Archive for January, 2009
A couple of weeks ago when F & I went to Guanajuato, we were walking to the Presa when we bumped into none other than Cascarabbias! Coincidentally, we had just come down from Espina (Spine Street which takes you all the way up the rim of the teacup that is Guanajuato) to see if we could get a glimpse of Casca. But he wasn’t there. He was on a walk.
When he passed by us on the sidewalk, we turned back and followed a little bit working up our nerve to talk to his owner. After stalking Casca for so long, we felt as though we were meeting a celebrity. Turns out Casca’s name is Chavo and he’s two years old. As much as I wanted to pet him and kiss him on the top of his head, I figured he could take my face off in one bite and I didn’t want to risk it.
Click on the image to visit the new website.
After meeting with Cindy in Merida a month ago, we decided the Proyecto Itzaes website needed some freshening up and quite possibly a makeover. Today’s web is much different than it was just a few years ago. Not only does a website have to be intuitive to navigate and friendly to use, it needs to be social.
So I began looking around at templates that took advantage of social technologies and I found one. I appreciated how a blog, tweets, and a flickr photostream were featured on the homepage. It meant that someone would have to tend to and take care of this website to keep it alive. The concept of a living website is just as important as a social one. In fact, the two might very well go hand-in-hand.
So Cindy bought the template and I began migrating content from the current website to the new one. I also contacted the template designer for a little bit of help that was beyond my skill. Turns out: a lot of help. After completing the website in Dreamweaver, I learned that to take advantage of some of the features, like rotating Flickr photostream images and pulling new testimonials out of a database for every refresh, I need to redo the site in WordPress. This was an entirely new concept for me and so I asked Milan, the template designer, for help.
Working with Milan taught me even more than constructing the website did. Through his patience and kindness, I learned a lot about remotely serving customers. We “met” in google chat almost daily where he would hand-hold me through numerous learning moments: how to install plug-ins, how to change headers from a post (so different than Dreamweaver!), how to create a widget, reminding me to follow Standards, and soooo much more. There’s a seven hour difference between San Miguel and Belgrade, Serbia, where Milan lives. Even though he worked very late sometimes, he never lost his enthusiasm, his kindness, and his can-do attitude. We’ve decided his slogan should be “no problem.”
If I do go back to librarianship, I’ll want to use chat much more than in the past. I’ve learned first-hand how empowering it can be. Students need help the most when they’re putting their papers together, not when their instructor brings them in for a one-shot 50-minute blaze through the databases. I’m grateful to have had such a fantastic mentor for remote attitude. Milan really made this project come together for me while fueling my own enthusiasm. Sometimes, all you need is a little hand-hold to succeed; you need it in the moment and where you are. If a Serbian designer can graciously help a librarian in Mexico put together a website, teaching her along the way, I’m pretty sure this librarian can do the same for any student.
Foxi Lady vs La Gangrena by Roberto Gasca Martinez was easily my favorite at one of the museums we went to on Sunday (I didn’t use flash and it was ok to photograph). Besides being muy Mexicana, I love the colors and the texture. I imagine Roberto spent an entire afternoon photographing Foxi and Gangrena in various positions and degrees of undress. Then he took two days sorting out the photographs, setting his favorites apart. Finally, he selected one and painted it, executing it faithfully and beautifully and then faithfully again. Foxi asked him to not include her unsightly birthmark located on her inner arm. Martinez should have received at least an Honorable Mention for this one. ¿Cómo que no?
I spent most of yesterday strolling from park to park in Querétaro, admiring the city’s sculptures, and crossing the street to walk on the shady side. There was sun everywhere. Ice cream cones and water fountains, everywhere. By late afternoon, F & I were close to falling asleep on one of the park benches, lulled by the sounds of water, children playing, and the rhythm of Spanish language. Leaning back on the bench, I cracked my eyes open and admired the late January lighting as it filled in cracks and illuminated a girl’s yellow dress.
When I heard the White House was starting a blog, I added the feed to my Google Reader. I received my first three posts this morning, including the President’s first Weekly Address. I have to say it’s so nice to be able to follow along this way. Last year, all my information feeds came from multiple print journals and magazines at the library and television news. Now I keep in touch with what’s going on via select podcasts and blogs fed into my Google Reader. News seems fresher this way.
And I have to say: Watching Obama is so much easier, a delight even, than GWB.
67 seconds of fun.
Little white dog: moves like a butterfly in her designer doggie gown.
