Thursday, December 22, 2005

A classic, illustrated

Whoops - it's been a while since either one of us posted. Things have been busy on our end since the holidays are putting things in a crunch at work, especially since Lopez! and I are going on vacation next week and need to have everything done before we go.

That's right suckers! Starting tonight, we're on vacation for nine days! Woo-hoo! We're taking the laptop, so expect the occasional family-and-friend oriented post.

Speaking of friends, something funny happened last week. A co-worker buddy and I were talking in my office, and he mentioned his tattoos.

Wait, hold on. OK, first of all, everyone in my department has an office, mostly because our area is essentially one long hallway and they don't want anyone sitting in the middle of the walkway. Also, every office has one large window facing the hall and a door that's basically a big window with a wooden frame and a knob. Cool. Back to our story.

So I tell E, "Oh, I didn't know you had any tattoos. What are they?"

He begins to describe them - it's mostly a take on Egyptian iconograpy - but he was having trouble describing one of them.

He looks down the hall out my window and says, "Shit, let me just show you," and lifts his shirt up to his neck so I can see the tat on his chest.

And my supervisor walks by.

She comes in saying, "What are you guys doing?" She was laughing, but at the same time you could tell she thought she was walking in on some cowboy movie. We laughed and told her what was going on. We all laughed and she left.

We both agreed it would be a good idea if he didn't show me the tattoo on his leg.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ah, fjord!

Four Vikings charged in boat party scandal

Imagine my disappointment when I realized it was a story about football players.

Damn it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lucha libre!

Little Lopez! has been feeling kinda blue lately. But she can always count on Jack Black to cheer her up.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tongue lashing

When Dad was a kid, he had a heavy Spanish accent. Spanish was his first language, and while he spoke some English he didn't really use it as much until he entered public school.

In those days, Dad told me, he was regularly chastised for his accent by teachers, and teased by kids. If he actually spoke Spanish in school, he'd be beaten. As far as the school was concerned, speaking Spanish was a violation that ranked up there with fighting and vandalism in terms of deserving corporal punishment. At the very least, Dad said, he'd have to go to the head of the class, where the teacher would rap his knuckles red with a ruler if his tongue slipped.

Keep in mind that this was in Albuquerque, which already had a fair-sized Hispanic population. Of course, they were just called Mexicans then, and the concept of "English-only" wasn't controversial. Add in my dad's dark skin and traditionally Spanish-sounding name, and growing up in the 50s had a profound effect on him.

Dad never lost the pride he had in his culture, and I think a lot of that had to do with the Chicano movement of the 60s and 70s. He was finally told that it was not only OK to be Mexican-American, but it was something to be proud of as well. Dad passed this on to me.

Still, I never heard Dad talk with an accent because he went to broadcasting school, where he worked hard to overturn and smooth and bury it under a tarmac of the flat, Midwestern ideal. My name is a shortened, more Americanized version of his. At his insistence, English became my first language and, unfortunately, my Spanish is still embarrasingly weak.

As I was growing up, I regularly heard Spanish spoken all around me, not only at home, but also at school, church, everywhere. Spanish was taught in schools, not punished. "Hispanic" became a category on the forms we filled out at the beginning of every year.

Still, maybe I'm naive to be surprised that the sort of discrimination my dad had to endure still snakes through our communities. I'm certainly not surprised by my feelings of sadness, and disgust.

In Kansas City, which has a large and growing Hispanic population, 16-year-old Zach Rubio was suspended for speaking Spanish in the hallway at school. Someone asked him, in Spanish, for a dollar. Rubio, not even thinking twice about it, answered back in Spanish. A teacher heard and sent him to the principal, who sent him home for 1 1/2 days.

The point is, he shouldn't have to think twice about it. Language is not, and should not be, against the law. Anybody should be able to say what they want, in whatever language they care to use. Unfortunately, that's not what is being taught at this school.

Luckily, sometimes the people who come to this country as immigrants learn the principles native citizens often take for granted, or worse, ignore or distort. Rubio's father had this to say:

(Lorenzo) Rubio, a U.S. citizen, credits U.S. immigration law for his decision to fight his son's suspension.

"You can't just walk in and become a citizen," he said. "They make you take this government test. I studied for that test, and I learned that in America, they can't punish you unless you violate a written policy."

Rubio said he remembered that lesson on Nov. 28, when he received a call from Endeavor Alternative saying his son had been suspended.

"So I went to the principal and said, 'My son, he's not suspended for fighting, right? He's not suspended for disrespecting anyone. He's suspended for speaking Spanish in the hall?' So I asked her to show me the written policy about that. But they didn't have" one.

Rubio then called the superintendent of the Turner Unified School District, which operates the school. The district immediately rescinded Zach's suspension, local media reported.

Thankfully, at least, the days of quietly walking to the head of the class to accept our punishment seem to be over.

Ice, ice baby!

How cold was it in Austin today? Cold enough that we didn’t have to go to work!

