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No Polar bears near Winnipeg! July 28, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Life in general, Winnipeg.
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In response to Al’s comment, who asked whether I’ve seen the Polar Bears that live near Winnipeg, I decided to write this blog, as I find it interesting how so many people south of the border, and even some in Canada have a bit of a misconception about Winnipeg. I don’t blame anyone from believing that there are Polar bears here, though as winters in here do get pretty damn cold. However, the Polar Bears don’t come this far down. The Polar Bears are in Churchill, which is a city way up north in this same province, by the Hudson Bay. You can’t drive there, you have to fly, or take a 38-hour train to get there. Perhaps Al and some others have read about that, and believe Churchill is near by Winnipeg, but it actually is pretty far away.

So, thanks for your comment, Al. I’d like to see those Polar bears some time too, but it seems like it is not much easier for me to get there than it is for you (I don’t actually know where you live). Hopefully some day you’ll make it there, and if you get there before I do, let me know how it is. Meanwhile I will keep enduring these harsh winters, and unbearable super hot summers (-40 degrees Celsius, to +40 Celsius)….

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What a trip! July 27, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Books, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Literature.
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One Hundred Years of Solitude is by far the best book I’ve ever read.

cien.jpg I must write a few lines on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece. I just finished reading it, and I still feel like my mind is somewhere else, trying to come back from all the magic, and all the challenges that this book made me feel.

I am not going to pretend I am a literature critic, so I am not going to present a full critique of this Novel, which does not need it anyway as I am sure almost everybody knows of its quality. The narrative is amazing; the way in which Garcia Marquez describes events is so unique, and so magic… The reader becomes familiar with the characters in the story, like if they were part of one’s own life, and as if all the magic events that occur, were actually feasible in this world..

It is hard to describe the emotions that it made me feel. I laughed like if I was mad; I also cried, I felt pain… This story takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions that is very hard to experience anywhere else. Never before had a book taken me to where this one has. Especially, as a Colombian I could feel it, like if it was my own story right there. This book represents so much of the country’s own history. There is more realism in this book than most may think. Believe it or not, the events that surround this story actually represent Colombia’s history in the early and mid-twentieth century. Such is the sad, and funny reality of that country, –which you can say is as magic as Macondo–, and this makes you understand Garcia Marquez’s words during his Nobel price speech, when he said that he felt entitled to believe in “A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others even how they die, where love will be true, and happiness will be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second chance on earth“.

I had wanted to read this book for several years as I grew up hearing everybody talk about it. From Colombia, to North America, even in Japan someone talked to me about Garcia Marquez’s work. For one reason or another I hadn’t been able to get to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I finally did, and now I really understand the reason why Gabriel Garcia Marquez is admired by so many people around the world.

Israel throughout history: Martyrs, or Agressors? July 25, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
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I was just thinking today that it is evident that Israel has had problems with all their neighbors, namely Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon… When you are the one that is in problems with everybody else, you can only wonder if you are the one who has problems.

With this I don’t want to imply anything about Israel, as I really don’t think I can understand much of the situation there, and even at times I tend to take part with them, but from looking at the facts, and the territorial problems seen with all of Israel’s neighbors, I was thinking that Israel is either a nation that has suffered the harshest injustices to keep their land, or they are an aggressor who always want to take what belongs to somebody else.

I know the situation is more complicated than that, and you can’t just easily decide what belongs to whom, because in reality, the location of this territory makes it the land that many ethnic and religious groups claim, Christians included. You can only hope that in some way, all parts involved will find a way to “share” the land, and forget past aggressions. I know it is hard, but hoping for this is all the majority of humans can do right now.

Understanding Zidane July 24, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Life in general, Soccer, World Cup 2006.
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Something happened to me last weekend that made me that made me understand a bit more what Zidane did at the world cup final. This may be obvious, but when somebody is talking too much, and you want them to stop doing it, and they make you loose your cool with their words, violence comes, as you think it is the only way to bring things to an end.

