Celebrate Your Pride By Taking a Look and Listen to Music from a Couple of New Artists from Down South, Like Way Down South (America)

It’s June.  That’s Pride Month.  Not to mention the U.S. Supreme Court is merely days away from making a momentous decision on same-sex marriage.  Here in Houston LGBT Pride activities are in full swing, culminating with the daytime festival and evening (into night) parade this Saturday, June 27th.  For the first time, these two events will be held in downtown Houston instead of the Montrose area, where the first Houston Gay Pride Parade took place in 1979.  (Find all the details about Houston Pride here.)

To celebrate LGBT pride here on the blog, I decided to introduce a couple of talented artists who have no fear of showing their true selves in their videos.  I found out about these two young Latin American performers thanks to remezcla.com and since my first listen to one video each, their tunes have been stuck in my head.  They are from neighboring South American countries.  Namuel, from Chile, has just put out this catchy single “Babycakes,” and the accompanying video can only be described as “cute and sweet.”  The video here from Jaloo, out of Brazil, also with an LGBT theme, goes with his “Bai Bai.”  This is a cover from a very popular song of a couple of years ago.  I’ll keep you guessing and not spoil it so you’ll listen.  I don’t understand much Portuguese, so I can’t say if the lyrics are the same, but the music in what I’d say is brega-style (I’m just learning about this genre of music, but I might compare it in a way to reggaeton. No matter the style, this tune keeps playing in my head much more than the original, which I really like.

Check out more great work from Namuel and Jaloo on YouTube and SoundCloud, where you’ll find a lot more by these terrific artists.

Happy Pride, y’all!

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Old Music and New Car

After a random discovery of a CD I had been thinking about for awhile, this morning’s commute was tempered by the 10 tracks from “Super-nova” from the Mexican synth-pop group, La Siguiente Pagina.  I don’t know much about the group, but I always loved the space-themed electronic euro-dance songs on this disc from 1997.  (If I had been looking hard, I would have found the entire album online; check it out.).  

As I drove in to work, listening to track after track, I wasn’t really taken back 18 years, because for the most part, the songs have stayed surprisingly fresh, though after listening to a lot that’s being played on the SiriusXM dance channels, there were definitely a lot more BPMs going on in dance music back about 20 years. It’s too bad they only came out with this one album and a remix disc from one of songs, “Outer-space.”  That disc is tucked away, just waiting to be found, somewhere around the house or maybe out in the garage.

Speaking of the garage: parked inside is the new ride–a white CR-V Touring.  I had been thinking “new car” for quite some time, since Christmas really, when there was absolutely no more room in the Fiesta hatchback after loading it with presents, goodies, belongs, and dog.  It was a bit more than four years old and almost 65,000 miles.  I had had virtually no problems with it, and it squeezed great miles out of every gallon, but besides the lack of space for trips, I often felt vulnerable out on the road.  Larger vehicles gave no respect.

And respect the CR-V gets.  Maybe because it’s bigger; maybe because I drive it differently because it has more power.  I didn’t choose it for either the respect or the power.  Besides the added space, I liked the safety features that come with the    new-this=year Touring, that the other levels of the CR-V don’t have, like the LaneWatch, and the Collision Mitigation.  Also, I thought the Fiesta had really good side vision, but the mirrors on the CR-V just seem to give a wider angle of vision; the one on the driver’s side has a sort of split mirrors, so all-in-all the blind spots are really minimized.  Along with just sitting up higher, the better visibility makes my entering and exiting so much less chancy.

The car has a lot of other features that come in handy, like the automatic tailgate, but what I notice most is the space.  My Saturday groceries, which about filled up the hatchback of the Fiesta, now seem kinda dinky in the back of the CR-V.  It’s a different drive too, more solid, and I can’t just scoot into parking spaces.  However, considering the size of the vehicle, the gas mileage isn’t bad.  Each week, I’m putting in about two more gallons into the tank for my 50 mile-a-day commute plus whatever chore and fun miles are put on.  That doesn’t seem bad for the difference in the vehicles.

So I guess now I’ll have to dig around and see what other CDs I can scrounge up.  If I find enough good ones, it might be time for a road trip.

