Nov 14, 2014

Dear ACL

Rebekah Gregory DiMartino's life changed drastically after she attended the Boston Marathon in 2013. She was standing next to one of the bombs placed during the attack, which left her with an injured leg that doctors have fought for months to save. Unfortunately, the leg couldn't be saved and Rebekah finally decided to have it removed but this has not made her lose her positive attitude.

This amazing display of energy and positivism has really inspired me and has made me think: if she can milk her injury for all it's worth, why can't I get a little attention and money for mine? 

And so it is that I decided to write a letter to my ACL:

Hey ACL, it's me.

I know that some times you feel like I'm tearing you apart, but I want to tell you that my feelings are true and that I never wanted to hurt you. I'm not saying that this isn't hard for me and I understand that you want to leave me; however, I don't want this thing we have to come to an end. Every day that I spend without you is a day where I am unstable and I feel like I can trip and fall at any moment. I'm not sure I can reach my full potential if you are not here. I love you, I really do, and you are crucial to my happiness. Please come back (and bring your friends MCL and cartilage back too).

Wishing you the best,
I have also started posting corny puns in my Facebook:
ACLimatizing myself to living without you is hard.
After the previous pun I realized that it is really hard to make good puns with ACL so instead I decided to post some super positive images instead:

To fully appreciate the previous image watch it while listening to this.

And now that all of this is done I am just waiting for the money and interview requests to pour in.  

Oct 19, 2014

We're All Gonna Die!!

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are in the middle of what Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, named "the worst Ebola epidemic in history" and warns that "the world is losing the battle to contain it", Judge Jeaniné from Fox News says that "[the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention] don't know what the hell they are doing, they are lying to you or they are plain incompetent" and Dana Ford says that the "odds of survival are not good". So, should we be terrified or just really, really scared?

Lets look at the whole thing from a numbers perspective
  • As of October 14, 2014 there are 9,216 reported cases, of which 4,555 have died (49.4% death rate)
  • Most of the deaths have been people who have no access to health care and who, for religious reasons, are not able to dispose of the body in the ways required to avoid spreading the disease.
  • In countries with access to medicine the death rate is around 33%
At this point the part of our brain that tells us if something is bad is screaming "4,555 deaths! That's terrible!", but lets take a look at some of the other leading causes of death for this year: Just in the US, heart disease kills around 596,577 people every year and cancer kills another 576,691. We might think those aren't valid comparisons because cancer and heart disease aren't communicable diseases. In a year, the flu kills 53,826 people. Put another way: every single month, just in the US, influenza kills more people than the Ebola outbreak has killed in the whole world.

If you live in the US, in the past five years you have the same chance of dying of Ebola than you have of being stabbed by a rooster (I am doing my part by eating chicken wings in order to stop the stabbing chicken outbreak) or chocked to death by cockroaches. This year you are twice as likely to be killed by bears, than you are to be killed by Ebola.

But lets stop focusing on the US, and lets look a bit more closely at Liberia. So far in Liberia there have only been 2,484 reported deaths. Since Liberia has a population of 4,092,310 inhabitants it represents around 0.06% of the population. In comparison, the Black Death is said to have killed around half the population of the entire European continent. Joanne Liu and Dana Ford get away with the "worst Ebola outbreak" on the technicality that we don't really have any data for any other Ebola outbreak.

Not all is perfect; however, Wikipedia conveniently has a chart of the new cases contracted in Liberia day by day

What is the previous chart telling us? First it is telling us that the growth is exponential:

cases = 9.3249e0.0505days

Bad outbreaks generally tend to kill around 30% of the population in a country or region. If Liberia has 4,092,310 inhabitants we can solve for the number of days that it would take to have about 1,227,693 reported cases of Ebola:

The attentive reader will notice that my equation is only giving us reported cases, and not really deaths and that the number of deaths will only be half that because the mortality rate is 50%; however, it turns out to make little difference because the function is exponential and it would only take another 10 days or so for the number to double. 

That sounds bad, but for the equation to work two things must continue to be true: victims will continue to receive inadequate treatment and the number of cases will continue to grow exponentially (both of which are very unlikely). 

