Friday, December 29, 2006

Construction on 107

Construction on 107
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
I saw a crew cutting across Hwy 107 as I was entering Edinburg this morning. This is a good time for construction as UTPA is out until January. Can you imagine the backed up traffic if all those students were rushing into town in the morning?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hipster PDA User

I just caught this video of a fellow Hipster PDA user. I thought I would share it. You can see the post where I found the video here.

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Big interest in the shops in Mercedes

I've written on the new Premium Outlet Mall in Mercedes, Tx a couple of times. The first post was on the day when the mall had just opened. Traffic was backed up onto US Highway 83 from so many shoppers wanting to go there. The second post was recently when my family and I went to check it out. Both posts have received a lot of traffic from the Internet. I am amazed that there is so much interest.

I do agree that if you are coming from Mexico and have the money available to spend on some of the high-priced brands, going to Mercedes is a much better option than travelling to San Antonio. I would go there simply to find the brands, but not necessarily to save money. In my visit to the shops, the prices were far from bargains. At least they aren't bargains like you find in San Marcos. But then, if you factor in the cost of fuel to travel to San Marcos from Mexico and the cost of a hotel, you come out even on cost and save time.

For many of us in the Rio Grande Valley, the shops are simply too expensive. I would go to Mercedes again if I REALLY needed something that I could not find in McAllen and price were not a factor. Fortunately for me, my wife does not find pleasure in owning expensive brands. It's funny, but when we want to save money, we go to Mexico to shop. This is one bass-ackwards world.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Tamales 2006

Christmas Tamales 2006
Originally uploaded by .imelda.
This Christmas, my Mother-in-law made tamales with 20 pounds of Maseca. It was a lot of tamales. We had pork, chicken, beans, and the sweet tamales. A joke that comes out every year is:

Why do Mexicans eat tamales for Christmas?

Because we need something to unwrap!

It's a stupid joke, but it makes me laugh. I sure unwrapped planty of tamales this season. It's hard to pick a favorite, they all have their distinct goodness. One thing that gave me trouble this year was that I ate and got the sleepies. After a nap, I had some indigestion. The comino (cumin) was very strong. I tried some Tums to no avail. Guess what worked? Bean tamales. Go figure.

Fresh tamales are delicious; however, my favorite tamales of all time are those reheated on a griddle. There is something special about that toasted flavor that brings peace to my heart, which happens to be next door to my stomach.

Don't get me started on the Menudo and the barbecue we ate.

Monday, December 25, 2006

I'm not an atheist

It's funny how a seemingly innocent conversation can be misconstrued and come back to you in a way that you don't recognize. This Summer, during my migrant adventures in Wisconsin, I had occasion to converse with somebody about religion. At the crux of the conversation, was my resistance to joining the Jehovah's Witnesses. As a disclaimer, I should note that I have no antipathy towards the Witnesses. Rather, I simply have no desire to abandon the Catholic church, even if I'm not a slavish follower. When the conversation bounced back to me through mutual connections, it turns out that I'm an atheist.

Here is how it all started. My friend's wife has converted from Catholicism to the Witnesses. She is really gung-ho about it. He's not so devout, but he does find value and peace in the teachings. We were chatting over beers, mind you. He thought that he would ask me to join them on a weekend. How do you tell somebody that you have no desire or curiosity to learn about their faith? There is no tactful way to do it, so I went the other way and told him that I have no desire to be saved. I realize that some may find this shocking. Truthfully, I don't want to be saved. This may sound like a slap in the face of faith or some other silly metaphor. In reality, it's a realization, on my part, of the value of faith and the search for meaning. I believe that I have found what I need within the Catholic church, and it's there for the taking.

I explained to my friend that I have no desire to be saved because I don't need salvation. Many people search for meaning and inspiration in things that ultimately have little value. They spend hour upon hour reading through biblical texts and having discussions with others in their faith about their faith. In other words, reading and talking about God will somehow bring them salvation. I don't believe that these things have much value in and of themselves. They are good ways to spend empty hours, but nothing else. This applies to any religion or denomination. Being well versed is of value only to preachers and priests. Some people find salvation by strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up innocent people. Salvation? Pshaw! Most people read the bible out of context.

