Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank You Internet - Globalization 3.1

I had to come out of blogging retirement for this one. Michael Jordan came out of retirement a few times... Why can't I?

Seriously though - this post possesses the power to change your life, that's why I'm writing this. It's the secret! It's not really The Secret, and it sure as heck ain't the Landmark Forum, that's a different post altogether!

It's the empowerment of the individual (YOU!), more and more with every second and byte that flies by us. I'm referring to Globalization. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, by Thomas Friedman opened my eyes years ago, but it wasn't until recently that I realized how it has and will continue to shape my life.

Friedman presents social and economic globalization in three stages:

1.0 - Nations and Governments reach out and establish the trade of goods and form alliances.
2.0 - Companies expand in the creation of global markets.
3.0 - The "playing field" is leveled with increased access to technology, specifically the internet;
allowing individuals to compete in global markets.

This youtube video is an example of the power at your fingertips, literally. Anyone with access to the internet can sit-in during Friedman's presentation to a tuition paying crowd at Yale, the school where Friedman's kid studies.

"The book was better" applies here... You have to read the book! If you don't think you'll get around to it, just watch this.

This blog is another example of globalization. An average Jose like myself can become a pamphleteer by creating or sharing media in seconds. Quite the jump from being the ONLY student to submit typewritten assignments when "typed" assignments became mandatory. It's not the best example of globalization's life changing effects (read "lucrative") on an individual or business, it's only a tiny speck in the big picture.

Job seekers don't walk door to door filling out "applications" anymore. Job listing sites like allow you to fill out one application, distribute that to companies listing employment vacancies, then follow that up with an interview on Skype conference. Most impressively, you can accomplish this in one day. Job seekers can use fewer resources and apply to more companies while employers receive abundant responses to skim through. I've been on both sides of that one; having to bcc my resume to email lists I compiled for different positions like administrative assistant, bookkeeping, shipping management (you can make ok money if you learn to use UPS WorldShip and FedEx Shipping Manager, you gotta start somewhere!!!). When I needed my own assistant, I did the cheapest and easiest thing I could think of, which coincidentally was how I found a lower level position with the same company. I posted an ad on, my inbox was flooded overnight. (Off topic: Some people need more than 24 hours in a day, I understand that. I sometimes have to work until the wee hours of the morning, it's cool. Props is you have that type of work ethic, but you don't communicate with people at those hours. Sending your resume at 2:30 a.m. can make people think that you're either a vampire or a party animal. Neither of those are good choices for businesses operating during regular business hours.) You can apply this to other situations also, as noted by Andre 3000 in this song.
Do you remember waiting for a response in the MAIL???

How do you get off the bleachers?
I have no idea, that's for you to figure out. If you posses special skills that distiguish you from the "average Joses" of the world, you can promote yourself on the internet and offer your services or products worldwide. If you're bilingual, you can teach a language with skype and receive payment with Paypal. You can sell anything you make on sites like ebay or local listing pages. Soulja Boy Tell'em blew up on youtube, go on there and do something. If you think you're funny you can post skits or stand up routines on YouTube.

"Before you re-up get a laptop
start a business for yourself, boy set some goals
make a fat diamond out of dust and coals"
B.O.B. - Outkast

I can't help wondering what the next level of globalization will be, or it it will be the "D" word instead....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Movie Review - A Million to Juan (1994)

Paul Rodriguez - Juan Lopez
Tony Plana - Jorge
Bert Rosario - Alvaro
Polly Draper - Olivia Smith
Jonathan Hernandez - Alejandro Lopez
Edward James Olmos - The Angel (as himself?)
Cheech Marin - Shell Shock
Ruben Blades - The Bartender

Jurassic Park was my first movie theater experience, A Million to Juan was the second. Why start my movie review column (lol) with the second instead of the 1st? I'm glad you asked. This film ranks pretty high in my top 10. I recall being really excited about seeing A Million to Juan, mostly because I expected to understand the dialogue as it unfolded in front of my eyes. I can't pin point why, but my English improved dramatically between Jurassic Park and A Million to Juan. Jurassic Park was an amazing experience, but I didn't know what the heck they were talking about, even with the Spanish subtitles! Yeah, there were Spanish subtitles. It was a ghetto ass theater.

