“The Cloud” vs Mexican Corruption

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Digital economy is literally how we use the internet, globalization and connectivity to boost the exchange of goods and services worldwide. The gate to accomplish this came in the shape (or not really) of “The Cloud”. This imaginary universe where several online tools are available pretty much “on demand”, helps organizations to focus on their core business instead of investing on high cost IT infrastructure.

As my always reliable source says (aye, Wikipedia BRO!), The Cloud has its advantages: high-computing power, cheap cost of services, high performance, scalability, accessibility as well as availability. Therefore, it makes sense that governments shall use this to improve their finances, accounting services, budget planning, projects development and general management. Right?

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It makes sense, however, underdeveloped countries see The Cloud as “risky” and “unreliable” for matters that should (as they say) be managed under internal scrutiny. Arguing that confidential information shouldn’t be put on a “hackeable” platform, countries such as Mexico pretty much underline their biggest fears: transparency and accountability.

According to http://www.transparency.org/, Mexico is ranked 95 out of 168 countries in terms of Corruption Perception, where it scores 35/100 in its Corruption Index (Scores range from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean)). As well, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention claims that Mexico does very little to enforce or combat bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.

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Javier Duarte, still governor of Veracruz, allegedly committed fraud for MX 60 million in misappropriation of public funds

In terms of controlling corruption, Transparency International published that Mexico ranked bellow average (with a -0.35%, where point estimates range from about -2.5 to 2.5. Higher values correspond to better governance outcomes), meaning that the extent to which public power is exercise for private gain is high.

If Mexico were to adopt the trends that digital economy brings, the availability of public information, budget and infrastructure expenses (as well as public officials salaries and benefits) through The Cloud will clearly reduce Mexico’s perception of being a very corrupt country.

Don’t forget that other technologies such as Data Mining, Mobile Applications and Forensic Tools are helping the international community to fight corruption. To simplify this let me quote a paragraph from a fantastic article written by Lauren Silveira (Weforum, April 18th of 2016):

“Technology is being used to create transparency across organizations by increasing automation, accuracy and frequency across processes. International organizations are at the forefront of this revolution developing innovative software to detect and deter fraud and collusion. As identified by the United Nations, more accessible and better quality data will lead to improved policy decisions and greater accountability and several of their recent reports outline how the data revolution will be incorporated into sustainable development commitments.” – L Silveira 2016

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When The Economist published its article “The Mexican Morass” criticizing Peña Nieto’s administration, its high corruption levels and lack of accountability, they add this incredible statement: They don’t get that they don’t get it. Since then (January 2015), Peña Nieto has done nothing to move public budget, expenses and judicial information into open tools such as The Cloud or Big Data. The solution to fight corruption and federal fraud is right there. It seems that Peña’s resilience to move into that direction implies several conflicts of interests, frauds and lack of federal budget management.

Underdevelopment is a condition most countries experience not due to poor international competitiveness or unfair regional trade agreements, some countries struggle because of greedy and shortsighted leaders, and Mexico is an example of this.

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Charro Beans (Or Mexican Soup)

I was born and raised in the North of Mexico, Tampico is my hometown and I’ll will always cherish my childhood and youth spent there. However, right when I turned 19 I moved to Monterrey, Mexico. So from 10 good years I studied, lived, worked and ate grilled meat (“carnes asadas”) at the City of Mountains and hard working Mexicans.

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While there I learnt to cook “Frijoles Charros” or as I later called it in NZ “Mexican spicy bean soup”. So, don’t be shy, grab pen and paper and write down the following recipe for some kick ass spicy bean soup that will definitely be the final entrée at your home made BBQ this summer (or Fall… screw it, you know I went on holidays, so this is great for Winter too, ok? just be cool with it). Remember, this is not “Chilli”, this is a Mexican spicy bean soup, alright?

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Cannellini or Red Kidney beans in brine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 3 stripes of smoked bacon (the real deal, you know what I mean)
  • 1 piece of Spanish chorizo in squares
  • Red, yellow and green capsicums squared (1 each)
  • 1 bratwurst roughly sliced (I do prefer either Argentinian sausage or Polish burst)
  • Fresh cilantro (just a handful)
  • 1 smoked chipotle chilli
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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These are chipotles 

What to do? 

