Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moving to Wordpress

It's the end of the Second Age (the First Age being when I was at Xanga). I am leaving Blogger and taking everything to my own host and publishing my blog via Wordpress, which I am absolutely loving.

To see the new blog, please go to

You can update your RSS feed (all 2 of you who get this via a feed) over there, and also catch the feed for comments.

I may keep the Blogger account as a backup for now, but Wordpress is where it's at for me now. :)

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Coolest Thing I Saw In Belgium

I uploaded the Flickr gallery for the latest episode of The Gamer Traveler - Brugge, Belgium, and came across something that I had been meaning to share with geeks around the world.

Aside from all the neat places I visited in Belgium, all the wonderful historic grounds I traipsed upon, all the yummy beer I drank, the yummy chocolates I ate, and the wonderful people I met, there was one event, one surprise event, that stands out as "The Coolest Thing I Saw in Belgium (tm)".

Let me not use words, and let the pictures speak for themselves:

That thing is exactly what it looks like, a mechanical, motorized lion.

It was built by a local artist-metalworker named Kezanti who has a studio on the same street I was staying at. On our last day in Brugge, I went out for a little walk around the block, and ended up on the open-air dining area of this small restaurant two buildings down from our B&B. I saw the mechanical lion standing there, but at first I thought it was a bitchin sculpture (Brugge is the kind of town where you can see open air art displays). Then the guy stood up and turned it on and I could not hold my geekness inside.

I spoke with him a little (him in much better English than me in my horrible Dutch) and he told me this was the first time he had taken it outside the studio and was having a celebratory beer. He then stood up and proceeded to ride the mechanical lion! What's even better, I got video:

Click here and leave a comment.

Just a handful of people saw this walking work of art take its first steps, beaming artists riding atop. These are the kinds of magic moments that happen when you travel that you remember forever, the moments that you could never, in a million years, have forseen and that happen, seemingly, just for you.

Furthermore, since like two days ago there has been a flurry of comments for the video over at YouTube. I just found out why:

My video was honored as #98 in the Top Rated (This Month) in Travel & Places. Even at 98, I think it's pretty cool and it seems so does everyone else who has seen the video.

Drop by and leave a comment as well. Maybe next month I can go higher!

And THAT was "The Coolest Thing I Saw in Belgium (tm)." :-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Toys

I'm still waiting for the domains to transfer and the new account info to propagate across the vastness of cyberspace. In the meantime, I have been exploring all the cool new toys I have available at my new host. I have already installed Wordpress in the new site, so in a couple of days I hope to be able to transfer this blog over there (though I shudder at the thought of transfering all my posts!). They also have a laundry list of programs I can install, like php forums, Mambo, OS Commerce (if this means nothing to you, just read it as "cool toy, cool toy, cool toy"), among others. I'm excited because this will allow me to grow my web presence all across the board and on all of my projects. The upfront cost was tough (very good price, but still all upfront), but so far it looks like an awesome investment. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Changing Hosts

Bye bye, hello I finally moved my sites and hosting from Stargate, and not a moment too soon. Stargate was fine a couple years ago when all I had was my personal site, but things have grown since and their services were just not up to par, not to mention expensive in comparison. So after shopping around and asking the opinion of people more knowledgeable in this stuff than me, I went with Bluehost. Soon I'll be able to start the redesign of all my sites, including my personal blog, which will go from Blogger to Wordpress. I just gotta get through the whole moving part, which is as tedious online as it is in real life.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy New Year 5767!

I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and sweet new year 5767!

L'Shanah Tovah!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Weird Al - White & Nerdy Video

Check the video for Weird Al's new song, White & Nerdy. You owe it to yourself and the world.

HMP In Print!

I just received the proof from for our first print product, a hardcopy version of No Other Gods - An Adventure for Testament. It looks awesome. I can't get over the giddyness of holding in my hands something that we created and that existed only as electronic data.

I'll be posting soon info on ordering.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

[HMP] DaVinci Labs, Volume One: UDR-4 Arrowhead

Highmoon Media Productions, in association with Reality Deviants Publications, is proud to present the first in our new line of d20 Modern/Future support, DaVinci Labs.

DaVinci Labs is a research and development facility specializing in mechanized systems, ranging from civilian solutions to military contracts. Simplicity of design and innovative concepts are our driving force, applying these ideals to everything we produce, be it cyber-organ replacements, nanotechnology, zero-G construction systems, mecha units and systems, or orbital and sub-orbital ships.
DaVinci Labs, A Renaissance in Mechanization. (TM)

UDR-4 Arrowhead

DaVinci Labs, Volume One focuses on the UDR-4 Arrowhead mecha, providing a history of the mecha, 2 variants of the design, new weapons and equipment and suggestions for using the mecha in your own campaign as well as in the popular Dawning Star campaign setting by Blue Devil Games.

This PDF comes with a screen version and a RTF file for your convenience.

Written by: Joshua Hoade
Mecha Artwork by: Adam Dickstein
Dawning Star is a trademark of Blue Devil Games, used with permission.

RDPDVL001 - $3.95
Buy it today from

This is the product that almost never happened, seriously. The whole idea to start Highmoon Media Productions was due to me coming up with this series about 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, I have been trying to get it going, and for various reasons, I could never do it. I was almost resigned to have it be the product series that would break my heart (and part of my wallet, as over time I had paid for a number of pieces of mecha art to use), until David Jarvis came along.

Reality Deviants had been putting out a series of single mecha PDFs called OGL Mecha that I thought were pretty cool. On a complete whim, one of those "why not" moments, I emailed David to see if he would be interested in collaborating on a modification of his OGL Mecha series, morphing it into the brand I had already been at work to get off the ground. I explained to him my idea of DaVinci Labs, what I wanted to accomplish with it, and the plan I had for our collaboration. I honestly expected to be told that it was neat, but no, thank you. To my surprise, David loved the idea, and wanted in.

With the help of our mutual friend/freelancer/uber-helper Mark Gedak, David took the raw materials I gave him for this first issue and expanded them with excellent new material that further developed the concept of DaVinci Labs, and ended up with this awesome product. Thanks to David Jarvis and Mark Gedak, DaVinci Labs is now a reality, and my heart's happy as hell.

We are already at work on further releases, so keep an eye out for more innovation from DaVinci Labs, A Renaissance in Mechanization. (TM)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Proof Positive

The Blogthing doesn't lie:

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.
Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

[The Gamer Traveler] Episode 04 - Brugge, Belgium

Show Notes for Episode 04 of The Gamer Traveler (As featured on the Dragon's Landing Podcast, episode 58):

Belfry Tower and canals, Brugge

Brugge, Belgium

The Gamer Traveler theme music is Ragasutra from the album "All Strings Considered" by Jamie Janover and Michael Masley, and is provided courtesy of Magnatune.

