Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making a stop motion short film with my son

I've been wanting to do a project with my son for a while now using a camera and his toys.  The idea came to me when I noticed his Hulk toy, which he got in a Happy Meal, on his bedroom floor next to a toy plastic soldier.

One Sunday afternoon, my son and I put together this stop motion short film featuring the Hulk attacking General Thunderbolt Ross' army--a reenactment.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to deal with Police here and abroad

I came across an article by Andy Eat in Austin Man Magazine regarding what to do if you get in jam with the police.

The article discusses fines and penalties for DWI/DUI, public intoxication, possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of prescription drugs.

Tips on how to deal with police here and abroad are provided by Austin attorney, Harold Hardy of the Hardy Law Firm, which I've listed some below.
Arrests in Food Price Riots, St. Quentin  (LOC)
Arrests in Food Price Riots, St. Quentin (1911) via loc

"How to Deal with Police"
  • Stay calm (the article cites Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's arrest)
  • The Police don't need to read you your Miranda rights to ask you a question
  • Remain silent
  • You do not need to consent to a search without a warrant
  • Have a point of contact
  • Hire an attorney
"Troubles overseas"
  • Don't say anything
  • Identify yourself as a U.S. Citizen
  • Ask to speak with someone at the U.S. Embassy
  • Get an attorney
You can read the full article on PAGE 72.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Balding and Myths

A few months ago, I posted a entry regarding my biggest fear; yes, hair loss.

During one of my monthly haircut, my stylist noticed a horseshoe-shape thinning on my scalp.

"Have you been stressed?" she asked as she ran her fingers across my hair.

Barber's shop, Japan
"I've been a little stressed. Why?"

"I know your hair, and this isn't your hair. You're thinning."

Fear crept in me.

Although male pattern baldness is quite common, I wasn't willing to accept it. To make a long story short, I took Biotin, addressed my stress, and my lost hair eventually returned.

I came across an article by Austin Man Magazine's health contributor, Jill Case, in  regarding male pattern baldness. She discusses how dihydrotestoterone (DHT), an androgenic hormone, affects hair follicles and how oral medication can slow hair loss down.
In the article, she also lists some myths about hair loss.

I'll start with the first one she lists, since it's one my mom told me, "Hair loss and male pattern baldness are determined by your mother’s side of the family." My mom assures me that I shouldn't be concerned with hair loss since her father, my grandfather, had all his hair when he passed away in his 80s. Although she may be slightly right, studies have found that both parents contribute to the likelihood of hair loss in their offspring.

Another myth I remember from when I was young was that wearing a baseball cap would cause hair loss. According to, "hair follicles receive oxygen from the blood stream, not the air." In other words, wearing a cap won't cause hair to fall.

Another myth that Jill Case addresses is sexual activity or lack thereof affects hair growth, "Sex will not affect your hair loss in any way!"

You can read her complete article HERE.

Check out this list of top ten myths provided by the New Hair Institute HERE.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Dating and who to avoid

Prior to meeting my wife, I dated a few girls. Many of the dates went well. Others not so.

I tried to always be a gentleman when taking a girl out for dinner, drinks, and a movie. But I have to admit, I was a bit of an ass to a few girls I didn't see sharing a future.

I came across an article by freelance writer, Eric Leech, where he lists 16 type of losers girls must avoid. I've listed a few that caught my attention with my own thoughts.


The “Hug, Smooch, ‘I’ll Call You Next Week’ But Never Does” Wanker
Leech explains that this type of guy knows how to turn on girls, but his flaw is that he's dating a lot of other girls. I wasn't this type of guy. The most girlfriends I had at once was two--maybe three. Dating these three was confusing, especially since their names were Veronica. I did, however, know a guy who enjoyed women, but totally overwhelmed himself with them to the point where his dark hair turned gray within a semester. Girls, let me put it this way: imagine the many sexually transmitted germs this guy may be carrying.

The “I Can’t Find My Phone” Guy
Leech explains that this guy uses the excuse of his "missing phone." I have to agree with him; however, there are times when guys just want to be alone. Instead of avoiding these type of guys, I'd suggest giving him space but be cautious.