Use a large and deep pot, add the bacon and chorizo, stir around, let those juices cover the wall of the pot, add the onions, garlic and capsicums, stir-fry. Throw in the bratwurst (no pun intended), stir around again, oh yeah, that’s it, you know it. Finally, add the tomatoes, and after a couple minutes put in the beans, brine and all.

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Finally, put the chipotle and the cilantro in. The idea of using the whole chipotle, without chopping it or slicing it is because you don’t want to make this a hot soup, you just want the flavour of this smoked chilli, that’s it.

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Let all the ingredients mix in the pot, now pour in 3 cups of water, let it boil. Salt and pepper to taste.

This my friends, is a great confort food. You can even not put any extra water in it and it is a great side dish for a roast (like pork or lamb).

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In Mexico we can also just buy these and everybody will be ok with that. Kidding, we are not ok with this, go for the real deal

Ps. The year is almost over and we are soon to know who is going to become president of the USA. Aren’t we all excited? Not really, nor of the two options are great for my neighbours, but that shouldn’t be of my business, right? Now, if you excuse me, I have a wall to build.

 

Five Reasons Tinder isn’t for Me

Regardless of how easy we have it nowadays, with great technology, innovative products, and super fast internet connection, we are still (well, at least the Western civilization) prisoners of one concern: How to find true love out there.

(Bare in mind that I’m writing this post while listening to the “new” Adele’s Album, and you should be listening to it too while you read this)

I’ve been single for a while now, and still not ready to mingle if you ask me, but one thing I’ve noticed, I suck at  online dating. Even though I consider myself a decent catch, friends of mine have recommended me one “great” option to “not date” but to have some fun in the meantime: Tinder.

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So Tinder comes as the top of mind suggestion from these friends, and I hear things like “Well, try it for fun, what do you have to lose?”, “Just for the giggles, maybe the one is right there, just a swipe right away from you”, “Everybody is using it right now” … Or, as a girl I used to date once said to me “Something that’s good for poke while the telly is broken”).

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So, after not that much thought, these are the 5 reasons why I’m still reluctant to use Tinder as “the other way” to find love:

Serendipity

I still believe in causality and faith, in magic and love at first sight, in being jinxed as a cursed that only “the one” can lift. Aye, just like in that movie, with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, remember? The one with the black glove, and the 5 dollar bill, and the book?

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Remember? One of the greatest films about love ever?

Effort

Love deserves your commitment and entire disposition to make it last. So, when love is just “one swipe right away from you”, well, as easy as it comes means how much effort are you willing to give to that relationship.  I don’t think that I’ll take as much care for a relationship I find on Tinder that one that was the result of real life interactions.

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Rejection is good

The main principle of Tinder is that you can discard or like people while swiping right or left. However, this diminishes the effects of rejection. We hate being dislike by others, and even more, being dislike by those we like, particularly if we are looking for their romantic affection. So, on Tinder, if we don’t have a “match” with someone else, we don’t mind, as we carry on with our swiping.

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                                 When even the ocean swipes you to the left…

Real life is different, it takes guts to show someone that you are interest in her on a romantic level, and that excitement of being liked back is amazing, because it includes the fear of being rejected by her, and the wee burden to move on and accept rejection if this happens.

Fast-Track everything

Tinder makes us feel that everything needs to happen immediately. So, the expectations for both are high, either one is looking for her/his long time partner, or the other is only keen for a one night stand (which is fine, mates, I’m not a prude). Hence, most first Tinder dates are based on this premise “I need to know where this is going right now”. Remember the “Lemon Law” by Barney Stinson in #HIMYM? Pretty much that.

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Romance 

Goes with Serendipity, romance isn’t dead, I mean, the flirting, the chivalry, the “I reckon I have feelings for her, darn it!”, or “Well… she is cute, wonder if I’ll see her again” or “Try not to look too creepy, you’ll freak her out”, all those are there, and they feel great. Call me old-fashioned (I mean, I know you did from the start of this post), but let love flow.

