Archive for April 2013

Cubanisms #5

Here's your chance to keep learning more Cuban phrases and popular sayings.

"Dime con quien anda y te dire quien eres."
Lit: Tell me who you hang out with, and I'll tell you who you are.
Meaning: You are influenced by the people you spend time with.

"Lo cogieron fuera de base."
Lit: He got caught off base (baseball reference).
Meaning: He was surprised or caught doing something wrong.

"Querer bailar en casa del trompo."
Lit: Wanting to dance in the whipping top's house.
Meaning: Don't try that one on me. Been there, done that,

"No hay peor ciego que el que no quiera ver."
Lit: There's no one more blind than he who doesn't want to see.
Meaning: Said about someone who doesn't want to accep the facts.

"Me tocó bailar con la más fea."
Lit: I had to dance with the ugliest girl.
Meaning: I had to come to terms with an ugly situation.

"Cada loco con su tema."
Lit: Every crazy person to his or her own problem.
Meaning: To each his own.

"Me dieron gato por liebre."
Lit: They gave me a cat instead of a rabbit.
Meaning: They sold me something fake.

Want to read more Cubanisms? Check out:

Cubanisms #4
Cubanisms #3
Cubanisms #2
Cubanisms #1

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The Surprising Benefits of Reading

As soon as Ellie began crawling, we knew that our bookshelf was in danger. More specifically, we knew that our books were in danger. So, Elena and I emptied out the two bottom shelves and filled them with Ellie's books. Every day she pulls all the books off the two shelves and plays with them. Sure, it gets messy with all the books on the floor, but the benefits outweigh the messiness.

We began reading to Ellie very early on, before she even knew what anything meant. And although she had no idea what we were saying, research shows that babies do pick up on rhythm, tones and inflection in their parents voice. Recent studies also show that the more words a baby is exposed to, the more prepared the baby will be to read on his or her own. "Studies have also shown that children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age." (Go to source)

In essence, reading to your child is one of the most helpful things you can do. Elena reads to Ellie every night before putting her to bed, and I read to Ellie often during our playtime. Ellie's a very active girl, so when she's playing the reading doesn't last long, but it is definitely beneficial. When she takes the books off the shelves, she many times opens a few of them and looks through them.

Imagination and Intelligence

Reading played a huge part of my childhood. Once I learned how to read, I would spend hours immersed in adventure books that transported me to exotic locations. I would see myself flying on magic carpets or finding lost treasures. This is to say that reading and imagination go hand in hand. One of the greatest mind of the 20th century and in history was Albert Einstein and he had many great things to say about imagination. You can google "Einstein quotes" and surely will find something about imagination. Of course, imagination leads to creativity. Simply put, creative people use their imagination to create. It is their imagination that fuels the passion and desire to create something amazing.

One of my favorite quotes from Einstein is this one:

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."

I think that's very true. But there's more to it than just intelligence. According to a study conducted by Anne Cunningham of the University of California in Berkeley, reading is the best way to exercise your brain. Essentially, the more you read (and by this I don't mean People magazine), the more vocabulary you acquire, thus making you more knowledgeable and also better in abstract reasoning skills. Reading is the like P90X for your brain. There also studies that suggest that reading is a great way to fight Alzheimer's. The New York Times has a great article on CEO's of large corporations that link their success to reading. Other studies show that reading only six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. Reading fiction can also make you a better person, by making you more empathetic and aware of others around you. The benefits of reading are enormous.

Why We Read

I think that C.S. Lewis said it best:

"We read to know we are not alone."

Books have been my loyal friends for many years. In books I found characters that were as almost as real as the people around me. In books I found many of my feelings and complex ideas perfectly put into words. In books I found that I was not alone, that others out there have experienced similar things in their lives.


It makes me sad when people say they hate reading. I think for the most part it means that they just haven't found a book in a subject they're interested in. I usually ask those people what are their interests and hobbies and suggest finding books that cover those topics. But for those who truly hate reading, I ask that you be wise and don't pass that apathy down to your children. Instead, encourage them to read and read to them.

Every person has phobias and pet peeves, but in our house, Elena and I have made it clear that we won't pass those things down to our children. For example, all of my life I have been a picky eater and have only gotten better after marriage. As much as I dislike certain vegetables, I am aware of their nutrition and health benefits, so I would never encourage Ellie not to eat them. On the contrary, since I want what's best for her, I want her to eat healthy and nutritious foods.

It works the same way with reading. Do you yourself and your kids a favor and read.

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TMI, or Dyshidrotic Eczema and Me

Have you ever heard of dyshidrotic eczema? I hadn't until I was afflicted by it. Essentially, it's a skin condition that has no known cause but plenty of theories. It could be induced because of stress or sweat, or a bunch of other reasons, but no one knows for sure. What everyone knows is that it sucks. It is a horrible thing to have to deal with.

For me, it all started one evening when my hands where unusually itchy. When I woke up the next morning, I had small blisters all over my hands and feet. Dyshidrotic eczema shows up in the palms of hands and soles of feet. However, besides dyshidrotic eczema, I'm pretty sure that I was afflicted (and still am) by another kind of eczema. My elbows, arms, back and thighs were covered by a very itchy rash. This all made it very painful to move around. My hands and feet are getting better, but now a new rash appeared in my forearms. Don't worry, I'm seeing a dermatologist in a few weeks.

While this was going on, I was very down, depressed even. It just seemed that my hands were never going to get better. On top of that, it looks horrible and it makes you not want to see anyone. Fortunately, I was blessed with the best wife in the world, who not only encouraged me and assured me I was going to get better, but who also put lotion all over my body every night for a few weeks. For 10 days, she also wrapped my hands with Glass Press and Seal, so that the steroid ointment and lotion would be most effective. On top of that, she changed Ellie's diapers and did all the household cleaning. I helped here and there with a few things as my hands got better, but wipes, or dish soap are known irritants that only make the dyshidrosis worse. I'm very thankful to my awesome wife and I'm looking forward to being able to function and help again.

One particularly frustrating thing about this condition is that there are no pictures showing the progression of the condition. This was frustrating because I wanted to know if my hands were getting better, and if things got real bad before they got well. While things may look different for every person, I'm sure that there are certain similarities in the condition's progression. So, in an attempt to help others who are dealing and will deal with dyshidrotic eczema, I started taking pictures of my hands. If you are a squeamish person, then please don't read anymore. But for all those struggling with this crazy thing, just know that it does get better, even if it looks bad in the beginning.

Below you'll find a few pictures of my hands in different stages. My hands are not completely healed yet, but they are getting better and better.



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