Google maps image - street view

We watched A Million to Juan at the campus theater, located on Vermont Ave. - at the Santa Monica Blvd intersection, across from the metro rail station. This is the theater that all the Latino families packed into with Subway sandwiches and soda bottles stashed into someone's purse, backpack or jacket sleeve. I've even taken a burrito from Mariela's (click here for restaurant review). If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about! Seconds into the movie previews, you hear sandwiches being unwrapped, bags of chips rustling, and the gas being released from the 2 liter bottles. Shortly after that, the dark theater is illuminated as the side door is opened to sneak people in. Again, you know what I'm talking about... The floors were stickier than those at adult theaters... I imagine... Despite all of that, I love this theater. It was air conditioned, cheap, and served as a haven when I wanted to run away for a few hours, or a day. This was THE THEATER for Latino families!

A Million to Juan is an adaptation of Mark Twain's "The Million Pound Bank Note," and 50's film titled the same; although released as "The Man With a Million," in the United States. The film is set in Los Angeles during the early 90's. Juan is portrayed by the legendary Latino comedian, Paul Rodriguez. Juan, like Henry in Twain's piece of literature, "Had nothing to depend on but his wits and clean reputation." He is confident that these traits would prove to be plenty in achieving eventual success.

"I was alone in the world, and had nothing to depend on but my wits and good reputation; but these were setting my feet in the road to eventual fortune, and I was content with that prospect."
Henry in The Million Pound Bank Note by Mark Twain

During the journey to success, Juan has to make ends meet by taking up odd jobs; shoe shiner, parking attendant, roach coach cook, panaderia baker, raspado vendor, dishwasher, tire shop man?, elote salesman, cook , construction worker, and street side orange vendor. His son Alejandro, quotes him as often saying funny things like, "I've never met an odd job that didn't like me" and "If variety is the spice of life, I'm over-seasoned!"

Juan and his son live with Tio Jorge, a carpenter and Tio Alvaro, a gardener. Both of the uncles are novela (Spanish Soap Operas) fanatics. I'm not a fanatic, but if you're latino, you know you've seen at least one novela in your life! Don't be ashamed, it's ok. I've seen Marimar, Dos Mujeres un Camino and a few others I can't remember now. Alejandro's mother died three years before the film began, she's out of the picture.

Juan is discouraged by a streak of bad luck with his streetside orange sales, relationship, and uninhabitable apartment. Adding insult to injury, Shell Shock (Cheech Marin), takes over his spot on the sidewalk with a "war vet" begging gimmick. Shell Shock's presence takes away from his already measly sales. Juan's integrity shines as he questions Shell Shock about his morals. Later that day, a white limo pulls up and arm dressed in all white stretches out of the window to hand Juan an envelope. He pays no mind to it and stuffs it in his pocket. Despite all of the terrible luck Juan continues to plug away with the orange sales until his shopping cart is empty. On his way home he's approached by the neighborhood hustler and proudly announces that he "Made some Feria!!!" I know that very feeling. I remember announcing to myself "Rent is paid!" and then preparing to eat cereal and mac and cheese until my next pay check. lol...

Juan finally realizes that the envelope that was handed to him contains a check for $1,000,000 to his name and a letter stating that he is the unexpected participant in an experiment.

The film winds to a feel good ending that is more cohesive than Twain's, in my opinion. Check it out!

This film deserves a 5 of 5 Baleada score despite the poor sound and lighting. It's not that type of critique (obviously since it is rated on a Baleada scale), it is a "5 Baleada film" because of the overall message of adherence to integrity and perseverance despite all of life's little hurdles. This film is special to me for many reasons; it led me to research and read Twain at an early age, it reinforced my personal beliefs, and it opened my eyes to what it means to be an "immigrant" in the US. The day I saw this film, I knew I had to get on the grind!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Common Sight and Sounds in Honduras - Funny Signs IV

Not even if I was a 200 Lbs rabbit! (Please read the following in your beast Tracy Morgan impersonation) That's Crazy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Best Raspados in Los Angeles

This is the BEST, I mean ABSOLUTELY THE BEST, raspado vendor in Los Angeles. My favorite flavors, Tamarindo and Nance, are served with pulp and even the seeds. Handmade Tamarindo syrup and pulp over ice shavings, there is no better way to overcome the L.A. summer heat.

Back in the day, I used to take him the fast food souvenir cups; the ones they give away when super duper sizing your combo, to fill for $1!!! I know he hated that, but he filled it anyway.

