Dear Stranger…

Dear Stranger,

You died less than an hour ago as we were trying to save you. You were still breathing when I came to help and I wish I would have arrived two minutes sooner to do more. I do not feel guilty nor does a bad feeling reside in my conscious knowing I could have done more, because I did everything I could to make the situation better. You died with blood all over one of my favorite shirts as I tried to stop the bleeding with it. As for the shirt, your soul and life is much more valuable than the memories I had of my shirt.

Stranger, My heart hurts for you; my heart hurts for your brother who was riding his bike with you tonight. Your brother said you wanted to be in a band and play the drums. My heart hurts for those who witnessed the horrible accident; my heart hurts for the conscious of the man who crashed in to you with his. I can’t tell you why this happened, all I can tell you is that we are here for a purpose. We are here as individuals to be tested to see if our souls are worthy to return to dwell our Heavenly Father, our Creator. I hope you lived a great life you can be proud of.  

Stranger, I don’t know your name, but I hope someday when we meet, I hope that your soul recognizes mine and we can catch up and just talk about life. What I feel is an awful horrible feeling for all those present, all who were there scared.  The only way I can mentally cope with what is going on in my mind is by writing about it. It’s how I cope with many things.  

Stranger, I don’t know you and yet I think to myself how much more is it going to hurt when it is someone I know who passes. Tonight, this week, I will pray for your brother. I will pray for the man who was involved in the terrible hit and run, and most of all I will pray for you.

Thursday June 25, 2015. – 10:50pm

 

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My Fightin’ Cardinal Classmates from Glendale High School!

Recently, I met with two former classmates from high school for an evening of dinner since one from out of state would be in the area to visit. I had invited one individual, one who I had ran into the comic shop, but I felt it was going to be a real odd situation since we hadn’t seen each other in years. Truthfully, it was refreshing. I didn’t make much friends in high school, but they were good, no I take that back, they were great friends at the time, and now with Facebook, I’ve talked with some, and some I never talked too again, attitudes have changed. Back then, we were all trying to figure things out in high school. We were not kids, and we were not adults at the time. We did not know if we were old or young. We all made mistakes, lots of them, at least I did. I went to Glendale High School in Glendale Arizona. Glendale high is the longest active high school in Arizona, and the Cardinals is the mascot.

I have about 15 friends on Facebook from high school that I have chosen to connect with on Facebook, and though we probably didn’t talk much then, it is good to know they are open now. So anyways, what are my memories of these people? Hopefully I won’t embarrass any of them.

Adolph B: I can’t remember where I bumped in to Adolph several years ago, but we just started talking about Comic Books and since I often spend time at a place known as Drawn To Comics in Glendale, I told him to stop by. We see each other often and talk. He has a daughter now, but what do I remember about Adolph in high school? I think when I met him in high school I asked him if he had any relation to a Henry who I had caused mischief with the previous summer. Anyways, I know he played on the Football team, and he was better his Jr. year than his Sr. year.

Andi S: Oh I had a lot of fun talking with her in high school. It wasn’t till our Sophomore year, maybe Junior year in which we shared a class together. It was English class with Mr. Leo Sears. (He now runs a FILM Festival in Hawaii) Her and I talked baseball a lot. She loved the Atlanta Braves, I was a Florida Marlins-Seattle Mariners fan. Florida beat Atlanta that year for the NLCS and won the World Series, and she would be like “FLORIDA bought their RING!” I agreed, they did, but they had one. I remember one time just arguing with her, and I challenged her and I was like “” She replied “What are you gonna do?,” I was like,Don’t worry what I am gonna do, but when I do it, you will know..That memory still has me laughing in my head. She lived about two blocks from my home so I’d see her in my hood from time to time. Anyways, she still keeps her ties to the area even though she is always competes in the World Series of Poker Tournaments.

Fernando S: Wow, Fernando, man, I was a freshman, he was a sophomore, we had Intro-tech class together. I watched him do a radio cassette tape and I was super impressed because he was good at it. He also introduced me to “Lighter Shade of Brown” I ran in to Fernando again in college and often got together from time to time.

Jazmin V: My mom worked for the school district, and my mom knew Jazmin, and Jazmin knew me and who my mom was. She talked in Spanish, which at the time was not my strong point, pero when I was around her, also in a class with Leo Sears, I think Communications, and she’d say some bad words in Spanish I laughed because no one understood her but I did, so I’d chuckle.

Jennifer K: Another one I met in Leo Sears class. Communications class I think, maybe English. Wow. We also had a summer school class together, and since we were the only ones from the same high school in that class we’d chat, but yeah, the jokes we’d crack in Leo Sears.

Josh A: So he had a knack for getting on my nerves by calling me “Gilbert Grape” when I had no idea what or who “Gilbert Grape” was. Later I found out it was a movie, but I have yet to see it to this day. He was in two of my classes my freshman year, P.E. and Intro-tech (Fernando was also in that class) His current Facebook posts often make me laugh often making odd requests, but I’m happy to hear he likes Gambit (my favorite X-men character) as much or even more then I do.

Manuel A.: We had a P.E. Class together and we didn’t talk much. Several years ago, he hit me up on facebook and every once in a while I run in to him or we chat about what’s going on in life. He’s very stand up and very direct, if he has something on his mind he’ll tell you.

Marie V: She had the same last name as I, so I would always call her “Prima” which means “Cousin” ! I really have no idea if we are related or not, maybe we are we just don’t know, but she’d sit in back of me in English class. I knew she liked boxing. I still call her Prima to this day! 