The Gamer Traveler is brought to you by
Destination: Earth Travel Planners.
Helping you take the trip of a lifetime, today!

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to The Gamer Traveler at 9/06/2006 04:24:00 PM

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On The Future of Gaming Podcasting

Ever since Gen Con, the various gaming podcasters have been having lots of conversations about the new-found legitimacy of podcasting by the industry, the lessons learned the last year, and ideas for what the future brings. At the Dragon's Landing Podcast's forums we are having various conversations about the future of gaming podcasts, especially what it will take for the new batch of podcasters to make it in the field. The following is a very long post I made with some of my thoughts. You can see the original thread here and the my post here. Lots of links have been added for convenience.
This is a very exciting time to be tuned in to the whole podcast phenomenon, in general. Specifically in gaming podcast, this goes 100 times more so, because, thanks to the early adopters who have broken ground and gained an amazing level of legitimacy, the soil is fertile now for a new crop to come up.

In many ways I see Gen Con as the turning point, and specifically the Megacast as being the Big Bang of the new era in gaming podcasts. A lot of things were said at the cast, a lot of ideas and theories and plans, that during the next year we will see put into action and be able to, very clearly, see how they had their genesis at the Megacast.

Of particular interest, for me especially, is the concept of the new batch of podcasts and the form they should take in order to thrive in the already-existing field. The general advice show has been done, and quite well, so there's no need to rehash it. It's time to become a true specialist, and take advante of the Long Tail effect.*

If you really stop to think about it, and look at the current generation (let's call them Generation Alpha, to borrow Chuck and Lonnie's new scheme), you'll find the concept of specialization has already taken place: you have Dragon's Landing Inn with general RPG advice; Gamer! The Podcasting with general LARP advice; Fist Full of Comics (and Games) going for the very obvious (and quite ignored until, and except for, them) brige of comics and games; All Games Considered doing a review show that manages not to be repetitive in a field with Paul Tevis' Have Games, Will Travel; Ogre Cave Audio Report is the only one doing industry news and commentary, something I would love to have more of; Fear the Boot seems like it's going for the general RPG advice, but they are so systematic that they manage not to be repetitive with DLI, etc.

The reason this is interesting for me in particular is because this is preciselyt the kind of thinking that led me to create The Gamer Traveler. Currently TGT plays as part of the DLI, but that was a practical decision based on my circumstances at the moment; in all other aspects, TGT is its own podcast, and I envision taking it solo in the near future as well. In terms of focus, the podcast was born out of me thinking, "How can I do a gaming podcast that is unique and niche enough to justify me making it at all?" It took a while, but I finally landed the concept. I still need to tighten up the execution, for sure, but I am very secure that I have created a product that, by its very nature, is not likely to be copied, thus assuring me an original output and space in the podcast field.

This is the same thinking that needs to go into the creation of new podcasts in our field; we need to look for specialties, things for which we feel passionate about and we can talk someone's ear off and (quite importantly) complement the existing 'casts so that we do not offer direct competition, but rather synergy.

As far as the established podcasts helping out to promote the new generation, I don't think that would be a problem. Remember at the end of the day we are not really in competition; though a listener's time is at a premium, better informing the listener about the options out there, the options that would truly maximize their listening time, creates a better listener, one that is both loyal to the community and thankful for having been exposed to cool things he/she may not have found about before. Many of the smaller PDF game publishers already do this, and the result has been better loyalty from the customers and an ever expanding pool of new people being exposed to our products.

Another thing we, as listeners, need to start getting used to is that the content we are being provided by these podcasters is valuable and worth money; I, for one, welcome their new attempts at laying the groundwork for ways to eventually generate a profit from their hard, hard work.

Like I said, this is a very exciting time to be a listener and a podcaster, and I can't wait to see what the future brings.

* - The short and simplified version: the Long Tail effect states that there is a potentially-endless market for uber-niche products that, while it may dwindle to a very small amount, actually never reaches zero. Read the Wikipedia article if you want a more theoretical explanation.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Last RPG

Okay, I've seen it all. At RPGnow Edge:

Welcome to The Veggie Patch.
As you can guess, this isn't your normal role-playing game. Players aren't powerful wizards, out to discover the secrets of the universe. They aren't highly trained spies,
trying to save the world, nor do they fly around the galaxy in a space ship. They aren't even your typical hero, off saving damsels in distress.
They're vegetables.

Okay, that's it folks, the last RPG has been written. We can all stop now and move on to another hobbie or industry, there's nothing left here. :-)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt CCG Lot for Sale

I've put up my collection of Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt CCG up for sale on eBay. You can see the listing here.

This game was published in the early- to mid-90's by White Wolf tied to their Changeling: The Dreaming roleplaying game. It features adventures played in the fae realm of Arcadia. The game was sold in booster packs divided into Character Packs and Story Packs. To play, you select a character card, then customize it with options from the Character Pack. Once that's done, you create a playing field by laying down terrain cards. A Quest is selected, enemies and traps are laid down under various terrain cards, and off you go to complete the Quest.

Included in this lot are two card boxes, one all Character Pack cards (including the nifty, stand-up cardboard characters), and one all Story Pack cards. These cards were used in games, but are all in excellent shape. All cards are from the Wyld Hunt set.

This was cool game, but suffered from the way it was marketed. White Wolf tried to ride the CCG train, but this game would have done so much better if packaged as a boardgame with regular expansions. Even today, if I could get it complete in one box, it would be a brilliant little game.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

[The Gamer Traveler] Episode 03 - Brussels, Belgium

Show Notes for Episode 03 of The Gamer Traveler (As featured on the Dragon's Landing Podcast, episode 53):

King's House on Grand Place, Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

The Gamer Traveler theme music is Ragasutra from the album "All Strings Considered" by Jamie Janover and Michael Masley, and is provided courtesy of Magnatune.

The Gamer Traveler is brought to you by
Destination: Earth Travel Planners.
Helping you take the trip of a lifetime, today!

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to The Gamer Traveler at 8/16/2006 02:10:00 PM

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Life is very good!
White Wolf Announces New World of Darkness Genre for 2007: Changeling
August 12, 2006 - White Wolf is proud to announce the "5th Game" for World
of Darkness will be Changeling! As envisioned by developer Ethan Skemp, fans can
look forward to a complex setting where you character faces new challenges and
dangers not seen before in the World of Darkness.

