HERE.

Well, it had been a while since I had seen her at the gym. Naturally, my guess was that perhaps she focused her attention on her new born baby and maybe rescheduled her fitness.

The reason why I think she may have rescheduled her fitness is because she looks incredible. Her figure is as if she was never pregnant. However, it's been found that working out during pregnancy does help mothers-to-be gain less excess weight and allows muscles to stay strong and toned.

If you or your significant other is pregnant, please check out the links below for more information on pregnancy and fitness.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

7th Game of the Fall Season

My son had his seventh game of the fall season on Thursday night. The temperature was in the high 50s (cold for some Texans), and my son was adamant that he didn't need to wear long-sleeves under his baseball jersey.

My last blog entry was on how we were concerned with his batting (you can read the entry HERE). My wife and I, however, noticed that the reason why my son wasn't batting was maybe because he hasn't been practicing with a kid-pitcher during practice. In other words, he expects a good pitch, like those of his coach, and if he doesn't see one close to being a good pitch he isn't swinging. He'd rather take the walk.

Granted, at this level in little league, the kid pitchers are not as developed and do throw outside the box. Nonetheless, my son's performance was was great.

His stats, so far:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (Against the Orioles)
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3 (Against the Giants)
Game 3: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 0 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Orioles)
Game 4: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 0 SB: 4 (Against the Giants)
Game 5: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 1 (Against the Yankees)
Game 6: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Red Sox)
Game 7: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 2 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 3 (Against the Yankees)

Total:     AB: 17 H: 1 R: 6 BB: 9 RBI: 2 SB: 13

Photo taken on November 7, 2013 using the iPhone 5S.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Making Mexican rice

My parents are masters when it comes to cooking Mexican rice. With a recipe and instructions my mom gave and after several failed attempts, I think I might have finally mastered Mexican rice.

I also may have found the problem that caused my previous failed attempts. I was using a saucepan where I should have been using a frypan.

I did modify a few of my mom's ingredients to create my own Mexican rice. Similarly, Mexican rice should be your own creation, so feel free to change. The basic thing to remember is rice and water.

Mom's Recipe  My Recipe
Brown rice in olive oil  Brown rice in olive oil 
Add 2 tablespoons of can tomato sauce
to brown rice 
With a molcajete, grind chopped tomatoes to
sauce then add to brown rice
Add Knorr bouillon and water Add low sodium chicken broth without MSG  
Add cumin powder, black pepper and salt  Add cumin powder, black pepper and salt
Add chopped onions, tomatoes, and
thinly sliced bell pepper 
Add chopped onions and tomatoes
Add a whole Serrano pepper for flavor Let simmer, stir occasionally,
add water as needed
Let simmer, stir occasionally,
add water as needed

Photo taken on October 28, 2013 with the iPhone 5S.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

6th Game of the Fall Season

My son had his sixth game of the fall season on Saturday.

He's been struggling with his batting, which is concerning to my father-in-law and I. My father-in-law, who played in the minors, has been working with him on his batting, these past few weeks. However, when my son is on the batter's box, it seems as if he is worried the pitcher is aiming at him and not the catcher's mitt. We've also wondered if my son is purposely allowing the pitcher to throw balls to get a free pass to first base.

Regardless of his batting performance, he did play good defense. While playing third base, he did successfully tag a runner out.

His team won the game against the Red Sox.

His stats, so far:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (Against the Orioles)
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3 (Against the Giants)
Game 3: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 0 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Orioles)
Game 4: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 0 SB: 4 (Against the Giants)
Game 5: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 1 (Against the Yankees)
Game 6: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Red Sox)

Total:     AB: 15 H: 1 R: 4 BB: 7 RBI: 1 SB: 10

Photo taken on November 2, 2013 using the iPhone 5S.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

5th Game of the Fall Season

My son had his fifth game of the fall season last Saturday. I missed the game, but I hear he did perform well.

He added a run to his stats and helped his team win against the Yankees.

His stats, so far:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (Against the Orioles)
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3 (Against the Giants)
Game 3: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 0 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Orioles)
Game 4: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 0 SB: 4 (Against the Giants)
Game 5: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 1 (Against the Yankees)

Total:     AB: 13 H: 1 R: 4 BB: 6 RBI: 1 SB: 10

Monday, October 28, 2013

Making Sangria

I found this great recipe, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, for Sangria on the Food Network website.

I went to Twin Liquors and bought two bottles of Toreo Red Tempranillo, Paul Masson Brandy, and Grand Marnier. Then I stopped at H.E.B., the local grocery store, and got oranges, granny smith apples, limes, lemons, and a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water.

At home, I cut up the fruits, then followed the recipe HERE.

For better results, make the Sangria the night before.

Photo taken on October 26, 2013 using the iPhone 5S.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3rd and 4th Games of the Fall Season

We're running a week behind in our games this season, mainly due to the rain.

Don't get me wrong. We needed the rain, but it does damper the fall little league season.

My son has had four games in the fall season. All games have been against the same teams, the Orioles and the Giants.

