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My Love of Sweets-Creme Puffs-Cannoli’s-Eclairs

When I was going to college, I worked in a greek coffee shop in NYC. During that time, I had the pleasure of eating 2 types of freshly made baklava either with pistachios or walnuts.  These were made on site. Additionally, fresh monster size blueberry and corn muffins were made every morning for the breakfast crowd.  The baker was there at 3am. The shop opened at 6am. It was in a business and tourist district.   

It was here that I developed a sweet tooth and my love of sweets. Apart from the freshly baked items made on site, we had vendors that delivered other baked goods every morning. 

We had apple and cherry turnovers, glazed and granulated sugar covered donuts, along with croissants.

During the holidays, primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas, the vendors would make napoleons, éclairs, cannolis and crème puffs. I think the owner of the bakery outfit was Italian. It was here that I developed my fondness for the custard filled crème puffs and éclairs.  Later on, I fell in love with cannolis. But the custard filled desserts attract me more, or anything with a filling.  

So , when I hear of a supermarket or a bakery (preferred) that have these items, I will stop in and buy some. 

The sugar content in these decadent desserts is high, so I tend to not each as much as I used too. But,  I do on occasion, and when possible pair with a strong, stain the cup, Cuban coffee. 

Go and enjoy the hunt for fresh, Greek or Italian sweets.
 
 

Travel Less & Stay Home More

When I started my company one of the things that I promised my family was that I would be home for our kids as they were growing up. When I was working for a corporate organization, I was home every night. I had some long days, and traveled at times but was home with my family.  Eating at my table and sleeping in my bed, with my bride at night. My travel was rare, at most 3-4 times a year and for a night or two. My sons saw me every day. They became and are still accustomed to asking for me if I don’t walk in the door by 6:30pm.

Initially, when I started Lease A Sales Rep, I was the 1st rep. So I was the “Lease A Sales Rep”. I was contracting myself out to businesses and I picked up clients where I did sales work getting contracts for them in hospitals. At the time, that required I be on site at a client’s location, say in Texas for 3-5 days. That model took me out of my home more than I wanted. I made it very rare, even as I was building the company. I turned down many opportunities because it required me to stay out of my home.  I did that about 4 times in a 1 year span. I stopped after the 1st year  and traveled only when necessary. I went to an occasional 1-2 night max business trip, out of my home, at any given time. My kids were very young and the formative years are so important and I did not want to miss them. I wanted be present as a dad. I’m grateful that I never missed a game, an awards ceremony, a recital, a play. I was present for all of it. My wife was able to be a stay at home mom as well.

I tell people who do sales and have kids to not take jobs that take you on the road 40 weeks a year, or 1 week home, 1 week out. Take a job closer to home, with standard hours and less pay if needed. I have heard stories of sales reps that went out 1 day and came back 5 years later and their kids grew up. Now, they weren’t gone for five years, but they were on the road so much, their kids grew up. They missed so many activities and events. They were tiny when they left and they sprouted.  You can’t get that time back. The kids then get used to not having a dad present, and they will mimic that behavior in adulthood. Whether, male or female. Kids will see work as more important than family.    Be home for your kids. They need you. You being there will carry over to the next generation.
 

How to drink more water

Water enhancers


We are told that drinking 8 glasses a day of water is good for you. Who thinks’ of these things? We are told that hydration is a requirement for good health.  Water helps to keep you looking young as it hydrates your body and skin.

But we are also told that your body is a good barometer of whether you need water or not.  Meaning that if you’re thirsty, your body is telling you to drink more water. Duh.

But on the flip side, if you are thirsty you are probably dehydrated.  So which is it? Drink 8 glasses of water, or whatever you can handle. Or ignore those recommendations and drink only when thirsty? People and the medical community are insane. LOL.

Well, I like coffee, and that’s made with water. That counts right? But coffee is a diuretic. Meaning it will make you go to the bathroom.  And you body will lose water.

