Monday, January 29, 2007

Pick #9

Thugz Mansion by Tupac Amaru (2Pac) Shakur is the pick this week. It can be found on Better Dayz featuring Nas, or on Greatest Hits.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Uncle Mark & Larry

Larry the lobster ended up winning the Ocean Reef contest for men that year. This is a picture of my Uncle Mark with his prize lobster Larry. My dad's in the background. Larry put up a good fight, but he was dinner in the end.

Most of you don't know yet, but my Uncle Mark died last week. We don't know what happened yet. Waiting on a toxicology report. He was 48 years old and in decent shape. That leaves my mom without family (except me & my brother).

My Uncle Mark pretty much spoiled me rotten. He got me a Hot-Wheels when I was little, right after they came on the market. Pretty sweet. I still have Barney, a stuffed dog that he gave me while I was in the hospital dehydrated with pneumonia. Since I recovered from that sickness, my family has been using Barney as a talisman to help sick members of the family get better. Uncle Mark gave me a handheld GPS way before they were sticking them in non-high-end-luxury cars. He was always down to go diving or fishing. Right now, about half of my house is furnished courtesy of Uncle Mark.

So far, I haven't had that hard of a time coping with his death. The funeral is this coming Saturday, and things might be different after that. I think part of the reason I've been so fine is that I haven't been around my mom. I think that she's doing pretty well, but I'm pretty sure it's just because she doesn't call me when she's momentarily torn up. Another reason is that I know he had a good relationship with God. As my dad put it, he had a room waiting on him behind the pearly gates. Also, he died while eating, so at least he was happy. Uncle Mark was a GOOD cook. Furthermore, I got to see him over the winter break. Which is a good thing, especially since I didn't see anybody at Thanksgiving.

Our winter break encounter was very coincidental. He called and asked me if I wanted to bet on FSU for the Emerald Bowl game. We bet a straight-up $5. I won. I was down in Jupiter for the HC alumni event and I was going to pick up my granny to take her to vero the following day. I stopped by Uncle Mark's house to collect the money (it was supposed to be in his mailbox b/c he was out fishing). When I pulled up, I saw his truck and boat in the front yard. I knocked on the door and I think it was Sailor's barking that woke him up. He had been out fishing all night. We spent about an hour together. He looked for the remote that goes to my DVD/VCR, but couldn't find it. He showed me his new reels. I got to see his new couch. I have his old one at my house.

I don't really know what to think about all of this yet. I think that it does hit the point home that you have to LIVE because you never know when your time will come. You know that trip you've been planning on taking? That girl you were going to talk to? The game you wanted to play? That thing you wanted to say? Do it. Obviously you can't do everything at once, but a little bit of life every day is good. I was talking to my dad about how this kind of made me want to go do things. He reminded me that doing crazy things (ones with high probability of accident) can be fun, but "if you ask for something long enough, you'll get it." I don't plan on doing anything too dangerous...I just mean going out to play soccer with friends instead of keeping my nose in a book all day. I mean calling up my Aunt Kristina and setting up a date to go parasailing. Oh, I want to ski.

Earlier in the semester, I made a list of things I want to do before I die. I'd better start crossing off some of the items.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dressing Up

This past Saturday, I attended a party dressed as a lumberjack. Beard and all. These kids that I hang out with (met most of them by playing pick-up soccer) really like dressing up. Probably half of their parties are themed. Saturday's was "When I grow up, I want to be..." (I don't really want to be a lumberjack, but it was fun anyway).

I was amazed at how many people have said something like "it's not Halloween, why are you dressing up?" Personally, I've never been big into wearing costumes (or even "dressing up" in the sense of wearing nice clothes with a tie). However, it is kind of cool to delve a little into a fantasy world. I think that it's also cool to have some idea behind a party besides consuming alcohol. Oh, yeah, these kids like to dance too...I think I'm going to have to learn salsa.

