marching along

February 24, 2007

It’s not even March yet, but since my mind is already in Acapulco with Fermin, and when I return we will have thankfully left February behind, so it might as well be.

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March is a crappy month in Wisconsin, but to me it signals the start of something good. There isn’t warm weather, or flowers or birds, but the name sure makes it sounds like spring.

March is when department stores get rid of coats and start carrying swimsuits, it’s when I receive my seed catalogs and the snow sometimes melts, but only to be replaced by new, fresher snow a few days later. In March though, this could be the last snowstorm, you never know.

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Speaking of seeds, last year I had a disappointing experience starting seeds in my under-insulated upstairs bedroom without enough light, so this year, I’ll be back to buying all my plants from the West Allis Farmer’s Market. Those seed catalogs make me think about making mojitos with my own fresh mint and a pizza with a jiffy crust, fresh-picked tomatoes and basil drizzled in olive oil. Paradise.

This will be my third year of gardening, and if I wasn’t so lazy, I would probably dig up my whole crappy brick patio and turn it into a bigger garden. I would produce enough tomatoes for my whole Mexican family, grow five kinds of basil, four types of chili peppers, and all the veggies I will use for stir-fries for the whole summer.

I’m also looking forward to starting a compost bin. With a full house, we make a lot of food waste, that could turn into wonderful matter to aid my already remarkably fertile soil.

It’s going to snow a foot tonight — so why am I writing about gardening anyway? Back to reality, February, and a snowy evening working at Qdoba.


Happy President’s Day!

February 19, 2007

It’s President’s Day, and I’ve already decided whom I’d like to support for President.

It is, admittedly, way too early to be thinking about the 2008 presidential campaign, but nonetheless, there are many reasons that I already am.

I am somewhat more politically savvy than I have ever been. I read more news. I have more opinions. I understand more of what I believe. I’m an adult now. The last presidential campaign, I was going through massive life changes, (marriage, house-buying), and the one before that I lived in China, and shamefully, I didn’t request an absentee ballot.

Besides, the media frenzy already surrounding the fascinating array of high-profile candidates doesn’t hurt the general awareness of the elections, year and a half away or not. More than anything, I want to be a better voter this year, and the way people like me become better voters is through the Internet. Every candidate has a web site, and I would argue, the only candidates worth considering are those who have an issues page devoted purely to their stances on particular issues.

Now, part of me would vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. I’ve read most of her autobiography, and I really enjoyed her style and opinions on many things. She’s brilliant, has a lot of excellent experience and of course, was married to a President. That can’t hurt.

I’d also vote for Barack Obama just because he’s black. I mean, how better to chip away at racism than by electing a black President? However, he is a first-term U.S. Senator, and I think he’s far too inexperienced to be a good President, for now.

I can take or leave John Edwards. I’m undecided on him. I know I’ve left many Democratic contenders out, and certainly have very shallowly depicted the three front-runners, but I’m too excited about the one I really like: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Now, if this were one of my Journal Sentinel columns, I might receive a lot of comments about how I am just supporting my raza, or some crazy talk like that. Yes, Richardson is Hispanic, he’s the son of a Mexican mother and an American father. He’s bilingual, he’s had a ton of experience with international relations and diplomacy, and the only of the array of Democratic hopefuls to have experience as a Governor, the executive of New Mexico, a border state at that.

I’ve been intrigued by stories I heard about Richardson, and so I spent some time this weekend reading his issues pages and the speeches that went along with it. I was pretty impressed with all of it, especially when I compared it to the pages of Sens. Clinton and Obama. Clinton doesn’t have an issues page, per se, more like a long story-form biography that weaves the things she stands for in and out of sections on her years at Wellesley or her experience as the First Lady. Obama has issues, on his web site that is, and although there is some good information there, he doesn’t touch immigration, which I have a serious problem with, and he doesn’t have the speaking or policy-making experience to back it up.

Richardson believes we need to get out of Iraq. He understands the region, has extensive diplomatic experience, and believes a multi-nation effort to stabilize the whole region is required.

Richardson was recently re-elected as New Mexico Governor with 69 percent of the vote. An astonishing 40 percent of Republicans voted for him. We need a person who can garner this type of bi-partisan support as our nation’s leader.

Richardson is strong on the environment, and under his leadership, New Mexico is moving toward requiring that 20 percent of all energy be renewable.

Finally, this guy understands immigration, perhaps better than almost all the politicians in this country. He has a very comprehensive approach to reform and is probably the only politician I have read a speech from that actually addresses the problem with compassion and intelligence, and comes up with some reasonable solutions.

