Happy New Year! The Heap’s 2010 (Expected) Outlook

theheaplogo.jpg picture by jmooser

Happy New Year Heapsters! I know we are four days into the year, but I just wanted to formally express my best wishes to all family and friends who read along. It’s been a busy few days since the holiday, so  finally got the chance to post.

The Heap always rings in the new year with a bang, as the second annual unofficial Silver Forrest Fireworks Show (Sponsored by The Heap) may have been the best show yet in the 5 or so years of performances.

Supplies. Well Armed. The Heap knows how to blow it up.

Got some good deals at a local tent. The least I have ever spent and the most I have ever gotten. This made me quite happy.

Jephren with excellent photo taking skills. Mortar mid flight.

And here’s a pic of the action! Thanks to Jephren and his camera. So as you can see, it was a fun filled evening with lots of family, Spanish broadcasting, and beer. Hope all of you were able to enjoy time and be safe as well!

What does 2010 exactly mean for The Heap? Well, you won’t see too much of a dramatic change in philosophy. We will still present original viewpoints on, well, basically anything! There should be an exciting lineup of movies, DVD’s and music to review. We will be stepping up the critiques! There wasn’t enough of it and it keeps my skills up to par. On deck first (whenever I finally go and buy it) will be a review of Cage the Elephant’s new album. They’ve intrigued me enough to merit an album purchase, as I’ve heard a few songs during my lovely 8 hours at work!

Also, we are pledging to read more. You’d think that the English major in me would just want to continuously read and read and read, right? No, I feel that this has had the opposite effect, since I just wanted to get away from it for a while. This has turned to almost 2 years (Only having read a few things of note such as Watchmen and The Life of Pi). So! The Heap will have more book reviews as well!

One area I have not ventured into is video games. I’m progressing through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Forza 3, so once I get far enough I will review those two as well. Hopefully I can get some other games this year!

I also felt that there was a noticeable lack of original content. I had a few good opinion pieces, but I need to write more. In addition, I need to enhance my creative writing as well. Look for perhaps some poems songs and short stories? Who knows! I know that I want to write some original essays about a few interesting thoughts I’ve had.

SO anyway! That’s where I hope to head with The Heap for the time being! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Special Thank You…

To my mom. I heard you come by last night and peak in to make sure I was ok. I wasn’t asleep. Just pretending. Thank you for that little action. Thank you for being there. Thank you for giving me so much when I have so little to give to you.

Thank you for not saying “I told you so.” (Though I’m sure I’ll hear it later on!)

I don’t know what I would do without you.

And to my sister, who’s probably the best listener out there. Thank you for your support. Beat those exams.

Day 1.

The Heap Presents: The Top 10 Ways to Know You Are On a Flight To/From Latin America

I have just returned from my lovely across the state trek to the Orlando airport to pick up my grandfather who was flying in from Puerto Rico. This list came to mind when we first dropped him off a few days ago, when we had to check him in and watch him ride off into the security line on his wheelchair. It has been a long time since I have gone to PR myself, and I have not been able to adequately enjoy these traits of Latin flights. So, here it is, the top 10 clues that you are on a flight from a Latin country.

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10. The parking lot is full at “off-peak” hours. This also includes making the “Arrivals” waiting/pick up area a parking lot. We all know we don’t follow directions to well- especially if it has to do with driving. Most flights going to or coming from destinations of Latin nature are either very, very early, or very, very late. So if you are wondering why the airport is full at that time, it’s because a caravan of people came to see off / pick up a loved one. This is explained in great detail at #2.

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9. There are no formal lines, just hoards of people waiting to be called on. If you arrive at the counter/ security area and all you see is a disorganized mob, chances are you are going to/leaving a Latin destination. We are practical people. Lines limit space. The Heap’s advice is to keep pressing forward and shuffle your feet. Don’t be alarmed if you bump into someone or you are bumped into. This is part of the process.

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8. All you hear is Spanish. Duh. What use is English? Chances are even the employees are going to be native speakers and will have just basic English skills. Plus, we like to speak Spanish in English speaking places, because we can!

