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Happy Planet Index June 16, 2012

Posted by dtenjo in Society.
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I read this week in the news that Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Colombia are the three happiest countries on earth. I always wondered how this could be possible, especially about Vietnam and Colombia, countries with well documented social, political and economic issues. I mean, fine, people can be happy on those countries, but what about all the efforts that along history mankind has made to generate well-being and development? Some countries have done very well at generating development as we know it, so does having countries that evidently still have issues to resolve reflect higher levels of  “happiness” mean that all the efforts in generating development and wellbeing have been futile because they are not really generating happiness in people?

I looked into the Happy Planet Index, and realized that this index is calculated based on three measures with are Experienced Well-being, Life Expectancy, and Ecological Footprint. Experienced well-being is obtained based on surveying populations of each country regarding how they think their life is going. Then, the HPI is calculated by multiplying the Expected Well-being by the Life Expectancy, and dividing that by the ecological footprint.

I then took a look at the results of this year’s HPI results, and realized that in the case of Colombia, there are counties with much higher results under the experienced well-being category, and obviously there are many that have a higher life expectancy. So, the reason why Colombia ranks so high up on the HPI index is mostly because of the low ecological footprint. This is great to know that Colombia has a low ecological footprint, but remember that part of this might be due to low economic development of the country, and hardly a low ecological footprint of a country has a direct relationship with people’s happiness.

In addition, the Experienced Well-being index is based on polls, and gets the results from what the majority of the population thinks, and let’s remember that in countries where there are human rights issues, and parts of the population are disadvantaged, it is the minority of the population who suffers this.

So, while it is great to read that Colombia ranks high in the HPI, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. News saying that the country constantly ranks high among the “Happiest Countries on Earth” might be somewhat deceiving. This is just the “Happy Planet Index” and does not necessarily mean that because a country ranks high on this, their people in general are happy.

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Kobe Being Kobe February 21, 2011

Posted by dtenjo in Basketball, NBA, Uncategorized.
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His intrinsic need to be the alpha male was never more evident. During the all-star game, from minute one, Kobe knew what he was to demonstrate that night. He know what the reason was for him to be at staples center that night, and the reaosn he is the best backetball player in the world. In his city in his arena, he had a need to show he is the best among the best. That is the main reason Kobe took an extra effort during the all-star game to take some hefty dunks, and make some of the greatest moves that he has in his arsenal from minute one.

Some, such as Amar’e Stoudamire suggest Kobe just wanted to go for the MVP from the begining. Kobe later accepted he was aware that this night he could tie Bob Petit for the most MVP’s at an all-star game. Well, I think those who think like Stoudamire are right. Kobe knew that, and he wanted to go for the MVP. However, Kobe did not want to get it just for the sake of the record or the recognition. He wants, as he does every time he steps on a basketball court, to show that he is still the best. The LeBrons, the DWades, the Griffins the DRoses are great players, who perhaps due to the unforgiving power of father time will take Kobe’s place as the best player. Nevertheless, that moment has not come yet. Last night it was very evident who is the one who still dominates the game at age 32.

Some may think other players could have gotten the MVP, but just did not care enough to go for it. That is exactly what still separates Kobe from the rest of the field. Kobe always cares, as he said last night, out of respect for the game, every time he gets on a basketball court he goes to win. In addition, during the game it was evident that at some poing other players such as LeBron James started “caring”, and wanting to win the game and take the MVP from Kobe. LeBron tried, but his effort was not enough. By the time LeBron started pushing, he didn’t have enough time and skill  to take something that Kobe had from the end of the first half.

I call it Kobe being Kobe. He will continue to be, thank God we still have a few more years of the most dominating will to win in the NBA right now.

A change in attitude might be all that is needed February 16, 2011

Posted by dtenjo in Canada, Doctors, Medicare.
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I’ve always been very critical of the medicare, the medical system in Canada, whereby  very basic healthcare is universally guaranteed for citizens of the country. The idea behind it is great, nobody thinks it is wrong to offer free healthcare, particularly to those who otherwise would not be able to afford appropriate health care, and those who would constantly need medical care such as seniors or those with medical conditions requiring permanent and expensive care. However, to me the system is less than ideal as service is less deficient due to the “free” nature of it. There are incredibly long waiting times, and patient care by medical staff most of the time, at least from my own experience lacks professionalism and cordiality.