So, with that in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing the 2008 presidential race unfold. I’m hopeful mostly that whatever candidate is elected, there will be a shift in the obnoxious neo-conservative, cowboys-of-the-world mentality that has plagued our policies the last six years. I’m also impressed that the country will be seriously considering a black, Hispanic and female candidate. We’ve never seen a serious contender from any of those groups, and if nothing else, it is progress.


sunsets and daquiris await

February 17, 2007

Well, how about a little Caribbean escape to blot out my recent bouts of white American guilt and inner searching?

Fermin and I have been discussing a rendevouz in Acapulco ever since I came back from Mexico in December, and armed with a nice commission check yesterday and a surprise $350 flight find this morning, it’s really going to happen.

The best part — I leave in 10 days!

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This trip will be much more vacation-like than my last, where we hung out mostly in the small-town atmosphere of Libres, doing day trips to many rather un-touristy locations, but we’re staying at what appears to be a charming old-school Acapulco hotel and looking forward to beautiful sunsets and relaxation.


was ignorance actually bliss?

February 15, 2007

Ah Dad, wouldn’t life be perfect if I turned into the ideal Conservative? Being logical does not mean necessarily being Conservative — that’s offensive, so please stop suggesting it. Second, the above thoughts have much less to do with politics than you suggest. Besides, does EVERYTHING have to be about Liberals and Conservatives? I think that’s what is getting old.

I complain about this country because that’s what liberals do.”

No, I complain about this country because I’m torn between enjoying the bounty and hedonism of living in it, and the fact that I am educated about the rest of the world. I read about the world, obsessively. I interact with people from around the world, and I have experienced just a few corners of it, but it’s enough. Enough to see that there is so much suffering — yet I live here in a way that is so far beyond basic needs. Last night I read a few chapters of “What is the What,” and then I lay awake thinking about why I can sleep in my own bed in a heated house in a safe place when there are children being senslessly murdered in Africa. Sensless. Murder. Is this my responsibility? No. Of course not. But that does not change the fact that it is real, and I know about it.

Appreciating what you have is so old…” I do appreciate what I have, but I am also ripped apart by it. Not appreciating would be to take it for granted, thoughtlessly spend money on things I don’t need, treating the things I have carelessly. But the best thing we have is information, the problem with that is that the constant media, the international society we live in, the instant reports we can read from anywhere in the world, the knowledge of atrocity and chaos and loss of life, well, that is simply difficult for me to handle.

I used to read these things mindlessly, but I think it’s wrong to live in a country that starts wars (I’m not bashing America here, this is true) and not take time to deeply consider their consequences, to try and envision how one would feel as an innocent resident of one of those enemy countries. All of this has a lot more to do with the remnants of my religious beliefs, far more than it does with politics.

Ten years spent as a devout follower of a man who sacrificed everything, cared nothing for politics, said things like “love your neighbor as yourself,” when you really think about what that means, not the surface interpretation that is most common, messes with your sense of being a patriotic, self-serving American. In fact, it pretty much voids any sense of being an American, or a nationalist of any country, for that matter. I mean, to God, what is America? Many people believe we are a blessed nation, as though God “blesses” America more than China, or the Sudan, or wherever — I think that’s a load of bull, and that’s not me being a liberal, that’s me being a person who believes in the things Jesus said. There is no evidence from Jesus’ mouth that any nation matters more than an individual’s life, liberty, justice.

For me, the combination of having a Christian sense of compassion, although admittedly un-acted upon, and both interest in and access to a whole lot of information about world affairs, leads to a troubling sense of guilt, moral dilemna. This is far larger than liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, it stems from a belief that the best thing in the world would be peace. And I want all my politics to reflect a decision to support peace as best I can. That’s complex, and impossible, but not illogical. I want to live my life in a way that reflects what I believe is good and true in the world. I think that’s perfectly logical, if not pragmatic.

The problem is how to live that way. That’s what keeps me up at night, and reading “What is the What” and then trying to sleep. I would suggest everyone read “What is the What.”


if you can answer these questions I will be mentally content forever

February 14, 2007

I’ve been ridiculously bogged down with all sorts of thoughts lately, and unable to successfully translate any of them into a complete, lucid blog entry.

Are my disdainful reactions to many aspects of our increasingly materialistic/consumeristic culture based in anything good, or just a way to judge others while ignoring the theoretical plank in my own eye?

Why am I determined to get Fermin and I through the immigration process intact but constantly complaining about my own country?

What would it be like to really live in Mexico?

Is everyone just a product of their environment? If we plucked kids who live with nothing (materially) out of some Third World environment and gave them Nintendos and computers and cool clothes and cell phones, would they turn into lazy American-esque kids in a few heartbeats?

Is it normal to be in a constant state of moral dilemna?


immigration laws in(action)

February 13, 2007

Read this.


they hate me, they love me

February 11, 2007

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. It seems when I am busy at work my blogging frequency wans a bit. Anyway, I had a column published today, in the Sunday Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Big stuff. I would say it’s arguably my most confrontationally controversial. I have received a few post-worthy comments. Read the article here.