Sunday, December 31, 2006

El año que viene en Cuba!

"Spanish New Year's Eve (Nochevieja, or Fin de Año) celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, traditionally including shrimp and lamb or turkey. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. It is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each chime of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year. Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the 12 grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne, or alternatively with cider."

The 12 grapes are eaten not only in Spain, and I look forward to the time when my wife Yuliet and I can celebrate this tradition together, hopefully in a Cuba Libre.

To my friends all over the world, I love you, I miss you, Happy New Year, les quiero mucho, les extaño muchisimo, Feliz Año 2007...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Veselé Vánoce a šťastný nový rok

The Czechs and Slovaks get off to a good start with a traditional house cleaning at the beginning of December. This is not ordinary house cleaning, but a week long effort.

The Christmas Holiday season officially begins with St. Nicholas Day. This marks the start of baking Vanocni Cukrovi (Christmas candies and sweets). Each family has its special goodies to share with other families and friends. Part of the Holiday includes visiting friends and celebrating together. It is customary for those who had quarreled during the year to forgive each other publicly.

A tree is bought, secretly hidden away; no one is allowed to see it until after dinner on December 24th. Only the head of the household trims the tree, done on Christmas Eve morn, and only he or she can see the tree until that magic moment when Jezisek, the Christ child arrives (which always happens after dinner).

The Christmas tree is decorated with handmade ornaments using walnut shells wrapped in colored paper or gilded. Some use eggshells decorated to look like fish or angels. Colored pin wheels resembling snowflakes and stars are hung by a thread. A small crèche is placed at the base of the tree. Gifts are put under the tree before 6 o’clock in great secrecy.

One December 23rd people go out and buy the traditional Christmas carp for dinner. Several days earlier, huge wooden barrels appeared in the cities with live carp swimming around in them. The buyer points to the fish he or she wants and the fun of trying to catch it begins. Most often the carp is taken home alive and allowed to swim in the family bathtub until Christmas even morning. Best cuts of the carp are covered with flour, dipped in egg, covered with bread crumbs and fried. Lesser cuts are baked with dried prunes and served with dumplings mixed with butter-fried cubes of bread. Some carp is made in plain gelatin as Rosol and served cold as salad. The head and tail are wrapped in white cloth, boiled, and the stock is made into soup with vegetables and served with croutons.

There was caroling in the streets and homes on Christmas. Sometimes the carolers carried miniature Bethlehem scenes along. It was customary to invite them in for a glass of wine and vanocka, a sweet bread made with nuts, raisins and candied fruit. There is much dancing and eating after the fasting which ends on Christmas Eve. Sometimes little boys dressed as The Three Kings to out singing for treats.

Dinner begins at 6 o’clock with members of the family standing and praying together, and then when the mother gives the signal, they all sit down at the same time to dinner and no one is allowed to get up, no matter what ! They may share aplatky and honey before the meal. Christmas Eve supper might include pearl barley soup with mushrooms, carp, potato salad, fruits and decorated cookies. In some families there is a custom of putting a small coin under each person’s plate to symbolize wealth in the coming year, and that coin is carried around for good luck. When dinner is over they all stand at the same time and wish each other a Joyous Christmas Stastne a Vesele Vanoce. Then they embrace and finally rush to the tree and the gifts are distributed and opened. A quiet evening is spent until Midnight Mass.

Sometimes the children slept on a bedding of straw on the floor under a table or the Christmas tree. This custom allowed them to take part in the Lord’s poor and humble birth.

Christmas dinner might consist of giblet soup with noodles, roast goose with dumplings and kraut, braided coffee cake, kolace, fruit, nuts and coffee. Some games were played. One is the placing of tiny lit candles into nutshells and floating them in a tub or water; the player whose candle burns the longest is the winner.