Mr. Keeps Coming Back
Leech explains that there are a few guys that develop infatuation. These are the guys that are a bit creepy and could become scary. Like Leech suggests, end the relationship and don't give him room for hope.

The Guy Who’s Still Living With His Parents (Or College Roommates) After Age 30
By 22 years old, I made sure I was out of my house. I even moved five hours north to Austin to start my life. Although I was poor, I was independent. Girls do like guys who are or are attempting to be independent.

The Treats you Like Dirt Guy
Women should be treated with respect and adoration. Leech, however, is correct--there are some girls who like to be mistreated. Though, after a while, this type of response may become abusive. Stay clear of guys that don't appreciate you.

If you want to read the full article, visit HERE.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Politics of Little League Part 2

WARNING. My own opinions. My own rant.

A few months, after I noticed my son was being pushed from one team to another without clear reason, I decided to join the little league board. Needlesstosay, the last few months have been an experience.

I've learned the cost to run a little league and the importance of sponsorship and volunteerism. I've met some wonderful people who care about the kids and would do anything to make sure their experience in baseball is positive.

However, like in any group that involves a certain goal, there are politics involved. I've seen it. I've experienced it. I've participated in it.

Of course, it's harder when your son is involved in the politics, and for that matter, harder to watch other well qualified children be disenfranchised simply because some coaches decide to "stack teams" in order to win games.

Our little league decided to send four coach pitch All-Star teams to compete in a tournament hosted by the Smithville's Little League. Four teams were created with twelve players each: Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, and Team 4. Although, this gives more kids the opportunity to participate in a tournament, one could argue, why have four teams if two of them are "stacked" with handpicked players, while the rest are divvied up.

Unfortunately, I was not present when the All-Star team selections occurred, so I don't know exactly how they were selected. Was it by draft matrix? Did the coaches make their choices based on tryouts and season records? Or did they just handpick their favorite players and created teams, while the inexperienced coaches were left with the remaining lot.

All I heard were a few parents dissatisfied with either the placement of their kid, the coach that was selected, or the hard to swallow, "why was my kid not selected."

A few days later, I heard one parent complain how the kids were divided up and how coaches from the two top teams--Team 1 and Team 2--selected their own players from the lot. I didn't understand what she was referring to until last Saturday when I saw on the tournament bracket that my son was on Team 4; although, he ranked 24th in tryouts and carried great stats during the season.

Although, parents were given the opportunity to switch their kids, I didn't think that was right. My son's All-Star coach cares about the kids and is tough when it comes to calls on the field. The way I figured, he chose my son, so we should stay with him.

And I am glad we stayed with Team 4. My son was challenged, he made new friends, and most importantly, he had fun.

Monday night, though, was his last and final game of the tournament. His team faced Bastrop Team 1. The previous game, which they lost on Saturday, was against Smithville Team 1. In other words, our boys had a challenge going into the tournament.

Although they lost, the boys came out swinging and played their hearts out. The best thing out of it was that they cheered for their teammates loud throughout each inning--whether it was cheering for the batter or yelling, "Defense!"

There's always next year. Perhaps by then I'll know more to actually be involved in the selection process.

In conclusion, if the little league plans on sending four teams, then it should be equally created to include kids who performed well during tryouts and kids who performed well during the season. But if the little league plans on sending two teams, then the 24 or 30 kids that performed well during tryouts and the season should represent the little league in All-Stars.

That's my thoughts.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Detecting heart disease

McCall Style & Beauty, c. 1939

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is any disease that affects the cardiovascular system. It is the leading cause of deaths woldwide. According to the CDC's website, 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.

I came across an article by cardiologist Dr. Sheri Boyd in a recent issue of Moxie Magazine about the importance of getting screened for anyone who has risk factors for heart disease. In the article, she mentions a special CT scanner known as a coronary calcium score that checks for the buildup of calcium in plaque on the walls of the heart's arteries.

After the test is administered, the doctor assigns the patient a low, moderate, or high risk calcium score. As she explains, "the more calcium in the heart blood vessels, the higher the risk for serious blockage and the greater the risk  for a heart attack in the future."

