Thursday, March 30, 2006

A little here, a little there

Today, I went to drop off some papers at the CoStep office, here on Trenton Rd. I've been meaning to go, but never made the time. After I dropped off the paper, I looked across the parking lot and remembered that Congressman Ruben Hinojosa's office is on the corner. So, I decided to pay a visit. I've never been to a congressman's office. So, when you go in, it's up on the third floor. I picked up some brochures and talked to the receptionist.
She tells me that not every day is the same at the office.Many people stop by for constituent services. I asked her if they are able to solve all problems. She replied that, unfortunately, they don't always solve problems. It depends on how serious the problem is and how the constituent has handled things to that point. I asked her if she liked her job and she said that she does. It's interesting, she said. I thanked her and she gave me one of the Congressman's business cards. It wasn't a planned visit, just kind of spur of the moment. I should go visit Lloyd Doggett's office as I'm in his district.
Speaking of my district, I also called Rep. Veronica Gonzalez's office to find out her plans and ideas for the special session. I realized that I don't know anything about her. I've seen her a couple of times at events, but only briefly.  I got referred to her chief of staff in Austin, Ricardo Lopez Guerra, for more details. Here in McAllen, Edna could only tell me that my Rep favors cutting the property tax, but couldn't give me details about ideas to make up the funding. Gonzalez should consider blogging like her legislative neighbor. She doesn't get a lot of press, so a blog would be a perfect way to get out her message to the public. I'll drop by tomorrow; I never got a call from Ricardo.
If I do go to her office, I'll take advantage of the trip and stop by Doggett's office to talk to his people there. It occurs to me that in our local politics chatter on our blogs, we don't really involve our Congressional Reps and what they do for us in the Rio Grande Valley. We write in our blogs and criticize, but do we take the time to visit our leaders, write to them, or call them? I know, I know. They'll only give us talking points. But, you can still see in their eyes if they are sincere or trying to spin. You can see if their employees are happy or about to mutiny. There is always a part of me that wonders if our elected leaders are decent people or complete jerks. You can't get that from a newspaper article or a sound bite. Lately, I have to know for myself.

Good deed done

I gave blood today; that's my good deed quota for today. Everybody else is out of luck. Of course, I am joking. It turns out that the blood drive at UTPA is through the Red Cross and not United Blood Services. Still, they help each other out on occasion, and it all goes to hospitals. So just as a reminder, make some time to give blood. Even if you miss the blood drive, you can always stop by the UBS headquarters to donate in McAllen or the Red Cross office in Harlingen. They can never have too much blood. Blood can be stored up to 45 days, but it never sits around that long as it goes to help somebody within days. Thank you in advance for your donation.

All the broohaha on immigration

I've covered illegal immigration and immigrants on this blog in the past. Here are some posts I've written:

Everybody is making a big deal out of the immigration issue. Just chill, everybody. Congress can pass whatever law they want, let's see them enforce it. This is something that lawmakers don't seem to understand. They need OUR participation when they pass laws. Let's say they make it a felony to help illegal immigrants. Some people will be happy, others won't. As a human being, you know that it's right to help somebody in need. So, many of us would be felons. I'd like to see what Congress does when half the country is behind bars and not paying taxes. If the will of the people is not with Congress, they might as well not pass any law because we won't abide by it.

If they pass a law requiring all illegals to exit the country, I'd like to see them make it happen. I hear that there are estimates of 12 million illegals in the country. If it costs $40/mojado to send home, which it won't, that would be $480 billion. It would cost more than that because you have to find the illegals, transport them, house them, feed them, and ship them home. So no matter how zealous some people may be to toss out illegals, it's not going to happen.

What about punishing employers for hiring illegals? There is this useful tool called cash. Unless we go to an all plastic economy, cash makes non-legit transactions possible. It's good enough for drug dealers. As long as they spend what they earn and don't buy big items without verifiable income, they're set. Cash leaves no paper trail, unless you're stupid. With illegal immigrants, no records mean no employee was ever there. There are plenty of cash businesses out there.

About the best idea is the guest worker program. I'll go along with George Bush and say that it's not an amnesty program (wink, wink). Mojados would not only help us maintain our growing economy, but they would be cash cows for many professionals. The people complaining about illegals are people without enough gumption to learn something and improve their lives (prove me wrong). You don't see lawyers, doctors, CPAs, scientists, programmers, computer techs, or other skilled people complaining that illegals are taking their jobs. So, suffice it to say, professional jobs are safe. In addition, attorneys stand to make a crapload of money in processing 12 million applications for citizenship. The government will suddenly have 12 million new people paying taxes (the IRS will find them faster than the Border Patrol). Not only that, those who have enough desire will educate themselves and earn much better livings than they would have as illegals. They will start businesses and hire CPAs. They will afford health insurance and seek healthcare. They will buy computers and hire techs to fix them. So many more things would be possible for the illegals and many benefits would come to the rest of us, financially. Most importantly, they would help push back our looming retirement timebomb in a few short years when baby-boomers retire.

In all, I think the guest worker program is what will prevail. It's our best alternative, even if we don't call it amnesty. Everybody who is freaking out is just being stupid. With elections coming up, Congress is just posturing themselves to make it look like they are doing something. Congressmen in districts strongly against illegals get to vote for some draconian measure. Those against get to point to a voting record that shows them as compassionate. America, and you protesting Mexicans out there, you're being spun. This is just like the bill last year that would have withdrawn troops from Iraq immediately. It's meant to put our Reps on the record about this issue. It helps both Democrats and Republicans, which is why neither party is calling it a political stunt. Suckers.

In practical terms, in business terms, and in selfish, self-preservation terms, the guest worker program is the only viable option. Of course, since George W. Bush is championing it, I expect Democrats are naturally against it. So, nothing will happen, it seems.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Davis Rankin and Aaron Pena on School Finance

I was just listening to KURV. Davis Rankin interviewed State Rep. Aaron Pena about the special session coming up in April. The Rep. says that right now, everybody is cautious in Austin. The legislature is led by Republicans, so tax increases are not favored. Their biggest problem will be getting dems to assist and vote for a plan, any plan. Can they come up with enough votes to advance a plan? Democrats will be necessary in this session. Legislature is very partisan because of redistricting where officials have solid Democrat or Republican bases.

What I got out of the interview is that the infighting within the Texas Republican Party is an obstacle to the majority party coming up with an agreable solution. So, the Governor and those in his favor will have to be more inclusive of dems in this session. Rick Perry needs a solution to come out of Austin.

As writen in another post, lawyers are willing to pay taxes for their labors. However, it sounds like they will only do it if other businesses that are exempt will do it. In my opinion, they'll do it if the legislature requires it; I don't see that they have any say. In any case, it seems like alternative sources of revenue will be the only way to raise money while not increasing taxes.

Aaron did note that even though there will be a $6 Billion surplus in the state's coffers resulting from the increased prices of gasoline, he and maybe other lawmakers are not that keen on using it for school finance because it would only solve a short-term problem. We cannot rely on that surplus for future needs because it may not be there. So, The Rep. is more interested in a long-term solution to school finance.

