Saturday, December 31, 2011

What is in a Word?

In Spain, la Madre Patria, they call New Year's Eve, Noche Vieja. In Puerto Rico we call it, Año Viejo. Noche Vieja, means old night, while Año Viejo, means old year. There is a difference in gender, too, which is not considered in English. Noche Vieja is femenine and Año Viejo is masculine. I don't know which I prefer more, but I do know I have always called it Año Viejo, which is very appropriate since we are talking about letting the old year go and isn't just about any old night. So yeah, I'm sticking to Año Viejo and that's it!

Tomorrow will be another day. God bless you all with a beautiful prosperous New Year or Año Nuevo, full of God's love and peace.

The Latest Driving Ploy

It was an ordinary day. I had left my sister’s apartment and was about to get on the eight-lane highway in front of the airport. There were three lanes between where I was and where I needed to be. I checked if I had enough distance between myself and the car behind. In fact, I waited for a car to go by, and there was a clearing and in my judgment I could change lanes without endangering anyone. I turned on my signal light, accelerated, and changed lanes. Remember this is something I routinely do.

A red compact car, which had been at least six car lengths behind me, accelerated abruptly and positioned himself behind me and honked his horn, while I continued my movement to the right. I thought briefly that this reaction from the car behind me was uncalled for and there really wasn’t much I could do to say I’m sorry since there isn’t a universal hand signal to say pardon me or I’m sorry. Knowing it had been a minor offense, if any, I moved on. He’ll get over it. Next thing I know, the red car suddenly moved in front of me. Umm, red flag. Road rage.

I was expecting him to give me the famous hand signal, the finger, but it didn’t come. Instead he drove a normal speed for a few seconds and then deliberately put on the brakes in front of me. There was something funny about it. Actually, it was not funny at all. He had abruptly slowed down yet his brake lights did not come on. Next he went real slow, and then did a devil type of hand signal with long skinny fingers. I gasped inside realizing what had just happened. Seeing no reaction and no accident, he moved on.

I felt like cursing him while observing him suspiciously, but instead I prayed for him to repent. He moved two lanes across the road to his left and I did not take my eyes off of him until there was a concrete divider between us and he could no longer come into my lane.

I couldn’t figure this out. It was a sparkling new car. Shiny. Sparkling. Spick and span. Yet, I knew his brake lights hadn’t come on but it wasn’t until this morning I realized that he probably has his car souped-up to take off those brake lights deliberately. He wanted me to crash in to him or give me a big scare. In any case, it didn’t work.

What I did find alarming is the malice. No longer is it just the expected sloppy driving but now the ploys. I later spoke to a friend and he says this is a ploy that is being pulled on unsuspecting drivers to make them bump into the car in front of them, pull over, and then rob them. It makes sense since I was on the road to the airport where many tourists drive to return their cars.

Fortunately, I am returning home soon. In the meantime you can be sure I will be praying and changing my routine while watching out for that little red car that is on fire.

Dios nos proteja!

Friday, December 30, 2011


One of my favorite plants: the I spelling that wrong? Any way, just like Juliette would by any other name a rose would smell as sweet, more or less, and bougainvilleas are beautiful in white, tangy orange, beige, or magenta...feathery, paper like, and lovely. Thorns that secure a safe hedge, but nevertheless scratchy and a tad threatening all wrapped up in one.

La trinitaria como le decimos en español. Whatever you call it trinitaria (trinity) or bougainvillea, it is beautiful. Enjoy!

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Gift Cards Scam

Gift cards are so convenient but they should come with a warning label reading, "This merchandise may be harmful to your wallet!" Be careful when giving away a gift card. Scams! Unscrupulous people are finding a way to get to your money before you can give it away. Recently I gave a family member a gift card, which I purchased at it well known drug store and gave it as a present of course. You know how convenient gift cards are to insert in a thank you card or to give someone to go to a restaurant since you are making it more personal. Well, so I gave away a Visa gift card. When my relative went to use it, it gave him all sorts of problems including not being able to use it in his favorite restaurant to pay for his own meal. It was exasperating and confusing, defeating the whole purpose of the gift!

How does this scam work? Well they the steal the access code to your gift card. You purchase and activate the card but before you are able to use it, they have accessed and used it!

What can we do?

First of all, be wise. Check the display where the cards are located. They should not be available for people to touch and finger through unsupervised. They should be located behind the counter for direct supervision. If they are aren't, that should immediately raise a red flag. These cards are potential money and should be displayed as expensive jewelry because in value they are.

Don't buy them there and speak to the manager! Shop around until you find a store that has their gift cards properly secured and displayed. Until you find a place with the proper security in place, don't purchase a card. It might be better to give someone a money order than a gift card in my opinion.

More articles and advice on the topic:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Punta Tuna Beach Maunabo in late December

These pictures speak for themselves, don't they?

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Cruz de Malta Fest

These are some guava colored Cruz de Malta or Maltese Cross flowers that I found in a garden in Villas del Faro. I thought they were lovely so here they are. The funny part is that the batteries in my camera had basically expired or died and a few minutes earlier had refused to open the camera or take a shot. I let the camera rest for a few minutes and it worked long enough for me to take these quick shots!