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7. People are either overdressed or under dressed. This is quite noticeable. Most people of Latin decent tend to overdress for flights, treating it as some semi formal occasion. The amount of preparation that goes into traveling day is unprecedented. So if you notice people heading back to their country, there’s a good chance they will be dressed nicely. Then of course you have the other extreme, which include (but not limited to): sleeveless T-shirts, Underarmor, ridiculously thuggish clothes, curve accentuating tops and bottoms, lots of bling

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6. You see card board boxes being checked or retrieved from baggage claim. I feel that this is perhaps the second most telling clue that you are flying to/from Latin America. It is a familial duty to bring back all sorts of goodies from the Motherland. And since we love to over pack our suitcases, there is no room to bring them back, though some of the more advanced/considerate travelers set aside a suitcase specific to this purpose. Goods in the boxes include (but again, not limited to): Native pastries, native plants, gifts, something that has to be frozen/refrigerated, fresh cuts of meat/fish, livestock. (Honorable Mention: Pretty much every suitcase is over the allotted weight limit!)

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5. Greenery and exotic fruits are carried on. The subconscious planter in the depths of the Latin “id” comes to life when one returns to the Motherland. Thus, plants and fruits not available back home MUST be brought back home in order to attempt to grow them in your back yard, or to give them as gifts to someone who can. I can hear it now: “Please be careful when opening overhead compartments because bags and plant stems may have shifted.”

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4. It is really, really loud. Oh, you can’t escape it. In the aforementioned “line” people will be babbling in what may seem to the English speaker as tongues. Think your red-eye flight will be a nice time to catch some Z’s while the plane crosses the Caribbean? Guess again. There is a strong possibility that people will talk LOUDLY. If you are lucky enough to have your fellow passengers calm it down, then there will most certainly be a crying infant. And if you manage to avoid that, then there will be loud, obnoxious snoring from somewhere. Latin men and women are sound sleepers and loud snorers. Investment in Bose headphones is a must.

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3. Your flight is running late. Due to weather? Probably not. Forecast calls for clear skies and a strong contingent of stragglers. Possible reasons: Diaper changes and rounding up the family, having a three course meal, buying stuff at the duty free shop, leaving the house just 15 minutes before (and then packing), drinking at the bar, having to recover from the security strip search because of not following directions and/or putting back on all that bling. And lastly, if your pilots are Latin, they will be fashionably late too.

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2. The whole family is there to pick people up. Back before life was heavily Americanized, thus increasing the amount people fly for vacations, business, or for no reason at all, there was a time where traveling was almost a ritualistic rite of passage (which explains the need to dress up). The entire family comes to welcome back the loved one, and if you’re lucky, there might be a band of tribal drums there! (True Story: At TIA, Airside F is where the American Airlines San Juan flight comes in. Coincidently, it’s the only airside that has a roped off section with signs that tell the waiting parties to stay behind the barrier…)

1. Passengers clap and cheer when the plane lands. This is the most distinguished clue that you are on a Latin flight. As the plane makes its final approach, one can feel a unique tension build. This might be the only time that you experience quiet. The runway comes into view, the rear wheels touch, the front wheel touches, and a nice deceleration ensues. And then, at the first moment of assured safety, applause emerges from the silence, even some cheers and songs. Try this on your next flight on the US mainland. It doesn’t work quite as well…

So there you have it. Make sure to be looking for this the next time you fly! And feel free to leave comments with your favorite traits!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

TTMC: The Thankful Edition

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Monday looms on the horizon. And with that, December and the countdown to holidays will begin! But of course, there is plenty of time this Sunday to reflect upon what we are thankful for here at the heap.

First and foremost, being able to have a dinner. God has blessed us here with a loving family, excellent cooking ability, and a mediocre metabolism. But emphasis on the family part.

What a meal! Special thanks to Abuelo and Mom for cooking the meat. Even Nicole pitched in with her classic green bean casserole. I, of course, am the expert turkey slicer. It pays to be nice. I decided the rations!

What a beautiful bird! It was deeeeeelicious. And I highly recommend the white wine Chateau Ste. Michelle. While I had a glass or two, I can’t say I can kill off a wine in less than an hour 😉

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, where you may have spent it! Never forget to thank God for all that you have, especially as we become more successful… and never let us forget to help out those who need it!

The heap’s Ultimate Thanks List:

Families, no matter how unorthodox or dysfunctional they may be, my Texan Kitty- for always being there no matter what, my job- which allows me to make a difference… as little as it may be, friendships- near and far, music- what usully gets me through the day (other than feline filled thoughts!), and so many more things!

Let’s get mentally prepared for Christmas now, perhaps what Christians are most thankful for. Presents aren’t bad either!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser