Tag: Columns 2016

  • Noticias desafiantes, buena actitud

    Con frecuencia en la vida, nos enfrentamos con noticias que nos presentan retos. Consideremos por ejemplo ir al doctor y que nos diagnostiquen con una enfermedad que ponga en riesgo nuestra vida. No hay salida, esta sería una noticia desafiante, que nos presenta un reto a vencer. Sin embargo, la forma como nos entendemos con estas noticias tendrá un impacto considerable sobre ponernos al reto que estamos enfrentando. Primero que nada, noten que me refiero en las noticias como desafiantes, no malas. El relato taoísta llamado “Veremos qué” se nos ocurre. En este relato, un anciano en una granja en China, se enfrenta una variedad de circunstancias las cuales podríamos apresurarnos a clasificar como buenas o malas. De hecho, su vecino comenta en cada uno de los sucesos teniendo un impacto en el anciano. El vecino dice que es favorable o desfavorable. El anciano, sin embargo, reacciona a las circunstancias diciendo, “Quizás sea bueno, quizás sea malo, ya veremos. "

  • Language Preference in Childhood

    Learning a language involves selection and de-skilling. We think that we are teaching our children to speak when we repeat phrases to them slowly, when we withhold a prized object until they articulate the right word, when we prompt them to repeat courtesy formulas such as “Thank you.” In a sense, of course, this is true. Nonetheless, when you consider that babies are born with the ability to produce all the sounds that occur in all the human languages, we are actually de-skilling them: teaching them to pay attention to some sounds and ignore others. By the time they are seven, these children will begin to lose this linguistic aptitude altogether, and by the time they are 12, they will probably never get the pronunciation of a foreign language quite right.

  • Our Mind, Our Matter, a Poem

    Out there in the cosmos we think the answer lies. But the answer is inside of us, while we look onward to the sky. Self-examination is tough; it calls for a resilient soul. To strip away the myth of self and boldly catalog our show. No easy task that. It is gut wrenching work, from which we would prefer to shirk. Yet, it is the only way for us to grow. Traveling within the recesses of mind. The ins and outs, the twists and turns can leave us lost. Lost within ourselves as we dwell and delve into the abyss of our own foibles. The mind as haunted house. The mind as mystery. The mind as ultimate frontier. We need be astronauts of the cosmic terrain of our brains. We must sort and separate, organize and assess. And, we must do this at our own behest. Growth is rough stuff. Yet the task is easier when we have a passion to do better. To go through thick and foul weather. To discover our own goodness, the goodness we possess within.

  • October 8, International Galleon Day

    Try to imagine a heavily-sailed wooden ship, four decks high, carrying 100 cannons, and weighing 250 tons when fully loaded. That describes the “floating castles” that carried one-third of the silver produced in America to Manila, in the Philippine Islands, where it was exchanged for rich goods coming from as far away as India. These goods included silks and spices, gems, porcelain, inlaid chests and furniture, ivory items and painted screens. The galleon trade route constituted the longest voyage ever made without landfall, the longest commercial route in history, and the commercial route used for the longest time. A galleon on this route was often referred to as the “Nao de China,” owing to the origin of many of the products it carried. These exotic items could be re-sold for 3 times their value. The profits were great, but so was the danger. Particularly dangerous was the return route to America. The northern Pacific was so far uncharted, and five failed attempts to sail back to America had already been made. King Phillip II was interested both in evangelizing the Philippines and establishing a trade route which would avoid conflict with the Portuguese, who had already achieved a highly remunerative spice trade by their presence in the Moluccas Islands.

  • Suma y resta de energía

    Una simple pregunta que debe hacerse en el camino a la felicidad es: "¿Lo qué estoy haciendo me suma o me resta energía?" Al principio, esto puede parecer una pregunta extraña. Después de todo, todo lo que hacemos consume energía, ya sea tirar la basura, escribir un ensayo o salir a correr. Podríamos creer que si algo vale la pena hacer algo, vale la pena gastar energía en ello. Eso tiene sentido. Este concepto ofrece una imagen incompleta, sin embargo. Mire, la pregunta anterior es una especie de prueba de la pasión. Cuando hacemos algo que nos apasiona, tiende a enriquecernos dándonos energía de vuelta más de lo que invertimos en hacerlo.

