A damn shame FIFA’s Sepp Blatter wasn’t arrested …

Sepp Blatter is living that 5-star hotel life.

Sepp Blatter is living that 5-star hotel life.

Upon hearing about the arrest of several top FIFA officials this morning, I couldn’t help but think of this profile of Sepp Blatter in the April 30 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek, which details some shadiness of the governing body:

The headquarters of FIFA takes up about 11 acres on a wooded hill above Zurich. Two soccer fields abut a main building that’s wrapped in aluminum webbing, allowing light to stream into a welcoming atrium. Blatter oversaw the construction of the compound, which was finished in 2007 and cost about 240 million Swiss francs ($255 million), and has pointed to its transparent design as an expression of FIFA’s values. Maybe, but FIFA’s legal department demands that some visitors sign nondisclosure agreements for otherwise routine meetings, and five of the building’s eight levels are underground. On a recent visit, cell phones were rendered useless in the depths, sheathed as they are in black, Brazilian granite. In a Strangelovian lair on the third subterranean level, Blatter holds executive committee meetings in a conference room with a floor of lapis lazuli. The room is lit by a round, crystal chandelier meant to evoke a soccer stadium.

FIFA’s money doesn’t always result in much more than new office space for local soccer officials. The organization has sent more than $2 million to the Caymans since 2002 to build a headquarters and world-class soccer fields as a base for its national teams; ­the men’s team is ranked 191st in the world. Blatter flew in for the groundbreaking ceremony in 2009. “Cayman has not yet qualified for the World Cup,” he told the assembled dignitaries, according to a local press account. “But I’m sure that one day you will make it. We can help.” The headquarters has been built, along with one field, but the land was too salty to grow grass, so the Caymans association is replacing it with artificial turf.

Although the men’s team from the Caymans usually loses—in March, its first international match in more than three years resulted in a goalless tie with Belize (rank: 159)—the Cayman Islands Football Association is one of the biggest powers at FIFA. Webb’s regional confederation nominated the Caymans’ treasurer, Canover Watson, to FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, the panel that’s supposed to be international soccer’s bulwark against corruption. In November, Caymanian authorities charged Watson with money laundering and fraud related to his role as chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority; he allegedly steered contracts to a business in which he had a financial interest. FIFA has temporarily suspended Watson from the audit committee. Watson declined to comment but has denied the charges.

It’s worth a read. I guess I can’t be surprised Blatter wasn’t arrested. He seems super well-protected.

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The Facebook break doesn’t mean sharing silly stories ends!

Via the New York Post, of course:

Televangelist warns men who masturbate: Your hands will be pregnant in afterlife

Mücahid Cihad Han says don't wank it!

Mücahid Cihad Han says don’t wank it!

A Muslim televangelist has advised male followers to stop masturbating — because it will leave their hands pregnant in the afterlife.

Turkish preacher Mücahid Cihad Han told viewers that masturbation was forbidden in Islam.

Read the rest here.

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On B.S. news links

Here’s one thing I don’t miss about Facebook:

Bullshit news that will get shared over and over again...

Bullshit news that will get shared over and over again…

Via Media Watch:

Recycling the rubbish

There is a growing trend in the news – dubious online stories with stock images, no real detail, and an outlandish yarn that will pull in the punters.

And finally tonight to foreign news

Nigerian restaurant shut down for serving HUMAN FLESH – and had bags in kitchen containing heads that were still bleeding

— Daily Mail, 16th May, 2015

Yes, you can always trust the Daily Mail to have the stories you really want to read … which is why it’s one of the most popular news sites in the world.

And when the Mail finds a scoop, its rivals at News.com.au are rarely far behind .

When police raided the restaurant they discovered human heads that were still bleeding with the blood draining into plastic bags.

— News.com.au, 17th May, 2015

You would not believe the things that happen in Africa.

And if you looked at this story—which was gobbled up by the media across Australia, Britain, America, Africa and Asia, there was plenty of reason to doubt if it was true.

For a start all the stories had the same quotes from the same unnamed witnesses, like the priest who said:

“I did not know I had been served with human meat, and that it was that expensive.”

— News.com.au, 17th May, 2015

Read more here.

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A well-being experiment: the Facebook-free summer.

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 8.50.36 PM

The Facebook.

It was a long time coming: I’m taking a hiatus from Facebook.

giphy

There are plenty of reasons people announce (on Facebook, of course) that they are quitting. More often than not, they come back. And, there’s nothing wrong with that; It’s good to take breaks.

For me, this hiatus has nothing to do with those studies that say Facebook can cause depression, jealousy, and so on. It’s not over any relationship drama. I don’t use Facebook for that kind of thing, especially since that would require someone to have a dating life. Ha!

On the contrary, I happen to think it’s a brilliant way to communicate to a wide audience at once. I have lots of fun on Facebook, sharing funny, odd, or depressing news stories in order to engage my 1200+ Facebook “friends.” Not only do engaging debates break out on my Facebook profile, but the funny commentary often has me in tears … laughing.

Sharing important news, as always.