All spic-n-span after being freshly washed; yep, and still waiting for the real license plates.

All spic-n-span after being freshly washed; yep, and still waiting for the real license plates.

The back of the 2015 CR-V looks pretty similar to other years, but I hate to say it, but what makes it look different might seem to be a longhorn.

The back of the 2015 CR-V looks pretty similar to other years, but I hate to say it, but what makes it look different might seem to be a longhorn.

On the Road Home: You Know You’re Getting Old When . . .

I can hardly wait till March 10th when Daylight Savings Time returns.  I live for evenings when there’s still enough daylight that I don’t feel like bedtime comes right after I arrive home.

These days when I leave the parking garage at work, it’s still sunny, but on days like today when I have extra things to do and don’t get out there on the freeway like usual, the sun has gotten beyond the horizon by the time I’m slogging my way those last miles home.  Thus, I generally flick on the headlights before I head out on my evening commute.

Since it was about a half hour later than usual when I looped off 290 to W. Little York, dusk had already settled in, but I noticed that a number of cars had yet to turn on their headlights.  Just to be sure, I reached to the dashboard to check.  Yep, I had already flicked my little Fiesta’s lights on.

With my mind still on tomorrow’s work, I accelerated and braked almost in sync with all the other drivers just trying to get home.  After only a few more stop signs and turns, I pulled my car into the garage and grabbed the back door key out of my pocket.

Once in the house, as always, I flipped on the light switch over the cooktop.  What ‘s up with that florescent light?  Dim.  I guess I  need to head to Lowe’s for a replacement.  Oh, well.  And so I reached for the switch at the back hallway.  What?  Dim too.  What happened to the electricity today?

Then.  Ahaa.   

I was still wearing my sunglasses.

On the Road Home: Try Something French, and It’s Neither Fry Nor Poodle

Some days I’d like to write a post, but the evening is just too short.  I feel a bit guilty of neglecting my housekeeping duties around here.  Recently, I mentioned liking the station Latitude Franco from SiriusXM on my car radio.  Well, I’m still likin’ it even though I understand next to zero.  I tried looking at the French lyrics to this song “À pas de géant” by Alexandre Desilets.  I’ve always felt a bit sorry for those trying to learn English because of all the different vowel sounds and silent letter.  However, as I tried to match the sounds of the words I was hearing and those written in the lyrics, I very quickly began to respect those learners who have conquered French.  It doesn’t matter; I still really like this song from up Quebec way.

Happy Holidays to All from Trip to the Outhouse

All of the Christmas cactuses are blooming at the same time this year, giving me time to enjoy them before taking out on the road.

The year is quickly coming to an end.  I’ve got the car almost packed, and in the morning, I’ll add the last few items and stick Annie in the co-pilot seat for our annual Christmas road trip to Kansas.

Although the mostly interstate drive can get long and monotonous, I’m ready for a change of scenery and a break from work for almost two weeks.  I’ve even enjoyed getting out to the malls to do Christmas shopping this year.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been organized and know exactly what I want to get for people, so I don’t do that much wandering from store to store trying to figure out what I might be looking for.

I even washed and cleaned out the car today for its first long trip, and I’m anxious to see whether I can make it through Oklahoma without having to buy gas.  That is not one of my favorite states (you might guess why), and I don’t like to spend any more money there than I have to.

Oh, my.  Am I being a Grinch? 

I hope that I will be more inspired to write here in the coming year.  Somehow 2012 may be a better year.  I’m optimistic about it.

I know here in the last few months I haven’t given those who might pass through this blog much to read.  In a minute, I’m going to pack the camera in the car in its special corner; keep your fingers crossed that there will be road trip photos!

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012!

On the Road Home: Those Sirius XM Channels Can Lead to a Place . . . Well, a Place where the Music Is “Musique”

How the 9 button got pre-set to 155 I don’t know, but luckily this mystery put me onto a kind of music I probably wouldn’t have tried.  My car came with 6 month’s worth of Sirius XM satellite radio on it, and I liked more than enough channels to renew it when the free time was over a couple months ago.

There are so many choices in music and talk that I only randomly switch over to a local Top 40 station these days.  Anyway, how many of the repetious songs about gettin’ drunk at the club or seein’ what’s hidin’in somebody’s CK briefs can a person listen to?