The Christmas tree represents a symbolic ladder to the heavens. As a result of this, ornaments are hung on the tree depending on what their symbolic position is in life. As an example, vegetables and fruits are closest to the earth. Therefore, they are hung on the lower third of the Christmas tree. Houses, churches, people and animals should be placed in the middle region of the tree. Birds, angels, moons and stars should hang from the middle of the tree to the top to symbolize their closeness to the heavens.

Angel: Represents the angel who appeared before Mary, asking her to be the mother of Jesus

Popcorn: Signifies the rope Joseph held as he led the donkey to Bethlehem

Walnuts: Are for the gifts from the three wise men

Oranges: A special fruit only available during the Christmas season

Wheat: A symbol of life, prosperity and nourishment

Cloth as the base of the tree: Represents Jesus’ swaddling clothes

Apples: Remind us of Adam and Eve

White dove: Placed near the top of the tree to evoke peace

Carrot: Often given to a new wife to bring good luck in the kitchen

Mushrooms: Considered to be lucky and mean good fortune is at hand

Pine cones and evergreen trees: Symbols of eternal life

Corn: Symbolizes prosperity, fertility

Pickle: Hidden on the Christmas tree

Whoever finds it first on Christmas morning, gets an extra gift left by St. Nicholas (Svaty Mikulas).

Houses and Churches: Symbols of village life

Farm Animals: Traditional symbols of everyday village life

Birds: Symbols of joy and cheerfulness

Swan: Symbol of gracefulness

Pineapple: Symbol of friendship and hospitality

Owl: Symbols of wisdom

Musical Instruments: Symbolizes the joy that music and singing brings during the Holiday season

Stars, Moons & Angels: Symbolizes the closest you can get to Heaven

During the Dark Ages, natives of remote northern Bohemia (present day Czech Republic) originated an art form in glassblowing, which not only holds a unique place in the 4000 year history of this ancient art, but has become a cherished part of Christian tradition. The Bohemians had learned his skill (a heritage of Egypt) from wandering Venetian tradesmen. They used it to create glass ornaments for adornment of the fir tree in their Yule celebration of the winter sun solstice. Early Christians adapted this custom of decorating the evergreen to their celebration of the birth of Christ, and thus the Christmas three was born. Down through the centuries, the glass blowers of Bohemia became famous throughout the world for their blown glass Christmas ornaments. The root of early glass blowers remained in Bohemia, where beautiful ornaments are still produced, using forms over 1000 years old.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Oro para Lisandra Guerra en Copa Mundial de ciclismo en Moscú

La Habana, 16 dic (AIN) La cubana Lisandra Guerra conquistó hoy la medalla de oro en los 500 metros contrarreloj durante la segunda jornada de la Copa Mundial de ciclismo de pista, que transcurre en Moscú.

La velocista de 19 años de edad completó la distancia en 34.336 segundos, a una media de 52.423 kilómetros por hora, para superar su récord nacional de 34.609, tiempo que le reportó la medalla de bronce en el Campeonato del Mundo en Burdeos, en abril pasado.

La matancera tomó desquite de la belarusa Natallia Tsylinskaya, actual titular del orbe, quien la había superado el viernes en la final de la velocidad.

Tsylinskaya cronometró 34.802, en tanto la lituana Simona Krupeckaite detuvo los relojes en 35.200 para lograr el bronce, la misma presea que alcanzó un día antes en al velocidad.

Lisandra se quedó a menos de medio segundo del tope universal (33.944), fijado por la australiana Anna Meares el pasado 18 de noviembre en Sydney, en el transcurso de la primera etapa de la Copa.

El viernes, la doble campeona mundial juvenil de Viena 2005 se quedó a sólo una centésima del primado absoluto en la velocidad ( 200 metros ), con crono de 10.841 segundos, por los 10.831 que fijó la rusa Olga Slioussareva en Moscú, el 25 de abril de 1993.

La becada del Centro Mundial de Ciclismo en Aigle, Suiza, conquistó el primer triunfo para Cuba en una Copa del Mundo, desde la victoria de Yumari González en el keirin de la fase de Monterrey, México, en abril de 2002.

