... is a writer located in Miami, Florida. He has worked as a copywriter for several major Miami-based companies. He knows how to perform Search Engine Optimization to help increase a website’s placement in a Search Engine Results Page. This blog page is dedicated to somethings serious, somethings topical, and somethings comical. To view his online portfolio please go to http://serendipity164.wordpress.com/
Does anyone know how to view notes left on their tumble blog postings?
I keep seeing a number and the “Notes”. However when I click on it, I don’t see any notes. What’s going on?
Won’t you please, please help me?
A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.
John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to ‘clean up’ the bird’s vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude.
John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.
Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”
John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, “May I ask what the turkey did?”
Just in time for Thanksgiving, an old e-mail joke.
Happy Thanksgiving, Tumblratti.
From one jive turkey.
- Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
- LifeLine: 1-800-273-8255
- Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
- Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
- Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
- Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
- Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
- Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
- Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253
- Crisischat.org : Online crisis counseling
- Just in case. You never know who might need it.
Vintage Cars at the 37th Annual Harvest Festival at the Miami-Dade Expo Fair in Miami, Florida
By now most of you have heard that the world’s population has reached 7 billion and still climbing. During the last 50 years, the Earth’s human population has more than doubled.
According to the United Nation’s Population Division, if the current population and consumption rates keep going the way they are, we will need two Earth’s to be able to sustain us by the 2030s. Also, by 2083 there will be 10 billion people on Earth. That’s a lot of heads of cabbage, folks.
Here are some interesting numbers:
When I was born, I was the 2,921,733,966th person alive on Earth; and the 76,468,630,022nd person to have lived since history began.
The current population in the United States is 310,383,948.
In the United States, there are 484 persons being born every hour, and 288 persons die every hour.
The average life expectancy is 75.4 years for a man living in the United States, and 80.5 years for a woman.
Want to know what’s your number? Click here: Your number
If you have a Spanish-speaking background like I do, you most likely have heard of the word “ahorita”. If you use Google Translate, it means “right now”. Typically, it means ”in a little while” or “soon”. However, in some Spanish-speaking countries the meaning can change.
If you are Cuban like me, “ahoirta” could and usually means “in a long while” or “a little later from now”. As in when is Juan coming home from work? “Ahorita”. This could mean he will be home in a half-hour, two hours, or a day from now.
In some South American countries, “ahorita” means “soon”. As is when is that report due? “Ahorita”. You’d better be ready to deliver the report real soon.
Yet, even within the same country and region, it could have both meanings. As in when is the bus coming? “Ahorita”. You’d better be ready because it is coming soon. Or maybe not.
What are your experiences with “ahorita”?
Are there other Spanish words that you have encountered that because of cultural or regional influences its real-life meaning not anything like its literal meaning?
If yes, please share them in the comments section.
I was too young to remember the Bay of Pigs invasion. I do know we were still in Cuba when it happened. From the stories my parents told us of that time period, I do know my father had left the military and he was struggling to keep his family business alive: Castro’s socialism did not approve of sole proprietors.
In 1962, we came to the United States…penniless. We wound up in New York and moved in with my father’s sister and her family. In other words, four adults and four kids in a three bedroom apartment that was located over a storefront in Astoria, Queens, New York. After three months of living with them, my dad found a job and we moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a housing project in Astoria next to the East River and Astoria Park.
One day, three Cuban men showed up at our door. My parents were expecting them. After a few pleasantries, my mother motioned my sister and me to retire to the bedroom that I shared with my sister. Being four years old, I was content to look out the window and stare at the partially blocked view of Manhattan. My sister, three years my senior, was more intent on eavesdropping on the conversation between these strange men and our parents. There were was a long discussion. My mother was the last person to speak. The men left. We were allowed to go back into the sparsely-furnished living room. The tension in that room was like walking into a room full of highly-unstable nitroglycerin: you dared not snap your fingers for fear of creating a spark.
Years later, my parents would tell of that odd day with those strange men. In a nutshell, the three men represented an unnamed group that was trying to put together a group of former Cuban soldiers who served under Batista. They were to be trained for combat and a possible invasion of Cuba. The men were trying to recruit my father. All my parents knew of these men was that they were backed. By who, they didn’t know.
Over the years my parents speculated as to who the backers were. They could have been a paramilitary, counter-revolutionary group backed by wealthy Cubans exiles. They could have been backed by the CIA. They could easily have been Castro’s spies living in the United States trying to snare Cuban Nationals into a trap. They could even have been KGB agents. This was around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War. Paranoia ran high. Nothing was what it seemed; you trusted no one. The men remained a mystery.