This Channel 155 was a refreshing change almost from the instant my fingertip hit the button.  And I couldn’t understand a word of the lyrics.  Latitude Franco is a French Canadian channel with just fun, pleasing-to-the-ear, mostly pop music.   I don’t know if all the songs are Canadian or not, but they are all in French.  I’m enjoying the music so much that I would almost start studying another language again.  I did say “almost”.
Un Jour Sur Deux by Stefie Shock

Québécois singer-songwriter, Stefie Shock

I can’t get the song above out of my head.  Of course, I could use a translator to get “Every Other Day” from “Un Jour Sur Deux”, but I’ve tried to find the full lyrics; so far no luck.  However, I’m almost certain this fun song by Stefie Shock doesn’t have much to do with getting trash-faced in the neighbor’s pool last summer. The sound and the voice do make me think of David Bowie, or even more, Miguel Bosé of Spain.

Give it a play and you might get hooked like I did.

When Your Car Is Totaled and You Have To Replace It, Beware of “Apple Pie” Marketing Along the Way

It has been just a bit over a month that I got involved in what most would have seen as a “fender-bender” (details in previous post); nevertheless, my car was totaled.  Luckily, no one was hurt, nor was I the driver who caused the accident, but unluckily, my car got the worst end of the deal.  I’ve been driving since I was about 13 years old, and I’d never before been in an accident in which my car had to be towed, not to mention having one totaled by the insurance company.

I really liked my old car, a 2007 Mazda 3 GT hatchback, and was heart-sick when I went to talk with the insurance adjustor at the collison repair shop.  I really didn’t recognize it, with the front half sitting all bare to the engine after having the hood, fenders, grill, front bumper, and lights all peeled off so that the internal damage could be determined.

Now that I’m driving a new car that I also really like, it’s easier to look at the entire episode as a learning experience, some of which might be valuable to others.  Above all else, whether it’s the rental car agency, the insurance company, or the car dealership, it’s all about marketing:  everyone has a “Would you like an apple pie with that?” line, and some try to sneakily add the “apple pie” without politely asking “would you”.

Here are a few things I found out, some of them pure aggravation, some not so bad:

The Tow Truck

  • The driver will probably want to tow your car to a lot at a repair shop that he has some financial connection with, not the one that you and your insurance company have agreed upon
  • In Houston, the tow truck driver will give you a ride home, free of charge (probably the insurance company picks up that tab)

The Car Rental Company

  • Beware that car rental companies have both calendar day rates and 24-hour day rates.  You will pay for an extra day on the calendar day rate, even if you return the car earlier in the day than when you picked it up.  See here for more details.

The New Car Dealership Finance Officer

  • This person will try to force you to finance through them even if you come with your financing already lined up.  They will also push you to add extras, like window-tinting and longer warrantees, in order to jack up the selling price.  (In my case, dealing with the car salesman and the finance officer was like dealing with good cop, bad cop.)

The Insurance Company

  • You don’t have to take what the insurance adjustor first offers you for your car when it is totaled.  You can negotiate.  Look what comparable cars are selling for locally at places like Carmax.  Check sites like Bluebook and Edmunds.  Also keep the window sticker from your car when you buy it in your records.  It can help show all the extras that came on your car.
  • When you’re changing your insurance to your new car, beware of the insurance representative adding items on to your policy, even when you tell them you want the same coverage as you had on your previous car.  Mine had a slick way of not asking me if I wanted these items, but announcing it as if it were a matter of fact.  (Everyone these days, it seems, from the credit union to the dealer to the insurance company wants you to add more coverage of the car’s engine.)

The problem with all this pushy marketing is that they do it right when a person is the most vulnerable–immediately after an accident–or when you’re getting your new car–and bring down what what should be an exciting day.  However, if you just anticipate that most everyone in the entire process is probably going to try to get more money out of you, you can be ready for it and not get sucked in.

I’m not mentioning the specific names of any businesses that I dealt with, because aside from these, what I call aggravations, in all other respects through this bit of a rough patch in the road (trite expression, but we are talking about cars here), I was treated pretty well.