This past two games were rough for him, though. His defense was great, but his batting struggled.

For some reason, he fears being hit by the ball. On one occasion, he jumped back and fell on his bottom prematurely when the ball was about two feet away.

On Sunday, I decided to take him to the batting cage and have him practice a few hits. He swung the bat just fine, but being before a kid pitcher really makes him nervous.

His stats dropped during the last two games, but he did manage to steal a few bases during the fourth game.

My son's stats:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (Against the Orioles)
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3 (Against the Giants)
Game 3: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 0 BB: 0 RBI: 0 SB: 0 (Against the Orioles)
Game 4: AB: 3 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 0 SB: 4 (Against the Giants)

Total:     AB: 11 H: 1 R: 3 BB: 5 RBI: 1 SB: 9

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My son's disappointment with his new TV

After my wife spent the good part of Saturday cleaning and bagging old toys, we decided to redecorate our son's bedroom. And since my son is nine years old, I figured it was time to hook up a TV in his room.

I was about his age when I got my first 13 inch black & white TV. I was excited about it too. I remember having all broadcast TV stations--that means ABC, CBS, and NBC. I use to have to re-position the bunny ears every once and a while to get a clear picture. If I wanted to watch a program, I had to depend on the TV guide. If I missed the program, I would have to wait for reruns, which was usually months later.

I decided to convert one of the computer monitors sitting at home to a TV. I went to Best Buy and bought a DVI to HDMI converter for $20. I took the Blu-ray player from the master bedroom and connected it to the monitor. Voila! The TV worked.

The Blu-ray quickly displayed Netflix and Pandora. I clicked on Netflix and it showed me the menu options for movies and shows. I was excited to see my son's expression of his new TV. I called him upstairs to look at his new gift. He excitedly ran up the stairs and into his room and saw the TV. He got the remote control and surfed Netflix. He was excited, until he exited to the menu to view other selections.

"No YouTube?" he asked disappointed.

"No. You get Netflix, though. And you like Netflix. You can watch all your shows and stuff."

"Oh, okay," he said as he turned the power to the Blu-ray and monitor and left the room.

I would have been ecstatically grateful  had my parents gotten me something like this when I was his age.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dancing at Whole Foods

Apparently, my son isn't the only one that likes to dance at Whole Foods. I found the following videos of random people dancing at Whole Foods.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Batting practice and showing respect

There are times I find it close to impossible to teach or suggest certain techniques to my son. For example, when I am about to share my thoughts on how he can improve his swing, he responds, "I know, daddy. You don't have to tell me. I know."

So, I leave it up to his coaches to explain how he can improve his game. And many of these coaches do provide some great advice. However, soon after he leaves the coaches, he starts to whine how his coaches tell him things he knows how to do.

"Respect your coaches," I tell him.

"One says to 'watch the ball and follow through.' The other says 'follow through,' I am doing both. They are just not looking. What a waste of time."

Let me back up a bit and explain his comment. So, we got to batting practice at 5:30 p.m. To kill time, I figured we could practice throwing and catching. In the process, he lost his place in line and had to wait another 30 minutes.

"You have to learn to respect your coaches. It's a lesson you should learn before you get into middle school or high school. Coaches there will sit you out, if you show disrespect," I explained.

Nonetheless, he did do good in the batting cage. He just needs to focus on the ball and follow through with his swing.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Busy but still find time to blog

Work has gotten busy for me; primarily due to a promotion I received a few weeks ago. With the new job and getting home tired, I haven't had much time to blog.

As I've mentioned in previous entries, I started blogging for my family. My wife was traveling on business, so I thought it was a good way she could read what I was experiencing with our son. The problem was, she never read my blog. Her idea of my blog is that it's more of my venue to complain about everything she does wrong.

Slowly the blog evolved into more of what I was going through in my life as an adult, parent, and my many interests.

I began following cool bloggers, such as Calvin's Canadian Cave of Coolness, Geeks are Sexy, and Artodyssey.  Some of their posts provides me ideas of what my next entries.

Many of my entries are done Sunday mornings when my wife and son are still asleep. After a few cups of coffee, I usually complete surfing the various blogs I follow and writing my entries for the week. But because I'm a bit more busy, my entries may be sporadic.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Yes, I am a geek

A coworker noticed that I was wearing the same Green Lantern t-shirt to the gym. I explained that I actually have two Green Lantern t-shirts that are different from each other and I do switch them around. Laughs broke out and we left it at that.

Needlesstosay, his comments got me.

I decided to visit Target after working out and purchase a new t-shirt. I saw a few a liked. There was one of the new Starfleet insignia, but the print was too plastic-y. There was a black AC/DC t-shirt I liked, but it was black and it could get a little hot when working out. There were some light grey t-shirts, but I look fat in grey. And there it was: a green t-shirt. I look great in green, I thought.

I went up to the cashier to make my purchase. She did a double-take when she passed the green t-shirt over the barcode reader. I was wearing a similar Green Lantern t-shirt, which I had purchased a few years back from Target.