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And don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging you for using Tinder for either finding the love of your life or just a good shag, I’m saying love is love and when it hits you it shakes your whole existence. The way you find love defines the way that relationship will develop.

Some do see relationships as disposable experiences. Just for fun. I don’t, I’m looking for an intelligent, smart, fun, easy going, dorky cute girl… the butter of my bread, the breath of my life

The “right one” I have in mind is out there, in the real world, not the web.

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Spanish Tortilla, Bro!

Usually when I’m bored I go for a cooking sprint, and it gets pretty nasty. How nasty does it get? You might be wondering. Well, I go to my local supermarket and simply “go for it”. A bunch of dishes starts to appear in my head, hence, an imaginary list of ingredients types itself in my mind.

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This is just a wee example of my cooking sprints.

Spanish Tortilla

Pick 3 to 5 good size potatoes, the yellow kind, half an onion, slice thinly these vegetables. In a medium size pot, put a lot of water to boil, add 1 spoon of salt and put the potatoes there. Let them cook until soft but still firm. Drizzle a large size non-stick pan with some extra virgin olive oil, stir-fry the onions and a garlic clove (already cut in brunoise), until soft, don’t let them caramelize, don’t add any salt, just pepper to taste. Get those tatoes out of the water, and put them in the pan, stir gently until brown.

In a metal bowl, crack four or five eggs, whisk, add salt, pepper, 2 spoons of water, 2 spoons of sour cream, a pinch of dried parsley, and keep on whisking, who told you to stop? Now, let the potatoes and onions to cool down a little, integrate to the egg mix.

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Now the fun part, use a much smaller pan, like half the size of the one you used previously, drizzle more olive oil, put the stove to medium heat, ready? Add the mix into the pan. Why are we using a much smaller pan? Simple, this will make a thicker tortilla, easier to handle while cooking, and it’ll look great when plating.

Where was I? Right! Let the mix cook in the smaller pan, you’ll notice when it’s ready to turn when the top isn’t runny anymore. I usually put a lid on to get a firmer tortilla. Now grab a plate larger than the pan, put it on top, and flip it, put the pan back on the stove and carefully return the tortilla from the plate to the pan. Let it cook for 4 to 5 five more minutes in medium-low heat.

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Now plate!

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You can double or triple this recipe in order to make more Spanish tortillas, this dish is a great entrée and will not disappoint.

Ps. Mexico City is currently experiencing its worst environmental crisis in 15 years. The local authorities determined that limiting the amount of cars on the streets seemed the logical first step to solve the problem. I reckon that the pollution comes from the industrial zones located in the states of Puebla, Estado de México and Hidalgo. The authorities have done nothing to regulate these zones; in the meantime, Mexico City’s administration still hasn’t presented a public transport improvement plan, just saying.

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This is where I “live”… 

Oaxaca and Mezcal

 

IMAG2351last March I went to Oaxaca City for a wedding, no big deal, it was my second time in that beautiful city, but this weekend I committed myself to get to know a little bit more of this amazing place in the southwest-centre-ish part of Mexico.

First things first, I took a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca on a Friday. A bus trip surprisingly enjoyable, I must say.

I traveled with ADO as my bus carrier at the 23 hrs service to Oaxaca City, leaving from the Central del Norte (the Northern Bus Terminal in Mexico City), costing around USD25 to 45. The terminal was super crowded as it was prior a long weekend, but nothing to worry about.

We arrived to Oaxaca around 7 am, and from the bus terminal in Oaxaca it takes you no more than a 25 minute walk to get to pretty much anywhere in the city. And believe me, anywhere in the city, so if you are only carrying a backpack, well, before getting to your hotel  go and explore a little.

 

For instance, from the bus terminal to Oaxaca City’s main square (commonly known as Zocalo), it’s about a 20 minute walk, but a taxi could take you there in 5 minutes for USD$3.

