Saturday, November 29, 2008

Worried About Being Bored on the Eve of Christmas? Here's an idea!

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. This has been an interesting Thanksgiving break. First and foremost, my sincerest condolences to the family of the Wal-Mart employee in New Jersey who got killed by a senseless, irrational horde that ran over him to get a cheap discount on Black Friday. This is one of those moments where we really need to sit down and reflect if letting our wallets and not our brains rule our decisions is really worth it. It is one of those times when, if I have to pay an extra buck or two and in the process I save the life of a store clerk, it is a dollar well spent. Life cannot be on sale. I read those news and they made me sick and even ashamed of the human race. I also want to extend my condolences to the victims of the (here we go again) senseless, irrational acts of a terrorist group in Mumbai. It is unfortunate when people have to resort to violence to prove a political point (yes, it is a million times more shameful when they resort to violence to buy something on sale, but I digress). This kind of reminded me of a scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day between John Connor (Edward Furlong) and The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger):

John Connor: We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.
The Terminator: It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.
John Connor: Yeah. Major drag, huh?

May all these victims of irrationality rest in peace.

As I did the last time, I will save you all from the updates on my nieces. In a few weeks, I'll reprise the role of the annoying uncle who shoves his nieces down your throats with a super-long update (followed by a very critical blog about how we're turning into the Truman Show... just stayed tuned... A Gonzo 2.0 Christmas will be something else!!!!)

But, for now, on to the blog...

Still Wondering What to Do on Dec. 23 or the Morning of Dec. 24?
The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur has an idea for you!

Oh, Christmas (sorry, but 1995 called and said they had totally run out of political correctness to supply the blogs in 2008... so if say "the holidays" is simply to spice up the narrative. I actually PREFER Christmas, thank you!), that wonderful time of the year when school is out and we all start thinking about what to do until classes begin again, in the case of students. In general, it is the time to take a break and celebrate with friends and family and give an honorable goodbye to the year that soon will be over. For those of us who live abroad, we may be blessed to go visit our families in our native countries, or some decide to stay in their university campuses most of the time because of either school or money issues, sometimes both. Regardless, we are all thinking about what to do during Christmas and it is very likely that we will make arrangements not to be all by ourselves during the holidays.

Unless you do not know me or do not read my blogs (like some of my school and college friends on Facebook - told you I'm going all Carlos Mencia on this one!), you already know I have had an 11-month situation with my right leg. I am still in the process of recovery (slow but steady) and I will be home by the time there is one year after the surgery. It has taken quite a toll on my whole family, I know it has taken a bit of a toll on my girlfriend even. I have been thinking of doing something to celebrate my recovery. While talking to my beloved the other day, I came up with an idea to celebrate. I want to share it with you in hopes that you also find this inspirational and follow suit as an activity for 12/23 and Christmas' Eve in the morning

I had my leg surgery on the 23rd and was discharged from the hospital at 3:00 on Christmas' Eve. For a moment, I thought I would spend that day in a hospital room. Even though I pulled a Neo on this one and dodged that bullet, I imagined there were folks at this hospital who were not so lucky. Then I thought of a visit I did to a children's hospital and an orphanage in Medellin 10 years ago and how much that moved me. Putting two and two together, this is what I will do. Again, I share this not to sell myself as a good samaritan (I believe what the Good Book says about not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing... plus, I believe that showboating is something I myself do as part of being in the academia... showboating and charity go together just like caviare and pumpkin pie do!) but to maybe give you some food for thought.

It dawned on me that on Dec. 23, there will be children at that hospital and orphanage who will be left to their own devices and very likely spend Christmas at a hospital. I will not be able to spend that day with them, but at least I can brighten their holidays a little bit. So, I will contact these two places and will take some presents for some children. I am no Bill Gates, so my funds are very limited. I will narrow down my options for the hospital to children about to have surgery or recovering from it and who will be hospitalized on 12/24. I will visit a few of them and will at least give them a toy and a warm wish for their recovery. That for me is the best way to celebrate the blessings from my recovery.

In fact, I will officially make this pledge to you, my friends and bloggers around the world: Beginning this year, I will do this every Dec. 23, no matter where I am. I will visit a hospital and keep some company to children who do not have anybody else, or maybe to elderly people who have a surgery and nobody to keep them company. Life blessed me with resources to have the surgery and amazing friends to be with me. It is time for me to pay my dues.

This is my personal pledge. But, think about it: All you will do on those two days is probably veg out and watch TV. Spending a few hours spreading holiday cheer might make a huge difference to those children, elder people, etc. who may possibly be all by themselves otherwise. Plus, if some people have time to stand up for 12 hours in front of a store to get cheap electronics, I think we can spend a twelfth of that time visiting someone who will REALLY, TRULY, UNEQUIVOCALLY "appreciate our business." I already have my agenda for Dec. 23 figured out... it is up to you to decide in which direction you spread joy.

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can! Obama: How we should all start turning a new page!

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. There will be no acknowledgments or updates this time around. My tribute to Gonzo 2.0 is all about President-Elect Obama! So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?

The Turning of a Page? Obama and the Larger Picture...

Unless you're living under a rock, you already know what happened. Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, is now the next President of the United States of America. It is a moment of epic and historical proportions and it is a moment to reflect on what the next four years will and should be like. After all, Obama's victory is something that is the end-result of a larger, a much larger effort. I won't claim to know it all, but I'll try to offer an historical perspective, incomplete, but historical nonetheless.

You see, the fact that an African-American has made it to the highest post on the planet is no act of sheer serendipity. It's more than the outrage and discontent for eight years of failed policies. There's a deeper philosophical struggle here and that needs to be mentioned as well. Obama's accomplishment is the build-up of the work of several Black/African-American men and women in the arts, the academia, sports, and even entertainment, who have been standing up against the inequailities of the times and the lack of opportunities over the past two centuries. Obama mentioned a 106-year-old lady in his speech. In those 106 years, a lot of people have worked towards this day, a day that we should not forget; a day when we should recall some of those names...