Michael B: Oh man, I met him my freshman year, and I called him “Screech” He hated it. I always said he looked like “Screech Powers” from Saved by The Bell. Let me tell you something, if I give someone a nickname, I figure they are pretty cool, because it took me a bit to think of something to remind me of them, so I won’t forget them, but yeah, Michael, sorry for making your life hard by calling you “Screech” :) He also hooked me up with “Doom” on my computer !

Morgan S.: I’ve known Morgan since I was in 1st grade, as he was in my class, even though he was in 2nd grade. See, that class was for super smart accelerated kids and they combined a class together. Eventually we found out that we were both LDS. We went all through grade school together, even if we were not in the same grade or class and I knew his Mom. I run in to his mom from time to time and it is good to talk with her.

Ray S.: I met Ray my freshman year. We would eat lunch together and he was a wrestler. I’d go crazy watching him eat. In truth, I’d go crazy actually watching him, not eat. He was trying to always maintain a certain weight for wrestling. He later went in to the Marines, came back and started fighting MMA. What I tripped out was when he fought UFC Fighter Nick Diaz on a two week notice. Yes, Nick Diaz won, but Ray took it to him. I know his brother Steve (who I met my sophomore year) later started fighting and made it to the UFC briefly. I thought I briefly saw Ray one day at Circle K but I really could not tell if it was him or not, but I know he keeps much of his life private with his family.

Ricardo V: There was a band, more like a group of “Hispanic-Latino-Raza” kids always hanging out and having a good time causing mischief. I hung out with most of them my sophomore year of high school. Ricardo was among the group. I ran in to him in college and we hung out there as well. He’s a big soccer fan.

Sam B.: Wow. I met Sam my Sr. year of high school in automotives class. This class was filled with knuckleheads, or at least we all acted like knuckleheads. The teacher was Randy Espinoza. He would let his students be late to class without marking you tardy if you brought him a “coke” Anyways, Sam, He is Native and he sat next to me. One day I said, I’m not going to say a word to anyone and just flap my arms like I am flying and breathing fire. So in Autos, I started flapping my arms like I was flying, and he was like, “Stop it, this isn’t Angels in the outfield, stop flapping your arms” Needless to say I continued. Oh Sam. Anyways I later learned he was LDS and served a two year mission. I came to know his mother and father. I always loved talking with his parents; his mother would often encourage me to keep up with being involved in local politics as I grew a disinterest in them for a while. She would be like, “we need more brown people in office.”

Tracy S. I know she was in some of my classes as a freshman, but she was always hyper! Not much has changed. She always sat on the opposite side of me in class, and I’m not sure if she was looking at me or something else but I made a funny face towards her and she did one back. Lol. So anyways, we became holmies. Some of the things she says have me rolling, like calling some people in traffic “Butterbags” or “Hippos” for not moving in traffic when they can. She lives in Washington State now. Oh, she loves watching UFC also. She gave me a UFC Shirt from Seattle about a year ago, when I was planning on going to a fight and not being able to make it! Oh, She is A MF’ing SORCEROR!

So those are friends on Facebook from High School and the memories I have about them. I hope when they read what I wrote about them they aren’t mad or embarrassed, but I hope they appreciate that even if it was just for a moment, someone not so close to them had a thought, had a memory about them..

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Whataburger Log #1137

It is Saturday night and I’m strolling in to Whataburger! If you have never heard of it, let me try and educate you a little bit. It’s a Burger Chain Joint based out of Texas. They have over 700 locations in 10 states. The one, I go to, it’s in Phoenix Arizona, exactly 5.1 miles from where I reside, that is a 13 minute drive. So before, there once use to be several Whataburgers’ locations closer to where I lived. That is no longer the case, so I have to drive much further to get to this location. I am such a regular here that the staff refers to me by first name or with a big excited smile knowing I am back! Marie takes my order, she knows what I’m getting.

The Whataburger Monster!

The Whataburger Monster!

I always order a #2 (Double meat Whataburger), add cheese, extra pickles, extra onions and extra mustard on the bun! I feel those three things help perfectly clash with each other so I can fully savor the meat and the overall meal. The staff never even judges me or gripes about me wanting all the extra stuff. I have to always hold my burger with two hands. I can come in at 3am, (yes, they are opened 24 hours a day) or at 2pm, my burger meat is always cooked fresh,  so this place is legendary in my book. Yes, I said it, LEGENDARY!

The fries, always crisp and golden and not too salty, but enough salt to have with the “Fancy Ketchup” ! I always grab extra “fancy ketchup” here to take home with me.

Onion rings taste sooooooooooooooo good. Add some ranch for 30 some cents, and yep..

Here are the downsides.

1. You have to eat the food right there and then, right away, because it is warm and freshly made. It just does not have the same savor when it is cold.

2. Not one closer to me.

3.  If you Whatasize the Fries, it’s the same size as the large fries! Don’t do it

I have wanted to write to Whataburger Corporate about #3 for a while now, just haven’t got to it. In my personal opinion, I prefer Whataburger over In-and-Out any day.

Anyways, check one out if you ever get the chance to do it.

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The Heart Shaped Scar on my left arm

A lot of of us have that one scar people always ask us about. Unfortunately, being a mischievous young man in my earlier days, I have several. So I decided to share the story on how I got the  ❤ heart shaped scar on my left arm, since it is one of the most visible ones for everyone to see.

The heart shaped scar on my left arm that I acquired when I was in the 4th grade.

The heart shaped scar on my left arm that I acquired when I was in the 4th grade.