Reading this article made me think as to whether I would be affected by heart disease--mainly due to my hypochondria.

The CDC lists the following risk factors for heart disease:
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol aka "Bad Cholesterol"
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
Although I do drink alcohol (slightly excessive), the only key risk factor that might apply to me would be diabetes.

Had it not been for my wife, I'd be eating Whataburger and Burger King and drinking diet cokes. If it weren't for my son, I'd be watching TV and playing video games all the time. My life would be absolutely different. I'd be unhealthy.

So, perhaps, I shouldn't be concerned about heart disease. Maybe this isn't a health issue I should be concerned with. I'm guessing the hypochondriac in me will find something else wrong with my health.


Photograph by Nickolas Muray, c. 1939


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Experiencing All-Stars


My son was selected to be a part of one of his little league's All-Star teams.

The first game in the tournament was played against Smithville Team 1 (more one the numerical teams in a later post). His team lost.

Since the tournament is double elimination, the following team they faced was Bastrop's Team 1, which was played Monday evening.

Summer in Texas can sometimes be unbearable. The outside temperature must have been in the mid-90s at 6 p.m., when the game started. The discomfort was noticeable on the boys, as many were profusely sweating. The heat was affecting them.

"Can we go in the dugout, coach," one kid suggested after only a few warm-up throws.

As the boys sat in the dugout away from the beating sun, the Bastrop team kept practicing fielding.

At that point, it was clear that the Bastrop team wanted to win. The team from Bastrop overwhelmed our boys the first three innings when the score was 11 to 0.

Our boys finally brought in five runs in the third inning--the maximum limit a coach-pitch team can score in a inning. This finally ignited the boys, and they cheered for their teammates until the very end.

Two more points were added to the score, but they couldn't stop the Bastrop team from scoring. Plus, the Bastrop coaches directed their runners to taunt the fielders to cause errors. The final score was 19 to 7.

My son had a pretty good night. He tagged several runners while playing second baseman. He was at bat twice. One ball went deep into right field; however, the ball was caught. The second hit was a double, which eventually scored a run for the team.

His stats for 2013
Season Total: GP: 16 AB: 45 H: 27 R: 13 RBI: 18
Post Season Total: GP: 2 AB: 5 H: 1 R: 1

Of course, all the kids were upset with the loss. When I asked one of the kids, who was in tears, if he was okay, he responded, "I don't want to stop playing baseball."

It was a hard post-season for many of these kids. For two weeks, they practiced and practiced and practiced some more. In those two weeks, I saw all of them improve to be better players. New friends were made. The game of baseball became excited for many of them. They had fun, but the post-season had to come to a close.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Hello, may I please speak with..."

A few days ago, I recieved a call on my office phone from a lady who was calling on behalf of a client of hers.

She explained that in order for her to connect me, I needed to provide her my date of birth or the last digits of my social security number.

Dog barking into the telephone
via floridamemory, c.1957
I denied either of these.

"Who are you with?" I asked.

"I'm representing a client of mine who is wanting to talk to you," she explained.

"I'm sorry, but who's your client?"

"I can't tell you that until you verify your date of birth or last four digits of your social security number."

"I don't feel comfortable with providing you that information. How about your client mail me a letter requesting a meeting or something," I countered.

"What's your mailing address?" she asked.

"You should have that, if you have my social security number," I responded.

"Okay, do you live on Navidad Drive?"


"Is your date of birth, [such and such]?"

"No. You've got the wrong person. Bye." I ended the call.

After the call ended, it made me wonder as to whether or not I was a victim of phishing, where people try to acquire information in order to access bank accounts and other stuff.

What if it were an elder answering the phone and didn't know he was being victimized. I knew what to do, because of the line of work I'm involved with.

All I can suggest is that if there is a call that comes in requesting the disclosure of your personal information, say no and hang up.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Losing the first game in the tournament


My son had his first All-Stars game on Saturday against a host team from Smithville.

