Miracuously, Neither of Us Forgot What Today Was

Brendan can never remember my birthday. And I can never remember our wedding anniversary. To be fair to both of us, we don’t forget they exist, we just can’t remember the exact date. And, I’d like to point out this is our first anniversary, so it’s a lot easier to forget than my birthday, for which Brendan has now been around for six of.

But, today, we both remembered in advance, and even have plans to eat at a swanky restaurant tonight, and order champagne. Just like our wedding:

First Anniversary

A Thrilling Afternoon

Some things that are on my mind right this moment:

– Why is it always so cold in my office? How many times have I thought that already today?

– What is my dog doing right now? Does he miss me?

– Man, it’s nice and warm outside. I’d love to walk all the way to Central Park right now, then take a nap.

– I have Spanish class tonight. I wish I was better at Spanish. A lot better.

– When is the third season of Battlestar Gallactica out on DVD?

– My parents 39th wedding anniversary is coming up. Christ, that’s a long time.

– So is my Dad’s 61st birthday. And my wedding anniversary (my first.)

–  I have three blisters on my feet in various states of healing.

– Why do I always crave peach smoothies?

– Procrastination is my worst enemy. Time to get back to work.

How About One Laptop for Each Child in a Colonia?

When I tell people in New York that I am from South Texas, it’s usually apparent that they have no idea what that means, or how it sets me apart, other than I might be a Republican (I’m not), I might have had some good Tex-Mex in my time (yes, certainly) and I probably knew who Selena was before she died and was played by J. Lo in a movie (yes).

I also have grown up around colonias, which the New York Times wrote about today. “Colonias” is a nice word for South Texas shanty towns. They are mostly along the border, but, in fact, they are everywhere in South Texas. Growing up in Corpus Christi I knew lots of poor people, but my closest encounter with true colonia residents was after college, as a local newspaper reporter covering medical and health issues. From time to time, I needed to visit people who lived either in a colonia, or one step up (a home with indoor plumbing and electricity, but with residents too poor to afford those services). It was not hard to see how poverty exacerbated preventable, treatable health conditions; I won’t ever forget a woman I met who was dying of cervical cancer.

At any rate, I found the timing of the NYT article interesting; just last night, I was thinking of colonia residents while I watched “60 Minutes,” which aired a report on Nicholas Negroponte, a wealthy technology guru who has started a program called “One Laptop Per Child.” Children in poor countries — not the U.S. — will be provided with a durable, cheap but highly capable laptop in order “to ensure that all school-aged children in the developing world are able to engage effectively with their own personal laptop, networked to the world, so that they, their families and their communities can openly learn and learn about learning.”

OK, fine. I’m all for children learning, especially poor children. But the program ended on a sour note for me. The reporter turned to the camera, and said, “Would you like to get your child one of these new laptops? Negroponte says they will be for sale soon, but you’ll have to buy two: One for your kid, and one for a kid in a poor country.”

What about the poor kids in our country? Don’t they deserve free laptops, too?

In the Film Apocalypto, the Baby Jaguar Made Me Cry

MayanSnake

Following up on my blog’s apocalyptic tone for the day, I just watched Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson.

Sadly, even with my limited knowledge of their culture, I could tell that many of the lead actors were not indigenous Mayans. So, from the beginning of the film, I had trouble suspending disbelief that I was truly on an epic voyage. And, Gibson’s film seemed to haughtily hint that the Mayans needed rescue from their civilization — the film, after all, opens with the following quote: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within.”

Yet, I’ll admit I really have no idea what his intent was, and undeniably, the film is a work of art, no matter your perspective on its politics, or if you prefer to travel to Cancun or the Ruta Pu’uc.

It will certainly make you look at your photos of the Mayan pyramids with renewed admiration. The Mayan culture, even as depicted by Gibson (which Mayan experts say was a bit of a stretch) is simply riveting…..

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Isn’t It All Feeling a Little Too Apocalyptic?

I’m not much of an optimist when it comes to global warming – I’m pretty much convinced this planet is beyond repair. You just have to be a regular reader of NOAA press releases to know that.

And sometimes, it feels like it’s all going to hell very soon:

Massive Fires Sweep Across Southern Europe

Death Toll Climbs in Flood-Stricken U.S. Midwest

Mexico Battered by Massive Hurricane Dean

The Iraq Clusterf*ck

Too many words? Want a more visual sense of things? A 15,000 Year Tour of Abandoned Manhattan

The Inanity of the Barney’s Warehouse Sale

Oh man, life in New York City never fails to entertain. Today was one of those days when the city showed just how superficial she is; how she has too much money and too much time.

My office is located adjacent to the Barney’s Co-Op in Chelsea. It’s like the “discount” version of the uber-expensive Barney’s Department Store. On most days of the year, the Co-Op is a quiet, overpriced store, frequented by the sort of people who have no idea what it means to be on a budget. Curious, I went in once and hissed audibly when I picked up a sweater with a price tag close to my monthly rent. Then I rolled my eyes — oh, it’s one of those places — and left.

Twice a year or so, they also hold a monstrous, well publicized “Warehouse Sale,” where people wait in line outside (making my morning commute so fun) to go in and buy crap like this.

After the first few days, the crowds thin, so today my boss and I went there, and I was horrified: Because there are no fitting rooms, women change in front of everyone. Everyone. I saw one girl, bent over, tugging up a skirt in her beige boy short underwear. I saw another woman rip off her shirt, wearing her bra (thank god). As the Village Voice puts it, “you can see a lot of skinny bitches looking stressed out in their undies.”

I really couldn’t say it any better; that’s what it was. And I’m sure there are a lot of men who happen to “stop by” and “look at suits” and aren’t at all using that camera phone function while they pretend to talk on the phone.

Totally Gorgeous: Here’s Where Hurricane Dean Made Landfall

I’m a bit insulted that CNN is saying the hurricane’s landfall area was ‘a stroke of luck.’ Mostly because I’ve been there, and I don’t think the people I met back in ’04 are feeling very lucky right now. And the coral reef lining the area, well, what do you think happened to it?

(Update: My good friend Jeremy, a newspaper reporter based in Mexico City, wrote about his harrowing experiences racing Hurricane Dean across the Yucatan peninsula. Uncovering Mexico – Racing Hurricane Dean)

I hope it survived — not only is it the main draw to the area, providing an economy, and not only does it protect the villages from massive waves, but also because it and other fragile coral reefs are rapidly dying around the world. Anyway, here’s Mahahual (aka Majahual), pre-Dean:

Mahahual1

Photos taken in 2004 in Majahual, Mexico.

Me in Majahual

Perhaps my best memory of Majahual, besides this sunrise photo taken by Brendan, was sharing meals with the owners of the Travel-Inn, a young Dutch couple who pulled up roots and moved to Mexico with their kids. They may have been Dutch, but their attitudes were thouroughly Yucatan. They owned a little red home on the beach. I hope they’re OK. We also stayed at the most luxurious cabana — with hot water, electricity (only at night), and tile floors — at the Kohan Beach Cabanas.

Kohan Beach