"I'm part of the Green Lantern Corps," I explained and walked off with my new green t-shirt.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Second Game of the Fall Season


After the first game of the fall season, the coaches of the league got together to discuss the rules. The week before, our team, the Astros, dominated the field and parents of the other team left the field discouraged.

This is what was agreed to: Rather than the five run limit, the coaches decided to limit runs to four. Also, rather than allowing the pitcher to pitch 75 throws, it was agreed that the pitchers only pitch for two innings.

Regardless of the rule change, the Astros again won. The win over the Giants, however, was not easy. This was the same Giants team my son played against when he was in the coach-pitch league--the Giants moved up to kid-pitch this fall and have kept many of the same players.

The final score was 6 to 2, Astros.

My son's stats:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2
Game 2: AB: 2 H: 0 R: 1 BB: 1 RBI: 0 SB: 3

Total:     AB: 5 H: 1 R: 2 BB: 3 RBI: 1 SB: 5

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My iPhone


I finally got rid of my HTC EVO and got my first iPhone.

I made the decision to buy the new iPhone 5S.

The first Friday it was released, I stood in line at Best Buy. Unfortunately, the phone was sold out and I had to wait another 10 days.

These 10 days was brutal. My HTC phone was going slower and slower and slower by the day. I experienced lag time when opening a program. It took longer to text message that it should. I wanted to destroy my phone. I was close to smashing it. The only thing that was preventing that was that I would be phone-less.

But alas. I got my hands on the new iPhone 5S, and I am loving it.

So, I've join the family iPhone club. My son has my wife's old iPhone 3, my wife has the iPhone 5, and I have the new iPhone 5S.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Game of the Fall Season

While other kids during the fall season play soccer, our son decided to play fall ball. Little league in the fall is mostly instructional. This is the time where coaches teach their players the advanced lessons of baseball. This is the time where players can develop themselves for the spring season.

This is the first year my son plays in kid-pitch. The last couple of years, he has played in the coach-pitch leagues. So, the idea of having a kid pitch a ball to him was new.

His team, the Astros, played against the Orioles. The game started slow, but then turned exciting as the Astros, feeling comfortable and confident, dominated. The score was 18 - 2, Astros.

My son's stats:

Game 1: AB: 3 H: 1 R: 1 BB: 2 RBI: 1 SB: 2 (While playing third base, he tagged out a runner.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Politics of Little League - Cap-Gate

Five days before the fall ball season was to start, our players received their shirts and caps. The problem: the caps did not match the shirts.

Us parents were instructed to purchase orange socks and belts for our kids, since our team is the Astros and their colors are orange and blue. The caps we received were with the black and red broken star--the old Astros logo.

Several parents and coaches were upset with the mix-up. Being one of the board members, I decided to raise the issue to the board in order to get a quick solution.

"We have a problem. The Astros' team's shirts do not match the caps. The caps are from the old Astros (the black and red star) and the uniform is in the new orange color. This is a problem. Any solutions?" I asked.

One board member suggested we take a collection and purchase the caps for the kids--this was a solution I was willing to take if nothing else was an option. A few of the senior members told me the team should "suck it up."

A lady I had an issue with the year before (See previous blog), stated that she had to beg the company to produce 300 plus uniforms and caps with a quick turnaround, and she didn't want to "burn a bridge" for 15 caps. Then she lectured me that this issue should have followed a chain of command rather than involve the whole board. I then reminded her that the issue was raised by me and another board member with kids on the team.

The following day, one of the other board members looked into resolving the situation. She contacted the vendor and reordered the caps. The right caps were delivered within two days.

My son and the rest of the team wore their orange and blue Astros cap for their first game, Saturday morning.

Needlesstosay, the parents and coaches were happy that the board took measures to correct the problem.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chato Matisse

I received a donation request from and friend for Strut Your Mutt.

Without hesitation, I donated $25. The problem came when I noticed $25 charged three times on my bank account. Obviously, this was a mistake and needed to be corrected. I mean, I don't mind donating $75, but I was kind of wanting that $50 for other stuff.

I called, the parent organization of Strut Your Mutt, to discuss my situation.

"I have a problem. I donated $25, but my bank statement has it charged three times. I don't mind the idea of donating $75, but I was actually counting on that $50."

I provided my name and credit card number. I later received a call but with no positive news.

"We can't find your donation anywhere. Are you sure you donated to" I was asked by a very sweet lady.

"Yes. I made a donation last week for $25, and my bank statement shows it was charged three times," I explained.

The very nice lady couldn't find my information, but she assured me that they'd look into the charges.

Sure enough, the next day I received a call from another lady at She asked if I indeed submitted a donation to Strut Your Mutt,"Are you sure you made a donation to Strut Your Mutt?"

"Yes and it was for $25. I don't mind donating $75, but I budget so much to make only $25 for right now."

"Did you use some other name to make your donation?" she asked.

"Hold on. I have the email here somewhere confirming my donation. Oh yes... Oh... Chato Matisse, my dog. I make a donation on behalf of my dog."