High five for creativity. No "pimps & hoes" parties here. No "priests & nuns." I think I'm going to throw one during a scholastically opportune time (when no tests are looming on the horizon). My theme is going to be: come representing your favorite foreign country...bring food or drink typical of that country and dress in something representative of it. If you're reading this, chances are that you're invited. You'll probably hear more about it once I firm up a date.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pick #8

Ryan Adams sings a song called "My Winding Wheel" on his Heartbreaker album. Kind of folkish. You just have to listen to it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vegans and Videos

I saw a couple videos online this past week dealing with animal cruelty. They are graphic. Watch at your own discretion. One shows a dog-like creature being skinned alive for its fur. You know it's still alive after losing its hair and skin because it blinks and opens its mouth. That image will stick with you for a while. The other deals with food animals. Their respective messages are: don't wear fur and don't eat meat.

The practices shown in these videos are atrocious. The videographers' point is that YOU are causing these practices if you wear fur or eat meat. They call for you to be a more conscious consumer. While I think that it is a good idea to be a conscious consumer, I think that the responsibility to stop this animal cruelty is in the hands of those that perpetuate such practices. Given the choice, I would eat a steak from a cow that was dead before getting its throat slit or its hide removed.

The problem of not being able to distinguish "mistreated-animal-meat" from "good, healthy, safe, fun" animal meat could possibly be solved with labeling. By giving the consumer more information on the practices behind raising (and slaughtering) the meat, they could make more informed decisions.

While it is possible to convert to veganism, it is difficult to do it right. I mean, to be healthy at the same time. I think that changing your diet is a great choice for some people, but they can't expect everyone else to do it. You know, like Immortal Technique says...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Soneto LV

Espinas, vidrios rotos, enfermedades, llanto
asedian día y noche la miel de los felices
y no sirve la torre, ni el viaje, ni los muros:
la desdicha atraviea la paz de los dormidos,

el dolor sube y baja y acerca sus cucharas
y no hay hombre sin este movimiento,
no hay natalicio, no hay techo ni cercado:
hay que tomar en cuenta este atributo.

Y en el amor no valen tampoco ojos cerrados,
profundos lechos lejos del pestilente herido,
o del que paso a paso conquista su bandera.

Porque la vida pega como cólera o río
y abre un túnel sangriento por donde nos vigilan
los ojos de una inmensa familia de dolores.

-Pablo Neruda
de la colección Cien sonetos de amor (1959)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pick #7

Cody Chestnutt - Boylife in America from the Headphone Masterpiece album.

by the way, today I got a download code for some new decemberists songs on itunes. Since I don't use itunes, I'll let the earliest interested one amongst my readers get dibs... the steps are:

open itunes & click music store.
click redeem
enter: 4XMA3K99EXMA
your download will start immediately.

the tracks are: "Hurdles even here" & "The perfect crime #1/The Day I Knew You'd Not Come Back"

fucking itunes.
if somebody gets those songs in .mp3 format, let me know.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Organ Harvesting in China

I got a pamphlet in my mailbox about how the Chinese Communist Party's government is harvesting organs from LIVE prisoners who are practicioners of the Falun Gong religion. These people are being jailed, forced into labor camps, and used as living organ donors in order to fund "transplant tourism."

From what I understand, Falun Gong is a peaceful religion based on meditation that attempts to find an inner balance (whatever that means...too eastern for me to understand).

On the cover of the pamphlet is a partial price list that was available at a hospital's website. The prices are no longer available online, but here's the info from the pamphlet cover:
Cornea: $30,000
Heart: $130,000-160,000
Liver: $98,000-130,000
Lung: $150,000-170,000
Kidney: $62,000
Kidney-Pancreas: $150,000

Amnesty International is writing letters. AI info is at

Now, imagine that you are a surgeon. You are ordered by the government to extract organs from a living human being so that they are fresh. You must perform the transplant, or your family will be tortured then you will be killed. Oh, did I mention that the Falun Gong practitioners aren't even given anesthesia?? Double fuck. I can't imagine having my cornea removed. I'm an organ donor, but I sure as hell wouldn't sign up for that shit if I didn't have to be dead first before they took my organs!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Soneto XLIV

Sabrás que no te amo y que te amo
puesto que de dos modos es la vida,
la palabra es una ala del silencio,
el fuego tuene una mitad de frío.

