Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fogata Nortena

There's an old Mexican tradition that mostly happens in small towns in Mexico. People used to have a "Nocheada" (an overnighter) or a "fogata" (a fire or camp fire). In either one of this, family and friends gather around the fire and they get out the wooden guitars, start passing the tequila and beer and basically spend the whole night singing, obviously the more people drink the better the singing, errh or at least that's premise.

Being a city boy all my life and leaving Mexico when I was only 12, I did not get to experience them but movies and TV documentaries highlight "nocheadas" as a fun happy time to be with your friends and express your feelings with music. No one cares if you don't know how to sing, actually every one sings at the same time so if you don't know the song it's still OK, no one will notice.

"Do you remember such and such song? Do you know it? Let's sing that one next" every one seems to take turns at this phrase, I did however have some cousins that pretended they could play the guitar and we did have our home made version of a "nocheada" back in Mexico many, many years ago.

So surfing through YouTube I was listening to some songs I like and I found this one by Ana Barbara that exemplifies the idea of a nocheada or fogata, some of the end scenes show them sitting and singing around one. In this particular song she'll be joined by her sister and brother, none of them professional singers but yet they can carry a tune and in my opinion actually sounded very good together. This song is totally accoustic. Ana Barbara is in fact famous and her music sell very well.

Here is the song, hope you all like it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where's The Money

Under pressure from never ending bills and the uncertainty of "mi chica" having a job for long we are starting to cook a plan to end the stress which has been with us for quite a while as an unwelcome visitor that you just can't get rid of. Yes, as many of you out there we seem to be trapped in a dead end alley.

"Mi chica's" company continues to lay people off left and right, every week a new batch of people start saying their good byes to each other, some take it good and some take it bad, I can only assume that many of them live on a paycheck to paycheck basis as I do, and knowing that next week there may not be enough money just for the bare necessities is very stressing to say the least. How can anyone concentrate on their work in such an environment, how can anyone stay focused on the task at hand while your next cubicle neighbours pick up their belongings with tears in their eyes. How can you take care of your bosses demands when all you have on your mind is when is it going to be my turn? And yet they continue to set this stupidly unrealistic goals that they very darn well know won't be met by any of their loan officers given the current circumstances.

In a place where the salary is low but bonuses were supposed to be good, and yet for whatever reason at the end of the month you were far from reaching quota and those bonuses never materialize it's hard to stay loyal. Many have beat them to the punch and parted ways before they are let go, but some still remain to witness the carnage.

Things don't look like they are going to improve anytime soon,"mi chica" is still employed but we have a feeling that her time is almost up, so with this in mind we have decided to finish the year status quo but with the new year many changes will begin to take place. All I can say right now is that they'll be drastic but should yield a marked improvement from where we are now.

So, stay tuned as I give you updates on things soon but for now we'll continue to struggle just for a little while longer, in the end we always manage to make it.

Monday, September 24, 2007


"No daddy don't leave me, if you leave me I'll die. Daddy pleaseeeee!" This was my son on his first day of school back in early 80s. Not only did he gave us all that drama but he even tried to break out from the preschool patio that same afternoon. "Mi chica" received the following call. "Mrs. Joe's chica", hi I am the teacher at your son's preschool, we are calling you because we want you to let you know your son just tried to jump the fence to break out from school".

Yeah, that was my son's story, but in contrast to his, my grandson's first day of school was totally opposite. Last Thursday was supposed to be a meet the teacher visit but he winded up staying for class. Wow sounds kindda cool, his mommma asked him if he was fine, "sure mom, go home come back to pick me up later" came his reply.

Turns out that by the end of the day he already had two girlfriends, can you believe that? He went to school on Friday and then came home all disappointed because there was no class on Saturday and Sunday, it's like who came up with that smart idea. Boy was he mad?

Well, I just hope he keeps liking school for many years to come, he certainly has the brains for it, at the tender age of four years he is already more self sufficient than many kids his age, talking to him is like talking to an older boy.

Today it's preschool, but from now on the sky is the limit.

Click here for an additional post on this subject.

Nothing Important

And then I started writing, but the truth is that I had nothing in mind, nothing to offer that would have been interesting then I realized that it didn't matter, the writing I do serves many purposes, it sharpens my typing skills, it forces me to expand my writing skills which when I started this blog were almost non existent and it takes the ideas that form in my head and plasters them out there in millions of computer screens across the world for anyone and everyone to see.

