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.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy National Dog Day!


Taken on November 23, 2003 using a Kodak CX4200.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cell phones and EMF overload

All around us, if we like it or not, are electromagnetic pulses that carry information and data. These pulses are what gives us the things we take for granted such as television, cell phones, and electricity.

To completely remove oneself from electromagnetic frequencies, or EMFs, would be impossible; especially since we release our own EMF. Nonetheless, there could be something said about frequency overload.

I came across an article by Phyllis Light, Ph.D. in Pyschology, that discusses frequency overload. Many of her suggestions to help limit exposure to frequencies, which I list some below, revolve around cell phones.
  • Limit your use of electronics, this includes cell phones;
  • Use your landline telephone to make calls;
  • Turn off your wireless internet modem at night;
  • Turn off your cell phone at night;
You can read the complete article HERE.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Photo: Fun at Old Navy

Which two aren't the dummies?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Black Beauty's accident

We were driving home when my son and I experienced a dramatic event.

It had been raining for days--something which is unusual in mid-July in Central Texas.

After meeting my friend at World Market, we were driving home on the access road of I-35.

I decided to take access road instead of the interstate because it was raining and the roads were slick, and since it was rush hour the traffic was heavy.

We approached the light at the intersection of the access road and Louis Henna Blvd. We came to a stop and waited for the light to turn green.

Then it happened. Our car was hit from behind and caused my car to hit the car in front of me.

"Daddy, what did you do?" my son asked as he was trying to assess the situation.

"Nothing. I was hit," I responded as I put the car in park, opened the door, and stepped out of the car. I looked at the car behind me and saw a lady step out of her vehicle. At first, I thought perhaps this was a multi-car accident where the person behind her hit her causing her to hit me. It wasn't, though.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I was following too close," she responded, "are you okay?"


"Let's move," she said as she signaled towards the strip mall.

As we were talking, the car in front of me decided to keep driving when the light turned green. I got in my car and moved it to the strip mall parking lot. I thought perhaps the driver in front of me would pull in as well, but that driver continued on.

After we parked, we both got out of our cars and inspected the damage. My car, which I named Black Beauty, looked hurt. Her trunk was damaged as well as her hood. The driver's door was hard to open, and she felt like she was hurting.

We exchanged our insurance information and both agreed that it was her fault for hitting my car.

It took about a week for her insurance company to contact me, and it took another week for them to assess the damage and determine that indeed it was damaged and needed repair.

So, for the past month my car has been at the auto body shop getting fixed. Since then, I've been extremely missing my Black Beauty as I feel as if I'm cheating on her with all these different rental cars. Tonight, I get her back.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"You are a winner"

Yup, I fell for a gimmick.

This weekend, I got a flyer from the local car dealership about their "Grand Opening Event." Inside the flyer was a scratch-off game.

The instructions was easy: "Match 3 Parking Amounts in a row (up, down, across, or diagonally) and/or your car opens a lockbox, You are a winner."

My son scratched the game and was excited when three parking amounts matched diagonally for $20,000. We had to tell him that chances were that this was a gimmick for customers to show up to the store in hopes that you'll want to buy a car.

Regardless, I told him that I would go by the car dealership and see what we won.

I called the 800 number as instructed in the flyer. I gave them my access code, and, by-god, it was a match.

"When are you coming in to the showroom?" asked the receptionist.

"This afternoon, I guess," I responded.

"There must be a catch. It can't be this easy," I thought. "Although, it would be nice to get $20,000. It would pay a lot of our debt." I fell for the old sales trick in the book.

I showed up to the Kia Showroom, and walked up to the reception's desk. I showed her my flyer, and she directed me to sign in.

"Aha! This must be a gimmick," I thought to myself. I looked around and saw others with the same flyer. I got close to another victim of this folly, but he hid his flyer as if it were Charlie's golden ticket.

"So, what's the catch?" I asked one of the assistants.

"Well, we will call you up and you can check if your key opens the lock. If it does, then you win," explained this attractive saleslady.

A black gentleman, who was as skeptical as I was, came up to the reception and asked the same question I had asked. After she answered his question--similar to how she answered mine--I walked over to him and said, "It seems we both won $20,000."

"I hope they have more than just one twenty thousand dollars," he sarcastically responded with a laugh.

I was finally called by a salesman. He introduced himself. I did the same, but I also informed him that I was not looking for a car today, just here to see if I won something.

"What do you drive?" he asked.

"I drive a Toyota," I responded, "Don't get me wrong, I do like Kias and quite frequently ask for a Kia when I rent a car. They are good and dependable vehicles, but I'm not shopping for a car today."

"Okay, let's see if you won."

As I figured, the key that came in the mail didn't fit the keyhole. I didn't win. Oh well.

I actually thought that perhaps the flyer somehow was random and we ended up with the lucky combination.

They got me.

Sadly, if you read the game instructions, it does say, "Match 3 Parking Amounts." No where does it say that the amount you match is yours automatically. Instead, I won 2 "gold coins," which actually turned out to be two dollar coins--enough to pay for the gas. Plus, I was also entered into another raffle with many many others.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb: Do I smell?

This is probably the most embarrassing confession I have ever shared. It's not gross. It's not disgusting. But I'm sure it'll get a giggle or a laugh (I hope) from you.