"How do you spell that?"

"C-H-A-T-O. Matisse, like the painter." (Thinking back, this really sounded gay--not that there is anything wrong with that.)

"Oh yes. I see him here."

"Well, I was being cute and all with the name and donation."

"Well, we now know being cute got you in trouble," she quipped.

You can read other blog entries about Chato HERE, HERE, HEREHERE, and HERE.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Can I speak to your MOD."

My wife and I bought a new clothes washer, the Samsung 4.5 cu. ft. King-Size Capacity High-Efficiency AquaJet VRT.

Let me backup and give some back-story.

A few years ago, my friend was trying to get rid of his washer and dryer. He was having trouble selling his appliances. Being the good friend, I offered to buy them from him for 200 dollars. He took the offer.

We really didn't need a new washer and drying. Granted, ours was old and running a littler slower than less efficient. The washer and dryer he sold to me were more efficient and they were Maytag.

The problem was this particular washer model was known to stop a few times during washes. Either my wife or I would have to remember to push the power button every time we didn't here the washer working. After years of doing this, I was determined to get us a new washer.

With the help of my father-in-law, who contributed 500 bucks to the purchase, I got my wife a new washer.

There are two Lowe's within three miles from our house. My son and I decided to go to the Lowe's in Round Rock; the other location is in North Austin. We purchased our new washer and scheduled the delivery.

In the delivery notes, I requested that we'd be notified 30 minutes in advanced in order to make sure someone gets home to receive the washer.

The day of the deliver, however, I received a call seven minutes before. I frantically called my wife and told her to get home to meet the delivery guys. Four minutes later, the delivery guys called back to ask if she was on her way, because they had a busy schedule. Needlesstosay, I was pissed.

I waited for my wife to call me and confirm that the delivery had been made. She did. Then I called Lowe's to file my complaint.

"Thank you for calling Lowe's. How can I direct your call?" asked the operator.

"Can I please speak to your MOD, your manager on duty," I sternly requested.

"Yes, sir," replied the operator as she quickly directed my call.

"Hello, this is Cindy. How can I help you?" asked a very polite girl.

"I want to file a complaint."


"I bought a washer from you guys and requested that we'd be called 30 minutes before delivery. Yesterday, you guys called to confirm and I again asked for a 30 minute heads-up in order to make sure someone would be at the house."


"Well, I received a call from the delivery guy giving me seven minutes warning. Then he called again a few minutes later to see if I was able to reach my wife."


"Now, I shop at Lowe's for all my home stuff, and I never have problems. This is something that makes me very upset and wanted to file my complaint."

"I am sorry about this, sir. Please give me your name and number, so I can pass it to our warehouse manager."

I did give my information and reminded her that I am a loyal Lowe's customer, but this event caused me to file a complaint.

Our call ended, and that was that.

A few days later, as my family and I were driving to Lowe's in Round Rock, where I purchased the washer, I realized that I had called the North Austin location.

Hee hee.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vegas Trip Part 2 - "Never Leave Your Wingman"


"Alright...we're going to be each other's wingmen, okay," my friend told me as we walked through the casino to join our friends for our first night in Vegas. In previous years, the first nights are usually the nights where we really party and spend lots of money. Sometimes these are nights we want to forget the next day.

We were all dressed in our Vegas clubwear -- jeans or dark slacks, long-sleeve shirt, dark loafers, and the optional dark blazer.

We looked like the cast of Entourage, as we crossed Las Vegas Boulevard to join the rest of the guys at Stack, an upscale restaurant in the Mirage.

I'm known to be conservative stingy with my money. I decided to go with the chicken that cost about $30 rather than opt for the steak that was double or triple that price. I did order a $20 pineapple mojito with my meal, which I thought I was really living it up. The guys then ordered appetizers. I calculated an extra $10 for my share of the appetizers and tip.

Our friend, who was coordinating the bachelor party, then suggested that we just pitch in $100 each, since the restaurant wouldn't split checks. I though, "Shit, I should have ordered the rib eye."

Later that evening, we gathered around 1 Oak Nightclub, where the nightclub host walked us to our reserved table. We all had pitched in about $300 each for a table and drink service at the club. We even had our own personal bouncer.

Our table had two bottles of Grey Goose, a bottle of Crown Royal, a Patron tequila bottle, orange juice, Red Bull, Sprite, Coke, cranberry juice, and water. As one would expect, and since a few of our friends are single, girls came by our table for a free drink. These girls were vultures who called their friends to benefit from the free drinks. We had to call on our personal bouncer to kick them out.

Since we had the table for four hours, we did get to meet many new people--girls and guys. Many wanted to party with us. Other bachelor and bachelorette parties wanted to join our group.

From our table, we even got to see Skylar Grey perform a medley of her hits; however, as I reached over for my second shot of tequila, all I could hear in my head was LMFAO's Shots.

A few of us acted a bit silly--I was one of them as I found myself dancing at the edge of the upper dance floor overlooking our private table. Thank god no one got a picture of that. 