When I was in the fourth grade, I went to to the corner of the neighborhood block to play with a friend at his house. Anthony lived there. I was wearing a wool sweater that was black. I was chasing my friend and somehow my sweater got caught by the sharp butterfly latch, my arm was caught inside but I just yanked it out. I noticed a hole in my sweater so I started walking home to tell mom. I remember turning back when Anthony had asked where I was going in a confused look. In my mind, I kept thinking how much trouble I was going to be in for tearing a hole in my sweater. 😰 I got about 1/2 way home when I saw blood and some veins hanging out of my arm, I did not even have any pain in my arm until I saw the blood. 😵 That’s when I started freaking out!

ANYWAYS, I ended up getting stitches and now I have a heart shaped scar on my left arm. 🏥 I never went to that house, EVER AGAIN. 😶 Tell me about your scars? ☺ 

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Being a 12 in “Cardinal Country”

So many people often ask me how can I be a Seahawks fan, also known as 12s or 12th man and also live in Arizona. They ask how come I am not an Arizona Cardinals Fan, whose fans are known as “The Bird Gang.”

Seahawks, Seattle, Retro, Vintage, Frisbee

Mom and Dad gave me a frisbee similar to this on Christmas as a child, except mine had the words “Seattle” above, and “Seahawks” on the bottom.

To get that answer, one must rewind back in time. One of my earliest recollections of the Christmas holiday was when I was about a little kid about 6 or 7. That year I had so desperately wanted a Gobots or Voltron toy for Christmas. I wanted to be coolest kid on the block by having one of those. Instead, I was given a white pearly Frisbee with a silver Seattle Seahawks logo in the center of it.   The logo was a bird made of blue and green. The Frisbee wasn’t a cool Voltron robot that I so badly wanted, maybe my parents couldn’t give me much at the time, but it was probably at that time  that I became a Seahawks fan. I was a semi-fan of the Miami Dolphins, probably because my own father was a fan of Dan Marino and I always wanted to make Papa proud! As I went on to grade school, my school classmates, well they were Cowboys, Raiders, and 49ers fans. Phoenix did not have a team yet.  So I rooted semi for both the Hawks and Dolphins.

So my memories at the Seahawks at that time? I had plenty! Kenny Easley was the 1st player I remember from the Seahawks. He was a safety and was #45. Oh does Brian Bosworth name ring a bell? He signed a 10-year $11 million rookie contract. I clearly remember that. Anyways, some guy named Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football embarrassed him on a 90+ yard touchdown run, as Bo ran in to the locker room tunnel. I didn’t mind because Bo Jackson also played Major League Baseball and he embarrassed everyone in both sports, but I especially Bosworth, because “The Boz” as he was known, kept saying how much he was going to contain Bo Jackson. Oh, the fans nicknamed them the Seattle Sea-scabs because of a player strike shorten season.

Other players bring me memories who bring some memories back were Cortez Kennedy, Rick Mierer, David Krieg, Joey Gallowway,  I remember the Seahawks drafting Mark McGuire’s tall 6 foot 8 inch tall brother, Dan McGuire. My friends and I still get a chuckle every so often when we mention that him.

The 1992 team? Oh, that was brutal. Only 2 wins! They played a Monday Night Football game that year in Seattle and won in overtime. 14 losses that year! Oh yeah, the Seahawks beat the Phoenix Cardinals that year in Tempe as well. The Seahawks wouldn’t be back on Monday Night Football till 1999, and Monday Night Football would not return to Seattle till 10 years later in 2002. Tough times because everyone at school tuned in to Monday Night Football no matter who your team was, but sometimes I felt alone knowing my team was not being shown on tv. When the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl I thought a lot about that 1992 team. I remember being taunted and made fun of at school. In school, people still liked all those other teams, the 49ers, the Raiders, The Cowboys. If you didn’t have a starter jacket with one of those teams, you weren’t cool.

This was the typical fan base every week at Tempe Sun Devil Stadium when they were the Phoenix Cardinals.. It has taken time for Arizona to grow its fan base, maybe because "many" fans weren't even born in the late 80s. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.

This was the typical fan base every week at Tempe Sun Devil Stadium when they were the Phoenix Cardinals.. It has taken time for Arizona to grow its fan base, maybe because “many” fans weren’t even born in the late 80s. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.

Somewhere in those years, Phoenix got a team going through an identity crisis.They were named the Phoenix Cardinals, played in the NFC East, and played in Tempe Arizona. I remember going to one game in a half empty stadium. I only went to that game because an AFC team was playing an NFC. My dad wanted to see Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. I stopped watching professional football around then, I had fallen in love with baseball. Actually baseball had always been my first love, but I still remembered my Seahawks from Seattle from time to time and watched them play whenever they came out on TV. Later the Phoenix Cardinals would become the Arizona Cardinals and move to Glendale. I told you they went through and identity crisis. Glendale already had a Cardinals team though, The Glendale High School Cardinals, the high school I went too.

I remember several days after my 18th birthday, in December 1998, watching on tv a fake TD by Vinny Testaverde and getting robbed of a playoff spot by The Jets. This brought back the instant replay because of this incident. Oh, can’t forget the logo being updated in 2002, then to be updated again 10 years later.

