Welcoming the new Brigade Commander to Ft. Bliss
Story and photos by: Ricky J. Carrasco
On Monday, a Change of Command ceremony was held on Fort Bliss’ Bulldog Field to introduce Col. Christopher C. LaNeve as the new unit commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division “Bulldog Brigade”. Outgoing commander Col. Mark H. Landes assumed control of the brigade in 2011 and oversaw deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in that time.
Ft. Bliss Commander Major General Dana Pittard thanked all for their attendance, including civilian aid to the Secretary of the Army Tom Thomas, the extended families of both soldiers, and all the Army soldiers present. Pittard thanked Landes for training the Bulldogs to be “fit, motivated and offensively minded,” adding that the brigade was a “fine example of counter insurgency success in Operation Enduring Freedom.” He also thank Landes’ wife, Morri, for being active within the Ft. Bliss and El Paso community.
Col Landes served with the brigade, stationed in Ft Bliss and while deployed in eastern Afghanistan, for two years. This will be his last role as a combat team leader. He will be moving on to Pennsylvania to serve in the US Army War College starting this summer. He thanked General Pittard for having “an open command environment” and thanked his soldiers “who refused to accept any outcome other than victory.” He also thanked the city of El Paso for welcoming his family so warmly to this position. He told a story where he found one of his soldiers in Afghanistan in a foxhole. “I asked the soldier if he needed anything. The soldier said no, ‘I got food, water, and ammo. That’s everything I need.'” He told the crowd of civilians and soldiers that story reminded him of his responsibilities. “We lost 26 soldiers in Task Force Bulldog, 22 in combat operations in Afghanistan. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember their sacrifice.”
Col. Christopher LaNeve comes from his previous command in the 82nd Airborne Division out of Ft. Bragg to join the Bulldogs, having served in various infantry divisions over his career. General Pittard recounted the story that LaNeve had just left his office in the Pentagon on 9/11 a few minutes before American Airlines Flight 77 hit the building, killing those still in his section.
The change of command ceremonies involved handing the colors of the brigade from the outgoing commander to the new commander, along with the leash to PV2 Gunner D. Chester VI, the official mascot of the brigade since the 1962. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been handed a dog in an official ceremony,” LaNeve joked to the crowd.
LaNeve was overjoyed to coming to the area. “It’s a great day to join this incredible brigade combat team. The soldiers that stand here represent all that is good in America. I am looking forward to carrying on the traditions of the Armored Division, Team Bliss and the nation.”
LaNeve will be deploying the brigade back to Afghanistan this summer in transition operations after Enduring Freedom.
Money from bond election is not yet being spent
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
With almost $500 million jingling in city leaders’ pockets, they are smacking their lips in anticipation and rejoicing over how best to spend the money to improve El Paso. On Nov. 6, 2012, election-day voters opted to approve the sale of $475 million in general obligation bonds by a big majority of 70 percent for and only 30 percent against. Voters came out in droves due to its being a presidential election year, plus the contentious bond election which also played a part in the big voter turnout. El Paso should be much better and brighter in a few more years…oh, give it anywhere from five to ten years.
Voters approved $245 million for parks, recreation, open space and zoo improvements. This would also include soccer and sports fields, an aquatic center and new and improved community and senior centers. Voters also approved $228 million to build or improve museums, cultural centers, performing arts and library facilities. This will include a new children’s museum, a cultural heritage center and an interactive digital wall.
Well, the money’s there, but, it hasn’t yet been allocated. The looming projects can’t all be done at once, city leaders say. There has to be great design, great location, good participation and good stockholders. District 2 City Rep. Susie Byrd, said none of the money has been spent. “We haven’t spent any of the bond proceeds from Proposition 1 and 2,” she said. “We have authorized the first three years of projects and work is already beginning now on those, but we won’t spend money on them until we bid the work or buy land. On Proposition 3, I don’t know that we have used any of the funds authorized by the Hotel Occupancy tax rate yet, but, we have hired architect, engineer, the construction company and have started to work on relocation.”