Davis Ranking and The Rep talked about some other stuff, but they overflowed my memory buffer, so this is all I got out of it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I didn't get it... until now

There is this song called Summer Breeze. I've heard it by several artists. I've heard the original, but the first time I heard it was with Type O Negative. It was a bit dark with them, but still a pleasant song. I heard it later with the original artist. More recently, I heard Jason Mraz singing his version. He makes it a fun song to hear, and it's still a pretty good song.
There is a phrase in the chorus
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
blowing through the jasmine in my mind
I found out how cool that actually is. Lately at UTPA, the jasmine is in bloom. So, there are parts of campus where you walk through and it just smells great. Blooming jasmine is some awesome stuff. I didn't stop to smell the flowers, but you can't really help smelling them anyway. The scent just eminates? from the jasmine beds. If you see some somewhere, I recommend you walk by and check out the scent. It will put a good connection in your mind next time you hear that song.


Now that I got your attention, if you're passing by UTPA this week, United Blood Services is at the Library taking blood donations. Having been the recipient of blood after a hit and run as a high school student, I donate blood whenever the opportunity presents itself. I haven't given yet as I've been tied up doing other things, like finding work. But, I will be giving blood during this drive.
I urge you to help out the community by donating blood. You never know when you might need it, and the only way they get it is by donation. Plus, I hear that KURV has a Plasma TV giveaway to a lucky donor at another blood drive somewhere. How can you go wrong with a plasma TV?

Another batch

I am submitting another batch of applications with the University. This time, I am adding a resume to the deal to see if that makes any difference.

Highlights of Pan American Days 2006!

Pan American Days 2006
Dr. Alfredo Angulo Rivas
Fulbright Scholar
“What is Happening in Venezuela?”
·        Monday, April 3
·        4:30 PM
·        Communication Arts and Sciences, Room 341
Chicano and Mexican Folk Art Exhibit Opening Ceremony
Artist: Ben Varela
·        Monday, April 3
·        5 PM
·        Library Lobby
Followed by: Latin American Food Tasting
Performance by: UTPA Marimba Quartet
Dr. Isidro Morales
Fulbright Scholar
“Contested regionalism in the Americas: US vs. Brazilian approach. Convergence or Confrontation?”
·        Tuesday, April 4
·        9:10 AM
·        Social Behavioral Sciences, Room 125
Study Abroad Fair
·     Tuesday, April 4
·     11:30 AM
·     Library Media Courtyard
Music, Prizes and FREE Food
Dr. Anthony Feinstein
Guggenheim Fellow
“War, journalists and their psychological well-being.”
·        Wednesday, April 5
·        6 PM
·        Health Science & Human Services (East), Room 1.208
Ambassadors’ Talk
Honorable Jaime Aparicio Otero
Former Ambassador of Bolivia to the United States
Honorable James Spalding
Ambassador of Paraguay to the United States
“Political Changes in Latin America.”
·        Wednesday, April 5
·        7 PM
·        Library Auditorium (Media Theater)
“Cuadro Flamenco”
Guest artists from NYC and Spain
·        Thursday-Sunday
·        7:30 PM
·        Fine Arts Auditorium
Prof. Fred Darsow, Dance Program Coordinator
Sponsored by the Department of Health & Kinesiology
Ticket prices are $10 at the door. Students with I.D. at the door-- only $5

Polishing up the resume

I’ve been dusting off the old resume today. I haven’t submitted any apps with a resume because my work history has been rather unimpressive. There are a couple highlights for me, such as when I worked as a computer tech and a cable puller. Those were my two favorite jobs. The rest has been part-time. The full-time jobs I’ve done don’t relate to the type of work I want to do, so I don’t see why listing them would make a difference. So, I am compromising and putting all the work I’ve done. All of it. Even the burger flipping. I’ll be posting my resume at for the world to see when it is done.

New Life for Spin RGV

I am remaking Spin RGV. It occured to me that a CMS like php-nuke is overkill for what the site was doing. Basically, it only had one good page and the rest really wasn't doing much. The Drudge Report has it right by having one page linking to all the news of the day. In addition, Matt Drudge has the occasional story written by himself that he puts on the front page. In my case, with RGV Life, I don't have to do that. As soon as I write something here, it will come out on SpinRGV. I realize that many of you are night owls and probably read blogs in the dark, so I made SpinRGV dark to reduce the glare. I have also discovered the Brownsville Herald's newsfeed, so it is now included on the headlines.

I just need to do some CSS work to style the page a little more consistently. Through the magic of php, I was able to make the page load faster than before. The site pre-loads the feeds onto the server and then uses that to push content to you faster than the CMS was able to do. It used to have to pull content from the blogs with each load. One slow one could then delay the whole page. I expect that I will be able to so some other things with PHP, but I have to re-learn how to use it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm in business

I’m kicking off my entry into the business market. I am offering computer and errand services. In short, I am offering the public an Odd Jobs Service. I am still working on some of the details, but I can take care of those as I go. My new website is at (drumroll please).....

The basic structure is there, but it is still a work in process. I need to flesh it out and add some pictures here and there to keep it from being too plain.

If you are in the Rio Grande Valley, I hope you will keep me in mind when you are looking for somebody to help you with an odd job. It can be at home or in the business.

If you live outside the Rio Grande Valley and need somebody to conduct some business on your behalf, I can help you. Perhaps you have elderly parents and would like somebody to check up on them here to help them out with things. I’d be glad to do that too.

I am grateful if you are able to let others know about me. You can contact me by calling (956) – 4 3 2 – 4 3 2 2. Thank you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I made flyers today

I am working to be able to launch my business by Monday. Today, I made some flyers. I’m starting off with 200. I have some free business cards coming in. I’ve decided to go with a “hand” theme on my marketing material. After all, I’d be a hired hand. And I’d be giving people a hand. The cool thing is that I made the flyers without the use of a computer. It’s all made by “hand”. I couldn’t resist that pun. I can proceed without the website, I but I do need to define my target services and set some pricing to make it worthwhile for me.

I’m going to work on the website a little bit. I need some little hand logos and pictures to start developing the site theme. I’ll get those later. For now, the content is what is important. I’ve already got the structure of the website laid out. I’ve decided to try out my hand with a Windows server this time around instead of the standard Linux. So, I’ll be working with Active Server Pages in some instances. For the most part, the host has a CMS called Dot Net Nuke. It’s a scripted CMS like PHP-Nuke, except it runs on .NET infrastructure.

I’m really excited. I have been a little gun shy about going into business again. This new idea, I know I can do it. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Now is as good a time as any to go for it. I’m unemployed anyway.

SpinRGV got hacked

I had gone to UTPA earlier today to work on my new business website. I thought I'd check the latest headlines. The page loaded and then suddenly there was a page redirect. My site got hacked! Bastard.
I disabled some of the vulnerable php scripts and took down the site while I went in to clean up the mess. I was able to get the site back up faster than I thought. I came up with a tlaquachada, so it's back in business. Since most people only really visit the first page, that's what's active. My admin page and the modules page are disabled for now. So, even if the guy is able to get the admin password again, the script that will allow changes isn't active. I've downloaded a script upgrade from PHP Nuke 6.5 to 6.6. I'll be migrating the site up to the latest, which is around 7.9, I think. I'm going to research a little bit more because it's tedious to have to upgrade a little version at a time. I'd rather jump versions if possible.
The content was not deleted or changed, so that's going to save me a lot of trouble. The last thing before I can take break is to check the downloads module for any malicious uploads that the hacker may exploit later. If it's empty, we're set. I apologize for the inconvenience. PHP-Nuke isn't the most secure CMS around, but it comes with Yahoo hosting accounts. And, it turns out that it's not difficult to recover from a hack. Just a piece of technical advice, ALWAYS back up your files. You never know when crap is going to happen.
Update from the campaign trail for the Rio Grande Valley in 2005.