Ese éxito se une a las sendas medallas de plata de la propia Lisandra en la velocidad y de Yoanka González en la carrera por puntos.

También hoy sábado, Alexis Sotolongo y Yasmani Poll quedaron relegados a los puestos 28 y 35 en la velocidad, con respectivos tiempos de 10.506 y 10.712 segundos.

En la prueba, siete hombres bajaron de los 10 segundos, encabezados por el holandés Theo Bos, quien cronometró 9.892, muy cerca de la plusmarca del orbe (9.865), que fijó el canadiense Curt Harnett en Bogotá, el 28 de 1995.

Para el domingo está prevista la participación de Yumari y Yoanka González en la prueba del scratch, Michel Fernández en la carrera por puntos y el trío de Alexis Sotolongo, Yasmani Poll y Julio Cesar Herrera en la velocidad por equipos.

Después de Moscú, la Copa del Mundo de ciclismo de pista continuará en 2007 con sus dos ultimas fases en Los Ángeles (19-21 de enero) y Manchester (23-25 de febrero), previas al campeonato del orbe, señalado del 29 de marzo al 1 de abril en Palma de Mallorca, España.

-Javier Clavelo Robinson

Summer in Andalusia

I'm just back from my travels, and came across this video that makes me long for my old life (albeit one that never included a race in Japan)... The videos were uploaded to YouTube by this user: zak78.

Mario Llerena, 93, Dies; Castro Ally, Then Critic

Published: December 12, 2006

Mario Llerena, a Cuban intellectual who was an early representative of Fidel Castro in the United States but who broke with him before he took power because of Mr. Castro’s shift toward Communism, died Sunday in Miami. He was 93.

His daughter, Stella Portada, said yesterday that he had died of natural causes at an assisted living center in Miami after recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

Mr. Llerena met Mr. Castro in Mexico in the mid-1950s as Mr. Castro was preparing for an invasion of Cuba to overthrow the military dictator Fulgencio Batista. At Mr. Castro’s request, Mr. Llerena put into writing the democratic ideals that underpinned the Castro movement in the early days of the uprising. The document, "Nuestra Razón" ("Our Reason"), was published in Mexico.

It was in 1957, a few months after Mr. Castro was widely believed to have been killed in the invasion, that Mr. Llerena played a pivotal role in skirting General Batista’s attempt to censor any news about it.

Read the rest here.

Photo (c) John Orris/The New York Times; Mario Llerena in 1957.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Aaron Olson Jersey Raffle

Details on my website here. Suffice it to say that all proceeds from the raffle, less PayPal transfer fees and the cost of the EZ Draw Random Number Prize Draw software will be donated to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.

Photo (c), used with permission.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Secrets of the Peloton Interview

I recently had the pleasure of giving an exclusive interview to Secrets of the Peloton, home of Anthony Pope's Plastic Peloton People. I've been a fan of Anthony's wit and humor since I first noticed his work appearing in Pro Cycling Magazine and I appreciate having had the chance to speak with him.

On another note, I rode my bike today for the second time in four months. At first I thought that I was in even worse shape than I'd imagined, because my back and shoulders were so unfomfortable, but then I realized that Mike Fraysse had accidentally replaced my 12cm stem with a 13cm model after he'd loaned out my old Fuji while I was in Italy. Since Simone Biasci wanted 1800 euros for my 2006 Whistle team bike, a price I couldn't - and wouldn't pay - the only option after I came back across the pond was a 2 year-old Fuji team issue frame with Campag (and no Bora wheels). Thank god I didn't sell this Fuji during my liquidation sale.

I've been going to the gym regularly and getting back into good form, despite having two dinners on Thursday! Thanksgiving was nice, my brother David was in town with his girlfriend Jenn for a few days and we had some rare time together, and I also reconnected with the Bruns family in Mt. Lebanon. Dave is a great guy and I'm so proud of everything that he's achieved in his life, especially in light of all the grief he caught from me growing up. Ask him about playing Nerf football punt return in the backyard as kids...

