For the love of money
Alber Pujols, for the love of money

Albert Pujols, for the love of money

The American Autumn
The American Autumn

The American Autumn is upon us.

Forever Young
Forever Young

Thoughts on missing school and becoming a grown-up.

Pronouncing My Name
Self Portrait: By John Paz

Pronouncing My Name: You're doing it wrong.

"What Are You?"
"What are you?"

What are you? (I mean besides human.)

Posted by Unknown - - 1 comments

Well, I thought I would be ready for this day. It’s been on the horizon for a while now, and much like King James, King Albert also leaves his adoring fans with a sour taste in their mouth. I will be fine, it’s ok. It’s not like we’re the Cubs or something. We’ll bounce back. 
But it’s that you told us we could trust you that makes it hurt worse. You said:
“So many people can’t wait until I do something negative. I can’t understand it. That’s sad, because I want to be that poster boy in baseball. Just give me the chance.”
And then you did it. And for what? $2.5 million more a year? I didn’t know the price of a playing on a World Series contender went so cheap.
It’s hard not to compare you to Lebron. But let’s face it, the two of you had a chance to prove that there are more important things in life than money. Like:
But you blew it.
“He is not going to chase the money. He wants to chase the rings.”
“…money is not everything, it’s better to have a competitive team that can go to the postseason…”
We made our team instantly competitive, on your urging. We took risks and overpaid for players on your urging us to be more competitive.
“…that ring is what it’s all about.”
We did what you asked. We got that other ring that you said you valued so much. And we’re even poised for a run next season.
” ‘If you look at doing it now,’ La Russa said, of spending a career with just one team, ‘it probably is a little more significant because it’s so unusual [in this age]. Cal [Ripken] did it. There aren’t many guys that do it. It’s just the nature of the game. And now we’re looking at our guy. You know, Albert is one of the guys who have that.’ “
Spare me the talk on your market value and business decisions. In this day and age, with so much economic inequality and near-epidemic financial hardship, you could have been that model of moderation, of someone who can say “when” to the outpouring of cash from strangers.
I guess the $104,040,436 the Cardinals paid you thus far just isn’t enough. Nor was the $225 million more we wanted to pay you. Because $350 million seems so much cooler than a mere $330 million. And after all, you’re the best. Right?
Thanks for the rings Mr. Pujols. You sure were a great ball player once. 
King Albert is dead. Long live Mr. Pujols.
You’re just another business man now.
John A. Paz (aka Spiegro)
Cards fan since ‘83’
St. Louis native 
P.S. When you hear me at the next game, it won’t be “Pooo” that I’m shouting.
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Unrest in Tunisia spread like a wild fire,
Many of those fires still burn.
The Arab Spring, gives way to The American Autumn.
It is now our turn.

Born of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid.
He got the attention of their government,
There's no doubt that he did.

The hippies in New York are picking up steam,
So much activity on social media streams.
Other American cities will follow.

Main stream calls us shallow.

The immovable objects finally voice their unrest,
The one controls 60, and ninety-nine of us the rest.
England, Spain, Greece, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Israel, Palestine.
All precede this and more.
It's time to stretch our legs as the best of us did before.

The world looked at us to wonder and stare,
"Is this generation too distracted to care?"

The gamblers lost and came running back to dad.
Many gave up hope that accountability  could be had.
The signs were everywhere except on the streets with signs.

But, it was there...

You just had to search online.

To find
Our moment, our time.

This seems like it.
The hacktivists 
asked us to do our part and show up;
They can only do so much from behind their computer screens.
It had to be us
That stopped clicking "like" and started to scream.

Our parents were duped by their game,The World Trade Center was attacked and war declared in our name.
Troy Davis was executed despite our collective objections.
They murdered these people in the name of our protection.
And made my brothers do it.

But banks get free money until they've had enough.
And what's our reward?
Cut. After. Cut.

If the plan goes on then surely this is our moment.
Just as many reasons it'll fail as there are reasons it won't.

American elitism is giving way to a new global perspective,
Where we all work and contribute to the creative collective.

This is The American Autumn.

Autumn: a time of late maturity,
A time in the development of something that follows its most vigorous and successful phase,
Before its decline.

Do not fear this decline.
It will not be a far fall and has already begun.
But it is our ideals that have succeeded, 
So we've already won.

We will work to gain back the trust of the world.

We will look, as our parents, to our young boys and girls,
To show them not tell them how change can be won.
Elections will only slow our jog-that's-turned-run.

