Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Government Phone Calls

I am beginning to think it would be easier to get in touch with a radio station by phone than a government office--at least at the federal level. All be it, the FBI is probably one of the easiest agencies to get in touch with. I have had two agencies, however, that either don't answer phone calls or don't accept them.

The first was the Consulate of Spain in Houston. After emailing the group in D.C., I finally got an email back from Houston and they informed me they don't answer the phone half of the time because they want to get work done in the office.

Now, I am trying to talk to someone in the Secretary of State's office about authentication. I have talked to the switchboard several times now and they said the authentications office will not answer calls before about 1 p.m. central time.

At this point I fear, as much as I loved D.C., I may have to go there unfortunately. I don't know how long the process will take, and will have to get the document authenticated so fast I might have to go there to do it in person. I have my fingers crossed that they finally talk to me on the phone so I can get an estimate on the length of the process.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sueños Malos

La mayoría del tiempo no recuerda mis sueños. Anoche recordé mi sueño. Estuve en una lancha en un lago. La lancha sin un motor. Cuando me da cuenta de eso hecho, la cuerda ya ha seperado del muelle. Caminé al frente de la lancha para buscar una paleta. Cuando llego al frente, me caí a la agua. Escalie en la lancha de nuevo y este vez, la lancha se me volcó.

No importa que hice, no pude sobrevivir la experiencia.  

So, most of you don't understand this blog. That is OK. The main point was to practice my spanish a little bit. I do not use it a whole lot and it has become a lot more difficult for me to read, write and understand Spanish. The words I should remember, I no longer remember. I have to look a lot of words up. I will try to practice more in Spanish. I may begin writing some blogs in both English and Spanish, or some in just Spanish with a quick comment in English. This blog was about a bad dream I had last night.

If you ever want to know the basics of what I am saying you can use google translate and word reference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lost Generation

 ***Update: I noticed that blogger was breaking lines up so I have added / marks at the ends of lines. If there is not one at the end of the word, it is not actually a new line***

As I was surfing blogs I found the following post on another blog and wanted to share it.
1. Please read this poem, and be careful to read it one line at a time.

Lost Generation
'Happiness comes from within'/
is a lie, and/
'Money will make me happy'/
So in thirty years I will tell my children/
they are not the most important thing in my life./
My employer will know that/
I have my priorities straight because/
is more important than/
I tell you this/
Once upon a time/
Families stayed together/
but this will not be true in my era/
this is a quick fix society/
Experts tell me/
Thirty years from now I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce/
I do not concede that/
I will live in a country of my own making/
In the future/
Environmental destruction will be the norm/
No longer can it be said that/
My peers and I care about this earth/
It will be evident that/
My generation is apathetic and lethargic/
It is foolish to presume that/
There is hope./

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.

2. Now read each line, starting from the last line to the first line (reverse it).

Feel free to comment and/or share.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Today was a crazy day. Among having a busy day at work (which is a good thing), I visited two government offices today and took care of some business for Spain. Monday night I did all of my forms for the FBI background check (for the second time). I made phone calls and was not lucky enough to be able to send the copy I made from the last time I had my fingerprints taken. So I searched the internet for places in Little Rock.

Normally, I hate automated systems. But I was finding when I actually wanted them (after office hours), they were nowhere to be found. I called the Little Rock Police Department and the Little Rock field office for the FBI. Then I realized the Arkansas State Police most likely would offer the service based on information I found on their website. So I called. They actually had an automated system that told me their hours and how to get there. I wrote the directions down and left extra early for work. The plan was get to the door before it was unlocked (at 7:30 a.m.), go through the process, and get to work. I expected to be a little bit late for work.

I got there at 7:20 and waited at the door with police officers from all over the state. When the door was unlocked I went in and to the window. The person at the window filled out a card with the FBI information; They did not use the paper sheet that I had printed out from the FBI website. I filled it out and they called me back. The whole process took 15 minutes and I made it to work early, even with 10 minute drive ahead of me. Not only were they timely, the entire thing was FREE!

At work I was busy from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. I took my lunch at 3:30 and went to the post office to get the papers mailed. I waited in line for 10 minutes. When I finally got to the counter and told them what I needed, they told me I had to go get it off the shelf. Normally they have the necessary items behind the counter. Not here. So I went and got two mailing boxes, although they aren't what I really needed. I filled them out and waited another 10 minutes in line.