I had always had experiences of poor relationships with doctors, thank God I have never required serious care such as emergency situations, or dangerous illnesses, but for me every time I went to see a doctor had been an unsatisfying experience. I never felt the human side of doctors, and it never felt like I was treated in a cordial way. Doctors always seemed to be rushed, and with no intention of making me comfortable at all. I always blamed this on the medical system because as is the case with any free service that you receive, you can’t expect excellent service. I had always been thinking that there would be so many ways to improve this, starting, perhaps, with modifying the system, whereby medical services do not necessarily have to be fully provided by the government, allowing private practitioners to offer medical services, that way those who can afford to pay for the service would do it, freeing up some space and resources for the public offering of health services.

Well, it turns out I was wrong. In order to improve the service provided by doctors, it seems like all it takes is a change in attitude by them. Yesterday I had a very gratifying visit with a doctor, Dr. Gdih, an oculist, with whom by far I had the best doctor’s appointment I have had. He actually greeted me politely and professionally, looked at me when he was talking to me, took the time to listen to me, asked questions, and was very willing to provide as much information as possible. He was really busy, seeing patients all day long, and working through lunch and breaks, according to his nurse, but he was still very polite and professional. That excellent experience got me thinking: so, it is possible that doctors improve their service, all it takes is a change in attitude. I don’t know if it has to do with the education doctors receive in Canada, or if it is just cultural, but it would be really nice if there was a change in doctors so that their relationship with patients is better, and their service appears more professional.

I was wrong, a whole change in the medical system might not be necessary, all it takes is a change in the doctors’ approach to the way they provide their service.

A Country’s Image to the World also Depends on what its People Say About It. June 28, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, Politics.
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So Copa America has started, the oldest soccer tournament among nations in the world, not a very big deal here in North America, but definitely really important for South Americans. However, it is not Copa America what I am going to talk about here, it is about something that happened while I was watching the game between Mexico and Brazil last night.

There was a gathering of people from many nationalities (all of them Latin American, of course), which included a few Colombians, including myself. There was also another Colombian friend of mine who during the game kept ranting about how terrible Colombian soccer is, how the Colombian team will do terrible in this cup, how when Colombian soccer was good in the past was only because of Drug Money injected into it, and he even went to talk about Colombian politics, and how the current president is part of the paramilitary, how there are several guerrilla groups in the country, and how there is no solution to the conflict in Colombia. Obviously, as a Colombian, all this quite irritated me, as I would much rather focus on the good things about my country, and try to provide a good image of it.

I mean, I wonder how many Colombians there are around the world exposing Colombia like this. When I mentioned to my friend how negative he was being, his answer was to accuse me of not following news, and not knowing the reality as it is. I do follow Colombian news on a daily basis, and I know that some of what he says (not all) may be part of the reality. Nevertheless, as Colombians, I consider it is much more beneficial to focus on the side of reality which shows how great a country Colombia is. It is much better for the country to focus on the good things, and on how things are constantly changing for better.

For example, it is true that recently there have been reports that link some of President Uribe’s political allies in the country’s politics with paramilitary groups. -Not the president, just some of his allies-, and some people are jumping to the conclusion that the president must “be” a part of the paramilitary himself. I am not going to get into an argument about that, although I think this may be a very risky assumption, but the fact also is that since this president has been in office, things have gone much better in Colombia, for example, there has been a steady growth in Colombian Economy in the last few  years; Colombia’s image around the world has changed for better; foreign investment in Colombia is at an all-time high; inside of Colombia, there is government presence in remote areas, where before only illegal groups would dominate; it is clear how Colombia is a more peaceful place than ever before, kidnappings, killings, and all sorts of crimes have dropped. So, my point is, do we want to focus on the fact that some people link some of the president’s friends with paramilitary groups, or would we rather focus on how better things are since he has been governing the country? I would much rather focus on the second one until it is proven on the president that he has some sort of connection with illegal groups.

I t is hard to work to help improve things in Colombia from far away, and Colombians who live abroad ought to provide a good image of Colombia, as the best thing they can do to help the country.  If we concentrate, and talk about the bad things that the country has, we are only making things worse, ruining the hard work that millions of other Colombians are doing  in order to make it a better country day by day.

