Tag Archives: United States

Worry about the orange elephant in the room, not me

Ever since I first joined WordPress I have cycled through periods of daily activity followed by weeks to months long spells of inactivity. Tonight I am coming out of the longest inactive spell yet, elven months. My last previous post was on December 31st, 2015. Here is a brief timeline of everything that has happened with me so far this year:

January: I began my final semester of undergrad; I also applied to the University of Oregon’s Master’s in Journalism program.

March: I receive an acceptance letter from UO, relieving stress about what to do after graduation.

April: I turn in the final draft of my senior thesis; at the student paper staff party I win an award for Best News Writer.

May: I graduate with a Bachelor’s in History; I go on a school trip to France.

June: I return to America; I move to Eugene and begin my grad program.

August: The quarter is over so I go home.

September: I return to Eugene and start the new quarter; I find out I am on academic probation because my GPA is below the required 3.0, if I don’t get it up this quarter I will be dismissed from the program.

November: The bastard child of Mussolini and an orangatang is elected President of the United States of America.

Now for the orange elephant in the room. That last event is what compelled me to end my hiatus after a few months of procrastination. I didn’t think it would happen. When Trump announced he was running I thought it was a joke. When he lasted I few months I wasn’t particularly worried. Just another occupant of the Republican Clown Car I thought. I didn’t mention him once in any of my posts from my last active period, he simply wasn’t worth my time or energy. I don’t remember any of the blogs I follow taking him serious either, most thought he would fizzle.

Then he was the last man standing.

Like everyone else, I believed the polls which placed his rival at an 80+% chance of winning. I am shocked and frightened. As a journalist in training me and my cohort mates feel compelled to be part of a new generation of media that nips this sort of bullshit in the bud.

So long story short, I decided it was time to return. WordPress has been a great platform for me to put out my thoughts to the world.

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Election Duels

Some days, some nights

Some prosper, some falter

in the Way of the Senator

Some rally, some flee

Every other year

For the orators in D.C.

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Back From the Motherland (this time for real)

us

Hello faithful readers, as you know from either closely following this blog or by the last two posts I have been away in Tanzania for quite some time now. Well now I’m back. We arrived back in America on Thursday, but the 24+ total hours of traveling had left me to exhuasted to write a new post until just now.

To briefly recap what I had said we’d be doing earlier (click on the tag “Tanzania” for more) we went to go stay and help out a Benedictine convent. I baked bread, helped schoolchildren with Enlgish reading skills, organized medical records at a village clinic, and extracted sunflowerseed oil. I helped at the orhpanage once, but found the kids to be far more energetic for me to keep up with; though there were two other team members who were with them for the duration of our stay and are now in full maternal mode for them. Everyone on the team grew very connected with many indiviudals we met, alas because I have Asperger’s Syndrome I by and large did not. It’s not that I didn’t try, it takes me much longer to develope bonds and we simply didn’t have enough time. As the trip loomed towards the inevitable end everyone dreaded leaving, but I was more then ready. However by the last week I was beginning to feel a closeness with the people we met, and now I wish that perhaps the trip was longer so I would have had more time for that. Whatever the case, I was the only one who didn’t shed a tear during goodbyes.

This being subsaharan Africa, of course we saw lots of animals. Zebras, giraffs, elephants, baboons, antelope, gazelles, wildebeast, city monkeys, and weird black birds with white torso that make a very annoying sound. No lions or rhinos, but we did have an opportunity to pass throuh a reserve known for those two. We elected not to because it would have added three hours to our already 16 hour Jeep ride from Dar es Salaam to Songea. Songea is a small city about an hour from the convent, and once a week we would go there to buy supplies, check the internet, and get a much needed change of scenery. At the internet cafe I tried to post updates for you guys but the internet was way to shitty to get anything done. It took me like twenty minutes to check my email.

Overall I would say this trip is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. So far, anyway. I did, saw, and experienced far too much to be shared in one post, so expect more information in the near future.