MP3 File

Hanging up my shingle

Since I’ll be doing handywork, I’ve decided to go back into business. I used to do computer work and kind of fell into handyman stuff. Both pay well enough for me and will provide sufficient income for my basic needs. I’ve sort of expanded the services a little. I will be offering handyman work, computer services, errands, and projects. I need to make up a pricing list and figure out what

So, I just ordered some business cards and ordered a new website. The new domain name resolves on the Internet now, but the “account” is still not set up; it takes 24 hours. I will be heading out to the Courthouse tomorrow to register my assumed name. Once I’ve got that set up and have edited the new website, I’ll be posting the business name, which luckily had an available domain. I also need to go to the comptroller’s office to file for a tax ID and to figure out which services are taxable. Once I do that, I can open a checking account.

I’ve got a marketing theme that should be easy to put onto materials and incorporate onto a website at low cost. After that, it’s a matter of setting mental business hours (being that I’m the boss I need to schedule my staff, me). Oh, and I need some invoice books for accounting purposes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The end of the ride

I was talking to my wife earlier. It seems that we are getting close to the end of my unemployment ride. I’m going to have to start seriously looking for work soon. In the meantime, I’m going to earn some spending money doing some handywork for my former boss. He needs some repairs at the restaurants, so I’ll be doing that. Nothing major, just changing a doorknob, patching holes in the walls, painting, and some plumbing. Actually, I should probably visit real estate agents who need to fix up houses they are listing. I’m also going to look for computer repair jobs. I should probably print up some business cards.

While I’m at it, if you need any handy work, call me at four three two, four three two two (keeps the search engines from listing my number all over the universe). If you can live with me working between 9 am to 5 pm, then I’d be perfect. I have morning and afternoon classes, leaving business hours open.


I pulled an all nighter to get an assignment done. My prof gave me a break when I did the wrong assignment. So I had a chance to do the right one and turn it in today in the morning. The problem is, I don’t get out of class until 7 PM. I also am not fresh on Accounting, so it takes me longer to do the homework. Still, she didn’t have to give me the opportunity, so I did everything I could to get the assignment done. I’m going to go back to previous assignments and practice some more. I find that practice is what is making a difference in my performance. It takes a lot of time, but it’s effective.

I took the opportunity to talk to my prof to learn about her background and ask about the accounting field. She sees that I am having trouble, so she’s going to pick on me more in class. This is good because it forces me to work harder to avoid looking dumb.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Brokeback, Texas?

I was listening to Alex and Mike on KVLY 107.9 as I was waking this morning One of them mentioned working at a 94.5 station outside the RGV where he got in trouble for playing a live version of an Eric Clapton song that plays for 9 minutes. What I thought was funny was that he said it was out in Brokeback, Texas. I'm wondering, where's that? My first thought is probably Austin. Anybody have a clue?
Sometimes those guys are funny. A lot of times they talk about stuff that doesn't really interest me, like news about Hollywood, bands, or other fluff. I usually do pay attention to Alex, Mike, and Stacy when they talk about their own experiences. There is something really compelling for me when I hear first-hand accounts of what happened to somebody. Usually people will have funny stories about what happened to them with a friend or whatever. It's those stories that they tell that make me laugh.
Gotta go, have an assignment to finish and turn in later today. I might take some pics and post them to flickr. I took some nice ones yesterday. I'll upload them slowly so as not to overwhelm the newsfeeder.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Finally, simplification

I have discovered one of those ironies of life. I was able to simplify maintenance of the different sites by making them more complicated. In addition to RGV Life, I own,, and Up until today, they were all tied into the same email, flickr, myweb2.0, and other servicing accounts. So, everything blended together.

If I wanted to check my personal email, I'd have to wade through Yahoo Group posts, spam, comments, blog entries, and other stuff. Working on one site led to working on another, and another. By separating everything into different accounts, I've managed to create "mindsets". If I'm logged into RGV Life, I take care of RGV Life, and so on for the other sites. Even my pictures will feed sites separately. It was necessary to compartmentalize everything by project.

Most of my work is connected by feeds and links, so there will be some blending in the final product. The important thing is that mentally, I can make a distinction. I am now ready to make this blog about life in the RGV without it crossing neural paths with SpinRGV or the other sites, unless by design.

What a coincidence

still studying
still studying,
originally uploaded by shainelee.
I was thinking about researching masons in Mexico on a previous post. The wierdest thing is that I found a book on the masonic history of Mexico right next to the camera in this picture. Let's get past my vanity and focus on the blog entry. So, there are two volumes on the subject. I'm going to have to delay my research until the Summer when I expect to have more time to read.

Isn't it strange how it worked out? Is it coincidence or some grand design? Hmmm...

Can you do it all?

This isn't related to the Rio Grande Valley, it's more of a general topic. Tonight, I was watching Neil Cavuto on Fox. He was interviewing an author who studied parents and parenting. She looked into the effect of money on how parents raise their kids. Cavuto has a poll (results) asking if parents who make more money are better parents. For now, the poll is a landslide towards NO. Before you jump all over this, the poll is non-scientific and keep in mind that the people who watch Cavuto are either finance freaks like me or have money to invest. So, it's likely that people with money are saying that money is not making them better parents.

Being that I am a poor Mexican and people often feel compelled to confide in me, I've spoken to nannies who usually tell me about how awful some of the families for which they've worked are. This goes for nannies here in the RGV and in Austin. By the way, if you want to get the dirt on a family, don't befriend the couple, a friend, or relative. The nanny is usually a much better source of information, especially if her bosses are asses. Anyway, the nanas tell me about how the parents spend so much time making money to buy the big house and the expensive cars, that they are never home. Most of their time goes into their careers. These parents often try to diminish their guilt by buying expensive stuff for their kids or taking them on vacations to this place and that. Basically, they try to fit in a few days of "quality time" in the year to make up for not being there the rest of the year.

The children often are spoilt because their parents are not there to guide them on how to be decent persons. During home time, the kids are up in their bedrooms while mom and dad are doing their thing. So, they're home, but not home. I've often heard nannies tell me that when they get married and have children, they will be stay at home moms. They see first-hand how destructive being a working couple can be to the children they watch.

Before you dismiss the nanas as being disgruntled workers, let me tell you that I've asked kids what they would prefer: having their parents around more often or all the junk and trips their parents buy? Kids tell me they would rather have their parents around. You know kids speak from the heart about these things. If you're the type who wants to earn craploads of money, you probably dismiss this because "kids don't know what they want". This is true about material stuff. Kids want everything. But, on a more instinctive level, kids want attention and love from their parents above all else.

