Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008!!

All of the five posts that I've written, I couldn't decide which to publish, neither could I just leave the year pass away without an homage to 2008. So here are some few thoughts that I've collected here and there:
"Be careful the mistake you make as God forbids you live a long time as you'll spend the rest of life remembering them."
"Although, one doesn't always get back what they give away, one can only give what they have".
"Do not define your life only by the money you have or your job. The money can be gone in a twinkle of an eye, and you can't always be replaced at your job."
"Be kind at all time even to strangers as you never know what may come your way."
"Money is the root of most evil; if your neighbor wants to borrow some from you, always give them an amount that you won't cry after if they don't reimburse you."
"Don't be a fool, stop repeating your mistakes. I repeat, don't be a fool."
"If there's for one, there's always for two. Make a difference in someone's else life today."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Interests for year 2008

Throughout the year I've recorded, all the movies and books I read. And I intended to post this on Dec 31st, but with everything that has been planned I hope not to find myself glued to my computer on that day. So here it is my selection for this year reading and watching.

Movies:
- Vantage Point
- Mr&Mrs Smith (re-watched)
- Superbad -- stupidly funny movie
-Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins - A "feel good" movie
-Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns - another Feel good movie
- The Bank Job -- I just like Jason Statham
- 21 -- For Smart people
- Freedom Writers -- Inspirational
- Fierce People -- Quite disturbing
- Nancy Drew - Teenage stuffs
- Juno -- funny
- Forbidden Kingdom - so corny!! A better plot combining Li and Chan talents could have been written.
- Love and 4 other letter words - corny romantic black comedy
- Made of Honor - another corny romantic comedy
- Mad Money
- The Bucket List
- The Negotiator
- Irina Palm - Independent movie about a grandma who found herself whacking men off for money in order to pay for her grandson surgery.
- La TV d'Elie Kakou - French comedy, hilarious!!
- Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis - The "best" French comedy of summer 2008: Despite the French dominance in so many art domains: Culinary (hum hum, I love french cuisine!!), Cosmetics, Fashion and others, movies remain their lame duck.
- Sex and the City - One of Hollywood Hits Best romantic movie of the year!!
- What happens in Vegas
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan
- Wanted w/ Angeline Jolie
- Knocked out
- College Road Trip: stupidly funny w/ Martin Lawrence and Raven.
- Steps Brothers: I'm marked for life by Will Ferrel's nuts on a drum
- Hancock
- The Dark Knight -- astounding performance of the Joker and the cute Chris Bale
- Tropic thunder - A funny war parody w/ an astounding performance from Tom Cruise
- Traitor - Don Cheadle under a new light
- Burn After Reading - (I should've waited for this movie to come on DVD)
- Tyler's Perry the Family that Preys.
- Body of Lies - An amazing thriller with Leonardo Di Caprio
- Fireproof - For every couple on the verge of divorce
- Role Models - Americans comedy have gotten worse
- Changeling - Angelina Jolie, despite being a mother in real life, just doesn't strike as a mother type in her movies.
- Quantum of Solace - A meaner, swifter and blonder Bond than ever!! -- Adrenaline Rush.
- Four Christmases - Vaughn and Witherspoon not boring at all!!
- Transporter 3 - Totally worth my money just seeing those chocolate bars on Statham, yum yum --JB007 or JS? The choice can be hard. -- Adrenaline Rush.
- The Tale of Despereaux --> I have really grown up, I no longer enjoy cartoons as I used to.
- Seven Pounds --> such a depressing and traumatizing movie that I've dreamed of an alternative ending the next day.
-----The list is far from being done as I'm planning to watch "Doubt", "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" , "Marley & Me".
There are few movies that I would recommend: the independent one "Irina Palm" was quite intriguing, it's the type of movie that one would watch as a last resort. However it makes you wonder: "What would you have done, were you in the woman position?" Many of us, under "extreme" circumstances have found ourselves doing the exact opposite of what we believe, the negation of what we show to the world daily.
I very much enjoyed Don Cheadle in "Traitor" and DiCaprio was a bliss in "Bodies of Lies".

Books:
- Dossiers extraordinaires: part 2 by Pierre Bellemare & Jacques Antoine.
- 7 habits of highly effective people
- Le Combat Ordinaire - a cartoon about a psychoneurotic character who's been seeing a shrink for 8 years.
- Cul-de-sac by Douglas Kennedy
- Changement de Decor by David Lodge: I hate the guy, he got me w/ his ending. No actually, I think the guy hates his readers, what an ending!!
- Le Bucher des Vanites by Tom Wolfe -- English Version: The Bonfire of the Vanities. A 911 pages beast -- every page worth my time.
- Ten thousands of online articles (does this count?)
- CakePHP (would this count?) -- A complete guide to rapid development framework.
- David Lodge Thinks... By David Lodge --> Work In Progress.
From my reading collection I would highly recommend "Changing Places" which is the English version of "Changement de Decor" by David Lodge.
My selection of french books (or should I say books in French) was driven by the desire to reconnect w/ Moliere's Language. And I would like to thank my very good friend Oliver for his help on this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Must A Woman do During Recession?

It's official, we're in a recession!! Girl, it's time for you to get in charge of your finances. Stop clinging to your baby daddy, your sugar daddy or your rent daddy and start acting like the real woman that you are. I've gathered a few tips here and there, some from friends, others from experience and thoughtful articles:
- Keep on paying yourself first whenever you get that paycheck. Whether you're making $1000.00/month, more or less, whatever the amount you can always save. I used to make $1200.00/month, that's $600 every two weeks and I would put away $100 every pay day, then locked in a short period CD account. That money sure was handy in times of turbulence.
- Call those credit card companies and request a lower interest rate. Most of them will automatically increase your line of credit but will never proactively offer you a lower rate. Why would they? The higher the rate, the more money they're making.
- Stop running your mouth on the phone, reduce your cell phone rate plan and asks your BFFs, Frienemies and sugar daddy to call after 9pm (or 7pm if you're with Sprint).
- It's definitely not the time for a new car, especially with the Big 3 going down. Fix the one you got. Forget about Toyota and Honda, credit is tight, you'll be lucky to get a loan. And even if you get the loan, you could be handed a pink slip instead of a paycheck next month. 250,000 jobs went down last month, preceded by 154,000 the month before, you think you're secure? Think again.
- Don't buy what you can't afford, buy what you need and not what you want. I know I'm guilty here, I bought a $2.50 Santa hat amongst other things.
- Don't stop funding your 401(k), get it to the minimum 6% (or whatever it is) to qualify for your company match and the extra cash, dump it in a Roth IRA.

That's it for now. Do not hesitate to add to the list and to share your own tips and tricks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mitt got it Right

I have to admit, Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney got it right, we should let Detroit go bankrupt!! Not only does he clearly explain the problem, he also offers a solution. Please take time to read the article in its integrality on the NY Times. In time of crisis like now, experience may come handy but it's judgment that counts. Mitt got it right!!.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SERIOUSLY??

Oh no, he didn't!! "Half of that sum, in a worse economy, simply isn't enough firepower", seriously?!!! You must be kidding me Hank!!(please, I hope you don't mind the familiarity, after all, I just gave you almost a trillion dollar of my money)! How much more of our tax money do you want to "rescue" your friends on Wall street? "More, baby, more" I bet that's your answer. After blatantly confessing your incompetence and I quote: "There is no playbook for responding to turmoil we have never faced", why should I trust you with more money? And don't get me wrong, as much deference I give you for your shrewdness regarding some economical matters (excluding the current crisis), as much disdain you'll get from me as you so openly mismanage this financial carthasis. Your Wall street friends should be held accountable for their unscrupulous deeds. Their assets should be seized and their offshore accounts frozen, then they should be prosecuted and be sent in vacation to ones of those FCIs. Thousands are seeing their retirement account shrink by the hour, some are forced to stay longer in the work force and others will just have to file for Chapter 11. And to your friend Bernanke who thinks "it will not be productive to disclose the names of the banks" that are lining up for a piece of the big pie (SERIOUSLY??!!) , I have a question: If any significant other of yours were to ask/borrow from you only $1million, wouldn't you inquire what they intend to do with the money and how and when you'll get it back? So what makes you think we, the tax payers, we, the people on main street, do not deserve the same respect? This is not about experience, PhDs and other big diplomas from Ivy League schools, it's about judgment, astute judgment and accountability.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whose Bailout is it anyway?

