Desde Monterrey

First thing’s first

Please either press F5 or hit the Refresh button on your browser. I’ve made a few changes to the blog and they won’t show up until you refresh. One of those changes is that I upgraded to the new stable release of WordPress. And it looks like I’m not the only one. I hope my relentless pro-WordPress propaganda was in part responsible for Seyd’s switch.

Another small change to the blog are those fancy tooltips which hover over links, abbreviations, acronyms, and pictures and give more information about them. I have yet to test it with Safari so if someone reads this blog on Safari, please let me know if they show up. Here in Monterrey, pink is very much en modo so I decided to go with it. (it’s weird … all the fresa guys driving their Jettas and BMW’s are wearing pink polo and button-up shirts … I guess the sensitive side of Mexican machismo is coming out) But besides giving more information about the links, I’m also going to use the pink tooltips to translate and explain various Spanish phrases and words I use when writing in English and various English words and phrases I’ll be using when writing in Spanish. So, for example, if you let your cursor hover above the word “fresa” a couple sentences ago, a little pink cloud should come up saying that it means rich and spoiled (maybe I should clarify that it’s slang for rich and spoiled and that the word itself means strawberry).

Spanglish or Espangles?

Which brings me to my next point. This blog will soon be a bilingual one. That is, unless someone comes up with a good reason why it shouldn’t be. I knew I would start blogeando (just kidding) in Spanish here in Monterrey. And at first I thought I’d start up a separate blog, like how Julio has both Yonder Lies It and De Suecia a Tijuana. For the most part he keeps those two blogs pretty separate. Occasionally the content crosses over, but his English blog is part of the community of Latino bloggers in the States and his Spanish blog is part of the community of Tijuana Blogeros.

I figured I’d do the same with the community of bloggers back home and then start a new blog, strictly in Spanish, to be part of the vast community of Monterrey Bloggers. But then I realized most regular readers (and writers) of this blog are bilingual anyways. Plus, there are some people like Seyd who are already part of both communities.

So instead, here is my idea. I’ll post in both Spanish and English on here with Moreno and Abogado. But then there will also be pages of all posts in Spanish and all posts in English. They’ll probably be http://el-oso.net/blog/es and http://el-oso.net/blog/en respectively. I’ll also set up three separate rss feeds. The current one will have all posts, del.icio.us links, and my photos. Then there’ll be an English version and Spanish version. And finally, starting with my next post, every post in English will have a summary in Spanish and every post in Spanish will have a summary in English. Sound good? Any other ideas?

A lot of work is going into making WordPress more multi-lingual. Within about six months, everything should be set up so that the blog automatically detects your IP, chooses a language for you and shows you only what is in your language.

So Fresh and So Clean

“What if intimacy happens in quiet moments?” he said. “I think the Web makes me not alone and I feed it my intimacies, and the Web is my constant connection to something larger than myself … but what if something you do, something you practice like religion as a dialogue with the divine, drives people away from you?”

That is Justin Hall who, as Mari and Paul both report, is signing off from the blogosphere after having blogged the past 11 years of his life.

Now I wouldn’t go so far to call blogging my “dialogue with the divine.” But I do understand Justin’s point. As Paul says:

In the video, he’s crying and musing aloud as to why it is he feels so alone and disconnected from people. To him, publishing on the web is his only scrap of human connection and he wonders whether it’s the only thing connecting him to others or all that is keeping him disconnected.

Do we become dependent on the “virtual” relationships we form online and sacrifice the more fulfilling friendships we’ve already formed offline? Do we stop blogging what we live and begin living in order to blog? I think after the high of seeing how easy it is to publish on the internet, every blogger starts to reflect on their motivations.

Why do I blog? In one line, it is the comments that followed my last post. It is the sense of community which has developed on this blog and the blog of every person who commented that transcends the distance between us.

Back in San Diego there was a cafe I would go to each morning after dropping my sister off to drink some joe and read the Times. I’d always sit at the same table and a few tables across from me was a group of 8 to 10 forty-somethings who would meet every morning before going to work. It was obvious that they had met each other over the years of seeing familiar faces at their neighborhood cafe. So there they’d be, filing in each morning from 7:45 to 8:15 and filing out about half an hour later. They would read the paper, they would talk about current events, they’d talk about whatever was on their mind. But you could tell, what really keeps them coming back every morning was the sense of community they felt.