When I saw Obama standing on that podium, I could see the legacy of intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass and what he said about issues of inequality and discrimination. I see people like Carter G. Woodson, and how maybe he can be hopeful that the Negro, the Latino, the Disabled, and other minorities in the U.S. and the world will no longer be Miseducated. I can see that the efforts to stand up for their rights that brave men and women like Rosa Parks and her refusal to move to the back of the bus were not futile. I can see that the act of civil disobedience by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, back in Mexico '68 is something to be proud of and not, as was at the time, something to be vilified about. I can see the war cry of the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul and Forefather of Hip-Hop, "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!" still giving all of us inspiration. I can see the efforts behind the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education making more and more sense and why everybody deserves fair access to education.

In Obama's words of hope, I can see the efforts of more men and women who have not been afraid to speak their minds and fight for their beliefs from their different fronts and while doing that, breaking ground. I see the work, words, and actions of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bob Marley, Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Texas Western Miners, Muhammad Ali, Toni Morrison, Cornel West, Richard Pryor, even Jesse Jackson, just to name a few. African-American history (as African and Afro history around the world) is rich and full of moments worth highlighting. Obama's victory is simply a moment when everybody's efforts have converged in that victory walk at the podium at Grant Park in Chicago.

But this is more than a much-deserved moment of victory and even vindication for so many African-Americans who have felt what oppression looks like. It is a moment of vindication for all of us who believe in social justice and true equality. It is also a challenge for those of us who believe that no children should really be left behind beyond cheap rhetoric. This is not a challenge that simply belongs to the U.S. In many countries, mine included, there are still millions of people from different minorities still dealing with oppression, disenfranchisement, marginalization, etc. If anything, Obama has taught us what WE, meaning those of us who have the privilege of a world-class education, need to do with it. Mind you, he could've used his Harvard Law degree just to be partner of the law of "Johnson, Smith, Jones, & Obama," right? He could've conformed with being a millionaire attorney making money of our lawsuits. Instead, he has worked hard for the have-nots, since his days as an activist in Chicago. Obama has reminded us that access to these golden opportunities places us in a position of advantage from which we can help and empower others.

One of Obama's slogans was, "Change we can believe in." The questions for the rest of us, both in the U.S. and the world are: What kind of CHANGE do we believe in? What kind of CHANGE do we want to be part of? What kind of CHANGE do we want to bring about in our communities, in our cities, in our countries? I think this should galvanize all of us, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, etc. and make us aware of the challenges ahead of us as citizens of the world. We live in what Marshall McLuhan used to call the Global Village. We're more connected to each other than ever. What will we use those connections for? To benefit ourselves only? Or to benefit others? I think the change of the guard that we just noticed is a call for all of us, White, Black, Latino, Asian, Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Christian, Muslim, etc. to start making a difference once and for all. The winds of change are knocking on our doors. Our children and grandchildren will judge us for how we respond or refuse to respond to this call. It is up to us, in the words of the great Bob Marley, to "get up, stand up..."

I know I already have!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell.

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...

Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Updates and an old blog I forgot to edit...

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. I'm still in Chambana, preparing myself for the fall season and the incoming winter. Now, here would the time when I'd rant about the awful transition where there's no fall. But, the girl I love told me a few days ago that it's already snowing in good old Россия (or Russia for all of you!), so I guess no complaints here :).

It's been a good few months since the last blog: My committee is pretty much all involved in the work with my dissertation, my leg's healing well (I've even started jogging), and things are going well overall. And... I'm going home for Christmas! Tickets are booked and I'll have all my arrangements made pretty soon. Of course, there'll be plenty of Gonzo 2.0 live from Colombia (in fact, I may even have a guest blogger... fingers crossed on that one!)

No twins update this time... there'll be time for that too! Now, on to the blog:

Blogo Bonito: About Fútbol/Football and Other Thoughts Regarding the Beautiful Game!

[Blogger's note: I originally wrote this blog around the time of Euro 2008 (or, as some call it, the Brazil-Argentina-free World Cup) and I recently found it hidden in my archives. So, I'm unearthing it!]

This blog is all devoted to The Beautiful Game and its fans... especially those who refuse to capitulate and continue calling the sport as it was meant to be... fútbol, futebol, fussball, FOOTBALL (if you're a fan of American Rugby, er, American Football feel free to stop reading here). Right now, a quick disclaimer...

Yes, I am VERY WELL AWARE of the origin of "soccer" as a reduced form of "Association Football." So, spare me the history lesson (and please don't even try to pull that off on me... you'd be suprised how much I know about the history of U.S. sports, particularly basketball, so let's leave it at that!). Any of you who has followed my "quest" on Facebook ( knows that I'm all for the Footballución... and I think that David Beckham is a freaking sellout (calling Football "sockah"... COME ON! All Old Trafford with me... SELLOUT!)

After that, let's get back on track... and let's get this game started...

First Half: Why I love Football...

First things first, my love for football comes primarily out of geography: As a good South American, fútbol is a big deal. Our sports lives come to their pinnacle every four years, during the World Cup... an event where (sarcasm spoiler here) World actually means several countries are represented by their national teams, unlike, say the World Series... and where whichever team becomes World Champions actually defeated teams from other parts of the world... unlike, say the NBA or NFL World Champions (ok... I'll cut the NFL some slack since they're World Champions by default; after all, the only place on earth where this kind of football is played is the US... which makes me wonder... shouldn't the Canadian Football League and the Aussie Rules champions be declared World Champions under that same logic? I can't cut the NBA much slack until they actually win a Gold medal in the Olympics or win a FIBA World Championship). So, it's no suprise that the Championship Match for the World Cup is watched by BILLIONS around the world, which I don't think even the Super Bowl can claim, let alone the NBA Finals or the MLB "World" Series (an ironic thing, this "World" Series thing since Japan actually won the World Baseball Challenge in the US no less!). Football is one of the sports where national pride is always at stake, where not making it to the largest stage doesn't mean you get to pick the best players at the draft, and where an embarrassing defeat becomes a scarlet letter every time your friends from the opposing country meet you... because players come and go... victories and defeats live forever (ask Brazilians, the defeat in 1950 still stings... or the Germans in 1966, they'll tell you the ball never crossed the goal line... etc, etc, etc).

