My First Political Rally

26 10 2008

I’ve never been a political person, as I always thought politics was a sideshow intended to keep some people busy. Of course, this is the worst possible way to treat the democratic process, and this current election cycle is having a profound impact on my view of politics and the democratic process in the United States.

I would still classify myself as a Ron Paul supporter. If you see what is happening in the financial sector these days, it was pretty obvious that Ron Paul knew what he was talking about. He is the only person who ran in the primaries that wanted to not only end the war in Iraq, but remove all United States occupation of foreign countries. That meant closing all foriegn military bases worldwide. Perhaps this would be a drastic step to some people, but one that is necessary. Other countries have embasys here, but no military presence, so why does the United States have almost 200 bases abroad? Not that I know about foreign policy, but I do know that all those bases cost money to maintain. And rather than spend the money outside the US, why not spend it here? I could go on and on about the American Empire, as my research has lead me down some very disturbing rabbit holes. Needless to say, I didn’t like what I found, and it has motivated me to at least try to participate so that my children will have a future without such problems.

So, as it was today, part of my journey toward being a patriotic citizen of the United States, I took the opportunity to check out the Obama Rally in Denver today. I am in Denver for a programming class, and decided to use the time to recharge my batteries. I set up this trip nearly two months ago, and only last night, after trying to figure out what to do, did I find out that Barack Obama was going to be giving a speech at the Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver. I thought if nothing else, I would be able to hear what he has to say without media interruption, and I would be able to experience firsthand what all the fuss is about when it comes to political rallies, and take some cool pictures while I was out there.

Obama sign at rally in Denver, CO (10/28/08)

From my friend’s place, I took the lightrail to downtown, and in the process already ran into several nice people who were obviously voting for (or have already voted for) Obama. From there, it was on to the park, where a line that streched around several blocks awaited me. I forgot to bring my jacket because the forecast was supposed to be for nearly 70 degrees; it was 45 according to my iPhone. I wasn’t sure of what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the civility of the crowd. Only after I looked at the Denver Post heading did I find out that 100,000 people attended the event; the single largest crowd to attend a political rally in the United States. I feel pretty humbled to have been part of it, even if I was just one amongst many.

I was in the back of the crowd the whole time. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of Barack Obama, however, I did hear his speech. While I can’t say that I was deeply moved, I was impressed by his few moments of candor with such a large audience. He repeated many of the political jibber jabber that goes on in a campign without being demeaning or attacking his opponent below the belt, or with subjects that don’t really matter.

He arrived, he talked, and he left, and I was at least part of the moment. It’s not much, but it was still an impressive sight to behold. Prior this his appearance, but after his opening acts had completed their local campaigning, the sound of people chanting his name was something that I hadn’t heard before. I heard this faint chant of “obama” coming from somewhere. In less than a second, it grew lound enough that I could determine the source: the amphitheater where he would soon be speaking. And shortly after that, I could truely hear the chant in full blast. It was very impressive.

In all, I would say, that I am still a Ron Paul supporter. If the republicans had the wisdom to nominate him instead of their current nominee, well, things would be different. However, I actually took the time to read (listen) to Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, and was agast to find out that his struggles as a youth, as a working class man, as a parent and as a human were so close to my own, that it was clear that if I couldn’t vote for the guy to who made the most sense, well, I could vote for the man who at least symbolicly represents me in the government. And, that is perhaps the reason why he is so popular. The nation can see in him a little piece of themselves, somewhere. From the minority angle, to having only mom around, to having to fight for everything he ever had, this is the story of most American voters.

I’m not a drastically different person after all this political soul searching. I am moved after seeing so many people dedicated to the cause of getting one man elected to the office of President of the United States. I see their enthusism, and somehow find it containgious. I will continue to push myself to particiate in the greatest experiment in the history of the world, as it is the only way it will succeed. I want to continue to set a positive example and leave a good foundation for the future, for my children, and for everyone else’s children. That is what drives me these days, and it seems, that is what drives Barack Obama, and that is why he gets my vote.





Happy Earth Hour

30 03 2008

Last night, the city of Phoenix participated in the second annual Earth Hour. I had heard about the event last week, and I was glad to hear that more cities were participating this year. It was a little funny that our neighbors were very excited about the upcoming hour of darkness. I was sort of hoping to see a visible dimming of the nighttime glow around Phoenix. However, that did not occur, at least not from my vantage point so many miles from the center of Downtown Phoenix, where the 5 blocks of large buildings were turned off for the hour. While it this, and other events are great gestures of global awareness of global warming, I have to say that, for our household, every hour is Earth Hour.