Yo te amo para comenzar a amarte,
para recomenzar el infinito
y para no dejar de amarte nunca:
por eso no te amo todavía

Te amo y no te amo como si tuviera
en mis manos las llaves de la dicha
y un incierto destino desdichado.

Mi amor tiene dos vidas para amarte.
Por eso te amo cuando no te amo
y por eso te amo cuando te amo.

- Pablo Neruda
de la colección Cien sonetos de amor (1959)

Ethanol's Back.

I got an email from Dr. L and he reminded me that he's willing to help me turn my thesis into a journal publication. I decided that I have had a long enough time away from that subject matter to be able to see it with fresh eyes. I also feel that I can commit to 30-60 minutes of daily work on the project. I'm going to have to go through my data and redefine a bunch of crap, perhaps get more recent data, run new regressions, make new tables/graphs, condense the chapters, and wait for a while.

I spent some time on the phone with him on Friday. He presented me with 2 options: lower level of work and less reputable journal (or even a "research newsletter) vs. high level of work and higher quality (peer-reviewed) journal. I think I'll take the low road. I don't want this project to cut into my study time for the PhD program, but I would like the benefit of being able to say I've published. Dr. L will be my coauthor, which will hopefully make the submission/revision process with the editors go a little smoother.

I would really like to get into a peer reviewed journal, mostly because of the associated academic street cred that it would bring. I know that I won't get into one of the best journals, partially because my data is a little choppy (by no fault of my own...blame the tax code...). I would like to shoot for a "mid-tier" journal. Aside from having more work ahead of me than if I chose a "research newsletter" as an outlet for publication, the journal pub also takes a longer time between the first submission and date of publication. During that lag time, there may be some important changes in the world of ethanol-related public policy.

I think that the marginal benefit will outweigh the marginal cost after I get a publication under my belt.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Don't judge US by the way WE look.

On Sunday, after soccer, I was watching Accepted with Nitin & Neha. We thought that it would just be a funny movie, but it turned out to be good enough to recommend to other people. It's about a kid who is rejected from every college he applies to. His father really wants him to go to college, so the kid creates his own, fake, college. Due to an internet glitch, a bunch of other students end up coming to the fake college.

A real school gets upset with the fake one and temporarily shuts them down. The fake school must face the state board of accreditation. The board consists of a bunch of white people in suits. The protagonists offers a speech defending his educational institution in hopes of gaining accreditation. In the process, he says some thing about how he and his students should not be judged by how they look. In the end, accreditation is granted on a probationary period of one year and the leader of the board tells the protagonist not to judge the panel by the way they look.

That got me thinking, I have a non-symmetric way of judging people by how they look, just as the protagonist did. I've met plenty of people that you could look at and say "freak" or "dork" or "insert negative something here," but these people have totally proven to be almost the opposite of what you would expect. Most of these people went to THC. I guess I just haven't had much interaction with people on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ghost Ride the Whip

My little brother called my attention to a video produced by the above website. If you search youtube for, click on the first result. I laughed non-stop for a minute and 43 seconds.

I was unaware that it is now cool to dance next to (or on) your vacant moving vehicle. It is good for a laugh, especially when something goes wrong. I mean, people getting hurt especially only funny if captured on film.