To be honest drinking a lot of water daily does not excite me. But I have found something that helps,
water enhancers. These little liquid bottles of flavoring give water a better taste. I gravitate to the orange and grape versions.  One squeeze and I can drink a 12-16 oz glass of water. I am drinking more water, but not nearly as much as recommended. 

To be frank, I don’t like to be in the restroom  multiple times a day. So I’m on a conference call and then have the urge, to go. You know.  Ahem.  

I do try to substitute other drinks with water for my meals instead, using the enhancers to drink more water. If I have 3 major meals, that (3) 12-16 oz’s of water right there.

 It’s a start.

Why I enjoy flea markets and garage sales

As a big game hunter in sales, I enjoy the hunt and closing 6/7 figure deals. For those who don’t know what big game hunting is in the sales profession, big game are large accounts. Think of companies with market capitalizations (value) of 1 billion dollars. Think enterprise level clients that employ 1000’s of people, generate millions in revenue and who are dominant
players in their industries.

I do enjoy the big game hunting in my business, but also the hunt in general, for anything! I apply this skill to flea markets, garage sales, estate sales and auctions.

When I have the time, I will look at garage sale postings, estate sale announcements and auction listings for dates they are occurring, and try to attend them. I enjoy finding items like watches, jewelry, electronics and vintage toys that are being sold at very low cost, with the purpose to resell it. Granted, I’m not talking about making alot of money here. Think of buying something for 5 bucks and selling for 25 or 30 dollars. The profit as a % is huge, but the monetary return is small.

But I get a kick and a rush of finding a good deal and reselling the item. It’s not about the cash, but more so about the hunt and the sale. I also get to meet some great people on the journey. Meanwhile, they don’t know what I do for a living and I can also observe their interactions with the public.

Some of the best places to find items to resell are yard sales. You can find many undervalued items, as the sellers are usually just trying to get rid of stuff that has been laying around in a closet or garage. When I buy something in this environment, the items get rehoused somewhere else. Meaning, I buy it. Then resell it. The buyer uses the item or may resell it. Stays in the ecosystem. Recycled into a new home.

When traveling, I always look up flea markets in the area to visit. Same focus. To find a good deal. The hunt. Flea markets are typically weekend trips as they are usually closed during the week. I do go when I can when in my home state.

Auctions and estate sales also happen on weekends. Although, many auctions are held online as well. I do bid on the online ones, but I prefer the in-person events. To meet people and see items first hand.

At a garage sale, I found a color VCR/TV combo 9′ inch that was in great condition for $10.00. I sold it for $130.00. Someone wanted it for their older dad to watch old VCR movies. It made them happy, as they were looking for one, and I had it.

These hunts are a good distraction from the every day running a company capitalistic game. It’s fun and you can make a few bucks. Love this stuff!

https://www.fleamarketinsiders.com/top-20-flea-markets-in-the-us/

Beach Trips allow me to recharge

One of the ways I enjoy unplugging and decompressing is taking beach trips. The sound of the ocean, in any season has a calming and healing affect on all who visit.

The salt infused sea air has been shown to renew and refresh the spirt and clear the mind. Beach trips, for me, also allow for the peace associated with rest to release the mind to think, reflect and brainstorm.

Another benefit I enjoy when beach traveling is eating at restaurants on the beach that serve seafood. For some reason, at least for me, the meal is more enjoyable. At times the seafood can be sourced locally and that adds to the enjoyment and flavor.

I do enjoy a well prepared grouper or salmon, crab cakes and of course lobster tails. Pass the butter please!

So beach trips is one of my go to’s when seeking to pull away and recharge. Add a good water side restaurant with seafood and we are golden.

Take a beach trip.

https://travel.usnews.com/rankings/best-beaches-in-the-usa/

Election Integrity and Hispanics

Election integrity with free and fair elections are important issues to the Hispanic community. Many Hispanics flee from Latin American countries that are known for rampant corruption, pay for vote schemes, voter intimidation and manipulation of votes cast, and come to the U.S. for a better life.

