It was a Friday morning, on my way to Jacksonville; I was a bit behind schedule so I tuned on the radio to get the latest traffic information . I turned the dial to NPR at the top of the hour. Within the first 30 minutes, I got the latest local, national and global news. I love NPR because it goes directly to the news and not with the other nonsense you may find in syndicated radio. However, I was overwhelmed with the amount of news happening around me lately and not knowing a thing about it until now. A feeling of guilt for my information ignorance took over me for just an instance ,even though I decided long time ago to rely on others to tell me the news of what is going on around me. Since I have been home lately, caring for my family and our new baby, I was not aware of what was going on around the world so I was taken aback when I heard the news happening right now. These were the some of the headliners on the news at that time: a tornado in Oklahoma, a corpse exploded in Baghdad, an Airbus jetliner from South Africa exploded in Libya, a Dutch boy out of the 103 passenger survived. New Prime Minister for the UK; the youngest in their history. Job losses across the nation, oil spill hearings started in congress; there is an oil-drilling ban in contemplation. Overwhelmed? I’m not done yet. There are confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee, an LPGA golf pro died mysteriously; she was a young woman named Erica Blasberg. There are White House politics with Karzai’s visit, and the stock plunge 1,000 points; Dow fallout. There was a neutral story about the Muslim-Iman chants and the effects of such calls which I found interesting and then I hear about a controversial teen prescription drug hearings that started in congress. On the local level, a debate of why oil-drilling is not good for Florida and a local utility green program started in Orlando. That’s some heavy news overall; I felt tense and my mood changed to worry listening to terrible things happening around me and so much negativity. However what I remember the most out of the 30 minute barrage of news report was an interview by Philip Reeves an NPR correspondent, about a passage from India to Pakistan called Grand Trunk road. I found it fascinating the history of the road, listening to recordings of travelers that dare to cross and much more that I found myself transported into the story. This was worth listening after going through the pain of listening to so many bad news and negativity around the world. It is news like this that I prefer to listen and add perspective to my world from a different point of view.
We like to travel as a family and travel often we do, from short getaways trips to week long vacations and even longer adventures. We also love bargains, don’t we all? and my wife is the go to woman to find bargains on the net. She can find the best deals online for air fares, car rentals and hotels. Our latest? Cruises!
We like the all in one extravaganza, where everything is included for the price we pay and cruising is the most, we think, that offers more bang for your buck. All in one entertainment, food, lodging, transportation and beverages of course. What else could be better? We started our cruising journey when our daughter was 1 year old to celebrate her birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary. My wife found a deal with Carnival cruise lines for a one week splurge. Our stateroom was one corner of the ship with a wrap around balcony and all the bells and whistles in service and accommodation. We had a great time. Carnival Cruise line is a party cruise, around the clock entertainment and exotic destinations, but not so a family cruise for couples with small children. We had some issues with the baby sitting services, conflicting with our activities schedule and could not enjoy the activities because it conflicted with the caring and well being of our daughter. Then we tried Royal Caribbean Cruise line without our daughter, just the two of us. This is another fine cruise line for couples and older children with plenty to do and enjoy. However we were not satisfied, we wanted to enjoy cruising activities and rest assured that our children will be taken care of also. Then we found Disney Cruise line.
Now this is the way to go! All around, world class entertainment for the entire family, specially the kids. It is much more expensive than other cruise lines though, but they make up for it sprinkling pixie dust and lots of Disney magic. We were sold from the moment we arrived at the port and throughout our stay. Excellent service, attentive, courteous and most important, it’s all about taking care of the kids. If the kids are taking care of, we can enjoy ourselves without concerns and believe they know kids! It’s like being on a Disney theme park 24/7 with every entertainment possible, family games, pool activities and much more. We said to ourselves, once you go Disney cruise, you’ll never go back to another cruise line and it is true, at least for us so awesome that we go every year.
We are Castaway members; love Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private island which has a secluded beach just for adults while the kids are having a blast all over the island. How cool is that? ‘round the clock entertainment for the kids, fireworks in the middle of the ocean at the Pirates IN the Caribbean party, watching movies on a jumbo screen with the kids on deck, food and fine dining, world class entertainment and jolly ho’ fun for the entire family.
It is a wonderful, magical experience for the entire family and we just can’t wait to come back again the next year, to have fun, to be kids again with our kids goofing off with the cast and crew. We do have to skip this year’s Disney Cruise vacation since our baby boy is too young to travel. My Sister though is already packed and ready for fun and magical memories when she cast off port to neverland at the end of this week with her family. “Yo-ho-ho me hearty’s, off you go for some swashbuckling fun! Aye! we, got our sights aimed for 2011 and this time we are going for a full week…savvy!