Have any of you stop and think just how powerful that is. I write a sentence good or bad and millions can read it, no wonder the advertisers jumped on the band wagon. Well, to me it's just something to do to release stress, I sit by the computer, write a few words, tell a few stories and open up small chapters of my life to any of you out there willing to read it. Yeap, that is powerful indeed.

So far I have tried to keep it to where I write what I want as opposed to what others want, if that would be the case then I would need to get paid for my writing. So, as I seat here writing this I can't help but think how much it's all worth it, if only to reach one of you out there, to I know I drew a smile from you, or to know that you hated something I said, or to know that what I wrote about has happened to some of you, and to herar you agree or desagree with my posts, these are all the rewards of writing and keeping this blog.

I don't feed on comments but I'll be be truthful by telling you that I do look for them, your feed back is always appreciated and it also turns out to be a good source for future posts, so while you don't have to comment I always thank those of you that do.

I sat here having nothing to write about and the above paragraphs just came to mind, next time I have writers block I'll just blog about it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


What's in a name

When I was a little baby my mother sent my grandpa to register me, back in the day they used to rely and do things for each other that way. So anyway, off went my grandpa only to realize that he was never told what name my mom was going to give me. (Where were cellular phones back then? Forget cell phones, regular phones were not available for everybody back then) so when he registered me he picked the name Jose, he said he looked at the calendar and that was the saint for the day. It's a good thing he wasn't a good reader because for September 18 the names are: Irene, Metodio, Ricarda and Sofia and I personally don't like any of them for me, so I am happy he chose Jose after all, so what if 75% of other Mexican males also have it.

If you asked me he just thought he would use the most popular male name in Mexico. My father's name was Fidel and I was supposed to be a junior, so when grandpa came back home he told them that from that day forth I would be Jose.

So my mom still wanted me to somehow have the name Fidel so when they baptised me they used Fidel instead and from that day on I was called Fidel or should I say Fidelito when I was at the house, everywhere else in the world I am Jose, but to my family I will always be Fidel.

Wanda invited me to participate in this meme (and you all know I don't do memes,but for Wanda I will make the exception). The meme asks what your middle name is and then to list a fact that is relevant to my life for each letter in my diddle name. Now since I don't have a middle name I will use the name Fidel.

So today my middle name is Fidel because that was supposed to be my name.

F - Would stand for "fantabulistic" even though I'm the only one that tells myself that.
I - Would stand for "interesting", only because it's been a dream of mine to be interesting because in reality I am quite dull.
D - Would stand for "Dumb". I tell mi chica all the time that I am dumb because I am saving my smarts for my old age. And her answer is always "Joe, you so dumb". Oh, wow success.
E - Would stand for "enthusiastic".
L - Would stand for "Latino". Hey Latinos del mundo, ya tu sabes.

So there, I am not taggin' anybody but if you'd like to play, you know the rules and you know what to do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007



One of the Seven Sacraments of the Christian Church; frequently called the "first sacrament", the "door of the sacraments", and the "door of the Church".

My son's tree kids were baptised last Saturday. The ceremony was about an hour and a half long because there were many babies receiving the Sacrament at the same time but somehow it passed pretty fast. It is so nice to see all the kids dressed in white and to feel the excitement of the parents and godparents on that day. We were lucky to seat at the very front so I had freedom of movement to get up on demand and snap some pictures. Here are some of the ones I took.

And then that night a surprise birthday party was thrown for me at my mom's house but that's a different story...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Reading List

I don't do memes but today I will do my version of a meme. I am not going to post a list of books and mark the ones I have read or want to read. Instead I am just posting an almost complete list of all the books I have read. Tell me how close or how far your reading taste and interest is from mine.