My Fear became reality May 31, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Basketball, NBA, Sports.
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When I read the headline on NBA.com about Kobe wanting to play elsewhere other than in the Lakers, I could hardly believe it, my first thought was that someone had to be playing joke or something. Wait a minute, it is not April fools day, or anything like that!! So I went and actually read the full article, and other many many articles on the web that confirmed this. Kobe actually mentioned wanting to be traded…

I will admit that this had actually crossed my mind in the past as a nightmare. I thought this would be too unrealistic, and would never come true. Kobe would never leave this team, which made him a Superstar and which has enjoyed a good level of success thanks to him. However, yesterday this became closer to reality than ever before. This shocks me because ever since I’ve been a hardcore basketball fan I’ve related Kobe to the Lakers, and it is time for me to admit right now that even though I declare myself a life-long laker fan, I REALLy only started loving the Lakers deeply when I started admiring Kobe as a player.

Since Kobe has been playing with the Lakers, I have been with the teams in the multiple ups and downs, and at the same time I have been supporting and believing in Kobe, -who has had perhaps more ups and downs that the Laker team, although most of the “downs” have been non-basketball related. I foresaw when it was time to trade Shaq out of the team, it was really evident to everybody, so it seems irrational to now come and blame Kobe for this trade. Really, I am positive that this trade was actually beneficial for the Lakers. With Shaq still in the team maybe the lakers would have had anbother year in the Finals, but an unhappy Kobe, a shaky financial situation, and not even a future to foresee. So, I will say that on getting rid of Shaq, Dr. Buss did a good thing. however, unfortunately what the lakers got back from Shaq did not prove to be good enough, and that is what the problem was. Forget about blaming Kobe for all this, he had little or nothing to do.

It is evident how great Kobe is. In spite of his immense talent, he is as hardworking as anybody else, and wants to win over everything more than anyone. he has accepted to take responsibility for everything that happens in the lakers (Wins and loses), and I dare to say he’s tried harder than anybody else to bring this team into winning ways. I can hardly imagine what would be of the lakers without KB24 on the lineup right now.

So, what would happen to my love for the lakers if Kobe leaves the team?

After thinking about all this, non-stop ever since I found out Kobe actually talked about leaving the team, I am facing the fact that I will not stop liking Kobe Bryant. I am sure I would follow Kobe’s play on any team that he plays in, even if that team is the Phoenix Suns. However I am sure I will still love the lakers. over the last few years I have grown to feel for this team, and want nothing for them but to win, and I’ve recently found out, that is even if Kobe is not in the lineup.

But hey, let’s stop thinking about this as Kobe isn’t going anywhere. I know I can trust Dr. Buss that he will make the right moves, bring the right players, get rid of the right managers, and make Kobe actually want to remain in the Lakers for the next season and beyond that. Knowing this, all these non-sense thoughts about Kobe leaving the team are a complete waste of time, just a part of the nightmare that I’ve feared since Kobe and the Lakers started making me love them.

Another Event that Proves how Society in the US is Going in the Wrong Direction April 16, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Politics, Society.
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About six hours after the shooting at Virginia Tech happened, the death toll keeps rising, -it is at about 31 right now, and I am still trying to understand the relevance of this event, which seems to be by far the worst of its class in US history. This day will go down in history as the day when the most people were killed in a US educational institution. The worst part of this is that we are actually hoping it is this way, and we won’t see an even deadlier school shooting in a few weeks.

The question that comes to mind right away is why these things seem to happen only, or at least most frequently in America? Not even Iraq or Afghanistan, which appear to be currently the most troublesome countries right now, get shootings of this kind. I mean, a few months ago in Montreal something similar happened, but keep in mind that Canadian society in spite of the differences with the US, is in many ways similar to the way US society runs.

This is a proof that there definitely is something wrong with US society. And I know I am not inventing an new concept here with this statement, most people agree with the fact that the values under which US society is run are wrong, or at least mishandled by individuals. Seems to me like throughout history Americans focused so much on building what to them would be “the greatest nation in the world”, that they ended up inculcating the wrong values on their people in order to achieve this. And in so many ways they actually achieved both creating a “great” nation, and running a society with mistaken values, and this seems to be what is currently degrading the nation from the inside out I’ve always thought that while America is trying to solve the problems all around the world, going to countries oversees, invading, and trying to control other nations, their own society is getting corrupted on the core, and the American government has overlooked this.

