Archive | June, 2012

Mexican Drug Cartel

30 Jun

I’ve been staying up late really late reading articles on the Mexican Drug “War” of the past 6 years. I’ve read up on the history, the markets it feeds into, their technological advances, rise to power, and the current presidential elections in a few hours that will determine the fate of Mexico for the next 6 years. Today I read the Orange County link to the drug cartels. Freaky. 

I will try my best to summarize all of my research. The best source is the New York Times, but wikipedia also does a good job in summarizing the core of the drug war.

First, the Mexican Drug Cartels exist to this day because the US has a never ending desire for drugs. 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 take drugs on a regular basis. That’s about the same as the unemployment rate.

Second, illegal substances began to flow into the US from Mexico during Prohibition. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw a resurgance of marijuana, but it was the crazy 1970’s that saw the drug boom in the US. Thanks to Pablo Escobar of Colombia, the Mexican drug market made it much easier for the US to get its share of cocaine and heroin. During the 1980’s, the Mexican underground drug market was peacefully split up to prevent fighting. There had been no drug cartel related violence and innocent people were left alone up until this point. The Tijuana, Beltran-Leyva, Sinaloa, Juarez, La Familia Michoacana, and Gulf Cartel came into existence and each controlled their own territory. The cartels bribed authorities and paid their way to make sure they conducted their business while being left alone. The scary part was that slowly police officers and military officials began to join the cartels since they paid very well and protected their people very well.

The most intriguing article was the one I read on the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo Guzmán. He is estimated at $1 billion USD and has made Forbes magazine’s list of wealthiest people in the world. He is the 10th richest man in Mexico and has been called the “biggest druglord of all time.” He is also known for being incarcerated in 1993, buying the prison system including fellow jail mates and wardens. Rumor has it that the El Chapo would order food off a menu everyday and a prostitute would visit him every week. In 2001, he escaped Mexico’s highest security prison by leaving inside a laundry cart while the police looked the other way for 24 hours. He spent $2 million dollars plotting his escape. El Chapo is also known for going into restaurants, closing all doors, eating his dinner, and then buying everyone’s meal WITHOUT injuring or killing anyone. El Chapo was known for hiring the best of the best to expand his business. Underground tunnels, boats, submarines, commercial flights, helicopters, catapults and a jalapeño industry were used to transport drugs under El Chapo.

The scary part happened in 2008 when El Chapo’s son was murdered supposedly by members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. About 400 people died in the span of 3 months in the state of Culiacan where El Chapo’s son was killed. Both cartels had also been fighting for the Chicago drug market.

In the late 1990’s, the Gulf Cartel needed protection so they sought out to find the best bodyguards possible. Disgruntled high ranking army members joined forces to become Los Zetas. In 2006, they grew too fast for the Gulf Cartel and became their own cartel. The Zetas quite simply began to attack everything in sight. They were the ones who use kidnapping, torture, dismembering, beheading, etc. to scare their enemies. Unfortunately, many innocent lives also began to be lost during this time.

In late 2006, newly elected Felipe Calderon declared a war on drugs and began “Operación Michoacan” in an attempt to get rid of all drug cartels in Mexico. Too bad he didn’t know the massive amount of worms that came of out the can he opened. The corruption had reached the national level. The second highest ranking official of Mexican National Security was recently found guilty of corruption charges and aiding the drug cartels. The previous ruling party of 70 years, PRI, had supposedly made deals with the cartels so that the cartels could function while the country would be at peace. With Calderon, from the PAN party, in power all agreements had been broken.

All the above events happening at the same time caused the start of a drug war that has cost the lives of about 40,000 Mexicans since 2006. Every single state in Mexico has been affected by the drug war. My parent’s hometown was full of Alcones “Falcons” known to keep a lookout for Los Zetas which took over the town for about 2 years. Luckily, no Zeta related deaths happened in the town, but the nearby towns had a different fate.

The OC link? Members of Los Zetas were investing money in horse racing in the US in order to expand their profits. The Zetas were racing horses in Los Alamitos race track and participating in million dollar races. Just last weekend, one of their horses raced and won.

The presidential election is July 1. What if the PAN wins? Will there be no change in the current policy or lack of policy? What if the PRI wins? Will they go back to their corrupt, but peaceful ways? What if the PRD wins? Will they make everything worse since they are a very leftist and action oriented party? Time will tell, but whatever happens I hope its for the good of Mexico so that dignified peace along with peace of mind exists within the Mexican people.