One major reason I don't want to be saved is because I would rather try to make life on Earth as close to heaven as possible, while I'm alive. I can be nice to people. I can live my life according to a given set of principles. I can do my best not to hurt others. I don't need to be saved to ensure my entry into heaven. Forget waiting for heaven, let's make good things happen here.

What then, do I believe is worthwhile about religion? This is what started the whole rumor that I am an atheist. Here is what I submit. Be part of a church regardless of whether God exists or not. Arguing about God's existence totally sidesteps the value of religion in general. Before I get into my defense of this, let me assure you that I think that being faithless and uncommitted to a church, any church, is equally foolish. You need guidelines for your actions. If you set those guidelines yourself, you might as well not have any as you will pick and choose values as if you were in a buffet. Choose a template and go with that.

What is worthwhile about religion comes about whether God exists or not. When you go to your church, whatever kind, what do you get from it? Why do you go? Do you go to commune with God? Why not just go any day of the week? Why not go to any church? You go to your church for very specific reasons. The first is that you go where there are other people who share your beliefs and practices.

There are very real and almost tangible benefits to belonging to a community of like-minded individuals. For example, you know that they share the same standards of conduct. If they fail to live up to the standards, you can call them on it or they can call you on your failures. You know what is encouraged and what is discouraged in their behaviors because you share the same faith. Somebody outside of this structure requires a bit more of an investment in your effort to deal with them. Being part of a church makes you a part of a community. That has value in and of itself whether God exists or not.

Most religions and denominations share a common theme. They espouse rules of conduct that, if you observe them, result in the betterment of your personal life and the betterment of society. How many of you believe that being unfaithful to your spouse has positive personal or social value? How about murder? How about jealousy? These and other things that religion shuns are generally destructive to you, your family, and society as a whole. This is true whether God exists or not.

The consequences of your actions have little to do with whether God exists or not. If you abuse your kid, expect your kid to have issues. If you neglect your family, don't expect that they'll be there for you when you need them. If you murder, you will be punished. If you (insert shortcoming here), you can expect (insert consequence here). These things occur regardless of God's existence. In fact, they occur to atheists as much as they occur to believers.

Finally, another friend and I had a brief discussion about some issue with the Catholic church. I explained to her that the Catholic church is not a goddamned democracy. Many politically correct Nazis try to impose a democratic system on religion. It doesn't work that way. There are principles that are true whether you choose to believe in them or not. Murder is never good. Rape is not good. Being a jerk with your kids is not good. So many things that we may do have destructive consequences whether we choose to believe it or not. When it comes to a church, you have to take it as is. You're either in all the way or you're not. If you're not, you're a sinner. Live with it or get out; don't try to change the church because you can't live up to the standards.

Most religions give you a means to atone for your shortcomings, so long as you repent. Repenting is like learning from your mistakes and avoiding that pitfall again. If you drink too much, you get hung over. If you repent, you'll avoid drinking too much again. If you don't repent, prepare for some suffering every time you overdo it. You can't fake repentance. You either do or you don't. You can't fake being a part of your church. You either accept what it is or you don't.

Going back to the original discussion, I accept what the Catholic church is, even with its shortcomings. I can work with it. There are benefits to being one of the faithful of any church. If the Pope tells me to give up beef on Fridays, I'll do it because I value the other things the church offers. I enjoy the community that comes from being a part of a church. I agree with the principles that form the basis of the Catholic faith. I understand that failure to adhere to the principles has real consequences besides my chances of getting into heaven. I would do these things even IF God did not exist.

If you want the quick version of my argument, the benefits of you being part of a church or religion should be equal whether God exists or not. Just like living in a country requires you to adhere to its laws, being a part of a church requires some things of you. The main difference being that religion is not a democratic process. The consequences of bad decisions don't change just because you don't like them. Having said all that, I do believe in God. The principles of making a better life and society have real value. To me, principles and ideas are real. I can't in all honesty believe in intangibles like my own ideas and universal principles, yet not believe in an intangible like God. How is it possible for you to have an idea and for you to share it with me so that it's as real to me as it is to you? If I don't believe in God, then how can I believe in your idea? How can I believe in the rule of law? If I don't believe in God, how can I believe in mathematics? It's all a bunch of trivial rules made up by other people otherwise. If you dismiss God, you have to dismiss a lot of other intangible things just as well.