Of course, this isn't all wealthy families. In cases of wealthy families where mom stays at home and raises her own kids, I've actually seen some good kids. Not all parents with money are bad. I guess I am referring to professional couples for whom the sky is the limit, income-wise, if they work hard. And they do.

Does this mean that it's better to be poor to raise your kids? I don't believe so either. It's not a question of money, so much. It's a question of culture. Poverty, in my opinion, is a culture. It is a way of living. As Dave Ramsey says," if you do rich people stuff, you become rich people. If you do poor people stuff, you become poor people". The problem with poverty is the inherent ignorance that accompanies it. Many poor parents are ill-equipped to lay the educational foundation for their children. They don't know to read to their children, to teach them colors, to teach them to count, or other basic skills. Poor people often think that the schools will take care of that. Poor people often spend so much time on basic survival that they don't have the time or energy to devote to their families or to self-improvement. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the professionals have a culture of going out and making the kill; family is simply another trophy like divorced doctors and lawyers with the trophy wife.

The guy who made the Super-size Me movie, Morgan Spurlock, also made a TV episode in which he and his fiancee borrow a couple of his brother's kids and go to Detroit to try to make a living on minimum wage. In an interview, Spurlock relates how taxing it is to work so many hours to meet basic needs like rent and food. His fiancee's paycheck went mostly to pay for daycare. The point is that poverty can be just as bad for raising kids. Whereas for people who make a crapload of money, it's a choice to not raise their kids, for the poor it's a necessity, except that they can't afford a nanny.

So, making money doesn't make you a better parent and being poor definitely limits your ability to be a better parent. So, what's left? What is a person to do? The answer seems to be that we should make a decent living and live modest lives so that we have the leisure time we desire. Is it that easy? Why don't more people shoot for a modest income, say $50k (although I'd be happy to raise mine past $20k), and spend more time with their families?

I guess it depends what you consider success. Most of my financial heros, Jack Welch, Sam Walton, Donald Trump, and many others have been hugely successful... and never home. Except for Sam Walton, most have been divorced. If you read Made in America, you learn that Sam Walton felt bad about not being with his family as much. In the same book, he writes with some misguided pride that many of his corporate managers end up divorced because of the demands of the retail business.

So, you're damned if you make something of yourself and you're damned if you don't. Why can't we hit a middle ground where we can make a living and be home with the kids to raise them like God intended? This whole issue strikes a chord with me because I've been caught in this trap. If I had a dollar for every time people tell me that I have so much potential, I'd have enough money not to work (by choice). Yet, every time I start to "let the Tiger out", as my Chinese boss told me, I hold back.

Fear. That's what keeps people poor, according to Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad. I'm beginning to realize that perhaps that's what has trapped me as well. Fear. Plain and simple. Fear of losing my family. My friends sense that I can do so much. I know that I can. And we know that I hold back. So, do I go for it and risk losing my family? Let the chips fall where they may? Would that make me a go-getter or a sell out?

There have to be other people out there with the same internal struggle. Can you do it all? Can you be a good parent and a successful professional? If you say yes, is it mere wishful thinking? If you have a nanny, it means you're not there to watch your own children. If you are home, you're not out dragging home the kill. So which is it? What choice are you and your wife making?

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Bloggers on the Scene

It looks like The Monitor is getting into blogging. I noticed that they put in a blog link on the site ( So, what does this mean for the current Rio Grande Valley bloggers?

Does the fact that professional writers are getting in on the action validate our hobby as something of value?

Are they going to show us what real writers can do?

I'm wondering how this project will turn out. A while back, The Monitor tried using forums. I think that the vulgarity that is common in unmoderated venues put them off, so they shut that project down. I noticed that the blogs they have now ARE moderated. What's the fun in that? I suppose that reporters may have little side stories, adventures, or tidbits of stories that don't fit into The Monitor's main sections. So, hopefully they'll be a source for news that doesn't get printed. We'll see.

The new blogs will include direct RSS feeds to individual writers. For now, not all of them are blogging, so I put up the newsfeed for all the bloggers collectively on SpinRGV. Later on, when they start posting more, I'll probably add individual feeds for the writers. For example, Victoria Hirschberg usually covers Mission and politics, so she'd be on of my first picks for a dedicated feed. You get the picture right?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

What sparked the interest

My wife graduated from UTPA with a degree in History. Understandibly, we often have discussions about historical events. Lately, she has been watching a novela on Univision named La Alborada. Part of her interest is the novela, and part is how the people of that period are portrayed. Our discussion started over the period of the novela. It takes place back in the mid 1800s when France occupied Mexico under Napoleon III. At this time, Napoleon tried to install the Emperor Maximilian, who was a Habsburg. Obviously, the Mexicans under Benito Juarez did not recognize the Emperor. This is the French occupation that led to La Batalla de Puebla on 5 de Mayo, which Mexicans don't really celebrate but Mexicans on this side of the Rio Grande jump all over.

The Emperor prior to Maximilian, Agustin de Iturbide, is the person responsible for granting Stephen F. Austin and his settlers permission to settle around San Felipe. Austin had permission from the Spanish prior to their overthrow, but the new Mexican government refused to recognize the grant until Iturbide. Iturbide had been a General, who in conjunction with Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, was instrumental in throwing off the yoke of the Spanish. Not suprisingly, Santa Anna along with Guadalupe Victoria issued the Plan de Casa Mata to overthrow the new emperor to establish a republic. He was successful, forcing Stephen F. Austin to renegotiate the grant.

Maximilian is the reason why Mexico has the Chapultepec Castle. His reign was during our Civil War. He was executed in June 1867. So, during this period of time, Texas had already declared independence (1836) and dealt with Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The United States and Mexico had already had a war (1846, Mexican-American War). The US made the Gadsden Purchase in 1953.

All this began with a novela. My interest was sparked because Sam Houston, who captured the Mexican President and forced him to sign the Treaties of Velasco, was a mason, and so was the Mexican President. In fact many notable people in history have been masons. There is speculation that Santa Anna was going to be executed. What saved him, it is said by some, is that he gave the sign of a mason in distress, which obligates other masons to help if they can. There is no written record of this, and there wouldn't be, but the legend persists. Going forward, I wondered if the Emperor Maximilian was also a Freemason. It is likely, but I haven't found out yet for certain. I say that it is likely because it was fashionable amongst influential people to be masons during that time. Members often included royalty and other elites, thus the likelihood.

You can find out more about Texas masons at and about the history of freemasonry at Mexican masons practice the craft in a different fashion, they follow the French tradition in which business is conducted in the Entered Apprentice lodge. In the U.S. we do it the English way and conduct lodge business in the Master's Lodge. Anyway, I'm still trying to find out if there was any influence by freemasons on the Rio Grande Valley. There is tons of history out there about Freemasons and Texas. I'm afraid that I'll have to visit individual lodges here in the RGV to find out their histories directly. The Mission Lodge, for example, I think was built back in the 1910s, around when Mission was established. McAllen's lodge might be a bit older. I know Edinburg has a lodge. So do Rio Grande City and Donna. Brownsville's lodge is probably the oldest in the RGV. I think it was chartered back in the 1850s followed by the Rio Grande City lodge in the 1870s. You can guess this because army officers typically established lodges at bases or forts like Ft. Brown and Ft. Ringold. I'm telling you, there is a secret history in the Rio Grande Valley that historians purposefully ignore. I don't know why the bias amongst academics. My wife noticed this too.

