Temporal, Temporal…

In Puerto Rico we have a very unique name for Atlantic based storms: temporales. We even have a song dedicated to the impact they cause in our immediate lives, the uncertainty of being in the way of the eye of a hurricane. There is something magical about that word because it describes both the temperamental nature of these beasts and the quick movement of the weather system through the Island. It is a mix of wind, rain and calm that pretty much describes each boricua: a true force of nature.

El ganao se ve inquieto. El cielo esplomo parejo
El aire esta suspendido. No se escucha ni un ladrido
Todo anuncia la tormenta, todo es ansiedad
El instinto va avisando. viene un temporal

Un bravido corta el cielo. La madre solloza un ruego
En los ojos duele el verde, la cosecha que se pierde
El cielo va obscureciendo. todo es ansiedad
Ya se espera el sinbronaso, va llegando el.

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Que sera de mi Borinquen cuando llegue el temporal
Que sera de Puerto Rico, cuando llegue el temporal

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Todo el pueblo esta reunido en el lugar mas seguro
Algunos estan rezando, Dios mio, todo se a puesto obscuro

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal.
Los hombres estan condenando las puertas y las ventanas
Hay aroma de cafe y esperanza para mañana

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal
Los viejos estan comentando de temporales pasados
Los jovenes escuchando se sienten que estan retados

Temporal, temporal. alla viene el temporal
Santa Maria, libranos de todo mal, amparanos Señora del terrible temporal

I have been scanning social media outlets for information. Hurricane Maria hit on September 20th, 2017 and came inland through the municipality of Yabucoa around 7am EST. Around 11 am most of the diaspora (those in the USA and beyond) lost communication with family members. Cell phone towers and electricity lines were down when the 135+ mph winds of this Category 4 hit. Every town and every city started to heavily flood soon there after.

The few people on my feed that had Claro communications got word and updates out fast. Cell phone charges were being conserved but many people had extra batteries and car charges ready to plug in and recharge. TV stations sent out crews to cover what they could for as long as possible and ate slowly starting to emerge. Most highways and roads are flooded or full of debris. People are sitting on their rooftops waiting to be rescued. Only one person so far has been reported as deceased due to the storm. And it is only Thursday!

Not even 24 hrs later, emergency crews are doing the rounds. FEMA, Red Cross and other organizations are looking for volunteers. Social media is flooded with pictures and fundraising sites. Warning messages advising people to check campaigns to avoid being scammed are already circulating. Zello is up and running, and many people are getting messages out through internet apps since phone lines are still down. The buzzing of power plants permeates a very calm and quiet environment that will soon be overrun with coqui chants. Life slowed down to the basics; food, water, shelter and finding other survivors.

It is not an exaggeration on my part to use the word survivors. The howling winds mortified the entire populace. Not one single soul thought that they were going to make it 100%. The experience was so bad it made people rethink their priorities. Stuck in a bathroom, planning for the worst and hoping for the best is not an easy feat. The claustrophobia alone scarred people for life. Experts predict PTSD occurrences will skyrocket. Everyone is getting prepared to spend the next three months without water or power. Hurricane Georges (1998) and Hurricane Hugo (1989) x2.

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This was my first hurricane experience from a distance. My smartphone turned into a mini command center, forwarding data and making calls to connect people. Situations like these prove that it is who you know and how you make people feel that make you effective in times of crisis. So far we slowly find missing or unaccounted family and friends. Progress is slow, but it is progress after all, an exercise in patience.

As I typed this my mom was turning back on the highway on my way to grandma’s. It is so flooded it will take another two days to find clear passage to her part of town.

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Baldorioty De Castro, Sept 21 2017.

Little by little debris is cleared and people come out of the safety of their homes to rebuild. It will be a few weeks before everything can flow a bit smoother and physical contact can be made with our loved ones. At some point, routines will go back to normal, kids will go to school and adults will report for work. For now, locals will grab a beer, a fan, a domino set or board game and spend time with their family. The worst has come to pass, and they have persevered. Boricuas have done it before and they will do it again.

Donate, volunteer, spread the word. An entire island country needs our help and strength. A few weeks ago they were helping Hurricane Irma survivors. They showed us they were made out of sugar, spice and everything fierce. It is their time to be assisted. The call beckons us home.


For more information check Meteorologia del Caribe or any site with Hurricane Maria as a header. Also, check out Zello (app) and local radio stations via I Heart Radio and other internet broadcasting apps.

