Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary At Her Best

Wow! What a speech?

Tonight Hillary Clinton delivered her finest speech, a speech of a lifetime, and tonight could well be a pinnacle in her life. Although she asked people to vote for Barack Obama as president, mainly because she felt we need a fellow Democrat in the White House, the speech was all “about me”. It was all about Hilary Clinton and her piece of women’s rights history she carved herself because of how close she got to be the nominee…as a woman, and rightly so too.

Sometimes it sounded as if Obama was mostly treated like a tag on to her, but in a very nice and diplomatic and supportive fashion, so well that it got the people to their feet every time. She did what she had to do and said what she had to say in support of Obama. She said Michelle will be a good first lady, but never said why she thinks Obama would be a good president. A true endorser usually does. I am sure many thought that that was suppose to be her job tonight. Unite the party behind Obama. I don’t think the speech did though.

She was presidential, received like a superstar; she spoke about the subjects dear to her, and delivered the words and thoughts that probably made many wondered if they nominated the right candidate instead of her.

I felt it was not an “Arrivederci Roma” speech. It was a “I’ll be back!” speech! A question of when? Maybe if Obama loses she could run again in 2012.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Too Many White Springboks for the All Blacks

Net toe ons dink ons is ontslae van Butana Komphela wat altyd vir Jake White aangeval het omdat hy te min swartes in sy Springbok spanne gehad het, kom Cedrick Frolick, vise-voorsitter van die parliamentêre kommittee vir sport te voorskyn and kritiseer Pieter de Villiers, Suid Afrika se eerste swart afrigter van die national rugby span, dat hy te veel wittes in die span het vir Saterdag se toets teen the New Zealand All Blacks.

Kyk, ‘n sekere groep Suid Afrikaners was maar nog altyd ‘n klomp klakouse en rugby afrigters het dit nog altyd moeilik gehad met die Maandag oggend losskakels. Dit lyk my ou Cedrick is ‘n chip off the old Komphela blok as dit kom by politiese inmenging and sommer net plain bitching en moaning.

Eerstens, Pieter het hard baklei om die finale sê te hê oor die span keuse and as daar iemand is wat ongelukkig is oor sy keuses dan moet sy werkgewer, SARU, die klawerk doen agter toe deure.

Tweedens, is ek seker PdV het nie sy gameplan met ou Cedrick bespreek nie. So ek verstaan nie mooi hoe hy kan kla nie, want Pieter het al bewys dat hy kies spanne op die horses for courses basis. So sy spankeuse is gebaseer op sy gameplan en nie op watter kleur ‘n speler is nie. En as Cedrick Klakous enige iets van rugby geweet het en na die span keuse kyk, dan sal hy besef dit gaan ‘n skoppery vir Afrika wees en wie is beter in daardie afdeling as Fourie du Preez and Percy Montgomery.

Derdens, Cedrick, die Drol in die drinkwater weet nie mooi wat of waar die drinkwater is nie. Hy kla oor Ricky January and Conrad Jantjes wat “gedrop” is van die opdraf span. Wel, onder die nuwe ELV (Experimental Laws Variations) reëls is al 22 spelers belangrik, nie net die eerste 15 nie. En beide Janury and Jantjes is in die group van 22 spelers.

Vierdens, kla die Drol dat hy nie kan verstaan hoekom January gedrop word na die Carisbrook wonderwerk. Almal weet January se drie op Carisbook was ‘n briljante individuele effort en ‘n lucky bounce. Fantasties! Maar soos PdV gesê het, January het ‘n ruskans nodig and Fourie Du Preez was afterall, die eerste keuse skrumskakel voor sy besering, so dis net reg dat hy sy plek terug kry. Net soos January niks verkeerd gedoen het om sy plek te verloor nie, het Du Preez niks verkeerd gedoen om nie sy plek terug te kry noudat hy herstel het van sy besering. Inteendeel, hy het ‘n baie goeie wedstryd gehad teen Argentina verlede week.

Vyfdens, Ek is seker as PdV vir Montgomery and Du Preez “gedrop” het sou ou Cedrick nie ‘n dêm word gerep het nie. Die Drol dink net in een rigting, soos ‘n one trick blouaap. Hy dink glad nie globaal nie. Dis net tranformasie, transformasie en transformasie. Dit terwyl PdV besig is om span te bou en het van die begin af gesê het dat hy in rotering van spelers glo.

Laastens, om te sê Percy Montgomery word om emosionele redes gekies om sy 100ste toets, ‘n moerse prestasie en die eerste Suid Afrikaner om dit reg te kry, op Nuweland te speel waar hy sy rugby loopbaan begin het, is om een van Suid Afrika se grootste sport persoonlikhede lelik in die gesig te vat. As Cedrick die Drol die moeite gedoen het om met Jantjes te gepraat het en hom gevra het hoe hy daaroor voel om “uitgelaat” te word om vir Percy die eer te gee, sou Conrad tien teen een gesê het wat ‘n voorreg dit is om in dieselfde span as Percy te speel. Hell, as ou Cedrick maar net vir 100 dae in die parliament kan opdaag sonder om staatsgeld te misbruik of te verkwansel of om nie op die gravy trein te ry nie kan hy dalk gesien word as ‘n eerbare verteenwoordigende politikus wat ‘n daadwerklike bydra lewer tot die vooruitgang van Suid Afrika. In die 10 plus jare wat Percy Montgomery Suid Afrika op die rugbyveld verteenwoordig het, het hy meer wit en swart jong spelers gemotiveer as wat ou Cedrick in ‘n leeftyd nie kan doen. In daardie 10 plus jare het Percy meer daadwerklik dade doen, soos om 'n enorme bydrae te lewer sodat Suid Afrika die 2007 World Cup te kon gewen het, wat ou Cedrick hopelik nie in ‘n leeftyd met woorde kan afbreek nie.