The staff was not nearly as friendly or helpful as those at the state police headquarters. Even the second time at the counter I feared they would come up with something else to take more time. It took me about half an hour total in the post office.

But the good news is I finally got the paperwork filled out and sent off and I am hopefully on track for Spain again. I hope doctor's notes don't expire; I need to get it notarized and apostiled ASAP just in case. I am still working hard, trying to get to Spain, but I still wonder if I will get to go.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I have been hearing stories all week on KLOVE where people call in and share the difference their dad has made in their life. I haven't called in, nor will I but I will write this blog (which will actually be two blogs in one post).

My viewpoint growing up and now are so different from each other. When I was a child I got spankings. I got grounded. I told my parents that I hated them. I thought it was cruel. But now, I realize all those times my dad took off his belt and all those time he sent me to my room and grounded me, he was teaching me. He taught me discipline.

Now I realize he did the right thing. One day I will find myself in the same situation and I am sure my kids will think the same things I did. But it is not only an important lesson to learn for life, but faith also. My dad's "tough love" can parallel God's.

God loves us. But he also has to discipline us. There our consequences to our actions, some worse than others.


Part 2:

I saw this video a long time ago and for some reason it came to my mind. I hope no fathers reading this ever have to make a tough decision like this. But our Heavenly father did. He sent his Son, knowing that he would bear the punishment for the sins of the entire world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From There to Here

Learning Spanish in college was one thing. Using Spanish is another. And I haven't done much of it. Yesterday I had the opportunity to finally use my Spanish in the real world. I conducted an interview of an employee who, although he spoke some English, was much more comfortable with Spanish. He was the country director in Honduras.

I did the interview in Spanish. My speaking was relatively O.K. but actually understanding what he said, even after listening to sentences over and over again on the tape recorder, I cannot tell what he was saying. It isn't that I don't understand the word's meaning. I can't even tell what the word is.

After the interview he asked me where I learned Spanish. I don't know whether that was a compliment or an insult. It could have been either. But I found out there is some stuff they can't teach you in school. Understanding is one of them. In the classroom, there are opportunities to speak in English. The only way to really understand it is to be immersed in it, to go to a place where everyone around you speaks the language all day and there are no opportunities (or few) to speak English or listen to English.

That is what I hope to do in Spain. I hope to be able to not only learn to speak better Spanish, but to be able to UNDERSTAND when people speak in Spanish. I might get 10 percent. of a conversation with a native Spanish Speaker right now. It would be nice to even understand 50-75 percent.

That being said, I think some improvements could be made in the clasroom.
1) The students are in a Spanish class. Speak Spanish. Deduct points for any English Speaking during the classtime.

2) Classes should be more lecture. General education (and non-language major classes) are taught in English with a teacher at the front of the room talking for an hour. There should be more Spanish classes taught like this, forcing students to take notes. Tests should not necesarily be comprehension as much as using the same words to see that students are able to understand what they are hearing, not necesarilly the meaning of the words.

3) There should be classes where students simply watch movies in Spanish (without subtitles) and listen to radio programs and possibly speak or write about them.

4) In elementary, when we learn English we had about 10 spelling words each week. We had different exercises such as copying each word 5 times and writing the definitions. This might work in Spanish as well to help teach vocabulary.

Learning vocabulary seems to be the main focus of schools. But that is only part of the way. If you don't understand what you hear, it is hard to respond, even if you know vocabulary words.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Doctor Visit

Trying to find time to do anything in the working world is difficult. I work from 8-5 each day Monday through Friday. That is the same hours as most government offices and many businesses. There are a lot of things I have to get done on lunch break and still need to get done.

I need to get a new social security card. I need to get hold of the Spanish Consulate in Houston; that will take a miracle. I need to get some documents approved by the government. And after Saturday I really needed to get to a doctor after swimming.

I have had a problem with stopped up ears after swimming for the past four years. If I swim, I can expect to have water in my ear for a day or two after. I finally called the doctor in hopes I could give my supervisor a little notice. I gave her five hours notice. Luckily it fell in a week where I needed to take a long lunch break anyway.