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Pinterest

30 Jun

Pinterest is down! Oh the humanity! what to do, what to do… hmmm well I bought Ana Tijoux’s latest CD called “La Balla.”  The best song is “Shock” (by far), but “Sacar La Voz” with Grammy winner Jorge Drexler is good too.  Excellent melodies and Ana’s skillfull rap is displayed here.

 

Hmmm what else…I had a Carl’s Jr. Western Cheeseburger today… Its true. That food is empty calories. I’m already hungry again. I want some veggies! and chicken and fishy, but no more Bovine University. At least I will try. Sigh.

 

Alcohol

23 Jun

Pues dicen que el alcohol hace a uno que diga la verdad… o puede hacer a uno que diga mensadas. En veces causa que las personas digan lo que de veras sienten y que bien! Ahora sabe uno como siente una persona de otra. También puede crear diversion y abrir un río de sentimientos que jamas saldria sin la ayuda del alcohol. Casi siempre me ha tocado ver el lado divertido del alcohol. Mis amigos/as y familia son joven y les gusta la diversion asistida por el alcohol.

Después de una semana llena de incidentes causadas por el alcohol me he dado cuenta que el alcohol tiene que ser usado con una gran preucación especialmente cuando se toma cuando hay una gran coraje en nuestra vida. En el mundo cibernetico y digital del 2012 hay tantas posibilidades de sacar nuestro coraje en un formato para que muchas personas lo vean. Y es ahi donde tenemos que tener cuidado.

También vi que el alcohol le puede dar el valor a una persona para decir lo que normalmente no le hubiera poder decir a alguien. Me dio gusto escuchar a una compañera del trabajo decirle a otra que se callara su boca con sus comentarios negativos y que sea una mejor persona. La primer compañera tiene una reputación de tomar mucho alcohol pero nunca en los años que la he conocido le  ha faltado el respeto o dicho un comentario estupido contra alguien aunque sea la verdad. La voy a extrañar…

Tal vez el alcohol le causa a una persona que demuestre la personalidad verdaderara de uno. Lo sentimental, feliz, amargado, divertido , lo malicioso….. Todo fue muy claro para mi. Yo? Yo definitivamente soy feliz o sentimental cuando tomo alcol. Nunca maliciosa.

No hay duda que hay ocasiones donde el alcohol es necesario y a veces es parte de nuestras tradiciones familiares. Pero que buena leccion he aprendido esta semana con el alcohol.

Eva Maria y La Quebradita

12 Jun

My sister and her fiance are getting my dad an Ipod classic for fathers day. I’m helping out by buying the accessories and uploading all of his CD collection on the desktop. My dad is a music whore like myself, but I’m much worse. A certain set of CDs grabbed my attention: the quebradita CDs. Banda Machos, Banda Maguey, Banda Vallarta Show (they stole most of their hits from the pre-regeaton era of “El General”) and such. Quebradita is such a creative twist to the traditional banda that had been popularized by Banda El Recodo. Quebradita replaced the tuba with an electric bass, used a keyboard as a part of the rhythm section, used a lot of speeding up and slowing down, and made dancing to banda FUN with hilarious almost pointless lyrics. Take “Las Nachas” by Banda Machos. The singer uses a hilarious play on words using the name of two girls named Nacha and a slang term for “booty” in Spanish. And who writes a song named “El Gato y el Raton.”?  Ah and don’t forget the dress attire that was SO popularized because of Quebradita. And the crazy kicks and dance moves too!

And so I leave you with “Eva Maria” in honor of the Energizer Bunny also known as my turbokickboxing teacher 🙂

Reflections #8- “Friends” – yet again

11 Jun

“F” you all who think the sole purpose in life is to get married and live happily ever after (too much Ruby influence in this thought!).  Don’t get me wrong: I do believe that life is much more memorable when you are in company of someone else. Yet time and time again I have been tempted to point to the quote “It’s better to be alone than in bad company.” FRIENDSHIPS that have left me scared. People are nice to me, but I am finding myself with my guard up constantly because I am just waiting for the low blow to come. I have too many “friends” that are laggers (I HATE laggers) or can’t reply to message or phone calls: quite simply they won’t make time in their lives for me the same way that I would for them. So like Fez from “That 70’s Show” would say, I tell them “good day!” and continue my life without them. No matter how many years of friendship are behind you both, its the present that counts.

