May 12, 2012
Can You Hear Me Now?

May 12, 2012 Update: Paying prominent Mexican journalists millions in pesos to air positive reports and opinions is the latest accusation being slapped on Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) aka “EPN”. 

Gone are the days when candidates created an immaculate image by suppressing negative opinion. Internet access & social media are election game changers. 

According to headlines, even in American media, Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) is the winner of Mexico’s presidential election in July. Not so fast, said a group of university students. The candidate had a scheduled appearance at a prestigious university in Mexico City and he excitedly checked into the campaign stop via Foursquare on Twitter this morning. Before any main stream media could report on the happenings, the presumptive president was a Twitter “trending topic” … for all the wrong reasons. Video clips of Peña Nieto’s morning campaign stop were also posted on  ”Youtube”. Students greet the candidate with chants for him to leave. Some people in the crowd call him disgusting and an assassin, just to paraphrase a few of the choice phrases. The unruliness, interruptions and  tweets continue during the event inside the auditorium. 

The chants of disgust at politics unsual have been growing in Mexico. While recent accusations of  a fraudulent increase in some of the candidates’ social media networks didn’t seem to come as a shock (similar accusations were leveled against former Speaker of the House, Newt Gringrich), the last election straw may have been drawn at last week’s televised presidential debate. The buzz was so loud, on the micro blog Twitter, I had to tune in to the replay to see what it was all about. I never expected to see a Playboy model busting out of a white dress parading in front of Josefina Vásquez Mota (PAN) Mexico’s first female presidential candidate in history. I was so taken aback, I had to share one of the photos I took of the provocateur with my network of social media friends the next morning. The issues didn’t make headlines the next day … it was all about what I nicknamed, “Cleavagegate”.  

To his credit, the candidate posted a response to the university protest on Twitter saying in Spanish that, “…dialogue and debate were exercises that made democracy richer,” adding that he was “grateful” to the students. 

Peña Nieto was gracious, but that was not the case with the head of his political party. In an interview, the head of the PRI Party called for university officials to launch an investigation into the students’ disrespectful behavior towards an invited guest. 

Students drowned out the message the candidate went to deliver, instead delivering one of their own. This phenomenon is not unique to Mexico, in fact, this same message has been reverberating on social media, sent out by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, who feel ignored, disenfranchised and voiceless. 

It sounds different in every region, tongue and tweet, but no matter where the echoes are coming from: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Russia or Mexico, the message is the same … it reminds me of a line made famous in the movie appropriately titled, ‘Network’, "I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!" 

April 21, 2012
Hog Heaven, U.S.A.

By now most of us are familiar with the names, faces and details of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) abuse of taxpayer dollars. While the lavish, swag-filled conferences and luxe travel by those paid to serve the people was not shocking, it was difficult not to feel anger and disgust during Tuesday’s House Oversight and Reform Committee Hearing. Just as disturbing was the amount of time it took to investigate and put a stop to the hogs on the loose. We understand federal investigations are a process but not putting those suspected of wrongdoing on leave immediately and on top of that still giving Jeff Neely, the main suspected hog, a $9,000 bonus after the fraud was brought to light is reprehensible. 

During the hearing, members of Congress took turns praising and reprimanding the head of the GSA, Martha Johnson, for her impressive career, lack of common sense and inaction. Johnson, hunched over and sounding gloomy, showed more courage than Neely who pleaded the fifth. She read off a list of accomplishments, and capped it off by saying she’d, “forever mourn” her government appointment. Just two months ago, Johnson read a similar list of credits, as well as explaining what the GSA does, at the University of Virginia’s School of Business.

She looked and sounded like a different person as she confidently told the group of students, “I’m not ready to talk legacy cause I’ve got five more years, wanna say that, very loud and clear.” 

It’s hard to believe that a person with Johnson’s experience and education wouldn’t be a little more savvy to this fraud. It’s not the first time a Pacific Rim Region 9 commissioner lives high off the government hog. In 2010, Daniel Voll, Region 9 deputy commissioner from 2005 to 2009 was found guilty of using his GSA assigned Citi Bank credit card to visit spas, restaurants and hotels to the piggy tune of tens of thousands of dollars. For his crimes, Voll  was sentenced to three months in prison, one year probation and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.