If you don't believe me, ask grandpa or an old tio about what they know of the masons. It's possible that they may be masons, or had an uncle or father who was one. It's also possible they my tell you to stay away for whatever reason. I don't know what happened that the fraternity simply stopped getting new members. The problem with the organization is that recruiting is not encouraged. Members need to join of their own interest. That's why to be one, you ask one. But then, if nobody knows, why would they ask?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's and Masons

Let me start off by telling you that there is no connection between St. Patrick's Day and Masons. I will however write about both on this post. On the former, I feel some obligation to hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick's Day. There is no Irish in me. The only Irish part of me is my name, Shaine. So, I guess I have some inkling of obligation to wish you a Happy St. Patrrick's Day. That is all. There is also a part of me who is Catholic who also wishes you a Happy St. Patrick's Day. So, I hope you had a fun day and drank plenty of beer. If you can swing it, try a six pack of Guinness. If you remember at what point you lost consciousness, you're cool. I know what is going on by the fourth Guinness. Numbers 5 and 6 are usually related to me the next day, accompanied by a headache.

As for the Masons, I want to announce that I'll be writing about the influence of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, also called Freemasons, on the history of the United States, Texas, and the Rio Grand Valley. As I've mentioned before, I am a Master Mason. More than that, I am a Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner. You may know the Shriners. They are the guys with the maroon fez who show up at parades and help burnt and crippled children. I be one of them. For your information, you need to be a Mason to be a Shriner. Therefore, all Shriners are Masons.

I learned about the death of one of my Masonic brothers last year, Marlyn Kirk, some time this year, and it has weighed on me. He was in his 80's. His death was not unexpected given his age, but still, he is the first of my masonic brethren to die since I joined the fraternity. There is another masonic brother who has inspired me, John Hawkins, an English World War II RAF pilot. He has told me stories of his experience as a pilot. His wife has related her experience as a civilian in Scotland during that time. There are many other masons at the Mission Masonic Lodge, and other RGV Lodges, with interesting stories. I haven't been to lodge in years due to my last job and now because of my classes. I will make the effort to go back this Summer. I miss the wise counsel that I received from this group of seasoned men.

As I conduct research, I want to let you know that Masons have had a major impact on the history of the United States, Mexican, and Texas history. Unfortunately, due to the modern practice of children going away for college and staying away from their hometown, the tradition of becoming a mason like your father has suffered a great deal. I am one of the younger Master masons in Texas. The majority of masons are now retired and dying, like our WWII veterans. I am afraid that this centuries old fraternity will come to an indifferent end. There aren't that many young masons joining these days, which is sad. Many of you, if you are in your 30's and 40's, may have had an uncle, father, or grandfather who was a Mason. You may have asked him about his ring or about the symbol of the square and compass. If you've been to old buildings with cornerstones, Mexican plazas, or a myriad of other places, you've probably seen the square and compass symbol somewhere. That's a sign that masons were involved. The Grand Lodge of Texas, for example, leveled the cornerstone for the Fine Arts Auditorium at UTPA back in the 1960s. There is a masonic lodge not too far from the Hidalgo County courthouse in Edinburg. McAllen has a great masonic lodge. Most towns in the Rio Grande Valley have a masonic lodge.

I found out that to become a mason, you ask one. That's all. To be one, ask one. I didn't know it when I joined the fraternity that I could become a Shriner. Now, I realize that I will eventually be responsible for the continued effort to raise money for the Shriner's Hospitals when all my masonic brethren have passed on to meet the Grand Architect of the Universe. I prefer to honor these men while they are still alive (most of my masonic brothers are retired, while I am 31 years old). So, I will devote some effort to honor them in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm at it again

I'm going to apply for jobs at UTPA again. If I work part-time, I know that I'll basically be paying for gas and lunch. I really need a decent salary to cover tuition and other expenses. I'm deficient a few hours because I dropped a couple classes last time I was here three years ago. This means that I need to take Summer courses to make up for the deficient hours. You can only make them up in the Summer. So, the classes I'm taking now count for my GPA, but don't count for Financial Aid. So, I have to pay this semester and the Summer. It's going to be tough to pay this semester as it is, so I definitely won't make it into Summer courses this year. This means that I will have to wait yet another year before I can make up the deficient hours and qualify for financial aid. So, you see, I really don't have much choice. I have to have a decent paying job in order to be able to graduate soon. The problem is, if I could get a decent paying job, I wouldn't have to come back to school. It's a vicious circle.

A salaried job would also give me the ability to wait for classes that I want to take. Some courses are not offered every semester, so as I get closer to graduating, my choices will diminish. This means that I would be forced to take fluff courses in order to defer my current student loans until graduation. Under current rules, you must be enrolled at least half-time to be able to defer. If I find a decent job, then I could afford to pay back the loans while simultaneously taking courses. In fact, I really would not need financial aid, which is a better option for me. But it's all hypothetical. I have to receive the phone call for an interview first.

Here are the jobs for which I am applying at

  • Computer Equipment Maintenance Tech I
  • Laborer I
  • Records Technician
  • Cadet/Police Officer I
  • Full Time Guard I
  • Human Resources Technician I
  • Secretary I
  • Administrative Associate-SSN Training Coordinator
  • Maintenance Worker I

By using the shotgun approach, I hope I hit something. Some of these jobs are relisted, but I'm applying again. I just need one shot, if I can get it. Otherwise, Pizza Hut across the street is interviewing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Nacos, Nacolandia, and all about Naqueza

I've heard several people mention Nacolandia in the last couple months. If you're not from around here or Mexico, you may not know where this Nacolandia is. Obviously, Nacolandia is where nacos originate. By nacos, I'm not talking about Ron Stoppable's favorite food (see Kim Possible cartoon). Of course, Nacolandia is not exactly a real place like Disneylandia (Disneyland to you gringos). Nacolandia is a made up place by famous Mexican comedian Luis de Alba.

De Alba created a character called, El Pirruris, who is supposedly the son of a wealthy and influential Mexican. Pirruris talks and acts like the children of the upper-class of Mexico, which most of us recognize because we are not part of that group. I would be considered a naco. In any case, on his show, El Pirruris shares his expertise in nacologia, the study of nacos. Nacos according to the Wikipedia, are "people with illusions of grandeur, airs of importance, bad taste and colorful slang". If it weren't that Luis de Alba makes it funny, El Pirruris would be offensive. I'm not certain if Pirruris made up the word "naco", but he certainly made it popular throughout Mexico and other places where his show was broadcast.

So, you may ask, what would be an example of a naco? I'll list some sites with examples, but they are in spanish. Think of a naco as redneck jokes, but for south of the border.
Link 1

Ah, forget it. Here are some nacadas I pilfered:


Para no quedar como naco cuídate de decir haiga, diferiencia, pior, pecsi, álbitro, confletis, chocomil, alevántate, nadien, rejuntalo, confleis, muncho, rempújalo, saludes, hacer del baño, mucha calor, estar guars (star wars), picza o pitza (pizza), ira (mira), manita (amiga), lonche (lunch), banda (grupo de amigos), etc. También evita
agregar una “s” al final de las palabras; por ejemplo hicistes, vistes,
trajistes, comistes, dormistes, fuistes, etc. Y otras nacadas como métete pa’dentro, súbete pa’rriba, se salió pa’fuera, etc.