I am already looking forward to Gen Con next year!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Podcast Ireland

I got an email from the Ireland Tourism Board of a contest they are running where the lucky winner wins a one-week tour of a part of Ireland (Northern Ireland, Dublin/East/Southeast, West/Southwest) with air and ground transportation, accomodations, etc. and they get to podcast their trip for the Irish Tourism Board! I sent in my application faster than I could say slainte!

They ask for a 250-word or less entry telling them why you'd the a good choice, and here's my entry:
Ireland calls to me like a siren; it always has. I visited Ireland for my honeymoon in 2002 and have been yearning to return, to experience the beauty of the land and the warmth of the people once again, to relive those happy memories, and create new ones along the way. Though I loved the whole island, I particularly long to return to the West, to wander Dingle’s pubs and lose myself in witty craic, to smell the sweet scent of burning peat, to drink a real Guinness like only the Irish know how to pour. It was in Dingle that we spent the bulk of our honeymoon, and where I left a little piece of my heart. I wrote an online journal of our trip to Ireland, and four years later, I still get emails from people who have read it and tell me they have fallen in love with the land as well, and from those getting ready to go thanking me for increasing their enthusiasm for their trip. I will talk to anyone about the wonders of Ireland, in person, by phone, by email, and if chosen, then by podcast as well. I already produce a short podcast called “The Gamer Traveler” and Ireland is on my list of upcoming topics. An opportunity like this would be fantastic to generate new content and truly be a chance to tell the world how much I love Ireland and why I think everyone should visit, too.

It's a bit on the dramatic side, but it is all true.
Who knows, maybe something good will come my way!

Monday, July 24, 2006

It Hit The Fan And Landed All On Me

Boy, I am the cosmic shitbucket right now. I am at my mother-in-law's and someone broke the driver-side rear passenger window of my car and stole my laptop bag, which was inside the car, behind the driver's seat.

Not all is bad, though; my laptop computer was inside the house at the moment, so the most precious item that would normally have been inside the bag is safe and sound. I did lose, however, the power cord (which I had just bought about a month ago after my cat bit through the original one), a Dell network card, my Palmpilot, my two checkbooks (personal and Highmoon Media Productions account) and (and this hurts so much) my Holland/Belgium travel journal and my personal daily journal. Somewhere in Miami, some asshole has my personal thoughts of my recent trip and my most intimate thoughts ranging from the day of my wedding 'till just two days ago.

The cops came and took all the pertinent information, and CSI also came by, but as expected, there were no fingerprints, given they just smashed the glass, reached in and took the bag. And I heard it all happen, too.

I am so mad right it's not even funny.

I do thank G-d that the computer is safe and sound, but the loss of my journals feels like a dagger plunged straight into my heart.

My one hope is that they will have realized there is nothing of value inside the bag (they can take the Palmpilot and the network card for all I care) and threw the bag out the window somewhere, and that maybe, just maybe, I can recover what is truly important.


Friday, July 21, 2006

When You Chose A Domain...

People really need to pay attention when they choose a domain name. These are all real:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Queen of Baking

There was a Bake Off today at my wife's work (Telemundo Network) and she decided to enter. Last night she prepared a scrumptious Maple Cake from a recipe she got in Nigella Lawson's Feast. She had done this cake twice before, once for my birthday, and I can attest to how delicious it is (it falls in the sinful category).

She just called me to tell me she won the Bake Off!!! :-)

The prize, unfortunately, is a gift certificate to a really expensive restaurant that we cannot eat at because it isn't kosher, so she'll see what she does with it. But bragging rights, those are all hers (and her department, too, since they were all cheering for her, given they know full well how good her baked goods are).

The U.N. Is A Joke

So finally the UN makes a statement about the situation in Israel, and (surprise, surprise) it condemns Israel!

From Yahoo! News: Annan criticizes both sides in conflict
UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Thursday for an immediate halt to the escalating conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah
militia but said there were "serious obstacles to reaching a cease-fire."

Annan said Hezbollah's actions in launching rockets into Israel and abducting Israeli soldiers "hold an entire nation hostage" and set back prospects for Middle East peace.
Wow, he came up with that conclusion all by himself?

But he also condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" and collective
punishment of the Lebanese people, saying it had triggered a humanitarian

"While Hezbollah's actions are deplorable, and Israel has a right to defend itself, the excessive use of force is to be condemned," he told the Security Council.

I love how everyone throws that word around, "excessive," like this is some sort of game with established rules that dictate how much firepower one can throw down based on an attack. It's very easy to be so high-and-mighty when you are safely tucked away in New York enjoying all the ammenities diplomats get in this country while the people in Israel are hiding for their lives. As far as the UN is concerned, Israel should just take the rocket attacks like a big boy and like it, not do anything about it. What is not excessive, is what I want to know. A ground assault of Southern Lebanon? No, that would be invading another country. Teams of Mosad agents infiltrating and doing targeted killings? No, that would be inhumane. What's left, throwing rocks with a sling? Seriously!
Annan said mission members reported that many of the people they spoke to in the region noted that "whatever damage Israel's operations may be doing to Hezbollah's military capabilities, they are doing little or nothing to decrease popular support for Hezbollah in Lebanon or the region, but are doing a great deal to weaken the government of Lebanon."

"In short, the very government which Israel wants to extend its control has itself become a hostage to the crisis and is less able than ever to deploy its forces" to southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, he said.

Boo-freakin-hoo, okay. The people want to rally behind a terrorist organization, hide them, protect them, support them, then they are part of that organization, period. And please, spare me the drama about the Lebanese government not being able to do anything; they weren't doing anything to begin with, letting Hezbollah run the southern part of the country and have a political voice in their government. So much for declaring themselves a democracy. Act now, show that you have the balls to take on the cancer in your own country, and Israel will back you up so that you can erradicate these fanatics. Lebanon is as much a hostage of Hezbollah (unless they are secretly aiding them) and they either fight or by innaction share the blame.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman told reporters immediately after Annan's speech that there would be no cease-fire.

"We will do whatever is necessary," he said. "We have no timeline."

Gillerman said he was "disturbed" that Annan's report never mentioned the word "terror" or referred to Syria and Iran, which Israel accuses of being Hezbollah's sponsors.

Funny, no, that the UN never seems to want to recognize terrorist acts from any of these militant groups; as far the UN is concerned, Hamas and Hezbollah are just troubled teens acting out their teenage-angst bullshit.