Have I contradicted myself? No. Find a religion that works for you and stick to it. Don't waste your time looking to discover the secrets of the Universe or the true God. The real value of religion is independent of God's existence. The value of religion is in the character and relationships you build. Don't worry about unlocking the true message of God. Just make life better for you and those you care about with the help of your church. Seek and follow through on the Wisdom in religion. And do me a favor, don't ask me to convert.

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Breadsmith Coffee Cake

Originally uploaded by shainelee.
My wife and I went to Breadsmith, a bakery on the corner of 10th and Nolana, near the Barnes & Noble. My brother-in-law requested that we pick up a coffee cake at Breadsmith for Christmas Eve.

You won't believe how incredible it smells when you walk into Breadsmith. Baking bread instantly makes you hungry. It's just one of those scents that hits the most primal parts of your psyche. As if to further make a point to us, we had to stand in line at the bakery just to place our order. I expect this at a panaderia as most of us like the Mexican sweet breads. I wasn't expecting a line at a shop that makes different kinds of bread loafs.

Going back to our task, the coffee cake at Breadsmith is delicious. The small cakes are $2.50 and the large ones are $6.50. We have decided that this is where we will buy our specialty breads from now on. I suggest you make a quick stop at the bakery and decide for yourself whether Breadsmith is a place you'll frequent. Worst-case scenario, they'll have to bake something for you. You'll simply have to sacrifice and spend some time at Barnes & Noble and Starbucks next door.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Obsessive Behavior

Yesterday, I installed Second Llife on my computer. I wanted to try it out after reading that IBM bought an island inside Second Life and set up a copy of one of their research centers. They and other companies are setting up presences inside the virtual world. The SL virtual world is huge, You can spend hour upon hour looking around the place. There are casinos, clubs, and public events to keep you entertained. You don't need a car to get around. The creators were thoughtful enough to allow you to teleport, fly, or walk around. You need a good graphics card, I've discovered, to allow your computer to smoothly render new scenery as you come upon it. Next time I get on Second Life, I'm going to have to set a timer. You can easily kill hours exploring the virtual world.

Probably the most interesting aspect of Second Life is that you can buy and sell things. You can own a piece of land and set up a house. You can buy clothes, furniture, and even a new sexy body. Surprisingly, there are people who actually make a living in the real world through second life. The online community offers currency exchange into real dollars.

It's very interesting, but you can easily burn up an afternoon just wandering around the virtual world like you lost your mommy. I can't help thinking of a South Park episode in which the kids have an epic battle with a killer player in another online world, Warcraft. They have the kids spend every waking moment online to build up the strength to take on a super player. In the process, they all get really fat, lazy, and out of shape. At the end, when they take out the bad guy who was killing everybody off and preventing them from enjoying the game, one of the kids asks, "what do we do now?" The answer was that they would just play in peace without getting killed, which is all they wanted. So they sat there and kept playing.

I'll definitely set up a timer next time. In case you have an alter ego in Second Life, my character name is Shaine Houston. Mata was not available and I picked the most familiar last name I found. I'm not very creative, right?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Getting back my deposit

Originally uploaded by nile red.
I called the owners of the apartment complex where we stayed in Rice Lake, WI this summer. I had previously called the apartment manager to request our security deposit. We have not received it yet and it's been since October. We went through the trouble of steam cleaning the carpets and bleach cleaning everything ourselves so that we could get back our deposit in full. We were beginning to worry.

A while ago, the apartment owner called me up and took down our mailing address so that she could mail out our deposit. She says we did a good job of cleaning and will send us the full amount. I hope it gets here before Christmas, or at least before New Year.

Pan Dulce and Coffee

I think that we kind of accept that we are going to gain weight over the Holidays. It's our duty to pack on a few pounds. Otherwise, we'll not have any resolutions for the New Year.

Can you believe it? We are less than 15 days away from 2007. The retrospective shows on TV will be airing soon. We'll be looking back on all the events of the past year. Some stuff we'll remember, some we would have forgotten. Some things seem like over a year ago.