I had a lot of fun ragging on my brother in law team, the Cowboys, when Tomy Romo botched that extra point snap giving us the win in the playoffs in 2006

I remember losing Super Bowl XL against the Steelers, and the Refs. In fact, NFL has named that calls of that game being #8 of the Top 10 controversial calls ever, by refs.  Four years later, the referee Bill Leavy admitted and apologized to Seattle for messing up several calls during that game. Thanks Leavy, it was only the biggest game yet to Seattle. I think the biggest controversial call though was in 2012 when replacement refs were being used, Seattle was playing Green Bay in Seattle and Russell Wilson threw what many now refer to as called a “Fail Mary” ! Both Green Bay’s Jennings and Golden Tate from the Seahawks caught the ball in the air, was it a touchdown or interception? The call went towards Seattle and the refs rushed out of the stadium. Ha, the refs owed The Seahawks one and it seems to give them that one. I think though, had the game been in Green Bay the call would have gone the other way. No way were the refs getting out of Seattle alive if they didn’t side with The Seahawks on that call.

Later that year, The Seahawks played the Cardinals in what was supposed to be a bird fight. The Seahawks won 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. Guess what? I was there in person, as the game was played in Seattle. It was the 3rd largest margin victory in the modern NFL.

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. I was there.

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 58-0 which was the biggest margin of victory in Seahawks franchise history, and it was also the biggest margin of defeat in Cardinals franchise history. I was there at that game in Seattle.

Many fans have joined the Arizona Bandwagon or converted to the #BirdGang since this photo was taken in 1989. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Many fans have joined the Arizona Bandwagon or converted to the #BirdGang since this photo was taken in 1989. Regardless, I stay true to the Seahawks.
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

People now a days call me a Seattle bandwagon fan, many not knowing I have a long time relationship with the Seahawks team as I consider myself 12th man. There fans who keep it classy with me, like my cousin Hector Sandoval who is a season ticket holder for the Cardinals since the 1980s who always wishes me and my team well, he knows how long I’ve been a fan. Occasionally, when I’m in Seattle, I’ll wear a red Cardinals hoodie, but the Arizona Cardinals are not my team. I did go to Glendale High School in the city of Glendale Arizona, home of the Glendale Cardinals. I do recall a lot of Cowboys, Raiders, and 49ers fans jump up on that Arizona bandwagon in the 2000s. I don’t hate you or your team, maybe you weren’t old enough to decide for yourself what team to root for, and just because they are not my team don’t mean I won’t cheer for them. In 2008 I rooted for the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl against the Steelers. Yet, becoming an Arizona Cardinals fan now would make me a bandwagon fan.

The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl in 2014 was the pinnacle point for the football team I cheer for. Today, the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl, in my hometown of Glendale Arizona, after hosting an extremely exciting comeback win in overtime against the Green Bay Packers. My friends know how much I hate having facial hair, but I  haven’t shaved since the Seahawks last lost over 9 weeks ago. People say the Seahawks fans are obnoxious, when it comes to our team, and people fail to realize that it’s been years full of pent up frustrations, many of us have been behind a team who has had a bunch of downs and now that we are winning we are all making noise in many ways. We can’t get loud when our team is not performing, but it is beautiful to know the pieces have been coming together as of late. I’ve been a Seahawks fan for a long time, there have been many sad seasons for me, lots of downs and very few ups. I am also critical of my Seahawks, if they lose, no excuses, they just didn’t perform or execute. As they always say “Any given Sunday!”

To think that a Christmas gift when I received that Seahawks Frisbee would start a chain reaction of memories that I still have with me today. Thank you Mom and Dad.

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Professor Rene Díaz-Lefebvre creates legacy with multiple intelligences program.

I first wrote this in December 2003, I have gone back and re-written several times, never really feeling as if my words are able to truly capture the essence of this great individual, this man,  who I consider one of my best mentors while in college. I would sit in his office and we would talk often for hours and hours in both English and Spanish about anything, school, politics, family, culture. I recall him saying to me once, ‘You belong in a University like Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, you are too advanced for this setting.’ When I first met this man, I had felt relieved at what I had been preaching for years about education and educational teaching reform, that someone with a Doctorate could officially back up my theory up in a professional scholarly format. Let me introduce you to one of the greatest teachers I have ever met.

 

Professor creates legacy with multiple intelligences program.

By Gabriel Cruz

An older man with broad shoulders wearing blue denim jeans, tennis shoes, and a polo shirt sat down in a classroom filled with people of a younger generation. He gives off the impression that he is a student himself, but then you notice his long silver mustache, slicked back salt and pepper hair and deep dark powerful eyes of an eagle. You get the sentiment that you are in the presence of an aristocrat, yet he is very humble, because of the commanding presence he displays.On Nov. 21, 2003, the same man, René Díaz-Lefebvre of the Glendale Community College psychology department was awarded the “Faculty of the Year” award by the Arizona Association of Chicanos of Higher Education in Tucson at the Pima Community College West Campus.“Pima is a special place to me. I had returned home, and the feeling was surreal,” said Díaz-Lefebvre.

René Díaz-Lefebvre, Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner

Dr. René Díaz-Lefebvre explains to his students that all students see, think and LEARN differently.

As the first student ever to be enrolled at Pima back when it was still an airport hangar, one would think he was creating a legacy, but his family saga in Tucson goes even further back in time. His great grandfather Jose Antonio Comanduran was one of the first commandants of the Tucson Presidio in the 1700s. His great great uncle was Sabino Otero. Sabino Canyon, a scenic area in Tucson, and Sabino High school area named after him. This is just a small line of a dignified bloodline that Díaz-Lefebvre comes from. People had doubts about Díaz-Lefebvre early on though.

At the age of seven, several of his instructors visited his home and told his mother he was incompetent at learning the material presented to him and would never amount to much, but his mother told him, “Mijo, yo se que tú eres la más inteligente persona en el universo,” which translates in English to, “Son, I know you are the most intelligent person in the universe.” Many years later, after falling asleep in the Library of Harvard University, Díaz-Lefebvre awoke in tears after having a lucid dream about his mother visiting him, and reminding him how much she believed in him, and how much he really did belong at Harvard just like anyone else.