You can find more pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saint-Martins-University-Service-Immersion-Programs/1428976637321287?ref=stream (as you scroll down eventually you will begin to see more and more pictures from unrelated trips)

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The Day After Tomorrow

Hey Strangers and Friends, I’m sorry for going over a week without posting anything. Last week some out of state relatives visited and we stayed in a beachouse that for some weird unadvertized reason didn’t have any internet access. They left on Saturday, and I haven’t posed until know because I am preparing the next big thing on my Summer agenda. More like the next big event in my life, really.

As some of you may recall, I will be going to Tanzania. Well I will be leaving, as the post’s title insinuates, the day after tomorrow. I have feel really fluttery right now as this is something I have been anticipating since December. For most of that time I was not particurally excited as I had more immediate matters of concern, but now it is right on the horizon. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness; the latter due largely to the fact I’m not a big fan of flying, let alone a twenty hour hour flight. We will have a two hour layover in Amsterdam, we won’t be able to set foot outside the airport (which from what I understand means we legally won’t enter the Netherlands). Originally we had planned to do a day trip to Zanzibar, but we scrapped that idea in light of a recent terrorist bombing.

This isn’t the first time I have been out of the US, I grew up in Japan and have been to Canada a couple times. Nor is it my first time out of the US away from my parents, I did that when I went to Costa Rica in 2012. However I will be gone for five weeks, and this is much further.

Internet access will be limited to dial-up on obsolete and unprotected computors if availible at all. I will try and post something while I’m there if I can, but don’t count on it. See you all on July 25th!

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Knight One Day, a Cowboy the Next

When I was young I was decidedly indecisive about my future, the title pretty much says it all; the careers mentioned being the favorites. Knights and cowboys fascinated me growing up, I thought they were really cool so I thought it would be cool to be one. Most little boys like those sorts of jobs and buy into the romanticized pop culture images. I am no closer now to realizing my dream for either than I was back then, chiefly because now I have no desire. Knighthood is out of the question for fairly obvious reasons, at least the shining armor variety. I suppose it is technically possible for me to be knighted I would have to live a lifetime of truly exceptional greatness, especially since I am an American. The United States doesn’t have any knighthood orders; most countries that do only give them to prominent foriegners, usually heads of state and high end military officers. Being a cowboy is considerably more plausible, surprizingly so considering that I live in a rural area in close proximity to horses and cattle. However I do not like riding horses and I can’t stand the smell of livestock. That and I don’t like to risk physical harm, which is also a reason why I wouldn’t have been a good knight. As unlikely and unfit as I was and am for these careers, they were much more realistic than my other dream job: Men In Black agent.

knight

cowboy

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/futures-past/

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A Dream Has Come True

Some of you might remember My Second Meaningful St. Patrick’s Day, which I posted a few weeks back. It didn’t get the attention I had hoped it would, but I was sufficiently happy with it to submit it as a freelance article to the school paper. I had to do some censuring editing, chiefly because I don’t think they would publish something with the phrase “dirty Prod Anglos.” After changing that to “Anglophone Protestants” and doing a little fine tuning I submitted my piece. On Monday someone I didn’t even recognize approached me and said “hey you’re in this month’s paper!” So I rushed to the nearest newspaper rack and picked up a copy. I found it very satisfactory to see my work printed in ink. Now can say that I am a published author, which has been a dream of mine for years. Many people have told me that they really enjoyed my article and learned a lot of interesting things from it, which was exactly the reason why I submitted it. Bernardo O’Higgins seems to be of particular interest to many readers, so I’m glad I mentioned him. Some people have said I ought to join the newspaper staff, so I have decided to apply.