I was driving on the road this day, running errands and approaching a traffic stop of a busy intersection. There I saw a nice Audi Quattro parked on the shoulder, nobody was inside of the car. A rare sight for such a “reliable” and fine vehicle. Standing several feet in front of the car was a middle age man, holding a cardboard sign that read “homeless, no work, please help”. It kind of struck me to see this picture; a rather expensive Audi parked on the shoulder, no flashing lights or signs of a break down and the homeless person holding a sign at the busy traffic intersection. For an instance, it looked to me though, as if the car belonged to this man and he pulled over to this section of the road to stand there holding the sign in search perhaps of better luck, more visibility or mere coincidence. I don’t know why I thought of it maybe the way things are with the economy nowadays; the man looked like he was indeed homeless and without work, but the car parked close to him sent a different signal to me. There could be the possibility, albeit a rare one, of this man owning this vehicle and he may have lost his job and thus he might have loss his house as well and the only thing for him was perhaps this car that he loves so much and might even been paid for, nothing owed. His method of transportation, bought with hard work and savings now it is his only possession holding an emotional value, even living in it. I could have sold the car for sure if I was to be in his shoes, I thought, but then I thought of my motorcycle which is my prized material possession and that I would never let go of it because of the sentimental value I hold to it. I understood the man right there in the short minutes that I was there waiting for the traffic light to change, even though selling it could have help the financial and status situation in both hypothetical scenarios from a logical point of view. But then there is the other side of the coin; the one view that I did not considered first for whatever reason I can’t explain. The car could be indeed broken down, a dead battery, out of gas maybe and the owner went out seeking for help. The homeless man could have been there at that spot out of coincidence, minding his own business, thinking of more important things like what to eat right now or where to sleep tonight and oblivious of what could have happened to car parked so close to where he was standing. What’s even more, he may possibly be caring less of what a man, who was looking at him so intensively from his car just minutes ago, thinks of him and this made up assumption.
Is nighttime, is it? or is it morning already? I don’t know I keep losing track of time and everything else that makes sense. I was dreaming about? Eh? Don’t remember, but it was a good one for sure. I wonder if I can go back to sleep and continue with my dream. What was that? I open one eye and it is dark for sure in our bedroom, only the track light shinning dimly silhouettes on the wall. I close my eyes again in search for that wonderful dream I don’t remember. What is that noise? Could it be? I open my eyes, raised my head and I look at a bassinet next to my bed. In it sleeps my son, only that he is not asleep, but fidgeting again. Could he be hungry again? I thought. When was the last time he ate? it seemed like seconds ago. What’s going on? Silence reigns again and I immediately fall asleep. Then a distinctive cry breaks the silence, rising slowly louder and louder. My son has woken up, activating his hunger alarm. I look at my wife, “the kitchen”, provider of my son’s food and she is non-responsive. I nudge her and she opens one eye as if she can just shut it and go back to sleep. The cry grows even louder, getting my wife’s full attention now. She slowly sits up and arranges a barricade of pillows to support her. Already in position, half asleep, I hand her over our son, but when did I pick him up? I can’t tell is a blur to me. One thing for sure, somehow I always know where his head is as if I am only holding my son’s head without a body…weird! The graveyard shift has started, feeding our son and changing diapers. Those are the only tasks to do at a rate of every one and half to two hours time. If we do the math it is roughly, let see…a diaper change times every time he is fed…um…well over a hundred diaper changes already. My job is to handle my boy to “the kitchen”, which is always open, and change his diaper, that’s it. I immediately go to sleep once I do the first part of my duty, only to wake up again to change his diaper. “I just gave him to you” I mumble, it seems like seconds ago. Before she handles the boy back to me there are some preparations in order. I get the “tools” and materials from a nearby table to prepare for the dirty job where things sometimes happen unexpectedly. I am so tired that I might just say to myself “That diaper looks fine, I think I’ll just put him back in his bassinet” and go to sleep. Something always tells me to check his diaper whether is my wife muttering something half asleep or a voice in my head? I don’t know, but I check his diaper and sure enough, it needs to be changed almost all the time. One instance, I didn’t think he needed change and reluctantly checked his diaper…I just wanted to go back to sleep and continue with my wonderful unfinished dreams. This time to my surprise, as soon as I opened his bulging diaper, I found the mother load and my son greeted me with a waterworks display that surely woke me up. He peed on me and on my bed; it was a powerful squirt and also very warm. “What the heck” I said, looking at the disaster and to my wife. We just laughed at the moment, but my boy wasn’t so keen about why we were laughing and was getting annoyed by it, screaming top of his lungs. Invariably after I change his diaper, I hand the boy over to “the kitchen” for seconds just to hear my son doing his business on the clean and fresh diaper I recently changed. “ I just changed that diaper son, so you just going to have to hold it until the next round”, I declared and nose-dive on my bed, fast asleep to be woken up seconds later to put him back on his bed or ….to give it back to the kitchen? I don’t know I just want to sleep!
