Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The First Decade of the 21st Century

I've been reading a lot of "Best of the Decade" lists as the 2000s come to a close and I figured I should make my own. So in order of cause-and-effect:

1. Travel! In the past 10 years I've been to England, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Mexico, and Belize and New York (twice)!

2. Marge! We met on our trip to England, which is probably the best thing that's happened to me this decade...

3. Moved out! Getting out of my parents' house was pretty defining. Although it was tough at times (trying to make rent with very little money) it did allow me to grow up and become a tad more responsible.

4. Marge and I got our own place! Not that rooming with Louis wasn't fun, but getting our own place is more satisfying.

5. Marriage! After 5 years of dating I proposed and a year later we were married. Has been great since.

6. Librarian! After flopping around for a few years after getting my bachelors. I finally stumbled into my ideal career, so I got a Masters in Library and Information Science.

7. Got a new car! All my previous cars were clunkers held together with gum and string and would overheat the second I left Hialeah.... My library job allowed me to get a 2009 Toyota Matrix.

8. Pregnant! Found out Marge was pregnant, which was great and scary all at once.

9. It's a girl! The second our Schrödinger's Fetus became a girl the prospect of fatherhood became more real.

10. Alan got married! Who would've thought? Really happy for him though so it's going on my list.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar was Awesome

Just saw Avatar and I loved the movie. Sure it may have the plot of FernGully... but it was incredibly fun.

James Cameron was never a brilliant writer. What he is is a brilliant fucking director who uses cutting-edge technology to make mind blowing action movies. We've all seen Avatar before... we've just never seen it like this!

It's Pocahontas and Last of the Mochicans for sure... but it's also Star Wars, and Tarzan, and Braveheart, and Jurassic Park and Battle Tech, and Thundercats!

James Cameron doesn't just borrow from all these stories... he steals them and makes them his own. That's why I loved Avatar because it was all the movies I've ever loved rolled up in one big beautiful package.

Also the science in this sci-fi flick is top notch... Cameron really did his homework.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bald Eagle in Pembroke Pines

Bald Eagle
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
After months of stalking the nest and bad timing, I finally got a pic of one of the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagles. This is the female and she's about to lay eggs any day now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rendezvous with Rama Would Make a Great TV Series

I'm currently reading Rendezvous with Rama and I'm struck with how modern the writing style feels. It's funny, most of the time when I read a good book I think of it as a movie or wonder how a film adaptation would look, but this... this feels like Lost. Probably because it's about regular people thrown into a completely alien environment and having to adjust to survive.

I know the Wikipedia article says David Fincher was attached to a Rama movie that may or may not be made and I'm sure it would be great, but I would love to see what someone like J.J. Abrams or Ron Moore or Joss Whedon would do with a Rama TV show, where they would have time to slowly build on the characters and the mysteries week after week. If the Syfy Channel ever decides to cancle it's joyless and uninteresting Stargate: Universe I hope they try to produce a Rama series.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sophie's Baby Shower

Alex & Mai
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
We had Sophie's baby shower at Perricone's Market Place and Cafe this Saturday and it went without a hitch, great location, great food and fun games. It was really nice to celebrate Sophie's arrival with family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hialeah Park Grand Reopening!

Quarter Horses
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
After 10 years of ruins the old Hialeah Park Racetrack is finally reopened to the public this Saturday and the place was packed with nostalgic and curious visitors. This might sound cheesy but it sort of filled me with pride. El Hipodromo was such a big part of my life growing up in Hialeah, not that we would go there that often, but it was always present. Although people would bash other aspects of the city, Hialeah Park was always spoken of with pride. It was our Vizcaya.

I went a few months ago when it was still in poor shape (see pics here) and the difference was palpable. I've got to give it to the people who resuscitated the old place... they did a fantastic job in a really short time.

My one suggestion to the owner and the City of Hialeah is that they create another entrance to the place, maybe on Palm Ave. One entrance just doesn't accommodate the number of visitors and is the source of bottlenecks and aggravation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hainish Cycle

Recently I've been reading Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish novels and I'm really enjoying them. I don't know what moved me to pick them up, but I had a similar reading frenzy a few years ago where I read all of Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robot novels in rapid succession.