What happened to me last weekend was similar to Zidane’s case in that there was this guy who was drunk and annoying, and he started harassing my girlfriend friend, and obviously that got me upset, so I went to him and told him to stop it, but they guy only got more annoying, and started saying insults, and all that. It doesn’t really matter what this guy said, but when he got so annoying, I totally lost my cool, and jsut wanted to beat the “#$%*&%” out of him. I hit him on the face a couple of times, broke a camera he was using to annoy people, and threw his sunglasses on the floor… The guy never did anything other than saying annoying things, I don’t know if it was because he was so drunk, or because he is just such a wimp. After that, the security people separated us, and I went back to my table, but the guy still would not shut up, so I got up, confronted him again, and told him to go outside with me to resolve any problem that he had…. The security guys of the place saw me confronting him for the second time, and even though I hadn’t been the initiator, and I was the sober one, they kicked me out of the place….

Making the connection to the Zidane case, you can say that he probably didn’t initiate things (who knows)…. But the thing is that as a human you can really loose control of yourself when others are too annoying, and maybe Zidane did get hurt if the words were insults to members of his family. This doesn’t justify anything, as Zidane should have kept his cool, just like I should have as well on my incident, but personally I think I understand a little bit what was going through Zidane’s head when he head butted Materazzi.

It is irrational to try to stop violence by creating a war July 20, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics.
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Israel’s disproportionate use of force will only bring more violence to the Middle East.

Israel has its own right to defend itself. That is what the majority of the western world thinks when it comes down to the situation in the Middle East in the last week. Fine, this may be true. The question that I have is whether it is a good idea to bring violence to an end when all you are creating is more violence. Do Israelis really think that bombing Lebanon will make Hezbollah, a terrorist group, want to stop their terrorist acts? I think Israel’s actions are just feeding Hezbollah’s hunger, and are just making Lebanese people get on the side of Hezbollah, as they feel that the common enemy is the one that is destructing their territory, and killing their families.

The US ambassador to the UN has defended Israeli actions, as it is the only position that the US can take, since there is a big similarity between what is happening right now, and what the US did on Iraq. So, the obvious thing to do for the US is to get on the side of Israel, and say that there is a valid reason for Israel to do what they are doing. Quoting John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN: “As we’ve said repeatedly, what we seek is a long-term cessation of hostilities that is part of a comprehensive change in the region and a part of a real foundation for peace but, still, no one has explained how you conduct the cease-fire with a group of terrorists”.

After hearing this, all that comes to mind is a quote that I once read. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said it: “There is no road to peace, peace is the road”.

Shakira’s Oral fixation world tour July 19, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in pop culture, Shakira.
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It’s been a long time since Shakira went on a Colombian tour presenting her “Pies Descalzos” album.

shaki.jpgThe day for Shakira’s Toronto concert is quickly approaching and I am already building excitement as I’ve been waiting to see Shakira live for about 10 years now. It was in 1996 when I saw her for the first and only time. Back then she was a sentimental teenager who seemed to be starting her career, but already had like two previous rather unsuccessful albums. Back then I already liked a couple of songs of that singer who stood on the stage of “El Campin” stadium in Bogotá, and cried singing “Antologia”. I was way at the back of the stadium, and I could barely see Shakira’s tiny figure, but I still enjoyed her show, which wasn’t only hers. That day, Shakira shared the stage with Mexican band “Cafe Tacuba” and Argentinean singer “Miguel Mateos”. Seemingly, back then, Shakira was the “smallest” artist in the show, literally and figuratively, as the other two artists had a bigger trajectory in Latin American rock.

