Where in the world is Canin Applesnacks?

In Medellin for the time being. The political climate in the US unhealthy, and I need to learn Spanish. Or such are my excuses. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to continue working while I am traveling. I'm only a few days in and am feeling my capacity to focus returning. We've been able to get Ross' blog up and running; as well Brady seems to be doing well with recording his music. Yea, we need to get some more shows booked for him, but we've also compiled a fantastic list of venues!!

OMG, and MnActivist received fiscal sponsorship -- which means I've got some work to do. That site seems to be fuddling up, but I've also made some great connections to help change the structure (adding a WordPress component) which is a great opportunity to expand my webdev knowledge. I was always hesitant to learn WP because is it written in PHP, which is not as strictly written as Python. But with time, WP has grown and I'm super excited to return to the platform.


TEDxMinneapolis: McFail Salon

It's always an interesting time when I exit the walls called my bedroom; and Friday evening was no different. I attended the local rendition of a TEDx Salon; which as was explained, was to be a scaled down version of the larger TEDx, or TED "experience". They're real big on branding in the TED scene. You can't even throw a TEDx event unless you've attended the main TED event; tickets go for over $5,000 and you have to apply because they "actively seek out leading thinkers and doers across a wide range of fields". Super 'sclusive!

This evenings TEDx event brought together 4 presenters and was topically focused on sound. There was a vocal coach who spoke poignantly about the magical ability of the human voice. How our own voices uniquely reverberate through our bodies, and in this capacity serve as instruments for healing! I came to rely upon singing as a means to get me through trials and tribulations in my own life. How both the words and melody combine to provide affirmation of self amidst chaos. Singing is a means to both acknowledge one's autonomy while remaining connected to the larger whole of humanity. Was a great talk to hear given.

The next talk was given by a gentleman named Toki Wright. He is a bit of a local celebrity; respected rapper, activist and most recently, professor of hip-hop at McNally-Smith School of Music. I was a good three beers deep by the time his talk came around; so I don't remember much of it. I think he talked about how music can provide both a means to escape immediate surroundings and relate to other stories.

I met Toki many years ago, I can't remember if he dated a friend's sister or not; they were involved in Yo!TheMovement for a time together. Along with a few other local notables. Either way, we also shared a teacher from the University of Minnesota General College. A formative individual who taught a class called Multicultural Relations. It was an introduction to anything and everything activism, and raised my own expectations for Toki's empathic capacity. Needless to say, time and again he has disappointed me. Without regaling the negativity; up next was actual music: a flute, a cello, and a beatboxer! That was worth the price of admission to me.

Lastly, for me at least, was Dr Roger Dumas! My old high school computer science lab attendant. I know, I have no respect for people it would seem. His talk was basically a pitch for people to listen to the records again, because the static inherent to their recording actually facilitated a more complete listening experience, as affirmed by science. Not really a mind-bender, but sufficient to make the rich, mostly white, people in the audience feel nostalgic for the time-being.

Now onto what was interesting, to me at least. I met the kid of a VP of the McPhail School, and his mother! Sat right next to them too. Later in the evening the kid and I spoke. Naturally the conversation delved into politics, in which I asserted the idea that most people of our generation thought that marijuana should be legalized. To which he countered, for medicinal use only. I was a bit taken aback; where the hell did this conservatism come from, I wondered?!? I should also mention, he worked at the school as well.

So let's get this story straight; daddy is a VP at the school, and in all likelyhood, because of this, you've got a comfy job; wherein which you think that marijuana should only be accessed by doctor affirmed patients. Sounds like uneducated privilege born of inexperience to me! Meh, moving on.

I also met a Colombiana. She is a student at the University who sought an opportunity to volunteer; and connect with a local academically minded scene. A pleasant individual to be sure; I was quick to discern she was wise to the game Minnesota plays. I was a dangerous character with which to be seen fraternizing. As a brown male, often alone in large groups of people, I'm more often than not seen as a threat, based purely on stereotype. Later, when we exchanged Twitter handles, her white friend was beside her; also a student. The friend seemed fairly taken-aback when I mentioned that I actually had a relationship with President of the University as I involved myself with the state legislative processes last spring, and have been active for quite sometime at the school as well. Damn, foiled the stereotype again, had not a coherent channel for them to turn!

Here is the kicker - on her, the Colombiana's, name placard, the topic about which people were encouraged to ask her about was "Columbia". Yup, you read that right! What was infuriating is that, rather than apologize, or seek to amend the oversight, she was told that it was spelled that way for the phonetic ease of Minnesotans!!! HOLY WHAT THE WHITE ARROGANCE!!