How should the Bailout money be used?
No need to be a savvy to understand the current lockdown in our economy. As a matter of fact that's Econ 101, ok granted maybe Econ 102, but it was rather bemusing to notice how long it took Mr. Treasury Secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson to conclude that he needed a way to force banks to loan money again. For beginners, the financial market is in such deep doo-doo because of markets freeze on cash lending. Even an 850 fico score does no longer guarantee that you'll get a loan to pay for that new "beemer", and let's forget about that Heloc you thought you could tap into.
This whole mess started with the subprime mortgage. "Predatory borrowers" as would say Phil Gramm, bought houses with money they didn't have, took loans they couldn't afford, and got ensnared into payments they couldn't make. Gramm, who has been quoted lately, thus coining the phrase "a nation of whiners" referring to America, is a strong advocate of free market and an ardent forceful voice of market deregulation, argues that "subprime lending is the American dream in action" as he recounts how his mother, a young nurse working double shifts to support her family of 5, bought a bungalow as a "result of a finance company making a mortgage loan that a bank would not make".
On a slightly different note, Gramm goes as far to say it is hard for him "to feel sorry" for Social Security beneficiaries and has urged for a reduction, if not an extermination of the food stamp program. I used to think like him, more so as an Immigrant who has worked her behind off to get where I am today, until about two years ago I watched a video of this middle age woman who had to rely on such program and charity to support herself and her family to meet ends. She had two bachelor degrees and a master, had a good job, owned her house. Then one day she got ill, very ill and was forced to take some time off her job, then some more time off, ran over her FMLA and finally got axed because her company could no longer afford her absences. With her source of income been cut off, her medical bills started piling up, she had to get rid of her house (or did she lose it through repossession? I can't quite remember), finally found herself on the street. I had no choice but soften my views on federal aids and their recipients. Of course, there are some abuses and I would agree for some more stringent laws that can curtail them. However, no need for a PhD to figure out that GREED will break loose if not carefully "monitored". Greed got hold of Fannie Mae executives as they would fattened up their pocket books with bonuses as high as $11.6 millions in salary for its former CEO Franklin Raines, $86k in bonuses for 749 lucky as reported by Peter Miller from the Realty Times. Even at a microsystem scale, we've seen spouses kill their partner in a hope of cashing some life insurance money, or empty their bank accounts and flee to greener pastures with their "grinner" lover. We've seen people confessing of the most gruesome acts thinking they would not get caught. What's make Mr. Gramm & Cie think the same wouldn't not have happened with those big shots that, we, tax payers are now imposed on to bail out? With the "blamees" been identified, what about an effective solution to get us out of the ditch? Paulson has shown some modicum of intelligence by first stopping short from buying bad assets from those companies that need "help" and second by recognizing that banks need to resume lending. For a small illustration, this is what the lending freeze is creating. For a company that sells goods and services, their clients need to borrow money that will allow them to acquire the good or service (may it be a new software that enhances or improves in many aspects the way they conduct their business and overall increase profitability). Now if the banks refuses to loan the cash, the client can't purchase the good or service, the selling company no longer makes money, thus can no longer afford to pay its employees, which leads to some layoffs, and the laid off employee can't pay their bills, which leads to more credit card debts, ultimately bankruptcy. Third, Henry Paulson need to find a way to force those banks to lend again and let the economy flow. The law does not currently oblige banks to lend money, that's why the term "negociations" exist. Paulson could upon pouring our tax money into those troubled companies require them to:
- Fire all those execs who were incompetent enough to allow this mess to see daylight;
- Improve lending practices using regulatory methods that would still generate reasonable profits for them and permit small and big businesses to keep current jobs and why not, expand.
Home owners should definitely be given priority (although some of them should not qualify) as well. It would reduce the exponential rate of foreclosures, which in turn will help deserving homeowners to keep the value of their house if not higher than what they were bought for, then equal to their selling price.
Hopefully, this economical downturn will teach each one of us a lesson: America please learn to live within your means.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've learned to like/love my job

For those who don't know me, I'm a professional Software Engineer. My friends to tease me, call me a geek which I dislike but not so much now cause I've learned to love my job. It all started very recently. I had noticed I'd complain about work, long hours at the office, endless troubleshooting issues and little reward aside the little thrill one may get when a problem is solved. So I decided I had to do something about it.
First I tried to stop whining about it, to no avail until one day, I came across a great quote from my friend V. (she doesn't even know it): "I'm embracing my geeky side and I'm loving it" and it just dawned on me, instead of fighting it I needed to embrace my geeky side. After all that's why I went to school for. I could feel my neurons racing and dancing throughout my nervous system, and my frontal lobe thrusting its torso, I had just liberated them!!
I needed change, a change of attitude, a change of heart which sent me retracing my path on how I got there in the first place. For starters, I've never really dreamed of becoming a Developer although I've got both my Associate and Bachelor in Computer Science.
Back in the mid 90s when I was in high school, at the end of our freshman year, we, the students, had to choose between literature and science. I chose to do science cause I thought literature was too "easy", I mean, boring and frankly there was no interesting jobs in the field. After our sophomore year, we could or our advisers could choose whether we'd further our studies in Natural Science or Hard Core Science (Math, Physics & Chemistry). I chose the latter because I never had a thing for natural science, it required to carry around an encyclopedic book which students had to literally memorize in order to pass the national exam at year end. I'd prefer math and physics cause there's little to no memorization involved. Then came college time, I decided to go with Computer Science, I found it fascinating, mostly challenging. And this is when, I believe, the downfall started. In college, I had two jobs, one full time and one part-time while going to school full-time, all of this in order to pay for school tuition, rent and food. It paid off at last, I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Although I had good grades in school, it's until I got my first job as a Professional that I realized that I was just studying to get by, enough to maintain a certain level of knowledge. This time, I couldn't just do enough to get by, I became accountable for my deeds bad, good or in-between. The extra effort made me resent my job and everything that came with it, overtime, strenuous issues, the very thing I got trained to do became a source a profound distaste, it was clear and imperative that something had to change.
Upon my brain cells liberation, I felt a sense of betterment embalming my inner being. I knew I had just hit my golden pot. After all every success comes with sacrifices, it's just a matter of analyzing the cost/benefits balance. I weighed what it would cost me to right the helm that I had unconsciously let slipped away. The choice was evident and today I can confidently say I love my job.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Obama's Victory taught me

As the victory of the FIRST Black President of the United States of America was unfolding yesterday in front of my eyes, I started thinking back how it all started. I thought of the Primaries and remembered how strong and still he remained throughout the lows. Even as Senator Clinton realized that victory was slipping away from her by "throwing at him the kitchen sink", President Obama stood still, strong and true to himself, even as the famous Rev Wright "turned his back on him" he stood still, strong and true to himself, even when it appeared that the GOP VP's pick had galvanized not only the republican base but the undecideds, he stood still, strong and true to himself. There are times in our lives when all seem to go the opposite direction, when long time friends (like Rev Wright) turn their back on us, when every plan is unplanned and the ultimate decision that we face would either do us or undo us. What do we do then? Do we look inward to pull up that strength we need? Or do we look outward at disconcerting events and reacting to them? Do we look up upward to that Guy upstairs for discernment and wisdom? Or do we look at other people who may not have our best interests at heart? Do we stay true to ourselves and ideals, to our values and beliefs?
Barack Obama led the most amazing campaign in the history of American Politics. The dishes, the sink and even the Plumber were thrown at him, he dissociated himself with the troublemakers, he reasserted himself, remained true to the American people who have supported him and HE PREVAILED!!!