I was always a little envious of their circle. I wanted to be part of it. Sometimes I would overhear a conversation and there would be something I’d want to throw in. But I never went up and introduced myself because I’m just not a morning person and I prefer to be myself until the clock passes noon. Plus often they’d go on about topics that just didn’t interest me … probably because of our age difference.

And that is exactly what this blog and all the other blogs I read are for me. They are a big table at a neighborhood cafe where we meet almost every morning before going to work to talk about what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in our lives. Except that we don’t have to all live in the same neighborhood. And we don’t all have to be free at the same time. And if there is a conversation that doesn’t interest us, we don’t have to be a part of it.

But with that said, I can relate to a post Cindy wrote a few days ago. There are a lot of people who I know read this blog on a regular basis, but have never once left a comment. I go through my stages where I don’t feel like commenting myself. Sometimes I’m just too lazy or I feel like it’s too public. But to read a blog every day and never once comment or email the author seems a little bit like pulling up a chair to the table and never once saying a word. Or maybe it’s just eavesdropping.

Good god. Where am I? What the hell have I been writing about for the past hour?

Anyway, my point simply was, it’s been a nice and refreshing (and much needed) vacation from the blog for the past week or so and I’m looking forward to start writing regularly on it again.

Learning How to Speak English in Spanish

Carl's Junior MonterreySince Carl’s Junior is the one place in Monterrey I’ve found so far with free wi-fi, I’ve felt obligated – on a near daily basis – to order my share of Famous Stars and Breakfast Burritos. Only, no one understands what the hell I’m saying when I try to order one. I’ve come to understand that they are not “Famous Stars,” but rather “Fahmus Sturs” and they’re not “Breakfast Buhreetos” so much as “Breeekfus Burritos.” I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. Just now I went to ask if they charge for on the coffee. I should clarify that, yes, the word in Spanish for “refill” is actually “refill.” Well, not quite. It’s more like “rreeeefeeel.” I still hesitate before saying words like breeekfus and rreeefeeel, but it’s coming to me.

By the way, if anyone knows of a free wi-fi hotspot in Monterrey besides Carl’s Junior, please let me know.

Sushi Mexicano con Jalapeños

Our RollsThe cultural adaptation has been moving along slowly but surely, although there is one thing I will never be able to accustom myself to and that’s the Mexican interpretation of the American interpretation of Japanese sushi.

Whatever it is, it’s not sushi, but I do have to admit that it’s pretty damn tasty. So far we’ve tried the cosmo roll, which is like Sushi Milanesa, some sort of adaptation on the Philadelphia roll, and the tempura roll (pictured) which resembles most closely what we call sushi. The “soy sauce” is more like salsa de chipotle, but the real kicker is that instead of wasabi, here you’re expect to mix jalepenos with your “soy sauce.” What blasphemy! I’ll make sure to keep you all updated on my adventures in multicultural gastronomy.

Drop Me A Line

There’s so much to tell. This entire past week has been contstant sensory overload as Mari calls it. And a lot of reflections. But I think I’m going to go over most of those in my first podcast which should be done by the end of the week. It’s taken me a while to get the hang of Audacity, the program I’m using to make the podcast.

One thing I wanted to do is introduce some of the bloggers who comment on here regularly, but so far only Elena has left a message on my electronic voice mail. (with Seyd hinting he might be willing to). So what would be sweet is if you’d be willing to call me up at 206-984-9581 and leave me a voice mail. About anything … maybe what you did this past weekend? Then the voice mail will be automatically sent to my inbox and I can edit it into the podcast.

Even if you don’t want to be included in the podcast, I’d still love to hear from you. It’s rare that I hear any English down here other than the podcasts I listen to and when ordering at Carl’s Junior so a random voice mail from someone would mean a lot. Just tell me in the voice mail that you don’t want it to be recorded.

Last thing is we’re near the end of the long and painful process of convincing TelMex to let us have broadband in our house. So within about a week we should be all connected and then I’ll be fully reachable on Skype.

Skype is a Voice over IP service which is free as long as you call another computer and pretty cheap if you call an actual phone line. I tried it out before leaving San Diego and was really impressed by its quality. Just as good as any conversation between two cell phones. Anyway, my skype name is “elosopecoso” so add me to your contact list and ring me up if you see me online.

13 Comments

  1. refill is NOT a word in spanish. You are going to have lots of work ahead if you plan on writing in both languages and given summaries. I miss you.

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  2. I’m looking forward to your bilingual blog! I’ll call your number very soon. Have fun!