In 1983, Díaz-Lefebvre became captivated with the examination of Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligence Theory. Gardner argued that “intelligence is not some static reality fixed at birth and measured by testing and that contrary to traditional teaching, that one’s intelligence was actually comprised of eight or more intelligences. Utilizing the methods, students get out of their comfort zones and explore several ways of learning.”

Eleven years later, as Díaz-Lefebvre felt that too many students were falling through the cracks of education; he decided to introduce the Multiple Intelligence/Learning for understand program (MI/LfU) at Glendale Community College as an experiment. He knew all the students ‘were smart, but it was how smart they were,’ that captured Díaz-Lefebvre’s mind.

The eight components used in the MI/LfU are Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist, Spatial, Body-Kinesthetic, Logical-Mathematical, Musical or Linguistic.

René Díaz-Lefebvre

Díaz-Lefebvre is amazed as Amy Rosenlof explains a poem in detail, in which she used key terms of the text book to learn the material presented to her

“This program allows students to become mini-experts in their fields of study, and then they teach their friends around them,” says Díaz-Lefebvre. “Today’s learner is visual, hands on, and that is a challenge for the paper-test method. We as people come in all potentials and capabilities, and the paper test method makes students feel like one size fits all, when we all do not see life the same way. Students want choices because that is what life is about, choices.”

Díaz-Lefebvre feels that sometimes motivation for students is to memorize the answers to the questions, take the test, get it over with, yet they never understand or remember the material.

For his work on progressive ways for students to learn, he has given over 100 keynote addresses, seminars , and workshops not only nationwide, but he has also been invited to speak at international conferences around the world. Díaz-Lefebvre’s office is filled with “Who’s Who among America’s teachers” awards and was recently recognized as one of the 2000 most outstanding scholars of the 21st century. He also recently appeared on a PBS documentary.

Díaz-Lefebvre and MI/LfU Program faculty are constantly nominated as one of the ten finalists nationwide for the Bellweather Award.

“This program (MI/LfU) allows students to be accountable, yet also creative on how they go about understand the material taught to them,” says Díaz-Lefebvre

[Since I had wrote this in December of 2003, I have come to learn that Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre has won so many more prestigious awards, please read read more on Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre, please visit:  http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/utils/getdownloaditem/collection/gccarc/id/393/filename/394.doc/title/Rene%20Diaz-Lefebvre%20Biography/mapsto/showLink ]

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The MAN known as “Johnny 2 Guns Salcido”

In the spring 2006 I bought myself a digital SLR Nikon camera.  I was in my mid-20s and I had recently discovered the Phoenix nightlife scene. So trying to work at my craft of making photography, meeting people and having a good time, I often went to a venue known as “Coach & Willies” and hung out with The Ritmo Latino Entertainment crew. Individuals from the group always went out of their way to give me a phone call to invite me to their events. It was at one of these events that I met Johnny “2 Guns” Salcido.

 He had a neatly trimmed beard, wearing dark slacks, a brown striped shirt, with a dark brown Boston Red Sox hat a big “B” on it. My camera called attention everywhere I went, and I had caught his eye, and he recognized me and called to me, asking, “You are Cruzzer right? The political activist?”

I said “Yes,” as he turned to his entourage of friends around him and said “Yo, Everyone, my man right here is going to be Governor one day.”

Frankly I was surprised. Very few people in the nightlife scene knew I was politically active, and I really didn’t want to mix what was known about me in the scenes I fraternized with.

This is the night I met Johnny '2 Guns' Salcido. He is on the right with the cap.  Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of him and A. Bomb.

This is the night I met Johnny ‘2 Guns’ Salcido. He is on the right with the cap.
Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of Salcido and A. Bomb.

As I tried to make sense of what the “B” on his cap stood for, I quickly came to learn that Johnny 2 Guns, also referred to as J2Guns, was part of a local hip hop rap group known as The Boondocks, and he was going to perform that night at Coach and Willies. J2Guns, was also celebrating his birthday that night.

“This is how it’s going to work, I’m going to give you $50 tonight, you take pictures of my friends and I, and next time I’ll give you more, just make sure you have a good time as well.”

I was in complete shock. Here was a man who was willing to give me some money to do what I loved to do, and have a good time.

So I started snapping photos of him and his entourage of friends. He pulled me aside for a brief moment that night and said to me, “Gabe, keep doing what you are doing, keep your head straight and one day you are going to be Governor Cruz,”

I laughed, but the thing I was not telling anyone, yet, was I had already made plans to run for a position on my “City Council” that summer. Johnny had read me well.

I took many photos of him and his friends that night, and we struck a friendship. He often invited me to his house as he would sit on the couch watching “The Young and The Restless” like a hawk. “This is my show, this is the soap opera I never miss,” he said to me. His phone would buzz or ring but he didn’t answer it, glued to the TV he was. Only after the show was over, would he take the time to reply or answer to everyone.

2 Guns would often hire me to make photography of his family parties or events he was involved in promoting. I told him I was willing to photograph his events for free, since I deemed the work I was doing only as practice, but he was insistent on paying me. He paid me very well, for my knowledge or lack thereof in the skills I was trying to acquire.

One day when I visited him at his home, he gave me an invitation to a Quinceñera he was going to have for his mother. It caught me as strange, but he told me that it was something his mother wanted but never had, so he was going to have one for her. This is to me defined the essence of the heart and person Johnny Salcido was.