The novels aren't really a series in that the story doesn't flow seamlessly between them. They're more like separate books set in the same universe. The stories are very sparse on the hard science fiction ideas, but each novel is full of great social commentary, which reminds me of the Star Trek episodes that were supposed to be allegories for the issues of the time. I wish I could say that the issues it deals with (i.e. race, sexuality, politics) are quaint and outdated, but unfortunately they remain current.

So far I've read Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions, and The Dispossessed. I still have The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World is Forest, Four Ways to Forgiveness, The Telling and a few short stories to go. Exile and Dispossessed being my favorite so far. I'll post more as I read more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Life on Mars

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Martian meteorite surrenders new secrets of possible life

This is fantastic news. Ever since they discovered the bacteria-like remains in this Martian rock I knew it had to be alien life from Mars' wetter past. I'm really glad that continued scrutiny has strengthened the evidence. For me this bring up two questions.

1) Is there still life on Mars today... maybe deep in underground caves? Life, especially bacterial life, is almost impossible to get rid of. Even LYSOL only kills 99.9% of germs and that surviving .1% will multiply. If life evolved on Mars, it's probably still clinging there.

2) Are we descended from this Martian life? We know bacteria have these magnetite crystals. Bees, fish and birds also use magnetite to navigate and we humans have magnetite in our brains. So do we all spring from these tiny Martians that traveled here millions of years ago on rocks?

Can't wait to learn more!

Update! Here are a few links provided by Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log:

Times Online (quotes McKay plus peer reviewer saying it's not a "smoking gun." Amen to that.)

Scientific American (quotes Colin Pillinger of Beagle 2 fame)

Research from the ALH84001 team, via NASA Watch:

NASA Watch

More discussion from BAUT Forum:

Updated Again! Discovery News:

Monday, November 16, 2009


Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Got a picture of a cooler looking woodpecker at Tree Top Park in Davie! This guy was hammering away at the tree and you could hear him a mile away.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Safari Paint

I spent the entire weekend painting cute animals for Sophie's safari-themed room. I took the design of the animals from the bedding set. At first I was hesitant to do it myself cause I thought I was going to mess it up. Drawing them wasn't the problem but I'm not too comfortable with paint and brushes. Still, I think they came out pretty good and of course the best part is that I can now point to them and say I did them myself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maternity photos at the Ancient Spanish Monastery

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Went to the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach to take some maternity shots of Marge now that she's starting to show a bit. This one was my favorite photo of the day (if not ever!). It had been raining all morning and we thought we weren't going to be able to take a single shot but the second we got there the skies cleared up and we had the whole place to ourselves.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Geisha & Ninja

geisha & ninja
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Marge and I went all Japanese this Halloween and I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. She really pulled off the Geisha look (and 6 months pregnant) and looked fantastic. I don't look particularly Asian, but since I was covered from head-to-toe it didn't really matter.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Building the Private Space Ships of the Future!

It's been a while since I've posted anything space related... I've been reading up on all things private space sector and there are a few folks I'm keeping my eye on:

Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, Armadillo Aerospace, Ad Astra Rocket Company, and Blue Origin (This last one is pretty mysterious and not much is known about their progress.)

I completely believe that these private aerospace companies are what's really going to get humanity into space in a big way in the next couple of decades. I admit most of these companies are in their infancy, but they're developing relatively quickly and cutting deals with NASA and finding funding... I have no doubt that most if not all will grow into major players in space. We're in the space version of the late 70s just before the big Internet boom of the early 90s. Trust me, once these guys take off (or blast off) they're going to play off each other and compete and it's going to snowball.

It's not a huge stretch of the imagination to envision a near future with ships routinely flying around the solar system made up of standardized components developed by these different companies. The ship could have a version of SpaceX's Dragon command module as the bridge, Bigelow's BA 330 habitats for crew and cargo, Ad Astra's powerful VASIMR ion drives propelling them to distant targets, and once there dropping down with Armadillo landers!

I, for one, am looking forward to my retirement cruise to Mars on one of these ships.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Visited the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Del Ray Beach yesterday and I have admit I was very impressed. The whole place was bigger than most of the preserves in Pembroke Pines and it was teeming with wildlife. I was talking to a guy there and he said that most of the birds aren't even there yet and tend to show up when it gets cooler like the start of November.