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The Teal Pumpkin! (DIY)

FYI

Mrs. Enginerd - Nerd Whisperer

One of my friends posted a Huffington Post story about a new trend for the Halloween season: The Teal Pumpkin. This campaign has gained so much strength that even Michael’s sell the already colored decorative pumpkin, giving visibility to the issue of children with allergies. I always wondered how parents managed to make Halloween bareable for kids that could eat Snickers or have candy or treats prepared in environments with nuts and soy. Giving away Skittles and hard candy made me feel a bit less guilty about the situation. Now I have been given the okay to give and advertise non food treats, like playdoh or piñata toys, for those kids who otherwise would risk health complications or would end up throwing their candy away. How cool is that!!

For those who are on a budget and can’t afford the $16.99 Michael’s price tag, or can’t wait to get…

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American Vandal (Netflix)

Everyone knows drawing penises on stuff is funny until someone gets framed for causing 100k in vandalism damage. This is what happened to Dylan Maxwell, an unsuspecting self-professed prankster and class loser, paints himself into a corner due to his obsession with drawing dicks everywhere. According to the School Board, it is obvious that Dylan is guilty of leaving his signature all over 27 faculty cars. The problem? The security footage was mysteriously erased and the only witness, Alex Tromboli, is a known embellisher or facts and outcast willing to do anything to get into the spotlight and act like a hero.

Because Dylan seems sincere, two of his Hanover High schoolmates, part of the Morning Show 9, decide to start an unofficial investigation into the case. With a scholarship and diploma to lose, it would be true miscarriage of justice if the accused lost everything he has earned due to the frame up. The faculty is convinced they got their man. His peers beg to differ, and even suspect some of the teachers could be the ones behind this perfect crime. 😎

In the most self-deprecating, humorous, satirical manner, the producers and filmmakers present a story full of intrigue, suspense and teenage drama. The reenactments and calculations are precious and delightfully entertaining, and the aha! moments are priceless! Netflix hit the ball out of the park with this series, which does a nice tribute to podcasts, true crime shows (spoofing its own Making a Murderer), and the pubescent quest for the truth. Watch out Serial, these kids are going to blow your status out of the water!

This is dick humor at its best – I haven’t laughed so hard while pretending to solve a crime. Don’t miss American Vandal, currently streaming on Netflix.

The truth is out there…

In the dark (Podcast)

Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped one faithful night in 1989 by a man holding a gun. The eleven year old was with a couple of friends, who had accompanied him to pick out a movie at the local video store, when they were ambushed, questioned and threatened by the abductor. The efforts to find him were fruitless. It would take 27 years to find out the truth behind his disappearance.

The podcast picks up the story a few months before there is a break in the case that leads to the discovery of Jacob’s remains. That October 22 night had been haunting the people of St John, Minnesota, and now they had an answer: Danny Heinrich had abducted, sexually assaulted and killed him within the first hour of his kidnapping. What makes this case unique is that the perpetrator was not a member of the community, and even if a sex offender registry had been in place back then, it would have not helped solve this crime.

The investigative team behind In the Dark came across files of other possible victims of the confessed killer. Kids in the town of Paynesville had reported being followed and/or assaulted by a guy in a blue car, a crucial piece of evidence that matched accounts of witnesses in Jacob’s case. Eventually, the deal reached with Heinrich included a confession about one previous abduction but his testimony led many to believe there would likely be more victims. Sadly, these would be denied justice as part of the deal included immunity from further prosecution for the now convicted killer.

In the Dark will return with an unrelated case for season 2. Download or listen to it via Radio Public and the apps listed on their website.

Enjoy!

Dear Zachary (Netflix Documentary)

Whenever I lose a young friend, my first thought is for those who survive them. Having to deal with the grief or a life without them is tough, especially when you take stock of all the good memories. This was the reason why I was drawn to Kurt Kuenne’s 2008 documentary about his best friend Andrew Bagby. As a tribure, he collected messages and stories from people all around the world to share the life and legacy of the brother he lost with Andrew’s son Zachary.

What makes this story truly remarkable and unique is that the accused, and wildly known pre meditated murderer, didn’t know she was pregnant at the time the crime was committed. In a fit of rage, Dr. Turner took the life of her ex boyfriend, 12 years her junior, weeks shy of his graduatiom from Family Practice Medicine, in Larobe, Pennsylvania. Andrew died not knowing he had left a son behind, and that his parents were about to embark on a journey that would uproot them to St John, Newfoundland to engage his killer in an incredible custody and legal battle 3,000 miles away from home.

Getting justice for Andrew and for Zachary became a crusade for Kate and Dave Bagby who were failed by the Canadian justice system. As victims of a violent crime, they felt the government had no sense of remorse nor guilt, or a need to get them justice for their family. You will be torn between the sadness of grief and the anger and disgust the Bagby clan amd friends experience as they share their thoughts about Andrew and the events transpiring in real time. Be warned that the devastating twists the narrative takes and the cruel ending of the story will shock and the strongest and coldest of hearts to tears. These people danced with the devil and lives to tell the tale. Tip of the hat to the cast and crew for teaching us about true love, devotion and grit under the most extreme of circumstances.