Kyk, al wat nou Saterdag moet gebeur is ‘n moerse oorwinning vir die Bokke (7 punte of meer) en ek kan die hoof opskrifte al sien: Too white Springboks thrash All Blacks, of wat van: All Blacks mastered by frolicking white Boks.

Ou Cedrick Frolick, hoekom kruip jy nie terug in jou stront-besmeerde hut in die parliamentêre tuin nie? Los rugby, span keuses and gameplans vir rugbymense. Bepaal jy jou by jou lees, whatever the hell that is. Daar het Robbie Deans, die Australiese afrigter, nou weer beaam dat Suid Afrika een van die beste lande is om na te toer. Dis ‘n mooi en unieke land. Maar nee, Cedrick, die Drol, moet weereens die kak stir en Suid Afrika van binne af vrot maak. Ai tog! Jou koppie moet in elkgeval redelik klein wees om daardie drol brein van jou deur ‘n klein gaatjie gedruk te kry.



One art form that is well entrenched in Mexican culture is murals. Since the days of the Mayans and Aztecs civilizations murals have played an important part in and depicting of everyday life. The mural pictured above is a cheap commercial, but nevertheless a striking and colorful one in the lobby of the Fiesta Inn hotel in Monterrey.

A River Runs Through It

In some parts of Monterrey the phrase "a river runs through it" is very applicable when it rains. One such place is Avenue Isodoro Sepulveda, the street that run in front of our factory here in Monterrey. Just before I left work tonight, what I would call a mild thunderstorm, past over the area and turned the street into a river within minutes.

Driving to the hotel it felt at times like I was in a boat on a river as small waves hit the bottom of the car. I couldn't help but stop and take some pictures even though I was mildly concerned I would get stuck in knee-deep water while the car's battery warning light was flashing every now and then and twice I lost the power steering for short periods.

Notice the waves on the right just above the mirror.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traditional, But Not Spicy. Por Favor.

After my last post, a flashback to last year’s travels to Italy, I am back in real time and I am also back in Mexico.

It was about 7 pm, Monday evening, still around 38 degrees Celsius, when we stepped out, got into the car to go and find a restaurant that serve traditional Mexican food. A colleague’s requirement was: Traditional, but not spicy, por favor. Here in the state of Nuevo Leon, in the north of Mexico it means parrillada. Translated it means different beef cuts and sausages, grilled and cut into small pieces eaten with melted cheese, sautéed onions and guacamole inside a tortilla. The meat is served heap high and piping hot on a hotplate. Think of parrillada as South America’s version of barbeque, whether in Mexico, Argentina or Panama. The meat is never spiced except for salt.

We eventually found a local neighborhood restaurant that serve parrillada, El Castor, the Beaver, on the western side of town just as the sun was disappearing behind one of the many mountain peaks. Hopefully it would cool down it bit. I have found over the years that a neighborhood restaurant, like El Castor, a place frequented by locals and where whole families can enjoy simple meals, provides the best atmosphere for big groups (and eventually we were ten people together at the table), and some of the best food. Going to one of these “holes in the wall”, and I don’t mean it in any way derogatory or condescending, it’s just that these restaurants have simple décor and a limited menu, mostly turn out to be some of the best dining experiences I have had in Mexico. I can also suggest Fresnos in Apodaca as another good traditional restaurant in greater Monterrey area.

After dinner, 4 of us went to park the car in the Barrio Antigua area and walked to the origin of the Paseo Santa Lucia, next to the National Historical Museum. Since I last been there, before the 2007 Universal Forum of Cultures they had here in Monterrey, many changes took place. I discovered they built an extension to the current National Historical Museum. The new part currently exhibits Spanish Civilizations. I will have to make some time to get to see a bit more about it on this trip. They also made several other, well needed, improvements to the walkways all along the river. Really beautify the whole area. It was actually very nice to walk around there at night time. Just a pity it was so damn hot.

On our way to El Castor I noticed this wrought iron artwork next to the highway of the Nuestra Senora de Guadalope, also known as La virgen Maria.

Entrance to El Rey Del Cabrito, the Goat King, one of Monterrey's famous restaurants, specialist in the local speciality, cabrito, young goat meat.

El Castor's walls are covered with pictures of Mexican actors, some famous, some not. It is an old establishment that goes back many years.

The new extension to the National Historical Museum (on the right) and the new waterfall (in front) that was built for the Universal Forum.