Soon many guys started leaving early, and only a handful of us were left. I looked around for my "wingman," but he was no where in sight. I figured perhaps he went to the restroom. Maybe he decided to dance.

At around god knows when, I was the only one at our table with three girls from Wisconsin, whom we all made friends with. Liquored up, I looked around for my wingman. He was no where in sight. We all decided that the night was over for us and walked out the club.

I said goodbye to our new friends and made my way back to the hotel.

What I am forgetting to tell is that after countless vodka drinks and tequila shots I was inebriated. My voyage back to the hotel got very spotty.

I remember exiting the club and walking past the Mirage lobby. I don't know how I crossed Las Vegas Boulevard, but I do remember seeing some of the guys at the blackjack table at Harrah's. I walked up to them, but didn't stay too long because I noticed the room spinning.

I walked into my room to see my "wingman" sound asleep in his bed.

You can imagine what came next. Let's just say, I suffered a major hangover the next day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our American Spirit

If you are my age, chances are you remember where you were when you first heard about the first twin tower. I was in my bedroom at my parents house in McAllen watching Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. You can read my previous posts HERE and HERE.

Our lives changed dramatically after September 11th. We lost trust in each other. This distrust not only included Middle-Eastern people but Hispanics too. Racial profiling became the norm, and some would argue it was for good reason.

One thing that wasn't lost was our American spirit. Collectively, we continued life and kept going. Evil will never prevail.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Survival Guide for Visiting Sin City

A group of us guys have a traditional annual trip to Vegas. We've been doing it for the past eight years.

With a little more money in my pocket, I'm planning to have a fun time, this year.

Nothing too crazy. Nothing like Hangover. Just four hands full of guys going to Vegas for a bachelor party. Yeah, we totally won't get in trouble.

A few years ago, I put together a survival guide for men visiting Las Vegas. You can find the original post HERE. Like many other things written, I thought perhaps I should update the information.

So, without further adieu, here is:


1. Make sure you have at least $800 for your trip--if you plan to gamble, you should reserve an extra $200 to $400. Depending on where you depart, low cost air flights will probably run between $300 and $500. (Frequent flyer miles may be great use for Vegas trips.)  A decent hotel along the Strip and Fremont Street will cost between $100 and $150 a night. Hotels off the Strip will be significantly cheaper. Cab rides and other fares will run about $20 to $30 per trip--don't forget tipping money. The $9.99 filet mignon or the all-you-can-eat-buffets are most common off the Strip. Expect to pay $50 to $100 a day on food and drinks. If you plan to experience the Vegas nightlife, set aside an extra $100 a night.

Below are some simple solutions to help offset the cost for your Vegas trip:

2. Plan at least three months in advance. A Vegas trip takes planning, and the longer you give yourself the better experience you'll have. Visit the various travel websites to help plan your trip such as:,,,, or Use these sites as sources for comparison. Often, it may be slightly cheaper to make reservations at the airline's website or the individual hotel's website.

3. How long should I stay? For me, three days in Vegas is enough. Any more is just too long. I'd recommend flying into Vegas either on Monday or Tuesday, and fly out Wednesday or Thursday. You might also find better deals during the week. If you are planning to experience the nightlife, you might want to consider working in a Friday or Saturday on your trip schedule.

4. Where to stay? It all depends on how much you are willing to pay for a room and what you want to do in Vegas. Before making reservations at a hotel, take into consideration that you'll only use the room to sleep and shower. The majority of the time you'll be in the casino or visiting the various attractions. Staying along the Las Vegas Strip will run about $100 to $150 a night, at a decent hotel; although staying at a much older hotel or off-the-Strip may save you a few bucks.

The benefit of staying along the Strip is that all the attractions are within walking distance. Plus, the nightclubs and first class restaurants are found along the Strip. However, everything along the Strip can be a bit pricy. For example, expect to pay $25 for a meal at the hotel. You'll probably spend as much for a buffet as well.

The hotels along Fremont Street are slightly cheaper. A hotel room can be found for less than $100 a night. Meals are much cheaper too. You'll probably find casino tables with a minimum bet of $3 compared to the $5 minimum bet tables along the Strip; of course, minimum bets do increase after noon. However, if you stay along Fremont Street, expect a $20 cab ride to the Strip.

5. Find a group of guys to invite. Here is a simple solution on how you can save money and have a great experience in Vegas. Find a few close friends to go to Vegas. From personal experience, a group of 4 to 6 works best. Any more may be too chaotic. With a group of friends, you will be able to split room costs, cab fares, and even meals. Going out in a group can make things fun. Of course, you'll probably have some wanting to gamble on the tables while others may want to play the slots or watch a game at the Sports Book, but at least you are within a few 100 yards from each other.

Unless you think you can take on the task, select one of your friends to be the trip planner. The planner is responsible for finding the flight to Vegas, reserving the hotel rooms, and making sure everyone is on the plane the day of departure.