For more information about the case and to expand on the documentary, check out Dave Bagby’s book Dancing with the Devil.

Enjoy!

Serial (Podcast)

Sarah Koenig, This American Life, and her team began Serial by investigating the story of Adnan Syed, a seventeen year old high school student, was accused and later convicted of strangling and burying his ex girlfriend, Hae Min Lee on a clear January day in Woodlawn, Maryland, back in 1999. During Season 1 they explore allegations that Baltimore City and County police were not only corrupt, but on a rush to clear their murder dockets. They botched this case royally,  and were unapologetic about it.

Investigators and lawyers for the defense have been able to prove that a series of unfortunate events led to Adnan being found guilty. The main evidence in the case centered around cell phone tower ping and location technology that has been proven inadmissible and inadequate in many cases because it doesn’t conclusively show where a call was made or received. Ineffective counsel, conflicting testimony from star and eye witnesses add to the drama of this injustice. Experts claim that this podcast investigation is responsible for uncovering evidence that resulted in a new trial and possible post conviction relief. Wow!

For Season 2, Serial featured PFC Bowe Bergdahl’s ordeal as a Taliban prisoner of war, which unfortunately occurred after he went A.W.O.L. His motive, to cause a DUSTWUN to protest US Army policies and prove how ineffective the entire war endeavor was. The move backfired; he was captured by the enemy, and the search stretched resulted in Army casualties. It took 5 years and a prisoner exchange to secure his release which polarized a nation as to what proper punishment to assign the rescued POW.

The Army asked for a court-martial, charging Bowe with dereliction of duty and misbehavior before the enemy, which can earn him in a life in prison sentence. As the story unfolds the Serial team discover and discuss Bowe’s motivation, defense and possible fate. At the time the episodes aired Bergdhal was still on active duty, confined to a desk job, until his trial came to pass. It turns out that in June 2017 a judge set a trial date to for October. The now Army Sargeant is going to have his day in court. For more info, follow the link.

Serial will return with a Season 3 in the near future.

Enjoy!

Up and Vanished (Podcast)

What Happened to Tara Grinstead? On October 22, 2005, the Ocilla, Georgia ex-beauty queen now turned history teacher went missing. For the last twelve years scores of media and private investigators have been frantically searching for her abductor. Police suspected foul play and the town ran with the story to the point everyone became suspect. The leads ran cold. Stereotypical characters became to emerge in this story: the ex boyfriend, the new lover, the married man whom she was having an affair with, the hoaxters and the wildcards. No one knew up from down, right from wrong. She was gone.

Payne Lindsey, a Millennial documentary film director, decided to revisit her story, with Dr Maurice Godwin as his guide. By pure serendipity, a tip solved the crime in early 2017 and the culprits were found, arrested and charged with her murder. Her family can now lay her to rest. The town is relieved and sad because the case was solved, but perpetrated by two of their own. Tara’s case if officially closed. Wow!

The series runs 24 chapters plus a few extras, Q&As, and evidence exploration vignettes. Over 50 million people have enjoyed listening to this riveting investigation that even features a special guest from the Undisclosed crew. It runs about 30 mins per episode and is easily available via all these sources:

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Enjoy!

Starting the MBA Journey, Together

Two years after being laid off, my husband and I decided to pursue an MBA in Technology. Yes, you read that correctly: together. We met on the first day of college, both pursuing engineering undergrad degrees, at an English Honors class that got cancelled. Two years later we formally started to date, right after 9/11 occurred. Life seemed to short to waste it back then, and that attitude got us through a Medical Engineering Masters program, 30+ weddings, 2 layoff notices, one miscarriage and one special puppy we have been fostering to adopt almost two years now.

Sixteen beautiful years together…

When we started the Masters in engineering, I made my husband promise he would be my wingman during the MBA. Not only is it a cool subject matter, since we chose to major in Technology, but it enhances our engineering experience and background. After graduation, we can become leaders in this industry, above and beyond aerospace. This new degree serves as an opportunity to learn and grow simultaneously professionals and partners.

Marriage, contractually speaking, is a business proposition.

When we made the decision to get married, it was to build, manage and expand our own personal empire. Knowing how to make decisions as a team is crucial to success and our respective ruts had eroded our ability to find the right solution for all parties involved, the Win-Win. The program that accepted us was familiar with husband-wife combos and was genuinely interested in showing the rest of the students how this scenario plays out.