MAY GOD BLESS THE UNITED OF AMERICA "and nobody else".
CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I did it at last...

As die-hard Hillary supporter, I was pleased to see that Senator Obama had a special spot on his site for her supporters. So, I finally did it, I donated to "The One". Below is the thank you note I've received from an automated system. One thing intrigued me as i was filling up the form, one of the check boxes said and I quote:
  1. I am a United States citizen or a lawfully-admitted permanent resident.
Does this mean that a political refugee or an International student or someone on a H1B visa, all of the above are some of the legal statuses in this country, can't donate to a campaign? After all, even they can't vote, the political decisions would also affect them same as a United States citizen or a lawfully-admitted permanent resident, so why the disclaimer?

Dear Patricia,

Thank you for your generous donation of $50.00.

From the beginning, this campaign has been built and funded by supporters like you giving only what they can afford.

In the final days of this election we need to work harder than ever to build our movement for change. Here's how you can get involved to make sure that on November 4th, we get the change we need.

* Give Barack a Day -- Volunteer in your home state or travel to a battleground state for the last four days before the election:

http://my.barackobama.com/giveoneday

* Canvass your neighborhood or call from home -- Undecided voters need to hear from supporters like you, and our online tools make it easy:

http://my.barackobama.com/n2n

* Vote -- Make sure everyone you know has the facts on where to vote, what to bring, and opportunities in your state to vote early in person or by mail:

http://www.voteforchange.com

Thank you again for your generosity,

Obama for America

P.S. -- Want to show your support with some Obama-Biden gear? There are plenty of great items at the Obama Store.

Right now, you can get 25% off your whole order with coupon code: 25OFF

http://store.barackobama.com

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I cried...

I cried at a movie today, Fireproof was the title, a kind of movie a la Tyler Perry with Kirk Cameron as the lead actor and cuter than ever (Sorry Chels, your husband is just a cute guy). I'm not a big fan of tears even when it comes to my own challenges but what I watched was just very touching so to speak. Although I 'm not going to use this post to narrate the movie, a few weeks ago after I'd just seen Tyler Perry's the Family that Preys, I realized why people usually don't rush to see his kind of production. Tyler Perry's movies are very down to earth, they're about our everyday lives, the struggles we face, our failed or successful relationships, the influence of money of lack thereof and last but not least God. There are many reasons people watch movies, but one, if not the main is: to evade, to escape. To escape from that nagging wife, to escape from those noisy kids, to escape from that sick parent who needs care, to escape from that debt that keeps piling on, to escape and not have to think. That's why movies like The Matrix, SpiderMan, Batman, 27 dresses, The Devil wears Prada and so on are such hits. They help us get into this virtual world where their reality becomes ours for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. With Tyler Perry or movie like Fireproof, it gets personal. Any cheating wife, or dead beat father who has watched The Family that Preys would think they're in the dock. Any husband who would rush to work if there's an emergency or open their laptop to solve that service request but won't lift the finger when their own wife needs them whether it's for washing the dishes or just for quality time, would definitely feel uneasy while watching Fireproof. These kind of movies puts us on trial, they dare us to look at ourselves (or at least part of ourselves) into the mirror and to truly face our inner demons. There's no way to evade, no way to escape, oh yes there is, we can always get up and leave.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm listening to


Amel Bent Ma philosophie clip
Uploaded by amelbentattitude


My philosophy

I've got one philosophy
To be accepted as I am
In Spite of what I'm told
I keep my fist raised
For better for worse
I'm biracial not a martyr
I go on lighthearted
Always with my fist raised
My head high
My thrusting torso
Constantly striving
Life leaves me no choice
I'm the Ace that beats the King
Despite our struggles and differences
And all those constant insults
I will raise my fist
Higher and further
Aiming at the moon
Doesn't scare me
Even when I'm older
I still believe with all my heart
Sacrifices I'll make if needed
I've alreay made them
Always with my fist raised
I'm not like all those girls
Stared at and undressed
I'm curvy and well shaped
It warms up hearts
I'm from the ghetto
And I'm proud
More love than misery
more heart than stone
I've got one philosophy
To be accepted as I am
With strength and smiles
My fist raised towards the future

My head high
My thrusting torso
Constantly striving
Life leaves me no choice
I'm the Ace that beats the King
Aiming at the moon
Doesn't scare me
Even when I'm older
I still believe with all my heart
Sacrifices I'll make if needed
I've alreay made them
Always with my fist raised

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Should Africa expect much from Obama?(2)

In my previous post, I talk about Africa in a very broad and general manner which brought some criticisms from my readers. Therefore in this post, I'd like to clarify a few points to support my claim: "Africa is cursed". There is an underlying "African Effect", an electrical voltage that runs through out most Africans countries, could it be poverty as my friend Virginia suggested? Or something bigger, or a superstitiously [non] empirical doom that has proved to be Africa nemesis. Or maybe it's just as blatant and simple as what has brought Wall St to its knees: GREED.
- The Sudanese government has sold its soul to China in exchange for guns and Oil for China. Talking about China, someone at the meeting asked a question to one of Obama's representatives: "Would Obama curtail China action in Africa? As China has been selling weapons to propagate the genocide." The answer: "Absolutely, Obama spoke with President Nelson Mandela along w/ other Leaders who give him advices." (it was clear that the Rep had no clue of what advices were given or what specifically Obama intends to do once in the office)
Nevertheless, here is an advice that I have for him: "Get rid of all those "leaders" of disasters who have been in power for over quarter century starting with: Paul Biya in Cameroon.
Or at least, could he reinforce what The Bush Administration has already started, in appointing a command for Africa, whose goal is "to prevent conflict, as opposed to having to react to a conflict
" as defined by the Appointee, General William E. Ward.
- Cameroon, along with many other African countries (Chad, Nigeria, Gabon, and so forth...) is full natural resources but its population is as poor as church's mice while its rulers drive latest trucks models, send their kids to Fustell de Coulanges (a prestigious school) and get their healthcare overseas.
Its diaspora would like and has tried to intervene with not much success. Andrew Mwavu, the townhall's moderator, mentioned that as a 31year old male, this 2008 Presidential election will be the very first one in which he will vote!! My first reaction to it was shock, then ten seconds later I realized we (most of the attendees in the room) were all in the same boat: Here I am at 27 and I've never voted on anything anywhere. Somehow, it's true that for a big number of Africans who have left their country whether is for study abroad or better professional opportunities, they have by ricochet "forced" themselves to exile and thus have no political influence in their native country.
Of course not everywhere is chaos in Africa, there are some success stories like in Rwanda as noted by Patrick, and Senegal which despite its size half one's of Ivoiry Coast, has a much stronger economy and has seen its inflation fall to 3.3% in 2003 from 32% in 1994.
Obama may have a Kenyan father, he may have some sweet policies for Africa, and he may even be the next US President, would he have any major impact in the continent? I have great reservations about it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Should Africa expect much from Obama?(1)