What we do know is that my mother’s speech was the deal breaker. After much patriotic rhetoric, the men reminded my father of his outstanding military service, his fallen army buddies and those of his friends who had been arrested and shot in front of Castro’s firing squads or imprisoned for being enemies of the Revolution. They seemed to know a lot about my father. Yet, he always maintained that he did not know these men when we were in Cuba.
My father listened. His patriotic fervor rose. At that moment, he would have walked right out the door with those men except that my mother’s need for domestic stability cooled his nationalistic fever.
In a calm and diplomatic manner, she explained to the men that while my father was a patriot who fought against Castro in some of the most intensive battles during the Revolution; he was also a family man. When we were in Cuba, she understood and honored my father’s sense of duty. She honored it so much that she did not try to stop him when he was deployed.
Pregnant, she stayed home and took care of a small young girl and her father-in-law who had suffered a stroke. However, now that we were in a new and strange world, a place that was hostile to foreigners even though it was made up of foreigners, she did not want her husband to leave.
Besides, she said the first Bay of Pigs was a complete disaster. What guarantee did she have that this operation would be a success? Who would take care of her and her children if her husband were killed or imprisoned? The men fell silent. Not being able to honestly answer these questions, they left. For months, my father was angry at my mother, but overtime he realized that she had made the right decision for us all.
Also during this time, we were introduced to other Cuban exiles living in New York. A lot of them belong to a group of Cuban Nationals which we were asked to join. Eager to reconnect with old friends or just wanting to meet other Cubans, my parents became members. I cannot recall the exact name of the group; I asked my sister, and she was not able to remember the name either. This group would hold meetings in various locations throughout New York City. We attended these gatherings. At the meetings, they held long and impassioned speeches. We heard testimonials from recently arrived Cubans about conditions in Cuba.
The group would get its members to sign petitions which were sent to Washington, D.C. The petitions were pleas by Cuban Nationals to get the United States to take action and sanctions against the Castro government. However, during this time, the United States was much more interested in stopping the spread of communism in Southeast Asia than in an island nation that was a mere 90 miles from it shores. Makes sense. The group rallied its members to take part in manifestaciones ( political marches ). Members were issued stickers and pins.
Sticker of fighting gusano with the word “Volveremos” “We will Return”.
The “gusano” or worm in the sticker represents the derogatory term that Castro’s people had for the Cubans who left their homeland. The exile-Cuban community took this symbol of shame and turned it into one of pride just like the “Yankee Doodle” song. The worm holds a rifle in one hand and a Cuban flag in the other. Over his head is the phrase “¡VOLVEREMOS!” which means “We shall return!” The obvious message was that exiled Cubans would return and take Cuba back by force.
Lapel pin my parents wore.
The lapel pin shown here shows the Cuban flag and the words Cuba and ANTICOMUNISTA. Members were encouraged to wear this pin at meetings, demonstrations, and at all times if possible.
For me and my sister, these meetings were boring and tedious. If we behaved, my mother would reward us with a brazo Gitano: rolled sponge cake. Eventually, we got bored with the reward. My mother stayed home with us while my father attended the meetings. After a year, my father got fed up with the whole thing too. It seemed that the group was always asking for money, which we had little of, and very little was getting done.
At the last meeting he attended, a very fiery speech was given. It resembled a battle cry. Sitting next to my father, a very shaky old man who could barley stand on his own two feet raised his fist and cried, “I can still carry a rifle!” According to my father, the crowd fell silent. Some men snickered. Most didn’t know how to react. Someone from the stage applauded; it was followed by a less than enthusiastic clapping of hands from the audience.
My father who had witnessed his best friends get killed in action, who still mourned the loss of those friends, who suffered while his brother was being held as a prisoner of war by the Castro government, realized right then and there that returning to Cuba to regain what had been taken or left behind was becoming a pipe dream. He left the meeting and his dreams of ever going back to his homeland.
We never did find out if those three men were actually trying to start another Bay of Pigs type of invasion. Or if their dreams of freeing their country just faded away like dreams usually do.
This is a companion post to “I Left Cuba with just my Toy Cat”
This post originally appeared on my Open Salon post.
I was born in Cuba in the midst of the fall of one dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and the rise of another, Fidel Castro. My father was a sergeant in the army of the former and an enemy of the state of the latter. Through a shuffling of paperwork that was uncommonly fast for a pre-digital age military bureaucracy, my father’s army discharge was expedited and he retired to take over the family business. His retirement was without benefits since regimes that overthrow other regimes have a problem honoring their enemies’ pension plans. But at least my father was able to leave alive, intact and without having to spend time in one of Castro’s prisons.