Members of the committee, more familiar with the evidence, described Neely and his wife as “GSA royalty” who used taxpayer’s money to finance their lavish lifestyles. Neely was also said to be a bully who threatened to “squash like a bug” anyone who questioned his authority to have his way with government funds. Like Johnson, Neely also looked like a shadow of his fun, travel guy, self. 

Whether it was remorse for his actions or the shame of being caught that brought out his “I’m sorry” face, is hard to tell, because he read the phrase, “Mr. Chairman on the advice of my council, I respectfully decline to answer, based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege,” over and over again in response to the committee chair, Daryll Issa’s (R-CA), line of simple questions. Neely even evoked the right when asked his position at the agency. 

Brian Miller, GSA chief investigator testified that one employee was so terrified of Neely retaliating against him/her, said employee chose to remain anonymous even though he/she is no longer employed with the agency.

Sadly this is probably only a kernel of corn in comparison to the billions in slop illegally gulped down by pigs, past and present, at the red-inked government trough.  

Miller’s description of the investigation shows the extent of the problem, “In turning over the proverbial stone, you find 50 more stones and you never know what’s going to crawl out from under them.” 

Well fellas, start turning! 

November 7, 2011
Life is amazingly odd …


Some are mourning, while others are celebrating births, some are excited about a new job, while others empty out their desks, some are winning a race, while others are being told they’ll never run again.

My conclusion: Laugh as hard as you can when something makes you happy. Hug and love with all of your might even if people think you’re ridiculous. Enjoy the fat meal … we all get our turn to cry. 

October 2, 2011
Love… & marriage

I can’t explain it. It was love at first sight when I saw my husband across the crowded, high school quad area. Heart-pounding and stopping, madly, deeply in love. All of the cheesy movie scenarios apply.

That was 21 years ago. 

I was told by family and friends the biggest mistake of my life would be marrying my high school sweetheart right out of high school. 

It’s been 18 years. 

Maybe they were right. 

But as I told them all of those years ago, “I LOVE HIM!”   

October 1, 2011
Angels… and friends

 

an·gel  noun /ˈānjəl/

1. A spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings and a long robe.

Do Angels exist?

This question has been asked since the existence of humans.

Ancient stories of beings of light bringing good news, warnings or hope exist. 

But do these Messengers of God exist? 

It depends who you ask and their definition. 

I believe in Angels. 

During difficult moments in my life, friends have reached out with messages of encouragement and kindness, restoring my hope. 

Friends fit my definition.

As for the picture above, I took it. It’s an Angel figure in my living room … I can’t explain the blue light. 

September 29, 2011
Dreams and Reality … Talent Shows

I don’t think there’s a shortage of singers or shows trying to find them. I do know that despite that fact, I watch talent reality shows. The reason I like shows like “American Idol”, “The Voice” and “The X Factor” is hope. Watching other’s dreams fulfilled makes me believe in mine again. 

September 26, 2011
You Say Hispanic, I Say Latino … Heritage Month

No matter what you call it, I’m glad there’s a month to celebrate Latino culture. 

I’m an American. I was born and raised in the “land of the free”. As teenagers, both of my parents (separately) migrated to the United States from Mexico, later met, married and began their American Dream. My father is one of the most patriotic Americans I know, (yes, he is a citizen and so is my mother) at the same time, he has always been proud of where he’s from and instilled this in us. 

My father is an award winning horse trainer, who learned his love of horses from his father and his father’s father. It runs deep in his blood. He didn’t always have the opportunity to pursue his dream and took jobs that had nothing to do with horses until he was able to work at a track cleaning up after them and worked his way up.

Until recently, I didn’t know that one of the jobs he took as a young man was picking roses. He told me it was difficult, in a matter a fact kind of way. I can only imagine the monotonous work of handling these thorny flowers all day, hunched over in the sun. 

Roses have always been my favorite flower because of their sweet, intoxicating fragrance and association with the Virgen de Guadalupe.  After hearing this story, the rose became a symbol of my roots, my family’s struggles and the beauty that comes with following your dreams at any cost. 

September 23, 2011
New Friendship w/FB … & Their Friends

F8 has become a Mark Zukerberg annual production that introduces things to come to his (our) beloved and addicting social media site “Facebook” (FB). Or as most Facebook junkies know it: OMG CHANGE!

Thursday’s Steve Jobs-like announcement was essentially Zukerberg walking out stage with a Bobby Brown “My Prerogative” mic   and showing us via big screen that our FB life can now be chronicled like a digital scrap-book and companies can use the cool kids to influence their friends for free … with your permission of course. 