IMAG1548All day, he was excited about the tournament. He thought about how it would be if his team won and continued in the tournament. He did, however, remind himself that if they lost they still had another game to play. So, he prepared himself for the loss.

We arrived in Smithville early enough to catch a game his friend was playing. The game was tied and the coaches and players were infused with emotions and feelings. In fact, the stress and anxiety could be felt everywhere, and it was obvious this had an effect on the boys.

The home team surprised our boys in the first and second inning. Once our boys got the jitters out, they stopped the home team from over dominating.


Our team finally got some runs in the third inning, but were unable to catch up to win the game. The home team won 12 to 6.

Although my son was unable to score runs, he did play great as second baseman. He did catch a pop fly on the first pitch of the game--stunning the home team. He also did tag a few runners advancing to second. But the frustration of the game got the best of him. He became discouraged and angry that his coach had to bench him the last inning of the game.

the drive homeWhen the coach saw him crying, he rushed over to talk to him. I quietly listened to him tell my son that he was a great player and that this was only a game. He jokingly asked, "Is there something I don't know? Are you getting paid to play? If you aren't getting paid to play, then you shouldn't be upset. This is suppose to be for fun, son."

The game ended, and the tears spread like a virus. All the boys were upset at their loss.

The first fifteen minutes of our drive back home was rough. Our son was in the back in tears telling us how awful he played. We tried to tell him that he played great as second baseman. After many attempts to resolve his dissatisfaction, we stopped talking.

I decided to stop at Buc-ee's, the big convenience store outside Bastrop. When we walked in, my son's troubles were resolved. He even got to see his team mates--perhaps there for the same reasons.

Our next forty-five minutes in the car was quiet; and eventually, our all-star son fell asleep.

To be continued.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Falling asleep while watching...

...2 Fast 2 Furious.

Yes, my wife and son fell sound asleep during the movie's climax. Like mother, like son.



Friday, June 7, 2013

All-Stars Tournament in Smithville

My son was selected to be a part of an All-Stars team for his little league. Needlesstosay, we are all excited.

For the past couple of weeks, he's been practicing with his new team. The double-elimination tournament starts this weekend and will be held in Smithville, which is an hour east of Austin.

For the past few days, I've been researching Smithville, since the only think I associate the town with is the 1998 romantic movie, Hope Floats.

By coincidence, REAL, which I picked up at Whole Foods, had an article on Smithville. The article not only highlighted the restaurants but also points of interests. I also came across a bit of interesting baseball history.

During a time of segregation, blacks couldn't play ball with whites. Because of this, blacks formed their own league and made professional teams. According to the REAL magazine article, "a team of Negro League baseball players edged the Smithville team 2-1 in a infamous 1957 contest," which featured Leroy “Satchel” Paige. Paige was the first black athlete to play in the 1948 World Series. He helped his team, the Cleveland Indians, beat the Boston Braves. You can read more about Satchel Paige HERE.

This "small town" has baseball history. Knowing this piece of baseball history, I am more excited to watch my son play the tournament.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Shoes

It's been since before the school semester started when we bought our son shoes. When we purchased the Nike Kids Flex Supreme, they looked like this:

After seven months of wear, his shoes looked like this:

To be honest, I did notice his shoes looking rough, a few weeks ago. When I suggested shoe shopping, my son protested--mostly because he loves these shoes. However, when I noticed the shoe's tips torn through, I decided we'd spend the afternoon looking for shoes; no excuse.

Academy was the first place we visited, since we bought his old shoes there; however, we were unable to find his size. Other shoes that looked similar were either too big or too small.

Since my wife wanted to visit White House Black Market we decided to visit the the Outlets in Round Rock. There's a Nike Factory Store there, so we thought we'd find a pair of shoes he'd like there. No such luck.

After visiting three stores, we finally did find a pair of shoe he liked at the Reebok store. He was so excited about the Reebok RealFlex Strength shoes that he tried them on the fake track inside the store. He even set off the alarm when he crossed the detector at the store's entrance.

Let's see how long these pair of shoes last.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

With the mannequins at Old Navy

With the mannequins at Old Navy

This photo was taken on May 26, 2013 using a HTC PH44100 camera.