Sharing important news, as always.

But … I work in news and media relations. SO much of what I do is tied with constantly surfing the web, reading, and communicating: watching news trends, checking in with my ‘clients’ (faculty) and urging them to write OpEds or matching up their academic expertise to media outlets for commentary and interviews, then sharing these hits with various social media outlets. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

I’m always “on.” And I’m tired, especially with everything going on with my dad.

With the advent of the smartphone (the Blackberry was my first) years ago, it became clear that even though one wasn’t in the office, work could still get done. Emails could get answered first thing in the morning when I wake up, or at 1 a.m. in the morning, when I’m in a cab on my way to the next social event: Why not look at my phone and respond to that email, or surf Twitter for the latest breaking news? And with that news in hand, it’s only “my (self-imposed) duty” to share with my Facebook friends, right?

To put it simply: I’m burning out.

In addition to putting this sometimes undo pressure on myself to constantly communicate (sometimes necessary for work, but definitely NOT necessary to the point that others remind me [jokingly; I know] that I’ve missed a weird news story), it’s become a massive crutch when it comes to friendship.

Earlier I mentioned 1200+ “friends.” Let’s be realistic: I do not have that many friends. Some of these are networking acquaintances. Others were friends in high school and college who, these days, make me cringe with their racist, sexist, and misogynist, (yeah, I said it) statements on Facebook that it’s no wonder we do not hang out in person.

But among that list, are real friends who I have neglected because life gets in the way—and so does Facebook. Check out this excerpt from a Matthew Warner blog post that explains what I mean perfectly:

“When we see each other’s status updates every once in awhile, it gives us the illusion that we’ve “kept in touch” (even though most family and friends don’t see our updates — they aren’t on Facebook, don’t check regularly or missed it in their feed). It’s a poor substitute for meaningfully keeping in touch with our loved ones, but we compromise and settle for it anyway because it’s easy. When it comes to allocating how much energy we put into which relationships, it builds in a bias toward convenience vs importance. And, again, we end up doing so at the expense of time we should be spending on more personal interaction with our most important relationships.

“It’s made me into a lazy friend and loved one.”

So why not keep Facebook and just not log on and engage? Um, duh: I’m a communicating junkie; I can’t do that. (For more on that and other reasons to quit or take a real break from Facebook, check out “5 Things I Learned When I Quit Facebook” over at ABC.com.)

And why choose Facebook out of all the other social media? Well, I can’t quit Twitter: too much of the news world is there, so it comes with the career. And Instagram is easy: it’s just pictures. Since Facebook is more of a time suck, it’s the natural choice. And, remember, this is not a permanent thing. It’s simply a hiatus. An experiment, if you will.

The one worry I have on taking this break from Facebook is that it’s an excellent way to keep in touch with family and friends in other United States and overseas. This is especially crucial at a time when my father is in poor health and living at a nursing home since his hip fracture in late January. But I have to think of my well-being first. The less time on Facebook, the more time being present when I’m with my mom and dad. So, although it will take more effort, we’ll have to communicate via phone or email.

Sharing family news on Facebook: definitely one of the many reasons it's a great social media channel.

Sharing family news on Facebook: definitely one of the many reasons it’s a great social media channel.

So this is it: the hiatus is on, and so is the challenge: I feel the need to reconnect with people and return to my hobbies (writing about South American culture and music for Sounds and Colours) the good, old-fashioned way.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter: @ginavergel7, Instagram: @ginavergel, and on this blog, of course!

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Tweet, tweet!

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On providing comfort

Lutheran comfort dogs. Photo via Religion News Service.

Lutheran comfort dogs. Photo via Religion News Service.

I spent much of the day in my father’s room at the nursing home today. I got word that a doctor ordered a sonogram  last night so I wanted to be there since the evening staff last night had, not surprisingly, zero idea why the test was ordered. Thankfully, the results (checking for internal bleeding) were negative.

Last week, in a flurry of work and neighborhood social activities (conferences, commencement, and a blogger meet-up), I missed four consecutive days of seeing my dad. I felt terrible about it (and enlisted my brothers to go the extra mile and visit more) but I’m not going to lie, I felt as if I could get a little bit more done in this thing we call regular life. I did a huge grocery shop, for instance. I washed my own clothes as opposed to sending it to the wash and dry. I concentrated a little more than usual on work. You know, the way I used to be. But at the back of my mind, I wondered if my dad noticed I wasn’t there, and hoped my mother was OK keeping up with it all, especially since, in recent weeks, she returned to her part-time job.

So I’ve gone three times since Sunday of this week and noticed my dad is uncomfortable. Again, the Parkinson’s, the fall and hip fracture, and surgeries, have eroded his ability to form words. Everything sounds like a light moan. So light, that I never worry about the nursing home staff getting annoyed with him; they can barely hear him!

But on Monday night, my brother, mother, and myself, could not figure out what he needed. The choices are limited: adjustment of his position on the bed? Ice/water in the mouth (because he has trouble swallowing, he cannot eat or drink)? Diaper change? Pain?