I gotta go back. Too bad it's kinda far from my house.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Barnacle

Mai on bench
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Marge and I spent the day at the Grove. We had lunch at GreenStreet Café, which is always good and walked around the Barnacle this Sunday. It was nice. The longer I was there the more I wanted a cute house surrounded by a hardwood hammock... preferably with on a bay or a lake.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sophie Aden Hernandez

Sophie Aden Hernandez
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Just found out our baby is a girl!Also last night Marge felt it move for the first time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cardinal takes off

Cardinal takes off
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
This has to be the coolest picture I've taken by far. I love the colors, the position of the bird, the sheer luck it took to take it! Very proud.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Got the Woodpecker!

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
It isn't the most crisp picture I've taken, but I blame the woodpecker who was in the shade of the tree's trunk!

Still need to get that gray fox and maybe I'll step up my avian goal up to bald eagle!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Amature Photography

I've become quite the nature photographer since getting my new Canon- PowerShot 12.1 Megapixel Digital Camera (PowerShot SX20 IS). The camera is great and I highly recommend it. The one thing I'm not liking about it is that it takes crap night shots. Don't know if it's me or a setting issue, but I haven't been able to take a single night picture worth a damn. If anyone out there has a solution for this please let me know!

The nature photography started out as a way for me to practice taking pictures with the new camera, but it's become a hobby of sorts. The great thing is that Broward County has all these awesome wetland mitigation and conservation banks all over the place with boardwalks where visitors can see all sorts of native birds and wildlife. I find myself going out trying to capture more and more images of plants and animals. It's almost like hunting!

Right now my goal is to get a picture of a gray fox and a woodpecker. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kayaking at Oleta River

Mai and Alex
Originally uploaded by alexthoth

I went kayaking on my 31st birthday weekend with my 4 and a half week pregnant wife and my bestfriend, Frank, and his girlfriend, Christina. We went to Oleta River State Park down 163rd street. This park is a very nice slice of nature in the middle of urban (suburban?) North Miami Beach, with kayaks, biking trails, picnic areas, a beach ...

The kayaks were a bit pricey($35 bucks for an hour and a half), but we had a great time, the weather was awesome, and the place was beautiful.

Here are more pics.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hialeah Park RaceTrack

Club House
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Went to the old Hialeah Racetrack and took some pretty cool pictures. The place is still beautiful, but now in a rundown haunted sort of way. I'm surprised to see the flamingos are still there.

Eventually they'll renovate it and make it all nice, so I'm glad I got some pics of when it was in disrepair.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Baby Bump

Baby Bump
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
4 months and a week into the pregnancy, Marge is finally starting to show. Don't know what the baby is yet so we've been calling it Kiwi. We should know by next week though... wonder if the name Kiwi will stick?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Key Biscayne

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Me and the wife went to El Farito in Key Biscayne and took lots of pics. It was pretty cool, first time I'd ever gone up into the lighthouse's watch room.

More pics!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Backyard Swamp

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Bought a camera last week, a Canon Powershot SX 20 IS, and I've been taking lots of pictures of the marshes around my home. I'm really enjoying the zoom lens! Check them out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Mummy

To Live Again...
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Just a dumb little comic strip I've been doing during my free time. Check out some more here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm gonna be a dad!

Ultrasound 7-20-09
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
I'm still in a state of mild shock and can't think of anything clever to write...

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Brother Got Married

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
And I was basically the photographer. We did an engagement photo shoot at Fairchild Botanical Garden. Aside from the killer heat and the million swarming skeeters it was fun. I think I got some pretty good shots considering the horrible conditions.

The wedding was at the Hialeah Courthouse.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Transformers 2 = Suck

Man, I was totally disappointed in Transformers 2. It was way too long, had very little story, was too silly without actually being funny. I hated that they spent so much time on those fucking annoying ghetto “twins”, when they finally introduced very cool female motorcycle bots only to do nothing with them! Not to mention the Autobots from the first movie got next to zero screen time.

And don't get me started on G.I. Joe (which they showed a preview for). That movie looks like digitized shit projected on a screen! Part of what I liked about G.I. Joe was that each of the characters were crazy individuals, but they were the best in their field. I loved that one of them wore a football jersey, on had a scuba suit (at all times...), and one had a fucking wolf!

This movie striped everything that made them cool, cut off their collective balls, and gave them uniform black rubber onesies and Iron Manlite accelerator suits!

Also, is it just me or is there no Cobra Commander in this movie? It seems like Destro is the big bad...