Proposition 3 turned out to be the most contentious of the complex issues because it required the demolition of City Hall to build the multi-million dollar stadium in its stead. This caused a lot of heartache and confusion to El Pasoans who were not opposed to building the stadium, but, were opposed to destroying city hall and moving city services to other locations. A back and forth court battle finally resulted in officials approving the tearing down of city hall and the stadium being built there. Opponents fought what they considered the unnecessary destruction of the 30-year old building, still in what many considered good repair. Proponents, however, insisted that building the new baseball stadium to house a Triple-A baseball team – once removed from the major leagues – will do much to revitalize downtown and to attract people to the downtown area, where new hotels, restaurants, and other amenities will also be built.
The stadium itself is on a fast track to completion, but, the other projects will take much longer; in some cases up to 12 years. Some improvements will be in place more quickly, such as improvements to the zoo, libraries, existing museums and the Fox Plaza. Other projects, like the soccer stadium, aquatic center, children’s museum and a multi-purpose entertainment center will take longer. The city is currently looking at possible sites and buying land. The next major step for city council will be to accept the bond passed by voters, and approve the Hotel Occupancy Tax rate at 2 percent, up from one percent. Citizens must also be approached to join oversight committees to ensure that the work goes according to plan. So, hang in there, El Pasoans, big changes are coming – and, for the better.
Roasting coffee beans: The pleasure from drinking it is the reward
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
It’s known all over the world as Java, Cuppa Joe, Liquid Energy, Go Juice, and by other colorful names. But, these concoctions are often made the traditional way. However, did you know that there’s another tried and true method to getting the best cup of Morning Mud? That’s to roast the beans yourself. And there are many different ways to do it.
Paulina Salazar, lead coffee roaster at Bldg. 6, Coffee Roasters, 11385 James Watt Dr., B-6, says that the store with the unusual name is a locally-owned green coffee bean micro-roastery that focuses on producing small batches of crafted coffee that are selected by a number of techniques, such as “cupping” to ensure taste and quality in every single batch.
“Roasting is what sets us apart from other companies and coffees,” Salazar said. “Our passion for coffee is what made us open a business that would do coffee justice.” The business is relatively new to El Paso, but larger cities already have it. “We are what they call the third-wave in the coffee business. It is a new movement where coffee from different regions of the world is roasted by micro-roasteries, producing high-quality coffee and it is considered an artisanal production.”
Third-wave coffee include free-trade coffee, direct-trade coffee, specialty high quality beans, single-origin coffee – not blends anymore – lighter roasts of the beans, different methods of coffee brewing, including individual drip-brewing. As in the making of fine wines or in the production of 12-year-old scotch, for the coffee lover, the taste is the mother of invention. Salazar said that roasting coffee is a hand-crafted job. “It is similar to wine, cheese, beer, chocolate crafting, just to name a few. It takes a lot of knowledge, and love to the art of roasting coffee in order to produce great quality batches of coffee. This art form is very popular in the east and west coasts, but, it is still new to El Pasoans.”
The Bldg. 6 Roastery sells specialty, single-origin, freshly-roasted coffee either by the bag or by the cup. They also sell the required brewing equipment and they really promote the right brewing techniques in order for their customers to brew a high quality coffee at their home. They buy green coffee from various coffee producing countries and roast it at Bldg. 6. “Since we buy the raw green coffee beans and roast it in store, we are able to give our customers specialty, fresh-roasted coffee, which means better quality and flavor for better prices than other coffee sellers. Freshly-roasted coffee makes a difference,” Salazar says. “Know it and love it.”
Lenten foods from around the world
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
For many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, the Lenten period brings about many traditional goodies that come about but once a year. For the one billion Catholics around the world, the comfort foods run the gamut from the ever-popular lentils to anything that does not contain meat. Meatless Fridays are observed throughout the world, except in the United States military, where GIs are allowed to eat meat even on Fridays. But for laypeople, the rules are strict and must be observed at all costs.
In a Mexican kitchen, Catholics not only prefer the lentils to meat, but, they also prepare other concoctions such as little tortitas made of camaron (shrimp), tortitas made of papas (potatoes), and other foods containing fish – safe to eat during the 40-day fasting in Mexican and Mexican-American households. Top it all off with a pan-ful of Capirotada, and your Lenten celebration is complete. Capirotada is a sort of bread pudding made of many ingredients, such as French bread, bananas, peanuts, apricots, prunes, and many other products that are considered safe to eat and delicious.