More and more it is evident that the UN is a joke and a completely useless political entity, especially its Security Council (as far as I'm concerned, UNESCO and UNICEF are the only two branches of the UN worth keeping around). I want to see once these Islamic terrorists start dropping rockets and bombs on each of the opposing member countries how long will they just take it before retaliating. Because, please understand, it will happen; these militant fanatics will eventually go to every single free country in this planet of ours and do what they do best there. Even moderate Islamic countries like Egypt and Jordan are not safe, not for long. The sooner everyone realizes this (Chiraq, I'm looking your way), the faster we'll be able to effectively excise this cancer that is now growing rampant and threatening to kill us all. This is a battle for civilization.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Something strage happened this morning. After prayers, the Rabbi asked me to please put up some little plaques that had arrived in the mail from being engraved. I opened the box and there was one yartzeit plaque (in memory of someone's anniversary of death) and two little leafs for the Tree of Life (a tree-like board with leaf-shaped plaques for any kind of event one may want to memorialize). One of the leafs said, "In honor of Daniel Perez for his commitment to our shul." Eh? I read it twice; yep, that was the message. Someone paid to have one of those little leafs engraved in my honor.

I felt weird. Yes, honored that someone would think like that of me, but weird. I'm just a regular guy that does what he supposed to do, nothing more. I go to prayers, I help out in the synagogue, I help out the Rabbi, but that's what we're all supposed to do, why we're a community. I don't think I'm doing anything beyond the ordinary. What's more, I sometimes complain in my head about having to do X or Y, just as I am marching off to do it; I'm only human, after all.

So yeah, I'm honored, but more than anything I am humbled by the small honor. I put it up and didn't say anything about it. Someone saw it and I just smiled and kept going. I just told the Rabbi that, I don't know who paid for that (nor do I want to know), and that though I don't think I deserve it, to please extend my thanks.

I still feel strange about it.

Monday, July 17, 2006 A Question For The World Community

From the Boston Globe via A Question For The World Community by Meir Shlomo

FOR THE PAST few decades, the international community has been misled to believe that the root of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors stems from the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This week, with the assistance of Hamas and Hezbollah, this canard finally has been laid to rest.
Hamas and Hezbollah mirror the virulent hatred of Israel that runs through Syria, Iran, and other parts of the Middle East. These groups represent a refusal to recognize the state of Israel, regardless of its borders. To make matters worse, rogue states such as Syria and Iran openly support these terrorist groups, aiding them financially, militarily, and politically.
The international community must decide to support either a repressive, despotic Middle East modeled after Iran and Syria, or a democratic, pluralistic Middle East modeled after Israel. This is the core of the conflict erupting in the region.
However, in the midst of this crisis, the international community and enlightened society must rally around Israel and the moderate factions in the Arab world, because the alternative is a Middle East modeled after Syria and Iran, governed by repression, terror, and violence.

This is a good editorial that brings the points in question to the forefront without fuss. It's about time the world realizes, once and for all, that the beef with Israel has absolutely nothing to do with anything dealing with the so-called Palestinians but with the inherent fact of their existance in the area. Nothing short of the complete and total anihilation of the state of Israel and of every Israeli (and every Jew in the world, if you follow the rethoric, including me, just so you can understand how personal this can get) will suffice for these people (and I use the term loosely). Giving Gaza up to the Palestinians only gave us an empowered Hamas, and now Hezbollah has joined the party.

In a way Israel has a measure of fault in this whole situation. We, Israel, were weak in the face of our enemy; we gave up Gaza as a reward for years of suicide bombers spilling our blood on the streets, showing that Israeli/Jewish blood was cheap. I understand the state was trying to do the right thing, to show there was commitment on our part to a peaceful solution, even if innocents had to pay the price. In a way I am glad they did all this, because it now shows quite clearly that nothing we did was of any value to them, because it never was about having part of the land, but about complete destruction.

I still want to see this conflict solved quickly to avoid the loss of more innocent lives on both sides. Israel has already given its terms for a cease-fire; for Hezbollah to retreat out of Israel and out of the buffer zone to be replaced by the Lebanese army and for the two kidnapped soldiers to be returned, greatly downscaling them from their original terms of total dismantling of Hezbollah. To some this may seem like we are again showing weakness, but I applaud the more realistic approach of the new terms. Now it's up to Lebanon to put some pressure. I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 There Is No Zionism Without Judaism

From There is no Zionism Without Judaism by Natan Sharansky.

But [A.B.]Yehoshua's remarks [...] disturb me less than the way he described his own identity: My identity is Israeli, he said. The Jewish religion does not play a role in my life; it is the territory and the language that build my identity.

There is no Zionism without Judaism and there never has been. Just as the Israeli people has never had a right to the Land of Israel. Only the Jewish people. It was the Jewish people that received the Balfour Declaration, and it was they who were granted by the United Nations the legal right to establish a state. It was the Jewish people that returned to its ancient homeland, for which it had prayed and longed for, for 2,000 years. For if we are talking about the Israeli "people" -- how is the right of a "people" that has existed for about 100 years greater than or equal to that of the Palestinians, who have been living on their land for about 300 years?

What a fantastic and poignant article! Every single Jew in the world should read it and make a stand, reclaim their heritage and be counted, especially those in Israel, especially at a critical time such as the current one.

The Looming Spectre

I have been following the events in Israel for the last 2 weeks with interest and trepidation, knowing full well the dates we are approaching. Hezbollah's entry into the fray and Israel's decisive reply in Beirut, only serve to heighten my fear of the future in the Middle East. Today is the 17th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar, a day that signals the start of a 3-week period of introspection which ends in the saddest day of our year, the 9th of Av. It was on the 17 of Tammuz that the people of Israel worshipped the Golden Calf and Moses broke the first set of Tablets of the Law; it was on this day that the First Temple ceased its daily worship services, signaling the beginning of its end; and it was on this day that, in Roman times, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Titus' forces, concluding with the destruction of the Second Temple on the 9th of Av. Now, on this 17th of Tammuz, 5766, the spectre of war looms menacingly over Israel, and I fear what the next three weeks can bring, especially what may happen on the 9th of Av. Last year the 9th of Av marked the last day of Jewish settlers in Gaza; the expulsions began early on the 10th. I truly am afraid of what may happen this year.

I have faith in G-d and know that all events are unfolding according to His will, but I am only human, and I fear even as I trust. I feel for the lives that have been lost so far, on both sides equally, though especially for my kinsmen and kinswomen in Israel. I hope that all leaders involved will have the presence of mind to act with restraint and intelligently to avoid a major conflict, that G-d will give them the wisdom to seek the welfare of the world and not selfish agendas.

I hope this is not the beginning of something we will all regret in the future. Though it already is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back In The Saddle

Well, I'm finally back home and almost caught up with the dreariness of day-to-day life. Work is just as tedious as I remember it when I left, which I guess is not bad, as I thought it would feel even worse. Nevertheless, I wish I could be jumping into another plane right now and taking off on a new adventure, rather than making about a thousand copies.