In the summer of 2009 I was with friends from out of town who I didn’t quite know well at the time. We were in Scottsdale Arizona walking through old town when we decided to go to Saddle Ranch. I had no idea Johnny was going to be there, nor did I have any idea I would end up at Saddle Ranch with these individuals, but running in to Johnny, he put them all at ease saying, “Trust him, he’s going places..” I didn’t know about this until later in the night someone from the group said this to me.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

“I seen a lot of empty seats at the [Arizona] Cardinals game today. This was a perfect time to stick some unprivileged kids in those seats. The kids are your future fan base. And you NEED to expand. Cardinals organization.” That was one of my favorite posts of his that he did in September 2012. How can the world not love an individual who had constant posts of positive insight? He was very business minded. He would crack jokes about having an alter-ego who was a luchador wrestler named “El Senor Dos Pistolas” and telling me he was a big fan of the luchador “Porkey” He even co-promoted an event in Arizona that brought an array of wrestlers from not only around the country, but Mexico as well.

In October of 2012, he told he was going to have surgery. He also told me other news which caused me to be somewhat sad, but he was so positive and said he would beat it with no problem. He had a courage to confront cancer that words can’t describe. One text he sent me said “If you are having to battle something in life. Do it with VIGOR!” It was truly inspiring to know that he was not going throwing in the towel easily.

From there on, I specifically remembered Salcido in my prayers everytime. I’d shoot him a text often to let him know that he was in my thoughts, and he’d always respond with humor, trying to make me laugh in some way.

On the morning of March 1, 2013, I awoke from a text from a friend who was a fan of The Boondocks music, saying Johnny had passed away. The cancer had beat him. Not much else to say, but he fully welcomed me from the moment I met him. He was a true gentleman. The memories and opportunities he gave me though, gives me extreme comfort that he took the time to make me feel important. I know many people will, and continue to miss him, and yet I feel honored and blessed to know that he shared with me a piece of his journey in life with me.

Thank you Johnny 2 Guns Salcido.

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Wing Hing, Great Food at a Great Price

Since 2006, I have been walking through the doors of 7420 West Cactus Road in Peoria Arizona.

It sits on the corner of a strip mall plaza next to a Church’s Chicken, but you will really have to be looking for it in order to find it. Even looking at the exterior, you might be fooled of what is waiting inside. For those who stroll in for the first time, the theme music of “Twilight Zone” is going off in your head wondering what you are doing here. You may notice that the interior is old, and does not look like much, in fact, you get the “hole in the wall” feel, yet the inside of this place is amazingly clean.

This Place is not much to look at, but then again, that’s not why I am here, I am here to eat and stuff my face full of Chinese food. This is a restaurant I love to call a “gem” because many people are unaware of it, never do I have to fight for a parking space, which often leaves me confused.

As I walk in, I am greeted by Tam, an older Asian woman, “Hi… Long time no see…”

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

I was just here two month ago, but I’m such a regular here, there was a period of over six months that I’d often visit and stop in once a week to eat here.

“Hello Tam” I reply. I sit down, and right away she places a small cold glass of water on the table.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asks. Not mocking her, but I can hear her voice in my head and say what she said exactly in the accent and tone in which she says it. She’s the sweetest and very upmost polite host I know in the restaurant business.

After choosing my drink, she asks if I’m getting the same thing as always, which happens to be Shrimp Lo Mein, but not this time. I am definitely not a Chinese food professional but this is legit food. I have been trying different items on their menu as of late. My favorite selections though tend to be Shrimp Lo Mein, Sun Devil Chicken, Orange Chicken, Cashew Chicken.

If it is your first time here, I recommend you start off by ordering some crab puffs. Those things are sensational.

Choose your dish, but choose wisely, you will later learn why.

After making your choice, Tam starts you off with the Egg Flower/drop soup with a side of hot Chinese mustard, sweet and sour, and a plate full of wontons. If you are sick in bed at home, call a friend and have them pick you some takeout of this. The soup here at Wing Hing is always fresh. I have been to other Chinese restaurants and those are yellowish color compared to the stuff served here.

When Vanessa Miranda and I ate here, before she passed away, she always commented on how much she loved the soup. We’d be sitting in another restaurant or on the couch watching TV in her apartment and she’d make a comment about Wing Hings Egg Flower soup. My father and younger brother Max are also huge fans. My dad always says, “If you go to Wing Hings, bring me some soup.”

As I am I finishing my soup, Tam is bringing out my food, steaming hot. My table is soon filled with dishes, each full of large portions of wonderful food of whatever I just ordered. I feel like I think I’m about to have a food coma just by looking at my food. What am I going to do with all this food? I’ll sometimes order a side of steamed rice, which is brought out to me in clay pot, because I know I’m going to have leftovers, and I want to add rice to whatever I’m taking home. Remember how I told you to choose wisely? Now you know why.

Throughout the week, my friend Livi Alcaraz will text me or leave me a message, “Let’s go to Wing Hings for lunch,” I know he likes that Wing Hings gives you a big portion of food to eat. We both tend to get stuffed for about $20 but that is not best part. We are always taking boxes of leftovers home. Whatever I don’t eat, Tam will pack the food into a box, and she’ll tape it do so it doesn’t spill open on my way home. Nobody can beat that lunch special with the servings they give you, well maybe someone can, I just haven’t found that place! Best value for your dollar. You get a lunch combo with more food than most dinner combos AND soup w/ wontons and eggroll for UNDER 5$ !  I think Subway charges just as much of a sub-sandwich.