Entrar al baño con una taza de café y un periódico. Poner al perro
en el techo de la casa. Bailar lambada. Tapar la ventana del coche con una toalla. Poner un muñeco de peluche arriba de la computadora. Usar tanga de leopardo. Vestir los asientos del carro con camisetas. Quitarse los zapatos en público. Enchinarse las pestañas con una cuchara. Dejarse larga la uña del dedo chiquito. Tatuarse personajes de Walt Disney. Cantar canciones en inglés sin saber lo que está diciendo. Comprar perfumes en el tianguis. Traer una esclava gruesa de oro o plata. Bailar “el gusanito”. Llamar “confleis” a todos los
cereales. Llamar “chocomil” a todos los chocolates en polvo. Llamar “coca” a todos los refrescos (“Me da una coca de naranja”). Escuchar la Ke buena, la Kaliente o la Invasora. Ser fan de “El Vale” (Valentín Elizalde). Llorar con las canciones de Los Temerarios…

There are tons more naquezas, but you have to be familiar with the culture. We all have naco tendencies at some point. I guess there are simply different degrees of naqueza. The worst is being naco and not realizing it. Some nacos actually cherish their naqueza and embrace it wholeheartedly.

Morning at UTPA

originally uploaded by shainelee.
I usually arrive at UTPA before 7 when I have a morning class. This way I get a good parking spot and a chance to drink some coffee. This morning I swiped the digital camera from home to take some self-portraits. I generally take pictures of everybody else, so I don't appear in as many photos.

Usually, at this hour, there are a few people around, but nothing is open. If you want coffe, you have to shell out 75 cents at a coffee machine. The library is closed. Some classrooms are closed. The Student Union is closed. On the plus side, it's quiet and you have a few moments of peace and tranquility to start the day.

There was a light rain last night as evidenced by the wet sidewalk. The temperature is cool. If it weren't for the presence of mesquites and absence of maple trees, it almost seemed like a summer morning in Wisconsin.

Why the heck do I blog? Why do you?

If you have been a regular reader of RGV Life, or perhaps stopped by by accident, you may wonder, who is this guy and why the heck is he blogging? After all, what makes me, a guy from Mission, Texas, significant in the grand scheme of things? Why would anybody care what I think? According to some comments I've received in previous posts, I don't know what I'm talking about. I would agree with that assesment. I don't know what I am talking about, or writing about, as is the case. No, I'm not a complete moron. I have a perfectly good explanation, so please indulge me.

You see, RGV Life is not my first exposure to writing. I'm not a writer. I'm not a journalist. What I have done is write a journal since my graduation from high school. At times, I have been lax in maintaining my journal. At other times I do it religiously. Often, if I'm heavy into blogging, I lay off the journal. There is a little redundancy in doing both. I started writing a journal as a means of documenting a trip to Europe with my best friend after graduation. I was then, as I am now, a poor Mexican. My friend had the means and the desire to take me with him to Europe for his graduation present. So, we went through London, Paris, Madrid, Roma (Italy, not Texas), Berlin, and back to London within 2 weeks. Obviously, not knowing if I would ever be able to go back in my lifetime, I wanted to preserve the experience. So, I bought a notebook somewhere and wrote about the adventures of two 18 year old Mexicans in Europe. My friend is in possession of that that journal; he tells me it's funny.

After that experience, I went to UT-Austin with another friend and her parents because my mom could not afford to take me or buy me a bus ticket to go to Austin. Somehow, I managed to get accepted to UT with the Texas Achievement Award. So, I was alone, somewhat, and about to experience something new. I bought a journal from the Co-op and started to write about the experiences. When I got there, I had not registered for classes and did not know the first thing about what I needed to do. So, the journal served as a documentation of the experience and as a way of making notes in case I needed to backtrack.

That first journal ran out and I got a second, and a third, and a fourth. I have been writing down stuff ever since. In total, I have written almost 1,000 pages. Almost because I have 10 pages to go. This doesn't include the writing that I have on and It was only natural that this experience of writing down stuff would transfer to RGV Life, which is somewhat of a journal with a theme to it.

Going back to my previous statement that I don't know what I am talking about, I have already given you a big clue. RGV Life is written in the way that I write in my journal. I'm aware that there is an audience, but it's mostly a way of thinking on paper, or in this case on the computer screen. So, what I write on one day may be developed later into something more cogent or more in-depth. Or, I may simply chuck it altogether and start over. RGV Life is written to force me to structure my thinking. Outside of writing things down, it is difficult for me to formulate an opinion. The added benefit of writing here is that any questions I have, as I did whilst deciding for whom to vote in the primaries, can be answered or assisted by readers of the blog. In short, I don't know what I'm talking about. RGV Life is simultaneously a record of my experience of living in the Rio Grande Valley and a way of working out my opinions about what is happening here.

I started RGV Life as a way of telling people who don't live here about how nice it is to live here and what is great about our local culture. Of course, I'm sort of trying to convince myself of it too. RGV Life has evolved a bit to include my opinions, or lack of, about our local politics and events. But overall, I'm not here to convince you that I'm right or that I am some authority on anything. I'm just a poor jobless schmuck who writes down what he sees here in the RGV. On occasion, I have an opinion. Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes I'm wrong. At times it's a moo point (like a cow's opinion, it doesn't matter).

There you have it. That's why I blog. That's why I don't know what I'm talking about. That is why accusations of "losing credibility" don't bother me. I'm willing to rethink ideas and change my mind if the facts present themselves. It's your choice whether you agree with me or not. That is not my intent or focus. I just write what I see and think through blogging.

How about you? Why do you blog? What is your purpose for blogging? If you don't blog, why not? Why do you read RGV Life?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Trying out merchandising

I have opened up a shop for RGV Life merchandise. I only have one design at the moment. As I think of stuff that's more creative, I'll be adding more. The first item in the shop is undergarments. Bloggers, such as myself, usually blog at night and on occasion do so in underwear. I know it's not an image that you want in your mind, sorry. In any case, the shirts and undies say "I Read Blogs..." in large print, and "in my underwear" in smaller print. These would be a great gift for the blog reader in your life.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Technology Behind RGV Life Podcasts: Recording

I often get questions about the equipment that I use to work on this blog and on the podcasts. Today, I'll go over what I use to record the podcasts and why. First, let me tell you that there are different ways I record podcasts. Ultimately, however, all the recordings are put into mp3 format before they are uploaded to for downloading and playback on your computer or mp3 player of choice.

To start off, gives you the option of calling in your blog post, uploading your pre-recorded post, or recording it on the fly. When I am out and about, I usually call in the recording using my mobile phone. You really can't edit too much with that. Or, I use my wife's iRiver mp3 player. I'll give you more details on that because the iRiver is an awesome device.

When I am at home, I record the podcasts using a USB headset that has headphones and a microphone. This gives me the best recording quality. The headset is good for recording onto the computer's hard drive using a free mixing software called Audacity, or with a fast enough connection, straight to The last podcast, #11, was recorded using the iRiver. Generally, if I'll be adding music to the recording, I'll record using Audacity on the computer so that I can delete my screw-ups and a paste in the mp3 music at the front and back ends. Posting straight to is done only for one-take podcasts.