Even though our winter has been unseasonably warm, even by Rio Grande Valley standards, pan dulce is beginning to make appearances. We've had some show up for the recent funeral in my wife's family. There is some pan dulce at home as well.

I have a weakness for the cornucopia-like bread with the cream inside. I also like pumpkin empanadas and some new triangles with cream cheese filling that showed up in the latest round. Of course, you wash it down with a big cup of coffee. This would be all the better with cold weather, but I'll make do. I think the brewcrew can support me on this. Pan dulce and coffee can make your troubles go away for a few moments. God bless our RGV panaderos with long life and may he bless us with postponed diabetes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Personalizing My Links

I'm making RGV Life more personal now that I have a politics site and a work site. I've taken out some links and added some that I frequent.

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Waiting Outside Danny's

Waiting Outside Danny's
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
We went to Denny's in Mission yesterday, but it was packed with a waiting list. Rather than wait, we went to Danny's in Sharyland. Danny's is as RGV as Denny's is American. A good trade-off. What's best is that Danny's serves breakfast all day.

We caught the matinee for Eragon at Tinseltown in Mission. We were disappointed. To me, the whole movie just seemed like a series of movie previews. I thought I was the only dissatisfied person. My wife was upset at how lousy it was. My son started getting bored halfway through. He doesn't do that for Harry Potter movies or any of the animated ones. Save your money, don't watch Eragon. Wait for the DVD if you must see it.

Outlet Mall in Mercedes, Texas

Outlet Mall in Mercedes, Texas
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
We went to visit the Premium Outlet Mall in Mercedes this morning. There were a lot of people there. Just from checking license plates in the parking lot, half or more of the shoppers are neighbors from the south. Parking is very limited. There is plenty of parking, but it's mostly taken.

If you like buying big brands like Liz Claiborne, Skechers, Fossil, and so on. then it's the perfect place for you. They weren't kidding when they named it a Premium Outlet.

Personally, we were disappointed. We expected a range of products. The most excitng place we visited was a kitchen store. The Disney Store at La Plaza Mall in McAllen is much better than the Outlet. I doubt very much that we'll go shopping at Mercedes again. We like to get as much for our money as possible. This is coming from a guy who bought 2 identical pairs of shoes on clearance for $3 each this summer. I bought 2 pairs of $10 clearance running shoes too. I got shirts for $1. If they had put in a book store, then MAYBE we could justify another trip there.

When we want discount, we are looking for deep discounts. These shops are SO Premium that even their sales are pricey for us. If you are a high-income type, I suppose you would enjoy shopping there.

How to Get a Free Car!

I have a beat up old Ford Aerostar. It is rusted out on one side. It leaks a little oil. I've been putting work into it. Just today, I had a tough time changing the belts on the van. One of them was beginning to crack and chip away. It's an easy repair IF you have the tools. It took me a while and a little cursing, but I finally got the belts replaced. One wasn't so bad, so I've kept it as a spare.

I still need to do some work on the van. It needs a new distibutor cap and rotor. I've had them on hand for a while, but never got around to it. The problem with minivans is that the engine compartment is really cramped and a pain in the ass to access for the simplest maintenance. Changing the spark plugs on the van is something I do not wish to repeat. Still, it runs.

We bought the van in Wisconsin for $900 this summer. It served us to get around. It took us to the Renaissance Faire in Shakopee, MN from Rice Lake, WI a couple of times. It brought us from Wisconsin to Texas towing a trailer. And now, it gets me to and from work daily. It really is an ugly van. Still, it runs. Best of all, no car payments.

I am going to share with you how to get a free car. No, I'm not giving away my rust bucket. You really need to watch this presentation.

Many people ask me what I'll do with my Finance degree when I graduate. The truth is, most jobs available to Finance graduates are crappy. As a stock broker, you're a glorified sales person. Most people are better served with buy and hold with annual adjustments. If you live off commissions, then you want more frequent buying and selling. Bankers are sales people too. They buy cheap money and sell it for more. Mortgage brokers sell other peoples money. Financial advisers are generally brokers too. Some actually do help you, for a fee.

As a rule of thumb, free advisors cost more than advisors you pay by the hour.