For some time things were OK. My father took over his father’s butcher shop, and my mother took care of me and my older sister. I took to what babies did best: eat, sleep and soil my diapers. Accompanying me in my crib, I had many stuffed animals, but I took a fancy to a small rubber toy cat. When I could talk, I named him Hebertico. No one is sure why I came up with that name but it stuck.
As Castro’s grip tightened over the small island nation, the situation began to change. Neighbors started to disappear. Some went to “El Norte” (the United States). They would leave by plane, or by boats or makeshift rafts. Others were sent to prison or forced labor camps for crimes against the state, and still others faced the firing squad. Most of those people were turned in by neighborhood spies.
These happenings did not affect my family at first. However, soon state rations were being imposed on everything, including food. As the sole proprietor of his business, my father didn’t feel he had to comply with those rules when it came to taking food to his family. But local spies reported my dad just the same. Soon Castro’s “soldiers” — more like armed thugs, really — started to stop by our house when my father was at work, and threaten my mother. By the time I was 4 years old, my parents decided to leave the country.
In those days, regardless of how you got out of Cuba, it was done in a clandestine manner. My mother didn’t even have a chance to tell her parents we were leaving. She just visited them the day before we departed, made some plans for later on in the week, and left my grandparents’ home for the last time.
It was around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis that my parents decided to leave the country. My father’s sister and her family lived in New York City and they were able to sponsor us. On the day we left, we went to the airport where we had to endure endless lines to clear an infinite number of checkpoints. The stations served as a series of humiliating searches, which Cubans leaving the country were forced to undergo. Castro’s government wanted to make sure these “gusanos” (worms or caterpillars), as we were called, did not leave with government property — that is, money, personal jewelry, personal clothing or anything of value. In short, we were only allowed to leave with the clothes on our backs. The only jewelry my mother was able to take was her wedding band. My older sister was permitted one baby doll. I was allowed to take Hebertico.
However, one of the female “inspectors” was convinced that my mother was trying to smuggle more jewelry. After a rigorous pat-down that would shame any American TSA employee, the inspector took Hebertico from my hands and shook him rigorously. Not convinced that my favorite toy was not hiding any of Cuba’s “treasures,” the inspector took a pocket knife and cut a gash into Hebertico’s side. I watched as this “Hero of the Revolution” performed her “duty.”
It was an act of spite — Hebertico is hollow and made of rubber. Before the gash, the only hole he had was the tiny one that came from the manufacturer. It would have been hard to hide anything in him.
After more waiting and harassment, we were allowed to board the plane. The flights had no assigned seats — you just grabbed the first one you could find. I sat with my mother toward the front of the plane; my father and sister toward the back. As a final “bon voyage,” it was common for some of Castro’s soldiers to board the plane, walk up and down the aisle, seize an unlucky passenger, and drag him or her off the plane. As we settled into our seats, my mother grabbed my hand. I looked up at her and saw beads of sweat drip down the side of her face and her eyes bulging with fear. Three “soldiers” boarded our plane and proceeded to walk down the aisle. Then we heard a scream and the thud of a rifle’s butt against flesh.
My mother squeezed my hand tighter. It hurt, but I did not cry. With my free hand, I gripped Hebertico for comfort. Moments later, the soldiers dragged a dazed man with a bloody face off the aircraft. A woman from the back of the plane screamed profanities at them. They yelled back that if she didn’t shut up that they would take her too. Her children cried for her to sit down; she did. The door to the plane closed, the engines started and we took off. My mother released her grip on my hand as tears streamed down her face. I clutched Hebertico.
After a brief stop in Miami, the Freedom Tower or “El Refugio” as we called it, we arrived in New York to start a new life in a strange land.
Eventually, my father found gainful employment and we were able to lead a stable working-class life. He never tried to start a business in New York; he just resigned himself to working in a meat-packing warehouse.
Over the years, Hebertico slept in my bed by my side. As I got older, I would hide him in my pillowcase. Whenever I felt scared in the middle of the night, I would reach for my pillow and clutch Hebertico. In my teen years, I placed Hebertico in the top drawer of my dresser. To this day, he resides in the top drawer of my armoire.
You might wonder how a rubber toy could be a hero. Hebertico was my hero because he was the only constant in my life during those early years. Growing up in a strange land, he was a faithful compass when my world was caught up in a tornado. He was and remains a link to my past.
Many spring cleanings have come and gone and I have parted with many things. Hebertico is the one possession I can never part with. I plan to give him to my daughter, so she can pass him on to her children.
I wrote this story for Salon.com as “The Toy Cat that Escaped Cuba”. It was published on March 30, 2011.
On March 31, 2011, it was reviewed by Kyle Munzenrieder for New Times; here is the link: ”The Story of the Toy Cat that Escaped Castro Will Make You Cry”.