After a November of spring- and summer-like weather (seriously, it was 80-something on Thanksgiving), the temperatures finally dropped, and dropped haaard. Yesterday it just kept getting colder and colder, and then a fine drizzle started misting the entire area. Pretty soon, people around the office started wondering out loud whether or not we’d have to go to work the next day.

See, in Austin we don’t really get snow, we get ice. And the last time we had an ice storm – a couple of years ago – the entire city essentially shut down. City shut-down equals paid day off from work. Lopez! and I stepped out into the biting cold after work with frozen fingers crossed.

Then the stupid weather men burst our balloon, reporting that yes it was cold, and yes there was a drizzle, and sure, it was even going to freeze, but it would warm up fairly quickly so don’t get your shorts in a bunch. Even when the local channels started running a crawl announcing late school openings, we went to bed figuring we’d at most get a reprieve of a couple of hours.

In the morning we called the office to check if there was a company message. And there was – the office would be opening at 10 a.m. Damn! Me and Lopez! slept a little later, then started getting ready for work.

And then, while I was taking a shower, Lopez! busted in and started doing a victory dance and singing, “Snow day! Snow day!” Oh, hell yeah! Her boss had called to tell her that they decided to close the office all together; a few minutes later, my boss called to tell me the same thing.

So we’ve spent the day in our pajamas, eating, watching DVDs and checking out the traffic accidents on the local news. It’s still kind of up in the air whether or not the shut-down will be extended to tomorrow. Hell, I’d be happy with a half-day.

Snow day! Snow day!

Crisis of Infinite Geeks

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way I reached a geeky critical mass. Here’s the most recent evidence:

Every Tuesday night, I help with the comic book pull at the shop I used to work at, filling files for subscribers and helping put the “new wall” together for the next day. You might have noticed the phrase “used to work at.” I haven’t worked there in about a year, but I still go almost every Tuesday because I love being in a comic book shop.

I’m going to start GMing a “Call of Cthulhu” RPG sometime in January. I’ve never GM’d before, but I’m ridiculously excited about it. I’m not going to spell any of those acronyms because I feel dorky enough just typing that out.

See this? It’s a mini I painted for the other RPG I’m already playing, this one based in a Lord of the Rings/Conan setting. I play a dwarf. You heard me – a dwarf. And I’ve got a kick-ass ax that does all kinds of crazy damage. This is the first mini I’ve even painted, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m also geeky enough that I’m going to subject people to multiple pictures of it. Nyaah!

There’s probably a ton of other examples of rampant nerdiness, but I’m starting to depress myself. Good thing I’ve got that “Jonah Hex” collection to cheer me up.

Close up! And a look at my dwarf from behind;yes, I posed him with an orc. Shut up.

One day at a time

There’ve been a few things I meant to write about over the past week, but just never got around to for various reasons. So for your viewing pleasure, here are your briefs (heh).

Bertinelli Divorcing Rocker Eddie Van Halen

AP - Valerie Bertinelli and her rock star husband, Eddie Van Halen, are divorcing after 24 years of marriage, Bertinelli's publicist confirmed Tuesday.

And 30-something fanboys across America briefly think they’ve got a shot.

Coke to launch coffee-infused Coke Blak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co., the world's No. 1 soft drink company, on Wednesday said it will launch a coffee-infused soft drink called Coca-Cola Blak in various markets around the world in 2006.

A Coke spokesperson said Coca-Cola Blak will be a mid-calorie drink, similar to Coca-Cola C2, which was launched in April 2004 and contains half the sugar, calories and carbohydrates of regular colas. The formula for the new beverage is expected to vary based on local tastes.

Oh boy! Now I won’t have to mix my soda and coffee at home anymore! I’m not sure which offends me more; the idea of this unholy union, or the way they spell “blak.” Would it affect the pronunciation if I start spelling it “cok?”

Gold Injections Treat Lion's Arthritis

ROME - Veterinarians at Rome's zoo treated an elderly lion for arthritis by inserting some 50 gold pellets into the animal's muscles, officials said Wednesday.

The Asian lion, named Bellamy, had difficulty walking until the procedure two weeks ago in which 24-karat gold pellets were inserted into his spinal muscles near the joints, said the zoo's chief veterinarian, Klaus Gunther Friedrich.

He said the gold helps to relieve muscle contraction around painful areas. Friedrich said he did not believe the small amount of gold used was worth much.

Lion King thinks bling’s the thing – zing!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Checkmate? Check this!

I'm not sure if it's the earnestness of the guy who came up with it or the peppy writing of the LA Times writer, but I went from mentally mocking the idea of chessboxing to really, really, really wanting to see a match.

I bet it could have even made "Rocky V" suck a little less. Just a little. Hell, there might not have even been a "Rocky V;" Drago would have probably kicked Rocky's ass back in "IV." Those Russkies are crazy about their chess, y'know. Rocky was chasing chickens, for Christ's sake.