Finally, I booked tickets to Mexico and points beyond. I'm leaving on December 1 and will be incommunicado for two weeks or so. Hopefully I won't turn up on CNN and can find some concrete answers to Yuliet's situation.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Phoenix


Though it may not seem so when you first encounter a serious blow, you can never lose two of the most important assets you have. These are the power of your mind and your freedom to use it. Once you have turned them to understanding what laid you low, you can begin forming new plans. You may not have the money you once had; you may lack the allies you had cultivated. But you still have the benefit of a universe that eventually rewards honest effort, as well as gaining the experience of mistakes you will never make again. Remember, no matter where you are now, whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. Protect the most important thing you have.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



Some setbacks are so severe that to give in to them means losing the whole ball game. When he assumed command of the Korean War, Gen. Matthew Ridgeway found his forces pushed far to the south, hard pressed by the invaders. Only a determined decision to hold the lines allowed the American forces to keep from being swept into the sea and to eventually regain all the territory they had lost. When a defeat strikes, you may not have the time to withdraw and contemplate your mistakes without risking further setbacks. Don’t succumb to paralysis. It is important to know at that moment what it is you truly desire and to act to preserve your resources and your hope. If you crumble utterly, you will take a blow to your self-esteem that will be hard to repair. Instead, stick to your principles, and you will know, at the very least, that you have protected the most important thing you have.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunset in Cuba

Santiago de Cuba, February 2005

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chinese Chop Sticks and Champion System

My friend David Sommerville is a nice guy. He's a funny guy, too, and he has a great sense of dry humor. When we raced the Tour of the South China Sea together in January, he made photographs of examples of the misuse of English on public signage. The resulting collection will one day be featured in the Getty, I know it. In the meantime, Dave added the above photo of funny Chinese chopsticks to his website - check it out.

Two of my favorite signs from that trip are this one:

and this one:

Too funny. Anyway, I'm a bit melancholy to not be joining the boys in Asia this winter, though I'm sure that when Yuliet and I are finally reunited, December or January in USA won't seem so cold afterall. Still, I'll miss the chance to hang with Simon (Little Bear), Derek, Daniel (or whomever the Asian riders are this year), Louis and Scott, DS, JB and everyone else.

I have to say that my time with the Champion System team was the most harmonious racing experience of my life. Granted, it helped that we rode well, but we rode well and we had fun - because everyone involved with the program was nice, pleaseant and well-intentioned (even me!). I've got to make sure to write about that in my advice diary for you're united of purpose, success is all but guaranteed, and the trip is harmonious. Thanks Champion System, for a beautiful moment.

Friday, November 17, 2006

As the Toto Turns

This stuff is too funny. Even in dark, dark moments, it is good to laugh. Check out noir-Virenque! It's all at

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Without a plan for your life, it is easier to follow the course of least resistance, to go with the flow, to drift with the current with no particular destination in mind. Having a definite plan for your life greatly simplifies the process of making hundreds of daily decisions that affect your ultimate success. When you know where you want to go, you can quickly decide if your actions are moving you toward your goal or away from it. Without definite, precise goals and a plan for their achievement, each decision must be considered in a vacuum. Definiteness of purpose provides context and allows you to relate specific actions to your overall plan.

I subscribe to the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s “Thought of the Day,” and above is today’s meditation. Could there be a more appropriate topic for my current situation? I think not. Through the end of July, when I was training and racing full-time, my plan was distilled down to the hour, always with the intent of bringing me to peak physical condition in time for a particular event. I had every tool and resource at my disposal to ensure that I was always moving towards my goal of being fit and racing well.