It's only a matter of time before they rape Thundercats!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aquatic Ape Theory

Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Man, I love the beach (not so much the sand that sticks to everything) but the ocean. Kinda makes you wonder if all the proponents of the Aquatic Ape Theory aren't on to something.

This is the first time it's ever occurred to me to bring my camera to the beach and since it's not water proof it was a bit tricky.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Originally uploaded by alexthoth
The Hot Air Balloon Ride I bought all the way back in March finally happened! It was well worth the wait though. The view of downtown Miami, rural Homestead, and the Everglades from 38,000 feet in the air (unencumbered by an airplane window) was absolutely amazing. I felt like a superhero flying around up there.

More pics here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


No, the title to this blog isn't a typo. To be honest, I found Caprica pretty boring. I don't really care for any of the characters and there wasn't enough sci-fi in it at satisfy my hunger geekery. The best part of the thing was the last 5 minutes, which gives me a tiny bit of hope for the series, but I'm really not holding my breath.
Overall, I give it three blahs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Got Something Published

A short comic I did a while back with artist JC Grande just got published by the anthology Shrunken Wool. Pretty neat! To buy a copy just click here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 80s were good to me

(Note: I'm the one in the Spider-Man sweatshirt with matching Spider-Man sneakers.)

I saw this pic again in like forever and I was flooded with nostalgia. I realized a huge part of my childhood memories involved my brother, my cousins, and I staying at our grandma's house after school (notice the plastic slipcover on the avocado green furniture) and just watching cartoons like Voltron and Thundercats, playing with toys, and just running around wreaking havoc... Ah, just remember my cousin Jordan (far right in the pic) getting beat with an extension cord for chopping down all of my grandpa's banana trees with a machete while we were playing "ninjas".

Man, I had a great childhood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Caribbean Cruise

Just got back from a week-long cruise of Mexico, Belize, and the far away land of Key West! I got to see lots of great Mayan structures, which I'm a total geek for. Although I probably enjoyed visiting the ruins of Altun Ha and Tulum the most, I have to admit just lying on the beach, drinking Coronas and eating chips and salsa all day was pretty nice too. Here are some pics of the trip.

Man, it was really awesome. I didn't want to get off the boat. A team of five Filipinos had to drag me out of my cabin on Sunday morning!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spanish Inquisition #2

Second strip is up. The set up is a bit more complicated and the colors are bit more sophisticated (heh, we added the color blue) and it looks great!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Battlestar Series Final

Okay, it’s been a week since this amazing show ended and I haven’t deposited my 2 cents so here they are. Basically, I liked the ending despite it committing a lot of the 7 Deadly Sins of Religion in Sci-fi, but I didn’t love it and that’s a shame.

I forgave the lame ploy of having the dead pilot release the nukes and destroy the Cylon Colony, or that Starbuck was a “material” angel all along, or that virtual Baltar and Six were not virtual at all, but fraking angels as well. I forgave all the useless flash backs to pre-nuked Caprica that added nothing to the characters when this time could have been used to resolve some current character issue like Six and Tigh dealing with the death of their child and splitting up. I for gave all that, but I just couldn’t forget it so I couldn’t bring myself to love the finale.

I did enjoy the rescue of Hera a lot and I loved that they landed on ancient Earth and mingled with the Cro-Magnons, which started modern humanity. I just love shit like that. I also like that Hera is the Mitochondrial Eve, which means all humans alive today are a little bit Cylon.

But the highlight of the episode has to be the scene of Adama giving Roslin his wedding ring. That is what made this episode at all satisfying to me. It wasn’t much, but it was powerful.

Here’s hoping the shoe-horned spin-off, prequel Caprica lives up to the standard left behind by this messy, imperfect, awesome show.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mayorga and Haplogroup R1b1b2

Marge’s dad just got back the Y-DNA results from the National Geographic's Genographic Project and it turns out he is Haplogroup R1b1b2 (formerly R1B1c), which is pretty common throughout Europe, but very common in the Iberian Peninsula. Here are some stats from Wikipedia:

Welsh 89%, Basque 88%, Irish 81%, Northern Portuguese 81%, Catalan 79%, Scottish 77%, English 75%, other Spanish 70%, Dutch 70%, Belgians 63%, Southern Portuguese 60%, Ossetians 43%, Italian 40%, German 39%

While doing some research on the Mayorga surname, which comes from a town in Spain and is a common surname in Nicaragua, I found this possible ancestor:

"Don Alonso Diaz de Mayorga y Arregui was born in Seville during the first half of the sixteenth century. His father was from Old Castile and his mother was Basque. He arrived in Nicaragua around 1608 and actively participated in the design of the new city Santiago de los Caballeros de León as the previous city had been destroyed by the eruption of the volcano, Momotombo, which forced the residents and authorities to seek a new site for relocating the city. It was relocated as the new town, consolidated on the site is now known as Santiago de los Caballeros de León. Don Alonso was one of those who collaborated on the layout of the streets of the new city, the location of the new church and buildings that would house the offices of the new authorities."