Tito couldn’t stop watching the news coverage yesterday. The swearing-in, the inaugural address, the parade, and the parties. He marveled at technology, how he could watch from his laptop and share the moment with millions of viewers texting in via Facebook about everything from the First Lady’s choice of gown to bye-bye Dubya. Their enthusiasm added to his own! He cried watching the first dance at the Neighborhood Ball as Beyonce sang and the Obamas danced. He wondered if the USA ever had a first couple so demonstratively in love with one another. He fell asleep thinking of the song, mouthing the words, the tune reverberating in his tiny chest, his heart wrapped in clover.
Fernando has President envy. Last night he asked if we could trade.
I watched the inauguration from my laptop. Right before Obama was sworn in, the websites I had bookmarked for streaming all went down. I’m not surprised. CNN, for instance, recorded 5.3 million live streams, a record for online video. I was able to catch-up near the end of his speech, and then watched the entire address later on NPR.
These words in particular inspired me. I want to hold on to them for the next four years, and longer.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
—Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
The 3rd annual Blessing of the Animals took place yesterday at the Oratorio Church. The event honors of San Antonio de Abad. There were dogs of all shapes and sizes, lots of birds, a few cats clinging to their owners, a baby lamb, and even squirrels transported in a cage. Lots of excitement, sniffing, barking, and baaing from a very vocal lamb. The priest said some words than sprinkled holy water on everyone. It was fun! I found myself wishing for a dog to bring. Maybe next year.
You can see some of the dogs and other animals in the video below.
There’s a lot of kissing in Guanajuato. I’m thinking of one sitting area in particular that has every bench filled with an amorous pair, sunk into each others arms, barely coming up for air every time I’m there. But suck-face in front of the fountain no longer! According to this article, the municipal authority of Guanajuato will incarcerate couples found kissing intensively in public places. The objective is to preserve public spaces as shared and civic. Small, brief kisses are still ok. It’s un beso de olimpiada or the “olympic” variety that will send you to jail.
Also newly prohibited is yelling güey, roughly translated as dude. You can get fined 560 pesos for that. I’m not sure how they’re going to enforce this new ordinance. “Güey” is just about every-other-word for many güeys. Even Beck uses it in Midnight Vultures.
A popular cafe located on one of the corners of the jardin.
This is a favorite corner of mine near Ambasadores in Guanajuato. As you turn the corner, there’s a bus stop. The park is over on the left and home to magnificent trees. On Sundays, Ambasadores is packed with food vendors selling a wide variety of treats. One of the ladies there makes the best deep fried enchiladas stuffed with carrots and potatoes then topped with lettuce and cheese. So, so good.
Last night, F and I were talking about unfortunate animal stories. I told him about a post I had read on the SMA listserv where a woman had been running through the park early Saturday morning and had witnessed a brutal dog attack. Apparently, two adolescent thugs let their pit bull loose on a lap dog being walked by an elderly Mexican gentleman. The two thugs smirked while the little dog was being torn apart and the older man, in hysterics, tried to stop the attack. When the little dog died, the pit bull went back to his owners while the older man picked up the bloody heap and walked away. He was inconsolable.
Fernando told me about Hilda the Elephant. Last September, the 40 year old elephant escaped from the circus and wandered around two neighborhoods before getting hit by a bus on the freeway. Why nobody could find a 400 ton animal in time to bring her to safety is beyond me.
Could this happen any other place besides Mexico?
F and I spent the weekend in Guanajuato with the madres. We went to deliver a significant amount of money that a family in Eugene donated to Buen Pastor in lieu of Christmas presents. It was an unexpected and gracious thing for them to do. When I handed Madre Lourdes the stack of bills, I thought she was going to cry. January is a hard month. More women and children are admitted to the shelter and foster-care. It’s more difficult than usual to pay the bills. This windfall will ensure an easy passage into Spring.
I love Guanajuato and the madres. Sometimes, I wish F and I could move into the convent and find a way to make a living there. Madre Lourdes has a new digital camera. We spent some time showing her how to use it. Her first photograph was one of a smiling F and I waiting for her to figure out how to take the picture. Madre Berta is getting over a bad cold. Madre Elvira’s back is killing her. After a bad fall, she lives in constant pain and the doctor she went to has been of no help. We’re hoping to find someone else for her that will offer relief. But as far as good health news goes: Madre Lourdes, Madre Angelita, and Madre Josephina are healthy and strong and revved up for the New Year.
We stayed until late Sunday afternoon. I was able to meet some of the mothers as they dropped off their daughters for the week. I’m still trying to fund raise for Buen Pastor and want to put together a little Animoto clip. So I took the opportunity to take a few photos. This is one of the girls arriving. I asked her to back out and re-enter a few times so that I could take a photo of her and Madre Berta. They were sweet about it, laughing the entire time.
Buen Pastor is such a special and amazing place.