See other Cruz de Malta pictures.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Walking along the Beach

An occasional red leaf
among a sea of green,
grasses gracefully holding their ground,
washed up bamboo
peeled off branches,
a hairy coconut,
a solitary pelican gliding along
as he watches us
walk along the beach.

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Friday, December 23, 2011


What is it? This is a capsule which I understand is made locally in Puerto Rico and is used particularly when people have been prescribed antibiotics and need to have the natural flora in their intestines restored. According to Web this is their description and I quote:

"This product contains the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is naturally found in the stomach/intestines. Some conditions (such as antibiotic use) can cause problems with the normal balance of bacteria in the stomach/intestines, resulting in diarrhea. This product can help restore the normal balance of intestinal bacteria. This product has been used for diarrhea and other stomach/intestinal problems. It has also been used for vaginal and urinary tract infections."

Find the complete entry here

The pills are inexpensive, effective, easy to take, and make you feel better quickly.* I know they have been inspected since I needed a doctor's prescription to get them at a local pharmacy which is part of a national chain. I wish they were manufactured stateside but I appreciate I can come to PR and find them.

*Note these comments do not constitute an endorsement or medical advice but simply my experience using intestinex.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tamales, too.

We made some tamales with La Colombiana cornmeal, but I can't give you the recipe because if I do my sister will do me all I can say is that they came out delicious!
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Essential Christmas Tradition in PR

Christmas in PR is lively and religious with either going to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve or Midnight Mass (Misa de Gallo). It also includes family get-togethers with good food and one of the most traditional foods is Pasteles. It is a tradition for family members to get together earlier in the week to put all the ingredientes together, so my sister, my niece, her husband, and I did just that this afternoon. We gathered around a table and started the assembly line. At the head of the table was the wax paper, with a seared plantain leaf on top, then you have to spoon some oil melded with achiote (annatto), next la masa or finely grated green banana mix with chicken broth (you can purchase this mix pre-grated at many grocery stores), then add garbanzos, olives, a raisin or two, and a strand of red pepper.

The last person in the assembly line folds the paper with the mix inside making a neatly folded rectangle which is tied with a bit of string like a neat little package. You can place the pasteles in the freezer and have them ready for a party, family get together, or simply for when you are hungry and don't want to cook.

It is a treat!

Haciendo Punto en un Pastel

Tradición familiar indiscutible en la Navidad ademas de las luces navideñas, lechon asado, parrandas, y coquito es hacer una pastelada. Esta tarde mi hermana, sobrina, su esposo, y yo nos unimos para hacer los pasteles tradicionales de Puerto Rico.
Los pasteles tenian todos los ingredientes esenciales incluyendo, la masa de guineos con caldo de pollo, con un toque de calabaza y papa, ademas de pernil guisado y pollo, el aciete con oliva con achiote, luego las acietunas con alcaparas, garbanzos, unas pasas opcionales, las hojas de plantano amortiguadas y con un cierre de oro con un cordoncito en lazo.

Hicimos 24 pasteles con cuatro libras de masa preparada, 2 lb. de calabaza, y dos papas medianas...

Quedaron bien lindos. Horita los probamos... te cuento!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Earthquake in Puerto Rico Trench Today

A 3.69 earthquake took place in the Puerto Rico Trench area but don't be misled by the name of the area because it was actually closer to the Dominican Republic. I thought we might all want to take note. Though the USGS clearly marks the latitude and longitud, it doesn't go indepth in the Worldwide List of Recent Earthquakes any information of the surrounding geography. Of course not it is a list and limited to a line, though if you click on the word map, it will take you to a more detailed map of the area. Yet even then, the map does not denote the fact that this particular quake was within the Trench area, one of the deepest areas in the world. Click here for the map at USGS. The Puerto Rico Seismic Network on the other hand includes depth information in its color coded illustrations which make it easier to interpret this information. It works better for those of us who are not versed in the location of various trenches and fault lines. So kudos for them! To see the info click here, then scroll down. Basically what I am saying is that it helps to know you can merge the information from both sites to get a more complete picture of the seismic activity in any given area. Follow the links at USGS and you will find the originating source for their information and it is usually replete with additional information.

Noting that we had some recent seismic activity just off of Puerto Rico last week. See links here. Since then many people are trying to keep tabs on earthquake activity in the area. Let's hope we all stay safe, that is our prayer.