Now I’m in a very different contextual situation - I am no longer racing my bike or training full-time (will I return to that life? I don’t know) - but the fundamental need for a plan remains. This is an incredibly frustrating moment, because I am a man of action, someone who thrives in an environment that is fast-paced, dynamic and yet still constrained or contained within a broad matrix of short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Right now, however, I find it almost impossible to do anything other than short-term planning because of the utter lack of control Yuliet and I seem to have over our the timeline for our reunification. And yet at the same time I need to plan and take action to create an environment that will be fertile for building our life once we are together again. Is this a paradox? I don’t know, but it certainly feels like I’m “stuck.”

Why did I stop racing full-time when I was at the zenith of my career, racing for an Italian team in Tuscany? There are several reasons, but in large part I pulled the pin because my wife escaped from Cuba and I wanted to create as quickly as possible a stable situation for us so that we wouldn’t be scrambling for support upon her arrival in the USA. We needed a place to live, money in the bank and a steady source of income so that we could establish ourselves after a period of true upheaval. And yet at the same time, my inner self was in a state of turmoil and complete chaos.


Because I didn’t have a well-developed plan for my life after cycling that I could put into effect at a moment’s notice. I didn’t even have an emergency plan to get me through a one or two month transition period in case I was injured or some unforeseen event knocked me off-course. I intend to write a comprehensive diary entry for that will probably be my last of the 2006 season. In it, I will examine this theme in greater detail with the intent of offering pertinent advice and guidance to the new generation of riders who are contemplating going “full-time” for cycling. It is a beautiful sport, and worthy of the commitment and dedication that are necessary components of success in it. But there is often a disconnect between the reality of “the bike” and what is “real life.” And that’s what I want to help other riders avoid, or overcome.

I’m no self-help guru or enlightened wise-man. I am in the trenches every day, however, and I am quick with a pen, so maybe I can do some good and work through my own demons in the process. The phoenix is my new inspiration.

All is not chaos or bleak, however. Yuliet and I have more contact, I'm benefitting from my work with futureDESIGNstudio, and I recently renewed a relationship with a long-lost friend. This last item is significant, as this person was very important to me and I welcome the chance to have him back in my life. Good friends are hard to find.

"Those truly linked don't need correspondence, When they meet again after many years apart, Their friendship is as true as ever." - Deng Ming-Dao

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Taken from the original meaning, in colloquial speech, "limbo" is any status where a person or project is held up, and nothing can be done until another action happens.

FYI: I'm still alive, Yuliet is still alive, she and I are not reunited, I have not traveled to Cuba and we are definitely in limbo, waiting for action by others before we can move forward.

Hopefully in the next 36 hours Yuliet and I will have a better idea of what the current dynamic is within the Cuban government, and we can take that information to the press and to the US government in hopes of accelerating this process and finally being reunited. As I've said one million times before (but it never seems like enough), thanks to each and every single one of you who has called, emailed, inquired through friends or commented independently about what Yuliet and I are suffering through.

On the internet, I especially appreciate the unwavering support of the CB and KC, and Val. Between them they have two excellent blogs that approach coverage of Cuban affairs from very different perspectives and in very different styles. Alas, I'm not a partisan, and I could never choose between them if forced to do so, because for me they've all been the best of friends.

My brother David sent me a link yesterday from the Wall Street Journal concerning the Cuban military's involvement in economic development on the island. KC and CB comment on it here while Babalu writes it up here. Again, I just want to recognize both of these blogs as being on my daily reading list, and I am hugely indebted to all of the men and women who write about the reality of Cuba in 2006.

As I'm sure you can imagine, with a family member basically being held hostage by the Castro regime, and her status subject to the vagaries of the political climate in, and the relations between, Cuba and the USA, I tread far more lightly than I otherwise would be inclined to do.