But, of course, Mexico isn’t the only spot in the world that observes Lent, which runs from Ash Wednesday – this year’s celebration started Feb. 25 and runs through Easter, March 31. Easter Sunday is a Christian festival and holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day of his crucifixion atop Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter also marks the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance. Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as its position on the calendar In many languages, the words Easter or Passover are related. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and are celebrated by coloring Easter eggs, symbolic of the empty tomb from which Christ resurrected, Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter bunny and Easter parades.
While observances vary, the foodstuffs are the most widely observed in different parts of the world. For example, during Lent, Russian Orthodox Christians omit meat of any kind, including fish and fowl, as well as animal byproducts, such as milk and eggs. During the strictest days of Lent, oil and wine are eschewed. The idea is to not focus on food. “We’re focusing on prayer. We’re focusing on bettering ourselves,” says the Rev. Seraphim Holland. Meals during Lent are simple, such as cabbage soup, called shchi , and borscht, which is shchi plus beets. Boiled potatoes, beans, lentils, rice, onions and bread are also common. In addition to the people of Russia, other food favorites in other countries are:
*Ukraine – Catholics in this country abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and they are encouraged to give up meat throughout the year. They break their fast on Easter Sunday with such fare as sausages, ham, eggs and cheese. Ukranians also eat a lot of pickled herring, since fish is allowed.
*Greece – Greek Orthodox Christians also give up all meat and animal products during Lent. But, they do eat numerous bean dishes during this period. They also eat tomatoes and pasta. There is also tabouleh, falafel, and hummus, as well as fresh fruit and4 olives and pita bread. Cookies and cakes are adjusted to omit the dairy products. The Greek break Lent with an enormous Easter feast that can last well into the morning, with lamb being the central dish, served with bean salads, vegetables, rice, seafood and a lemony soup called magiritsa.
*India – In India’s western state of Goa, there’s a strong Catholic community that dates back to Portuguese colonialism in the 15th century. Spicy fish, cooked with vinegar, is popular during Lent.
So, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, Lent is observed in different way. As tastes vary, so do the foods which make up the holiday. For one billion Catholics and other Christians, they are as varied as they are delicious. So, enjoy.
Kudos to the El Paso Police Department
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
ANALYSIS: Once again, it’s kudos to the men and women in blue from the El Paso Police Department for helping make the city the safest large city in the United States. For the third year in a row, El Paso has helped to create an atmosphere of safety and security for its more than 500,000 residents. But, that’s not all, According to CQ Press, who compiles statistics from FBI reports, El Paso has ranked in the top-three safest cities in the U.S. since 1997. In the crimes of murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary-larceny, car thefts and arson, El Paso stands proudly above the rest.
But, there’s a rhyme and a reason behind El Paso’s lofty standing, Thank goodness that the Police Department does not operate on a four-day work week as other city departments are currently doing. In a move to permanently create this perk, the El Paso City Council recently approved extending the four-day work week through the summer months, from May 1 to Sept. 30. In an earlier experiment, in 2009, the city was able to save up to $225,000 for the four-month period, according to City Manager Joyce Wilson. However, that comes with a price. That is, for city employees to qualify for the four-day work week, they will be required to work ten-hour days from Monday through Thursday, working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, if people would have their d’ruthers, they would rather work an extra two-hours per day so that they can stay home all day on Friday.
While employees for El Paso County must continue working the five-day week, others have also experimented with the shortened work week. The communities of Canutillo, Anthony, and even the Ysleta ISD, have toyed with such a move in previous years. El Paso County, while it hasn’t reached a decision, is still considering what many employees see as something that they would very much enjoy. A spokesperson for the YISD calls it a win-win situation because it bolsters employee morale and it helps large organizations save money. According to some, having Fridays off helps to alleviate the boredom of working all day Friday, especially during the afternoon when energy levels have tapered off. City governments, however, are not the only entities making such a move, the United States Postal Service is considering curtailing its mail delivery from six days to five, eliminating Saturday as a regular day for mail delivery.