To all those gifted and dedicated people putting up such useful information online, Thank You!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Earthquakes in Puerto Rico

Here is the full report...of earthquakes in PR of 2.5 and up, because according to a newspaper reporter, family member of mine, there have been hundreds of minor aftershocks since last night's two twin earthquakes right off of Puerto Rico. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued the following information on its website for Dec 17th

MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 23:08:43 18.202 -67.364 13.8 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 23:07:20 18.177 -67.367 17.7 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 5.0 2011/12/17 22:42:24 -22.465 179.268 615.0 SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS
MAP 2.9 2011/12/17 21:21:39 62.114 -147.419 6.4 CENTRAL ALASKA
MAP 5.3 2011/12/17 20:54:21 -59.759 -26.435 68.7 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 19:47:51 18.180 -67.356 15.9 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.9 2011/12/17 16:33:09 38.489 -122.727 4.8 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 14:46:59 32.802 -100.857 5.0 WESTERN TEXAS
MAP 2.9 2011/12/17 13:37:18 62.147 -145.244 37.5 CENTRAL ALASKA
MAP 3.0 2011/12/17 11:43:20 18.166 -67.366 12.4 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.7 2011/12/17 10:19:52 19.503 -155.493 1.9 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 5.0 2011/12/17 10:18:19 -32.770 -178.405 15.8 SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS
MAP 3.1 2011/12/17 10:05:32 18.165 -67.375 17.8 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 09:48:34 18.188 -67.372 11.8 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 09:13:07 18.167 -67.369 19.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 4.7 2011/12/17 08:48:19 45.388 147.555 162.4 KURIL ISLANDS
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 08:00:57 18.194 -67.340 15.6 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 07:34:48 18.191 -67.342 17.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.1 2011/12/17 07:32:20 18.179 -67.371 16.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.1 2011/12/17 07:30:21 18.195 -67.380 16.8 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.7 2011/12/17 07:21:57 18.238 -67.355 13.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 07:11:13 18.161 -67.368 16.6 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.1 2011/12/17 07:03:18 18.178 -67.366 21.5 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 07:01:08 18.174 -67.382 16.3 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.7 2011/12/17 06:55:14 18.174 -67.377 24.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 06:49:17 18.173 -67.362 21.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 06:45:56 18.184 -67.394 7.6 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 06:40:09 18.152 -67.397 17.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.7 2011/12/17 06:38:23 18.160 -67.391 15.1 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.1 2011/12/17 06:32:18 18.158 -67.365 16.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 06:23:08 18.189 -67.357 13.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 06:21:03 18.185 -67.380 17.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.5 2011/12/17 06:16:39 18.186 -67.355 12.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 06:15:40 18.194 -67.367 15.6 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.0 2011/12/17 06:14:20 18.186 -67.319 7.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 06:11:03 18.170 -67.165 41.0 PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 06:09:23 33.786 -116.707 18.5 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP 5.3 2011/12/17 06:09:09 18.172 -67.371 17.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 5.1 2011/12/17 06:06:12 18.188 -67.370 14.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 4.8 2011/12/17 06:04:56 4.197 122.856 588.2 CELEBES SEA
MAP 3.0 2011/12/17 03:16:49 37.029 -104.873 5.0 COLORADO
MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 00:53:29 60.793 -153.015 179.8 SOUTHERN ALASKA
MAP 4.9 2011/12/17 00:12:18 -52.493 26.542 10.0 SOUTH OF AFRICA

We have a proverb here in Puerto Rico, "Dios nos coja confesao," which basically means, if we are called "home," may we have made things right we the Lord or have gone to confession. So let's hope things settle down. That there may be peace in our little island and peace on our streets, too. Say a little prayer for Puerto Rico.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Earthquakes in Puerto Rico 12/17/11

Several earthquakes in the wee hours of the morning...starting at 2:06 with the first large one, a 5.1 on the Richter scale followed by a 5.4 three minutes later, and then a few minutes later the third a 3.0. Actually according to the USGS, there were four after shocks, after the larger 5.3. The 2.8 one being the latest. All of them being are pretty shallow relatively, with the deepest one at 17.2 miles in depth. Data from the USGS is as follows:

MAP 2.8 2011/12/17 09:48:34 18.188 -67.372 11.8 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 4.7 2011/12/17 08:48:19 45.388 147.555 162.4 KURIL ISLANDS
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 07:34:48 18.191 -67.342 17.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.2 2011/12/17 06:45:56 18.184 -67.394 7.6 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 3.0 2011/12/17 06:14:20 18.186 -67.319 7.2 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 2.6 2011/12/17 06:09:23 33.786 -116.707 18.5 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP 5.3 2011/12/17 06:09:09 18.172 -67.371 17.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO
MAP 5.1 2011/12/17 06:06:12 18.188 -67.370 14.0 MONA PASSAGE, PUERTO RICO

It seems like Puerto Rico is a spout for excess energy, and as I follow these earthquakes pretty much on a regular basis, if there is no release of energy on a daily basis around Puerto Rico and the Virgen Islands, as in small quakes of 2.0 and up to 3.1, we will see earthquakes in the extended regions such as Colombia and Mexico.

I suppose it was Puerto Rico's turn to have the folds in the earth straightened out. I just hope there is not going to be a larger one coming and we can have a nice Christmas vacation.

Apparently a lot of people felt it, things fell off furniture and walls, the earth groaned, and people were shaken about. It reminds me of last year's Christmas eve earthquake of 5.4 in Aguas Buenas which I felt in Carolina, Puerto Rico. It was not a nice feeling let me tell you! It is something you do not soon forget.

To read the story at El Nuevo Dia, the local Spanish newspaper go here.

To see maps and information from the USGS in other words the US Geological Service go here.