6. Don't expect to win. If you are only wanting to go to Vegas to make some money on gambling, then maybe you shouldn't go. The chances of coming back with money is extremely slim. In other words, expect to lose. If you do come back with some extra cash, then good for you.

Accept that there are a few of us who are lucky in nature. My dad and wife are perfect examples. They sit on a slot machine, play a few dollars and win. Whereas, I sit and play a slot machine, a game of mere chance, and lose a couple of $20s.

If you do want to take a chance on slots, then I'd recommend playing the quarter machines. You'll have the option of selecting playing 25, 50, 75, $1, or $1.25. The more you bet, the better the payout. Once you hit a big payout, cash out and move onto a new machine. The best time to play slots is late at night. The best slots are those at or near the corners--they are played the most.

The tables may provide a better payout than the slot machines. Similar to slot machines and the roulette wheel, tables are based on chance; however, there is a bit of skill involved. If you do plan to take a chance on the tables and if you are a beginner, like me, then try Blackjack. It is probably one of the simplest game to learn. But don't expect to win. Play the tables for the fun and not for the profit.

7. Take a bottle of liquor (optional). Although the casinos will bring you complementary drinks to their playing guests, it may be a good idea to pack a bottle--drinks purchased in Vegas hotels, clubs, and bars can cost between $6.50 to $20. Some stores sell liquor that come in plastic bottles. This is quite convenient since glass can break if packed in luggage. If you do decide to pack liquor, consider placing the bottle in a gallon storage lock bag and between clothes. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing this, then you can always purchase a bottle at the hotel gift shop--although, the cost may be twice as much.

8. Pack your best clubwear. Dress to impress.Vegas is full of beautiful people. Guys are well chiseled and dressed in expensive wear; and the girls are fit and gorgeously posh. These nocturnal beauties can be found at the various nightclubs along the Strip dancing until daybreak. So, pack your best clothes and prepare to let loose. If you don't have any clubwear, don't worry. There are over a thousand stores in Vegas that will help you dress for the night.

Visit Pure at Caesars Palace or Tao at the Venetian. Rain Nightclub at the Palms Resort and Hotel. Vegas if full of nightclubs. The best thing to do is ask the bellman for suggestions.

9. Don't over pack. Take luggage no larger than 24" x 16" x 10". If it's small enough, you might be able to carry-on your bag. If you do carry-on, follow the TSA guidelines listed HERE. And if you do plan to carry-on, then perhaps you shouldn't take a bottle of liquor as I listed in No. 7 above.

10. Make sure to tip. If you tip generously, you'll get special treatment. Trust me.
If taking a taxi from the airport, the standard is $1 per luggage. The same goes for the bellman who helps you carry your luggage to and from the guest room.

If you take a taxi any place, round to the highest 5. For example, if the cab ride costs $16.25, then tip the guy $3.75. Basically, hand him a $20 bill and tell him to keep the change.

If you are served complementary drinks while you play, always tip the waitress well. The more you tip, the faster she'll return with another drink. Two dollars is a good start per drink.

11. Get VIP guest cards to a nightclub. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get VIP passes to a club before arriving to Las Vegas. There is a cost, but it does beat standing in line. If you want even faster access, then try tipping the bouncer. If you want first class service, consider purchasing a table at the club. Tables come with an alcohol decanter and mixers; however, prices for tables may reach over a $1000.

12. Watch your wallet. The last thing you want is your wallet stolen in Vegas. There are plenty of pickpockets ready to strike. The best solution is to carry your wallet in your front pockets and carry the cash you need. Avoid carrying too many credit cards in your wallet. All you really need is one. If you do notice a suspicious individual, turn and look straight at him.

When going to a club, don't bother taking your wallet. Take the cash you need, your ID, and a credit card for emergencies. Leave your wallet in the room--some places provide a lock safe in the guest rooms. Dance clubs can be extremely crowded with people, and a perfect opportunity for thieves.

13. Take caution of call girls. First of all, I've never purchased service from a call girl in the many years I've visited Vegas; however, I thought I should include it as a survival tip.

There are plenty of call girls in Vegas, and if you're looking for them, you'll notice them wandering the casino bars or playing slot machines. Some can be found dancing in the night clubs hunting for a client. The novice prostitutes look as if they just bought their clothes from RAVE or Charlotte Russe. The more mature and experienced ladies can be found at high-end bars.

One important thing to point out is that prostitution is illegal in Vegas, so take caution if you are planning to purchase service. Also, consider that the call girls know this profession is illegal. They will only flirt with guys with an alcoholic drink--undercover cops don't drink on the job. Prostitutes will wander off if you ask too many questions.

If you do choose to seek service from a call girl, please use protection.

14. Strip joints are pricey. Vegas has strip joints galore. If you are looking for the best strip joints, ask the bellman or the taxi driver; however, some taxis have agreements with certain gentlemen's clubs--they get a cut out of your admission fee.

If you do plan to visit a gentlemen's club, prepare to pay at least a $20 entrance fee. Some of the better strip joints charge more. Lap dances are about $20s. If you want something more, the dancers will provide you a fee structure. For example, at one strip club, for $400 you can get a private guest room for an hour.