The other reason I love futebol is the fans at stadia around the world. With apologies to all professional sports fans in the U.S. (some of whom are dear friends), the passion that football triggers is unrivaled. I always make the argument that when I see fans in baseball/basketball/American football dancing around a BONFIRE, we can claim they're truly hardcore. Also, football fans don't need cheerleaders or PA announcers to tell them to make "NOISE" (as I've seen in games at college or pro levels)... football fans at the stadium are ready to chant, scream, and wave all 90 minutes. The most harcore fans won't even consider sitting down all the time. Some football teams may have cheerleaders, but the bottom line is, fans at these games are given free reign to celebrate the game... it's not about how many celebrities you can spot (and quite frankly, I'd find it rather ridiculous to see Hollywood celebrities at a football match... they'd be so out of place... I mean, "it's hot" is not something fans would chant, right?)

Another reason is the game itself. You have 11 players on each side, 10 of whom are actually expected to help on both sides of the pitch. You only get THREE substitutions, which means that at least 16 players won't have much of a timeout for a good 90 minutes. I can only think of another game that expects this much from a small group of players... RUGBY, but that's for another day. In futebol, you don't see such a thing as a dude that only comes in a few times per game to kick the ball (punters and place kickers, yes, it's you I'm talking about!). A futbol roster is about 18-22 players, not a whopping 60 (like some American Football rosters). Plus, in football, pretty much ANYONE can be part of that Holy Grail of football otherwise known as the GOL... a defensive linebacker scoring a touchdown? Technically possible, but more unlikely than a defender scoring a goal... In addition, football IS a contact sport, so contact is expected and, with a few exceptions, there's no bad blood when contact happens. Plus, since there is neither protective armor nor excessive weight differences among players, that prevents some injuries from going further... I mean, sure, there are football players who have torn their ACLs, broken legs, noses even... but how many of them have suffered a PARALYZING NECK INJURY? I mean, for that to happen in a fútbol match, we're talking about a defender who's the love child of Chuck Norris and the Incredible Hulk... in American Football, all it takes is a 350-lb linebacker.

Second Half: Things I love (and hate) about The Beautiful Game

Having declared my passion for fútbol, there are things I really enjoy and some that really irk me about the game... here's a list for you!
  • I love the celebrations... when a team scores a goal, the rest of the team enjoys it genuinely. It's not about how outlandish you can be or how much of a selfish bastard you can be (T.O., Ocho Cinco, yes, I'm talking TO and ABOUT you... your celebrations actually exclude everybody and their mother!). Plus, more often than not, the players remember someone special when they score. Goals have been dedicated to parents, girlfriends and wives, friends, etc. Yes, there's some showboating involved when you wear the picture of your child underneath your shirt to show it after you score... but how many touchdowns are dedicated to babies? And, of course, LeBron always thinks of his mama when he shoots a buzzer beater... right?
  • I really hate it when they show the players during the national anthems and they're not singing. Guys, you know they're gonna show your mugs during the introductions, so PLEASE learn your freaking national anthems. We're not asking you to learn some scientific law here, just your anthem. And please, don't freaking chew gum during introductions either!
  • I love the fact that, with football, Earth is literally a pitch. Right now, on any random street in Europe or South America (to name two), a big-time match is taking place. These street warriors won't make it to Sports Center tonight, but every time you play a match, bragging rights are on the line. I played a few of those myself!
  • Fútbol is a sport where you can be a fan of multiple teams without feeling you're a traitor or a fairweather fan. You can follow a team in England, Italy, or Spain, Brazil or Argentina (by the way, I put those as binaries because they're somehow mutually exclusive. In the South American context, it's okay to root for a local team and a team from Brazil or Argentina... but you don't root for teams from both countries... that's called jumping on a bandwagon) plus your home team and that's fine. That's a luxury that other sports really don't have (maybe Rugby is an exception here).
  • I really hate the excessive violence from fans. I do. That's the first salvo that any fútbol-hater uses to bash the beautiful game. And it's our fault. I believe violence has to leave the stadia and our game. Nothing wrong with the extreme passion of the sport... after all, there's nothing wrong in and of itself to get mad when those 11 cats are making your country look bad on the pitch. But, how does violence help? It doesn't so PLEASE QUIT IT!!!!!
Finally, the main reason I love the game... Because very few things in life can send a WHOLE COUNTRY to hell and back to heaven in a matter of seconds.... very few things in life paralyze an entire city for an hour... very few things in life become a language of its own that transcends religion, ethnicity, nationality, creed, and even gender... after all, across five continents, many of us know what it's like to bite your nails and dream every four years, what it's like to learn about players from places you wouldn't know about otherwise, to love and hate your country all in one afternoon, to find ways to connect with people from other countries...

... and that's all thanks to the BEAUTIFUL GAME!

That's why I think that an edited version of the Bible would include this paragraph...

And after creating the world in seven days, God saw that everything looked good yet his seventh day was missing something... something that would create excitement and passion for that day... so, on the eighth day, God created FOOTBALL... and all was good!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It Takes a Child to Change the Village: Life after Isabella & Manuela - Windows and Mirrors

Greetings, as always, to my friends, readers, and bloggers around the world. It's time for Gonzo 2.0 - In case you're still wondering what this Gonzo 2.0 means, well, it's my little tribute to the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, father of Gonzo journalism and to some (including myself), the original blogger before blogs existed. So here's to you HST, we'll keep Gonzo alive while you keep writing Fear and Loathing in Heaven and Hell!