What I have Read… The ones I can remember

Stephen King

 The Stand
 Cujo
 Firestarter
 Dolores Clairborn
 The Shinning
 Pet Samatary
 Salems Lot
 The Tommyknockers
 Thinner
 The Car
 Christine
 The Dark Half
 Four Past Midnight
The Langoliers
Secret Window
The Library Policeman
The Sun Dog
 Gerald’s Game
 Needful Things
 Predator

Robin Cook

 Coma
 Godplayer
 Mindbend
 Outbrake
 Mutation
 Acceptable Risk

John Grisham

 A Time To Kill
 The Firm
 The Pelican Brief
 The Client
 The Chamber
 The Rainmaker
 The Runaway Jury
 The Partner
 The Street Lawyer
 The Testament
 The Brethren
 The Summons
 The King of Torts
 The Last Juror
 The Broker
 The Innocent Man

Michael Chrigton

 Rising Sun
 Disclosure
 State of Fear
 Jurassic Park
 Jurassic Park II (The Lost World)
 Airframe
 Congo
 Sphere
 Eaters of the Dead
 Andromeda Strain
 The Terminal Man

Clive Cussler

 Inca Gold
 Dragon
 Iceberg
 Deep Six

Dan Brown

 Angels & Demons
 Deception Point
 The Da Vinci Code
 Digital Fortress

J.K. Rowling

 Harry Potter and the Sorcere’s Stone
 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Childs

 The Relic

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton

 Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (The History of the Disc Jockey)

Maria Antonieta Collins

 Cuando el Monstruo Despierta

Og Mandino

 El Vendedor Mar Grande Del Mundo (The Greatest Salesman in the World)

Bob Ottum

 The Tuesday Blade

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My World... Through My Eyes

My World... Through My Eyes

She has tried once, she has tried twice, and now she is going to try again. My daughter Michelle is launching her new blog which I believe is going to be a combination photo blog / photo journal.

While I like to take pictures of inanimate things, she likes shooting people and kids and she has a really good eye for it. My photo blog has been host to many of her beautiful pictures.

I don't know if she'll commit to posting regularly but I feel I must at least invite you my friends to go and visit and maybe give her some encouragement. I trust you will like what you see, as she'll be highlinting many of her great shots.

Michelle's other blogs have always been on my side bar and this is what her button looks like. So give it a try and click on the button and if you can let me know what you think.

Click On The Button

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Growing Family

My son and his lovely wife just had their baby boy about three weeks ago. My daughter also announced that she is expecting, and my niece just sent us an email giving us the news that another baby is on the way.

We are no longer just a family we are now a clan. Our family is so big that if we ever plan on having a family reunion we would need a resort to accomodate all of us.

So, here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

With so many little kids
That are coming into our lives
I hear here comes one more baby
And here's what I say about that.

I say the more the merrier
I say bring them on
I say can't have enough of them
I say but keep them all at home

I'll be glad to come and visit
Maybe once, or maybe twice
And once they fill me up with kisses
I can leave them all behind

I can say "been there, done that"
I can say I did my best
I can say with all these new kids
It's your turn to pass the test

Just in case nobody told you
Just in case you didn't know
They'll test you time and time again
Oh, I just wanted you to know

Look at me, gray hair all over
No, I didn't get too old
All I did was have three kids
What would I have done with more

Well look at me now I'm collecting
The rewards sent from high above
To see this bunch of little blessings
Running wild around the house

By: Joe Cool

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It's hard to believe that it's been six years since that September day. Where were you? Do you remember? Have you forgotten?

I was about to exit on 40th street when I heard Kid and Reuben our morning local DJs choke on their own words as they announced that a plane had crashed on one of the World Trade Center Towers. What? Did I hear right? I thought it can't be April's Fools because it's September, Kid and Reuben are a pair of lovable clowns, they must be joking, and yet that would be in very bad taste. A listener calls in and I hear her voice crackle as she speaks and now at that point I know it's no joke.

As soon as I stepped into the building I told our Technical Support manager to turn the TV, they said a plane has crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers, he looked at me like I was crazy but still complied with my request, what happened in the following hours after we first turn the TV on I will never forget.

What happened on that September day WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hope Starts With You

This is a guest post of sorts. My daughter sent me this as an email and I thought I could post it here and see if anything develops. It's a great thing what they are going to do and fun too. I hear "mi chica" will accompany her during this event.

Anyway, I'll let her tell you herself:

Hope starts with you

This year, hundreds of thousands of women will hear the words "you have breast cancer," and there's a good chance that some of them will be people we know and love. Ever since my mom found non-cancerous lumps in her breasts, I have taken a special interest in breast cancer. She’s constantly reminding my sister and I to do self-exams monthly.