The new scrap book feature is called a “Timeline”, or as Chris Cox (VP of Products) called it, a “blank canvas” for you to fill out, control and organize memories. This coming-soon feature was inspired by THE expert at doing year in reviews for companies Nicholas Felton, who thought to put his talent to work summarizing his own life. This feature is also meant to share more without spamming aka annoying your “friend’s” newsfeed. For now, “Timeline” will only be available for use for developers and will be slowly introduced to the masses in a few weeks. 

The corporate partnerships forged for the latest FB features will have a tremendous impact on what you share about: what you watch, do, listen to and even cook. Done through third-party applications or “apps” that you can add to FB, you can connect with products you use like “NetFlix”, “Hulu”, “Spotify” and watch movies, shows, songs, then the new “ticker” tells your friends what you’re watching and allows them to click on that and be able to watch too. While most apps will be available now, because of the Video Protection Act apps like Netflix that share information about video rentals are illegal in the United States and  will only be available in certain countries until a bill is passed. 

Another interesting feature, briefly mentioned above is the “ticker”. This is on FB now. The idea behind the ticker that looks like a “Twitter" feed is to allow all of the stories you and your friends post to be a lightweight stream of everything going on around you. You click on what you want to read and ignore what you don’t. In fact all of the new changes, says Zukerberg are meant to do just that: connect to anything you want, how you want, frictionless and in realtime. From reading FB comments, some are finding it annoying, some say it’s monitoring and reporting their EVERY move.  

Last year’s “algorithm” is this year’s “Graph Rink” that will know the difference between information you find the most interesting and want to see as soon as you open FB and what you only browse through once in a while and add it to the newsfeed, ticker and place it in order of importance to your life. Some people say this feels invasive and would rather think and clean out what they like or find important on their own. 

These changes will once again revolutionize the way we share and use social media through what Zukerberg called “Open Graph”. The shift is clear we will go from connecting to who we know socially to connecting to what we like and how we do things online and telling a friend.

Finally, this new social sharing is going to have a huge impact on companies, their services and products. If they want to be recommended in the age of “Like”, they’re going to have to rethink the way they think about their customers. With less people watching TV on TV and DVRing past commercials, they are going to have to rely more and more on social approval. 

One of Zukerberg’s last quotes says it all. 

"Let’s rethink some industries." 


September 11, 2011
Dear America

It is fitting that I write my first post on this day. September 11, 2001 transformed us in many ways. That dark event forced me to face a cruel truth. But as with many negatives, there was also a positive result, it gave me the courage to pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. 

The effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks can still be felt and seen 10 years later. I was nowhere near any of the targets that day. I watched on TV but I was there and was attacked, so was every American.

The stories of ordinary men and women turned heroes, all those years ago, still make me weep but the hundreds of firefighters that died that day, permanently scarred my heart. Men and women in the fire service have a special bond; they are brothers and sisters and their extended family members are a part of one giant family. My husband is a fire captain, back then a firefighter/paramedic. As the towers fell, we watched together and knew firefighters would be among the dead … our hearts sank.  

I’ve never shared these feelings with anyone.

 I was afraid, I thought the attacks would continue all over the country and my husband, a firefighter, would be killed too.

Firefighter’s wives don’t talk about this: In the back of my mind I know all the dangerous work scenarios that could take the life of my husband. Somewhere in my subconscious I live in fear of the dreaded phone call, the silent morning and have come to terms with the possibility of having to go on without him … this was different. And this new reality messed with my mind.

Ten years later, it’s another scenario tucked away in that place way in the back of my mind I don’t talk about. 

I honor every person who witnessed the attacks, every person who worked to provide information, every person injured, every person who helped heal & comfort, every person who prayed, every soul who died, the selfless coworkers, every person who dug without rest to find fellow countrymen, every loved one who mourns, every foreign friend who died, mourns with us, every soldier who died courageously in the wars that followed, the allies who joined our cause, the soldiers who are still at war & their families who worry & miss them, I honor every person who cleaned & continues to rebuild the sites that were attacked. I honor every firefighter who ran in, the courageous who fought terrorists on a plane to make sure nobody else suffered, the their families left behind and every American by never forgetting 9/11. 

I am proud to be an American~Kitty

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