One wonders, however, how the four-day work week will affect city services now that city offices will be moving from a centralized location to one that will move city offices to other buildings, such as the El Paso Times building and others. To make room for the new baseball stadium, city hall will be no longer. Razing the 33-year old building is in the works in order to make room for the new muti- million-dollar stadium. Until the public grows accustomed to finding city offices in the disparate buildings to which they would have moved, doing business with the city could create consternation. Fortunately for residents, however, essential city departments such as police, fire, trash pick-up, the airport, Sun Metro, and others will remain on its usual five-day work week.
The four-day work week for some employees is one element that makes El Paso a unique city. Although other communities are considering the change, El Paso is one of the first to get it done on a permanent basis. And, once again, our hats are off to the El Paso Police Department and to El Paso residents for making it the largest city of its kind to continually be named the Safest Large City in the United States. Would the El Paso Police Department take such a hiatus and would never consider working only a four-day work week. Then, and only then, would chaos prevail. Perish the thought.
Valentine’s Day: It’s all about love
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Aliyah Isabel Garcia is only five years old, but, she already knows about love.
Are you in love with anyone, we asked her? “Yes,” she replied. In love with whom? “Justin
Bieber” Why him? “Because of the way he sings.” But, he already has a girlfriend, and
her name is Selena Gomez. “That’s okay, I’m not going to marry him or anything. I just
like him because of the way he sings.” Oh, so you don’t love him, you just like him. “Well
whatever. But, I do know what Valentine’s Day is for.”
And so do people all over the world, including, of course, El Paso. Also known as
Saint Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, the unofficial holiday takes second
place only to New Year’s Day as the day most observed by different people in different parts
of the world. Observed on February 14 each year, it remains a working day for followers.
However, it’s when the loved one comes home after a day of work that the fun begins.
But, before the fun begins, a little history. For lovers both young and old, they
have Chaucer to thank for turning what was a religious observance into one with
romantic connotations when he wrote his “Valentines” in the 14th century. The first
recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules,
written by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382. He wrote: “For this was on Valentine’s Day,
when every bird cometh there to choose his mate (English translation). Chaucer
wrote his poem to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II
to Anne of Bohemia. Oh, yes, and they were both young, only 15.
Since then, sonnets, poems, romantic verses and many other tomes of
love have been written by, for, and about loved ones. Valentine’s Day cards,
proclaiming a love for one another have been on the scene since the 19th century
cast in so many different forms that they were cast in factories and sold around
the world. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons. In the United States
the first mass-produced Valentines made of embossed paper lace were produced
and sold shortly after1847 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass.
Thus, from greeting cards professing love, to all manner of gifts such as
chocolate hearts wrapped in satin, candy hearts with romantic sayings such as “Roses
are red, violets are blue, monkeys like you belong in the zoo.” Wait a minute, that’s not
a romantic saying. But, anyway, Valentines’ Day has become such big business that
the U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that about 190 million Valentines cards
are sold each year. Half of those cards are given to family members – mostly children –
not just husbands and wives. But, wait, it gets better. In the 1980s diamonds became a
great gift for a loved one, mostly women. So, will Aliyah Isabel Garcia give a diamond gift
to Justin Bieber? “No, I don’t even know what that is. But, I still love him.”
Groundhog Day: A worldwide tradition
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Are we going to have six more weeks of winter? Or are we going to be blessed with the beginning of Spring? Don’t look to your favorite weather person, look instead to Punxsutawney Phil, your favorite rodent-like creature who has been emerging from his cubbyhole underneath the earth since 1886 when the tradition began in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil then became even more famous than even the most famous weathermen. Including Al Roker of the Today Show. The main difference is that Phil doesn’t need a ton of maps and other weather devices, he simply emerges from his hole, and, legend has it that if he sees his shadow six more weeks of frigid weather will prevail. If, however, the day is cloudy and overcast and if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, Spring is just around the corner.
But, lest you think that our Phil is the only groundhog who predicts the weather, you’re sadly mistaken. There is also Dunkirk Dave, Shubenacadle Sam, Wharton Willie, General Beauregard Lee, Peewee the Woodchuck and Staten Island Chuck. Oh, and let’s not forget Balzac Billy, also known as the Prairie Prognosticator – a young upstart who hails from Alberta, Canada.