I always get this post-trip funk, and I now recognize it for what it is, so I don't pay much attention to it. I do want to make a number of changes in my life, though, so I'm hoping to channel some of this funk into the impetus needed for evolution.

I desperately need a new job, first and foremost; I just cannot work for my father-in-law anymore. It hasn't been good for my finances and it definitely hasn't been good for my emotional well-being.

I want to lose some weight and get in a little better shape. I felt good walking everywhere in Europe, and while distances here in Miami make that (or biking everywhere) a highly inadecuate option, I still want to maintain some of that momentum and see if I can get below 300 (yes, I am that heavy, to my own shame). I'd like to get a new bike and ride it whenever possible. We rode bikes in Brugge (Belgium) and it was a lot of fun, and Miami is almost as flat as the Netherlands and West Flanders (except for the really tall bridges).

I want to get back into the swing of things with Highmoon Media. I haven't neglected it, but I haven't kept up with it as I should. I understand and accept that with the amount of projects I have going I can't have the output that other publishers have, but I need to have an output, period. Targum Magazine is paramount, with other projects following it. Above all, however, is finishing the layout for Lonnie Ezell's novel, which has already gone on pre-sale.

Lastly, I want to get writing again. As I always do (or at least try to), I kept a journal during the trip, and this is the first travel journal that I actually finish, at least with the factual events of the trip. I still want to go back and write some more about a few particular subjects, but at least the trip itself has been recorded. I've decided to continue the journaling momentum and start keeping a journal once more. We'll see how that goes. More than that, I want to get writing again; story ideas have been flying around my head, in the distance yet distinctly perceivable, and I want to try to least them onto the paper (or computer screen, as the case may be).

Will all these resolutions yield results? I've no idea, but I'd like to try my best to have them all blossom.

Now I've got to go, cause my family is visiting down from Orlando, so I get to see my Mom, sister and two nephews!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Back Home

Just got home after a 9 hour flight from Amsterdam via Paris, and I am incredibly tired, sad that my vacation is over, and happy to be home.

I tried posting a couple of times from the road but the email posts didn't go through. Later on I'll post a few pics, as we need to sort through the roughly 800 pics we took combined.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Almost Out of Here

The day is going by super slow and I can't wait to get out so I can go home, finish packing and make it official that we're going on vacation!

On the plus side, I have had time to do a lot: I've caught up on all of my paperwork, leaving it all crystal clear for my boss while I'm out, and I managed to record, edit and send out a new episode of my podcast, The Gamer Traveler, this one focusing on the German town of Rothenburg (in honor of the World Cup and all).

I'm still psyched about the Miami Heat's victory last night. NBA Champions, that sounds great. Too bad that we'll miss the parade on Friday, but I'll be wandering around Brussels, so it's quite allright.

Ok, time to finish the dreary paperwork and catch the second half of the Holland vs. Argentina match on right now. Go Holland!!!

And GO USA tomorrow!!!

[The Gamer Traveler] Episode 02 - Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Show Notes for Episode 02 of The Gamer Traveler (As featured on the Dragon's Landing Podcast, episode 48):

Rothenburg Markt Platz and Rathaus (City Hall)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

The Gamer Traveler is brought to you by
Destination: Earth Travel Planners.
Helping you take the trip of a lifetime, today!

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to The Gamer Traveler at 6/21/2006 03:17:00 PM


15 Strong!!!
Congratulations to the Miami Heat on becoming the 2006 NBA Champions! GO HEAT!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Publishers Unite To Bring You The Future.


June 13, 2006--Dallas, TX and Miami Beach, FL: Reality Deviant Publications is proud to announce a joint venture with Higmoon Media Productions for the production of DaVinci Labs, a new series of OGL sci-fi products focusing on the ongoing development of a futuristic R&D company. DaVinci Labs is a leading manufacturer of cutting edge weapons systems, robotics, mecha and cybernetic technologies with a wide range of both civil and military applications.

Each release in the DaVinci Labs line will provide players and Gamemasters with a variety of new gear for sci-fi campaigns, including (but not limited to) new robot designs, new mecha and new cybernetic devices. In addition, each release will provide ongoing background information on the company, so as to make DaVinci Labs a dynamic organization in your campaign!

“I am very happy that Daniel Perez proposed a joint effort with my company to produce DaVinci Labs,” said David Jarvis, president of Reality Deviant Publications. “Highmoon Media Productions is a great company that produces top-notch gaming material, and Daniel’s ideas for the DaVinci Labs line of products are a perfect fit with my own views about science fiction gaming material. I’m very excited about this project and look forward to bringing DaVinci Labs to the public!”

“I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner,” said Daniel M. Perez, president of Highmoon Media Productions. “DaVinci Labs was a series I had been trying to get off the ground for a while but had not been able to for a variety of reasons. David Jarvis’ work on the OGL Mecha line convinced me Reality Deviant Publications would be the perfect partner to help me bring this line to reality, and after a couple of conversations, it was incredibly evident that we were both on the same page. Thanks to this partnership, DaVinci Labs will be better than I had originally envisioned.”

DaVinci Labs releases will be published by Reality Deviant Publications and distributed by RDP’s distribution partner, Ronin Arts. The first release on the new DaVinci Labs line is on schedule for early July, 2006, with regular releases afterwards.


For more information please contact:

Highmoon Media Productions Media Contact
Daniel M. Perez

Reality Deviants Publications Media Contact
David Jarvis

Monday, June 12, 2006

Still Go Team USA!

Ouch. That 3-0 loss vs. the Czech Republic hurts a lot. There's a reason the Czechs are ranked #2 in the world behind the Brazilians.

The team played Ok, but just Ok. They weren't driving the ball down to the box and were letting the very quick Czechs dictate the pace and direction of play.

Well, we just gotta shake this loss off and regroup for Saturday's match vs. Italy. We need to win against the Italians if we want our World Cup dreams to continue into the Round of 16.

Go team!


First game in less than 40 minutes!
Let's show our support and show the world the USA truly earned their place at the World Cup!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Ignorant American's Guide to the World Cup

From CBS "The Ignorant American's Guide to the World Cup"

I don't know much about soccer. I realize that it is, by a wide margin, the world's most popular sport. I'm told that players can't use their hands, which renders it a particularly sweaty equivalent of bobbing for apples. I understand that the game harkens back to my high-school days, in that it involves lots of guys running around like lunatics and mostly not scoring.

While having an ignorant American write this guide may well defeat its underlying purpose, rest assured that I've done my homework, interviewing several people with funny accents. Since labeling non-midwestern accents "funny" is one of the bona fide calling cards of American ignorance, I knew I was on the right path from the get-go. Let's dive right into it.