For those who didn’t read it, here it is in its uncensored glory: https://djgarcia94.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/my-second-meaningful-st-patricks-day/

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Classic Film Review: Z (spoiler warning)

I have recently viewed Z, directed by Costa Gavras. Z is a political thriller about the assassination of a Greek presidential hopeful named Grigoris Lambrakis who was running on an antinuclear and Nonaligned platform. Lambrakis was a real Greek politician though the story told in Z is highly fictionalized; interestingly it begins with a disclaimer saying that “any resemblance to real persons or events is intentional.”

The opening dialogue discusses methods used to prevent mildew in French vineyards, and it is revealed to be a lecture given by a general to several other uniformed officers; the general goes on to explicitly link this with preventing the spread of Communism in Greece. I knew what he was getting at from the first mention of mildew. This sets the stage for the rest of the film. Before Lambrakis even appears, several of his campaigners are shown preparing for a rally and are inform that someone is out for him.

Much of the suspense of the film is whether he will be killed, and when he is killed then the focus on just who was responsible. Was it the Communists? Nationalists? Army? Police? Random act of mob violence? Unfortunately even before seeing the film I knew that it was the military responsible. A group of street thugs are followed and shown instigating riots, and it is later revealed that they were planted by the military, which reminded me of all the other examples of astroturfed resistance against democratic leaders like Arbenz and Mossadegh. Interestingly absent from Z is the USA and USSR. Both are mentioned on numerous occasions and Lambrakis made it clear he opposed either side having the bomb and that he would make Greece neutral, but no Americans or Soviets are anywhere to be seen. I really liked this because it helped to focus in on Greece, which is portrayed as being heavily partisan.

Not only does this movie give an excellent look at pre junta Greece, it is also an excellent film on an artistic level. The cinematography is naturalistic, not obviously staged like most Hollywood films. Because it depicts contemporary events, the clothes seen are totally authentic and not costumes. One thing that interested me is that many of Lambrakis’ young supporters are shown wearing clothes very similar to those worn by the mods, teddy boys, and beats of Britain. Filming was done in Algeria, though I couldn’t tell it wasn’t Greece. One thing that annoyed me was that all of the dialogue is in French and not Greek, and signs and documents shown are written in French and English. Not using Greek really distracted me from the fact it was supposed to be Greece and somewhat took away from the realism. Other than that the film is excellent storytelling.

The impression I got from Z was a cynical portrait of Greece as a heavily troubled place where people got killed for not being extreme enough. The sympathy of the film is definitely given to the Left, but it hardly glamorized them. Admittedly I know little about Greece during this period, but I feel that after seeing Z I understand the situation much better. All of the significant factions that vied for power are present, and their interactions are entertainingly shown. Overall I would say that Z is an excellent work that succeeds on all counts.

Zed

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My Second Meaningful St. Patrick’s Day

I have always enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day because I like corned beef and Shamrock Shakes, however it meant anything more than that. However two and a half years ago I learned that I am part Irish, from my father’s predominately Hispanic side. His maternal grandfather was half (along with half Navajo, but that’s beside the point), but my dad had no idea despite having grown up with him. My grandma randomly brought this up, and while it surprised me it makes perfect sense. My paternal family has lived in what is now New Mexico (NOT MEXICO, NOT MEXICO YOU GOT THAT?!?!) for around eight generations, having come from primarily Spain before that. New Mexico has a notable Irish community, many of them came from NYC looking for more greener (figuratively), more Catholic friendly, pastures. Most noted of the early Hiberno-Nuevomexicanos was Billy the Kid. His mother thought leaving New York would save him from death as a petty street gangster, yet ironically the move resulted in him dying as one of the most illustrious outlaws in American folklore. I know nothing of my Irish ancestors before or after they moved to the Southwest, but watching Gangs of New York gives me some idea to what it may like for them before they packed up. My great grandfather spoke no English, only Spanish. Of course Irish Gaelic was Ireland’s main language into the nineteenth century and those Irish who went to NM were trying to escape those dirty Prod Anglos, so they probably had little attachment to the English language.