Places with health care have even less to worry about. The infection rate in the US seems to be pretty low; the family of the guy from Dallas will finish their quarantine in a couple hours (from the time of this writing) in what they are calling "a tremendous miracle" and of all the nurses and medical staff that treated the guy only two contracted the disease (even though the medical equipment they were using was insufficient).

Even if you do contract the disease, the death rate in places with health care seems to be much closer to 33%, and now that the whole world is aware of the outbreak it is very likely to go even further down. 

So, should we be terrified or just really, really scared? Neither just yet, but we should still be careful, because if we ignore the problem for a few months then we will really have something to be scared of.

Oct 11, 2014

La [Censurado] y [Censurado]©

Hoy fui a ver el musical de la Bella y la Bestia de Disney

El músical empieza con una bruja que, para enseñarle una lección a un principe, le pone una terrible maldición y lo convierte en un monstruo horrible (piensen Elba Esther Gordillo pero con cuernos). 

Después cortamos a varios años después, en un pueblo cercano donde Belle, una inteligente super modelo que además es sumamente hacendosa, fiel y cariñosa es menospreciada por todo el pueblo (un problema común que enfrentan todas las mujeres atractivas). 

En este pueblo también conocemos a Gaston, un presumido cazador que quiere casarse con Belle, a pesar de que todos sus intentos de conquistarla han sido fallidos, y al padre de Belle, un inventor que obviamente es considerado como un loco por todos los demás.

Mientras prueba una de sus invenciones, el padre de Belle se pierde en el bosque y termina llegando al castillo de la Bestia, quien inmediatamente lo captura. Al enterarse de esto Belle sale a rescatarlo, negociando con la Bestia que deje a su padre ir y a cambio, ella se quedaría en el castillo.

Ya estando en el castillo, Belle conoce a personajes inolvidables como Lumiere y Cogsworth que interpretan la famosísima canción Be Our Guest para invitarla a quedarse. Eventualmente Belle descubre que la Bestia en realidad no es tan malo y obviamente se enamora, rompiendo la maldición del principio y vivieron felices para siempre.

La escenografía es simplemente inolvidable

En fin, el musical me gustó muchísimo. Lo único que no me gustó es que no nos dejaron tomar fotos para proteger el copyright de Disney. 

Mar 22, 2014

The Picture of Grayson Dorian

"How sad it is!" murmured Grayson Dorian "I shall grow old and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will always remain young. If it were only the other way! For that I would give everything! I would give my soul for that!"

But in a cruel twist of fate, that monstrous moment of pride and passion did not let him keep his unsullied splendor of eternal youth. As each sin of his life still brought its sure swift penalty along with it, but the picture remained exquisitely young and beautiful.

Mar 16, 2014

The Ironing Fairy

"I swear it is true!" – Jessica's look of disbelief didn't help, but Emma pushed on – "I would leave my dirty clothes before leaving for class and when I came back they would be washed, ironed and folded in my closet"

"But it had to be 'the Ironing Fairy'? Wouldn't it make more sense if it was your parents?"

Jessica turned and entered the parking lot.

"Drive all the way from a different state so they could do my laundry and not even say hi?"

"Then your roommate"

"I don't know, I never really got along with her" – the University had a program where you could room with someone with a disability and they would pay for a part of your tuition. Thinking back, Emma couldn't tell what her roommate's disability was, she had always looked normal to her.

They got out of the car and looked for Sean. They hadn't seen each other since college. Emma remembered how they had promised to stay in touch "I won't cry" – she said – "because this is not goodbye" – and then she cried anyway, for dramatic effect. She remembered making the same promise in middle school and high school but now she couldn't even remember her friend's names.

"How are you girls? Long time no see" – Sean waved from the entrance – "Should we get a table?"

They sat and ordered a round of drinks. These reunions have a way of becoming a nostalgic trip to the past. In their retellings, the four pillars of different colors that they used to sit by now represented friendship, the windowless classrooms in the basement with their underpowered computers now seemed like state of the art labs and all the professors had a new-found charisma and insight that they lacked while they were actually giving class.

"Do you remember John from intro to accounting? He was so into Emma" – Jessica had a wide grin

"But he was also super creepy" – Scott added – "they say that he would go into the girl's dorm to steal clothes"

"Unless he wasn't stealing" – Jessica filled Sean in on the Ironing Fairy

"You think that creep was doing my laundry every week?"