Then there are the friends worth spending time with. The ones that make me smile for a whole day after I eat lunch with them, the ones that I joke around day in and out, the ones that look for you, the ones that say “let’s hang out”- and seriously mean it,  the ones that go through traumatic life changing experiences with you, the ones that can read your face along with the look in your eyes and are willing to confront you about it, the ones that let you borrow something without me having to ask for it first (when is the last time someone did that for me?), the ones that are willing to share top secret information and truly want you to keep that to your grave. I have said “I’m loyal!” in an alcohol related comment to a person I considered a “friend” back in 2009-2010. And then I would start laughing. What was I trying to prove to her? Of course I’m loyal! I’m dedicated to those that willing to put the TIME into people. Too bad I was barking up the wrong tree with that comment. But like Pumba and Timon say, “you have to put your behind in your past” and look at what is front of you.  What a year 2012 has already been in regards to friends! I should be counting my blessings because I have spent years figuring out who I can truly trust and count on and I feel like this year has allowed me to narrow down who is friend material.

21 Quick Tricks to Feel Better

11 Jun

from http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/06/01/21-tricks-to-feel-better-instantly/#more-453

Especially during this time of the year AND crazy events that will stay with me for a long time…

 

When life gets stressful and you feel like you’re losing your emotional balance, use one or more of these simple tricks to help you relax your mind and re-center yourself in an instant.

  1. Wash your hands and face, and brush your teeth. – The simple act of cleaning these parts of your body is both reinvigorating and relaxing, and gives you that ‘fresh start’ feeling.
  2. Change your socks for refreshment. – It’s an odd trick, but it works.  Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day.  You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel.  This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking.
  3. Call a close friend. – Sometimes a quick conversation with someone you care about is just what you need to boost your mood.
  4. Stretch. – When you feel yourself getting stressed, get up, reach toward the sky, bend down and touch your toes, twist your torso from side to side – stretch it out.
  5. Go outdoors. – Getting some fresh air outdoors is always a good way to rouse your senses and clear your mind.
  6. Take a light exercise break. – Do a few sets of jumping jacks to get your blood moving, or take a walk.  Even the slightest bit of exercise can reduce momentary stress and re-energize your mind.  (Read The 4-Hour Body.)
  7. Dress to feel your best. – When we know we are looking our best, we naturally feel better.
  8. Listen to your favorite music. – If it’s not too much of a distraction, listening to your favorite upbeat music can be a great way to boost your spirits.
  9. Watch or read something that inspires you. – Sometimes all you need is a little pep talk.  Watch a motivational video or read something that inspires you.
  10. Have a good laugh. – Watch a funny video clip or read your favorite comic strip.  A good chuckle will stimulate your mind, giving you a renewed sense of optimism.
  11. Take a few really deep, controlled breaths. – Deep breathing helps reduce stress, a source of fatigue, and increases the level of oxygen in the blood.  Techniques can be as simple as inhaling for five seconds, holding your breath for four seconds and exhaling for four seconds.  You can also try more elaborate techniques which require different positions
  12. Clear your stuffed nose. – If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky.  Rinse your nasal passages with saline solution.
  13. Cook a tasty meal. – Even if you are by yourself, preparing a tasty dinner, setting the table, and treating yourself to a wonderful culinary experience will lift your spirits.  Sharing it with someone you love or respect will make it even more nurturing.
  14. Walk away from energy vampires. – Energy vampires are people who always have something to complain about, or a problem that needs to be fixed, and they’ll drain your energy by making you listen to them about their problems or by giving them attention.
  15. Complete an important piece of unfinished business. – Today is a perfect day to finish what you started.  Few feelings are more satisfying than the one you get after an old burden has been lifted off of your shoulders.  (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
  16. Work on something that’s meaningful to you. – Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project.  Or pull the trigger on doing something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t yet had the resolve to do.
  17. Assist someone in need. – In life, you get what you put in.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  Do something that’s greater than you, something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.  I promise, it will be an extremely rewarding experience.
  18. Think about your latest (or greatest) success. – Think about it for at least sixty seconds.  Taking in your success as often as possible will help you reach it again and again.  Quite simply, it reminds you that if you’ve done it before, you can do it again.
  19. Act like today is already an awesome day. – Do so, and it will be.  Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act.  A great attitude always leads to great experiences.
  20. Notice what’s right. – Everything that happens in life is neither good nor bad.  It just depends on your perspective.  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  So stay positive, appreciate the pleasant outcomes, and learn from the rest.  (Read How Full Is Your Bucket?)
  21. Take a moment to acknowledge how far you’ve come. – Look around you, remember that you started with nothing, and know that everything you see, you created. We can all lose our feelings of self-worth, especially when something goes wrong in our world. The truth is that if you have done it before, you can do it again, no matter what.