Africa is cursed! Period.
It's been quite some time now that I've intended to express some opinions of my own about what an Obama Presidency would do for Africa. However, in all fairness, I decided to attend a town hall meeting branded "Africans for Change" sponsored by the Obama Campaign and hosted by Andrew Mwavua, a 31 yr old Kenyan native. The scheduled start time for the meeting was 2:30pm, I got there ten min late as I got lost on my way. Nevertheless it didn't start til exactly 3:20pm which is quite "early" given it was an event organized by Africans. I really can't explain where this laxity with time comes from in regards to Africans whether they are Kenyans, Cameroonians, Liberians, Togoleses or Nigerians. Invite them to a 4:00pm party and they won't start showing up til about 7pm.
Back to the point, instead of writing a very long diatribe about my people in one post, I'll try and do it in two parts or more. In this first post, I'll expose some of the reasons I believe that dear continent (no, Africa is not a country) of mine operates under a malediction.
  • Darfur: Remember Darfur? A region located in Southwest Sudan where since February 2003, the genocide has resulted in 2.5 million deaths as reported by Eren Göknar from the Town Crier. This is not a conflict with another nation, nor a fight against terrorism. It's one nation, one people killing each other based on their tribe difference. 2.5 million deaths!! just a million shorter of LA population, and nearly the whole town of Chicago. Imagine for a second the city of Chicago completely annihilated, wiped out of the map. That's what Africans are currently doing to each other.
  • Rwanda: 14 yrs later Rwanda has still not recovered from the genocide that ripped apart its land -- 800,000 and 1,000,000 is the estimated death toll. Skeletons, debris from the war, are now displayed as a genocide museum at Murambi Technical School. Videos of compelling stories about that "endless screaming silence" as described by Fergal keane, a very gruesome era, can be found here.
  • Democratic Congo (ex Zaire) : it's been only 5 years since the conflict has "ceased". The massacre was so deadly that it was baptised African World War III. Today another form of war has taken place: poverty, famine, malnutrition and diseases.
These are just few major examples that have captivated and were reported by the International media. Just a few years ago, it was Nigeria --the Northerners against the Southerners, Muslims vs. Christians. Some have reported to lie to muslim authorities by passing themselves as christans to avoid lapidation. More recently it was Kenya and then Cameroon. There is always something disastrous going on in Africa. I've come to believe that Africans don't like themselves very much, if not at all, let alone their own brothers or sisters.
At the town hall meeting the host/moderator Andrew urged us, Africans, to unite, to form one body, one community in other to effectively make our voice heard by those leaders who take decisions on behalf of Africans without Africans involved. He emphasized the power of unity by citing the Cuban and Jew communities as examples, who have become such powerful entities that no politician can get elected in some areas without "paying them homage". There is no doubt about the power of oneness: when a couple becomes one, babies are born, families are founded and clans are formed. And when people become one, Nations are born and Things happen. Can Africans surmount their hatred for one another to reach that goal?

A special thanks to my friends Yves for the links to the videos, and Paule for inviting me to the townhall.

--Patricia JB--

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer is over!!


It's been about three weeks that the weather here in our town has been reminding us that summer time is all behind!!
A summer of Trips and Rejuvenation,
A summer of life changing decisions
A summer of Hope
A summer in Gottingen
A summer in Jersey
A summer in Paris
A summer in Philly
A summer in New York
A summer of Peccadilloes
A summer of Faith
A summer of Opportunities
A summer of Dreams
A summer of Realities
A summer of Enjoyment
A summer of Delight
A summer of Friends
A summer of Hobbies
Fall is right here!!
A Fall of all my favorite shows: Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, Jungle Lipstick, Life, gosh, where am I gonna take time to watch'em all?
And last but not least
A Fall of exciting politics

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things Observed

I like observing people sometimes to a fault, and then examine my thoughts about my own observations. Therefore in that same spirit, I was in church one day and I noticed a couple sitting at the end of an aisle, I knew it was a couple because the guy's arm was resting upon his partner 's chair and I thought: "wow, we have a become a very progressive, revolutionized church!! A gay couple in our church!?" I was marveling about the idea until the other "guy" got up and stepped out (maybe to go to the bathroom?) and I noticed a pair of boobs and somehow, a little disappointment ran me through: "Too good to be true. May have to wait for some more time, to see a gay couple in my church".
Today, as I was sitting I watched a contingent of five walked by: a very young girl 16-19ish holding in her arms a baby girl (the baby was swaddled in a pinkish blanket), a middle age woman that I assumed to be the young girl's mom and following behind was an equally young man (early 20s) holding a probably 2-2(1/) years old very blond boy. The middle age woman and young girl sat next to each other, the young man sat next to the young girl and that's when I dreadfully noticed a wedding band on the young girl's finger. And the whole ordeal made me think of Bristol (Palin's pregnant teenage daughter and the fact that Bristol and her baby's father were to marry in a near future). For a minute, I admired the courage of this young girl and man, mother and father of two to forgo her/his "future" to take care of their kids. Yes I think it requires courage to bring up a child especially if it wasn't planned, as Lord knows how many would rather take la clé des champs (as the French say) or go to greener pastures.
There was also a baby dedication and as the pastor was reading the babies's name that needed to be dedicated, I noticed parents like giving all those biblical names to their child in the hope their kids will grow up to be just like the personage they carry the name: Malachie, Melkisedec, Jedediah, Schekinah...etc. This often makes me wonder if a name truly has any influence on one's self. I so believe in our free will that gives each one of us the ability to make good or bad choices that I really have a hard time grasping the methodology behind baby's name choice. Moreover, as that dear pastor of mine often says: "A child will grow doing what we tell them until they reach the age when they'll do exactly what we do".
Earlier today, I scanned the NYTimes front page and drilldoown on a link about this English teacher, brilliant writer who hanged himself two days ago (the body was found in his home), his name: David Foster Wallace. The news ignited a flow of questions: why did he commit suicide? Was he not fulfilled? He wrote the "The Infinite Jest" (I swear to God, I remember seeing that book lying around in the house somewhere, got to read that), a book who apparently revolutionize Post-modern litterature. What was such a burden on him that he thought taking his life away would appease him? Was he not happy? What was so monstrous that he couldn't bear the thought of seeing his reflection in a mirror? Why Mr. Wallace, why? 46 only? Why?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

McCain to Palin

Who ever put this thing together is a genius...hilarious!!! Click here to listen

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Immigration: My take on it

As a liberal conservative and an immigrant of this country, my points of view on immigration could be conflicting at times. I believe one of the strong appeals of the U.S. is their welcoming of foreigners. And of course as any country, not only do they have to regulate their immigration laws but also need to enforce them as well. Most illegal immigrants have not come here illegally, many come with a visitor status then decide to stay or get a student visa then forgo school. Thus finding themselves in very compromising situations.
There are many aspects on immigration that remain somehow "obscured" and lots of prowesses that Illegal immigrants deploy to "fix" their status. I know of one particular poignant, see disastrous story of such kind, it will feature in one my upcoming posts. Nevertheless, I'd like to bring to light a new kind of immigration path that, if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would implement it, could truly enhance the quality of immigrants in this country. I've often times thought about it when I was completing my undergrad degree, thought of me as a genius til I read a similar suggestion from Thomas Friedman last year (great minds think alike, uh). In his post, Friedman reports that he was at a commencement ceremony at one of America greatest Science and Technology school and as the students' names (Ph.D students) were read, he noticed all of them had foreign consonance “Hong Lu, Xu Xie, Tao Yuan, Fu Tang”, had he been at Park university, it would be "Peter Mwangi, Patricia Kengne, Michael Aboagye, Feneal Kromah", all of them from African ascents and titular of computer science degree. On the 55,000 immigrant visas that DHS distributes through its Diversity Visa Lottery, if only half of it could be granted to current international students who have completed their studies, this would guarantee an imperishable amount of human resources in Science & Technology and many others areas where there's shortage. Friedman even goes as far as suggesting that an Immigration Officer should sit during one of those ceremonies and affix those students' diplomas with a U.S Citizen status.
Now, what about cherries' pickers, cleaning engineers or grass cutters? Yes, what about all those blue collar workers who contribute so greatly to our economy? And no, they're not taking away jobs from Americans, they're filling up jobs that Americans do not want. They take of our elderly in nursing homes, they clean up our offices after business hours, they cut off our grasses, they serve us fast food at check out windows, they pay taxes by sending money to their family using American companies such as: Western Union or MoneyGram. I believe the American government should find a way to let them stay here, they should augment the number of H2B visas, and give taxes subsidies to company that recruit and sponsor them.
And yes, if an illegal immigrant commits a crime, they should be deported no question asked. If a legal immigrant commits a crime, they should be tried squared and fairly.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits

The spell has been cast, my girl has lost a battle but not the war. "The sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits" the best corny phrase I've heard from the forever great Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. Her speech was simply amazingly beautiful. I'm a die hard supporter of her for all the reasons I've mentioned on my previous posts. Her defeat was personal to us who have shown her our support throughout the primaries, but time heals wounds as deep as they may be. And now has come the time to face our two choices left in this presidential race. McCain vs. Obama, will we trumpet our emotions and let them cloud our judgment? Or shall we take a step back, reflect on all the important issues that are at stake and make a wise and informed decision?
- National Healthcare: to quote my Econ teacher "On the 16 top industrialized countries, America is the only one without National Health care although it costs less and people live longer"
- Education: I remember a post from Friedman [V. just pinged me, the GOP Veep's a WOMAN!! Dang it Dang it and Dang it...McCain just picked a woman as his running mate: Sarah Palin a mother of 5 still married to her first husband, even Michele Obama doesn't beat that!!...I'm anticipating a very heated election campaign, so hot that it'll "increase global warming" to quote Bill. I know nothing of the woman and I'm already torn between two camps.] deploring the deficit in American human resources in areas such as: Engineering, Biotechnology, Physics and Computing.
- Economy: Unemployment 5.7% (although my Econ teacher says that the true rate is 11.4% twice the reported rate because the Department of Labor only considers 3 types of unemployment from the 7 that exist) the highest it's been since almost two decades.
- Immigration: I have a personal take on it that will appear in a future article
- Last but not least: The war in Iraq. We need to reunite families that have been apart because of this "dump war", rebuild our military, thus our country.
The democratic party has had two superb runners up, the best won, tensions rose but should this be a reason to turn our backs on our fundamental beliefs and jump in bed with the devil?
This historical moment of our politics is very crucial, too much is at stake to leave it up to our emotions. [Dang it Dang it and Dang it, a WOMAN is the GOP Veep!!!......!!!!]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Death Clock

Heath Ledger opened the lead this year at 28, then followed Tim Russert at 50, Bernie Mac at 50, Isaac Hayes at 65, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones at 58. They all died this year, some of a sudden death, others with warning signs and this despite our life expectancy of 78 years in the US. All these people were respectively Actor, TV political moderator, Entertainer/Actor, Performer and Lawmaker. Ledger will be remembered through his movies and most likely will be posthumously rewarded for his stunning performance as 'The Joker' in The Dark Knight, Russert political commentaries will certainly follow us for a while, Mac's movie and sitcoms will always remind us of how funny of a man he was, Hayes music will keep him alive in the hearts of those who liked him, and as for Tubbs Jones, she was "the first African-American woman elected to the House of Representatives and a leader in the fight against predatory lending practices" as reported by DENNIS HEVESI from the Times. She will certainly be remembered throughout history books and other causes she fought for. 28, 50, 65 and 58 all these numbers way below our life expectancy, any year, any month, any week, any day, any hour, any minute, any second could be the time. Were they ready? What kind of legacy did they leave to their family and friends? Were they good spouses, dads and moms, teaching with words and by examples? Were they good colleagues? Have they known their time of death, would they have lived their lives any different than they did? Maybe Yes, maybe no.
According to my death clock here, I still have many years to live, many opportunities to reinvent myself (should I ever want to), many chances to do good and bad, many occasions to fall and get up and hopefully I'll be remembered for something positive.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And the Admiration Awards goes toooo......

BEYONCEEEE!!!!!!!!
This is not an article about Beyoncé , there are already several out there on the subject. What I admire about Beyonce is not her fame, albeit it has contributed to me knowing about her, nor is it how much she's worth though that raises eyebrows, but the hard work she puts into her work, her talent, her personality and her who-she-is. This is what I've learned from her and people like her (so to speak): The Williams Sisters, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson etc...I noticed all these people have determined what they like and want out of life and have put everything into motion to realize their dreams. All these people have to sacrifice in order to reach their goal, whether it's by training the bodies (physical, vocal chords, tours, games etc...) several times per day most likely with a coach even if they are already the best. I admire their humility as being coached or trained by someone else requires the ability to accept criticism and the determination to improve. Those people have stopped dreaming and started working towards and finally living the dream sometimes at levels unexpected.
A common root of successful people is that they're doing exactly what they enjoy. Thank God we're living in a culture where such thing is actually possible. However, the difficulty with the hoi polloi is identifying what it is that makes them happy. And as I was listening to an audio book this morning the author mentioned that if you don't know what makes you happy, ask questions, either to yourself or the people who know you the best and then quoted Buddha: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought" -- As the author pointed out, thought or thinking is the essence of creation (a theory inspired by quantum physics although known and revealed by the Bible in Genesis and the Koran centuries ago).
Of course if Thought was all there is to success (regardless of one's definition of it), we will all be successful creatures. And this is where comes affirmative action. Thinking, acting and working towards that ultimate goal that we set for our lives. I remember an acquaintance who used (and maybe still does) to share his dreams of creating a start up, he would talk about it to whoever wanted to lend him a pair of ears ignoring Walt Disney astute advice: "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." Beyoncé understood it, so did the Williams Sisters, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson and several others.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!


Joyeux anniversaire!! P.O

Happy 35th Birthday :) PJB

Happy Birthday, tu souffles sur une bougie de plus! -- A.D

Happy 18th Birthday :) -- E.K

oh ma cherie, comment passes-tu ton anniversaire? -- H.A

I just noticed it's your birthday today, I hope you have fun tonight!! -- S.M

Happy Birthday and best wishes!! -- Neal & Cliff

Je te souhaite également un joyeux anniversaire.bisou-- Kikes

Hey Happy Birthday, doing anything fun? -- KK

Joyeux anniversaire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Je t'appelle ce soir. -- A.N.

Patricia, Joyeux anniversaire, tu vieillis!! -- K.S

Many Happy returns of the day Patricia -- PK

Tu parles, j'avais completement oublie. Happy Birthday to you.-- FES

J'attendais ton coup de fil, tu sais que c'est toi qui nous rappelle tjrs notre anniversaire!! -- J.S.

Don't eat, we're taking you out!--F.S

I got you a card, Happy Birthday!! And the card reads:
We can't choose each person who makes up our family
But our family is lucky in one unique way
And that's having someone as special as you are
to think of so warmly on your special day!

Happy Birthday

LOVE,

A.S.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

John Carlos and Tommie Smith enlightened me


Until recently I still couldn't really grasp the reasons behind the anger that some African Americans have against their counterparts White until I watched some snapshots, during the ESPYS awards, of what John Carlos and Tommie Smith went through in their prime years. Smith and Carlos got respectively Gold and Bronze medals for their track records at the 1968 Mexico city Olympics. As the American national anthem was playing, they raised their fists toward the sky, which was depicted as being the black power salute, but explained by them as being the denouncement of racial inequality in the US. The gesture got them kicked out of the games, they lost their jobs and nearly their family. With Death threats sent their way, they had to fight for their lives. And today 40 years later, they received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award which is given to people whose "contributions transcend sports" to quote Beth Harris from the Oxford Press.

The images accompanying the journalist's narration of the events almost created in me a flow of anger towards the injustice that African American had to endure. The last time I remember entertaining such feelings was 11 years ago I went to watch the movie "A Dry White Season" from a book of the same name by Andre Brink about the Apartheid in South Africa. It's been nearly two decades that apartheid was abolished in South Africa and four decades since the Mexico "incident", the pain and humiliation is still fresh in a lot of minds, the wound has been healed but the scar is left as a reminder of the past.

However, should we cling to that past? How would being angry at the White guy/gal advance us? How would rebellion against the "White" system (dads and uncles in jail, drugs on the streets, teen pregnancies, irresponsible moms bringing up irresponsible kids, education forgone etc...) help us achieve our true potential?
Wouldn't it be more beneficial for the previous, current and next generation to come to embrace a peaceful non rancorous approach that would not only completely heal us as a nation but also unite us as one people? 40 Years 's indeed too short, but how long should it take?
Today, John Carlos and Tommie Smith effigies stand up in San Jose State University in remembrance of that day, of those days.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saltimbanco was in town!!