Other than that, I would be qualified to work in collections, do accounting reports, and other lousy jobs. A bright future with a finance degree. I don't want to work anywhere with my finance degree. I just want a degree and a job. The job does not have to be in Finance.

Did you watch the presentation? That's why I want a Finance degree. I am going to get rich slowly. The job is besides the point.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Foggy morning

Foggy morning
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
Today started off foggy. On the way to work, everybody was doing their best Sunday driving. On the one day that I decide to leave a full 15 minutes early so that I can arrive at work early, the fog makes everybody drive slow. The result? I arrived on time.

Later in the day, it was beautiful with the sun out while I was at a groundbreaking ceremony. An hour later, it rained. After that, it was just cloudy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Great Product Improvements from Yahoo!

Yahoo has recently unveiled a couple of great improvements to their web products, and Yahoo! News. If you are a blogging type, these are great additions to your arsenal to "get out there".

Starting with Flickr, they used to offer a Pro account at $24.95/year. It's still the same price. However, instead of limiting you to 2GB in uploads per month, they are allowing Pro accounts unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. The free accounts now offer 100 MB upload bandwidth/month, I think. This is great in that it allows you to work in all your photos as needed rather than have to pace yourself throughout the month. I like using flickr to post to my blog with pics. Ironically, I'm posting this without a picture. I've been busy shoving all my pics on my Flickr account and geotagging everything. As we speak, one computer is uploading while I post on the other.

Oh, that's another thing. You can geotag your photos so that you can see on a map where you took pics. In addition, you can view other peoples' pics by location. Of course, it depends on whether other people have taken the trouble to geotag. This is a great feature because it adds another dimension to your blogging.

Moving on to Yahoo News, they have created You Witness News. This service makes it possible for you to become a citizen journalist. Simply submit your pic or video and story for publication. They even have some tutorials. This is great for aspiring journalists and bloggers who want to participate in the news business.

The web is becoming more and more fun lately for creative types.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

El Rocinante

Originally uploaded by simonse15.
I thought I had added El Rocinante to SpinRGV. I remember being excited that the site had gone blogger. Well, I finally went in and added the php script to add the feed for El Rocinante. It has both the blog feed and the comments feed. Enjoy!

Hidden Valley Ranch Bike Club

Hidden Valley Ranch Bike Club
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
I saw this group of bikers out for a ride in Palmview this morning. They are from the Hidden Valley Ranch RV Park. These are untired retired people.

For anybody who is not from the Rio Grande Valley, I should explain that our region is a popular destination for Winter visitors. Our mild Winter weather and low cost of living are popular attractions for retirees. Many, in fact, eventually give up their nomadic lifestyle and settle down in the RGV to live year round.

Doctor Visit

Doctor Visit
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
One thing Mrs. Mata is fond of saying is, actually, she exclaims it, "You don't babysit your own kids!"

I must say that I am in agreement with her. You babysit somebody else's kids, you parent your own. I had to take the girl to see our family doctor today on a walk-in visit. My wife was off on a field-trip with her Head Start class, or else she would have done it. Her momminess kicks in and she wants to be the lead when it comes to our family's health. As parents, we tend to be interchangeable, so I took the personal time off work to take care of the daughter.

Poor thing was and still is miserable. She started getting sick yesterday at the funeral of her uncle. Overnight, it has developed into a bad cough and fever. She seems to be getting worse. My wife is out getting the prescription filled. Probably the most worrisome aspect is when they get fevers. For now, I'm keeping an eye on the girl's condition. She had a temp of 102 at the doctor's office. We're bringing it down through tylenol and tepid baths.

We are fortunate that we can afford to pay for the doctor's visit and the medicine out of pocket now. I have insurance through work, but I have not received our cards yet. In years past, there were times we had to wait to get paid or borrow money. Sometimes our doctor would raid his stash of medicine samples to help us out. Our daughter, who is the oldest, suffered through the brunt of our poverty. Our son has lived in relative comfort, compared to her. Despite our improved economic situation, we still worry when they get sick.