The need for Voter ID, removing deceased voters from voter rolls and connecting state voter databases with opting out of jury selection due to “lack of citizenship” are a few steps we can take to ensure elections are fair and results are accurate. Voter ID is required in Latin American countries. By not requiring a Voter ID, this opens the door to election fraud and a possible decline in our democracy. A trend that is moving around the globe is a decline in democracy. This decline in free countries starts with voter control, vote manipulation and control of the judicial branches of government.
https://www.transparency.org/en/news/political-integrity-lacking-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean-especially-a

Dictatorships found in Venezuela and Nicaragua that publicly state they have a “democratic” voting process, manipulate the results via corrupt employees and seizing judicial branches of government to accomplish their goals of staying in power.

In 2021, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela took control over the last remaining democratic institutions in his country through legislative elections rejected by the international community as illegitimate. Maduro’s authoritarianism is responsible for the country’s descent into economic collapse. The regime-backed National Assembly is considering 33 bills to consolidate Maduro’s power by further curtailing freedom of expression (free speech) and restricting international cooperation. The regime repealed a law which required gubernatorial and municipal elections to be held on separate dates before the end of the year. This would allow the regime to hold a super-election in 23 states and 335 municipalities, further consolidating power at the local level.

Nicaragua represents another “democracy deficit” in the region. In late 2020, Daniel Ortega’s regime approved a set of draconian laws that undermine fundamental freedoms and further erode the country’s rule of law. In October 2020, the “OAS” adopted a resolution calling on Nicaragua’s government to “fully respect the constitutional order, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, and hold free and fair elections,” planned for November 7, 2021. Democratic opposition political and civic groups seek to unify and contest the elections, representing the best chance for Nicaraguans to regain their freedoms and democracy.
https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2021/democracy-under-siege

These examples provide insight into where NC and the U.S may be headed. By implementing trusted systems to verify that only U.S. citizens are casting votes and those votes are counted accurately and counted once are a few steps to ensure confidence in our elections. These steps help to build trust in the Hispanic community that our elections and the results are accurate. And finally, that we are not moving towards a Venezuelan or Nicaraguan form of government and a deterioration of our democracy.

LatinX is an offensive term

The term LatinX is a word making its way more into the American lexicon as one that seeks to identify the Hispanic population and all Latino’s and Latina’s with one label.

This term was created to neutralize gendered pronouns in the Spanish language. The Spanish language has male and female terms. It’s how our language is structured. The term LatinX was created to include gay, cis-gendered , non-binary and transgender people into the Spanish language. It has since been taken as a “label” for the whole Hispanic community as a group irrespective if you identify as the people for whom it was initially created.

LatinX is definitely a label that has arisen from the queer community. Those are the people that were feeling the need for a term that would stop breaking the world into gender binary groups. Unfortunately, for those who “support” this label, the Spanish language is not structured to integrate this term as we have male and female gendered pronouns. Many describe this term as an “Anglicism” of the Spanish language, as well. As white higher education elitist professors have also been involved in pushing this term through colleges and universities and has subsequently been picked up by media outlets. This leads to the parroting of the term and further feeds it into the American lexicon.

In Spanish, it is traditional to use the masculine form of nouns and pronouns when referring to both males and females. Advocates of gender-neutral language modification consider this to be sexist and favor new ways of writing and speaking. One such way is to replace gender-specific word endings -o and -a by an -x, which represents the syllable “ex” such as in LatinX as opposed to Latino and Latina. It is more inclusive in “gender queer” friendly environments.

If the LatinX term was created to be inclusive of “non-heterosexual” populations, and that label is applied to those who are Latino or Latina “heterosexuals”, it’s offensive to millions of us who do not identify as such. As the term was created specifically for the non-heterosexual population. If one does not identify as one of these groups (gay, lesbian, transgendered, cis-gender non-binary), and you overlay this term (LatinX) over those who do not identify as such you offend millions of Latino’s and Latina’s. As the genesis of this term was created for these sub groups of the US population.