This is a lot easier said than done as well since we are a technological family. We have three laptops running most of the time, as well as a plethora of disks for our own private networked world. Every device we have has some sort of power save mode so that our computers and networked peripherals can get along with the fewest watts possible. We also don’t watch TV that often, and only use only the minimum amount of lights necessary to see around the house at night. We don’t really light up the outside of the house, and it looks like no one lives here sometimes, but it’s energy and money saved.

Around the rest of the house, I replaced all the most frequently used light fixtures with flourescent bulb. We keep the stair lights on at night in case of an emergency trip to the bathroom. The original lights consumed 40 watts. The price of the two incandescent bulbs for the whole year was $23.36 Changing those two bulbs that are on 8 hours a night (sometimes more) for 365 days per year to CFLs (Compact Florescent Bulbs) costs $4.08 annually. Replacing only two light bulbs saved nearly $20/year of energy costs. Not only that, it saved 96 Kw of energy per year. If you spread that savings out to the whole house, the cost of the bulbs is taken care of in less than half a year. The rest is pure money and energy saved. Find out how much you can save by switching to CFLs.

So, while there are still those disbelievers in regards to the statement that man is causing global warming, they should still be cognizant of the fact that the Earth does not belong to them. If anyone, it belongs to our children, and their children. As such, everything you do now can have an impact on the type of world in which they live. The Earth’s resources seem infinite to so many who keep looking for resources like oil, but those resources will run out at some point. It’s up to us, the majority of normal people to start saving the world for our kids.





Security

6 03 2007

I’ve had this blog up for a about a year now, and I’ve got all kinds of great family history saved for posterity, and for when my kids grow up. The problem is the world we live in now is not the safest place, and I struggle with the safety of my family on a daily basis. I also recently read this article on the internet about other parents blogging about the same things as I am, and think that I should now start to at least safe guard some of the pictures of my kids from future prying eyes.

So, as such, I would like everyone who likes to keep up with my kids to get an account on Flickr.com and add me as a contact. I will be adding as many family members as I can shortly and sending invitations.

Please understand my reasons for this, and help to keep my kids (and yours) safe!

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Not So Fast

14 01 2007

So, here we were, ready to sell the house in a tough real estate market, and move the household one more time (hopefully the last time) to Oregon. Our reasons are plenty, most of which is that the area of Oregon we would move to doesn’t have desert.

Of course, I knew that the longer we waited, the hard it would be to move.  It has just gotten harder to move.  We have started making friends, Eliana now has friends, my family is near by (sort of) and we’re starting to grow roots here.  A disaster in terms of being able to pack up and move at any time.

Bearing in mind that we’ve had zero interest in our house because we haven’t been so motivated to sell lately (with so many distractions to boot), we’re going to try to not fight it for a while.  We’ll leave the house up for sale by owner, and just let it fly.  I mean, if someone wants to buy the house, good, then we’ll go to Oregon.  Otherwise, we have a good house in a good area, and we are finally meeting good people.  All key ingredients to a happy life.

Here’s to one more HOT summer!

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My Day as a Kindergarten Teacher

17 11 2006

Today, I was a Kindergarten teacher. I taught a class of 21 bright kids at Frank Elementary School in Guadalupe, Arizona (near Tempe). I volunteered with a group of individuals from work to partner with the local Junior Achievement office. Junior Achievement strives to teach economics in an age appropriate manner. This was my first time ever presenting anything to a class longer than 1 hour, and as such, my day was filled with many first time experiences. I decided to volunteer for this event because I have always been fond of children. I truly enjoy spending time with children, and trying my best to be a positive influence. I would love it if one day, 15 years from now, one of the children found me and said “I remember the day you came to my kindergarten class. It was fun”.A few days before setting foot on school grounds, I prepared the lesson plans I was given by the event organizers. Basically, I reviewed what I was going to teach, as well as prepare some name tags and certificates of completion. The simple act of filling out each certificate 21 times showed me that there is a lot to teaching that I had never seen in my childhood classrooms. I was in for a new world of experiences.

First thing in the morning, all the volunteers met in the school library for a good homemade breakfast. There were many Spanish dishes, as well as the obligatory bagel and cream cheese. Here, my kindergarten teacher found me, and introduced herself. Mrs. Wait was an older woman, probably old enough to be my mother. In fact, there were many resemblances. Mrs. Wait also mentioned that she would never teach any other level of children, as she enjoys it so much. She told about the kids, and the joys and challenges she faces everyday. I was warned about the few who would disrupt class no matter what. I had no idea what was in store for me that day.

At about 8:55 am, a strange noise sounded on the classroom PAs. That was the tone to go get the kids from the playground. I entered this strange world with curiosity. As we walked out to the playground, I thought about my daughters, and how they would soon be entering this new world of public schools. We made our way to a spot between a tree and a cement bench. There, we were greeted by several rows of children, 2 rows of which would follow us back to the classroom. I made my way to the back of the line, and followed the 2 lines, one boys, and one girls, into the classroom.