All Groundhogs look alike, however. They are 20 inches long and can weigh anywhere from 12 to 15 pounds. Our friend, Phil, however, weighs a hefty 20 pounds and is longer than your average groundhog at 22 inches. Most of them are covered with coarse grayish hairs, tipped with brown, or sometimes red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are very quick movers. They have exceptionally strong jaws. Groundhogs eat mostly greens, fruits and vegetables, but don’t drink a lot of water, getting their moisture from dewy leaves. Groundhogs can whistle when they are alarmed, they can also whistle in the Spring, when they are courting. Phil is also long-living, being able to survive for seven more years due to a special liquid which he is fed by members of his elite club.
There is only one Punxsutawney Phil, however. He has been used for offering support of political events, to rooting for area sports teams, to having a movie made of him that starred Bill Murray, and many other events to which he has lent his famous name and presence. Today’s celebration which honors Phil on Feb. 2 each year attracts tens of thousands of fans from all over the world. They are as excited about viewing Phil’s emerging from his underground lair, as they are in viewing their favorite rock stars. The first observance of Phil is credited with a newspaper called the Punxsutawney Spirit who first recorded the appearance of the famous rodent. Throughout the years, Phil has been part and parcel of some famous events, including:
*During Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 more weeks of winter if he wasn’t allowed a drink;
*In 1958, Phil announced that it was a “United States Chucknik rather than a Soviet Sputnik that circled the earth for the first time
*In1981, Phil wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the American hostages in Iran;
*Phil travelled to Washington D.C. in 1986 to meet with President Ronald Reagan;
*Phil appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1995;
*In 2001, Phil’s prediction was shown live on the JumboTron at Times Square in New York City. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell attended the ceremonies, becoming the first governor to ever do so.
Running for El Paso Mayor, an iffy situation at best
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Running for Mayor of El Paso requires that a candidate be quick on his or her feet, that beaucoup bucks be available, and, most important – name recognition. In the case of the current campaign, it features a candidate that meets all three qualifications, namely Steve Ortega. He is running against an unknown Robert Cormell, who has no name recognition and has never held political office of any sort. But, lest Ortega thinks the election is his, he must reflect and realize that there are no guarantees.
Ortega, a two-term city representative for District 7, has served in a quiet capacity, making noise, for example only in backing the city’s providing health insurance for the partners of gay employees, and supporting the destruction of the current city hall to build in its place a $50 million baseball stadium to house El Paso’s future sports team – the El Paso Padres, or some such.
Cormell, however, has made no noise at all and has very little name recognition, outside of business circles. He is a small business owner who has managed to raise so far $4,300 and Ortega $57,000 according to their latest expense reports. Cornell said he has raised very little money because he’s been focusing on developing his mayoral platform. He promises that his next campaign report will show a stronger contributor base. Ortega, on the other hand, has raised his money from what he calls numerous $50 to $500 donations, including a $1,000 donation from newly-elected Congressman Beto O’Rourke. He has also said he would not accept donations from the folks who have been pushing the new stadium, including Woody Hunt, because that might constitute a conflict of interest.
But, again, raising large amounts of cash does not guarantee victory. As witness the race a few years ago that featured City Rep. Raymond Telles against Carlos Ramirez for Mayor. Ramirez, who worked with then-Mayor Bill Tilney, had only raised $30,000. Telles, however, had raised about $250,000. He even used that money to hire a consultant from San Francisco. All that money, however, didn’t guarantee Telles a victory, because he lost to Ramirez. Of course, Telles made many mistakes, such as hiring a P.R. firm from Juarez to develop a newspaper that touted his qualifications and everything that was good about his campaign. Telles himself short-circuited a campaign that had him leading Ramirez 40 to 21. Ramirez played it cool and won that race.
A more recent campaign proved that money isn’t everything. The race for State Rep. between incumbent Dee Margo and his challenger, Joe Moody, showed that money came in a close second. Republican Margo raised more than $600,000 while Moody raised a mere $100,000. Guess who won that race – Joe Moody, of course. The two candidates had all the required necessities to win the race, such as name recognition, and political experience and savvy. The money, however, seemed to give Margo the edge. However, much as he would’ve liked to keep his seat, all that money in his war chest didn’t help. He lost.
So, there’s hope for Cormell. Remember, too, that it’s a long haul before the election in May. Other candidates are, perhaps, waiting for the right moment to jump into the fray. Who knows who will jump in and truly challenge Ortega. One possibility is former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh. Although Shapleigh has not done anything to indicate that he would be running, if he did suddenly decide to run, he already qualifies under the three requirements – money, name recognition and a track record. Shapleigh outscores Ortega in every category, except money. But, he could clear that hurdle very quickly with his connections and his ability to run winning campaigns.
But, for now, the only candidates are Ortega and Cormell, although, again, that could change very rapidly. There is still plenty of time for anyone who dares to run a strong campaign with the intent to win. Ortega still does hold a good hand in his campaign. His refusal to accept donations from the power-brokers who want to bring a Triple-A Baseball team to El Paso may stand him in good stead. From all appearances, Cormell is against Triple-A baseball coming to El Paso, although he hasn’t said as much. He probably figures that he could get the voters who oppose such a move to support him. But, then, in El Paso politics, anything could happen. Stay tuned.
With “Big” Mexico undergoing a peaceful turn, will “Little” Mexico in El Paso thrive?
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Creating a “Little” Mexico in El Paso is like creating snow in the North Pole. Let’s face it, it already exists. With 85 percent of El Paso’s population being Mexican or of Mexican descent, Little Mexico already exists everywhere one looks. Want a Mexican restaurant? Why, there’s an abundance of such eateries dotting the area from north to south and from east to west. The joke goes that when another Mexican restaurant opens in the Sun City, people look at one another and remark: “Oh, another Mexican restaurant, just what El Paso needs.” Better to create a little El Paso in Juarez, perhaps that’s what that city truly needs,
We can understand the desire to attract tourism, and we can understand the desire to keep them here, thus eliminating their need to go into Juarez for a day of revelry and what not, but, isn’t Juarez – once labeled as the most dangerous city in the world – continuing to improve, continuing to open new businesses, eliminating the deadly pallor that once shrouded the city of more than one million people? According to the Juarez Chamber of Commerce and the state’s Governor, Juarez is returning to normal, with wide-spread corruption almost returning to the days when a traffic stop meant a $5 mordida, but, not what had been taking place for more than four years, with murders incorporated becoming the law of the land, bodies hanging from bridges and pedestrians being killed indiscriminately by drug cartels.
But, wonder of wonders, on the day of the inauguration of the new Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, no homicides or other acts of violence were reported. One can only wonder why. Did he make a deal with the cartels that he would give them carte blanche to practice their trade without interfering? Do the cartels feel that they can now ply their trade without interference from former President Felipe Calderon? At one point, as many as seven people were murdered on any given day, with more than 10,000 deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012. We don’t know what gives, but, Juarez returning to its heyday as the Gateway to Mexico is certainly good news.
But, once again, with this good news, is a Little Mexico truly needed in El Paso? Would tourists really prefer to remain in El Paso, to attend a make-shift Mexican environment, than to cross the border to feel and experience the real thing? One begs to differ. Think of it, Little Mexicos already exist in El Paso. The Café Mayapan is one such example. There one can find goods and other Mexican products to fill a good person’s heart. Not only that, but, restaurants there offer food that originates in the real Mexico. Foodstuffs from Oaxaca, such as grilled grasshoppers and other delicacies abound for the risk-takers who would sample unknown foods.
Mariachis? Carlos and Mickey’s offers such fare, so does Andale Restaurant on the Gateway. My friend, Lidiana Castro still exercises her vocal chords on any given night at any given restaurant – her beautiful voice still fills the heart with gladness. Remember that Little Mexico on Alameda that, much like Café Mayapan, featured stalls that sold everything from Mexican shirts, guitars, dresses, velvet paintings of Elvis Presley and many other Mexican curios and curiosities? That Little Mexico didn’t last very long, did it? Other attempts have been made to create little Mexicos all over the city. Remember La Placita that was created downtown? That was supposed to be some slice of Little Mexico that would draw tourists and even locals to shop at stores there. Again, it didn’t happen. Efforts have been made, only to fail because it’s not the real thing. Or should we say – too much of the real thing.
Except that the real thing already exists – in Juarez. In years past, Juarez Avenue offered tourists and locals everything they couldn’t get in El Paso. Mariachis? Why, the Carlos Bar featured any number of great singers and musicians. The Kentucky Bar was a great place for libations and good conversation. For the young folks, there were the Lobby Bar, El Noa-Noa, The Mint, and, of course, the Bullfights; an old tradition that refuses to die. Where in El Paso would you place such a bullring? Why – no place. So, with Juarez making a comeback, with new businesses opening up and old businesses making come-backs, Juarez, if the trend continues, will once again steal tourists from El Paso just as it has always done. El Paso will, once again, become merely the Gateway to Juarez. Hey, maybe if Juarez were to once again open up its Quickie Divorce business, we could attract movie stars and other famous people. They would stop off in El Paso, wouldn’t they? Maybe that’s the best that El Paso can hope for. The good news, however, remains in Juarez. Come back, Juaritos. El Paso needs you,
Bone Marrow Donors Wanted, and Needed
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Bone Marrow Donors are needed. Must be of strong constitution, of a good heart and must be willing to help save people’s lives. To be sure, although doctors find bone marrow donors difficult to volunteer, it can be done. But, only if a person registers with the Match Registry – the new name for the Registry operated by the National Bone Marrow Program.
Doctors look for a donor who matches a patient’s tissue type or, more specifically, a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLA are proteins, or markers, found on most cells in the body. An immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in a person’s body and which do not. Unfortunately, for bone cancer patients, those matches are tough to find. Out of at least 9.5 million donors already registered, perhaps only one will find that he or she is a match for a particular patient. On average, one in every 540 members in the Registry in the U.S., will be able to match a patient – in effect – to save a person’s life.
Of course, there are also risks for the donor, a factor which often plays on a potential donor to help decide whether or not to become a donor. However, the procedure has been time-tested and the risks, although minimal, do exist. For example, when a person donates bone marrow for a transplant, a donor will be given anesthesia and taken to an operating room. The surgeon will make four small incisions on that donor’s back. A hollow needle is inserted through the skin into the pelvic bone so that bone marrow can be removed.
Some of the risks to the donor may occur because of the anesthesia, which can trigger adverse reactions. A donor may experience a dangerous drop in blood pressure or a suppressed rate of breathing. If the donor has an allergic reaction to the anesthesia, he may suffer breathing problems during the procedure. There is even a slight risk that a negative reaction will be severe enough to cause death. Another risk is that a donor may experience nerve damage. This may happen when the surgeon makes the incisions or when the hollow needle is inserted into the body to remove the marrow for the transplant. If one of the nerves is damaged, a donor may experience pain, difficulty of mobility or a loss of sensation.
Other risks to the donor include muscle and bone damage, infections during the healing process or bleeding from the incision sites during recovery. However, the chances of any of these complications occurring are actually slim to none. Most donors recover quickly and completely with no long-term problems, although it is best for donors to know that there are risks involved when deciding to donate bone marrow.
There are several types of bone cancer, with the most prevalent called Osteosarcoma. This cancer starts in the bone cells and most often occurs in young people ages 10 to 30. These cancerous tumors occur most often in the arms, legs, or pelvis. Chondrosarcoma is the second most common cancer to appear in a person’s body. This is a cancer of the cartilage cells. Other bone cancers include Ewing tumors, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, giant cell tumors of bones and chordona.
To give an idea of why bone marrow donors are in such high demand, keep in mind that half of all men and one-third of all women will develop a cancer of one type or another during their lifetimes. Today, millions of people are living with cancer, or have recovered from a cancer. The risk of developing a cancer can be offset with a person’s change of lifestyle, such as eliminating the use of tobacco, limiting time in the sun, becoming physically active, staying at a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and eating healthy. For instance, smoking can increase a person’s chances of developing cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, kidneys, and other organs. Although not every person who smokes will develop cancer, the chances are increased for complications including heart and blood vessel disease.
Today, more than 13 million people have cancer. Some have been cured, while others are still fighting it. Years ago, many of those who had cancer died rapidly from its ravages. But, modern medicine and modern technology have increased the chances of survival. The most common methods to fight the cancerous cells are through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Of course, there is much more information about cancer, its causes and cures than can be listed in this article. If you are truly interested in becoming a bone marrow donor, study it – know the consequences, the risks involved, and, more important, know that your bone marrow can save a person’s life. To learn more, go to MatchRegistry.com, or call 1-800-627-7692. You’ll be glad you did.