It had been a almost two decades since the last time I went to a circus. Last Saturday was a chance for me to get reacquainted. Circus had always been something I enjoyed watching especially on TV (back in the days when our national TV station would fill up the program with such selection). Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco honored our town with their presence. I was quite surprised not see any children at the show. Mostly adults coming to have a good time.
- They had a musical band that would accompany the choreographers.
- A silent 'soliloquy' (if that makes any sense at all): we, the audience, could follow the protagonist going through a door, locking himself up, fighting for air as water flowing down from a malfunctioning toilet was drowning, finally having s.o come to rescue him, all of this in a virtual staging w/ no real physical doors, water or toilet.
- The juggler had an impressive number too. He could juggle up to 7 balls as fast as 1.75miles/hr (wild guess, but it sure felt like it).
-The acrobats were the most lauded by the audience. They would hold each other with their ankles while swinging 150 feet (made up number but definitely felt like it) up in the air.
I mostly enjoyed the band and their music selection: a jazzy/souly moist kind of style. The soloist had an amazing voice well underlined by the 'Lion King' performance theme .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thank you note

I'm distractedly listening to Bobby Womack playing in the background. It's a saturday evening, it had heavily rained in the morning keeping me from doing any outdoor activity notedly going to Walmart. We're about to go to a family picnic organized by our little community here. And I'm thinking about some milestones in my life: my career, my family, my future and I marveled at the special attention the Man upstairs has always carried my way. I'm thinking about years back when I was working two jobs: One full time and one part time, struggling to pay for school tuition that I was attending full time. No time to reflect on things around me. And today I can afford to stay home the weekend, relax, read, travel (in and out the US) and compose some articles like this one. My family is always there for me. My future is undoubtedly shiny and shinier. All of this I owe it to you Big Guy. I owe you the wisdom you have imparted me: the wisdom to stay focus and the wisdom to make wise and wiser choices. Faith Hill, "There you'll be", is now playing. It's dedication to you my God, my Love, my Everything.

Thank you!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Female to Female

As I read Judith Warner's column today, I discovered something that I knew a long time ago but covered under the theme of admiration: I have a crush on Hillary Clinton!!
Warner describes the change in the atmosphere during an MIT workshop last week when it was a woman speaker. As she reports it: "We all became more familiar...We were all immediately drawn into relationships", then attributes it to the fact that "woman tend to speak more relationally". Having lots of guy friends to compare and quite few female ones, I can stand my ground and claim that, the change in the atmosphere as a female spoke comes from the fact that women are very competitive towards each other rather than supportive. In a female-to-female relationship, there's always that attitude of "if she can do, then I can to". I remember a few years ago, I had bought a nice looking convertible, one of my guy friend made a comment "That's a nice car!! How much did you spend on it?" whereas i got a sneer from a gal friend.
A woman will seldom wish happiness or tell her other female friend how proud she is of her without a nip of envy. The Sex and the City movie paints it so well when Carrie, all excited about her upcoming wedding, vents to her friend and says: "Please tell me you're jealous of me" and her friend to reply "I'm jealous of you". I laughed when I watched that scene as it so well depicts the reality of female friendships. Guys friendships (male-female) are less complicated, all they care about is if they can get through your pants. If the answer is yes, one point for them; if it's no, then whatever, they can still enjoy the company (of course as for any rule/theory there's always an exception). Early this year, as I got rid of a 'friend' and her clique, I took the opportunity to review my relationships, had to cut off some, had to add on some. I also got the conclusion that any relationship, especially the human ones, must be balanced to maintain the harmony. It must be give-take, take-give. Whenever the balance shifts, the equilibrium is lost and resentment follows.
Back to my crush on Hillary: I have yet to meet a highly achieving woman/mother, highly motivated, ambitious and intelligent as her. As best one can, I'm diligently building my own path, my own legacy: I'm 27, a professional Software Engineer, a blog writer and a voracious NYTimes reader :).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Under Different Skies

Don't hate, just appreciate, then congratulate ;).



video

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Illusion of Romantic Movies

I went to watch Sex and the City. I loved it!! (Of course as any straight woman!!). The only problem that I have w/ romantic movies is that, we (especially us women) can't help but dream we can live the same thing. More often we think that the movie has a better story line than our own life story. Then, we sometimes tend to and make the man in our life behave like the characters in the movies. When it turns sour, we lament that love only exists in fiction. I've got news, each one of us has his/her own love story, one as amazing and beautiful as the other. Some have a Cinderella ending and others don't. I remember this one from my friend Paul, he knew by age 20 who he wanted to marry, he courted the girl of his dreams and she fell in love with him and 5 or 6 years later, they got married. Unfortunately, Paul's job made him travel a lot and sometimes for long periods of time and his wife got resentful cause she found herself raising their kids alone (something she had never envisioned for herself). It got to the point where neither thought it was possible for them to stay together til one day Paul recalled the days he was courting his wife and what had enchanted him about her. His attitude changed, he became more supportive and never skipped one chance to remind her how important she was to him and their kids. They're still married, living happily. Some, if not most, have a disastrous ending. The 50% rate of divorce is the reflection. I believe good endings to stories more often than not are up to the protagonists in the relationship. It's all about appreciating what you have rather than what you think you could have, it's to stop dwelling on the imperfections of your relationship and celebrate its perfections.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How will I survive???

These primaries are stressing me out!! I promised myself not to immerse my mind into politics (reading articles, chatting w/ friends, thinking about it) until there is a clear Democratic Presidential nominee. I'm not kidding!! I'm boarding anxiety attacks!! I do have a conspiracy theory though and it comes from one question: Why Has Hill not dropped out yet? We're talking here about a smart woman, Ivy league educated. I mean, can tenacity lead to stupidity? She must know what she's doing or else something is cramming behind the Superdelegates doors. Here is the thing: none of the remaining candidates for the Democratic Party will be able to gather the 2025 for them to lock out the nomination, thus it comes back to our dear superdelegates. Despite their very public endorsement for either candidates, they can change their minds at any given time. Maybe she struck a deal w/ some of them. The key/most influential ones will try to ally some of their subordinates behind her. The D-day will come the Superdelegates will cast their votes and the difference between the winner and the non-winner will be a 1, 2 votes, maybe more but a single digit number. That way if she is nominated, there will be no way to accuse the party of racism. A simplistic but brilliant plan, if not, what's her strategy? What is she up to? I have my theory, what's yours? Now, I'm going on a hiatus and I'll be back after the final results.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Disloyal "Friend"

If Hillary wins the Democratic Party nomination, it will be huge slap on the face of many of her so called friends starting with Bill Richardson, the current governor of New Mexico. Richardson, before becoming the hideous flabby piece of tissue that he is now, used to play baseball as a pitcher in high school and college. His hard work earned him the election to a newly created third district in NM, then became chairman of several committees. I believe his acuteness in International Affairs stirred the attention of Former President Bill Clinton who, during his first term, appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, then U.S. Secretary of Energy, post that he kept til the remainder of the Clinton Administration. Now here is 2008, year of the most talked Democratic Presidential Race, the contenders are: a woman, wife of one of his very good friends fierce and tenacious, an African American coming from nowhere (popularity wise of course), a pretty boy who can afford a $400.00 hair cut and a Latino (our guy Richardson). The race grows tighter and rougher, all of them drop but the woman and the African American guy. And because of the long time relationship between the woman's husband and the Latino guy, it almost seems like a given, no naysayers, his endorsement should be hers. But then comes the stab in the back!! It is clear, the mask has fallen and he has revealed his true self!! The endorsement goes to the other guy, the new kid in town...Richardson has "fallen in love" with him, let's not forget, the kid has an easy tongue, and his words are unraveling. I love this quote from the book of Proverbs (was I not a Christian, I would still have bought a bible just to read that book): "There are friends who bring misfortune. A true friend is more loyal than a brother." The Latino had a chance to prove his loyalty, his friendship but he traded it for his egocentric unsatisfied self political ambitions.
Back then when the African American guy was courting the Latino, it was with a promise of them "making history", the odds looked good and seemed to play in his favor but now anything and everything is possible, the race is not over yet and Clinton, the woman is re-emerging...Let's sit, relax and watch!!