It seems most Nicaraguen Mayorgas are decended from Don Alonso Díaz de Mayorga y Arregui. The "Díaz de Mayorga" surname survived for like 9 generations before getting shortened to just Mayorga.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spanish Inquisition # 1 is up!

After having a conversation with the wife about the awesomeness of Blankets and Scott Pilgrim, she challenged me to write a comic that DID NOT involve superheroes or aliens or gods... so I took the challenge and Spanish Inquisition was born. Also I'd never written a comic strip (4 panels, self-contained stories) so I took that challenge too. I hope I can keep it up. It's a little like writing a haiku, but it's also very fun.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Watching the Watchmen (Then reading the book.)

I’ve had time to digest the new Watchmen movie and I can’t shake how much I enjoyed it. I was one of those people who thought Alan Moore’s comic was unfilmable, but you know what? I was wrong. I think this film is a great compliment to the comic. Does it lose some of the depth and nuance and detail of the comic, of course it does, but that’s not unique to this title. Most book-to-film adaptations loose something. It’s just the nature of the transition. But I think Zack Snyder did an excellent job and this movie will live on as a gateway drug for the comic.

And that’s something to consider. I was introduced to the comic when I was in (or around) high school and the film had to live up to that. It was an uphill climb, but I’ve noticed a lot of people (and not just high schoolers) who have seen the movie first, after all Hollywood movies have a vastly larger audience than comic books, and were blown away. Then they picked up the trade (sorry, I can’t bring myself to call it a graphic novel) and delved deeper into the world of Watchmen. The film acts as an appetizer to the comic’s main course and that's a good and satisfying direction to go.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Crandon "Jurassic" Park

Tree over water
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Went to Crandon Park for the first time in my life and really liked it. There's an abandoned zoo with all sorts of feral birds and reptiles running around (and since birds are nothing but feathered dinosaurs... That's where the Jurassic comes in!) We walked around the old zoo for a while, snapped a few pictures , then went to the beach where we encountered more birds. It was a pretty cool afternoon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Canoeing with Marge en la Manigua

Back seat driver (actually she steers.)
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Marge and I went canoeing the other day in Everglades National Park. If you click on the link you can see more pics of gators and herons and shit.

Traveling through this freaking thick ass manigua and bumping into snakes, crocodiles, and gators at every turn... I kept wondering how the Native Americans that lived here (the Tequesta, Calusa, then the Seminoles) managed to actually live here! Still, it was very cool and very beautiful.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Atoll at Sunset

Atoll at Sunset
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Spent Valentine's Day at Mathenson Hammock Park with the wife. We had a picnic, waded in the sea, hiked through a mangrove forest, and took pictures. It was a nice romantic day and given these tough economic times it's was also pleasantly cheap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spanish Inquisition

First rough look at Spanish Inquisition, a comic strip about a geeky Cuban-American kid dealing with overly religious parents. By Frank Ruiz, Chris Turner, and myself. The strips will be loosely based (and by that I mean exaggerated) on my own and Frank's childhood.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fallen Tree

Fallen Tree
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
Tree Top Park... This tree fell and kept on growing, if that isn't insperational, I don't know what is.

I still can't get used to the idea that there's such cool places near where I live. Here's a link to more pics of Tree Top Park.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Castillo de San Marco

Castillo de San Marco
Originally uploaded by alexthoth
The wife and I went to St. Augustine (the oldest city in the U.S.) this Dec. Although it is very touristy it still has a genuine sense of history. Here's more pics of the trip.

Also, there was something very, um, vindicating(?) in the fact that the people who built the first successful colony in the U.S. were essentially me people (the Spanish). It was awesome to see houses and streets and restaurants with names like Gonzalez, Alvarez, Menendez, and yes, Hernandez. Take that, John Smith!