Another new feature at the museum is the La Lagartera, the Aligator pit, by Mexican contempory artist Francisco Toledo. This huge art piece of steel and plaster was unveiled just a week ago, and is located in a pool in front of the museum.

The balloon seller. I like the image because it looked like he was holding a magic shield and wielding lighted swords.

A multi-colored reflecting pool with the Palace of Government in the background.

The Palacio de Gobierno, the Palace of Government, built in 1908 in the neoclassical style and today, among other things, where the office of the state governor is located.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cathedral of Siena's Piccolomini Library

Heading picture: The Fonte Gaia, Fountain of Joy, on Siena's Piazza del Campo.

Some of the most colorful frescoes we saw in Italy were in the Cathedral of Siena in the Piccolomini library. The bus trip to Siena and San Gimignano had many ups and downs. The biggest damper was the rain. Secondly, the whole day tour was too quick. Too many distractions. You need time to really appreciate San Gimignano and Siena. It was the cities where you could easily step of the tourist route, stroll down a narrow alley and step back into time, back to the Middle Ages. Standing in the middle of Piazza del Campo consuming every drop of the surrounding architecture, recalling the history, one can almost hear the noise of people and horses on a Palio Saturday.

Nevertheless, there were highligths too. In San Gimignano I took 20 minutes to step off the well beaten path and explored some quiet alleys and the towers. Another highlight was the Piccolomini library. The vivid colors, coming from a darkish cathedral into the brighter library makes it so much more striking.

The library was commissioned in 1492 by cardinal Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini (then archbishop of Siena and later pope Pius III) for the humanists texts and manuscript collection of his uncle, cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who was Pope Pius II. The frescoes were executed between 1502 and 1507 by the Perugian painter Pinturicchio and his assistants.

Pius III never actually saw the end product and the collection never made it to the library, because he died in October 1503, only 26 days after he was elected pope. He died of an ulcer in his leg although some believe he was poisoned by the governor of Siena. It was turbulent times in Rome and in Italy at that point in history, during the last days of the papacy of Alexander VI, who was one of the most murderous popes ever and from a family steeped in vice and crime.

The early beliefs of humanism were that, although God created the universe, it was humans that developed and industrialized it.

In the middle of the library is a copy of the famous statue Three Graces.

The frescoes depict ten important events in the life career of pope Pius II. Interestingly, Pinturicchio painted himself in several of the frescoes. I guess he reasoned that the person who commissioned the frescoes was deceased and couldn’t complain, so what the heck, why not put myself in it too.

Scene 3: Piccolomini being crowned as court poet by emperor Frederick III

Scene 5 and 6:

Scene 5: Piccolomini, then bishop of Siena, presents emperor Frederick III with his bride-to-be Eleanora of Portugal at the Porta Camollia in Siena.
Scene 6: Piccolomini receives the cardinal's hat in 1456.

Scene 8: Piccolomini, as Pius II, convokes a Diet of Princes at Mantua to proclaim a new crusade in 1459.

The library's ceiling.

I don't know the aritst or paiting's name, but liked the overall picture and colors, especially the glow they came from the colors. Siena Cathedral.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Welcome to South Africa - Die Fokkel Song

Suid Afrika se ou grote, 'n leftover van die Voelvry beweging, Koos Kombuis se Fokkel liedjie.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Real Spin Zone

OMG! Bill O’Reilly’s head is so big he barely fits into my TV screen. And I have a 50 inch TV.

I have never heard a bigger bigot in my life.

The past two nights I have had some time to kill between 8 and 9 pm EST and watched the Factor on Fox. In O’Reilly’s Tuesday evening interview with Scott McClellan, a one-time Press Secretary in the White House, he harassed McClellan so much for an apology for things that was said about O’Reilly by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Eventually McClellan was so stupid and apologized for something he never even said. How this McClellan even became a White House Press Secretary I don’t know because he was so rattled by O’Reilly you would swear he was in the presence of some Fox, I mean, faux world demigod. By the end of the interview O’Reilly was shouting McClellan down and instructing McClellan to straighten himself and not be associated with people like Matthews and accused McClellan of being controlled by MSNBC. I was really aghast to hear a show host being so rude and a guest, who practically grew up in a political world being so naïve.

On Wednesday evening O’Reilly brought on Dennis Miller, you know that “comedian” who tries so hard to be funny that he is actually un-funny. It seems Miller’s only angle on the news of the day is to deliver derogatory comments on people and to exaggerate the news to the point of evisceration.

I am neither a fanatical left-winger nor a zealous right-winger and as such have no axe to grind with either O’Reilly or Miller. Nor do I HAVE to watch Fox channel, there are many other channels where I can get my news, but to get a balance view of things, which I like to get, and only if you listen between the lines, then Fox do sometimes present an opposing view to some of the other news channels. I am not saying Fox is “fair and balance” like they try to portray themselves. Not at all. Fair and balance means objectivity. At Fox, more than at any other news channel, objective journalism is totally, literally drowned out if not dead. I guess the news at Fox is like that old joke about Hitler being found in Argentina some years after WWII and was begged to return to Germany as Fuehrer again. Hitler answered: OK, but no more mister nice-guy.