Friday, December 30, 2005

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

The new Bolivian leader, Evo Morales, is set to visit Cuba. Fidel Castro is sending a jet to pick him up and 60 of his followers. I hope this new president does well for Bolivia. Communism looks perfect on paper, but it does not work when applied to real governments. Fidel Castro who did everything in his power to piss off the United States, ended up relying on a different super power, the Soviet Union. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba went into a deep recession. We'll see.

Here's an excellent article from the BBC called "Latin America faces year of change," regarding the left-leaning trend Latin America is taking. I urge you to read it to learn more about what is happening with Latin America.

Check out this link to view a map of Latin America, which shows the countries that are left-leaning. It puts things into perspective.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New Year's Resolutions

Every year, I make resolutions. Besides the "I'm going to workout and loose weight" ones, I forget what other ones I make. This year I'll write them down. The trick is to remember in '07 to look back at this post to see if I kept all of them.

1. Workout (which I do now anyway, but I want it to be more of a routine)
2. Loose 15 lbs. (even though I don't feel fat in any way, I want to loose those last 15).
3. Take the stairs the majority of the times (I live on the fourth floor, which in NYC is really the fifth floor because the lobby doesn't count. This will definitely help me with resolution #2).
4. Meditate more (I need my quiet time).
5. Be more giving.
6. Pursue my calling.
7. Expand my knowledge of crochet.
8. Learn how to knit better.
9. Read more books.
10. Gossip less (I try not to talk about people, but sometimes I find myself doing so)
11.Be grateful.

I think that about sums it up.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

It's Christmas Day and even though I am not the least bit religious, I love Christmas. It's a great time of the year to get together with family and friends to share a few laughs and enjoy each other's company. I wish everyday was like Christmas because then we'd all be a bit more joyous. I hope you all enjoy your holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2005

All Fours (As Per Loudpoet)

My friend Guy (Loudpoet),posted on his blog All Fours. I was asked to do the same, so here it goes.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Bilingual Sales Associate
Administrative Assistant

Four movies you could watch over and over:
The Lost Boys
Interview with a Vampire
Harry Potter (any of them)

Four places you've lived:
Union City, NJ
West New York, NJ
North Bergen, NJ
Miami, FL

Four TV shows you love to watch:
My Name is Earl

Four places you've been on vacation:
Madrid, Spain
Key West, FL
Ontario, CA
Boston, MA

Four websites you visit daily:
My Yahoo
Any News Website

Four of your favorite foods:

Four places you'd rather be:
European Tour
Bahia Honda Key, FL
Boston, MA
Right here in my apartment.

Four people who should do this:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pain--All a Mental Game

You have a headache and what do you do? You think about how much your head hurts. You probably take some tylenol or aspirin and hope the pain ceases. The whole time you have this headache you think about it, and the pain seems to get worse.

What would happen if you thought your pain away? Instead of concentrating on how much it hurts, you'd concentrate on how good you feel. What do you think would happen? Well according to a study done by researchers at Stanford University and MRI technology, you could reduce the pain. This experiment had the subjects look at fMRI images of their brain activity and concentrate on the brain's rostral anterior cingulate cortex, which is an area that is associated with pain. By doing so, the patients were able to reduce pain by a significant amount.

I became so excited when I found this article. For awhile now, I've been part of the school of thought that the way you think affects everything from your health to your everyday actions. Your state of mind controls everything. Don't you notice that when you are having a bad day, it only becomes worse? Or when you are having a great day, everything seems to fall on your lap flawlessly?

For instance, I've been significantly stressed about moving, the house, new jobs, money, and the works. Because of these stress levels I've been sick (for at least a month and actually my throat feels funny), broke out, and feel tired all the time. If I would stop stressing about everything going on, I bet you I would feel better and have a clear complexion. We attract what we're thinking about. It's that simple. Enjoy the article!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This is What I Mean When Latin American Countries do Not Rely on Each Other

Skimming through the headline news, I came across an article that I originally had skipped. I had a seven-second delay and the name of the article slapped me back into the present, "Guatemala wants more US help in drugs war." Now, I could see you arguing that it seems like an innocent request. The US is powerful and has the means to help Guatemala out. Why not rely on themselves or the surrounding countries? Drugs are not a new problem afflicting this country. It's that the druglords are now powerful enough to cause damage.

Unfortunately, this story becomes worse. According to Reuters, "Guatemala's reputation took another hit last month when its top anti-drugs official and close aides were arrested in the United States on drug smuggling charges." Corruption! Graft runs rampant in these countries, which allows for volatile situations among its citizens. This kind of behavior trumps any type of progress Latin Americans achieve on their own and also hurts the people in the government who are honest (as honest as politicians can be).