Now, about the iRiver. This device makes recording really easy because it encodes straight into mp3. The iRiver is specifically mentioned in Podcasting for Dummies as one of the most versatile devices for podcasting. The reason for this is that the headphone jack of the iRiver also doubles as a microphone jack. Or, you can use the built-in microphone on the iRiver. I don't have a separate microphone, so I've been using the built-in microphone on the iRiver. The model I use for recording is the 512 MB. The 1 GB model was a bit beyond my price range. Best of all, you can feed a tape recording from a tape recorder straight into the iRiver for instant conversion to mp3 format. Or, you can feed sound from a mixing board into the iRiver for instant encoding. No computer needed.

Once you've recorded on the iRiver, just hook it up to the USB port on your computer and you can copy the mp3 onto your hard drive. In cases where I want to edit, I have to decode the mp3 to wav format, do the editing, and then encode back to mp3. I generally record using the iRiver's best sound quality to make up for loss during the editing process. If I don't want to edit, then it can be uploaded straight onto and is ready to hear. The combination of, Audacity, and my wife's iRiver MP3 player/recorder, gives me many options for recording podcasts. If you want to get into recording audio for the web, I definitely recommend at least the iRiver for recording and Audacity for mixing.

If you have any questions, please post a comment and I'll reply. I'm also available for hire if you need a quick lesson or recording.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Will be offline

I'll be offline, somewhat, for the next couple days to take care of some school business and look around for part-time work. I have a couple of exams tomorrow, so I'll be studying at the library. Right now, during the lull in political activity, nobody will probably notice. Recently, there haven't been many posts by my favorite bloggers at SpinRGV. I have a personal blog at where I just post personal stuff and notes not related to the Rio Grande Valley or Politics. It's easier for me to post there because it's tied into my Yahoo! account, which has me locked in with all their features. There would have to be a Super-Yahoo! to lure me away.

Spring is in the air

I don't think Spring has officially been declared, yet. Who has time to keep track of those things? I can tell you that in my area of the Rio Grande Valley, the air smells much sweeter. I hadn't realized it earlier, because I don't live near any citrus groves, that the citrus trees are blossoming. It hit me as I drove by the Shary-Shivers Estate on the way to UTPA. The area is surrounded by orange and grapefruit trees, so naturally you can't help smelling the sweet perfume given off by the blooms. Today is such a great day. If you have a chance, drive with your windows open and turn off the A/C a while. Enjoy one of the gifts that the RGV offers us if we take time to notice.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

RGV Life Podcast #11

My wife, Alma, joins me on this podcast. We discuss movies, music, and other stuff. In the Rio Grande Valley, we have a tendency to switch between English and Spanish while speaking to each other at home. It is spontaneous, but we don't lose track of the conversation.
Duration:35 minutes, 47 seconds
Date Last Updated:Sun 12 Mar 2006 05:50:02 PM CST
File Size:8.59 MB

MP3 File

Music: Cartoon Machine by Xenotoxin

Don't freak out

I am redesigning the blog from scratch just to make it stand out a little. It's time for RGV Life to outgrow the standard blogger template and become something on its own. So, you may see it do different things while I tweak it here and there. I would like it to have the 3 column look, so I may end up doing that. The only issue is that I need to refresh my CSS skills from so long ago.The content will remain the same. I'll still post pics and articles about the Rio Grande Valley. Hang in there while I figure this out.

I finally got the layout I wanted. Now it's just a matter of organizing the stuff on the sides a little better. I am also working to streamline some of the administration between SpinRGV and RGV Life to make life easier. I'll be adding newsfeed buttons up higher later on. I've also added a side adsense script and there is another in the comments section.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

That's a lot of money

I was just reading an article (click on the title to visit it) about next year's budget allocating $4 Billion more to border security. BILLION! It will go towards hiring 150,000 new border agents and building more detention facilities. Obviously, the Rio Grande Valley is not the only border area. We have to share that $4B with the rest of the border. However, think about the economic impact such an allocation would have for us. Of 150,000 new agents, let's say we only get about 2% from Brownsville to the farthest reaches of Starr County. That gives us 3,000 agents. Let's say they earn $40K, which is lowballing it because after overtime and such, they make more. That means that the Rio Grande Valley captures about $120,000,000 from these agents' income (they are likely to spend most of it).

You also must factor in detention facilities. The construction or expansion of detention facilities would mean money for that purpose. Once the facilities are up and running, there would still be a need for staffing and supplying the facilities. Of course, we can't have all the new agents on foot, so we would need new vehicles for them to use. Those are open for bid, so that won't influence us much. However, maintenance is certainly something our economy can provide for the new vehicles. We'll definitely be providing new tires and collision repair to agents frequently.

Tighter border control is a good thing for the Rio Grande Valley, economically. We should probably demand more enforcement of our borders to see how much money we can get out of Washington. The money the agents earn doesn't just go into their pockets. They buy homes, cars, groceries, go to the movies, and basically live in the RGV. On top of that, they will slow down illegal immigration and possibly curb the inflow of drugs from Mexico. If we had a wall built along the border, I would take the same stance. It's money! So what if the idea is stupid and doesn't work? Somebody is willing to pay money for a wall, we have people who will build it. You may ask, what about the humanitarian concern? Humanitarian concern my foot. People always drag this old thing out of the closet for the sympathy factor. If you want to do something humanitarian, adopt a Mexican, Salvadoran, Colombian, or other family and send them money. In the meantime, don't stand in the way of the locals making some money.

Fwd: [Energetik] April 1st, 2006||IG presents VIRUS feat. REID SPEED

In case you're into club music and ravish things, Energetik has this going on here in the McAllen area... wrote:
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 18:47:32 -0700
Subject: [Energetik] April 1st, 2006IG presents VIRUS feat. REID SPEED

Instinctive Grooves presents

an April Fools Day weekend
Farenhite Nightclub; Rio Grande Valley

The Wikipedia defines a computer virus as a self
replicating/self-reproducing-automation program that spreads by putting in
copies of itself into other executable code or documents. A computer virus
behaves in a very similar way to biological virus, where it spreads by
inserting itself into living cells. Tonight we?re going mimic a computer virus to infect you with a virus known worldwide as the sounds of Drum and Bass, with a dash of Breaks
spread thru out the night. Get ready to feel the low end vibrate in your chest
with additional sound being brought in for low end enhancements, and artists
that have spread there infectious sounds from L.A, to DC, to UK, to the
prospering South Texas RGV, this is a special one off event.