Read it. Now. :-)

I'm loving the World Cup so far!!! Can't wait for the USA debut game tomorrow Monday.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If I Kill My Cat Today (6/6/06), Does It Make It A Satanic Act?

My neurotic, crazy, half-angel/half-demon cat was having one of his trademarked bursts of insanity this morning, and it seems he bit the power cord of my laptop. I just found out because suddenly I get the message that the battery is running low and when I plug the power cord, nothing happens. An inspection of the cord itself revealed two cat fang-shaped holes poking through the rubber cover and into the insides of the cable. I just ordered a replacement and I hope it arrives soon, because until it does I am cut off from all of my work. The only thing I was able to transfer to a flashtick was the file for the novel I am laying out right now, and I had just finished loading my podcasts to my iPod. Hopefully by Thursday or Friday I'll have access to the computer again.

In the meantime I am going to pass the time thinking of ways to string up my cat...

URL Woes

As you can see above (on the main page, in case you get this via RSS), I've been having problems with the URL redirect for If you have arrived here by following that URL, please accept my apologies and proceed to use the link above to get to your actual destination.

I think the move away from will come a lot sooner than I had anticipated...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Not So Crappy Day Anymore

There was nothing wrong with the car, thank G-d, it just needed a new battery. Still a financial hit, but nowhere near as hard as I feared.

I did get to stay home, too, which is always a plus, and did quite a bit on the layout for Lonnie Ezell's novel. Didn't gather my notes for the podcast, but managed also to get some stuff done for my Rabbi (who has drafted me as his and the synagogue's unofficial secretary). Also got two patches sewn to my travel pack (about time, too, since I've had most of those since our Europe trip in 2001!).

Like I said, in the end it turned out it wasn't such a crappy day after all.

Crappy Day

You know what they say about staying in bed some days?
My day began ok; went to morning prayers and came back to have some breakfast before heading to work. My car started giving me problems yesterday (actually, it began a week ago, but it had gone away), not starting when I turned the ignition. A quick jumpstart fixed it the last time it happened, and so it did yesterday, though it didn't have nearly enough running time to recharge the battery. I figured if anything I would jumpstart it this morning, go to work, then drop it at the mechanic later on. No such luck.

The car simply did not start up today, even with a jumpstart. I'm afraid the alternator may be busted; could be the starter, though, I think. I really have no idea; there's a reason I have a degree in English and not in auto mechanics. It's one of the two, I know that much, which means that, either way, I'm in for a big slap to my already hurting wallet. All this with our vacation just 2 1/2 weeks away. I'm now waiting for the tow truck to take the car to the shop (thankfully, just down the street from my house).

I knew I should have stayed in bed.

On the plus side, maybe I can actually get some other things done here today, like doing the layout for Lonnie Ezell's novel, and gather the notes for the first episode of the Gamer Traveler podcast.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Out for Shavuot

I'll be offline for the next two days in observance of the holy day of Shavuot.

Everyone take care, have a great weekend, and to the Jews out there, Chag Sameach!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

X-Men 3 (No Spoilers)

I'll put this very simple: IT ROCKED!!!
I thought the movie was great, even if it was a little under the quality of the first two. I liked that the storytelling was gutsy (even if it did suffer from too-much-in-too-little-time sindrome at parts) and that actions had consequences, no apologies. The movie was more comic book-y than the parts 1 and 2, but it wasn't cartoonish, and I thoroughly enjoyed the various nods to fans of the comic. It wasn't flawless, and there were a few things I could have done without or with more of, but overall I left the theatre pleased and psyched, as did my non-geek wife.

I'll come back later with a spoilers-included full review.

X-Men: The Last Stand - 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Changes to the Blog

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about a couple of changes I have done to this blog and things that will be coming along.

First of all, I changed the layout to one that mirrored my personal webpage. Along with that, I have made this blog my personal site as well; going to now brings you here. Little by little I'm going to transfer the pages I had on my old site to backdated blog posts that I can then link here. I have started to use tags (linking to as well, but I forget to use them all the time, so they aren't as comprehensive as they should be yet. Eventually I want to move this blog to be hosted at my own server where I can then keep a copy of it for posterity.

Second, for about two weeks now I have been linking two other of my blogs to this one, the Miami Daily Photo blog, and the Destination: Earth Travel blog.

The Miami Daily Photo blog chronicles my city one picture a day and is part of the City Daily Photo network, covering cities all around the world. I have lots of fun with this project, and I've actually learned a lot about my city through it. Instead of redirecting the daily posts here, however, I will post a weekly summary of the previous week's daily photos, probably on Sundays or Mondays. That way I showcase my work on that blog without overwhelming this one.

The Destination: Earth Travel blog serves as a news blog for my travel company, where I post interesting travel news bits and updates about our company's services. These two blogs are specialized and expanded expressions of things I would normally cover here anyway, which is why I decided to link them up.

Third, I have now started a new project that combines my passion for gaming and travel, a podcast called The Gamer Traveler. This mini podcast will play as a feature inside the Dragon's Landing Podcast every two weeks, more or less, and will feature me talking about some site around the world, giving it the travel show treatment, then talking about ways to incorporate it into your games. I am very excited about the podcast, and thank Chuck and Lonnie at the Dragon's Landing Podcast for the opportunity. The show notes for the introductory episode are now available at The Gamer Traveler blog and future show notes will appear here automatically once posted there.

I'll most likely take the Highmoon Media Productions site to a blog format as well, though that will probably happen later in the summer, as June is going to be a very busy month: there's regular work, the Jewish holy day of Shavuot, finishing Targum Magazine #1, finishing the layout for Lonnie Ezell's Daughter of the Sun, overseeing the launching of the new joint project between Highmoon Media and Reality Deviants, overseeing the Montdargent line being developed by JC Alvarez, doing at least one podcast, and leaving for my summer vacation, two weeks in Holland and Belgium (aka. The Hellhoot Adventure, see the ticker on the front page).