If you haven't read my last post on Latin America, then do so. This post will make much more sense after you do so.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Latin America Leaning to the Left

Latin America fascinates me. The fact that I'm half Cuban has a lot to do with it. Cuba, the country my father fled from to seek political freedom, is always in the back of my mind. Wondering when my father will ever see his brother again and visit the graves of his parents, of whom he never was able to see die, constantly agonizes me. I speak to my cousin (mind you, I've never met her) through emails that we keep short and basically vague in fear that she might suffer repurcussions. Once in awhile, I get the opportunity to speak to my uncle and my other cousin (her brother) if my father happens to call when I am at his place. The email conversations are new only occurring for the past four years. Other than that, I don't know my family in Cuba. I've been jipped.

Then again, I barely have any type of contact with my mother's side of the family who live in Madrid. I have both of my aunts' emails and they have mine, but we don't communicate (I think I'll drop them an email today). I have another cousin, who lives in Spain, that I've never spoken to. The way I look at it is that they have a choice to come and visit, call me, write to me, etc. My Cuban family is limited to the occasional phone call and email. Go figure.

The rest of Latin America worries me. There is always unrest, extreme poverty, very corrupt political officials, the illiteracy rates are high, and the countries don't rely much upon each other to enhance themselves. All of these reasons are a recipe for destruction. Although I do blame Spain for creating such inexplicable conditions in Latin America, when are Latin Americans going to take responsibity for their actions?

Well they are, but not what I deem to be a viable solution. Most of the countries in Latin America are leaning towards the left. You have countries like Venezuela that are very critical of Washington policies and promise a better place under the socialistic umbrella. The majority of the poor people have lost hope in the rich and want to be heard. There's a reason why millions try to leave their countries and illegally enter the United States, which I find strange since most of them are so critical of capitalism.

Juan Forero, a writer for the New York Times, has written an excellent article on how Latin Americans are looking at socialism as an answer to their problems. As he points out in the article, there are different degrees of leftist thinking. He quotes the book "The New Left in Latin America," which states "In recent years, social movements and leftist parties in Latin America have reappeared with a force that has no parallel in the recent history in the region." I find this to be alarming.

If capitalism works in the United States, why not in Latin America? Of course capitalism is not perfect. There are many people living in poverty, our minimum wage is a joke, and there is always some form of corruption in our government. But you cannot deny that the United States is a very successful rich country. In less than two hundred years, we became a world power. Why not Latin America? They have vast amounts of natural resources that would allow them to gain some kind of stake. They don't take advantage of it.

There are many different reasons for this. I could write a book about it. Racism is a very prominent factor in their problems. You think racism is a problem in the United States? There are true Indians who are looked down upon because they are Indian by others who are half-Indian and half-Spanish descent. They may each have the same physical features, but because one has Spanish blood it makes all of the difference. To say that the Indian population in Latin America are not represented adequately, is an understatement. The same kind of racism is apparent within the black and Spanish populations that are prominent in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. So within their own societies, relationships between the "different" ethnicities are sabotaged, which explains why the governments lean on foreign aid. They allow Europe and North America to own their natural resources. Instead of helping each other out, they isolate themselves.

Now as I mentioned before, I could go on about this. There are many other reasons for the problems evident in Latin America. Let's say that the countries turn into socialism or communism, how many people are going to suffer the same consequences my father has, my family and friends have, and myself? There is a reason why many Cubans have fled their homes. In doing so, they have lost what is most important--family. My father has not seen his brother since 1971. He never saw his father or mother die. He's never met his niece and nephew. My father is not the only who has suffered this fate. This is just one example. Families dispersed into different countries loose out.

There has to be a restructuring of the governments in order for these countries to flourish. Corruption has to be minimized. Officials cannot fatten their pockets while the rest of the population do not have the means to feed themselves. Instead of mistrusting each other, Latin American countries have to start helping each other out. Education should be available to all. The Indian and black populations have to be represented. This will all take many years to accomplish, but I do feel that these are steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why Drinking and Smoking is Not Good for You

Last night was my holiday party. All the trainers from work got together and we went to Friday's for drinks and appetizers. It was really nice. We exchanged gifts and spent the entire time laughing. I had two glasses of wine, smoked a couple of cigarettes (I reserve smoking for social reasons), and barely ate (one mozzarella stick and a sliver of a chicken quesadilla). By the time I got home and finally went to bed, it was 2:30 in the morning.

