Monthly Archives: October 2012

Day of the Dead, without the Zombies, El Dia De Los Muertos

As you may remember from La Clase de Español back in high school, Day of the Dead or “El Dia de los Muertos” is a Mexican holiday which falls near Halloween.

DIFFERENT THAN HALLOWEEN

Dia de los Muertos is not simply the Mexican version of Halloween.  Where Halloween is the celebration of all that is spooky and revolves around costumes and trick or treating, El Dia de los Muertos is about remembering and honoring those who have deceased.

Families and friends gather together to pray and remember those who have gone.  Alters are constructed and decorated with favorite foods and pictures of the person they honor.  Many people will visit cemeteries and decorate their loved ones’ graves, offering toys for deceased children and tequila for adults who have passed.

DATES OF CELEBRATION
The holiday begins at midnight on October 31st and continues through November 2nd.

El DIA DE LOS MUERTOS ORIGIN
The start of the holiday in Mexico dates back thousands of years to an Aztec festival focused on the Lady of the Dead goddess, Mictecacihuatl ( ‘Meek-teka-see-wahdl’).  In Aztec mythology, Mictecacihuatl is the Queen of “Mictlan,” the underworld, and she is ruler of the afterlife.

If you are interested in a detailed story of the history of the holiday CLICK HERE

SKULLS & CANDY
The most recognizable icon of the holiday is the ornately decorated skulls(calavera in spanish).  People paint them on their faces and create wooden and paper mache masks out of them.  Skulls and skeleton figures, performing various activities, decorate stores, common areas and homes.

Sugar candy skulls are made and decorated, sometimes with the name of the deceased person they represent on the forehead.

More recently the skulls have migrated their way into pop art and can be found anywhere from cell phone cases, to messenger bags to tatoos onto people’s skin.

Felize el Dia de los Muetros and have a happy Halloween!

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TSA Says No to Nunchucks

Listed below are some items which you may think are acceptable carry-on items…unfortunately they are not allowed.

Item
Carry-on? Checked?
Nunchucks
X OK
Throwing Stars X OK
Ice Axes/Ice Picks
X OK
Knives – except for plastic or round bladed butter knives X OK
Meat Cleavers X OK
Realistic Replicas of Explosives
X X

If you need to see the full list of prohibited carry on items CLICK HERE otherwise use your common sense.

Dining Etiquette Around The World – Part 1

Eating with the locals when traveling can be a great experience, and any attempt to follow the local culture’s dining etiquette will be gladly appreciated by your hosts and the locals around you.  Here are a few dining do’s and don’t around the world.

ASIA
Alright, so step 1 (learn to eat with chopsticks) has been accomplished.  Great.  Now step 2 is simple.  When you are not using your chopsticks lay them on the bowl, chopstick holder or plate.  DO NOT leave them stuck upright in a bowl of rice or food.  This is considered rude because this is how rice is offered to the deceased.

Another chopstick tip: Use the small end of a chopstick as your eating utensil, and the large end to serve others.

When you are full from your meal, be sure to leave a bit of your dish remaining on the plate.  This signifies that you had plenty and the host provided more than enough.  If you clean your plate, your host will think you need more food.

EUROPE

Generally Europeans eat using the Continental Style. For this you hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right.  Cut, then eat with your fork still in your left hand.  The fork and knife should remain in your hands at all times.  This differs from the American style which is basically cut it all up, put down the knife and go to town with your fork.

SOUTH AMERICA

As a foreigner it is best to avoid pouring wine in Argentina.   There are a handful of traditions and rituals surrounding this act.  For example if you use your left hand to pour, it conveys that you dislike the person you are pouring for.  Yikes, that is probably not what you intended to communicate when you filled up the glass of your new friend.

Even if you are dinning with business colleagues, avoid talking ‘business’ unless the locals bring it up.  It is not normally a topic of conversation at dinner.

The etiquette for drinking mate is to take a sip, wipe the straw and pass the gourd to your neighbor; they do the same in turn.  Click here to see our video about Yerba Mate in Buenos Aires.

Also, plan to eat dinner later than normal.  In Buenos Aires dinner begins around 9pm-10pm and can go into the morning hours.  This is common.  Most restaurants are not even open at 6pm.

More tips in part 2 next week.

iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 vs…… Xiaomi?

As we in the US are concerned with reviews and evaluations helping us choose between the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Chinese people have an additional option which is at a much better price, the Xiaomi.

What the heck is a Xiaomi?

Xiaomi ( 小米科技 ) is the up and coming China smartphone manufacturer which is rapidly eating up the smartphone market in China.

Their newest phone, ironically called the “MI-2” is very comparable performance wise with both Samsung and Apple products.  MI-2 also has it’s own “cool factor” level of style which positions it similar to a mid-level sedan would.  Not ‘the best’ but ‘good enough’ for a great price.

  • 1.7 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen at 1280×720 pixel resolution
  • 8 megapixel rear camera (with upgraded F/2.0 lens)
  • 2 megapixel front camera
  • HDMI-compatible USB port
  • HSPA+ connectivity up to 42 Mbps

Retailing at 1,999 RMB (US$313), vs the Galaxy S3 4,999 RMB ($785), and the 16GB iPhone 4S 4,488 RMB ($712), and  it is a real bargain.

NOTE: Apple has not officially launched the iPhone 5 in China yet, but scalpers who have purchased the phone in Hong Kong have been see selling the iPhone 5 on the grey market for around $1500!  In reality the price of the iPhone 5 in China will be around $780.

Unfortunately you cannot buy this phone outside of China.   Xiaomi are only selling locally, which works very well for them since China is the worlds largest smartphone market.

CNN just recently did a short article with a video here where they state “Bottom line — in China today, it’s cool to have a Xiaomi phone.”

Want more info?  Click the below links.
 iPhone 5 vs. MI-2 (Gizmochina.com)
Asia Cnet’s info on the Mi-2
Xiaomi Website (In Chinese)

IF THIS PHONE WAS AVAILABLE IN THE US, WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

Chicago Marathon Next Sunday

Going local again this week to wish the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon runners good luck this coming Sunday.  It is such a spectacular event for the city of Chicago.

In honor of the event this month’s video is a recycle of the video I shot of when Brian Samson and I ran the marathon back in 2006.  It was a chilly one.