Turn to the middle-east for inspiration,
Their jail cells can hurry your life's expiration.

They looked to our King for direction,
Let their image of us be an accurate and current reflection.
Ordinary people have real power and can change things.
Just like leaves can tell times as can tree rings.
Nature provides all the answers for us,
Because the sun still rises after every dusk.

We are late to the game, but it's a game we know well.
Let us show those in power the will of the people will prevail.

Protest for your cause, like when our parents were kids.
This is The American Autumn,
This will get the attention of our government.
No doubt it already did.
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Posted by Unknown - - 2 comments

Autumn: The leaves must fall so that new ones can grow.
By now we are familiar with The Arab Spring, which started with unrest in Tunisia and spread like a wild fire across Mid-East nations, many which continue to quarrel with their governments. The scene played out as an exercise in civil resistance and peaceful protest.

The Arab Spring should remind Americans how to get the attention of their government.

Perhaps it did.

The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York are picking up steam, and there has been enough activity on social media streams and discussion boards to suggest that other American cities will follow suit during the coming months.

The unrest of young people across the globe is finally beginning to take hold in the young people who were thought to be immovable objects, the Americans, and it has manifested itself in these demonstrations. The writing is on the wall in England, Spain, Greece, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Israel, and many other places. It appears that it is finally time for us, the sleeping giant, to awaken and stretch our legs.

The world looked at us and wondered:  are the young people of America too distracted to care? Cuts to education spending, shady election tactics, double the average unemployment rate than the rest of the population, and the most expensive education anyone can remember did not seem important enough to act.

Many had given up hope that Americans would stand to demand accountability for the financial collapse that nearly ruined the world economy. I was not one of them.

The signs were everywhere, except on the streets with signs. You had to search online to find the unrest, as that is my generation's preferred method of communication and expression. We had not found our moment, our  Mohamed Bouazizi moment where it all clicked.

Well, this seems like it. The hacktivists asked us to do our part and show up, citing that they can only do so much from behind their computer screens. It had to be us that stopped clicking the "like" button and started making signs, and more importantly start to show up.

We watched our parents take out second mortgages, and watched the banks get free money. We watched as the World Trade Center was attacked, and we watched as war was waged in our name. We watched when Troy Davis was executed despite our collective objections, and we watched as cut after cut to social programs were rammed through congress with no solution to our employment or housing crisis.

We are done watching.

If the plan of Anonymous goes on as scheduled, then surely this is our moment. There are reasons to believe it might fail, but there are just as many reasons it could succeed.

American elitism is giving way to a new global perspective, where we all contribute and protect each other and each other's rights.

This is The American Autumn.

Autumn is defined as a time of late maturity, a time in the development of something that follows its most vigorous and successful phase, before its decline.

But do not fear this decline my fellow Americans, because it will not be a far fall and it's already begun. The financial crisis humbled us and exposed the flaws in our absolute free market model. It will be hard work to gain back the trust of the world. We must look to our brothers and sisters in the middle-east for inspiration, just as they looked to our civil rights leaders for the same inspiration; ordinary people have real power and can change things.

We are late to the game, but it is a game we already know how to play very well. Now, let us show those in power what the will of the people really is; protest for your cause, just as our parents and our grandparents did. Let your voice be heard.

This is The American Autumn.
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Posted by Unknown - - 3 comments

Reminiscing about college with a friend, I became nostalgic about being an undergraduate student (which was only three years ago), and began to ponder my next step in life.

I miss going to school. I miss the challenge, the dialog, the exploration, and discussing ideas. It is a pity so much rides on the outcome of college. I wish it didn't, then I'd stay there forever, just because I like learning and ideas.

I didn't have the typical college life; this isn't nostalgia for the stereotypical college partying, drinking, or debauchery I'm speaking of. I genuinely miss talking about interesting things with (mostly) interesting people.

Now, I'm a grown-up. Complete with a full-time job and my own laundry list of regular non-work responsibilities (including laundry).

Being grown up isn't as bad as we were told it would be as kids; responsibilities aren't easy but the benefit of being an adult is doing what you want to do, and only answering to who or what you want.

My childhood was fun but I was always ready to grow up. I always felt like an old soul, an adult stuck in a child's body. I had ideas and I needed access to things in order to turn them into reality, and those things just aren't available to kids. Plus people rarely take kids seriously, and even as a child I wanted my ideas taken seriously.