  • Applying the Cosmovision of Nahuatl to the Problem of Textile Waste

    Throw-away clothing used to refer to special biodegradable garments. Not these days. I was just listening to a radio program highlighting the toxic effects of throw-away clothing, referring to clothing perceived as so cheap that there is no point in holding onto it. Going into the dumpster are left-over textiles, unpurchased marked-down garments, never-worn purchased clothing, and clothing deemed unfashionable after one season. From the dumpster, they are carted off to the ground fill—a big mistake, because synthetic materials are highly contaminating. The report referred to the US, but I believe that the cautionary message is equally applicable to Mexico. In Mexico, the market is flooded with clothing manufactured in India, Pakistan and China and other countries where, owing to sweatshop-wages, production has displaced more proximate traditional producers such as the Dominican Republic, and of course, Mexico itself.

  • Ode to Lanny Poffo

    Leaping Lanny you’re quite a guy You wrestle and write poetry My oh my It’s not the typical combination we see But you decided to let your mind be free You entertained us, as did your dear departed brother The Macho Man, there was no other Yet you’re still here to share your insight That as humans we needn’t just wrestle or fight And so thank you for joining with us my friend I know you’ll be a class act to the end

  • Frugality

    It is nice to be able to buy nice things. And in today’s society, it seems there is plenty to buy – far beyond the essentials of living. There are so many nice, shiny, appealing things marketed to us that we can feel as if we are in a perpetual state of wanting. Sometimes it is good to treat ourselves to something that is not essential to our lives. However, let’s focus on the word “sometimes.” By sometimes I mean once in a while. And by once in a while I mean once in a blue moon. And by once in a blue moon, I mean that you might buy some unneeded thing for yourself once every few months to once every few years – it could be more or less – depending on your financial circumstances and the cost of the item in question. By now, you get the picture. Treating ourselves only occasionally to unneeded things is called being frugal. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Being frugal means being financially disciplined. Being frugal means that if you buy a car, you buy a car that meets your needs, not a car that is way above your budget, putting you into debt, even though you could have purchased a good vehicle for far less money.

  • Gumdrop or Guiso?

    What is considered tasty in one culture may be regarded as disgusting in another. Further, perceptions differ regarding what is nourishing or toxic--or what is a vegetable, what a dessert ingredient. North of the border, squash is a vegetable; to the south, it’s dessert. Here is another example. In Mexico, piper auritum is a popular herb for cooking (guisando) whereas in the U.S. it is today virtually unknown. In the state of Veracruz, piper auritum is usually called acuyo, although in other parts of Mexico it is called hoja santa, Its aromatic leaves are very popular for flavoring fish, barbecued beef, and tamales. I have a neighbor who even puts it into the tamales that she makes with mole. It took me a while to identify this plant in the wild, although once I discovered it, I realized it grew everywhere. It is recognizable by its heart-shaped velvety leaves. Although it sometimes reaches heights of more than six feet, even a small plant will soon produce sufficiently large leaves for cooking and even wrapping tamal-style. After acquiring this basic knowledge of acuyo—which I had never tasted in central Mexico--I still had a couple of things to learn. One was that this herb is believed to have medicinal properties. One afternoon on the way to the Humanities School, I passed the lodgings of a student who was leaning on the red tile roof of his room with a leaf clapped against his cheek. When I asked him what the trouble was, he said that he had a toothache and was trying to calm it with some tlanepa. So that is how I learned the nahuatl name for the plant.

  • Not This Time

    Not this time. I was going to write a regular column today. I had chosen the topic. I was going to focus on how you can improve your personal economic circumstances even if the economy in general is not doing well. Like I said, not this time. Something occurred to me as I was getting ready to write that column. How many of us know we should do certain things yet do not do them? I suspect, to a greater or lesser extent, this includes most of us. That being the case, does it make sense to put out more and more information unless we attempt to focus on using that information to improve our lives? If, many times, we know what we should be doing but do not do it, perhaps the way to improve our lives is not necessarily cramming ourselves with more and more information, but, instead, attempting to utilize the good information we do have and focusing on putting it into practice.