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  3. so glad to see you are back on-line, osito grande! we’ve all missed you (um, no offense to Abogado and Moreno, but where the hell are they?!) ~ :). I know we all look forward to your bilingual blogging and podcasts ~ as my Dad would say, “ai, que fancy eres” !

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  4. Oso: “I guess the sensitive side of Mexican machismo is coming out.”

    This is an oxymoron. There is no sensitive side! Another thing, I can completely relate to not being understood in México when I pronounce a word in English. My couisn and her boyfriend had no idea what the hell I was saying when I told them I drove a Stratus. I tried to describe it as a Dodge a little bigger than a Neon. “Oooo, estratús!” I don’t like people making fun of my English.

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  5. Yes, you are in part responsible for my switch to WP and the other part is due to MT’s sucky support for multilingual blogs. I started blogging in Hindi for a while ( in secret, of course ) and my URLs in the devnaagari script always translated into a’s. Anyways, for that and more reasons Movable Type sucks!

    Talking about multilingual blogs and belonging to certain communities, it puzzles me how I also consider myself part of the Regio blog community and the US Latino blog community, but yet I blog so sporadically and migrate so often from domain to domain that I wonder how people still remember me. I am glad though, you do. Now that you are in Monterrey perhaps you will lend me a helping hand in reviving MTYBlogs.com, I haven’t updated that for a while.

    Finally, unless Mexican spanish has changed since the last time I visited, is the ‘de moda’ and not ‘en modo’. Which brings me to my next point, keeping a multilingual blog is a quite the challenge. I have only become a bilingual blogger in the last two years or so, and discovered that maintaining a regular readership having a multilingual and multicultural blog is a difficult endeavor. Monolingual readers will feel alianated by the posts in languages they don’t understand and since the pool of bilingual readers is pretty small your numbers may decrease, but then again, this is SUPER OSO we’re talking about it, things will be different for you.

    PD. I’ve added you to my Skype contact’s list and I thought I had left you a voicemail but I’ll do that again for your PECOSOpodcast.

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  6. Oso, you outed Mari. She’ll do fantastic. I agree. Good to hear you’re doing well. Hey, I think there’s also a Carl’s Jr. next to the Howard Johnson in the Barrio Antiguo. It’s also close to the musuem. That may be an interesting joint. Suerte man. Aver si no te caigo en Monterrey de repente.

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  7. Pink Shirts? It’s over there now (I blame it on American Imperialization!!!). Call me unhip, but I can’t bring myself to wear pink shirts…8)

    I was going to go up there in March…but the only dates I could go, the dates that lie in between the UCSD quarter system, fall on semana santa. I would feel real guilty partying and hitting the night life during semana santa. Also, my boy that lives in Edinburg Texas, he is on strict probation for the next couple months, and would be risking alot to cross the border into Mexico. So I am postponing it until the next quarter break, sometime in May/June time frame.

    Estoy tratando de convencer a CindyLu que vaya conmigo, así que a ver si la puedes animar. Se me hace que me tiene algo de miedo. Si decide no ir, entonces voy a tener que ir con alguien más, a lo mejor mi primo….I hope you (and your girl?) will still be able to go out because we are going to hit the night life HARD. I haven’t seen you around your girl yet, so I don’t know if you are a “mandil” or not. But if you are allowed to go out…the first drinks are on me.

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  8. Good stuff, Oso.

    I’d love to move to WP, but that means redoing my site – I’m getting bored with the minimalist look. But I’m far too lazy to do a redesign at the moment.

    I tried to add you to skype, but it was giving me some crap about not finding your user name. Of course, I’m not entirely sure that it will work on the wireless connection I was on anyway..

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  9. Abogado, get OUT while you still can!

    You mean I can’t just go to law school and not take the bar? I only came here because I thought “Juris Doctor” sounded cool. That and because getting a job didn’t seem all that appealing. Good luck to you, I’m sure you won’t need it.

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  10. “Refill”—euhhh!
    Honey, that is why i am not going to visit you in that place south of the Rio Grande and North of Mexico City.

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  11. So tough to please. Aren’t you cutting out Gto, Vera Cruz, Michoacan, and Qto? Some perty places through those parts.

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  12. I tried to add you in SKYPE and it said you hadn’t logged in for a long time … – Steve

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  13. Skype is right. It has been a long time. Still no connection at the house and I just don’t have the guts to talk to my computer at Carl’s Junior yet.

    Be on the lookout for my first podcast coming out later this week. I’m such a huge fan of Audacity.

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