This is the google maps print screen of 2nd / Mariposa. It's very fitting that he's on Google, because that's the spot he's posted up at most often. The google maps image is pretty darn close to the view out of the window in my mom's apartment. I think I was his best customer for a few years. Him posting up there definitely helped that cause.

Selling a raspado to a Virgil Middle School student, obvious by the grey and maroon uniform... Thank goodness for me going to Emerson MS instead, that's and ugly combination!

Needless to say, this post also receives the "You know you live in the ghetto when..."

Common Sights and Sounds in Honduras - Funny Signs II

I wish I knew a nice girl to introduce to this guy...

This picture was taken at a Roatan supermarket bulletin board. Thanks Sara!

I am en elderly, single, (Gringo)
Seeking single Honduran woman
Must be between the ages of 25 - 45
Goal: Eventual marriage
preferably bilingual
Must NOT have dependent kids living on you that
Must meet once, no strings attached
If an automobile is necessary for private transportation, DON'T CALL ME!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baleadas Express - San Pedro Sula

In the words of one of my Sampedrano friends, "Baleadas Express is the Holy Grail of Baleadas." They are delicious baleadas, far better than most I've had, but it's far too early in my journey to bestow such a tittle on a Baleada place. I suspect that my quest for the best Baleada in Honduras is as far from being completed as man's exploration of the world's oceans. Again, these Baleadas are REALLY good, the horchata too!

They're so good, I dragged my luggage into this place on my way out of SPS. Another good friend, Sampedrana and spouse to the aforementioned Sampedrano, asked where I would like to be dropped off. "The Baleadas Express," was my response. I think she got a kick out of it, but I had to do it.

My apologies for failing to present more pictures. I was in a hurry and didn't want to lose sight of my luggage.

Baleadas Express gets a 5 out of 5 Baleada rating for consistency, quality, and variety. I also like that this is a Honduran franchise, bonus points.

Common Sights and Sounds in Honduras - Funny Signs III

Monday, April 26, 2010

Discover Honduras!

Discover Honduras!

This is a fantastic video about the marvels Honduras has to offer tourists. Check it out!

Common Sights and Sounds in Honduras: Funny Signs I

"Night of Daring [provocative] games
Come and have fun with our staff of daring [provocative] guys and girls

Crazy Tequila Minute 1.00 Lempira[per shot]
If it's your birthday, our staff will [help you] celebrate it"

El Progreso

Sunday, April 25, 2010

D & D Brewery - Lago de Yojoa

D&D Brewery is one of the main attractions at Lago de Yojoa. Honduras' only (I think) micro brewery / hostel. This is the place most backpackers gravitate to because it's listed on travel books. I didn't get many pictures because I was busy having fun!

I only have two observations to make about this place. 1.) The beer is excellent and 2.) I was very pleased (and surprised) by the staff and their service. The difference between good beer and mediocre beer is obvious to even a novice beer drinker. The quality of beer didn't surprise me, I had already been made aware by 90% of backpackers traveling north through the hostel I managed in La Ceiba. The latter though, that was a shocker. I did not expect the owner and assistant to be as attentive and engaging as they were. I also don't expect to be handed a drink while I shop at Diunsa, or a shoulder massage after a haircut, (not anymore anyways) but it's nice to know that your patronage is appreciated.

Excellent customer service will increase repeat customers, it also allows you to gain insight from the customer's perspective. More importantly, the quality of service is a decisive factor in the Returning Catracho Report 5 baleada rating.

D&D Brewery: 5 out of 5 Baleadas

Blueberry soda, their dark brew (pictured twice) , and the pale

Pale and Dark

Thick onion rings

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Common Sights and Sounds in Honduras: The Orange Peeler

I don't know who invented this orange peeler or when, but these are used everywhere in Honduras. Most commonly, you can find these at every mercado. I do know that they are manufactured in China.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Power Chicken Ribs

As is the case with Estelina's Buffet, a visit to San Pedro Sula is not complete without gorging at Power Chicken. Power Chicken is famous for ribs, their own hot sauce, and obviously chicken. The sides are delicious enough to compete for attention.

My indecisiveness at restaurants always leaves me to frantically skim the menu for a fourth or fif' time as everyone else orders. That was not the case at Power Chicken. The moment someone mentioned "ribs," I knew what I would have on my first visit. When asked what I would be having, I proudly announced, "Las Costillas."

