Friday, February 26, 2016

It's all a matter of semantics!

The every-five-year presidential campaign season is upon us in Perú, with elections on April 10th. Among the leading candidates are Keiko Fujimori, daughter of previous president Alberto Fujimori who fled the country during his third term in office and is now serving jail time for corruption, Alan García, who has previously served twice, and who fled the country after his second term and returned when the statute of limitations expired, and a fellow named Cesar Acuña Peralta, who has had a career in education.  
Señor Acuña has based his campaign on the promise of better education for the citizens of Perú, a noble and much-needed goal.  
Acuña  has received two masters degrees, and was awarded a doctoral degree from the University of Madrid, Spain.  However, it has come to light that much of his 2009 thesis supporting that degree was plagiarized. When asked for comment, he said:
     "Plagiarism, for example, is to take something that is not yours.  I say that it is not plagiarism because the title of the thesis is original.  The conclusions of the investigation are original. Therefore, if the title of the thesis and the conclusions are original, it's not plagiarism!"  Well, Duh!  He was also quoted as saying, "It wasn't plagiarism.  I just copied it."
In addition, a book on education is published by the university that Señor Acuña founded and owns, at times with a famous journalist as the author, and at other times with Acuña listed as the co-author, and at other times as the sole author.  The original author, an Otoniel Alvarado, said, "The book is MINE, I don't know what happened to it later."
At an anti-corruption conference (!), Mr. Acuña remarked, while explaining what happened with his thesis, "In the first place, I refuse the word 'plagiarism.'  As I have always said, it was an omission, and this was 25 years ago when I still didn't know that I would be a presidential candidate.  C'mon people!  Applaud for me!"  (Cuz, like, if I'd known I was going to be a candidate, then I would have plagiarized more carefully or something.) 
While we hope that your presidential campaign season is doing better, we have access to Google News, and we know better.
David and Paula

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Bells of Huánuco, or why I gave up and bought earplugs

One of the principal cities in the Mission is Huánuco, found 6-7 hours driving time north of Huancayo.  There are about 180,000 citizens, and roughly 60 of our young missionaries work there.  We visit the city about once a month for one reason or another, and we usually stay at the Gran Hotel Huánuco, which was built eleven years before I was.
It is an example of faded Latin elegance and charm.  One of its only disadvantages is its location. While it is on the main plaza of Huánuco, it is also near the Cathedral of Huánuco.
Unfortunately, for all the good intentions that went in to its design, this religious building is a prime example of not-so-good late 1960's architecture, showing little Latin elegance or charm, and from the outside more closely resembles a movie theatre or an ice skating rink.  
Different tastes in architecture can certainly exist, but whoever designed the tones for the carillon should be tied to a bench in the main plaza for punishment and made to listen at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM.  
The aural display begins appropriately enough with the booming tones of a large cast bell, but after three gongs, a sound which most closely resembles trash can lids being used for cymbals begins and lasts for at least half a minute.  If you don't believe me, please click on the link below:

Like I said....

We hope that your cathedral bells sound better, and that you are never in Huánuco, Peru at 6:00 AM or PM.
Dave & Paula

PS  It really, really really goes on that long.  And sounds that bad.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dang! I'm still older than she is!

Is it just that each year is a smaller percentage of the total, or does time really go faster the longer you've been in this phase of existence?  Oh, well, it was Paula's birthday on the 5th of February.
So what did she get for her birthday?  I offered my undying love and respect, she rolled her eyes, called me tacaño (cheapskate), and said, "Nah, I don't need anything, and besides, we'd have to pack it home."
However, one of our office staff, Elder Islas, is from Veracruz, Mexico, and happens to be somewhat of a chef.  When Paula heard that he knew how to make mole poblano, she yelled, "I want summa that!"
So, Elder Islas and Elder Holmes spent a couple of hours in the crazy market and showed up with bags full of all sorts of stuff and got started.
I don't know how many of you have had the good fortune of eating real-live mole poblano.  I was introduced to it 40+ years ago in California when I was a young missionary.  Since then, I've occasionally purchased a jar of Doña María, but it just isn't the same.
I remember a Mexican mom in California commenting that mole is kind of like "walking around the kitchen and throwing in a little of everything you can find."  If you think she was kidding, here are the ingredients for Elder Islas' version:
In case you're not up on your Spanish food names, there's everything from three types of chiles, chocolate, peanuts, raisins, bananas, almonds, prunes, pork butter, garlic, tomatoes, sesame seeds, cinnamon, onions, and a bunch of other goodies.
Pretty soon, the kitchen smelled exotically heavenly.
After several hours of effort, (the Elders sacrificed a lot of their Preparation Day for Paula), the concoction was ready.
I didn't get any pictures of everyone chowing down, as I was busy making sure I didn't get the short stick on the mole portions.  It really was the best I'd ever had.
The Elders outdid themselves, buying a cake,
and adding the proper number of candles.
It really was a happy birthday!
Paula got birthday wishes from kids and friends, from every continent except Africa and Antarctica.
We hope that your mole poblano turns out half as good as Elder Islas', and that you get to spend as many birthdays with someone half as good as Paula.  You'd be lucky on both counts.
Dave & Paula