He said that he showed mom the video too, and her response was "you don't do that, do you?" I mean, come on, mom...with a response like that he's not going to tell you anything else that's cool or funny for fear that you'll worry.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Keep in Touch

I'm pretty bad at keeping in touch with people. Throughout college, I hardly kept in touch with any of my HS friends. A few of my really good friends didn't seem to care so much, and we enjoy our time together whenever we can see each other. I once told Jessica that I didn't think I could get rid of her if I tried (not that I would try).

I think that I've been doing an alright job of keeping in touch with a few of my college friends since graduation. I wonder if there's a better way than calling people on the phone or dropping an occasional email. I kind of thought that writing a story in my blog would allow everyone to read it and free me from repeating the same thing 50 times.

Whenever often I feel bad about not calling someone, I tell myself that the phone works both ways. They can call me too. So far, I haven't talked to anyone who's bitched about "you haven't called me in so long..." I would have to remind them that they hadn't called me in about the same amount of time.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Economía escondida

escrito el 15 de junio de 2005 en Quito, Ecuador:

Hay mucha actividad económica que no produce recibos ni impuestos. Para los vendedores (de mercancías o servicios), es casi necesario que el gobierno no cobre una porción de sus ganancias. Es difícil cobrar bastante para mantener la vida por muchos trabajadores callejeros. No sé mucho sobre los traficantes de drogas aquí, pero imagino que hay menos drogadictos aquí que en los oferta no debe ser difícil obtener con una frontera con Colombia, pero la demanda no es prevalente. Creo que se puede comprar cualquier cosa en la economía informal con la excepción que la mayoría de las marcas son falsas y por eso el producto no tiene garantía de la compañía.
Vender algo en las calles es una empresa que no requiere mucho dinero para empezar. Me gusta comprar de estos vendedores cuando tienen productos que me valen en vez de obtener el mismo objeto en una tienda de cadena. No me gusta ver la gente que pide dinero sin tratar de hacer nada. Tengo un prejuicio que estas personas son perezosas pero dejo esta mentalidad cuando veo quienes no tienen brazos o [sic] piernas.
Estoy curioso si el país será mejor o peor si el gobierno cobraría impuestos en esta actividad. Sé que es imposible...el costo de enforzar la colección sería muy alto. Ya veo que la IVA es 12%, que me parece alto. no sé que otros impuestos se tiene que pagar aquí.
Creo que la presencia de este mercado negro es bueno para la economía en total. Crea trabajo para los desempleados y circula dinero (aumenta la velocidad MV = PY) más rápido. Presenta una oportunidad de comprar a descuento para los que no tienen mucho dinero. Ahora me pregunto si quiero que tengamos más de esto en los EEUU o empeorará nuestro sistema financial.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Tha D-O-Double-Jizzle loves the 213...

Snoop's song "That's That Shit" off his "Tha Blue Carpet Treatment" album has lyrics about US, the 213... he says: "213 the gangsta click / 21 motherfucking 3 nigga / All we do is the gangsta shit"
and "and if you're ever in the 213 / holla at a playa / holla at a playa"

In fact, that makes it cool enough to be the pick of the week!

A Cry for Attention

After posting the Picasa link, I was trying to fall asleep when a thought occurred to me: am I crying out for attention? Why am I doing this blog thing? Posting pictures online? Do I just want people to look at them? Maybe leave me feedback/comments to let me know that they're actually looking? That I matter to them?

This wasn't (consciously) my intent when I started these online info sources. The blog was pretty much Sona-inspired. The pix came about by perusing Google's features. I think it's cool that I can post pix online and be able to see them from anywhere in the world (except computers hooked in through China!).

Maybe part of it is being able to share things with other people...I used to be able to share stories, pictures, music, alcohol, time, etc. with bunches of people all the time. I still like to share, and this seems like an alright medium to do so. I can't deny that I normally like attention, but I'm pretty sure that the blog/pix site started for other reasons. But maybe I'm just in denial.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Pix Online

You can go to and check out some of my pictures. One more thing that Google is giving people the power to do. I guess there's snapfish and shutterfly and those other things, but I never got into them. The downside of Picasa is that you have to download their software in order to upload photos to the web. I wouldn't label the software "intuitive," either.