Before I go onto the main event, an update on my previous blog: Last night I went to see The Dark Knight. I won't disclose any details; well, it doesn't matter. Even if I did, this movie is like The Usual Suspects: No matter how much I tell you, I won't make a coherent summary and you're better off watching it yourself. But, here are some highlights in the aftermath:
1. Tom Cruise must be REALLY pissed off. Conspiracy theorists around the world: All bets are off on this one!
2. Jack: You put the JOKE in Joker! Heath is the real goods here. Would somebody please just hand in the Golden Globe and the Oscar already?
3. From now on, I will only count the existence of two Batman flicks: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The previous flicks are apocryphal and I'll leave to revisionist historians to obliterate all records of the existence of such travesties to the Caped Crusader. And yes, Mr. Clooney, the world is still waiting for your apology letter, thank you!
4. We need to reclassify the list of the baddest of the bad guys. Here's my top 3 as of last night: Darth Vader, The Joker (H. Ledger's version), Hannibal Lecter (A. Hopkins version).
5. I think this one will be a tough act to follow. It's probably one of the best adaptations of comic book films ever.
6. As a follow up to last week's blog... Is there any way Batman can make Superman look any less vanilla than he's already making him look? Right now, Superman is as multidimensional as a folded piece of paper!

Okay, now on to the main event...

It Takes a Child to Change the Village:
A look back at my life after Isabella and Manuela

Tomorrow, July 20, it's the second birthday of my twin nieces. I've literally had to follow their lives through the proverbial looking glass, in some ways literally - the first time I saw them was at the NICU through the window and through some pictures I took in my cell phone. I guess you've all heard the expression, "It takes a village to raise a child." I always thought there was a sense of hyperbole in that saying. Then I realized that though this holds true, a child does change the village in more ways than one.

One of the first things I learned is that children in your family, even if they aren't yours, change the dynamics of life as you know it. I know my life changed the day my sister called me and told me she was pregnant. No, I'm not claiming that "I'm gonna be an uncle" is as transcendental as "I'm gonna be a dad." Claiming so would be pretentious of me. After all, some of the parental woes are things I can live vicariously and be fine about it. But, life does change in little ways:

Before: My trips to the mall included stops at Macy's, the Gap, American Eagle, the caps store,etc. I would make the occasional stop at the pet store, thinking how much I would like to own a puppy.
Now: I still stop at the Gap... Baby Gap that is! American Eagle is out, Gymboree (a local store for infant/toddler clothing) is in; I still go to the pet stop, thinking how much they would like to own a puppy!
Before: My dad's DVD wish list: The Godfather, Michael Jackson's best videos (please DON'T ASK!), westerns, etc.
Before: I would get stuffed animals for my sister and maybe my significant other.
Now: Sorry, ladies, you'll have to wait some... there's only room for two teddy bears and those are for the twin babies!
Before: "Mom, how are you and dad doing? And how's my sister, by the way?"
Now: "Mom, how are the girls? (long pause) oh yes, and how's dad? and how's the girl's mom... I mean, how's my sister?"

These are just mundane examples of how life changed for me after the twins were born. Yes, I still oppose with every inch of my will to buying that Barney paraphernalia, but that'll be the first thing I'll pack if and when I go home to visit... I know my parents won't look at me funny if I don't bring them a present, but I'll have to carry my passport all day long because my family will send me on a guilt trip for the ages if I forget that Barney stuff. But, again, this is just the simple stuff...

As I hinted above, I really knew my life changed after that call in December, 2005. The minute it dawned on me, "I'm going to be an uncle" (and yes, I'm that oddball uncle by defaut, and I can live with that!), my outlook on life changed. It is weird, really. I know they're my sister's kids, but they're somehow mine too. I can't help talking about them every other sentence. Even my older blogs had that little "gratuitous twin nieces update" section. There's a sense of transcendence in knowing your family has extended. I know that something clicked the first time I saw those tiny little ones through the window, lying on their incubators. Call me silly if you may, but I could feel they knew exactly who I was. When my sister approached them for me to look at them the day before I returned to Champaign, that saying, "blood is thicker than water," seemed to make a lot more sense. Right now, they do know exactly who I am, and I have to thank my sister and my mom for making my presence in those girls' lives be active. They recognize my pictures and they address me by the title that thus far makes me the proudest: Tío Raúl (Sure, Dr. Mora is gonna look pretty fancy, but this one takes the cake for now!!!!). Knowing that they will recognize me when I get off the plane is a really big deal for me.

I've also noticed that sense of transcendence I was talking about in the way I approach things: I know that what I'm doing here affects them. I'm sacrificing being with them to pursue my degree and something tells me I owe it to them not to do anything but my very best every single day. I teach my early childhood class with a sense that I need to learn as much as my students because my sister will need all the help she can get to ensure the best education for those tinies. I feel a larger responsibility to live my life as a righteous person, educator, and citizen because I need to lead by example and because they will eventually hold me accountable for my actions and how they'll affect them. Call me idealist, but if they decide to come to the U of I one day, I want them to know that I worked my butt off every single day to leave a good impression here.

I can also see my past and my future in them. It's interesting: the first time I saw Isabella (and others have corroborated this), I could see my sister's mirror image right there. She looks just like her mom. What happened when people saw Manuela, on the other hand, was intense: They said she looked like ME! Knowing that someone looks like you, for real, is flattering and challenging. It also makes me wonder about what my own life will look like and whether at some point my sister's and my roles will switch (as in, her being the aunt and my being the parent... the jury's still out on that one!). There are a lot of questions and a lot of challenges. I just know that they're here to stay and their welfare has become one of my priorities now.

My life changed the day Isabella and Manuela appeared. I embrace their existence as a big part of myself. Through major and minor changes, they've affected my outlook in life, they've given me a lot of reasons to do the things I do. In fact, they actually contributed to the very first thing you'll read on my dissertation after you move past the cover page:

They've contributed the Dedication Page!

It was two years since I got that phone call from dad announcing the good news that I was officially an uncle. Their presence reminds me of that metaphor of "windows and mirrors." I've seen most of their lives through windows because that's how our relationship started and how it's been, living their childhood vicariously. But, they've also offered me a mirror to see where I want my life to go. These have been two fantastic years for me, with some ups and downs, with some good breaks and some not as good, but always with the notion that I am truly here for something larger than myself. Maybe one day I may have children, and then Gonzo 2.0 will change forever. Until then, these two are a big ray of light in my daily woes and my grad student life.