Upon entering the classroom, the metal door had magents with each students name on it. I hadn’t noticed earlier, but there were also stickers above and below the bar to open the door that read “In” and “Out”. As each child entered the class, they moved their name from “Out” to “in”. Throughout the day, I also noticed that as kids went to the bathroom, they would move their name from “In” to “Bathroom”.

Once in the class, the teacher gave them a quick assignment. It seemed to be one of those things to prepare the children for the rest of the day, and that playtime is over. After the quick assignment, it was my turn, as this was to be my class for the majority of the day. Mrs. Wait explained to the class that I was the special visitor for the day, and as more of a note to me, informed the class that I was going to tell them about who I am and about my job. I started out OK, telling them my name, and asking them if they had heard of Intel before. I tried to explain in simple terms that Intel makes computer parts. And then, I couldn’t think of anything good to tell them. I knew I was losing the kids fast. Lucky for me, the teacher went into her routine and got the kids announcements going by turning on the closed circuit television. The class missed saying the Pledge of Allegiance. But we caught many announcements, one being that her class was one of the many with perfect attendance for the previous day. I thought that was a sign of a class with good parents who care about their kids’ education. Later that day, I would also find out, that the class had achieved perfect attendance for my visit as well.

So, catching a break, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get mentally prepared for the teaching that was upcoming. I sort of jumped the gun and was ready to get down to business and read the stories. But, luckily the teacher reminded me that I had prepared table tents for every child in the class. To get off on the right foot, I scrambled up the names so they weren’t in alphabetical order, and announced each child’s name to come up to me to receive their name plate. With each name I read, it was as if each child had won an award because the whole class clapped. Many of the names were hispanic in origin, so I tried my best to pronounce them correctly. It’s especially important for me, a Hispanic role model for these kids, to get at least a little pronunciation correct.

It took a little while, but after I handed out all the names, we regrouped at the carpet, and I read the first story. The kids, it seemed, loved story time. I think they also loved having a new visitor come to class to read the stories to them. As I was sitting down, all the children crowded around me eager to listen to what I had to say. I was flabbergasted. I immediately thought back to my own childhood and tried to remember what it was like in their shoes, excited, eager to learn, and full of kid energy. I didn’t want to let them down. I remembered as a child that the worst part about story time was that I never got to see the pictures when the book was read aloud. I tried my best to show everyone every picture, but alas, a rookie like me couldn’t quite get the job done. When we finished the story, I was impressed with the ease of getting the kids back to their desks so they could complete the accompanying activity to the story I had just read.

The activity was to draw your favorite animal. I saw many drawings that didn’t resemble animals, but being a positive role model, I tried to keep things upbeat. If I was unable to figure out what was drawn, I just asked. They would tell me right away. Kids at this age are completely honest. The kids were done with the activity quicker than I had expected, and as such, I was unprepared for the next step. Trying to not lose the kids focus, I quickly asked the teacher for a little activity to keep them focused while I jogged my memory as to the next lesson’s activities. The quick break involved reciting many things from posters on the walls; sort of reinforcing what was already in their active minds. The last thing they recited was all the numbers from 1 to 100. They would jump after every tenth number, and for each one, they were supposed to raise and lower their hands. After a quick glance at the lesson place, I rejoined the kids while they were on 35 (or there-abouts). Trying to fit in, and show my humorous side, I started doing the hand raising and lowering with them. Then jumped. Then, I started being silly doing different things while still raising and lowering my hands, and then jumping in a funny manner. Good thing they were only 5 and 6 year olds, these antics would not have amused the older kids. Needless to say, I made a few more friends after this as after every jump, I heard more and more laughs.

The next story was much like the first, but when we sat down, the boys wanted to get closer to me, and one sat next to me. I was sitting cross-legged, ready to begin the second story, when I looked down, and his head was on my knee. He was smelling my pants. He looked up at me, and said “You smell good”. I guess this was something you only get in kindergarten. I couldn’t think of anything good to respond with, other than, “Thanks”. Still a little shocked, I read the story, and completed the next activity.

Next, was a short trip to the library. Everyone lined up at the door in their designated positions, and off they went. While entering the library, one boy decided to deviate from the class order and sit go around a bookshelf in order to sit with his peers. I politely reminded him to go with everyone else. He refused. In swept the teacher to give him a private talking to. It was awkward for me because a little later, we would come back with one of those I-not-really-sorry apologies.

After the third story (there were still 2 more to be completed), we went to lunch. I had decided that I would spend lunch with the kids and had prepared a peanut butter sandwich. I did have the option to not spend lunch with the kids, so, I asked the kids.