Off I go. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] The Triple A

Completed in 1999 to replace the venerable Miami Arena, the American Airlines Arena (AAA) has taken over as Miami's main venue for pretty much any show in town, as well as the home for our local NBA team, the Miami Heat. Right now it is hosting the Heat's playoff games, thus the gigantic banner on the front. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/27/2006 11:05:00 PM

Friday, May 26, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Freedom Tower

Completed in 1925 as the headquarters of the Miami News & Metropolis Newspaper, the Freedom Tower became in the 1950's the Ellis Island of the Cuban exile community as they arrived in Miami fleeing from Castro's revolution. Located in Downtown Miami, the building was sold in the 70s and left abandoned until it became a center dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Cuban American community. The tower was slated for demolition to give way to new condos, but it was eventually donated to the Miami-Dade College and will soon reopen as a full-fledged museum. The Freedom Tower is another example of a Giralda tower (I've already shown you the Biltmore tower). Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/26/2006 01:27:00 PM

D&D 4th Edition Wish List

Berin Kinsman, at, has posted a Wish List of stuff he'd like to see on a possible (or rather, upcoming and innevitable) 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I think his list is excellent and right on the money on the kind of changes I'd like to see to the game, too, and we've been commenting back and forth about it. Go take a look and add your thoughts as well. Even if WotC/Hasbro (see what Berin has to say about this) doesn't use these suggestions, they might influence a better version of an OGL d20-derivative core system (and for the record, I think True20 comes pretty close already).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's new Freedom of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world and ever made, pulled into port here in Miami early this morning. The ship was christened last week in New York and has now sailed into its home port, from where it will carry 4375 passengers every time it sails out. Let me tell you, the thing is absolutely massive.

Confession: I did not take this pic, I took it from our local NBC affiliate. I did, however, see the ship this morning as I drove to work, but it was raining so I didn't chance taking one of my trademarked pics while driving. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/25/2006 11:13:00 PM

(Seemingly) Random Thought For Today

Recording a podcast is hard.

I mean, it's already hard talking to yourself without feeling like an idiot, wondering if you should stick to a script or wing it, and double-guessing whether anyone really cares to hear what you have to say, but on top of that, just getting the damned thing straight in the least number of takes possible is just hard. I have new-found respect for all those who do it on a weekly basis and make it seem so easy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Steping Onto the City

One of the things they had at Cuba Nostalgia was a large map of the city of Havana as it looked in 1953. It was actually one of the highlights of the show, as pretty much everyone went by it so they could find their street from before they left Cuba. My Mother-in-law was able to show us where it was she lived, almost down to the lot. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/24/2006 11:34:00 PM

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Icon

Took this pic at the Cuba Nostalgia show, where as you can probably imagine, Ernesto "Che" Guevara is not exactly the most loved of people. The word is a play on the Spanish for assassin, replacing a syllable with the Che's name, and it speaks loud and clear to how the Cuban exile community feels about this man, who for some reason, many other people in the world revere. This is as quintessentially Miami as our beaches or the Everglades. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/23/2006 11:24:00 PM

[Destination: Earth Travel Blog] Another Change to the Face of Europe


Another new country for Europe
Montenegro voted to break from Serbia, with 55.4 percent in favor

The joyful fireworks and street parties that exploded in the streets of Podgorica on Sunday night, as Montenegrins celebrated a vote in favor of independence, found few echoes Monday in other European capitals.

Read the full article here.

Though the EU government is not exactly happy with this new development, I kinda like the idea of having another new nation go independent and add to the tapestry that is Europe. Though I understand why the Eurocrats are meeting the news of Montenegro's independence with tepid resignation--this would mean yet another mini state (only 650,000 inhabitants!) that the EU must contend with politically as if it were a France or a Germany--I am glad that these former Soviet-block nations are coming into their own. For example, I never considered Yugoslavia "Europe;" it was just Russia on the Adriatic. But as independent nations, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and now Montenegro (as well as Serbia), all stretch the borders of what Europe is a lot further east, opening the doors to tourists worldwide to come and experience a new side of Europe, a Europe that is coming into its own, rebuilding and growing with the enthusiasm of a child let loose. The larger, established members of the EU have a duty to act as mentors and make sure these child-like energies are channeled correctly, but also to welcome and embrace these younger cousins, remembering the periods in their past when they, too, found themselves emerging as their own nations.

One thing is for certain, this World Cup will be the last one for the Serbia & Montenegro team. We'll see how they perform once the games begin on June 9.

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Destination: Earth Travel Blog at 5/23/2006 12:41:00 PM

Monday, May 22, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Cuba Nostalgia

Yesterday I went to the Cuba Nostalgia fair, a yearly event where the Cuba of yesterday is both remembered and celebrated. There was music, food, vendors, memorabilia, food, guests, food, artists and food. It was a really cool event, especially for me as a Puerto Rican married to a Cuban American girl, thus married into a Cuban family, as I got to see and experience a little bit of the Cuba that existed before Fidel screwed it up, the Cuba that my parents-in-law had to escape and can never regain. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/22/2006 09:24:00 PM

Sunday, May 21, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Lazy Sunday

Just a lazy Sunday afternoon (for a change) in Miami Beach. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/21/2006 11:05:00 PM

[Destination: Earth Travel Blog] New Ways to Fly

In the past week Airbus took on its maiden flight their new A380 jet, the world's biggest passenger jet ever made. The new Airbus A380 has two internal decks for passengers, and can carry up to 555 people in separate classes or up to 800 in an all-economy configuration. Airbus has stated that 159 orders for the new jet have been received, and Singapore Airlines will be the first to take the jet on a commercial flight on its Sydney-Singapore-London route.

This new plane is huge, and Heathrow Airport has already rigged one of their gates to handle the A380's double deck configuration. Perhaps this will mean lower air fares? One can hope! Check out some pics of the Airbus flying over England taken by regular folk on the steets.

And on another rather strange concept from Airbus, who seems to be bent on pushing the envelope as far as passenger jets go, we get the standing-room only airplane. It seems Airbus has been pitching this idea to the Asian carriers first, though none seems to have gone for it (yet). The idea is that instead of seats, you get these recliner platforms to which you are strapped. I can somewhat see the advantage, but I'm far from convinced. What I truly wonder is, will you still be able to recline those 3/4 inch, and will is still make no difference? More at the New York Times.

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Destination: Earth Travel Blog at 5/21/2006 01:38:00 PM

Saturday, May 20, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] 94th Aero Squadron

Located across Miami Internationa Airport, the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant is housed inside a large wooden building decorated in World War I and II memorabilia, such as authentic (and decommissioned) trucks, abulances, machine gun emplacements and this plane (don't know what kind). The coolest thing about the restaurant is the restaurant-long glass wall that allows you to see airplanes landing and taking off at the airport, right across the street. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/21/2006 12:11:00 AM

Friday, May 19, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Have It Your Way

For a very mundane shot today, here is the world corporate headquarters of Burger King, located right across from Miami International Airport. Back when I used to eat fast food, BK was certainly at the top for me. Today, they're just the company with the creepy KingPosted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/19/2006 04:56:00 PM

Thursday, May 18, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Sidewalk Graffiti

I had been looking around Miami for graffiti to photograph without much success when I arrived at my apartment and saw this drawn in chalk on the sidewalk by my 7 or 8-year-old neighbor. Hey, it counts! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/18/2006 11:09:00 PM

Evolution of Dance

Everyone should check out this video and cower at the recognition of how many of those they have actually done in the past or (gasp) still do!