Now, as an official "grown-up," it's my child-like mentality towards exploration that's one of my most useful and marketable traits. But it's not so easy to venture out into the world just to ask "so whatcha got?"

I miss being an undergrad sometimes
(but then I look at my paycheck :-P )
I'm trying to figure out how to fill this void. Perhaps it's time I applied for grad school. But I think applying to grad school out of boredom is frowned upon at institutions of higher learning. It's just I have so many interests it's difficult to pick the one to pursue for the next three-to-five years.

How does someone who can learn to be interested in anything pick something to be interested in?

What I loved about undergraduate school was the absence of pressure to chose something specific right away. I could explore topics I don't know much about just for the sake of exploring. Even with the pressure on me to graduate promptly, I still took the time to smell the roses and immerse myself in my coursework. I chose classes I wanted to attend.

Physical education, literature, mythology, astronomy, HTML; that's a list of a few of the electives I took during undergrad. I thoroughly enjoyed each of them.

Life is full of so many interesting things to study, how do I pick one? I just have to continue to follow my passion and see where it gets me, after all, I've gotten this far doing just that. Let's see how far I can go.
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Despite having the shortest name in my graduating class, I probably had the last name most often mispronounced. My whole first and last name is only two syllables; not a lot to screw up there. Yet still, no matter how many times I correct people there are those who think my last name rhymes with "jazz," but (in English) it actually rhymes better with "claws."

Those two words do not sound the same so mispronouncing my name in the typical way is painfully obvious. I think I am so used to it that now I can seamlessly answer to either pronunciation of my last name. Actually come to think of it I don't usually even correct people any more, I just let them call me what they want.

It really gets old having to correct people. No, it's not their fault. My last name is Hispanic, so pronouncing it in English becomes fair game. I've even had Spanish-speakers correct me on how to say my own last name. What a sad life I live huh?

A very English-sounding first name accompanied with a Hispanic last name gets some very interesting combinations of pronunciations.

It won't hurt my feelings to take a shot at pronouncing it correctly. But I'd definitely prefer (if you're interested) an inconspicuous inquiry. I know it's not easy, they even get it wrong in Spain and Puerto Rico (where they call me "Jun"). Just know you won't hurt my feelings by asking.
Just take any combination of mispronunciations and go with it...
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Posted by Unknown - - 9 comments

Depends on my mood...

It’s the question every brown-skinned American dreads to be asked because, well, the answer is so obvious to us.

Our coffee skin with varying degrees of added cream leaves most folks unable to label us.

Our un-identifiable hair texture leads to mislabeling and relabeling. It is not until we open our mouth do most of us give away our ethnic identity, but even then, a good speech coach can erase audible signifiers.

The inability to label us means you’re unsure if you could be the victim of a petty theft or act of terrorism by that brown-skinned youth with white earbuds and a look of defiance sitting on the back of the bus.
That uncertainty means you’ll speak in general terms when you discuss current events, fearful of offending someone if you bring up the earthquake/tsunami, lest they suspect you think they’re Japanese, when they’re actually Philippino.

How can you tell where someone is from even if you identify the part of the world they are from? Could you tell someone from Egypt apart from someone from Libya? Or tell someone from Holland apart from someone from Belgium?

It’s impossible to tell anyone apart these days, and segregationists of the past warned us it would happen; we are all starting to look alike. So don’t feel guilty because you can’t tell where someone is from. We know it’s hard. We have the same problem amongst each other.

It is the question within the title of this post that I take issue with. The first line of the post explains why; the answer to that question is painfully obvious. If you want to know where I am from, where my parents are from, my ethnic heritage, or anything else about my ancestry that lead me to come out looking as I do, then ask that, but do so with caution and poise. Put some thought into your question first.

When you blurt that question as a side note, or as a prompt for a potentially offensive anecdote, you appear as if you don’t care about the unique and precise combination of historical events that lead to our existence. Our cultural combination cannot complete a composite of our character in your consciousness, or at least it shouldn’t. Judge us how we judge you, by the way you act and treat others.

Why are you curious about our ancestry, to fill in a stereotype? Or are you just curious? Your curiosity makes us suspicious. We’ve all been labeled before, and we tend to label ourselves. But we wonder if those labels are what everyone else also sees.

Lots of people get it wrong; I’ve been asked if I was Egyptian, Puerto Rican, African, Native American, and many other nationalities.

But to the question, “What are you?” I only offer one response, one word: human.
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