Friday, November 10, 2006

La Ostia

Jordi Riera Valls, ex-Kelme pro; Eneas Freyre, current US-pro get silly at the 2004 Vuelta a Cuba. We are in the hallway of our floor in the Hotel Santa Clara, in Santa Clara, Cuba. This was a great trip. I wrote about it for here. Here is a link to a photo of Eneas. And one of Jordi.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Life Koan

I have a new Life Koan

What Would Your Career and Life Look Like If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Most of us have two basic questions about others when we enter into a relationship. They are: Can I trust you? And Do you really care about me? Depending upon our previous success in partnerships with others-personal or business-the answers may be slow in coming. Confidence in another is often developed gradually as those involved in the relationship commit themselves to each other’s success and happiness. Although trust and confidence are the basic underpinnings of all successful relationships, they are fragile. A relationship that has endured for months or even years can be irreparably damaged by a few unkind words or a single thoughtless act. Don’t allow yourself to act in haste or to lose control of your emotions in important relationships.

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Visit them at

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Where is Yuliet?

This is Where Yuliet Is:

Reparto Mulgoba

I want to go there on Friday and find her.
Phone Message from Yuliet.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It Seems Like a Such a Long Time Ago...

It Seems Like a Such a Long Time Ago...

GF Selle Italia, May 2006, Cesenatico, Italia. 3-man break, including my bro' Matteo Cappe (in Bianchi kit). It's ironic that in the race in which they BEST picture of me ever was taken, I felt my worst. But we look good, don't we? Yes, those experiences in Italy were worth everything. Well, that's not entirely true. They were not worth the decision to stay in Italy and continue racing instead of flying to Russia to resuce my wife when we had the opportunity. But in the spirit of:

"The Past is Gone and it doesn't matter any more or any longer. And what could have been is what never was and what should have been is what wasn't and now you let that go and focus into the future..."

Damn, we looked good.

DTJ Taborville

For those of you who don't know what DTJ is, I'd like to take a moment to give you a brief explanation.

The initials DTJ stand for "Delnicke Telocvicne Jednoty" or "Workers' Gymnastic Union". DTJ as an organization is a part of the great Labor Movement as the translation implies. It is an International organization, whose program consists of training the youth of the world to enable it to take part in the great movement for a better and more just organization of human society.

A Little History

The DTJ organization was formed by a group of tailors in Prague, 1897. The group was sympathetic towards the Social Democratic movement of that period. Gym work was started immediately, classes being held wherever room could be found, mostly at the Inns.

The first DTJ group to be formed in America was founded in Cleveland, Ohio by members of the Lassalle Senior Club in 1909. Soon after another group was organized in Chicago, Illinois. An organization affiliated with the DTJ is the American Sokol of New York. Although the D.A.S. has a sick and death benefit provision in its program, there is possibility that it will come in closer contact with the DTJ of the future.

-DTJ Taborville website. (Beware Czech music!)
Photo and a Cuban Saying

"El que madruga...
encuentra todo cerrado"

Ciao, Grande!

Friday, November 03, 2006

2002 UCI Pan Am Masters Championships - Havana, CUBA

This is what they consider a "blast from the past." Comments below, please.


Juan Torres, Juan Pablo Dotti, Joe Papp (l-r) in Montecatini Terme, Italia 2006


Job pressures are overwhelming.
Responsibilities are heavy.
When I close my eyes,
The demands of others are all I see.

...If you are fighting on the battlefield, or fighting in the office, or fighting in your home, or fighting in your mind, theire is no such thing as being with Tao. If you are involved in this type of life, then you must content yourself to face your problems bravely - until you can do nothing other than renounce it...the best you can do is to remember that our stress is not absolute reality.

-Deng Ming-Dao
Yuliet - Candid - Santa María del Mar

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Y Que Me Pasa - Mickey Taveras

Ay amor
mirándote a los ojos sé
que eres diferente y sé
que te pareces mucho a lo que yo sueño.

Ay amor, lo que te digo es verdad
yo hablo por hablar
te pareces mucho a lo que yo sueño.

Esa risa que me aloca
tu mirada encantadora
y tu forma de ser me pone a pensar
mucho más en tí.