To backtrack a little, when I was planning my wedding I stumbled upon a website for brides. I joined the message board and soon became great friends with the girls on there. Some of us are now married but we still talk every single day. We even have get togethers a couple times a month in various restaurants and coffee shops around the valley. We’ve become so close that we decided that it would be fun to do something together to make our bond a little stronger. So the 15 or so of us got to brainstorming…

Now, we have chosen to fight back against this disease and help make a difference by participating in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk… wearing wedding dresses. (Yes you heard right. We want to do something important but still remembering how we all became such great friends.)

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a noncompetitive walk that takes place in 120 communities across the country. From Arizona to Maine and Washington to Florida, Making Strides walkers unite to honor breast cancer survivors and to educate women about early detection and prevention. And of course, by raising money to support the American Cancer Society's fight against breast cancer, they help fund groundbreaking research, public awareness campaigns, efforts to ensure all women have access to mammograms, and free programs and services that improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Now for a favor. I hope you will support my efforts by making a donation on my behalf using my personal online fundraising page below. It's safe and simple. All you have to do is click the link below and follow the few easy steps. If you wish to donate in cash, let me know. Last year, 450,000 Making Strides participants raised $45 million ... and they did it one donation at a time. So, whether you're able to give $5 or $500, every bit truly does help.

Hope starts one dollar at a time. Hope starts with me. And hope can start with you. Thank you in advance for any support you may be able to offer.

Thank you!
Michelle Melo-Duckworth

Click here to visit my personal page.


So, think about it will ya, she tells me that even ONE DOLLAR makes a difference.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Huntington Park High

As you can see from these pictures, Huntington Park High School was the only school in the district that had no fence, I believe to this day it remains without a fence.

I came across some pictures that reminded me that next year will my 30 year class reunion. Now not that it matters or that I'll be attending because I probably won't, but just to realize that it has been 30 is pretty impressive.

Even though I graduated with high honors I was not too involved in the events that school had to offer. I did not go to The Prom, or Grad night, or senior trips or senior breakfasts/dinners. I just attended school and in the end had a small celebration with my friends and that was enough for us.

I always liked school and was sad to leave but we had to move on. During my three years at Huntington Park High School in Huntington Park, California I spent many hours just trying to learn the language, I was an ESL student during the first two years there, it wasn't until I became a senior that I was thrown to the wolves so to speak and had to attend regular classes with teachers that were not bilingual.

We started the ping pong club which went on during the three years we were there and we also joined the gymnastics team, we found out that we didn't need to speak English to jump, flip, and tumble like a monkey. So what was there not to like. School years were some of the best years while I was growing up.

I believe it was during the summer of 77 that part of the movie "Grease" was filmed at our gymnasium, most of us that went there will never forget that, specially since the movie "Grease" is such a classic now. To this day my "Members Only" gymnastics jacket still hangs in the closet and my school beannie in in a drawer somewhere in the house. Oh I tell ya, those school years were great.

I was lucky enough to drive my sisters 1966 Mustang Fastback, one of the hottest cars in the school's parking lot, my sister used to worked half a block away from home so driving was not needed, it was during that year that I developed my love for the Mustangs. Unfortunately one morning as we were all getting ready to leave the house for work and school we stepped outside to find that my sisters Mustang had been stolen. Yeap, it was gone never to be found. The police told us after we showed them a picture of the car that cars in that condition are usually smuggled to Mexico complete.

So anyway, I just happened to get an email from the alumni association and as I started to go through their website I saw all these pictures. I believe the school still looks the same now as it was back when I was there in 1976, 1977 and 1978 when I was there.

A portion of the movie "Grease" was filmed in this gym.

Pictures "borrowed" from Huntington Park Hight School Alumni Association website

This jacket is 30 years old, it used to be bright white but now is adopted a yellowish color.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


On my way to another milestone, today I may get the 30,000 visitor. Thank you all for your visits and support and keep on clicking, I want to see the 40,000 soon.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

COPS in Avondale

Bad boys bad boys
Watcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
when they come for you
Bad boys, bad boys
Watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do
when they come for you

It's Saturday night, almost Sunday morning, my daughter and I are having a movie night, we just finished watching "Snakes on a Plane" and just started watching "Lady on the Water".