"He sure was into you"

"Well, crap"—Emma took a sip from her glass as the table fell silent

"All right, change of subject" – Jessica knew how to keep a conversation going – "Have you seen anyone from school?"

"Yeah! Of all people, I am now working with Cindy, Emma's old roommate" – Sean answered – "she is our floor admin"

"Really? How is she?"

"Not too great, she has really bad dust allergies and with the construction site of our new building so close she has been missing a lot of days. Even before the construction began she would get to her cube and clean everything thoroughly, I think she has a mild obsessive compulsive disorder and wants to have everything tidy"

"That poor girl"

Their conversation sucked the light off the day and they eventually walked to their cars. They agreed they should get together more often. Emma thought back to her nameless friends from middle school.

Feb 23, 2014

Olimpiadas de Invierno

Cuando uno vive en el extranjero, los eventos a los que está acostumbrado se vuelven un poco diferentes. En navidad comes algunas cosas que nunca habías visto, la independencia la celebras borracho en la alberca en lugar de borracho en el Ángel, a la hora de cantar el himno te paras incómodo y mueves la boca como si te supieras las estrofas mientras que... bueno, algunas cosas sí son iguales.

Con las olimpiadas sucede lo mismo, así que mientras en México los noticieros deportivos cubren las apuestas en el hockey y el marcador de Pumas-América en Estados Unidos la narrativa ha sido lo horrible que es el gobierno Ruso porque utiliza los medios para manipular a la gente y por las retrógradas políticas en contra de la homosexualidad, en contraste con los Estados Unidos donde Fox News sólo brinda la información más objetiva con comentaristas pertinentes y sagaces y los gays nos caen de lujo siempre y cuando no se estén casando porque francamente eso de casarte con otro hombre está a un paso de casarte con un perro.

Pero con la clausura el día de hoy ha sido más para recordar los momentos mágicos de las olimpiadas de invierno pasadas. Como parte de la cobertura completamente objetiva de los medios, todos estos momentos mágicos son relacionados a los Estados Unidos y ninguno es más mágico que la historia de Nancy Kerrigan.

A principios de los años 90s el equipo de patinaje de los Estados Unidos tenía a varias de las mejores patinadoras del mundo, entre ellas Nancy Kerrigan y Tonya Harding. Acercándose las olimpiadas de invierno de 1994, Harding comenzó a preocuparse de que ella no tenía oportunidad de ir a las olimpiadas, por lo que comenzó a planear una manera de deshacerse de Kerrigan.

Meses después, durante un viaje de entrenamiento a Tarsonis, Harding comenzó su plan. Primero plantó un emisor psi para atraer a los Zerg, mientras que un golpeador a sueldo le rompía las rodillas a Kerrigan y la dejaba abandonada a la voluntad del enjambre Zerg. Videos de ese día muestran a Kerrigan preguntando "¿por qué?" mientras es arrastrada hacia el Overmind.

Kerrigan, impulsada por la rabia, se curó rápidamente de la herida y volvió a practicar con la misma intensidad que antes, por lo que durante las olimpiadas de 1994 tuvo lo que muchos consideran la mejor actuación de su vida. Los jueces, asombrados con su participación y aterrados por los Hydralisks que los tenían clavados a su asiento le dieron la medalla de oro, plata y bronce.

Kerrigan durante las Olimpiadas de '94

Feb 9, 2014


William had been in places like this before. The air felt heavier, the lights seemed dimmer and people wore dark colors to match their humor. People who worked in the DTS would always be "between jobs". Will checked the computer connection, checked his Approved and Denied stamps and opened the small window where a man in a suit was awaiting eagerly. William mustered some patience to get him through the day and said "Papers, please".

After his shift ended, William left for the living quarters. The accommodation was adequate, but a far cry from the luxurious apartment where he stayed during college. He thought back to those days. He could see a younger version of himself walking back from school. He recognized that jump in his step, that care-free smile, both of which were lost to him now. Young Will sat down to watch TV. Like a motorist slowing down for an accident, William couldn't take his eyes off his younger self. Young Will realized it was late, he had lost track of time again. He stood up and realized that he was no longer home. He turned around hoping to find his house, but instead he only found the entrance to the Department of Timeline Security.