I accompanied my ribs with fried yucca, or cassava. After receiving my meal, I happily began to walk towards our table (no waitress service). One of my friends stopped me in my tracks and redirected my eager trajectory to the sauces. Power Chicken also boasts a flurry of sauces to compliment your meal. The indecisiveness hit me like a locomotive.

I finally chose the chimichurri and a lightly pickled combination of tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro. Both toppings where spectacular. The yucca was deep fried to perfection... Yucca is like green plantains, I can't explain them as being amazing, but this yucca was the bomb! I was pleased with all of those decisions. Then, the ribs... I was shocked after the first bite. I expected barbeque ribs, but they were Terayaki ribs. They were amazing! Almost all meat, very little fat. Could this be a beef rib?

On the RCR scale, this place gets a 5 out of 5 Baleada rating for it's variety, service and quality.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taxi! Part 2

If you enjoyed the first taxi post, Taxi! Por Afuera, then you'll enjoy the following set of pictures from Roatan taxis. I've captured some images of the lighting, decorations, mascots, and car freshener cocktails.

Taxi! - Por Afuera

It's been a long time... I shouldn't have left you...

My apologies to all five readers for the delayed post. I've been busy with some "projects..."

If you've had to rely on the colectivo taxis in Roatan, you know what I mean by "Por afuera" or "Por fuera." Wikipedia defines what a colectivo is well, but the concept is less organized in Roatan because it's an island with one highway connecting the four or five major areas.

When commuting to and from work, I only use a pair of guys I like, this also reduces my risk of death by head on collision. I can't always use them because they're rarely near my home when I call. If I don't want to wait, which I usually don't, I go out to the "pavimentada" and hail a cab. Sometimes after boarding, I regret not having the patience to wait for Gio or Manzanares, my two preferred drivers.

If you haven't been on a colectivo in Rotan, or speak Spanish. "Por afuera" means "from outside". As in, open the door from outside because the handle either doesn't work or doesn't exist inside.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Estelina's Buffet - Mercado Guamilitio, San Pedro Sula

I've read and heard people say "ir a San Pedro Sula y no comer donde Estelina es como no haber ido." (Visiting San Pedro Sula and not eating at Estelina's is like not having gone [to San Pedro]). I felt the same way before having heard or read that. It wasn't until a few minutes ago that I realized how iconic this establishment really is. Located in the landmark marketplace "Mercado Guamilito," it's an icon within and icon. This is also the home of the "World's Larget Baleada," I don't think that's a Guiness World Record, but nice bragging rights in Honduras.

(Read more about "Mercado Guamilito" here)

Estelina and her Baleadas are also considered the driving force behind the recent transformation of the "food court" area in Mercado Guamilito. The area currently being used for tortilla makers and food stands was previously used for produce stands. When Estelina began selling baleadas, in addition to produce, the demand for an area dedicated to food sales grew and it became what it is now. The tortilla area provides many restaurants and homes with fresh handmade tortillas.

I became a fan because of the excellent service, clean dining area, good food, big portions, reasonable prices and the overall presentation of the product.

The girls at Estelina's always greet you with a smile! OK, they didn't smile for the picture, but they are really nice and polite.

The dining area always surprises me. It's clean, well light, and nicely decorated, not what you expect to find at a "mercado".

Four varieties of scrambled eggs, beans (refried and "parados"), casamiento (rice and beans), pancakes, pastelitos.

No need for "in between" snacks with these portions.

If you only eat here once, you must have the Baleada there. The tortillas are perfectly made, not too thick so it opaques the taste of the contents and not too thin so the contents tear through.

In conclusion, Estelina's Buffet is a great place for good typical Honduran food. This alone should serve as a reason to visit the historic Guamilito market. Beyond the food, Estelina's is a great story. A humble produce vendor finding a niche with baleadas and developing that niche into a San Pedro Sula staple. This business has adopted excellent business practices seldom found in other Honduran businesses: friendly service, a variety of good quality products, efficiency (notice the stools that allow more customers to sit and dine), and great staff training, evident with up selling, greetings, politeness and willingness to accommodate your needs. The other thing that really jumps out to me is the fact that they have developed a "brand" complete with a logo, portraying the real Estelina, and cups rocking the logo and name. I hope other businesses in Honduras follow this example.

My rating: 5 out of 5 baleadas.
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