For all, that, all I can say today is:

Thank you girls! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU BOTH!!!! I'll be celebrating right here but right next to you in heart and spirit!!! Lots of love to you two, my girls!!!!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, THEY bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Superman or Batman? The Choice is Yours!

Greetings to all my fellow friends, bloggers, and readers around the world. First things first, bat-knowledgements to some of my friends:

First, to Mr. B-Hernz, Esq. for his admission to U of I Law
School. St. Funs still lives on in Chambana! Second, let me send props to the loveliest, most amazing woman... my girlfriend! Finally, I;ll start promoting my friends' blogs when I know about them. Here's the first ad for my friend Yupin: If you have a blog and would like the provocateur himself to advertise it, just drop me a line!

No update on the twins this week either. Next week's blog is all about them!

So now, on to the main event!

Superman or Batman? Choose Wisely, for Ye Shalt be Judged upon Thy Choice!

Well, the Blog Knight, the Caped Blogger, the World's Greatest Blogger is back upon us! (by now, we already established I'm geeked about the new Batman flick, right!) This blog is partly about Batman, partly about the kind of person you are. Your choice of comics will say a lot!

This discussion is actually inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. In one of the conversations between Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Mia asks Vincent whether he is an Elvis guy or a Beatles guy. That's where this Superman or Batman discussion stems from. Granted, in most of my thoughts I don't believe in binary oppositions (hence my conceptual disagreements with French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure), but I'll make allowance here since the binary opposition more than serves my purpose. Choosing between Superman and Batman is one of the big dilemmas of some hardcore and less fervient fans.

The question, then is, why Batman and not Superman? Here are my two reasons:

1. Superman is actually a condescending prick!

Here allow me to quote directly on a man whose persona of Kwai Chang Caine is a lot wiser than me, David Carradine as Bill. From Kill Bill 2:

"As you know, l'm quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology... The mythology is not only great, it's unique. Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."


I agree with this. Whereas Batman represents a man's resilience in overcoming his fears (to the dark, to bats, etc.) and using them to fuel his cause for justice, Superman believes he is inherently better than us and therefore needs to make fun of our fears since we wouldn't be able to overcome them without his almighty self. Pompous SOB, I say!

2. Batman is a self-made superhero.

To the best of my knowledge, and I kindly ask comic book buffs to throw me a bone here, I can only recall three superheroes that made themselves as such in a combination of technology, resources (as in a crapload of money in Mr. Wayne's and Mr. Stark's cases!), skill, training, and sheer human ingenuity: Iron Man (aka Tony Stark), The Punisher (aka Frank Castle) and the aforementioned Caped Crusader. What about the others? Well, here's a brief summary: (Note: This is extracted and edited from a Skype conversation between my girlfriend and me... and then you wonder why I love this woman?)

Superman came from another planet and had his strength increased by the yellow sun;Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Thor are demigod-like characters born with their powers; Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him superhuman strength (but, duly noted, not the ability to shoot spider webs); Green Lantern was given his powers by an alien police force who bestowed upon him a super ring; Flash, The Fantastic Four, and the Incredible Hulk, obtained his superpowers from an experiment gone awry; the X-Men were born with mutant superpowers; Hawkman and Martian Manhunter are superpowered soldiers from another planet; Hellboy was the son of the Prince of Darkness himself; Spawn was a former special ops whose powers were given, again, by the Prince of Darkness himself;... and those are the ones off the top of my head...

Now, let's look at Batman (and the other two I mentioned)...

True, Bruce Wayne is
the son of a billionaire, but the death of his parents pushed him to the edge of vengeance first and justice later. After getting extensive physical and tactical training, he used his resources to create gadgets and devices that would aid him in his quest. The Punisher was a former agent whose family was killed. So, he starts chasing bad guys, using his training in weapons, fighting, and counter terrorism to defeat them. Iron Man is the creation of yet another billionaire. Tony Stark, after getting captured after an explosion creates an armor to escape and with all the resources available to him, creates a super-armor fueled by the electromagnet on his chest which was devised to prevent the shrapnel from the explosion of which he was a victim to puncture his heart.

As you can see, Batman is the example of how people use their ingenuity and resilience to overcome obstacles. Batman doesn't have any special built-in powers. His strength? Let's just say that Batman is the original Mixed Martial Artist. His weapons? Created by himself or a decent team of engineers who gave him the famous utility belt. No crazy DNA, weird science or voodoo stuff here, folks! That's why Batman is the real goods!

So there you have it! Who will you ultimately be rooting for? Some dude from outer space with the perfect hair who thinks he's much better than us, lives in a vanilla city like Metropolis, and is overly condescending upon us? Or an Earth dude who is an example of intelligence, resources, and motivation to save Gotham, a city as light and dark as our actual cities? It's up to you... Me, I already gave my endorsement to Batman as Head Superhero in Charge!

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

With Apologies to Dennis Miller... Or A Vocabulary Rant as a Break from the 800-lb Gorilla

Greetings to all my fellow readers and bloggers around the world. It's summer time, which in the Prarie State means one day of splendorous weather sandwiched between a thunderstorm and a 100-degree heat wave for a 3-month period.

Before getting into the meat of it, the acknowledgments: First, to my friends who recently graduated in '08: CONGRATULATIONS, and I promise I'll be joining the ranks of the cap-and-gown wearing, diploma-bearing, hood-sporting crowds pretty soon. Second, to everybody who wished me a Happy (34th) Birthday: THANKS! Also, thanks to everybody who keeps supporting me in my ongoing recovery. Finally, props to my girlfriend (that story will be the subject of another blog coming very soon)... it feels good to have you around!

There will be no updates about my nieces. I'm saving all of those for a longer blog coming in July. So, as Mills Lane would say, "Let's get it on!"

I Don't Mean to Go off on a Rant Here... But...