I am talking about things like materialism, individualism, permanent competition to “step” on others if necessary to achieve what you need, the lack of community sense, and many other ideas that people in the newer generations were educated under, which I don’t consider are necessarily all bad, but they become bad when people misinterpret, and mishandle them like Americans in general have.

I hope not to offend anybody with what I just wrote. I have many American friends, and in general they are great people. I still consider that USA is a great nation in many ways, but there are so many other aspects that need to be reconsidered about the way the nation is run. It is clear that social values need to be revisited especially in a country where school shootings seem to be more and more common all the time.

Watch out, Canada. Your reputation is at stake March 15, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Canada, Environmentalism, Politics, Seal Hunting.
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Canada, the “nice” peaceful country, liked by most, famous for its “peace” keeping missions all over the world, is risking this reputation of being a nice and peaceful nation due to the very permissive laws on seal hunting. Since last year, the entire world seems to be trying to persuade the Canadian government to set tougher laws on seal hunting, and nowadays, when ecology and the environment seem to be a hot topic in the world, that would make a lot of sense.

However, the Canadian government seems to continue allowing for the hunt of high numbers of harp seals. The main argument is that this activity represents the means of living for many inhabitants of Northeastern Canada including some Inuit groups. It seems obvious that this argument lacks any kind of ground, as it can be compared to arguing that growing coca should be legalized in Andean countries as this represents the most profitable means of living for peasants there. If developing countries like Colombia or Bolivia must find ways to stop this illegal activity, and replace this activity with other economic activities for those peasants, you’d expect that Canada, with one of the most highly developed economies in the world would be able to find alternate ways of survival for people who currently kill seals for profit.

European countries are currently considering banning all kinds of trading of seal skin. This can’t come soon enough; as a matter of fact, if should have already been banned. I mean, what do humans really need to use seal skin for? -Nothing that we won’t survive without. Trading seal skin should be banned, and that way withdraw the main reason people have to massacre innocent seals in many countries, but especially in Canada.

The world is asking for some action, and if Canada does set tough laws against seal hunting, its reputation in the world will be terribly affected. A country that is famous for its strong and liberal democracy, a country that represents one of the best places to live in the world, a country that takes pride on its peacemaking missions should act in favor of the earth and the environment, not in favor of the greed of some of its citizens. (more…)

Joseph Blatter’s words do harm March 1, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, News and politics, Soccer.
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If FIFA’s purpose is to make to world a better place to live in, its president’s declarations regarding the assignment of the host country for the 2014 World Cup don’t help much.

Colombia is a country that has suffered through a lot of violence and injustice in the last 50 years, and recently it seems like the country has seen much improvement, as far as security and economic development, it could be said it is the best the country has been in the last 20 years. Last year, Colombia’s president decided to bid to be host of the 2014 World Cup, competing with Brazil for it since it has been said that hosting the Wordl Cup that year corresponds to a South American country. Even though it does seem like Brazil would be a much stronger candidate for several reasons, only the idea of making the try to compete for it should be supported by FIFA authorities. The government of Colombia is serious that it will make the biggest effort possible to make Colombia a strong candidate, and has been working for it.

Yesterday, in a series of declarations regarding future world cup assignments, Joseph Blatter, FIFA president, put a big road block to Colombia’s bid. In his declarations, Blatter said that Colombia’s bid is “mora a public relations presentation” to hide Colombia’s real problems, and make Colombia appear on international headlines for things other than violence in the country. Now, I wonder if Blatter knows the extent of his words. I mean, even if this was real, even if the real possibility of Colombia hosting the biggest sporting event in the world is very remote, Blatter should at least support the effort that the country is making, focus more on Colombia’s real improvements, and see what kind of a candidate Colombia can make.

Instead of this, Blatter went even further saying that if Brazil and Colombia don’t make strong candidates, then “we would go north instead as the logical thing”, like if going North was the logical thing these days, especially when there is so much inequality in the world; countries from the “South” need more support instead of disregarding words like those. Furthermore, on top of this, Mr. FIFA president decided to open the possibility for yet another World Cup in the US for 2018. No that I have anything against the US, (actually I do have a few things against some of their actions and policies), but the US is not even a country where soccer is that relevant. Maybe Joseph liked too much all the money that was made there in 1994, and would like to repeat the feat.