Overall, the evening was a success, I got drunk and have a few more funny stories to tell. I discerned that Toki is a pompous putz; though, as in his words, "everyone has a good side." Minnesota is a vain culture, and navigating it means negotiating inflated egos. I'll let the rest of the context slide for the time being, and conclude this post by reminding folks that Colombia, the country, is spelled with an "o"; and that it is incredibly offensive to attempt to justify the misspelling of one's homeland.

Better luck next time TEDxMinneapolis!

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What does Leadership mean?

I don't even know. A few weeks ago are go involved with a job painting. The operation was to restore the outside and inside of 96 windows. This was also to include sash replacement (a weight and pulley system used to keep window opened or closed). The uniqueness of the opportunity finds itself multi-layered. Not only had I arrived at this opportunity through the connection of a mutual friend, but my employer was contracted for this project by yet another mutual friend.

For the next 3 weeks I woke up every morning at 5:45 or earlier, and arrived on site to work by 7 am or earlier. It soon became apparent that I would be leading the crew that was to provide the labor for this project; much to my dismay. I never had a father to speak-of, he was absent to say the least, while I was hoping to be able to learn from this individual, a trade. As gods enjoy to do, they laughed at this aspiration and placed two older gentleman (>55), one white and the other black, a middle-aged Chicano man (late-thirties to mid-forties) who didn't speak much English; and on most days, even the boss would arrive and asked me what needed to be done.

For a while I was able to cope with the situation. Until another individual was hired who fell asleep on the second day. I had to pressure my boss to let him go. After all was said and done, my immediate boss thanked me for my persistence in the matter. As well, I brought on another kid who was quicker to listen and to work. Though the complaints continued to roll in; most often towards the older black man. While they were not always entirely unfounded - he had been hired under the auspices of having experience, though often did things in an inefficient manner; he was capable of listening and taking direction.

Instead of taking a lead, my boss would arrive on site around 10am or so, only to soon leave for need to run errands or some other reason, perhaps needing to do paperwork. His days would often seem to end around 2-3pm, and then he would be off to the "office", a.k.a. a bar that he helped re-paint. This was quickly observed by the other workers, and only reinforced my position of leadership. The deal breaker arrived every time my boss would complain about the bureaucratic rigors mandated by the contract he has signed.

An aspect of the project, as it was paid for my grant money, was that a racially diverse labor force be employed (i.e. women and people of color). We had not a female painter, but we were stacked with people of color. Though as seems to be the case with all city jobs, strict records of employment schedules must be kept. My boss felt as though his privacy was being invaded. I could empathize with his discomfort in this matter. It was also the first time he had taken on such a comprehensive contract. Being that I also knew his employers, and had been hearing about this project from them for the past 6 months, I was also aware of the type of money he stood to make from the project.

The project was a fiasco from the start though there were two incidences near the end that pushed me to leave. The kid I brought on-board also worked at a restaurant with me and needed to leave by a certain time on certain days. Friday was one of those days, as well as payday. Our boss was aware of this person's time constraints, had already been on-site earlier that day, but had not distributed checks. Rather, he arrived 20 minutes after this individual needed to leave and when I asked for my check, snidely quipped, "You'll get your check." I did not feel such an attitude was at all deserved.

The next day was a Saturday, and being that this project need to get wrapped up before the snow falls - I was working, along with a few other crew members. Per usual, the boss would call mid-morning to check-in; though this morning he added a new analogy to his position. He declared that he would come in for a few hours to "crack the whip". WTF?!?

A previous job I worked for a couple of years, during my phone interviews the question was asked, "are you black?" I thought this to be a very fucked up question to ask, though I obliged to reply, "No, I'm Colombian." Such a designation often ingratiates me to the category of white-males who fantasize about being drug kingpins. After working the job for a while, a complaint I've heard more than once is usually enunciated, "I've just never had good luck employing black people."

This conversation came up multiple times at the painting job, which was ironic seeing as my boss had been contracted for this job by a black-owned company. Suffice to say, I could not work for this individual anymore. The individual I brought in remained at the job, though soon enough he was injured on the job and is now receiving workers compensation. My dear friend, my boss' employer, soon called me to express that my decision to no longer work for this individual did not affect our friendship at all. While ... I just heard news that the kid I brought in, his mom isn't doing well. I told him that no matter what I'm here for him - be it help moving, someone to talk to, or just someone with whom to kick it.