Today it is amazing to see Shakira showcasing her music all around the world, setting new records with her songs, and being a world wide figure, one of the most widely recognized artists in the world. I was surprised to hear that her last two concerts in Croatia and Romania were not as crowded as expected. Reportedly, in Croatia only 10000 people showed up at her concert, while in Timisoara, Romania, “only” 17000 people showed up, when they were expecting 40000. I am daring to speculate that this was caused by errors in the organization, where concerts weren’t planned with enough time necessary to put on a show if this magnitude, and perhaps there wasn’t enough publicity for them. Some say the cost of the tickets were a bit high. This is just my speculation, as with the fame and popularity that Shakira has , it is hard to believe that in those countries there aren’t more than 10000-17000 people who want to see her. Hopefully this doesn’t lower the energy, and the enthusiasm that Shakira and her band will have comes the time to tour around North America. I am expecting bigger concerts than there were in the previous “Mongoose” tour as I saw parts of it on her “Live and off the record” DVD, and it looked fantastic. I guess we’ll see, but to me, excitement is only getting bigger and bigger until the day when I see her live in Toronto 7 seat rows away from me.

Israel: Is so much violence necessary? July 14, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics.
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Ok, I am not an expert in the Israel-Arab situation, I know pretty much only what they say on the news. But after seeing all that’s happened this week, I can only say… Has it been too much already?

Granted, the Israeli soldiers are retained by Hezbollah, and maybe there are ties between this terrorist group and the Lebanese government. But, is all the violence displayed by Israel necessary? Fine, Israelis have their right to defend themselves, if their soldiers were kidnapped like they said. But enough is enough, and I don’t consider that anything justifies so much harm done to the Lebanese country.

Are there valid reasons to attack? I don’t know. I tend to think that perhaps there may be, but I honestly don’t know all the details, so I can’t take a real position here. Some people are saying that the kidnapping of the soldiers happened in order to pushe for an exchange for Lebanese prisoners being held by Israel. However, if the Lebanese government does protect the Hezbollah group, and there are ties of terrorism with Iran and Syria, then it seems like Israel perhaps would have a right to defend themselves. It doesn’t matter too much. All that I know is that the use of force has to be measured. Lebanon is a country that has suffered from too much violence, and injustice. Obviously those who are affected the most have always been the most innocent people, the children, the poor… Why does Israel want to keep destructing Lebanon in this way? It seems like there was a reconstruction process going on in the Lebanon, but now, it all has been destroyed again by the Israeli attacks. How is this justified? Please, Israel: measure your actions.

Crashed July 14, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Movies, Society.
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crashed.jpg

From the time of the Oscar awards, when the movie “Crash” started making some noise I had wanted to see it, but for some reason I just hadn’t been able to do it.

And yesterday I finally saw it. What a movie. It created a big impact on me. Crash shows reality as it is, with all the crudeness that it requires, It represents society’s behavior in any American city, it shows violence, racism, hatred, injustice…. the worst part is: This is exactly what is going on in our society today.

To me Crash is like a wake up call for its audience to realize the way things are, no matter what position in society you hold, this movie shows how things work, a reality seen by many, no matter whether you’ve been touched by it or not. (The fact is, chances are you have been touched by this reality).

Crash also demonstrates how hatred, resentment, and lack of tolerance are ruining our society. It is telling us “here, this is the world that we have, now, where are we going to end up if we continue in this way????”

I am not an expert in writing movie reviews, and I am not going to pretend to do it here, but I really liked this movie. As a movie, I found a big similarity to “Amores Perros“, that famous Mexican movie from 2001. I consider Crash was a great movie. It depressed me, I felt it. It put my feet on earth, it rang a bell showing me that in this world things are not the way we sometimes think, reminding me that we better start spreading love, otherwise we will destroy ourselves.

Montoya’s move to NASCAR: the end of a bumpy career, or the next stop to glory? July 12, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in car racing, Formula 1, NASCAR, Sports.
2 comments

I was very surprised, and perhaps sad to see Juan Pablo Montoya retire from F1 to go race in NASCAR. At first sight, the move looked like a downgrade for Montoya, and the end of his carreer. He is for sure the greatest South American Driver that has stepped on a race track after Ayrton Senna, and to see Montoya’s carreer end in that way looked to me quite sad. Then, the day after, when I found out that he wasn’t even going to finish the rest of this F1 season, seeing one of the people I admire the most (for what he’s done professionally, not for his personality), end in this way looked pretty ugly to me.