Your hosts for the evening:

Breakbeat Science Direct Drive; Los Angeles

It was only a matter of time before the USA?s first lady of Drum & Bass was
to come thru the prospering RGV dance scene. Reid Speed began her DJ career in
the New York City drum & bass underground in the early to mid 90?s. By the
summer of '97 she was a resident of rave promoters Stuck on Earth and the
following year a member of the Direct Drive crew. At the same time Reid was
serving as her college radio station's RPM director and also working at
Breakbeat Science, the US's original drum & bass store. Capitalizing on their
large and widespread customer base, her demos soon spread across the country,
which led to her traveling to around the US and Puerto Rico, as well as
Ireland, Canada, and Mexico. Following her overseas stops in 2000 and after
thirteen self released mix tapes and one animated short movie for Showtime's
Shonext channel, her debut mix cd "Resonance" was released by Breakbeat
Science. The mix garnered massive critical praise and was a commercially
successful debut. In support of the release, a 40-date tour sponsored by Mixer
Magazine introduced her sound to an even wider audience. Many tours later, and
now producing tracks on a frequent, she & her producer pals recently completed
an artist album, which will be released sometime in the coming year. This is
her first time appearance in the valley so lets give her a warm welcome as we
enter the infectious ride of the REID SPEED.

DJ PROXXYInstinctive Grooves RaversOnly Club Five; Washington, DC

For over ten years, Dj Proxxy (also known thru out the Baltimore/DC area as
Randy) has been embedded with the electronic dance music scene. His
contributions include performing at regular and one off events thru out the
Eastern region of the U.S., to working lighting at venues located in
Washington, DC such as The Edge nightclub and Nation Nightclub; to holding a
Friday night residency at Club FIVE. Proxxy has been traveling all over the
U.S. and recently the UK delivering his ability to mesh Drum and Bass with Old
and Nu Skool Breaks tracks together nicknamed style (you guessed it) Drum and
Breaks. Although normally he plays Breaks and House with Hi energy tracks,
this night he?ll be keeping a straight line down the DnB path as this nights
gonna build into a fury of Drum and Bass..

Audiotek Txdnb Records; McAllen/Brownsville

Omen's interest in music could literally be categorized like an encyclopedia,
but what quenches his thirst for sound is hip-hop and drum and bass. Becoming
involved in the rave scene as a dancer for production companies in northern
Texas, Omen took a liking to the versatile and undefined sound of drum and
bass. He has opened up for Dj's such as Dieselboy, Dj Craze and Reid Speed. His
creative and bold mixing has made him a favorite in South Texas. Nowadays Omen
has his hands in the production game currently making his own hip-hop and drum
and bass sounds, as he opens and closes this superb night of sounds @ Farenhite

18 to enter, 21 to drink
Doors open @ 9:00pm
$10 before 11:00pm $12 after
1302 W Nolana; Pharr, TX
(practically McAllen, intersection of Jackson & Nolana)

Tickets available by phone or online @ or 877.71.GROOVE
Tickets will be available at the door the night of the event.
Keep an eye out for the flyers. If you would like to help hand out flyers or spread the word, email us @ .
Instinctive Grooves, bringing the music from DC to the RGV in assosciation with the already established local crews such as Audiotek Event, JGruv and Energetik.

For all the South Texas Rave Info, and then some:

Friday, March 10, 2006

Have you ever googled yourself?

Have you ever googled yourself? Sounds dirty, right? What I mean is, have you ever searched for your name on google? You may wonder, why would I do that? You would do this just to see what information is out there about you. If you are a public official, you may get one or two entries on a search. This is because there probably is somebody out there who shares your name. In my case, there aren't that many Shaine Mata people out there, so all my stuff comes out on the first page of searches. By writing my name again just now I further mucked up the system. Back in 2000, I never came out on a search. I would be on page 5 or 6. Now I'm on page one multiple times.

Most people, however can't do that because they have common names. Try Juan Garcia. I bet each entry is going to be about different guys. Ramon Garcia turned up a link to a photographer of nude men. JD Salinas actually does come out. Laura Hinojosa does too. Aaron Pena, as a result of his blog and his media presence, actually does come out multiple times too. Let's see, Rene Guerra turns up some articles in The Monitor and government sites. Jay Palacios shows, but in articles about other people where he's mentioned, and my entries with his name show up.

In any case, googling yourself kind of shows how hidden you are to the world. My problem now, after so much writing, is that I can't hide anymore. It would be tough for me to hide on the Internet. I'll never be able to get a job where anonymity is valuable. There goes my shot at undercover work. On the plus side, I'm like the Kevin Bacon of the Rio Grande Valley, if you've ever played the Kevin Bacon game.

Try it. Type in my name and the name of a public official in Hidalgo County of whom I've written. You'll see results on the first page. For example: shaine omar guerrero.
Or how about: shaine ramon garcia.
And: shaine jay palacios

Freaky isn't it? I was messing around when I discovered this tonight. This is the reason I don't really write bad stuff about anybody. It will probably come out on the first page of the search. All I need is for somebody to tell me, "Hey, you wrote that crap about me and you want an interview?" That's why Kevin Bacon is such a nice guy; everybody is connected to him. Oh shoot, now google is going to connect me with Kevin Bacon. Dammit!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A nice day

The wind died down a little bit today. We had nice temperatures in the Rio Grande Valley. The kids and I hung out at home. I made a simple breakfast. I helped my daughter with a school project. My son and I went on a rafting adventure and I read him a couple of his books. For a while, I even made some time to clean the apartment a little. Since I'm not working, we don't use the air conditioner. This brings our electric bill to about $40/month. The bad side to this is that we get a lot of dust all over the apartment. It's not the fine dust that floats around and gently lands somewhere every time you move. It's a brown, gritty dust. It just layers over every horizontal surface. I had time to wash dishes, make the beds, and generally make myself useful around the house.

I made the kids some alphabet sopa with vegetables for lunch. I got the boy to take a nap in the afternoon. I put the girl to work on her project. They both will watch TV all day if I let them, which I didn't. After my wife came home, she brought some groceries so I could cook dinner. I wanted to make ravioli, but we had no spaghetti sauce, which she brought.

The cool thing about having worked at a Chinese restaurant and visited Jason, the boss, at home when he cooked, is that I learned a couple things about cooking. When you buy frozen ravioli, the destructions say that you should boil them for about three minutes. You can make ravioli taste better if you don't boil them.

So first, I sprayed the pan with some cooking spray and added some coursely chopped onions to the pan to caramalize them a little. After they browned a bit, I added some olive oil and chopped mushrooms to the pan and sauteed the mix until the mushrooms browned nicely. For a distinctive taste, you can add a little sliced ginger with the mushrooms. While they browned, I defrosted the ravioli in the microwave for about 5 minutes. I then poured the ravioli into the pan to brown with the shrooms and onions on a medium heat. Browning stuff before adding the sauce gives an extra flavor that you miss if you simply boil the ravioli and add sauce. After the ravioli was nicely browned, I added the spaghetti sauce and simmered for 3 minutes.

Served with a nice side salad and beverage, you have a delicious and filling meal. I thought I would be able to eat more than I did. We all did. So, we have leftovers tonight. The cool thing about this meal, the first time we've had it, is that it didn't cost much and was quick to make. I can usually imagine how something will taste if I know how it was made. In cooking, I imagine forward to how I want it to taste and what I need to do to get there.

There is a shrimp with tortellini in alfredo sauce that I make, which my family loves. But it costs about $30 or more to make. That's just the main dish not including sides and maybe a little wine. It doesn't stick totally with the italian cooking style. I use ginger and a little soy sauce in the preparation. That's where I started browning the stuffed pasta before adding the sauce. Later, I'll toy with the recipe and maybe use dumplings or something wrapped in wonton skins. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
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