Many times, he does not (or will not?) respond ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Sometimes, after a full half hour of throwing different options out there, he’ll say yes (or no) to something I asked the first time. It’s frustrating.

And it also has me wondering if our visits hurt him. Stay with me here: Whenever I get there, if he is NOT sleeping, he’s calm. Quiet. And then he sees me and start trying to speak. Trust me, I’ve thought about whether he’s trying to tell us he’s being mistreated, but my mom was there so much before she returned to work, and through observing how they treat other patients, that cannot be it.

(*This is not to say I haven’t seen the staff get a bit snippy, or flat out ignore some other patients. In fact, it is the vocal and sometimes, most able, ones who find themselves ignored. :/)

So, I’m left wondering if dementia has really set in. After my dad fell, the hospital staff, unable to understand him, classified him with mild dementia. “Confused” is the word I’d see in his chart. Obviously, I hastily disagreed: He knew where he was every second. It was they who were confused about what he was trying to say. Or, when feeling ill with pneumonia, he wouldn’t respond to them. This is also confusing!

But, now, I won’t deny that he may have some mild symptoms. After all, it is expected in patients who have had Parkinson’s for many years. He is coming up on 19 years with this tough disease.

We are not going to stop visiting him, of course. I just wish there was a way to allay him of whatever is causing discomfort. Most of all, I think, if I were a millionaire, I’d purchase some technology where I could just strap some wires to his temples and a machine would tell me what he is saying.

I’ve said this before — my dad is where I get my personality and I sure do miss talking to him about sports, music, and jokes. :/

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Today in things that shouldn’t be…

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 9.50.54 PMJust the other day, a friend of mine posted a mini-rant on Facebook about men who, under the guise of saying “Good morning,” are really just trying to get you to engage in a conversation, and how, when she doesn’t return the greeting, or God forbid, smile, she, at times, gets a nasty response. The backlash on that particular morning? “At least you could smile, bitch.”

Yes, it goes without saying, not all men are this way. (Isn’t that common sense?) But this kind of thing happens far too much. And it sometimes feels (to me, anyway) that the backlash is much worse than the fake greeting/catcall/harassment, whatever the situation was.

Predictably, my friend was deluged with comments, many of which were of the #NotAllMen type, but a few were pretty mysogynistic:

“Well, you’re hot (she is), but women who aren’t should be thankful.”
“I really am saying good morning. What’ the harm in that?”
“Maybe if women didn’t walk around all stone-faced and just said ‘Good morning’ back,” and so on.

One guy even tried to say he greets strangers on the street equally. Yeah, ok!

Debate ensued.

But the following is an example of something that just SHOULDN’T BE:

Police are still searching for a man suspected of slashing a woman in a downtown Manhattan subway station over the weekend.

According to the NYPD, the incident occurred at 5:40 p.m. this past Saturday, May 2nd, at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop: “[The] suspect attempted to engage the victim, a 34-year-old female, in conversation. When the victim ignored the suspect, the suspect spat at the victim, who then began to laugh at the suspect. The suspect then took out a sharp instrument, slashed the victim in the arm and then fled the station.” (Read more on Gothamist.)

Imagine that: A violent response to being ignored by a woman who dared to ignore a man trying to engage her. This kind of shit shouldn’t happen. Maybe if more (#NotAll) men empathized, just put themselves in our ‘heels,’ and realized, sometimes, we just want to get where we’re going — quietly — we wouldn’t have to fluster your sensitive little feelings into a debate on Facebook. :)

Here are some other links that appropriately fit this headline:

A Nebraska woman who claims to be an ambassador for God and his son Jesus Christ is suing all gay people on Earth. (Daily News) — waste of court time, if you ask me!

In Chicago, it isn’t the cops who tortured who will dole out $100 million to victims. That’ll be the taxpayers. (Fusion) That’s a lot of taxpayer money. Now will people see why there is a problem with police brutality?

Cop bites man’s testicles on Cinco de Mayo. (Death and Taxes) What is there to say, really?

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Pedro Martinez doesn’t hold grudges but …

Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 9.08.14 PMLord knows I’m no fan of Pedro Martinez or the Boston Red Sox, but I must say this NPR interview with the Dominican-born pitching great on All Things Considered has me seeing him in a different light.

Why? Although he says he doesn’t hold grudges, he says he’ll never tip his hat at Fenway Park again because they booed him once. WOMP. ;)

Martinez was on to promote his new memoir Pedro (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2015).

But seriously, he surprised me. He admits he’s a fan of Roger Clemens, and he also goes on to explain that haunting “Yankees ‘are my daddy'” comment. He chalks it up to a bad translation of a Dominican saying meaning someone has your number.

People from Barranquilla, Colombia, (where my parents are from) also have that saying, and it’s why the battle hymn for our local football team, Júnior de Barranquilla, is “Junior tu papá!” So it definitely translates, Pedro.

Anyway, listen to the interview below. He actually makes the team I disliked so much sound … fun? (Yep. I surprised myself.) And read an excerpt of it here via Sports Illustrated.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/404483222/404483226

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