I took off about 1:15 p.m. and made the 30-minute drive to Jacksonville Medical Clinic. I arrive about 1:30 and see the doctor about 1:50. I am done by about 2. The doctor took a look at my ear and said there was a little bit of ear wax built up in the back. He washed it out (ouch!) and I could finally hear again. I heard so well out my left ear it made me feel like my right ear was stopped up. But the piece of was looked far from small to me. It looked more like a rock. But I averaged the price out and it came to almost $20/minute. Five minutes equaled $90, but at least I can hear. Next time I will try the process on my own.

But it was just in time too. I made it back to the office after stopping by the drive-thru of McDonalds and grabbing a bite to eat on the way. I made it back in perfect timing to complete my 40 hours this week. We had to work late today because we had interviews from 5:30-6 p.m. I was very glad to be able to hear out my left ear. Hearing was difficult enough as it was because of the music playing there at the Peabody Hotel. On top of that it was in a foreign language; I interviewed the country director of Heifer Honduras in Spanish.

It is nice to hear again. It is something very important in the communications field. Now if I can work on communicating better in Spanish I will be good.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daisy State Park

If you know me, you know how much I like the outdoors. One of my favorite activities is camping and the Arkansas State Parks are one of the best places to go in Arkansas. Whether you love to hike, camp, picnic, swim, boat, or just relax you can do it all in one of the many Arkansas State Parks.

I just got back from camping at Daisy State Park and have to say it was probably at the bottom of my list when ordering the parks I have visited from favorite to least favorite. There was still a lot to do, but the campground itself was not the best.

The campsites were literally on top of each other. Cars lined the street, parked on both sides. It was difficult to get around and a little dangerous for pedestrians because they were not visible around all the traffic. The campsites were supposed to be big enough for a trailer and a tent-- ours was barely. The tent was almost in the road after the trailer was pulled in. And the vehicle had to be parked a few blocks down the street.

There was no designated swimming area. We didn't let that stop us. We went to the bottom of our camp area to swim. And after a day of digging for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds, the water felt great.

Although it wasn't my favorite park, it was nice to get away. And I was sad to leave.

Friday, June 3, 2011


As most probably know, there are a lot of problems with too much water in the Midwest and South right now in the United States. A lot of flash flooding in late April and early May has meant breached levees and wide-open spillways trying to save larger towns. As I drive between Little Rock and Jonesboro, I can still see the white river, far out of its banks.

I had a recent dream about water. But it wasn't the flooding. It was a nice spring day. It was one of those days only seen a week or two out of every year in Arkansas. The temperature was perfect, the sky was blue with scattered white clouds. I was out riding my bike.

I do not know where I was exactly. The setting was a lot like a park in Jonesboro, but that wasn't it. The paved road was much closer to the water than that. Wherever it was, there was a small lake where pedestrians, cyclists and motorists could travel around the lake, not a hundred feet from the shore. It wasn't flooded. In fact, it was just the opposite.

There were a few puddles in the road. It had evidently rained recently. But as I road my bike around the lake, I looked out over a lot of mud. The lake wasn't nearly as big as it should be. I realized that the water was far below its normal levels. There was some water but it was quickly drying up. Soon there would be no water at all.

So what does this dream mean? I don't really know. Many places in the world do not have access to clean water. Some places in the world have more water than others, even in the United States. Even in the United States there is a redistribution of water. So what did the dream mean? Who knows. Maybe I will look into the water issue a little more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Letter!

Today I had an unexpected visitor at work. During lunch I was thinking about the topic. About 3 this afternoon I got a text from my Dad. Now, I don't usually use my phone while at work but because it was from my Dad and I happened to see it come through, I looked. He asked what time I got of work and told me he could come by at 4. I told him that was ok and if he talked to the security guard in the center of the building they would ring me.

Sure enough they did. Why visit me at work? The same reason I was thinking at lunch. I was thinking, "My dad works in Little Rock too. So, why not ask him to bring my mail to work with him and meet during lunch break or something."

Have you guessed what it is yet? For those who read regularly, you should. For anyone who hasn't--It was my letter from Spain. I held in the excitement until I got off at 5. But one of the first things I did when I got in my car after work was open the letter. I didn't read it but skimmed it to see what city I would be in. I will be in the city I really wanted, about an hour from Sevilla. A 30 euro round trip from Madrid. My city is: Huelva.

So, I get to teach in a somewhat small city. I get to be close to one of my favorite cities in Spain. I will have a few connections including during the second half, my girlfriend may be on the other side of the same city. Now if I can just get the Spanish Consulate in Houston (my designated consulate) to respond to an email or answer the phone...