Going for the Long Haul

Lyme Hall, a.k.a. Pemberley
Originally uploaded by Equilibr.
My wife enjoys watching movies that take place in History; she has a degree in History. She's willing to sit through many action flicks chock full of anachronisms and inaccuracies. I think that she understands that without firm documentation by primary sources living at the time, most of History is made up anyway. She especially loves European History with all their bloody wars and court intrigues.

I don't have the same passion for History that Mrs. Mata does; however, I do appreciate the significance of History. My passion lies elsewhere; but, my understanding of History makes for wonderful dinner conversation with the Mrs.

Well, tonight, we watched Pride and Prejudice, a chick-flick. We had already seen the BBC version, but she wanted to watch the recent movie. It certainly is a period piece. It has no action. I watched it with her anyway. I'll make an effort to watch chick-flicks with Mrs. Mata as part of my long-term plan for marital harmony. There are several advantages to doing this.

The first advantage is that she gets all romantic and lovey-dovey having watched such a movie. The second advantage is that it let's me get a glimpse of what lurks inside her brain with respect to what she imagines a relationship should be. That stops these fantasies after I refuse to jump through hoops. Still, it's important to know her fantasy. Finally, watching chick-flicks gives some fodder for conversation. Talking about the kids and work gets old. It's nice to talk about and critique movies. Action movies generally limit the conversation to how well somebody beat the hell out of another person. Chick-flicks, on the other hand, tend to have more social-emotional components. This is paradise for chicks, which helps me maintain the marriage. I'm going for long-term.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Originally uploaded by shainelee.
My wife and I ran off to catch a matinee today. We went to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, Apocalypto. We've been waiting to see it ever since it was first announced. We did not take our children because we knew that the movie has bloody violence. Overall, we both liked the movie. I liked that for once a scrawny Indio was the hero of a movie. Even though the lead actor is physically fit, he's not a Schwarzenegger.

I'm not going to sit here and pound my chest claiming some connection with the Maya. I know for a fact that on my mother's side of the family we come from the Chichimeca nation. On my father's side, I don't know. Based on my skin color, there is plenty of mestizo.

Going back to the movie, I totally missed the allegory to the fall of our nation. Gibson claims that sending troops to Iraq is basically senseless sacrificing. Last I checked, it's the fanatics over there who are decapitating people and slitting their throats, not us.

Other than that, I do see the parallel between Jaguar Paw learning to get over his fear and making the conscious choice to take on the enemy. Our country started off strong, such as when the raiding party attacked JP's village and he fought back. Right now, with the Iraq Surrender Report just issued, our country is cowed. I'm guessing that with all the running from the enemy that is about to take place, there will come a day when we decide that enough is enough and finally do something once and for all.

As for the violence in the movie, well, it was fine. If you want excessive violence and gore, Hostel is the movie for you. I think the violence in Apocalypto was adequate. It is arrogant to think of humans as anything other than hairless apes. The Maya were equally capable of grand things like architecture, astronomy, mathematics, writing, and art as they were of baser things like cutting peoples' hearts out, decapitations, and senseless killing. Not seen in the movie was their practice of sacrificing children too. When compared to the rest of humanity, we are capable of great achievements, but we cannot escape our animal nature. We are equally able to commit horrendous acts against our fellow man. We think we are so above animal instinct only because we don't pay attention to the obvious. Christians, for example, worship Jesus Christ. We don't worship him because he taught is to be nice to each other. We worship him because he got nailed to timbers while he was alive. We worship him for dying for us. It's rather barbaric when you step back a little.

Another example of our denying our animal nature is in our treatment of animals. Some high-brows think that not killing animals is a sign of superiority. It's a sign of weakness in the eyes of nature. It denies the basic survival instinct. We are omnivores, we eat meat and vegetable matter. This alone points to our adaptation for survival by any means.