Leadership -- it's not about completing a task, it's about getting everyone through the task and onto the next one. It's about understanding people where they are at -- there are many other nuances to this story. I worked for this boss' mother other a few months ago, unbeknownst to all of us until he surprised me one morning with the question, "So how long have you been a peace activist for?". I didn't know how to reply. I played it off as a joke, until I realized he was serious - it was around 7 am that this conversation took place. I gave to him a synopsis my ventures in the non-profit world and felt more comfortable that he was aware of my equality-oriented mentality. A conversation for another time will be the pervasiveness of an exceptionality-plague that afflicts many who often exclaim, *"I'm aware of the problem, but I'm not like that."

I have yet to receive this last pay check. Knowledge can be both power, and pain.


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Still learning ...

It was a few years ago that I got back into the world of "web design"; I'm not sure of the right word to use, so I'll go with the lowest rung of the ladder. I first started off with the R language, which is a program comparable to a really big calculator. Though my aim has always been to design a website/websites.

I am now at this place where I've created this initial website, and I'm looking towards creating that one website I had in mind when I started this process. Needless to say, there have definitely been some misadventures, though what I have learned is far beyond a computer language. Interacting with the tech community can be a daunting task. I've already experienced the duplicitous benevolence of working for a company that paid lip-service to diversity. And I've also experienced the welcoming conversation of veterans who've had patience with my ignorance and illiteracy.

Recently I've had to rebuild the websites from the ground-up. This has meant changing the server from Apache to Nginx, as well as upgrading the app_server for the Python platform I'm using. This has all been completely new to me! And it has been an incredible challenge. Below I'll post some links to tutorials that guided me.

This breadth of experience, of having to be self-directed in one's growth, while negotiating what can be a tenuous relationship with mentors and peers is something, for which, I am now gaining an incredible appreciation. It has truly given me a confident to pursue other endeavors of interest.

This past week I engaged the conversation of a city council member, allowed the assistant of my city council member to put a face to the name and voice (we'd only previously spoken on the phone), re-engaged an old-friend/mentor who is now a Vice-President of Student Affairs at a local community college, and set up appointments with Dean and Vice President at the local University.

I'm incredibly thank for all of this opportunities and experiences. Here's to many more!

Setting up Django with Nginx, Gunicorn, virtualenv, supervisor and PostgreSQL How To Set Up Nginx Server Blocks (Virtual Hosts) on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Creating a Public Web Server on Raspberry Pi Google.com

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OSX Update (dr)

Life was kind enough to gift me an SSD Drive; which has improve my computer's computational ability considerably. It also gave me a chance to start off with a brand-spanking fresh new OS install! Finally I was able to install homebrew THEN python, etc. I wouldn't add on any programs I didn't NEED. And I could prune unnecessary bloat from the start again, but better!! {There could very easily be a deep sinister laugh here.}

Though naturally I have had to make a few mistakes! First minor threat was caused by two-factor validation at GitHub ~ I couldn't clone the files I needed to!! I had installed landrush properly, for the most part, maybe, more on this in a minute - it's still causing problem. I could download the files, and get the apps to run locally. But I couldn't import a PyCharm project through Version Control. Enter the validation token!


Next, I wanted to enhance my terminal experience. At present I'm exploring the opportunities with Ansible; I would eventually like to put together a small travel (/ultra) book. Using 128Mn< flash drive on an 11-13 inch screen, be able to run a complete web-dev+ w/o proprietary software. Homebrew, and now with Homebrew-Cask, I can begin outlining the processes necessary to fulfill the criteria necessary to fill out such an OS. It will, as a matter of course, have a 'nix base; I'm most recently familiar with Ubuntu's server distro, with a passing glance at Debian a few years ago.

I also just wanted to make a post as sort of a note about all of this. Something to return to later.

passing thought bootstrapping the admin might need to be tried again as well.


China's Growth is slowing...

What does that mean for Latin America? As the graphs below will speak to, Latin America's growth, is a part of a larger norm, whose economic growth was not entirely uncorrelated with China's growth. How China navigates it's new found plateau, and how the world navigates the decay of minor boundaries, will set the tone for the next 5-10 years of global growth. Two graphs speak to China's growth behind American growth; the second looks at a remarkable distinction:

India snuck into the picture as well it seems. Regardless what we have above is a India riding the tide, Peru with a solid parallel run after the first third, and Mexico, Colombia, and the United States taking the deepest dives in percentage GDP growth - whatever that means - over the past few decades.

Below we take a look at Household Consumption. What does the average sample family from geographic vicinity X consume, on average? Or, rather, what percentage of their Total Consumption is composed of Household Consumption? Though when such distinctions as below can be observed; something can perhaps be inferred as more than mere abstractions. And when this is a distinction between the nearest catalyst to economic propulsion behind the United States; the panda is about to take a nap I might think.

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