I finally made it out of bed at 10:45, which gave me an adequate amount of sleep. But I have to say, that I felt crappy. My throat was sore and my voice was raspy. My head ached a bit and so did my stomach. Even though I wasn't a hundred percent, I decided to go to the gym. Why don't I listen to myself? I only lasted on the elliptical machine for 16 minutes working out at a slower pace than I normally do. Not only that, but my heart rate was through the roof and I got another stomach-ache. I then jumped on the treadmill and walked at 2.5 miles per hour with an incline of 3% for 22 minutes. Normally, I'm on the treadmill walking at a 3.5% incline and at a pace of 4 miles per hour.

All the while, I kept on thinking on how I sabotaged my workout because of the night before. Today was supposed to be the day that I worked out longer because I don't have to work tonight. Instead, I worked out a total of 38 minutes and burned 287 calories as supposed to the 500+ I normally burn. I'm quite disappointed in myself. Then again, how often do I get together with friends and have so much fun? I didn't over drink. I had two glasses of wine, not a full bottle. I should have stayed away from the cigarettes. In fact, smoking is not appetizing to me anymore. I guess I did it out of habit.

I've been noticing that stuff I like having has not been so appealing to me lately. I'm not liking my coffee. At first, I thought it was the flavored creamer I was using. I went out and bought two different flavors, but they don't taste good either. Wine is also not tasting as good as I usually find it to be. Actually, a small glass of wine is fine, but if I try for more it bothers me, which it did last night.

You could say that my body is sending me big signals. I need to start paying attention to what my body wants in order to balance out my energy. When I say to myself that I only want one glass of wine, I should listen. I suffered unnecessarily at the gym because I ignored the signals my body was sending. But as I always try to do, I learned from this. Now I know what to do and not do when I'm out celebrating.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Random Thoughts

My life has been very busy lately. Between being sick, crocheting, working out, and all the thinking I do, I'm surprised I haven't collapsed. I just realized that I think way too much. I try to analyze every single detail that goes on in my day to day life. I fill myself with warm and happy thoughts so that my day goes better, which works for the most part. But I also thrive on thinking bad stuff. It gives me such a weird energy more so than thinking positive. It's addicting, too. The more I think bad stuff the more thoughts pour into my head. I wonder why that is? I also don't realize that I'm doing it. When I do catch myself, I change my thought pattern, but wish I hadn't.

One rule of thumb while waiting tables is not to worry about the tip. If you disconnect yourself from the outcome, then your outcome will be good. This guy at work always says that and he could sell ice to an Eskimo. He also makes tons of money. I will start applying that way of thinking to my everyday. I become concerned whether I'll have a good day and things will go my way or not. The "not" is what I end up attracting because I'm focusing on making sure it doesn't go that way. I want to enjoy life, not think about it.

I've just discovered that I'm lactose intolerant. I know I have been for a while, but never paid any attention to how my body reacts when I have dairy. So, yesterday I went to the supermarket bought some lactaid pills and lactaid milk. Unfortunately for me, I love dairy way too much to give it up. I'll just have to make the best of it.

I actually got jealous last night. I'm not getting into details about it because people will start speculating. I don't care for any of that nonsense. I'm bringing it up because I can't believe it actually happened. Although, I'm extremely happy about the news, it did bother me to the point that I cried. I don't like that feeling. I never envy others. In fact, it makes me very happy when I hear that friends and family are having good things occur to them. I don't wish bad on others. Very rarely, do I even curse off someone who cuts me off. I find it to be a waste of energy. To react in the manner that I did last night, rather perturbed me. As a result, I sat down and meditated to find out why it caused me such great agitation.

My crocheting has taken off. I'm making so many projects that I'm afraid I won't be able to make the xmas gifts. I have enough yarn where I would be able to make a giant afghan out of the scraps. At least, I'm having fun making all of the stuff. I do admit that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the deadlines I've set-up. This is also my cue that I should end this post and continue working on the baby blanket I'm making.

This is basically what's been going on with me. Nothing really exciting, but enough to keep me busy. Till next time...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sick, Again

When I finally got home on Saturday night, I wasn't feeling all that great. Nothing could have prepared me to how I was going to feel in the morning. Turns out that I have (had) a stomach virus. I'm not sure if I still have it, but I haven't had a fever since late last night. I couldn't stay awake no matter how much I tried. I think the longest I remained awake was about two hours, and that was later on at night.

I could actually keep on sleeping today, but I must get myself ready for work. Also, I need to eat something. All I ate yesterday was toast and a few bites out of Dan's yummy sandwich. Since I haven't been sick again, I figure I could tempt fate by making a sandwich. Hopefully, it will sit well with me and finally settle my stomach.

This is the second time in a matter of two weeks that I've been sick. I'm so bad when it comes to getting sick. Once I'm sick, I'm sick for a while. Although, this is the first time that I get two different illnesses in a matter of weeks. Usually, it's the same cold that doesn't seem to want to go away. Wish me well. I want to get back to normal.