Those were the famous words of comedian Dennis Miller every time he would go off on a rant about something in today's society that bothered him. We all have pet peeves. That's part of human nature. I got a few here and there, like people who can't get their grammar straight and keep claiming that IM, Facebook status messages, and e-mail are some sort of grammar-free zone where "you're" is the same as "your" and "they're," "there," and "their" are actually interchangeable; where "then" is the form of choice for the comparative; and apostrophes can be placed willy-nilly. Of course, there is also the case of people who decide against my will that I have to eavesdrop their conversations while I'm trying to read the stuff for Chapter Two of my dissertation. And, how can we forget the occasional "movie color commentator," the person right behind you at the theatre who decides that they need to not only explain the plot, characters, settings, etc. of the movie to their date/partner/friend sitting next to them, but also feel the urge to warn the hero of every peril ahead of him/her.

However, this rant is not about them. They too will get their day in court. This is about the misuse of certain words that are becoming trivialized and losing their actual value. Again, with apologies to Dennis Miller (and no one else... in case you failed to read the title of my blog, the last word is "provocateur..." and I intend to live up to its bill this time around), I don't mean to go off on a rant here but...

Why do millionaire athletes claim they're "Hungry?"

Before the Bard starts rolling over on his grave, spare me the Shakespearian/"poetic license"/metaphor theory here. Some words should never be taken lightly, hungry being one of them. Yes, yes, I know that one of the definitions of "hungry," according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ( is, "Strongly motivated (as by ambition)." But, there is a sense of irony here. Where there are people dying of actual hunger, I find it ironic that some people who've never really experienced hunger first-hand (and no, I haven't... my dad has though and he banned us from saying that we were starving or "dying of hunger" at home since we didn't really know what it was like to be in a jungle for one week feeding on leaves or the soles of your shoes... dad taught me and my sister well about not blowing things out of proportion) talk about how "hungry" they are. That just cheapens suffering when you use the same descriptor to explain your desire for a championship ring in the NBA and your desire for at least an onion ring somewhere in an impoverished village in Central Africa.

I mean, if there was a public outrage over an athlete saying that playing a rivalry game was like going to war for him, we should also put athletes on notice that they have no right to claim to be hungry, unless they themselves have dealt with it as they were growing up. Oh yes, I have read stories about athletes coming from Africa, Brazil, Colombia, and other developing countries, as well as minority athletes coming from impoverished areas in the U.S. who talk about their families' struggles to make ends meet. I just can assure you that none of them would be so trigger-happy to say they're "hungry" for a championship. You can hear that, however, from the mouths of the children of a former Roland Garros champion and two former NBA stars... if you're sports savvy, yes, I'm talking about three former Florida Gators, who could afford not to test the NBA waters and stick around for school one more year because they were "hungry" for another title. Enough said! So, seriously, let's watch out what we're really hungry for... some people can't even tell you they are because they're too weak to utter that sentence...

When Did "Survivor" Start Handing Diplomas?

My second rant of the blog has to do with the trivialization of the term "Alum," the reduced form of the term "Alumnus" or "Alumna" (by the way, "Alumni" is the PLURAL form of "Alumnus," so please refrain from say you are "An Alumni" from a school!). Let me provide this definition from Wikipedia,
"As indicated in the American Heritage Dictionary, an alumnus or alumna is either someone who has attended the school (or a "former student of a school") or someone who has graduated from the school." Yes, by definition, An alum(nus/a) is someone who either went to school or preferably graduated. So, when exchange students write that they are "UIllinois Alum" in their profiles, that is very accurate. When I write that I am a "Fulbright Alumnus," it is accurate since I was given a scholarship to pursue my master's. Anybody who has attended an educational institution by extension can call him/herself an alum.

What really irks me is when you start referring to anyone who has been on a TV show (a la Saturday Night Live) or a reality TV show as "Alums" of that show. Really, I wonder what curriculum they had to pursue to earn the right to be alums of "Survivor College," "Flavor of Love Polytechnic," or "The Real World/Road Rules State University?" I mean, it is hard work to get a Bachelor's, for instance. I know that my friends who just graduated had to spend lots of hours at the library to get theirs. I know that my education students have to bust their chops every semester and keep a high GPA just to get, in some cases, their education MINORS (at this point, anyone who claims you don't have to study hard if you're in education doesn't want to know how far up your humanity you'll have to go to give me my walking cane back!). In order for me to be an "Alumnus" of The University of Illinois, I first had to write a thesis and now I have to write this 2000-lb gorilla otherwise known as my dissertation. So excuse me if I hurt a few sensitivities by being irked by a few reality-TV castaways who are so devoid of parental love and need to be called "Alums," sometimes to justify the fact that getting drunk on national TV and making "Girls Gone Wild" videos beats getting a decent education! At least there are bona-fide actors and directors who are Alumni/ae of schools around the U.S. (or at worst they attended the school long enough to be recognized as former students). I'm sorry, but I know how hard it is to get your education for someone to try to go the easy way out and simply diminish my (and my friends') accomplishments by using the same title that I have earned.

Does this make me an elitist? So what if it does? Getting your education is a big deal and it shouldn't be diminished. Just because I was an Army brat, it doesn't mean I am a "soldier," and being a fan of a team doesn't make me a member of a "Nation." We need to call a spade a spade, and be respectful of what it takes to earn a name. Although it is true, as the Bard once said, that if a rose were called something different it would smell the same, none of you would describe a pile of scum as a "rose."

And, in the words of that great cynic, Mr. Miller, "This is my opinion, but I could be wrong!"

That's it for now. Till my next blog, I bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Search for the "James Bond Moment"

Greetings bloggers and fans around the net. First, thanks to my friends for the words of encouragement about my last blog about my leg. The road to healing is still on and I'll get back to 100% soon enough. I can't thank you all enough for your support.

Second, props to what in my mind will be one of the most legendary intramural sports teams of all time: The St. Funs Broomball Club. We had good times and heartbreak, but somewhere along the way, we actually got to really become good friends, brothers if you will. Whether I'll retire from broomball is yet to be decided, but it'll be hard to replicate the experience and I'd rather live with the memories I've already collected.