Hispanic and Irish are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Hispanic is a linguistic term (not a racial one) that is far more inclusive than many think. Argentina has its Italians, Costa Rica has its Jamaicans, Peru has its Japanese, Panama has its Chinese, Chile has its Germans, Mexico has its Lebanese, and Irish are to be found all over. Chile’s first President was named Bernardo O’Higgins. Che Guevara, perhaps the most iconic Latin American of all, had an Irish father and the birth name Ernest Lynch. He viewed himself as being part of a tradition of Irish rebels who fight against empire, and now the ironic icon is immortalized in murals from Bogota to Belfast. Billy the Kid is no one to be proud of, O’Higgins is in the shadow of Bolivar and San Martin, and Guevara outright polarizing. Still they show that the Irish have made lasting impressions in Hispanophone areas.

St. Patrick’s Day is all about cultural identity. I am only a sixteenth Irish and that has zero impact on my day to day life, but knowing that bit of trivia has greatly enriched my sense of cultural identity.

mural

 

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Impulse Souveniring

When I was younger I had an atrocious tendency to buy a souvenir whenever I went somewhere special. I was under the impression that I needed some cheap knickknack in order to have memories about wherever I went. My room back home is filled with all sorts of useless shit that now means nothing to me and serves no purpose other than collecting dust. Of course, taking advantage of these impulses is a big moneymaker for tourism. Now that I’ve realized this I’ve gotten much better, and now I generally only purchase souvenirs as gifts for family members. That’s what I did in Costa Rica, even though the temptation to buy crap for myself was still present. The only thing I got for myself was a jersey for Costa Rica’s national FC, something practical that I actually use. Costa Rican souvenir markets carry a lot of paraphernalia, most of it very eye catching. I remember seeing a glass pipe that had a clay sloth hanging off the stem, and I briefly considered getting it for an uncle who is a chronic enthusiast. At Disneyland all I got was a Yoda shirt, and at Yellowstone I did as I had in Costa Rica. I am more mature know, and have learned the hard way that any memory that needs some tacky ass souvenir isn’t a memory worth making effort to retain.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/daily-prompt-lets-go-crazy/

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The Ballad of William Walker

This is a (mostly) true story, so listen up:

Born in a one room shack in Tennessee
Then poorest state in the land of the free
Sure he was hick but was smart as can be
He passed the Bar when he was only three
William, William Walker ’tis of him I sing!

In New Orleans he practiced law
Then headed West as an outlaw
His dueling record without flaw
He was the smartest bastard the Frontier saw
William, William Walker a true gentleman thief!

He met up with pirates in San Francisco
They headed down to Mexico
Annexing Sonora promised serious dough
Creating new for land for slaves to grow
William, William Walker the man who don’t know bounds!

His project lasted one brief time
‘Till Mexico deported him without a dime
And put on trial for his illustrious crime
Got acquitted and a song of freedom he did chime
William, William Walker should have learned something!

He looked to Nicaragua where he saw a prize
A potential canal of tremendous size
Many adventurers answered his plies
They boarded their ships and descended like flies
William, William Walker crossing a point of no return!

They raped and pillaged the Mosquito Coast
Something Walker would proudly boast
The Nicaraguans proved an unhappy host
Since it was them who suffered most
William, William Walker Nicaragua’s would be king!

Expansionism sure brought him much joy
Adding Costa Rica was his next ploy
And for him that was rather coy
But his base was torched by a Costa Rican drummer boy
William, William Walker will he learn his lesson yet?

Never one to learn from a mistake
Nicaragua was too lucrative a cake
In Managua he plotted the next move to make
And won an election that was surely fake!
William, William Walker never gonna give it up!

Naturally he wanted more
And dreamed of the riches he could store
Having no problems with blood and gore
He invaded Honduras which was just next door
William, William Walker living out Manifest Destiny!

Things didn’t go so very well
It was to the Honduran army that he fell
They tied him to a post and rung a bell
Then the squad fired and now Walker’s in hell
William, William Walker what a wasted life!

Walker

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