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At the wedding there were plenty of friends from my hometown, Tampico, it was very interesting to see all these lads in this part of the country. The wedding’s reception was on that very day, at Tule, Oaxaca, a wee town located 9kms East of the city. Santa Maria del Tule is famous for a tree that lives there, according to a lot of studies, this tree could be up to 3,000 years old, 14 metres in diameter, and often referred to as the “Tree of Life”. IMAG2303Then, we finally got the Hacienda for the celebration, found my table and decided to enjoy a magnificent feast. As entré we had pork crackling, longaniza and Oaxaca cheese, while each table had at least two bottles of mezcal, which was “silky-smooth”, simply beautiful.

As a main we had mole negro (black mole), a typical local dish, which by the way, is the  Pièce de résistance in Mexican cuisine, and the most representative of Oaxaca’s gastronomy.

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On Sunday I woke up craving some market food after a wedding with plenty of mezcal, well, Oaxaca had just the right place for me: the Juarez and 20 de noviembre markets.

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There I had a quesadilla with pumpkin flower and a tlayuda with chorizo. Both markets were loud and alive, like any other market in Mexico, however, the ambiance was different as the aromas were unique and, regardless of the new look the food stands had,the cooking technique used there was refined as a result of years of experience.

Oaxaca City seems to be the right place where to go for a weekend off, a peaceful town where to forget, at least for a couple days, the loud and over polluted Mexico City. I highly recommend it, it has awesome food, great weather, but most of all, it gives the tourist a broader insight of Mexican identity and ethnicity.

Cheers…

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5 Types of Leadership – Why it Matters

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Leadership matters, because it’s a skill we develop thanks to three important influences in our lives: education, personality and challenges.

Education gives you the theoretical framework to evaluate each situation, teaches you to look around for solutions and implement a problem-solving flowchart in your head. Personality provides the attitude to face any particular challenge, and to evaluate how capable you are to resolve it efficiently on your own or helped by others. And the challenges you’ve faced in life take you to an empirical framework that leads to certainty, which is useful in order to resolve difficulties and problems with a structure.

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This said, there are at least five types of leaderships that use education, personality and challenges you’ve faced differently: i) Laissez-Faire, ii) Autocratic, iii) Participative, iv) Transactional, v) transformational.

I’d like to go and explain briefly each of them, and later I’ll tell you which one I think I’ve developed, and the one I considered, nowadays, very obsolete and negative.

i) Laissez-Faire

This person pretty much doesn’t give a crap about what the team is doing or planning. Confides the strategy in a very experienced group of people that needs close to zero supervision. He doesn’t get involved.

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ii) Autocratic

This guy is a jerk, just as an example, the Cuban government or the North Korean dictatorship represent this kind of leadership. An autocratic leader pretty much does as he wishes without considering others. He is extremely against creativeness, common sense and rewarding great performance.

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iii) Participative

This guy values the team’s opinion and everyone’s perspective counts. This keeps the group motivated and keen to do their best in order to collaborate to find a solution. He or she makes the team members to come together, as part of a bigger plan, focused on delivering great decisions and strategies for amazing projects.

See? They are happy and celebrating with paper planes and stuff! Yeah!

iv) TransactionalBvQXa4ECEAIUdOS

This is a more traditional approach on leadership, this person performs as a supervisor of a few, driving his team on a scheme of punishments and rewards. So, the goals are set, and the employee has to accomplish those goals in order to be rewarded, if not, a punishment is expected. Usually employees do just enough, not looking for a reward, but trying more to avoid any kind of negative outcomes.

v) transformational

Finally, this lad pretty much likes showing off, but still, makes enough of an impact within his team to motivate them to perform above average. He requires a lot of the organization and high management’s support.

So, in the end, I reckon that, thanks to the great mentors I’ve had, the experience I’ve gathered and the places I’ve been, plus, the variables we already mentioned, I’m a very participative leader.

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My mission in life is to serve as a guide to my team, as a mentor, as a person that will encourage them to become better professionals, and more knowledgeables of their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. My goal is to boost my team’s productivity, making them feel important and relevant to the main objectives of the company. Because my team matters, and success is only achieved by teamwork and positive attitude.

