One dollar!


 

Some light Sunday morning reading

Reading the newspaper just isn’t what it used to be. I get the Sunday Chicago Tribune and it’s very thin now. I remember when it was two inches thick. Now, every section contains fewer articles. I used to spend at least four hours reading the paper on Sundays. Now, there’s not much left to it. And most of the stories I read, I discover that I have already read them on the Internet the previous day. Even the sales inserts are very skimpy. So I was surprised to see that Dollar Tree had a sale insert today. Was the Tribune so desperate for advertising dollars that they reduced their advertising rates to attract dollar stores? But why would Dollar Tree, or any dollar store, have to advertise when all their products are sold for one dollar? Why do they need to advertise at all? What’s the point? Won’t everything still cost one dollar even with the sale? If they reduced the price to 99 cents, they couldn’t call themselves a dollar store! So I inspected the sales paper and … everything costs one dollar!

Buy whatever you want! For just one dollar!

Mowing the lawn


My favorite lawnmower.

I am way ahead of schedule this year. I normally don’t mow my lawn until well after Memorial Day. And well after the second or third time that my neighbors have asked me to mow my lawn. This year I mowed my lawn even before my complaining neighbors asked me. When they saw me mowing, the immediately started their yard work. I guess I made them feel guilty for being so slothful. I have already mowed my lawn three times and they have only mowed theirs twice! They can’t complain about my lawn this year. Well, they didn’t like it when I didn’t mow my lawn, and now, they seem unhappy that I have.

Tortillas in space


 

Tortillas de Chicago

Well, I was watching the ABC World News the other night when the announcer told me not to go away because the next segment would feature the latest space shuttle mission to repair the Hubble space telescope. Of course, I continued watching because I have always been fascinated by space stories and not because I was merely obeying the announcer’s order to stay tuned. So they talked about how the astronauts trained for the mission and how they picked different foods over the course of a year. The astronauts got to choose foods they liked, but the foods had to be practical. I was extremely surprised that one food to make the trip to outer space was the tortilla, which the astronauts really liked. And it was practical because it didn’t leave many crumbs and they take up less space than bread. I really didn’t think the NASA would be all that concerned about space since they can fit the Hubble space telescope, the size of a school bus, in the cargo bay. Bread wouldn’t take up that much space. Besides, they were going to outer space that extends to infinity. Or even further. But tortillas beat out the bread anyway. Knowing the average intelligence of the average American, I would be surprised if any Americans even know that tortillas are the staple food of México.

There's no such thing as a stale tortilla.

Excuses


Focusing on the Spanish exam

You probably have a few questions for me and so I feel obliged to explain my long absence from my blog. No matter what explanation I give or what excuses I enumerate, nothing will seem to justify me absence. Except, perhaps, only to me.

I mainly write for myself, and mainly for therapeutic reasons. I could tell you about how I was so busy last semester because I take teaching Spanish seriously. And how I spent a lot of time preparing for a Spanish composition class that I was teaching for the very first time. That meant I didn’t have any handouts that I love to hand out to students. Then, I had to spend a lot of time grading all those compositions!

Plus, I must also add that I was Assistant Coordinator for the Spanish Basic Language Program at UIC. Doesn’t that job title sound impressive? That impressive title permitted me to work many more hours per semester than I had anticipated. Oh, joy! That was time I was forced to spend away from the Internet! Whenever I did have free time, I no longer had the energy to write a blog entry. But now I’m on summer vacation. And I plan to make time to write as many blog entries as possible this summer. I won’t promise to post an entry each and every day, as I once boldly promised as a New Year’s resolution a couple years back. I try to forget about that unfulfilled resolution, but a couple readers constantly remind me. You know who you are.

On the road


CD Book from the Chicago Public Library.

For someone who spends so much time on the Internet, I also spend a lot of time on the road. Since I’m on the road a lot, I feel like I’m wasting time I’m not on the Internet. True, I occasionally check my e-mail on my iPhone while I’m driving and I do study road maps while on the Internet. The best of both worlds! Years ago, I tried listening to books while driving. That was back when most of them were on cassettes. I quickly gave up because it involved too much work. So lately, I once again felt the need to occupy myself productively while driving. While studying Russian, I listened to the oral activities on an mp3 player via my car radio. But it just wasn’t the same as reading. I remembered the audio books. Most books are on CDs now and are much easier to manage while driving. The first one I heard was On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Because I imagined writing a blog entry, titled “On the road”! I also listened to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, but decided against writing a blog entry titled, “On the River Niger”! How would that be possible while driving my 2005 Pontiac Vibe?

I went to the library to check out their collection of audio books. I immediately gravitated toward Jack Kerouac because On the Road has been on my “To Read” list since the 1980s. I have always heard about that book and any book that constantly attracts my attention deserves to be read–at least in my book. I had no idea what it was about, but I knew I just had to read it. I was intrigued by the fact that it was written on one continuous sheet of paper. I tried to imagined how Kerouac could have written his book lugging his manual typewriter and roll of paper while driving all over the country. To think that I complain whenever I have to lug my laptop computer around with me! Anyway, the book was an interesting read because I was disappointed by its plot, but enticed enough by the writing style to continue listening to the end. The reader of the audio book made it very interesting in the way he acted out some of the scenes. He added so much to text. If I were reading the actual book, I would have finished reading it because it did captivate me in a way I had not expected.

Kerouac has this enormous vocabulary that occasionally upstaged the action of the novel. For instance–however, I don’t recall all the details nor the exact wording–in one scene Kerouac and his friends find themselves released from jail after a night of heavy drinking, carousing and fist-fighting. They have no money and they don’t know where their car is. Jack says, “whereupon we pondered our dilemma.” Somehow, the high diction added to the incongruity of their situation. Of course, I would never associate with such friends for very long, which is why I never wrote my own On the Road.

When I was in high school, I inherited a manual Underwood typewriter that was in the attic where my new bedroom was located. Since I was little, I wanted to be a writer, so this was my perfect opportunity. I spent a lot of time in my unfinished-attic bedroom typing away on that typewriter. I also found a roll of paper and inserted it into my typewriter. This was before I even heard of Jack Kerouac! Now I wouldn’t have to stop writing to insert a new sheet of paper! I can’t say what I wrote was very interesting since I spent most of my waking hours cooped up in that attic. I don’t know what ever happened to my manuscript(s) (Depending on how you count everything I wrote on the scroll), or if anything I wrote was very good. But I enjoyed my time as a writer, living in squalor in an unfinished attic, living the Bohemian lifestyle. Minus the Kerouac road trip and alcohol.

Pass me another CD.