Coffee in hand and a very sweet piece of angel food cake just baked by my daughter we are really into the movie when "mi chica" comes in from the patio and tells us that there is a small SUV with the door open and radio blasting parked on the wrong side of the street on Crystal Lake Parkway.

The reason this was rare is because there is no parking on Crystal Lake even though many people come to fish at night. Even though they can only fish up until 11:00 p.m. we figure that could be the reason that the car is there. "Mi Chica" says that this is weird and that maybe she is going to call the police so they can come and check this out. I told her to give it a few more minutes and I too went to the patio and noticed that the headlights were also turned on.

Ten minutes later the call was made and she was told that it would be a while because all police cruisers were out responding to other calls. We figured at least we did our civic duty by reporting it, we just hoped that the driver wasn't hurt or even worse. All this time door remains open and radio is still blasting, headlamps on probably blinding upcoming traffic.

It's amazing how detached we are from each other, nobody stopped to check if anything was wrong, with so many crazy people out there and kids carrying guns and all most of us just decide to keep driving. Never mind that there could be someone in need of assistance, the mistrust we have for each other is now stronger than ever.

It took almost an hour and a half for the police to finally arrive. At this point my daughter yells, "The police is here", so we paused the movie and we went out to the patio were we could have full visuals of the cars.

The police cruiser parked right behind the SUV and engaged the high beams. The police officer got off his patrol and started walking very slowly towards the SUV, one hand held his spot light and the other firmly planted by his gun. He walked towards the open driver's door and looked inside then slowly went around the back to the passenger side hand still by the gun and flashed the light through the window, then walked back again towards the open door. Radio is still playing loud and by now we are thinking that maybe the SUV is abandoned.

The officer then taps his flash light on the windshield and starts saying, "Hey buddy, hello there, buddy, wake up". Tap, tap, tap, he goes again on the window, "Buddy, HEY, WAKE UP!" Finally I see someone getting off the car, it appears to be male. "Turn around, and don't move" the officer tells him. After the initial searching he proceeds to give him a sobriety test. We notice then that the driver is actually a young guy, wearing basketball shorts and jersey.

We see how this kid can't even take one step without almost falling, "Oh man, this kid is so drunk, hes is going to be taken in" is the first thing we said. Ten minutes later the officer tells the kid to sit on the sidewalk and don't move. We notice he is not handcuffed so it's obvious the officer doesn't think it's a high risk. While the officer is in his car, the kid stands up to stretch, "Sit your ass down... NOW!" commanded the officer. Another ten minutes and the officer goes to him again, more chat for a few more minutes and then sits him down again. Kid gets up and start going towards his the driver door. "COME BACK AND SIT YOUR ASS DOWN... NOW!!! The kid quickly complies with the request, no wait the command and just waits.

Almost 45 minutes later a motorcycle cop shows up, and now both of them call the kid. We hear very loud voices, keep in mind the kid has not been handcuffed at all so I said, they won't take him in, they are in fact going to give him a break. "Mi Chica" taught different, she said being a long weekend and with Sheriff Arpaio's zero tolerance he was going in for sure.

Both officers still talking loud to this kid, I couldn't make the conversation (I wished I had Harry Potter's extendable ears) but I imagined they were trying the "scare straight" tactic. Then I saw the kid walk towards the SUV's open door and get a cell phone.

"OK, cool he won't be taken in" I said. They are allowing him to call someone. Sure enough almost another 45 minutes later a car shows up and parks on a side street. A woman is walking towards the officers and the kid and another ten minute conversation. Then they both walk towards the SUV, kid get in the passenger side while the lady gets behind the wheel, and they both drive away.

So now here's the question I pose to you. Keeping in mind that we only saw the whole thing from half a block away and we don't know how drunk this kid was or how it was that he was parked on the wrong side of the street late at night with his door open and radio blasting. Maybe he realized he was too far gone and just pulled over and stopped thinking this was the safest thing to do. Maybe he actually lost it and his truck made it to that specific spot on it's own, we'll never know.

So, should the cops have taken him in on grounds that he could have caused a very serious or even fatal accident?. Or were they right to give him a second chance and to release him to his mom?

Me... I believe in second chances, so kudos to the police officers, they handled the whole thing calmly and professionally, nothing like what you see on COPS, that was for sure.

"Wow, it's now almost 3:30 a.m. Let's go to bed" said my daughter, at least you'll have something to blog about later dad.
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