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What about the Autocratic leader? Well, we ought to know how to identify this kind of “leadership” right away, as sometimes, it doesn’t encourage a productive environment. The Autocratic pursues a selfish goal of protagonism and power, their contribution to the group is weak, and their manners lack the basic “Thank you” and “please”, which seems forgotten in their vocabulary.

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I usually deal with this kind of leader with empathy, kindness, listening and a good attitude. Remember: smile. It confuses those around you.

What kind of leader are you? But the real question I reckon is: What kind of these types of leaderships will encourage you to become a better person? What would you like to be for others, just a boss, or a mentor?

A Top Morning Routine to Boost your Day

My mate Gabriel recently posted about things that he does in order to be more productive every day. His post “My Ideal Morning Daily Routine” was inspiring, so here I am, brainstorming.

While I was reading his list I did a mental exercise regarding the things I also do to get my day started. It wasn’t simple, but this morning, everything got clearer.

First things first, I stretch. Indeed, I put my yoga mat on the floor and I do a good 15 mins of old fashioned stretching. It clears my mind, brings plenty of oxygen to my lungs and it counts as exercise, right?

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Then I make my bed, it serves as my first “let’s solve something” task of the day. Recently there was a “scientific” post being shared around the web that tidying up your bed was actually not recommended and leaving your blankets and sheets all scrambled was  good for you. Well, screw that, I love coming back from work and finding a clean tidy bed waiting for me.

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Perfection

Then, the most important thing of the day, the one and only drink that indeed puts my day in motion: COFFEE. Enough said.

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If it’s a work day I check my email, personal and from work. For me it’s a must to glance at my Twitter TL to see how the day is coming. This is mostly done while I´m having coffee, looking through the window at the people walking down the street, rushing to get in time to their jobs.

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I shower (but of course I do)

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Not actual shower

Then, after all this happens, I go for a good walk.

Since I recently got hired at a new company, my workplace is about a 40 minutes walk from my place. This is my daily exercise and it boosts my day up. Walking intensely for 40 minutes somehow cheers me up, and while I do this I think about all the things I have to do, about my life, my goals, my family and friends, my fears and accomplishments, I talk to myself, and I get self-motivated to become a better person than I was the day before.

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Not my actual way to work…

So, by the time I get to the office and sit down in order to start “formally” answering emails and doing my best, I’m already keen to make the best out of this day.

This is so far how my morning looks every day. If you have your own way to boost your mornings, a certain routine that makes you more productive, please share it with the world, it should include at least two cups of coffee, black, 1 sugar.

Ps. It’s a shame what happened in Belgium and Turkey, it’s a shame, but that’s how this world struggles every day. If you feel like it makes a difference, go ahead and put a filter to your profile picture, c’mon, be my guest.

Ps2. Also breakfast, I mean, it’s important, but that’s part of a different list, I reckon.

Mexican Matriarchy and Gender Equality

The following is a social stance regarding gender inequality. 

I was born in a matriarchy, meaning that for the rest of my life women in my family will govern or influence my path. They gave me the illusion of free will and self determination, but, as Mexican women are, they were wisely pulling the strings of my life in order to become a good man.

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As for me, I was taught to look for strong and confident role models. And those role models my family thought were inspiring weren’t those of the stereotypical man obsessed with money and power, or the lad of many women, nor the bloke looking for an alcoholic enraged fight at a local bar.

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My role models were diverse and uncommon, honest and more realistic. As an International Studies graduate, names like Helen Clark (NZ), Rigoberta Menchu (Guatemala), Elena Poniatowska (French-Mexican), Frida Kahlo (Mexico), Vivian Malone Jones (USA), Margaret Thatcher (UK) and more recently, Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan), come to mind along with the names of other leaders and relevant international figures of modern human history.

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Strong women have been seen as a threat to the Mexican Macho culture, just because women are supposed to be submissive and mere decorative, devoted to her family, solely.

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I remember overhearing conversations where an independent women, or a working mother would be judged and blamed for her husband’s unhappiness, or that her entrepreneurship desires will become a cause of divorce, or the reason her husband went looking for a “better woman” (justifying infidelity seems like a standard in gender unequal societies).