It looks like Blatter got up with his Corporate, big-marketing, money-making instinct yesterday morning. His words do more harm than perhaps he realizes, and go against what FIFA proclaims, which is helping to create “Fair Play”, and equality in the world. C’mon, Sepp, if you can’t say anything to help for justice in the world, at least let countries work for it, and keep your mouth shut.

Laker Losing Streak February 22, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Basketball, NBA, Sports.
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I know there are several events going on around the world that are of significant importance to all of us who care. I know England has decided to start the troop withdrawal from Irak– whatever implication that may have for the war going on in there; I know Iran has once more decided to defy the UN, and ignore its policies and reocmendations; heck, even Britney spears has decided to shave her head, and go koo koo…; but what is on my mind the most right now is the Lakers’ loosing streak, which is jeopardizing their playoff run , and the worst part is that I don’t think I see any light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Prior to yesterday’s game against Portland I read a couple of articles on the web about how bad the Laker defense is, so during the game I actually paid attention to it, and the point was so proven. Portland, a below .500 team shoot an astonishing 60% on the Lakers. That has got to worry anybody. Seeing how this Albright, or Aldridge or whatever his name is guy made all kinds of mid-range shots, and the Lakers were not able to stop him, that is really worrying; seeing the Laker defense scramble every single time that Portland had the ball, that terrifies me.

Are there any potential solutions? Well, everyone’s been talking about getting Jason Kidd, which I think would be a great move as long as the Lakers do not trade Andrew Bynum, or Jordan Farmar to the Nets, even though Kidd is more known for his triplr-doubles that for having a solid defense, I am sure the guy has got to be better than Smush…. Some have been talking about getting Pippen and getting him to play the triangle offence that he knows by heart; however this does not solve the defensive problems much either. So, is there anything else that can be done? I honestly doubt it, and that makes me sick to my stomach. This season was supposed to be a great one, and the way it started looked really promising, but I don’t know what happened to the guys in the last few weeks.

The only thing that gives me a little bit of hope is to think of the fact that we do have Kobe Bryant in the team, and even though I’ve enjoyed seeing him sharing the ball, and creating plays for his teammates, I think that the only thing that may take us out of this hole is Kobe getting back to playing the way he did last year. I know a lot of people got to dislike him because of that, which seemed selfish but with the ways things are around the Lakers these days, it seems like this is the only way out if this one, and everybody knows that if there is anybody who can single-handedly bring a team back into winning ways, that is Kobe. Now that Kobe got his All-star game MVP, I think it would be great for him and for the Lakers if he tried to take over games a little more, and bringing back the team into winning ways. Hey, maybe that will even get him the season MVP award!!!

The magic of coffee January 31, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Coffee, Colombia.
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A friend of Mine wrote this message to me this morning. I just found it really inspiring, and goes to show how simple things in life like a coffee break can be so meaningful…

This is the message:

hi david,

I just wanted to say thanks for the coffee you gave me. i opened it up and made myself an espresso this afternoon, and WOW! it’s the best espresso i had in a long time. it’s is thick and dark, full body flavoured with a hint of a floral aroma…that is distinctly Juan Valdez, and as my mind races to place it, i am sent back to Colombia–reminding me of the time we went for coffee, remember at the really nice cafe, on the day we were in the city, perhaps on our way to the gold museum or to show me the Candelaria and i remember the drinks being really fancy, like in Canada, but nicer, served in a glass…do you remember that day? and so i kept tasting the espresso, savouring every sip, enjoying the memories it brought to mind, including the other time we had coffee under the canopy we tucked into when it started raining that one day we were out, and every sip had such an intense memory associated with it, and it was wonderful…so then i began to experiment, with a piece of chocolate to taste on the side, and i was immediately reminded of coffee breaks from far off places…europe, south america, rich and luxurious…but nowhere near winnipeg, except for my kitchen, now! and then i added milk and made a latte…and i am jsut enjoying that now, reminded of breakfasts in spain, on a patio with a tostada con tomate….well, hopefully you enjoyed this little coffee break i sent you…thanks again for the coffee, i know it’s a real simple thing, but i really appreciate it.