I don't have much of an update on my twin nieces. I promise one very soon and a very special two-year anniversary bl
og about what the arrival of Isabella and Manuela has represented for my life. It'll be a good one, I promise.

Now, on to my blog...

Shaken, not Stirred: The Search for the "James Bond" Moment

I won't lie: I am a James Bond fan, the kind of fan that knows that there was such a thing as an actual dude named James Bond, who happened to me an ornitologist and whose name drew inspiration for Ian Fleming to name his 007 MI5 Agent, on Her Majesty's Secret Service. The kind of purist that denounces "Never Say Never Again" as part of the saga. Geekiness aside, there's one reason why James Bond has never lost his allure as a cultural icon: It's the fact that some parts of his persona are enticing (and no, it's not the neverending list of STD that Mr. Bond probably has after so many random encounters with random women!), like the casinos, cars, and of course, the gadgets. As comic Craig Ferguson once said, most of us always anticipated the Bond-Q encounter where Q would go over the gadgets du jour with 007. It is no surprise that "Bond, James Bond" was picked at the end of the 21st century as the most popular movie phrase of all time. Multiple variations of that have made it to different movies alike. Also, the emergence of so many Bond parodies (Get Smart, Johnny English, Austin Powers, to name a few) and the eternal search for the U.S. version of James Bond (Jason Bourne, anyone?) are more than enough evidence that Commander Bond will always be a point of reference for movie buffs.

There is one thing, though, that a lot of people would like to experience first-hand. It's what I like to call "Your own James Bond moment." You may want to feel it while driving, a la the guy from the Ruben Blades song "Decisiones" (Decisions), or while drinking a martini, etc. You don't really need to be able to afford an Aston Martin (although it's gotta be pretty freaking cool to own one, eh?) or sport a Tuxedo (which is still in my list of things to wear while I'm still single) to have one of those. The bottom line is, once you get your James Bond moment, that represents eternal bragging rights and a fun story to share with generations to come!

And... oh yes, I DO have my own James Bond moment and I've cherished it ever since it happened. That (and of course being flat broke by virtue of grad school) is the main reason I don't feel like I ever need to hit a casino ever again. I'm in anecdotal mood, so let me share the story...

The year: 1998. The place: Cartagena, Colombia (oh yes, a tourist location with beaches and beautiful women galore; it may not be Monte Carlo, but it was really fun. I recommend visiting Cartagena sometime). The setting: A night in January at a casino right across the street from the place we were staying. This was a moment that was pivotal not only for our vacation but for the moment when the whole "Patron" thing really got going. Here's the situation: A group of close friends (whom we'll call Andres A., Carlos R.D., Javier M., and Javier R. because those are their actual names!) and I came back from a night out and in order to give two friends some space, we went to the aforementioned casino. With a few bucks and our crazy spirits, we took over the locale. We started at the roulette first; after a while, we actually hit the blackjack table. I sat down, Bond style, and started playing. I won some, I lost some. And then...

The Pivotal Moment that changed the course of my history...

One of the rounds of blackjack, I got five cards: 2, 5, 4, 2, for 13. Decisions, decisions... I couldn't stand pat because the house would win. I could only go for another card and take my chances to go over 21... or maybe get that much-needed 8 and beat the house on that round. After consulting with my entourage (by that point, they actually were in character!), they encouraged me to take my chances. I did and I told the dealer (and I will include the original quote in Spanish):

"Tireme ese OCHO que tiene ahi!" (Translation: "Hit me with that EIGHT you've got right there!")

I was a rather brash statement, outlandish even. I knew I could make a fool of myself. But, I also knew that the stuff of legends happens in moments like these. The dealer pulled the card.. and... wait for it...

Oh my! AN EIGHT OF CLUBS was the card that got me to 21 and won that round. My friends couldn't believe it. I, of course, knew what I was doing (James Bond would too!) and acted nonchalant. Yes, I lost almost all of my money in the next few rounds and left the table with just a buck. Right now, it doesn't matter! That buck could've been spent in a cheap pair of sunglasses or getting ripped off by the oyster guys (another story for another time). But, I wouldn't have my eternal bragging rights, the feeling of knowing EXACTLY what James Bond feels when he beats the bad guys at the table and the fact that for one brief moment... I could go and say...

"Yeah, I am Bond... PATRON Bond!"

I was in the mood for a light-hearted blog... and this just did it! I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I'll be back with more soon. Till my next blog, I bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Three months, one plate, two pins, and five screws later: Reflections about life after a broken leg

Greetings to all my friends and bloggers around the world. It's been a while since I sat down and wrote a blog. I had a bit of writer's block, but as Austin Powers would say, I've got my mojo back. I had lost my ability to write but it's back and here to stay!

I'll save the acknowledgments for later. But first, here's yet another installment of the...

Gratuitous Twin Nieces Update (Because we finally found someone who'll save us from the abomination that are the Olsen Twins!)

Well, the girls are absolutely adorable! They're looking really pretty and witty and fine. They're able to talk some more and they now fully recognize me, even though they can't fully pronounce my name (the downside of such an awesome name as Raúl is that it takes a while to say that R at the beginning). I also got some pictures to share...

That does it for this update. Now, on to my main event...

Three Months, One Plate, Two Pins, and Five Screws Later:

Reflections about life after a broken leg

Before I even start sharing my deeper thoughts, let me tell you this much:

I doubt I'll ever get over the cold chill down my spine every time I recall what happened when I landed on the floor after the attempted layup (and no, I don't remember whether I scored or not!) and I felt a pop in my knee and I felt my whole leg bone shifting to the right.

Every time I relive those images in my brain, I feel the same chill, the same incredulity and I keep wondering why on earth this happened. It still feels surreal, recalling what happened in the next 30 hours after that moment: Calling my friends to come to my aid, getting on the ambulance, feeling loopy from the morphine, experiencing that brief despair when I was told I'd needed surgery, calling my family to tell them, going to surgery, waking up from it, and being at the hospital the next morning. It still feels surreal, like an episode from a drama about life in grad school or something...