Be cautious of the various schemes dancers may pull. If you aren't interested in a dance, let them know. If they insist, excuse yourself and leave. They'll be gone by the time you return, and your reputation of being cheap will be shared with the other dancers.

If you are planning to have a drink, expect to pay $20. Water usually runs the same price. Tap water is never given.

15. Go to a Las Vegas show. Vegas is filled with lots of Vegas shows. Shows run about $100 a person. I'd suggest making reservations ahead of time in order to get good seats.

If you are in the mood for a show, Folies Bergere, The Rat Pack is Back, and a Cirque du Soleil show are some to consider.

16. Watch the Bellagio Dancing Fountains. Want to feel like Ocean's Eleven? Check out the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio. The sight is amazing.

If you are able to, make reservations at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel, across the street from the Bellagio. Ask for a seat on the patio.

17. Shop the Caesars Palace Forum Shops. The high-end shopping mall is known for it's Romanesque architecture and sky painted ceilings. In 2012, the mall celebrated it's 20th birthday. If you're willing to spend money on an overpriced gelato, visit Della Spiga Cafe. And if you are looking for a place to enjoy a good cigar and mojito, Casa Fuente offers patio seating where you can people-watch.

18. Find the Buddha at the Miracle Mile Shops. I'm not superstitious, but the last few times I've rubbed this Buddha's belly, I've come out ahead--money-wise. The Miracle Mile Shops is located adjacent from the Planet Hollywood Hotel.

19. Use the monorail. If you prefer to walk the Strip and experience all the sights by foot, then great; however, there is a monorail that provides service between the hotels along the Strip and out to the new SLS Hotel.

For $28 you can purchase an unlimited three-day pass. This is actually a good price, only if you plan to use the monorail. Go HERE for more info.

20. Fly out late. Make sure you plan your departure time towards the evening that way you can enjoy the day shopping for souvenirs. Hotels usually offer their guests bell service where they will store and save your luggage. Remember to tip or your bags may be "accidentally" lost.

21. Have fun. Don't go to Vegas to strike gold. It'll probably not happen for you. Accept it. Go to Vegas, spend money, and ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why is it my son doesn't let me nap?

Ever since he was a toddler, my son (who is now nine years old) hates the idea of me napping.

Sneaking in a snooze, during the day, while he watches TV, is almost impossible. He'll either call my name, tickle my feet, or throw dirty socks at me.

"Daddy? DADDY!"


My dad loves to nap during the day. This allows him to stay up longer at night. I adopted that practice when I moved out of their home and started my life in Austin.

After work, I would go home and take a nap. After my nap, I would go out with friends and stay out until one or two in the morning.

My wife hates napping during the day too, and she will argue that it only make sleeping at night more difficult. Perhaps this is more genetically related.

Yet, I can't complain. My son is much better in letting me snooze than when he was younger. On a good day, I can sneak in about 45 minutes of napping.

Monday, September 2, 2013

ShaKitty ShaKitty

A few months ago, we adopted a young cat that happened to be hiding in our garage. For a while, I was referring her as our "temporary permanent cat," in hopes that her owner would call and claim her; however, that didn't happen.

After several months, she is now part of the family--me, my wife, my son, and our dog. Yes, our dog, Chato.

If you don't know Chato, please read HERE, HERE, and HERE, but basically, he is a dog I have had since I first moved to Austin, 14 plus years ago.

Chato was quite interested in the cat, and didn't know how to approach the new addition to the family.

The cat hated the dog and successfully scratched Chato's upper cheek. The scratch was so bad that it got infected.

Eventually, the two began to understand each other and have avoided confrontation. Both are usually around each other, but neither go as far as to accidentally brush each other.

Like many parents with several kids under one roof, it can be confusing when calling the attention to someone. This happens with pets too. Recently, my wife found humorous my reference to the cat as "ChaKitty." I was actually thinking Chato, but it came out "ChaKitty."

So, now, each time we call Kitty's name (which is actually Meredith), we say "ShaKitty ShaKitty," as if we were Wyclef Jean singing "Shakira Shakira."

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Wow, almost 4,000 pageviews!

Thanks for reading my small blog.

I started blogging about eight years ago on Yahoo! 360. The blog was mainly about my son and targeted more for my family. Since then, my blog started to include things I came across or found interesting. Blogging allowed me to practice my undergraduate journalism degree, my interest in photography, and creative writing. It also became therapeutic for me.

Thanks again, and hope to continue this for years to come.


My HTC EVO 4G phone is slowing down.

I tried to delete apps to see if that resolved the problem, but I've had no luck. It's still slow. Calls that come in are difficult to answer. Making a call takes a good 20 seconds. Emails are hard to access, and it takes time to take a photo.

So, I'm debating whether to get an iPhone 5 or wait for the new iPhone 5S.

My wife has the iPhone 5 and loves it, but I've reluctantly avoided the iPhone craze and opted for the Android. Now with the Windows phone, I'm wondering whether I should give that phone a try.