To the women who are important in my life, I want to express my gratitude to you. To my mother, for unconditional love; a good face through adversity, going forward no matter what might be troubling her when she is not at her best, regardless of what condition she may be suffering, she never complains, always keeping her good spirits with a smile and strong will. I salute you mom, I love you. To my wife, the mother of my children, thank you for bearing our offspring. Our house is filled with the love and happiness only children and good family values can bring. I appreciate what you put through, your support and your ever improving compassion. I love you my dear wife in good times and bad times. To my sister, an exceptional mother of my niece and godson, I congratulate you and admire you for your motherly instinct, always prepared for any situation, how you have faced adversity in the past and your newfound attitude towards life. My lending ear, my resting shoulder and impartial counselor, I love you dear sister. To my mother in law, yes, you are very important to me and I love you. I thank you for always being there when we needed you in good time and bad times, day or night, always our support, caring for our children wherever we go. You are endowed with the seed of caring and that is what you do best. I appreciate you, thank you for what you do for us, for your daughter and for your grandchildren. Finally, but equally important to all the mothers that are considered our friends, I salute you on your day. You have brought happiness in our lives in some way and I appreciate it. May God brings you closer to whatever goals you propose, the strength and will to follow through and good health to enjoy it all. Happy Mother’s day to you!
It was a hot Monday afternoon, just getting home from an inspection day in Sanford. The day was humid, yet it was clear and beautiful perfect to go for a ride on my motorcycle. I had though to help with the house laundry and went to my neighborhood laundromat to use their dryers. Our dryer broke several months ago and we haven’t come around to replace it. We think it’s cheaper to wash at home and dry the clothes in their bigger, more efficient commercial dryers. Well, I got there carrying my laundry; it was slow traffic at this time of the day with plenty of dryers to choose from and very few people. I said hi to the attendant, an Asian woman who attends to the maintenance and regular operations of the place. She and her husband own the establishment and come about three times a week to keep up with the popular spot in the Pine Hills area. Open 24 hr. Convenient and inexpensive, this laundromat has been serving the neighborhood for long time and I like it being so close to my house. I didn’t mind waiting for my laundry; it allows me to slow down and mingle with other Pine Hills residents, so I sat there and waited, looking outside and occasionally to the TV set on the wall.
Across from the laundromat is a pawn shop cornering a slowly fading shopping mall. I’ve seen, even been there before while waiting for my laundry in earlier occasions, browsing aimlessly through their shelves for any gadget or thing you can imagine. I observed people coming in and out of the shop. Some empty-handed, other carrying things, obviously to pawn or things they just bought. I saw people pulling over in their vehicles getting things out of their cars and taking them inside. Some coming inside with items and walking out empty-handed and others vice-versa. People cashing out, pawing for cash or selling their goods. Others seek opportunity buying things relatively cheaper than new. It is a business that will never fade, cashing in on people who need money, forfeiting their valuables for some quick cash because people need cash and need it now. I saw a nice car pulling in and out steps a well dress guy followed by a posse of four others. The car appears to be an expensive model yet I noticed that its wheels were not its original but a set of four spare tires, small and thin. It was even comical to see this car, shiny black with a formidable look except for its tiny looking wheels and flimsy tires. An insult to the car itself I’m sure; if the car could talk would have expressed its dismay and humiliation to its class let alone how unsafe it looks to drive this car. I wonder what could have happened to the car’s wheels and why do this to a nice car like this one, now an awkwardly looking ride. Out of the shop came out the group again with a new guy which I assumed was an employee. The driver, I supposed also the owner, opened the trunk and the employee looked inside. I could not hear their conversation as I was pretty far away, but I could see the whole thing very clear. The employee looked at the owner, shook his head, the owner talked. His body gestures and face expression indicated to me that he needed to sell whatever was in the trunk, but not because he wants to, because he has to. His face expression was of worry, his body matched with a hint of desperation. The two friends helped pull a small trunk of what I recognized as a carrying case for audio-visual or electronic equipment. The owner opened the trunk and the employee’s unconcerned face took a change of interest. After what it seemed like a long time observing the inside of the trunk, he looked at the owner, said something, the owner paused lower his head and nodded sealing an agreement for the transaction they just made. I saw it as an opportunity for the pawn employee, adding to their inventory a piece of equipment which I have no doubt it was valuable, at least for the owner. The man had to take the offer because he needed the money to pay bills I assume, to make ends meet, perhaps? Either way the deal was done. Maybe he pawned the equipment just for a short time, maybe until things gets better and he can repay and get his equipment back or maybe he had to sell it for good and take the losses, giving up a valuable piece of equipment for way much less than he paid for I’m sure. The house won that day, I concluded and another one bites the dust, on merit because it had to be done, I guess but not the way he expected. A little while later I saw the men get inside the car and drove off. I watched as the car with its tiny wheels rolls out and now I know what could have a happened to those wheels. They are probably inside of the pawn shop as well, already cashed out.