Until I look at my leg and see that this is as real as it gets: An eight-inch scar on my right leg, the crutches, knowing that by the time I can walk unassisted it will most likely be six months. It has been a life-changing journey for me and that's what the next lines will be all about...

Friends who become family

I've said it once and I'll say it again: God only knows that I didn't go through hell and back because of my friends in Champaign. From the moment I landed on the hardwood floor, my friends have stepped up and helped me. Some of them have already transcended that categorization of friends and have become my family away from home. You know who you are and if you read this, it's you I'm talking about. My friends have been able to look past the crutches, the awkward walking, the waiting forever for me to sit down or stand up, and still see me for who I am. Having my parents and sister thousands of miles away, they've been a source of emotional support that's made my life easier to handle. I don't know how long it'll take for me to repay them, but I surely will.

Let me say thanks to a few, since the list is long... To my Colombian friends, thanks once again. It's good to know there are so many good Colombians left in the world! To my other friends from around the world, thanks for your support. To my teammates from the best broomball team ever, ST. FUNS, I miss playing defense but I love being your Coach! To my students, thanks for putting up with me. I promised you I'd give you 150% every class and I've delivered! To my family back home: Don't be bummed because you're not here physically. You've been here in spirit every day and you're the main reason I take my therapy so seriously.

Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

It's interesting to think about all that we take for granted. Before this, everything was so easy and obvious. Then, I forgot how to walk, standing up was an endurance test, and points A and B were a thousand miles away even if a few yards apart. One of the hardest days was the first weekend when I had my cast put on, at the beginning of January. It was one of those rare 40-Fahrenheit-degree days in Champaign, perfect for a long walk. I ventured outside the apartment as best as I could and sat outside my apartment... and I couldn't help crying out of sheer frustration. It's been tough not to do what I liked to do. As I was lying down in the emergency room, right after I was told I'd need surgery, I couldn't help thinking about all that I'd miss in the spring: My trip to New York, dancing nights, the intramural broomball season (the first game of the season was a tough pill to swallow... it helped me understand what injured athletes feel like at that moment and how tough it is to be on the sidelines when you'd wish otherwise), etc. On the other hand, as the months progress and I regain my ability to walk, I'm starting to look forward to the long walks I'll take and I'm even thinking of getting a brand-new bicycle for the summer. I guess that's part of reaching little milestones every day in therapy.

The Flip Side of the Coin: I'd never felt discriminated against... until now!

One thing about my graduate studies has been how sensitive it's made me about issues of discrimination. I didn't really know what being looked funny on the grounds of anything looked like. I know what "white privilege" was like from my days back home; I've never felt linguistic discrimination because of my English; and even my nationality has never been an issue. However, I've learned first-hand what being discriminated against by virtue of disability (the one form of discrimination that really seems to be color-blind) looks like, on a small scale. Let me repeat that: On a small scale. But, yes, I've had the funny looks when I stand on a dance floor and I have folks looking at me like, "what are you doing here?" or telling me, "You shouldn't be here" or "This isn't safe for you" (These are actual quotes I've heard, plus the patronizing tone that I can't replicate on a blog). I've seen how some people seem to feel mad that they have to move to the end of the bus or some even refuse to move because they're too comfortable in the front seats. I've even felt embarrassed that it takes me so long to get in or out of a car (even if none of my friends have implied anything) and I'm still really self-conscious about wearing shorts (I wear a sleeve under my brace partly to protect the scar from the sun, partly not to show it).

But, funny as it may, I've seen how some people can't really look past my crutches and all they see is those two aluminum pieces and the large brace around my leg. It's funny how some people think they can't be with me because I can't really walk that well for the time being. They can't seem to go beyond that. It's as if everything else were Photoshop blurred from their brain and their foci were those things. It makes me wonder how many of them can't look past a wheelchair or a missing limb. It makes me wonder how many times I may have done exactly the same and how many people I missed a chance to meet or know because of this.

Right now, more than wonder, it does make me pity them, those few and far between who think I'm out of place at a bar or a dance floor. Maybe they're the ones out of place in this world. After all, as Everlast once said, "God forbid you ever have to walk one mile in their shoes, cuz then you really might know what it's like to sing the blues."

But, again, let me be honest: That's a minority. My true friends don't care about that. To them, I'm still their friend and I'm not any worse because of this. And that definitely offsets any weird looks I get on occasion.

The Road Ahead...

I've still got a stretch to go on the road to full recovery. I've started therapy (after three long months of having a stiff right leg) and I'm walking... not in a figurative sense. I AM walking. That actually reminds me of the only other time I've cried during this journey. I remember it well, it was the last Thursday in March, after I came back from the hospital and my monthly check-up. I entered my classroom and actually attempted to put weight on my leg and walk. One step, then another, then one more... as I kept walking to my desk, I couldn't help repeating, "I can't believe I'm walking, I can't believe I'm walking!" and all of a sudden, I was crying, as Sting would say, "I'm so happy that I can't stop crying, I'm so happy I'm laughing through my tears." I was able to walk again, and let me tell you, it was one of the most delightful feelings I've experienced in a long time!

As I was saying, I'll be in therapy for at least two months, if not three. But, I'm optimistic that I'll be fine at the end of this. In fact, I really like Raúl A. version 2.5 (I like to think that there's such a thing as Raúl A. version 2.0 - the post-grad school version!). I've lost a few pounds, which I needed to do anyway. I've learned to be more patient about a few things and I've learned not to use anything as an excuse for not doing something else. I've learned to appreciate the things and people I have around me. Oh, and I don't feel any bit bad that this happened to me, nor do I feel that I was star-struck or anything of that kind. It was an accident and it changed my life... for the better!

Plus, how many of you can actually say that you're literally an "Iron Man"?

I didn't think so!

That's it for now. Till my next blog I bid farewell!

The Blogger, the Thinker, the Provocateur...
Raúl A. (El Patrón)