I have never had a bad meal here, in fact, I can’t think of one single thing I don’t like about this place, other than I live half a mile from the delivery zone. So, yeah, it is not the most awesome looking place on the outside, or inside. It does not have the glittering neon sign lights outside promoting it, but you are here to make your stomach happy, so I do recommend you check it out.

I have sent many of my friends to eat here. When I take someone out to eat for the first time, Wing Hings is always my first choice on where to invite them. The place is never crowded, which like I said earlier, it surprises me, because this place should be packed. If you are in the area and in the mood for some Chinese Food,   I hope you check it out and see for yourself.

I’ll be a regular as long as this place exists.

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Something chased me that night..

This blog, this story which I am about to post is a true story. It is not a piece of fantasy or a work of fiction that I thought up on a boring day or night. I have tried to remain open to unexpected twists of fate this experience may have brought or may still yet bring me, but the clear recollection of this event is still etched in my monochrome mind.

It had happened after one of those summer monsoon desert evenings in Glendale Arizona in June of 2004

It had been a steady quiet day for me, I had been feeling moodier than usual without feeling any less optimistic of what was going to happen that night. I was feeling like a stick of dynamite, ready to explode, all that was needed was someone with a match to light the fuse. I was full of anxiety, for what, I do not know. Around about 7 p.m., my older sister and I got in to an argument. To this day I don’t even remember what the argument was about, but what happened afterward is something I will clearly not forget.

Being so angry and knowing the only way I could control my emotional tantrum and not do something iniquitous was to go run the anger out of me. When I was much younger, I had joined the cross country running team in high school because it was the most efficient way for me to clear up my thoughts, since I often have a difficult time expressing my anger, I ran, often for long distances to calm me down. To this day, I still run vast distances to clear my thoughts.

This time, my anger allowed me to extended myself beyond my own current limitations of personal control because I ran and ran, and maybe there was a weird undercurrent which made things a little bit tilted, but it seemed like a good idea that after running so far, that I started to get angry at myself for ending up far from home, and knowing I have to get back to where I started, I would be tired; so I stopped to gather my thoughts of where I was at.

I live near 51st avenue, between Glendale and Northern.  I ended up on 19th Avenue and Thunderbird. The main roads are broken off only a mile apart, so it goes like this:   Northern – Olive – Peoria – Cactus – Thunderbird.  4 and a half miles to the north from home.

[SEE MAP BELOW GET BETTER IDEA of THE GRID]

I had run about four and a half miles to the north of where I lived, than I thought, I’m on 19th avenue, and started doing the math in my head,  51st avenue – 43rd avenue – 35th avenue – 27th avenue – 19th avenue: 4 miles to the east

I realized and said to myself “What the heck !!! I’m almost 9 miles away from home. Why did I even get mad at my sister?

My anger towards her had been mollified. It was gone.

Not to scale. This is a map so you get a better sense of what happened. The Green is my path back home, pink is whereabouts the owl started following me.

Not to scale. This is a map so you get a better sense of what happened. The Green is my path back home, pink is whereabouts the owl started following me.

So I started running/jogging back home. After stopping for water to drink at a Circle K, which is a corner convenient store, I decided to continue on my trek back home. I got close to the West Campus of Arizona State University, better known as ASU-West, located between 43rd and 51st avenue, on Thunderbird, when I decided I was going to take a short cut through the campus. Back in 2004, much of ASU-West was undeveloped and made of desert landscape. So I started jogging, cutting through the desert field.

“I am almost home, 4 to 5 more miles and I’m there,” those were my personal thoughts, but then I heard a hoot and looked up at a Palo Verde tree and saw an owl. I had often seen coyotes and rabbits in the undeveloped desert portions of the University but never an owl.

I got a pretty intense feeling of evil from that creature staring at me with those big black bug eyes it had, as it tilted the head on its body back and forth examining me as if it was looking and piercing right in to my soul. I felt dizzy. Never had I strongly felt myself in a trance along with an extreme sense of vertigo. Consuming dread raced through my entire body, the sensation I felt was extremely nauseating.

Then, I noticed that the owl flew to a nearby lamp post. It waited there staring at me.

I regained my composure. I thought it was odd, I was still dizzy so I decided to slow down a bit and just jog as I continued south bound. I was already running/jogging something what I like to call, “running poles” in which I run from one pole to another, and then I jog from that pole to the other, then I run to the other one, then I jog and so forth.

 

poles

 

The owl flew from lamp post to lamp post following me. I stopped, it stopped. Clearly this owl was following me but it was keeping a certain distance, watching me.

When I arrived to 51st avenue and Cactus, there is also a major canal just a stone’s throw away. I honestly got scared, thinking of La Llorana, The Weeping Woman of the River, which is a boogey man like tale that comes from the Mexican culture. I also thought intensely about the owl.

Was this a messenger of evil? Of warning?

As of Mexican descant, in our culture, we are often raised with different traditions of superstitions.

I turned around at the owl and got angry. My attitude shifted a bit and I thought to myself, ‘I am going to fight back whatever the hell this thing is..’

I was not going to idly stand by and let this other reality of something sinister affect me. I picked up some rocks and threw them at the owl, but the owl stood there just gazing at me, acting as if I was not going to win with just of rocks being thrown at it. I felt as if that owl communicated somehow with me that night. It clearly said to me with a strange a voice to my head as if were speaking me via telepathy saying ‘If you are going to beat me, it’s going to require finesse,’

My left leg was shaking and trembling as these words entered my mind. Maybe it was adrenaline?