“Do you want me to go to lunch with you guys?”.

“YEAH!”

And so it was; I brought up the rear and followed the children to the cafeteria/gym. I shoved myself into the small table, moving it backward about 3 feet in the processes, and getting a few laughs for it. I tried to sit where I would be in the middle of the kids; I wanted to just try to observe, and interact as they wanted me to. This is sort of what I do with my own daughter, and it usually works out to some humorous episode. This time, we just talked. There were no life pondering questions. Just “What are you drinking?” (Green Tea). “What did you bring for lunch?” (Peanut Butter and Jelly). It was good to spend time with them. While sitting with the kids at lunch, I met the class grandpa. He came to visit every lunchtime as his granddaughter was in the class.

The eating part of lunch was over all too quickly, as most children were not even half done with their food when the cafeteria monitor came up and said they could go outside. Most were ready to leave, and nicely picked up what they hadn’t finished and made for the exit. I was expected to be done by now as well (I wasn’t), and several children waited for me. I walked out with them to the playground because after lunch was recess. On the way out, I held one girls’ hand. I thought back to my daughters again.

I tried to play a little, but as there were many adults not playing, I didn’t want to confuse the kids. I sat out there and watched in the shade with grandpa. He was there to read a story to the kids, but wasn’t told about my visit. We would leave a little earlier than normal, but stuck around because he liked to be with the kids everyday.

After lunch, I noticed the kids heading back to the same spot from which they had been picked up earlier that same morning. I headed over there to be picked up myself. As I was walking, one of the girls ran up, and grabbed my hand. We walked together, hand-in-hand back to the line. This, too, caught me by surprise, and I tried to keep my composure, as if it happens all the time.

The afternoon went better than the morning as I became more accustomed to the kids, and they to me. I read the remaining stories, and we completed the activities. I did my best to be positive in everything I said and did. I also tried to give everyone the attention they craved. All the kids wanted me to see what they drew, so this was not as easy a task as it sounds. As the day drew to a close, the kids became a little unruly, which I suppose is understandable. Before they left, i told them about the certificates they each received, and handed out some Intel goodies. They were excited to receive an Intel football. I also handed out an Intel mouse pad. I thought it was odd that the web site on the mouse pads was not to the Intel homepage, but to the Intel jobs board. And then, as quickly as the kids entered the room, they lined up, and headed to their pre-arraigned method home (either bus, waiting for pickup or walking home). There were no hugs, or kisses, just a quick wave goodbye. I was there for only one day, after all.

As they left, I headed back to the library, trying to download my day. I returned to find that the rest of the volunteers were as equally overloaded as me. We decompressed as much as possible, headed to the school sign and snapped a group picture. And the day was done.





Milestone: Toilet Training

31 10 2006

Eliana has been half toilet trained for quite a while now.  A few months ago, we decided that she should get out of diapers.  Our strategy was to keep her underwear off all day while we were home.  She was good about not just going anywhere, so we were ok with this plan of attack.  Within a few days, she was able to tell us when she had to go number 1, and would ask us to go help her onto the toilet. We thought this was the tough part, and figured she would do the same for number 2.  Not by a long shot.

Since then, she’s been going in her underwear, leaving a smelly mess behind. She would go off to a corner, or just be quiet for a few seconds, and then let it out. It was pretty obvious when this happened, because it didn’t smell too nice. She would do this at school (daycare) too because I would have to bring back her soiled underwear to be washed. It wasn’t the best part of coming home.

Yesterday, when I picked her up from school, we headed to the bathroom before we left.  This has become our normal routine for a while. She wanted me out of the bathroom, and didn’t want my help. The toilets at the school are just the right hieght for her short stature. She had a little trouble getting her pants down, but she managed, and went to do her task.  I thought she was just going to do number 1, as usual. However, I thought I heard her say “I poop” while she was on the toilet. I know the streaming sound of number 1 was done, and she was still on the toilet. I still wasn’t sure she was indeed doing what we have asked her to do since we started the toilet training journey. Violating her request, I ventured into the bathroom to see, and low and behold, she had done it. It was not the prettiest sight, but a somewhat welcome sight, nevertheless.

I think being in school, in addition to our constant requests have motivated Eliana to poop in the toilet. Either way, we can move on to the next big milestone, whatever that may be.





It’s Official, We’re Selling

15 10 2006

Yeah, we’re entering the “buyer’s market” and have listed our house for sale. It’s a good house, but for us, it’s not in the area in which we want to raise our children. That’s not to say this isn’t a family oriented area, our idea of a nice place doesn’t include regular bouts with 100+ temperatures.

If you’re interested in a house in the Southeastern Phoenix area, please take a look around, have a look at our MLS listing: 2635421, and send us an email (just post a comment, and it’ll get to us).