Anyways...I hope to post only pictures that are good pictures (or funny or have some other merit) and I'll avoid posting 17 pictures of the left side of my face from the road trip this weekend.

Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 5, 2007


Hace unas noches, hablé con Paula por teléfono y la pregunté como se forma el voseo. No sabe las reglas, pero me dio ejemplos y puedo formar el presente (se usa la persona "tú" para todas las otras conjugaciónes) para verbos regulares. No veo una manera intuitivo para formar los iregulares.

Más o menos, funciona así: reemplace el r al fin de un infinitivo con un s y escribir un tilde sobre el vocal final. Nota: los argentinos no dan mucha enfásis en el sonido del s al final. Por ejemplo:
hablar: yo hablo, vos hablás.
escribir: yo escribo, vos escribís
correr: yo corro, vos corrés

ser: vos sos
querrer: vos querés

verbos normalmente iregulares que no son en el voseo:
tener: vos tenés
venir: vos venís
hacer: vos hacés
salir: vos salís
poner: vos ponés

Thursday, January 4, 2007

sin título

escrito el 17 de Mayo de 2005 en las escaleras de mi cabaña de Salango, Ecuador a las 2309h. escuchando las olas del mar pacífico.

Aguas tal vez de una orilla
lejos traversan a la mar
se introduzcan a arena
fina, caigando con ruido.

Como son del mar, regresan
a su hogar que sostiene
el mundo necesitado
siempre será el agua.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Benches and Stairs

I got a picture frame with 20 openings for Christmas. On New Year's day, I printed out pictures and filled up the frame with pictures of stairs and benches. If you didn't already know, I have a picture fetish for those 2 things. In fact, I had to reject some pictures of the same subject in order to keep my selection down to the number of available openings in the frame. It was only $4.10 @ Walgreens to get all 20 pictures printed out as 4x6s (I adjusted the size of the "good" part of the picture in photoshop first).

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Pick #5

Brightest by Copeland, the first track from Beneath the Medicine Tree. It's infectious. Whenever the album starts, I have a hard time turning it off.

Monday, January 1, 2007

How Lobster Diving is Like Getting Laid

Recreational lobster diving can actually be done in shallower water by snorkeling, which is how I do it most of the time. Even without all the scuba equipment, the sport can still be expensive. Normally you have to go somewhere away from your home/work in order to do it. You either need to have a boat or know an accomplice with one. Then you have to spend money on the boat's fuel and anything that breaks in it. If you are going for more than one day, then you need a place to stay (which will more than likely make you shell out some dough). The legal limit is 6 lobsters per person per day. That means that even if you find a nice spot with 200 lobsters in it, you can only take 6 of them until tomorrow. After you add up all the costs, it turns out that the lobster sold in stores is actually cheaper. Just leave the work to professionals and the market system to leave you with high quality lobster...and you don't even have to risk swimming with sharks to get it.

For some reason, I have the perception that most people think highly of lobster. It's a great meat, and a little expensive. Refined. Tasty. Desirable.

How is lobster diving like getting freaky? Most people value sex...some of them might value it a little too much (I think they omit some of the costs in their mental cost-benefit analysis). People spend a lot of money (AND OPPORTUNITY COST) in order to get other people to get them off. Men will take women out to nice restaurants, buy them shiny rocks, and all kinds of other stuff in an effort to persuade the women to give it up. Turns out that it's probably cheaper to hire a professional prostitute. This leads me to the conclusion that there MUST be some other benefit to having a girlfriend/wife/hook-up provide the desired service rather than a random (or maybe not so random) whore.

Conclusion: something about the hunt, the challenge, the possible elusiveness of lobster (or chocha) makes the ones you catch yourself taste even better. Overall, they're worth more. One reason might be because you hand-selected your own catch.