To Hill's Haters!!! She Works Hard For...

...the white house so you better treat her right!!!




Keep on the hard work Hill and let's go get Indiana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some Dirt on a Pretty Boy

When I read this Brook's Column, I salivated while rubbing my hands against each other. At last a "fair" assessment of the Obama's badness!! Since the beginning of the primaries, I have not even once read or heard anything bad about the guy which has led some people to assimilate him to the Anti-Christ: his charm, his eloquence, his distinguishableness, his Ivy League education, his charisma and him aspiring to the highest office in the world. Journalists were in awe with him, fans were exulting him all over the place and even convinced Straight Alpha-males had developed Gay sentiments towards him.
Whenever I start a political discussion with someone, the very first question is: "who do you support" and without a blink of an eye, I retort: "Hillary"!! And they are stunned cause the next question is: "why?". Why, as in why do I not support Obama who is black like me? And I tell them, before I'm black, I'm a woman and Hillary is a woman, therefore she gets my vote. However if she happens to lose the nomination, I'll support Obama.
Personally, I like the guy, well let's say I like his writings. I've gone through his two books: "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from my father". Though the reading is at the 5th grade level (which is recommended for most books of that kind), the style is very erudite. However his political speeches have left me unmoved, as to me just like any other politician or well rounded individual, he's a very ambitious man who, I believe, has the looks and the means to reach his political goals. But right now, America does not need well seasoned, arousing speeches. America needs a concrete plan on how to get out of the current economical downward spiral, a concrete plan to bring down Gas prices, a concrete plan to end the war in Iraq, a concrete to reestablish America once glorious image, a concrete plan to be once again the dreamland!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Tax Joke

Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.

Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts Anyway!

Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat. Tax his ties, Tax his shirt,

Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries, then Tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his PASS

Tax all he has Then let him know That you won't be done Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers, Then tax him some more, Tax him till He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he's laid.

Put these words upon his tomb, " Taxes drove me to my doom..."

When he's gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road UsageTax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Courtesy of Michael R.

Thank You Michael!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Rich People Give to Charity/Causes

There was a time I would have frowned upon one of those 'futile' causes (e.g spending U.S $20 millions to build a refuge for abused tigers) advocated by rich people. Today, I believe I know why rich people, regardless of their level of richness give more money to charity or causes than their fellow human beings as individual. Man (this is Man with capital M) is a fundamental wicked untrustworthy creature. Here is a story to illustrate my point. A guy, always in financial trouble, time to time one of his friends or relatives (I don't quite recall) will always bail them out, and each and every time the guy would come up with an excuse not to pay off his debt until one day, over a disagreement with his bailsman friend, he pulled out a gun and shot the friend. Ok, fine it's a fictive story, nevertheless it demonstrates the point according to which, Man in general is just a dishonest creature (of course there are exceptions to the rules). Some of us at some point in life we've faced a similar situation where borrowed money has not been paid back and as my dad always says "De bons comptes font de bons amis" which means "Good counts make good friends". Situations which have made giving to fellow human being difficult. I don't remember the last time I was charitable to a human being but I sure do remember the last time I gave out to a cause: Hillary's Campaign is on top of the list and one of my friends cancer or AIDS walk (I don't remember which). In any case, when it comes to the green monster, I always say: "Money is the root of all sort of evil, help out with the money you don't need and you'll spare yourself some headaches, and give out the money you don't need and you'll get it back in your taxes".

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Freedom Writers

For the most part, I disdain inspirational movies. They give you this evaporable feeling of vincibility, one that says 'I'll go out and change the world!' or 'I'll go out and be a better person!'
Freedom Writers is about this dedicated high school teacher who made a difference in the lives of her students through the power of books. The students were very hostile towards each other because of their assumed differences: differences in race, differences in taste, differences in appearance. The teacher, Ms G., as they called her made them play a game in which they find out they have a lot more in common than they thought. She made them read books in which they discover they're not the only ones throughout history to being marginalized: They're not alone.
Books cause the revolution of the mind, sometimes a revolution in a good way, other times a revolution in a bad way. Are books the only way to revolutionize one's life? Certainly not. They're definitely a mind opener. Sometimes I try to imagine the type of person I would have become, was I not able to read, to evade myself in an ocean of knowledge and erudition. I stumble, I can't imagine a reality different from what I currently live. Now, how does one translate that into a weapon of change? My friend Hamilton who is a teacher, gives us an insight. But for us who are not inspiring educators, or Oprah, what can we do?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pain

Random House Webster Unabridged Dictionary has nine different definitions of the word pain. The third one is the one I'm interested about: mental or emotional suffering or torment. Pain is one of those emotions, when related it creates into your interlocutor a feeling of empathy. However regardless of much descriptive one can be about their experience of a painful situation, pain remains as intimate and personal with oneself as is the experience of sex. When you think you're alone, its quiet presence reminds you of otherwise, it stares at you and you have no other choice but to stare back. When you share it with other people, it sits at a corner of a room, listens to you and when the people are gone, it comes and sits at the center and challenges you. It's a feeling of helplessness close to depression but not quite, a feeling of hopelessness close to dejection but not quite. It results from the impossibleness of controlling a situation and the worst of pains is the one that one did not choose to face, the one with the source close to your heart, close to a definition of oneself. The process of that feeling is unique to each individual, but common to all is the solitariness that all must face in the experience of it.
If pain was a color, it'd be black and red: Black to represent darkness, sadness, unhappiness; Red to represent: vivacity, stridency, authenticity (people can fake their joy, their happiness but not their pain or sorrowfulness).
If pain was a choice between God and the Devil, I'd probably choose God - God because He claims to be author of everything, including pain.
If pain was a medication, it'd be the "Nivaquine" - Bitter in the mouth and the stomach but strengthening the immune system.
If pain was a coding tool, it'd a compiler - no need to explain.
If pain was an institution, it'd be school - a hassle in itself but a mind sharpener, a character builder.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spitzer 's style

The Spitzer "scandal" lasted a whole 24 hr as the NYTimes front page story a few days ago. When I heard about it, I told myself 'here we go again, another one'. Perfect wife: attractive, intelligent, a professional (Silda is a corporate lawyer) and a mother. Perfect Kids: going to school, not involve with drugs, behaving just like kids with latest video game (whoohoo...PS3!!!). Perfect Job: I mean being a governor, and not some governor of some state hard to locate on a map like Wisconsin or Idaho, Governor of New York!! Come on guys, have a grip!! Anyway, I'm not here to beat upon you. I'll like to focus on the women. More often, we'll hear about the man infidelity and I'm asking myself what about the women? It's not like those men cheat by themselves, most of the times it happens with other women and definitely with married women as well (I'm excluding the gay clan here). Now, I don't understand the deal with married women but from my own analysis, women will cheat for these reasons:
- they're not getting any from their husbands/boyfriends or
- they're rejected by their husbands/boyfriends or
- they're mistreated by their husbands/boyfriends or
- they're complete sluts or
- All of the above
I watched the latest episode of 'Jungle Lipstick' and in there Nikko (a big magazine chief editor) is being unfaithful to her husband, hides it from her friends at first, then tell them and reassure them it's over, then start the affair all over again and hides it again from her friends. Then her best friend who is a mom, discovers it and is completely appalled by it and makes a comment directed to Nikko "Thank God you're not a mom, otherwise what would the poor kids have to live with!"
Do kids pay for the consequences of their parents reckless behaviors? Absolutely! There's so much a parent can teach their kids, but comes a time where the kids plainly imitate the parents actions regardless of what they've been taught.
Now back to the Spitzer's style, “He believed he could do whatever he wanted and not get caught, He had the perfect wife, the perfect children, the perfect job. But there was still self-loathing.”