Going back to the point, we're animals. Just as we can achieve great things, we can be extremely violent. If you are into Eastern philosophy, then you know that there is a balance. If you deny one side of your nature, it brings imbalance. Let me put it this way, if you are non-violent, a person who is all-violent will make short work of you. If, on the other hand, you accept that violence has a place in our lives, then there is balance and a level of detente. Take for example, the peaceful Shaolin monks. They are equally peaceful as they are capable of kicking your ass. So, if you have issues with Gibson's use of violence in Apocalypto, you are forgetting that Jaguar Paw only did horrible things because of his love for his family. He did it to save his own life and the lives of his wife and children. If you are incapable of violence for the safety of your loved ones... what can I say? You are willing to sacrifice your family for some academic ideal. That's equally barbaric.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

At the Funeral Home

Originally uploaded by shainelee.
We spent some time at the Ric Brown Funeral Home this afternoon. It's always a bit sad to attend a funeral. There are family members who are mourning their loss. At the same time, it can be a good time because you get to see family, from whom you may have lost touch. You have a chance to remember old times when things were happier.

Then, there are children. What do you tell them about death? My son was very insistent on going to see his uncle in the casket. Magnus is only 5 years old. I wonder how well he understands the significance of his uncle being gone. He seemed to accept that his uncle is sleeping until God calls him.

The other aspect with children is that they can only behave for so long before it goes against their nature. They are quite the opposite of a funeral. Children are life, hope, and happiness.

Boys at the fish tank

Death in the Family

Originally uploaded by deborah lattimore.
Yesterday at work, my Mother-in-law called me to text my wife to return her call ASAP. Her uncle passed away from cancer in the morning. The family is busy this weekend making funeral arrangements. We'll be spending time with my wife's family at the funeral home this weekend. That's probably all we'll be doing until the funeral.

I just wanted to make note that it seems every time somebody dies, it rains. I don't remember a funeral on a bright, beautiful day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Waitz Winterfest

Waitz Winterfest
Originally uploaded by shainelee.
Today, after school, my daughter called me to tell me that her mom told her to ask me if I would take her and her brother to the Winterfest at Waitz Elementary. That was her diplomatic way of asking me to take her. I don't know how to desribe it, but I could hear in her voice that she wanted to go. I told her that I'd call her as soon as I was on my way home so everybody could get ready. As a parent, sometimes you don't want to do some things or go places; but you do them anyway because you know that you'll find more pleasure in seeing your family have a good time than the displeasure of having to do it. I could sense that going would mean a lot to my daughter, so we went.

It wasn't so bad. They had menudo, funnel cake, buñuelos, frito pie, nachos, popcorn, cotton candy, sodas, tacos, and other foods. In addition, they had things for the kids to do like face painting, temporary tattoos, fishing for prizes, a haunted house, and other games. There was plenty for the kids to do. I overheard that they had a bigger turnout than expected. Perhaps this was a result of the cool, rainy weather we are having. Better to have the kids run around school than at home, right? Whatever the fundraising was for, they made over $1,000 tonight, according to the principal.

We took a parental leap, tonight. We let our daugher go around the school unsupervised with her friend. There were police present and plenty of teachers. I guess we just have to learn to let go of our sixth grader.

If your kids have school events they want to attend, I suggest you make the effort to take them. It's no fun to have to drive them over and hang out until it's over. However, if you watch your children and see how they are having so much fun, you'll enjoy yourself as well. Go out and have fun.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Visit to China Wok

[ happy buddha ]
Originally uploaded by rahkzin.
Today, after work, I stopped by to visit my friend Jason at China Wok in McAllen. In case you've never been there, it is a little bit south of 10th and Nolana. China Wok has been a full-service restaurant for 13 years. This means, they are not buffet. Each dish is individually prepared to your likes. If you want spicy, they make it spicy. More garlic? Just ask the waiter. Yes, you can have white sauce instead of brown sauce, or vice-versa.

Anyway, Jason was telling me that he started advertising on KURV this Monday. I'm sorry to say that I missed listening to the radio on Monday. There will be other Mondays this month when KURV does remotes.

You may be thinking that one Chinese restaurant is like all the others. Just try it. They have good stuff. I really like their egg rolls, which are hand made. They make beef egg rolls. The General Chow is delicious. That's their most popular dish. And, my favorite dish is the Jalapeño Combination plate. It makes your nose athletic (nose starts running), but it's awesome. Jason basically took the standard Chinese restaurant plates and tweaked them to RGV tastes. The biggest success, in my mind, to Mexicanizing Chinese food are the Jalapeño plates, but you've got to try China Wok's Amazing Chicken. I think I'm going to bed hungry tonight just thinking about it.
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