I personally don’t care what someone wants to call themselves, or how they live their lives. But I do take issue with the LatinX label being applied to those who do not fit the profile of this sub-group of people for whom it was created. If this term is used to identify or label you and you disagree with that label, stop the use of this term to describe you and correct those who use it. As for me, I’m Latino or Hispanic. You can keep your “X”.

Why are churches and pastors hesitant to dive into politics and social issues from the pulpit?

I use the word “hesitant” vs. afraid which was my first choice in titling this article. I changed it after having quite a few conversations with pastors to get their views on social issues facing us today, politics, the election and the church.

I was drawn to this issue for multiple reasons. For one, as a man of faith who is very active in church life, this issue is of importance to me. Secondly, as a man who is “graduate seminary” trained and one who’s active in political circles, one can see how this type of issue intersects with many of my activities. I personally have some strong views and convictions on many social and political issues facing our nation today. I had to remove my logical and rational self from these discussions. This was done to prevent my analysis from a biblical, social and political perspective in clouding my judgement, in what I deem to be right and wrong behavior by those I interviewed.

I share what I uncovered in my discussions with liberal, moderate and conservative white, brown and black pastors, men and women without judgment. As all have their own realties and circles they are accountable too.

The pastors I spoke with, for the most part , are in full-time ministry or various ministry work provided most of their compensation. Although, some have secular jobs that provide some additional income.

Here are some questions I asked and summary of responses.

Question: What issues happening in society today concern you the most? Some of these items were a major concern. There are in no particular order.
Answer:

Freedom of religion
Religious liberty being restricted
LGBTQIA
Jobs
National debt
Abortion
Cancel Culture targeting those that disagree
Economy
Immigration
Civil Unrest
Legacy=What do I leave my children (country in a bad state)
Hyper partisanship
Low trust in institutions (government, media)

Question: Are you a single issue voter?
Answer:
Most said they were a single issue voter. As an example, a candidate that supports abortion may not get their vote. But if a candidate supports many policies that affect the masses and abortion is the only major drawback for that candidate, some said they would vote for them.

Question: Are you afraid, fearful and hesitant to share your views on social issues and politics from the pulpit.
Answer:
Most responded they had some concerns of sharing their views on political parties, candidates, BLM, ANTIFA etc. One of the main concerns was offending members or visitors who may not agree. Their views may have the collateral affect of people leaving these churches and would affect giving and potentially their livelihoods. Another concern was they would be targeted by the “cancel culture” crowd. The church would be the target, themselves or their families could be targeted. Jobs could be lost or people can be harmed.

Although, the pastors shared with me in confidence that they have views on many issues facing the US today, they are hesitant to share them, directly. Some do take a different route and use scripture and a teaching approach on hot button issues. As an example, they will go around the periphery of an issue. Like this: How would Jesus deal with people that disagree with him and get angry and act out? Pastors would tie that into BLM protestors that damage property and take away the livelihoods of people. Not a direct condemnation, but connecting the dots type of approach. Hoping members make the connection.

Question: Do you think the church is still respected and has any authority in these difficult times?
Answer:
God has been removed from the public square. But God is still in control. Although, the Trump administration has made great strides via policy initiatives to protect the interest of churches and our Christian values, many people are not connected to God and the church as one would expect. Therefore, the respect for the church is diminishing. We are becoming more of a secular nation and it’s a daily battle. There is no “one source” of accountability in the church or the nation, many members and pastors are doing their own thing. This behavior may not align with biblical values. The moral foundation of the country is under attack, from traditional marriage to acknowledging multiple genders and allowing infanticide, are on trial in the public square. One pastor shared that instead of highlighting darkness from the pulpit on these social issues, he tries to shine the light of Christ in the midst of the darkness.