Unconditional Love? I don't think so

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday and they said that family gives us unconditional love (and we're talking here about the family we have not chosen: mom, dad, sister and brothers, etc...). So it made me think, does unconditional love really exist? In my opinion, it is as existing as the teeth in a chicken mouth. Even God does not love us unconditionally, he requires us to believe in his Son Jesus-Christ in other for us to get in heaven (only applicable to Christians of course). If he truly loved us unconditionally, he could just open the gates of heaven to whoever is seeking them. The same apply for other types of relationships: husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, friendships.
For husbands and wives, they both take "vows", they both set up conditions in which their undying love may truly never die. "In sickness and in health" --> you can be sick but don't get so sick that it'll ruin my finances, or don't get an STD that is not coming from either of us. "For better or for worse" --> as long as the worse doesn't include an irreversible 'offense' such as cheating, or reporting my/your inappropriate behavior to authorities.
For friendship, there is this implicit rule according to which as long as you don't step into my territory, then we can be friends. Or a better one, as long as you don't have something better than I do, then we can be friends. Or as long as you don't steal what's mine, we can be friends.
I'm sure we all can find many instances of any type of relationships we have or had that came with some explicit or implicit conditions. Even a relationship with oneself is not unconditional. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any suicide, as suicide results from the fact that one can stand oneself. Unconditional love? I don't think so.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"2 Legit 2 Quit!!!"

CONGRATULATIONS on your victories HILL!! You're TOO LEGIT TO QUIT!! (<-- Click me)

Friday, February 22, 2008

My letter to the Delegates

Dear Delegates,
I'll like to take this opportunity to express the reasons why I support Hillary Clinton. Aside the fact she's a woman I can relate to, not only has she sustained the most public humiliation a woman can ever know, she chose to support her husband nevertheless, to keep her family united. She demonstrated forgiveness rather than revengefulness, togetherness rather than divisiveness. That's the type of leader that America should want. That's "Change we can believe in". I'm dismayed by the feminist attitude towards my girl Hill. When she wittily speaks and tactfully brings her point across, she's labeled as being not likable or to put in the words of an iowan caucus-goer "she's like a robot". Her track record is proof that she has demonstrated leadership and as a senator from NY, was put in a very difficult position when it was time to cast the vote for the war. Torn between the lives lost during 9/11 and the desire to bring to justice the people who had perpetrated such a hideous crime, I believe she's made the right choice of the moment. The 1993 Healthcare fiasco that the nation adamantly blames on her is merely an indication that back then America wasn't ready for Universal Healthcare. We were a prosperous nation, the job market was booming, Bill Gates was gaining name recognition by the hour world widely, a gallon of gasoline was around a buck if not less, in other words, life was beautiful and we, the American public, said "why fixing something that is not broken?" Today, the dynamics are different, there is too much at stake: threats of a deep recession, the mortgage crisis, rumors of another terrorist attack, this feeling of insecurity looms all over the nation (financial insecurity, job insecurity, etc...). Yes time for change has come and it is physically presenting itself in the person of Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An email from Hillary

This thing has gotten the best out of me!! I dreamed of Obama last night!! In the dream he had won the general election and chosen Edwards as his vice, and it wasn't clear whether Hillary whether his Supreme court Justice or the other way around. Lol.Yeah, I know this dream comes from the fact that she lost WI last night and it put me really down, I went straight to bed!! My hope has not faded yet and March 4th is really determining!! As a matter of fact I got an email from her, she needs my help and I'll give it to her like I have in the past. Ok ok ok...it wasn't an email directly from her, it was from her campaign, nevertheless, I'll be there for her. She's truly my heroine!! Go Hill!!

-- A believer against all odds --

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Proactive Approach to a Mistake -- An excerpt

Reactive Language

Proactive Language

There's nothing I can do.

Let’s look at our alternatives

That's just the way I am.

I can choose a different approach

S/He makes me so mad.

I control my own feelings

They won't allow that.

I can create an effective presentation

I have to do that.

I will choose an appropriate response

I can’t

I choose

I must

I prefer

If Only

I will


The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.
But not to acknowledge a mistake, not to correct it and learn from it, is a mistake of a different order. It usually puts a person on a self-deceiving, self-justifying path, often involving rationalization (rational lies) to self and to others. This second mistake, this cover-up, empowers the first, giving it disproportionate importance, and causes far deeper injury to self.
It is not what others do or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things. Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison through our entire system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison out.
Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.

--Stephen R. Covey--

Saturday, February 9, 2008

An exclusive: On Faith, Trust, Betrayal

The following is a piece of an interesting exchange that
I had with someone years ago. I'm sharing it with you in all its
integrality.


Isn't it fascinating how we all have different facets to our
personalities? And isn't it sad too that even the same
person who maybe on our side most of the time, who loves
us mostly can also turn around and say the most vicious
thing without us ever knowing about it?

We are so many things--betrayer, lover, friend, saint,
sinner, etc--that noone can see all of our being in total,
but are only subjected to slices of our personality at any
given time. I see this on a daily basis. Married men that
I work with, for example, men I've broken bread with, men
i've sat across the table while they hug or kiss their
wives or girlfriends. These same men would, out of the
sight of their wives or children, would turn around and
look at other women and talk about doing things to them
in the most vulgar way.

It continues to be a pretty disgusting thing to observe,
causing me in most occasions to remind them of their
commitment. I never--ever--did that when I was married.
It was not only a promise to my wife, but a personal
one between me and God.

And so we go on living under this illusion--faith really--
that the person whom we dined with, shared a movie,
discussed the most intimate of issues, the one who just
kissed us goodbye before heading to work, our lover,
friend, comrade--that this same person whom we trusted
above all others, can just as easily turn around and
betray that faith, that trust, within the blink of an eye.

And yet some of us continue to believe...we continue
to have faith in others. We must. Because without that
faith, the world would be an unbearable place to live in.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hillary My Hero!!


She has set the bar very high!!
The woman is a genius
Ambitious and courageous
I am almost envious
Determined and undeterrable
She's uncomparable
Compressed and oppressed from every corner
Yet she stands tall and stronger
Praised for her feminist activism
Yet criticized for her energism
How does she do it
I can only imagine it
Looked down for not dumping Bill
In her pain decided to climb the Hill
It takes one of a kind
To look throughout the blind
Despite the clouds and the crowd
And find something to be proud
Hillary you're my hero
To you my chapeau and my bravo
You have set the bar very high!!

Whose fault is it anyway?

I remember when I was a child, in my uncle living room, there was this citation "every man was born good but society has made him wicked." Reading that, I would think it makes sense justifying it with examples such as: a man (or a woman) gets his/her accent from the environment they grow up, they like or dislike certain things depending on what they've been exposed to. However if society renders one wicked, at what point is it the person responsibility to deal with the consequences of their own choices? At what point would the person stop blaming their surrounding, their family heritage and courageously face their action and say: "Sh**!! I've done wrong, and I need to take corrective action to remedy the situation?" I have a 15 yr old son that I'll call J., he's a very bright child, yet lazy. His dad has told me countless of time that J has a hard time digesting failures. If J has a bad grade, then it's the teacher's fault for not explaining the subject adequately; If J doesn't perform well in sports, then it's the referee's fault for putting him on the bench. Well it's understandable that a 15 yr old would try to justify his misdeeds, but should the same understanding apply to educated, well rounded adults? Can an adult excuse his/her behavior by explaining it away with: "My dad was like that, therefore I must be like him" or "when I look at my brothers, none of them got successful with the diplomas that they got in school". The former was once given to me by s.o who was trying to explain his irrational misdemeanor and the latter by a s.o (titular of a high school diploma and some college) who was trying to justify the failures in their life despite the many good opportunities surrounding them. As for myself, I believe there are things that one can control and other beyond one's control. And my philosophy has always been, control the things you can and leave it up to God to take care of the rest. In other words, if s.o has tried unsuccessfully to eliminate you, then you should take proactive steps to protect yourself. If you're the perpetrator, then act like an adult, apply the IBM rule aka I Blame Myself, right the wrong instead of blaming it on your genealogy or some third party.

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