Runner’s high was starting to seem to kick in to my body.  I threw another rock at it. I was excited and knew I could hit it. The owl tilted its head started at me and I felt as it communicated again saying “I want something you have,”

I thought in my mind, “I have nothing you want you little $hit other than a can of chinga tu madre that I can give you heads up if you want it” as I threw another rock. I clearly was cursing profane words to it in English and in Spanish.

After five or six rocks I stopped. I felt as if this owl was laughing at me and mocking my weak aim. I figured it would stop following me, so I decided to continue to “run-jog poles”

Sure enough, this owl continued to follow me but clearly keeping it’s  safe distance.

Pole to pole it flew, following me.

I kept turning back time to time checking to see if the owl was continuing to follow me. I was getting a heightened sense of fantasy this moment, it was something beyond physical.

Was this really happening?

When I reached, Butler Avenue which is a half mile between Olive and Northern I felt I had reached a critical point and I felt I needed to make something happen, and it had to happen soon. The owl was still following me but keeping its same distance apart as it had been for the last several miles.

I started to become frustrated because I had tried to evade this owl without any success and I thought to myself, “What if this thing follows me all the way home..?” I was still scared but continued “running poles,” and I reached the south corner of 51st Avenue and Northern where there is a Walgreens located on the southwest corner.

I stopped and thought to myself, I am almost home and this thing keeps following me, what am I going to have to do? I am not going to let this thing follow me all the way home! I clearly was still stricken with panic.

I picked up some rocks and again chugged those at this owl, who at this time had flown one circle around the lamppost when I threw the rock at it and then it took a swoop at me.

I am thinking, “Damn, someone trained this little f–cking  flying monkey to attack also” (I have always been fearful of those flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz)

Probably looking like a mad man, I yelled in my loudest harshest voice “GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE! WHATEVER YOU ARE, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO FOLLOW ME! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TRY AND FRIGHTEN ME! GO AWAY I COMMAND YOU”

At this moment when I thought about this, I felt an intense emotional shift. It stopped on a light post there, looking at me. I ran. It didn’t chase me. I wonder why. I started to pray in my mind for forgiveness about being mad at my sister. I prayed that this thing would not follow me home. I prayed for safety and comfort. After a bit, I got home. Everyone was asleep in bed. I didn’t want to wake anyone up, they would probably think I was surely crazy. Throughout the night, as I laid in bed, fully awake with some fear, I wondered what my little encounter was about.

The next morning I wrote about it in one of my journals. This is one of the many experiences, that I can’t explain, that have happened to me throughout my lifetime. I have many of them, many which I do not share.

Maybe I’m disillusioned since my perception and my reality becomes whatever I imagine. I acknowledge that something that was beyond my current mental limitations or perception, followed and chased me that night. I wish I could give some type of explanation of what it really went on, other then it was something evil and it was something very real.

What it was, I do not know.

My name is Gabriel Ramiro Sandoval Cruz, many people refer to me as Cruzzer, and to the best of my knowledge this is a true event that I experienced in my life.

Con Safos Y Sin Fin. . . .

With Safety and Without and End

c/s/s/f

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Sesame Street will always be my Utopia

Though I am in my 30s, I am always excited to learn about new cultures and also share my own. The idea was implanted in to my head, not by my parents, but by a TV show known as Sesame Street on PBS. Sesame Street is something real special to me to this day for many reasons.  Even before I started grade school, I was way ahead of the curve among my peers, I knew my abcs, I knew my colors, I knew how to count past 50, thanks in hand to Sesame Street.

The Sesame Street program I grew up with was so much more different then the program shown now days. These days, one character’s personality seems to treated more important and dominate over the others, but I won’t say who, it is not rocket science, even the young ones can tell you who it is.

Sesame Street than was awesome for some many reasons, aside from being part of my childhood. They would have a letter and number and they would re-emphasize that number and letter throughout the programming and I was always excited to see another one for another number and letter.  There was also a various array of characters, I don’t think there one personality which dominated the other personality of another character.  I picked up on this and it was important as I will mention way later. Some of the actors, or individuals, included Big Bird who was a big yellow bird with orange legs who was friends with Snuffleupagus, who was a brown furry elephant. It has a green puppet monster who lived in a trash can named Oscar Grouch, he was always grumpy with temper. He would try to annoy others or give them a hard time, many times whatever he was doing ended up backfiring on him. There was a clumsy blue puppet monster named Grover who was silly, and I liked his voice. I would come to later learn that it was the same voice of Yoda, who appeared in the Star Wars Saga, and like Grover, Yoda was also a little somewhat silly.  Cookie Monster was a blue furry monster who was always hungry and would find a way to con people around them for the food they had. There was one individual named The Count, who took the appearance of a Count and he loved to count numbers.  One ..! One Apple!  ha … ha.. ha… ha Two! Two apples!  Ha.. ha.. ha.. ha.. and so forth till the set amount of apples or whatever objects he was counting. Part of my inspiration of wanting to study journalism in college is in fact due to Kermit who would do “News flashes” !

There were also human characters on the show who interacted,  people like Mr. Hooper, Gordon, Bob, Linda, Maria, Luis and many others who different backgrounds. I liked watching when Linda came on because she was deaf and I used sign language to communicate, so I was always learning something. She’d teach you words.

Yet, the most important aspect of watching Sesame Street was that I learned was tolerance, respect and it made me well aware that even though the characters were also so different, they all treated each other with respect and dignity.. The personalities they displayed, they never acted as if one was better then the other.  They often met up, they were all good to each other.  To this day, Sesame Street is the place I’d like to live; I wish the world was more like Sesame Street, where no one is judged. I still often think of a place where the “air is sweet” where ‘the sunny days sweep the clouds away.

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