The first few weeks after arrival are spent in training. "Welcome to the DTS" – said a voice that Will could only describe as patriotic – "Time Travel, as you all know, is a very serious matter. It is the responsibility of the Department of Timeline Security to insure that the timeline is safe, secure and resilient against terrorism and other hazards. It is our duty to secure and manage the different time periods through enforcement of our immigration laws. For the next weeks you will be trained on all the processes and checks that are necessary to keep our timelines safe."

Will learned that it is fairly common for people to lose track of time and end up in a temporary limbo. The DTS will sometimes drag those people back into the timeline. These people, like Will, are then required to work for a number of years verifying documents and making sure nobody smuggles illegal technology.

The last day of training Will was taken to the time portal. Once a person has legally obtained a visa, undergone a background check and gone through migratory control they would be brought here. William saw a girl in front of the portal getting ready to jump. The girl owned a camera and a mirror and brought both when she dived. Will wondered if she even kept the camera around her neck when she bathed or changed. Most people would think it is weird to imagine a girl bathing the first time you see her, but Will thought it was fairly normal. Then the girl disappeared and the portal turned off. Will looked at the portal with a pinch of hope. One day, if he worked hard, a new group of kids would be watching from the rafters as Will stood in front of the portal.

Jan 1, 2014

Crazy Enough

The helicopter was flying over the drop zone. Agent Hunter Strength felt adrenaline pumping through his veins as his grip tightened on the handle bar. Some people might confuse his hesitation to jump with fear; in reality, he was just trying to think of the most badass way to jump. He decided to go with a manly dive.

Weeks earlier, Hunter entered the room. His eyes had trouble adjusting to the darkness as he closed the door behind him. He could see suited men sitting around a table, their expensive suits illuminated by small lights installed in the table’s side, but their faces covered in shadows. Hunter took his place at the table and made a mental note to get facilities to fix the lighting in this place.

“We suspect a terrorist organization has been using the Jackson building to plan an attack.” – The chief said – “We need an agent to extract a group of sensitive documents from the building. Doctor, please take it from here”

A screen turned on with a map full of annotations, green wires covering the background in an expansive grid.

“What is that, Doc?” – Hunter asked

“My screensaver.” – The doctor moved the mouse around to reveal a Power Point™ presentation with the plan of attack – “We will approach the building by sub, within a few miles of it we will launch a Swimming Delivery Vehicle which is similar to a torpedo except it has no propulsion of its own. As it gets close to the sewage system you will have to dispose of it and swim”

“You want me to swim in a sewer?” – Hunter’s voice betrayed incredulity

“Well, it’s the safest way. As you can see in the documents I gave you...”

Hunter couldn't read the documents in the dim light (why did they schedule meetings here?), but he didn't need to – “I have a better plan, Doc, I will take a chopper and use the squirrel suit to fly to the top of the building, take the main elevator to the floor with the plans and jump through the window to exit in a dramatic fashion.”

“That is insane! The building has sonar capabilities, they will detect the helicopter from miles away and windows in a skyscraper cannot be broken by jumping through them!”

“But they will never expect a front-on attack. Do you have a better plan?”

“Well, as I was jus...”

“I like this plan, Hunter” – The tone in the Chief’s voice was final – “It is crazy enough to work”

Hunter spread his arms to slow down his descent. The building’s defense systems sounded an alarm and dozens of armed soldiers marched to the top of the building. Hunter could not return fire while flying. Fortunately, terrorist organizations have terrible target practice programs. Unfortunately, one of the bullets hit Hunter in the leg, which made him lose his balance. His altitude was now much lower than needed, he would not make the ceiling, but he had another crazy idea and he started diving. As Hunter’s body sped towards the window he pictured the translucent disembodied heads of his friends making speeches about the power of love and friendship. This made him feel invincible, certain in his victory. When he crashed into the building the window creaked slightly, with hardly a crack.

Hunter realized that his plan had failed; he was falling fast. He cursed at a universe so unfair that it would not let the good guys win no matter how preposterous their plans were. He probably would never realize the irony of what he was thinking.