Finding simple ways to give yourself an emotional boost when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut is a vital skill to master.  It’s a timeless practice that truly happy, productive people use on a regular basis.

What do you do to make yourself feel better when life gets you down?

Pho

10 Jun

I first tried pho for the first time about 2 years ago when some friends of a friend decided to go there after a basketball game. I didn’t think too much of it at first, but afterward I couldn’t stop thinking about the flavor. I normally don’t like any kind of soups. I’m not a liquids kind of person. However, I decided to find the best pho in the area. When the OC Weekly had a “Best Pho” tournament where the best columnists tried 16 pho places and eventually chose the winner, I knew I had to try out the places and decide for myself. Plus, I also went on yelp to figure out where people think I should go get a food bowl of pho. Below is a list of all the places I have eaten pho at  and my rating of each place on a scale of 1 to 10.

Pho Than Lich  14500 Brookhurst St. Westminster, CA

Chicken Pho – 9.5

I need to try beef pho. This place was the  winner in the final pho tournament. Definitely worth returning to.

 

Pho 54  15420 Brookhurst St. Westminster, CA

Chicken pho- 7.5

Good cheap pho with lively atmostphere of all ages. They are open 24 hours (I think). The pho didn’t stand out, but the prices did.

 

Pho Nguyen Hue’s  10487 Bolsa Ave., Westminster

chicken pho – 7

Lots of chicken in the soup, but didn’t have much flavor. The place was very nice and had a friendly atmosphere. I need to go back for beef pho.

 

Pho 86 14576 Brookhurst St., Westminster

Beef pho- 8 – That is what they are known for: beef pho. Tasted very clean and fresh, but the thin tripe that was included in the soup did gross me out a bit.

 

Pho Tang Long 9550 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 115F Westminster

Chicken pho 6- I absolutely don’t remember anything about this place except that the pho was meh. 

 

Pho Vie 8066 McFadden Midway City

Chicken pho- 2 . Worse pho ever. I’m lucky I didn’t get sick. The noodles were super hard. The chicken was not cooked well. No flavor. Ewww. I gave it a 2 for not making me sick.

 

Pho Thanh 9625 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster, CA

Chicken pho- 9.75 .This is the first place that I have ever had pho. I have been there several times and they are consistent with flavor. However I have not been there since I began to try other places.  Sometimes they have 50% off pho.

 

Pho Quang Trung  9211 Bolsa Ave Ste 101-103  Westminster

Chicken pho -9.5 : I remember thinking:  that’s why everyone kept saying it was memorable: because it is. Pho tasted clean and really yummy.

 

Pho 79  9941 Hazard Ave Garden Grove, CA 92643

Chicken pho- 9.99. I have never completely finished a bowl of pho before until pho 79. I don’t know exactly what made this pho so good, but I can’t seem to forget it.

 

Pho Binh  3839 W First St Santa Ana

chicken pho- 7 – The cheapest pho you will find in town. Very friendly family atmosphere with non-Vietnamese in the restaurant. However they have very watered down pho.

 

88 Pho 220 W 1st St Ste 103 Santa Ana

Chicken pho- 7- Another watered down pho place. Didn’t have much flavor, but I give them credit for setting shop in the middle of Santa Ana.

 

AuLac 16563 Brookhurst Street  Fountain Valley

“Chicken” pho (vegan pho)- 8.5

The first time I tried this pho I thought it was the best thing ever, but it was one of the first bowls of pho I have ever tried. I tried it about 3 months ago and meh! Real chicken will always taste better. However, this is a vegan pho so it can’t compare to the real thing. As far as quality of flavor for being imitation pho, its awesome.

 

To try:

Pho Dakao    15532 Ward St.   Garden Grove, CA

Brodard Chateau, 9100 Trask Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 899-8273; brodard.net.

Quan Hop, 15640 Brookhurst St., Westminster

Pho Kimmy, 14932 Bushard St., Westminster