However, then, after analyzing what he is really doing, and the world’s reaction, I feel a lot of a relief, and realize that perhaps this is not a bad move at all. Thinking about it, Montoya’s good days in F1 are well behind. In the F1 world there was this constant tension against Montoya growing, nobody seemed to like his style, and good results stopped showing for him. Inexplicably, Montoya was not that good feared racer anymore, and he was looked more like a driver that had a big chance of crashing out of a race, period.

So, I am sure that the offers he says he got to stay in F1 were not the greatest, and his chances to fight for a world championship in the future got down to next to none. Viewing things in this way, I see that Montoya made a not-too-bad decision in moving to another really great series like NASCAR, which is so different to F1, that it can’t even be compared, or say whether it is better or “worse” than the world championship. Montoya’s words in saying that he is going for a new challenge seem very real. That is exactly what he is looking for, another way to show his greatness; and what an opportunity. If Montoya does well in NASCAR, he will go into history as one of the greatest drivers ever, being able to succeed at every single series that he’s raced, no matter how different they are. I am excited to see this happen, something that has never been seen.

Now, when you look at the reaction of the people here in North America, the relief is bigger as, unlike in Europe, Montoya still has a very good reputation, and his move is seen as an honor to those in the NASCAR world, and very few people doubt that he will be a great race contender in the Nextel Cup. It is great to see this. Many in Europe may believe that NASCAR is a series that fit Montoya very well. After all, those ‘fat’ cars fit his style a lot better, and in general bumping tires, passing aggression, and drinking Budweiser in Martinsville instead of fine Champaign in Montecarlo, make NASCAR match Montoya a lot better than the glamorous finesse of F1. There might be some truth in this, but we still have to remember that Montoya was a F1 star as well, who fought for World Championships, and won several races.

So, I am ready to see Montoya in NASCAR, and be a witness of his trip to glory, in a cereal box styled car. I am sure Colombians will now all declare themselves experts in the NASCAR series, including myself. The good thing for me is that now instead of having to get up at 5:00AM to see Montoya race every other Sunday, I will be able to see him in the afternoon comfortably sitting on my couch almost every week, and hopefully someday I will be able to make it to one of Montoya’s NASCAR races, like I did when he raced Champ cars.

Good Ending to the world cup. July 10, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Soccer, Sports, World Cup 2006.
4 comments

I liked the final of the FIFA world cup. In the end, Italy prevailed, and that was my favorite team. As for the game itself, I think it was pretty good, although at times it seemed like Italy was giving up on he attack, and France seemed really dangerous. Especially Henry, who I thought was the best French player yesterday. Now, let Italians celebrate, they deserve it. Throughout the world cup this team grew on me after I didn’t even think they would make it past the group stage.

Now what is really interesting is the way in which Zidane decided to end his career. I mean, is this guy out of his mind, or what? How to explain his childish reaction? Zidane had the opportunity to retire in fashion, with the world at his feet, as a hero, but instead he chose to end his career as a jerk. I will never be able to understand how one of the “greatest” (or at least one of the most talented) players in history is able to loose his head like that and react in that way. Some say it is exhaustion, or all the pressure of the moment, etc. but still, I am sure he’s gone through similar situations before, so I don’t know how he could react like that in the most important game of his life. What Materazzi told Zidane is another thing that will remain as an enigma forever….

zidane-back.jpg
Now, how can a guy like this win the Golden Ball of the world cup? This time I really disagree with the result. Zidane did not deserve this, especially after what he did in the final.

Unfortunately, the media will talk about Zidane’s stupidity as much as about Italy’s victory, when it should be all about Italy and their well deserved fourth world cup. 

So, good for Italy, bad for Zidane, great for Football all over ther world, what a great World cup!!! Now, waht are we going to do now with no world cup soccer every day?….  I’ll miss the world cup