First of all, our bodies do the weirdest things. Some are hard to explain, but we're all organic and we expose to our bodies will have some sort of affect on way or another.

It may have been the food I ate the night before, or perhaps it was the leftovers that did me in.

Allow me to backtrack a bit. After certain meals, I like to store leftovers in Glad containers and place them in the freezer. Many times, these leftovers are from meals we had weeks or even months before.

I decided to take one of the containers out of the freezer for lunch on Friday. To me, it's a mystery meal, until it thaws to reveal the content. This particular lunch, the leftovers was spaghetti, but the spaghetti had a interesting taste to it. Perhaps it was left too long in the freezer. Regardless, I finished my meal.

I went to the gym, about four hours later. This is where the story gets a little funny.

So, I got to the gym. I started on the circuit weights, then made my way up to the treadmill. Around that time, I started to feel my stomach ache a bit. Something was wrong, but that didn't stop me from continuing my workout.

I got on the treadmill and started to run. At this point, I felt my body working on getting rid of whatever it had inside and didn't like.

It wasn't farting. I didn't feel gassy. But something was up. Perhaps something that is just un-explainable. 

I slowed from seven miles per hour to four miles per hour to assess the situation. That's when I smelled a stench.

"Is it me or is it the conveyor belt?" I wondered to myself.

I didn't feel anything. I didn't fart. It must be the conveyor belt. I moved to another treadmill, hoping that the smell would disappear.

It didn't.

It followed.

Of course, I thought, "Dude, who smells bad? It must be that guy over there."

Then it slowly dawned on me that perhaps that smell was coming from me, myself, and I.

I stopped. Again, assessed my situation, and decided that perhaps... oh, yes indeed, I'm permeating that disgusting smell, but how?

After noticing more people around me at the gym, I slowly collected my stuff and made myself to the exit.

The smell continued to follow me. It followed into my car. It even followed me to my son's day camp. And finally, it followed me to the house.

I couldn't let this awful stench continue--my wife was coming home within the next few minutes. I stripped out of my clothes and jumped in the shower.

I showered off that disgusting smell and came out feeling much more refreshed.

Perhaps I was emitting silent tiny sulfuric farts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Water pipe line idea

Why not build a 700 mile water pipeline from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River in Lamesa, Texas? Granted, this would cost a lot of money to build and maintain. However, imagine all the jobs this project would create and the benefits for a drought stricken area.

via google maps

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Watching Minecraft videos

While searching on YouTube, my nine year old son stumbled upon Sky Does Minecraft YouTube channel.

If you're not familiar with the game, Minecraft is a 3D procedural generated open world, where a player can "mine" and "craft" while fight monsters. Players can now fight against each other in various created worlds through Minecraft Realms.

I've been playing Minecraft for about a year. While others like to play on survival mode, I enjoy creating buildings and worlds. It's less stressful.

I created a world where I had about three or four castles, underground passages, and a very deep hole where I actually hit bedrock. Unfortunately, I lost my world when my son accidentally deleted it.

While my son doesn't play Minecraft, he does enjoy watching the various videos on Sky's YouTube channel. The videos are quite entertaining for not only him but also to me. The only problem I have, which I have no control over, is the occasional f-bomb thrown out in the videos.

You can see Sky's YouTube channel HERE.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Throwing out the first pitch

A few days ago, I threw out the first pitch at a baseball game.

To be honest, I was nervous about how I would pitch. Minutes before I walked out to the mound, I played the pitch over and over again in my head. My biggest fear was that the ball would bounce to the catcher.

After the national anthem, I was lead to the mound along with three other guys who were also throwing the first pitch. Two of them were with the border patrol. Another was with a local hospital.

The first guy, who was in full border patrol uniform, threw the first ball, which hit the ground and bounced to the catcher. The second border patrol officer, who was in casual attire, threw the ball hard but bounced to the catcher too.

At this point, I was nervous that I'd face the same fate with my throw. As I watched the hospital kid throw the ball high and to the right of the catcher, I decided that I would avoid any fancy attempt to wow the crowd and just throw the ball to its final destination--the catcher's mitt.

I was next. I took my position, looked the catcher, and threw the ball right down the center. No bounce. No rogue ball. The announcer called "STRIKE!" The catcher rushed down towards me and said, "Great pitch," handed me the ball, and shook my hand.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Protecting your eyes from UV rays

I came across an article in Austin Woman a few months back that discussed the importance of protecting your eyes from UV rays.

As explained by Ophthalmologist Dr. Zarmeena Vendal, UV rays can have damaging affects on our eyes, and can cause macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium (also known as Surfer's Eye) and solar retinopathy.

To protect our eyes, Dr. Vandal suggests sunglasses that offers 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection. She also suggests looking for sunglasses that prevents the most light, "from getting to the eyes from around the frame."

You can read the Q&A article and early warning signs of skin cancer on the eyelids HERE.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Getting the blame for the toilet paper selection

After helping my dad shop for groceries, I was blamed by my dad for the toilet paper selection.

The while toilet paper with pink flowers doesn't quite go with any of the restrooms in my parents house. So, when I asked my mom as to why my dad bought this toilet paper, she responded, "You father said you selected that brand."

I responded, "I was with my son looking at gift cards when I noticed my dad place the 12-pack of toilet paper and paper towels in the cart."