[Miami Daily Photo] Nightime Pickup

I had to go pick up my wife at the airport earlier this evening, and I took this pic from the roof of the multilevel parking garage. It was the contrast of the various levels that called my attention (not to mention the big traffic jam I had avoided simply by paying to park). Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/17/2006 10:47:00 PM

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Broken Pier

This is at the Pelican Harbor Marina, same place where The Fin Project is installed. Originally you could walk out to the pier, but the walkway was destroyed during last year's hurricanesPosted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/16/2006 07:44:00 PM

Monday, May 15, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Lag B'Omer

Tonight starts the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer (literally, the 33rd day of the Omer), when Jews celebrate, among other things, the yartzeit (anniversary of death) of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a Second Temple-era scholar, and traditionally known as the author of the Zohar, the most sacred book of Jewish Mysticism or Kabbalah. We celebrate by lighting bonfires and by general merrymaking, precisely what we did at my synagogue earlier tonight, where I took this pic. I just love the color of those flames. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/15/2006 11:25:00 PM

Sunday, May 14, 2006

[Miami Daily Photo] Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to all the mothers of the world, including this busy one, above. Pic taken at Fuch's Park in south Miami. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Daniel M. Perez to Miami Daily Photo at 5/14/2006 06:51:00 PM

Friday, May 12, 2006

Things Back To "Normal" In Puerto Rico

From the AP: Puerto Rico Ends Government Budget Crisis

Well, it seems that finally things have been worked out in Puerto Rico and that there will be a semblance of normality back by Monday. A $741 million dollar loan has been approved, with repayment funds to come from various sources, including a yet-to-be-determined sales tax, the first overt one for the island (we normally pay an import tax and something akin to a Value Added Tax that is already added to an item's price, with few things avoiding it, such as books and other material with pre-printed prices).

It is an unfortunate truth that, in order for this solution to be reached, an independent panel had to be set up to break the stalemate of the two main political parties (we have a third one, but they really don't play that big a part). There was even a hint of a threat by the president of the main oppossition party that the Legislature was under no obligation to honor whatever solution was reached by the panel (this a day after stating for all the news cameras the exact opposite).

At least my Mom, along with 95,000+ public employees will be able to go back to work on Monday, and will indeed get paid their salary for the time they were out. Unfortunately, I still don't think things will be much better in the near future, nor that the administration will be able to avoid this fiasco from repeating itself next year, so I am urging my Mother to continue with her plans to move to Orlando, along with my sister and nephew, where they will be able to earn almost 1/3 more than what they earn right now doing exactly the same thing, with the added bonus of having the family together again (it is a lot easier, after all, to drive 4 hours to Orlando from Miami than to fly 2 1/2 to Puerto Rico).

The damage to my island, however, is done, and I don't know if there is any damage control that can take care of it. These shameful news have been broadcast worldwide, and that will impact our tourism industry, one of the (if not the) biggest sources of income for the island. (a news site for Travel Agents & Suppliers) reported that the tourism industry in the island was strong, despite the shutdown, though they make no mention of the ports having been blocked by a protest earlier this week, or the fact that the president of the Hotel and Tourism Association said that at least 20% of reservations had been cancelled due to the government shutdown. To that you can add the sudden and sharp decrease in the spending patterns of Puerto Ricans, who basically cut off all non-essentials from their shopping lists (and you need to understand, we are a nation of spenders), thus decreasing the amount of sales, which in turn decreased the operational budgets of many stores. To give a concrete example, my sister, who works retail at a women's accessory store, went from 40 hours/week to 20 hours this past week. That's a full one-half of her income right there, and she's not the only one I have spoken to in the same situation. And this in just two weeks! I don't even want to imagine what would have happened if this situation had gone on for a month or more.

I'm glad a solution was reached, but I am not confident enough anymore to trust the government of the island to take care of my family.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

LOST? You Betcha.

At the risk of lowering my Geek Cred Rating, I had never seen Lost, ever. Well, actually, I had; I saw the Pilot-1 and never turned back again. The show just completely failed to grab me on that first episode; I felt bored halfway through and was just not buying the whole scenario. Mind you, this was almost at the end of Season 1, after I had been sick of hearing everyone and their mother sing the praises of the show. Whenever people wanted me to give the show another try, I'd dismiss them with, "Maybe once I can see the whole season back-to-back it'll make sense." My friend Josh called me on it, and lent me the Season 1 DVD set after he was finished hooking his wife up on the show as well.

I'd had the set for about three months and kept putting it off; I mean, have you see the size of the box? But since last week my wife has been working late completing a project, so I broke down and popped the DVD in the player, to give the show a second chance. Originally I was going to write this two days ago, when all I had seen was disc 1, the first 4 episodes, but yesterday I got through till ep. 8 (Confidence Man). The verdict?

Hung, to be honest. I have not become a rabid fan as of yet, but I am certainly intrigued by the mystery of the island. Unfortunately I know some stuff from season 2 simply from hanging out with friends and from blogs and forums I frequent that take away some of the mystery of the discoveries in season 1, though I am still intrigued in how those things get to happen.

The show so far is very reminiscent of another cult classic, (and an underappreciated, and undercredited, show) Twin Peaks, in how the story is about a mystery that unfolds through flashbacks (the murder of Laura Palmer and the events that lead to it, including the prequel movie, Fire, Walk With Me), mixes apparent supernatural stuff into an otherwise mundane situation (the lodges, the Little Man from Another Place, the giant, the owls, etc.), and in how it utilizes metareferences in order to enhance the in-show experience (Welcome to Twin Peaks guide, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer novel, etc.). Of course, Twin Peaks did it some 15 years ago, and I've yet to see any show that comes even close to matching the sheer brilliance of the concept and execution (though we do need to ignore a good part in the middle of season 2). I digress, however.

I will give this to Lost: I want to keep on watching now. Even with the stuff I know from season 2, the mystery is still there, and I want to be able to catch up so I can be on par with most others out there (and so that everytime I do a search on Lost I don't have to skip over so much of the content) and see what else comes out of it. Will I watch the weekly episodes? Too early to tell, but I'll be awaiting the DVDs of season 2.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My First Wikipedia Article

While posting my Miami Daily Photo, I found that Wikipedia did not have an article on The Barnacle Historic State Park in Coconut Grove, so I created it! Click below to see my first Wikipedia article:

There isn't much beyond the basic info from the official site, but I'll add more text later. The picture is mine, however, and I have released it into the Public Domain.

Pretty cool! Until this point I had yet to find a hole in Wikipedia's knowledge base.