Nowadays, I’m glad to see that many of my female friends have fought and worked for better jobs, better salaries, respect among their peers, and a more balanced family life. As for my male friends, most of them, not lucky enough to been raised in a family like mine, struggle with this “new” dynamic.

I don’t call myself a feminist, I’m more of an Egalitarian, where “equality reflects the nature state of humanity”. Hence, gender equality is something I value, whilst strongly disagreeing with gender roles, objectification of women, or gender discrimination.

Gender-Inequality 2014The point of the above is pretty clear, I’ll do my best to nurture and strengthen a more egalitarian society, while respecting each individual decision to make this place a better place for us and our descendants. Because, in the end, the expenses of living in this planet should be shared by both genders, the responsibility of raising children ought to be of both parents, and the possibilities of professional development must be the same for everyone.

Now, I leave you with the first part of a poem written centuries ago by an important Mexican poet (FYI):

“You Foolish Men” – Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (New Spain), 1651-1695

“You foolish men who lay
the guilt on women,
not seeing you’re the cause
of the very thing you blame…”

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Continue reading here

Ps. Ohhhhh, and Princess Leia (Alderaan)

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“I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brain”

 

 

2016 Resolutions

As a matter of fact, I did my research, and according to the “New Years Resolutions Act” of 1904, you have until the last week of January to publish your resolutions for the ongoing year.

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My biggest concern was, of course, not having a clear mind and the right amount of ambition to enlist what I really wanted to accomplish this 2016. First, going through my last year’s resolution post, I realized of how much I did and how my accomplishments improved my life and opinion about myself.

So, let’s get started, shall we, and please, if you feel I should add something to this list, well, I’m all ears.

Traveling

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I´m going to travel more, no questions asked. For one sole reason, I reckon that in life you should invest more in experiences rather than material things. But you knew that because you read plenty of that motivational literature you love to glance at while waiting in line at the supermarket, am I right? Where should I go now? I´m thinking Colombia, Panama, Belize, and, perhaps, California.

Comedy

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There’s only one thing missing there

This year is the year I’ll finally find the courage to take a stand-up comedy class. Maybe one day I’ll put my videos on youtube, you know, saying rubbish about non-important stuff, and making people laugh. That’s the dream.

Cooking challenge

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As on February I’ll announce my own Mexican cooking challenge. I’ll cook 31 traditional dishes from the 31 states of Mexico. I will be posting the recipes, pictures and step by step instructions, as well as uploading videos, so one day I will become famous, like Gordon, or Jaime! Hell yeah! Or at least this will serve as a good way to document my country’s diverse cuisine.

Savings

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I’m aiming to save up to USD10,000 this year. This number won’t sound as much to you, but I´m Mexican and this represents a considerable amount.  What will I do with this money? Don’t know yet, but maybe I’ll spend it on traveling, abroad investments or an upfront payment for a property here in Mexico. Who knows, it is just money, you know?

Well, those are this year´s resolutions, let’s see how the first half of this 2016 develops. In the meantime, my advise to all of you is simple: Be nice to others, take bullshit from no one, be kind to your loved ones, and smile a lot, there’s always a reason.

Time…

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As you know, time is a priceless asset, we ought to take care of it and do the best with the time we got here.

So far I reckon I’ve done my best to enjoy my time here. These have been interesting days, and I usually don’t tend to share these sort of thoughts openly but…

  • I’m glad my dad had almost fully recovered from the stroke he suffered
  • I’m certain that adversity had brought my family closer together, we are now much stronger and caring for each other
  • I’m happy for the new challenges I’ve brought to my professional life
  • I’m smiling because I keep on dreaming and following these dreams
  • I’m motivated because I’m surrounded by amazing people every day, my family, my friends, and colleagues
  • I’m healthier and accomplishing my fitness goals
  • I’m at peace with my past

I’m happy and keen, can’t wait for whatever is next, I’m ready.

I don’t know about you, but discouragement is not an option, so, embrace what’s left of your time here and make the best out of it.

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Ps. The World Health Organization recently published a research stating that processed meat causes certain types of cancer… I have one thought about it: I REGRET NOTHING

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