The general sentiment I was given by those that I interviewed is they are concerned the path we are going down as a country. The tribalization of people is spreading and opposing views on any issue is seen as an opportunity for an attack The lack of a moral a compass that aligns with biblical values is concerning, as is a lack of accountability on multiple fronts. This is true for liberals, moderates and conservatives, as they will disagree what constitutes the compass for the measurement of right and wrong. Many would like to speak up more on hot button topics, but feel restricted due to inside and outside pressures. This applies to both liberals, moderates and conservatives. They have relegated themselves to touch on these issues lightly, when able to do so and on the periphery. Praying that God and the Holy Spirit provides understanding and enlightenment to those listening so they may act according to scripture, as they may see it.

Here’s another good resource I found that was helpful and had similar findings.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/april/barna-pastors-social-issues-speaking-religious-freedom.html

Thanks to all who participated. Your trust and confidence in sharing your heart during this process was rewarding, refreshing and insightful. I’m grateful.

Civitas Interview-Discussion on Hispanic Voters and Values


During this election season, many assumptions are made about Hispanics. Some of these assumptions are that most Hispanics are liberal, with a slither of conservatism or many are non-political. In this interview, I was able to take a deeper dive on some of these assumptions and dispel a view others. This conversation was held via the Civitas podcast with Co-hosts Brooke Medina and Ray Nothstine of the Civitas organization.
https://www.nccivitas.org/

Other important topics to the Hispanic community, i.e. immigration, jobs , voting and the new buzz word to label us, LatinX to name a few were discussed. Listen in at the link below.
https://www.nccivitas.org/2020/hispanic-voters-values-gil-pagan/

#hispanicvoters #hispanicvotes #hispancevoting #immigration #jobs #latinx

Univision & Telemundo dominate the Hispanic news market

I speak to Hispanics about their thoughts on the Corona Virus, given the increased spread in this population according to news sources, I receive varying degrees of responses, from complacency to paralyzing fear. From those who I can gather more insight from on why they feel the way they do, I asked where do you get your information from to help inform your thought process?

In my small, non-scientific study, many of those who are more complacent and not as concerned about getting infected, are those who are 2nd & 3rd generation Hispanics. As I dig deeper, I uncover they get their news from various sources. They read posts on social media, websites with varying political leanings and some radio stations, based on their music preferences. These news sources are primarily in English, with some Spanish interjected into their news sources. The radio stations can have English or Spanish dominant programming. 

When asking the same questions to 1st generation Hispanics the responses change. The question posed is where do you get your information on the Corona Virus from?  Their responses have been, they get their news primarily from Spanish only media. For the unenlightened, there are two major Spanish language TV news stations in the U.S., Univison https://www.univision.com/ and Telemundo https://www.telemundo.com/.

Univision occupies first place in market share and Telemundo follows in second place, respectively. There are a few others in the U.S. market, not worth mentioning, given these two dominate the Hispanic TV news market.  Univision and Telemundo provide their news only in Spanish. Therefore, their audience who is primarily Spanish dominant,  only consume their news due to language barriers. Their audience often have “very limited” English proficiency mostly conversational, but can’t follow along with a English only news broadcast. This places these two stations (Univision & Telemundo) in a position to drastically shape the narrative of what Spanish dominant Hispanics see and hear regarding the Corona Virus, as well as other social, cultural and political issues.

It’s not uncommon to hear that those Hispanics who are more fearful about the Corona Virus are more apt to get their news from these sources. These news outlets viewers have little recourse to go elsewhere due to language barriers. Of course, there are other news sources in Spanish, i.e. newspapers, websites and social media pages. But these Spanish only news sources are in the same position of power if controlled by the same two players. These two news organizations own a host of print media, radio stations and websites. Few independent sources are available that provide unbiased and balanced news for the Spanish dominant population.

As I have listened to these news outlets, the news reported is mainly negative on the Corona Virus, with constant doom and gloom. But they’re also more liberal in their reporting philosophy on many social and political topics. These news outlets know they have a captive audience that has little recourse to obtain “Spanish only” news elsewhere. This places them in a powerful position to shape and manipulate the thoughts and minds of their Hispanic audience to whatever agenda they want to push.