Think about the implications of having an already established executive council inside an MBA class that has to grow to include this smaller business unit. Everyone else has to go through this by themselves, something they all have in common, whereas we come with a built in support system that will have to extend to include the rest of the class. A challenge within a challenge. Gotta love it cause our peers were floored and excited to be a part of our endeavor, of the experiment, and are learning vicariously through us. 😎

Our little empire is on a path to expansion, and we are taking 36 more people along for the ride!

Let the journey from M to A begin…

Game of Thrones Tours – Ireland

As you may be aware, the characters on Game of Thrones have thick heavy accents. That’s because some are Britons, some are Scotts and many are Irish! About 80% of the sets or film locations are in Ireland; most of the forests, castles, the Wall and the cold North lands of Westeros can be found in Northern Ireland. Because of this, there are a few companies organizing Game of Thrones tours that feature extras like capes, frocks, original tankards, goblets, horn steins and replicas of the main weapons used on the series. Once in particular, the Game of Thrones Tours (GoTT) from Dublin even features the direwolves. Nerdgasm!

We couldn’t pass up the unique opportunity to see Ireland through Game of Thrones goggles so we booked two of the GoTT tours offered: the first to see Winterfell (from Dublin); and the second to see the Iron Islands and Giant’s Causeway from Belfast. The tours feature all of the treats mentioned previously and two hikes through the country side to reach the remote filming locations. It was the easiest way to combine nature outings and transportation, within a safe and secure environment. We didn’t have to drive or worry about transfers. Win – win.

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From Dublin, we headed out to Tollymore forest to get reacquainted with the cold northern lands, the wildling camp featured in Season 1 Episode 1. The second stop took us to, Castle Ward, aka Winterfell, which grounds were also used to portray the Twins, aka Audley Castle, and the Trident. The guide held up pictures of the series to orient us at the locations and to show the crowd what was CGI and what wasn’t. You learn about the history behind each structure, nature spot and era that influenced the Celts and the people of Westeros. Seeing the canvas that HBO uses for this unbelievable yet relatable stories of the epic fantasy story was inspiring and awesome!

They have a Brain of Thrones trivia that is used to determine the King or Queen in the North, to be sworn in and plead fealty to at Inch Abbey, in full regalia. Capes, raised replica swords and heralds with banners and shields usher in the short, yet rewarding, reign of the victor and representative of the Starks of Winterfell. Somewhere between the lands beyond the Wall and Winterfell you get lunch and a quick visit with Summer and Greywind, and a local family that has served as extras for the last 7 seasons. 😍😍😍

Honestly, what got us off the bus was knowing that if our Brienne inspired geared up guide Aenne had rocked the tour, the Belfast version had to be just as remarkable. We didn’t want to go back home! The beauty of Ireland is astounding, and the people are phenomenal: they embrace the Game of Thrones impact and even provide behind the scene info on site for anyone’s pleasure.

The Belfast tour was rough though…

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Brian, an Iron Born/wildling/Stark/Frey extra extraordinaire, made the best out of a tour that takes you 10,000 an hour through the northern Irish sites. Castle Black and the Wall were a blur, mostly because it is inside a quarry and is off-limits; you have to see it from the bus at 40 kmh. Two people on the super small and fast tour bus got sick because of the twisty and winding roads. Take motion sickness medication if you want to avoid having to vomit into a white bag.

Because of the delays, and the amount of sights on the Belfast tour, you have to rush through the morning schedule to get to the Giant’s Causeway before closing. The first stop shows you the steps in the bay were Arya emerged after being attacked by the girl in Braavos, which doubled as the port town as well. From there, you hit Melissandre’s assassin shadow baby birth place, Renly’s Camp and Tournament grounds, the suspension bridge at Carrik-a-Rede, and the Iron Islands. At this last spot, we took a group picture dressed and geared as Iron Born, in the pouring rain.

The tour happens rain or shine so they provide ponchos to protect you from the elements and stays inside the bus until the micro storms clear. This was important because Giant’s Causeway is outdoors, and requires a long walk down a hill, which is truly a must see. After an hour there, we headed south to Belfast, past Harrenhall and with a short stop at the Dark Hedges or the King’s road. Amazing! Being patience and quick paid off, especially since no one was late or had to be left behind. 😎

If you have any physical impediment or ailment, these tours will not accommodate for you beyond what the National Parks have offered. The hikes are brutal and really long, so if you need to make frequent stops you are better off going on your own time. The places of interest are clearly marked and have lots of visitors so you won’t be going at it alone. Take lots of pictures and follow all posted instructions, including those given by the tour staff. It is a magical ride that is worth the expense. I highly recommend this for the hardcore fans, even those trying to avoid spoilers.

Winter is here…

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