Or maybe I should just get the iPhone 5.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50 Years and Progression

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama's speech:

via Martin Luther King

(via The GuardianPresident Obama: To the King family, who have sacrificed and inspired so much; to President Clinton; President Carter; Vice President Biden and Jill; fellow Americans.
Five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise -- those truths -- remained unmet. And so they came by the thousands from every corner of our country, men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others.
Across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer. In the middle of the night, entire blocks of Harlem came out to wish them well. With the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses, even if they couldn't always sit where they wanted to sit. Those with less money hitchhiked or walked. They were seamstresses and steelworkers, students and teachers, maids and Pullman porters. They shared simple meals and bunked together on floors. And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation's capital, under the shadow of the Great Emancipator -- to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their
government for redress, and to awaken America's long-slumbering
We rightly and best remember Dr. King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.
But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV. Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters. They lived in towns where they couldn't vote and cities where their votes didn't matter. They were couples in love who couldn't marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten, and children fire-hosed, and they had every reason to lash out in anger, or resign themselves to a bitter fate.
And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in, with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglass once taught -- that freedom is not given, it must be won, through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.
That was the spirit they brought here that day. That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought to that day. That was the spirit that they carried with them, like a torch, back to their cities and their neighborhoods. That steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come -- through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches far from the spotlight; through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, and the carnage of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the agony of Dallas and California and Memphis. Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered; it never died.
And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed. Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. (Applause.) Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually, the White House changed. (Applause.)
Because they marched, America became more free and more fair -- not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability. America changed for you and for me. and the entire world drew strength from that example, whether the young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid. (Applause.)
Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes. That's the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm's way, even though they didn't have; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Applause.)
On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
To dismiss the magnitude of this progress -- to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. (Applause.) Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. -- they did not die in vain. (Applause.) Their victory was great.
But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance. (Applause.)
And we'll suffer the occasional setback. But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. (Applause.) People of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history's currents. (Applause.)
In some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination -- the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the March. For the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract ideal. They were there seeking jobs as well as justice -- (applause) -- not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. (Applause.)
For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can't afford the meal? This idea -- that one's liberty is linked to one's livelihood; that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new. Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms -- as a promise that in due time, "the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an
equal chance."
And Dr. King explained that the goals of African Americans were identical to working people of all races: "Decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community."
What King was describing has been the dream of every American. It's what's lured for centuries new arrivals to our shores. And it's along this second dimension -- of economic opportunity, the chance through honest toil to advance one's station in life -- where the goals of 50 years ago have fallen most short.
Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white unemployment, Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown. And as President Clinton indicated, the position of all working Americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream Dr. King described even more elusive.
For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes. Inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country, in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.
And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires. It was whether this country would admit all people who are willing to work hard regardless of race into the ranks of a middle-class life. (Applause.)
The test was not, and never has been, whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many -- for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call -- this remains our great unfinished business.
We shouldn't fool ourselves. The task will not be easy. Since 1963, the economy has changed. The twin forces of technology and global competition have subtracted those jobs that once provided a foothold into the middle class -- reduced the bargaining power of American workers. And our politics has suffered. Entrenched interests, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal -- marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools, that all these things violated sound
economic principles. We'd be told that growing inequality was a price for a growing economy, a measure of this free market; that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.
And then, there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth -- that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity; that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.
And then, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us claiming to push for change lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots. Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways, as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support -- as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.
All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided. But the good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. We can continue down our current path, in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations; where politics is a zero-sum game where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie -- that's one path. Or we can have the courage to change.
The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate. But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We'll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.
And I believe that spirit is there, that truth force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It's there when the native-born recognizing that striving spirit of the new immigrant; when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own.
That's where courage comes from -- when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That's where courage comes from. (Applause.)
And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on Earth for every person. (Applause.) With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit, and prepares them for the world that awaits them. (Applause.)
With that courage, we can feed the hungry, and house the homeless, and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.
America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there. Yes, we will stumble, but I know we'll get back up. That's how a movement happens. That's how history bends. That's how when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we're marching. (Applause.)
There's a reason why so many who marched that day, and in the days to come, were young -- for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream differently, to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose stirs in this generation.
We might not face the same dangers of 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains. We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling procession of that day so long ago -- no one can match King's brilliance -- but the same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains. (Applause.)
That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge -- she's marching. (Applause.)
That successful businessman who doesn't have to but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con who is down on his luck -- he's marching. (Applause.)
The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same door as anybody's son -- she's marching. (Applause.)
The father who realizes the most important job he'll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn't have a father -- especially if he didn't have a father at home -- he's marching. (Applause.)
The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again, and walk again, and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home -- they are marching. (Applause.)
Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day -- that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington; that change has always been built on our willingness, We The People, to take on the mantle of citizenship -- you are marching. (Applause.)
And that's the lesson of our past. That's the promise of tomorrow -- that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. That when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)