Y que me pasa
que últimamente pienso mucho en tí

Y que me pasa que a mis amigos les hablo de tí
que mis oidos buscan tus palabras
y en las mañanas cuando tengo frío
me acuerdo de tí.

Y que me pasa
que últimamente pienso mucho en tí

Y que me pasa que a mis amigos les hablo de tí
Y de pensar en tí yo me sonrío
Y en las mañanas cuando tengo frío
me acuerdo de tí.

Me acuerdo de tí,
Me acuerdo de tí...

Yo pienso que son tan inútiles las noches que te di.
Te marchas ¿y qué?
No pienso discutírtelo. Lo sabes y lo sé.
Al menos, quédate sólo esta noche.
Prometo no tocarte, estás segura.
Hay veces que me voy sintiendo solo porque conozco esa sonrisa tan definitiva.
Tu sonrisa que a mí mismo me abrió tu paraíso.
Se dice que por cada hombre, hay una como tú.
Pero mi sitio lo ocuparás con alguno igual que yo o mejor (lo dudo).
Por qué esta vez agachas la mirada.
Me pides que sigamos siendo amigos.
¿Amigos para qué? ¡Maldita sea!
A un amigo lo perdono, pero a ti te amo.
Pueden parecer banales mis instintos naturales.
Hay una cosa que yo no te he dicho aún que mis problemas ¿sabes qué?, se llaman TÚ.
Sólo por eso tú me ves hacerme el duro, para sentime un porquito más seguro.
Y si no quieres ni devir en qué he fallado recuerda que también a ti también te he perdonado.
En cambio, tú dices lo siento, no te quiero, y te me vas con esa historia entre tus dedos.
Me basta ver.
Busca un excusa y luego, márchate, porque de mí no debieras preocuparte.
No debes provocarme...
Que yo te escribiré un par de canciones, tratando de ocultar mis emociones, trantando pero poco, en las palabras
te hablaré de la sonrisa tan definitiva, tu sonrisa que a mí mismo
me abrió tu paraíso...
Hay una cosa que yo no te he dicho aún que mis problemas ¿sabes qué?, se llaman TÚ.
Sólo por eso tú me ves hacerme el duro, para sentime un porquito más seguro.
Y si no quieres ni devir en qué he fallado recuerda que también a ti también te he perdonado.
En cambio, tú dices lo siento, no te quiero, y te me vas con esa historia entre tus dedos.
A New Iron Curtain

Forget no-fly lists. If Uncle Sam gets its way, beginning on Jan. 14, 2007, we'll all be on no-fly lists, unless the government gives us permission to leave-or re-enter-the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSA) has proposed that all airlines, cruise lines-even fishing boats-be required to obtain clearance for each passenger they propose taking into or out of the United States.

It doesn't matter if you have a U.S. passport-a travel document that now, absent a court order to the contrary, gives you a virtually unqualified right to enter or leave the United States, any time you want. When the DHS system comes into effect next January, if the agency says no to a clearance request, or doesn't answer the request at all, you won't be permitted to enter-or leave-the United States.

Consider what might happen if you're a U.S. passport holder on assignment in a country like Saudi Arabia. Your visa is about to expire, so you board your flight back to the United States. But wait! You can't get on, because you don't have permission from the HSA. Saudi immigration officials are on hand to escort you to a squalid detention center, where you and others who are now effectively stateless persons are detained, potentially indefinitely, until their immigration status is sorted out.

Why might the HSA deny you permission to leave-or enter-the United States? No one knows, because the entire clearance procedure would be an administrative determination made secretly, with no right of appeal. Naturally, the decision would be made without a warrant, without probable cause and without even any particular degree of suspicion. Basically, if the HSA decides it doesn't like you, you're a prisoner-either outside, or inside, the United States, whether or not you hold a U.S. passport.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized there is a constitutional right to travel internationally. Indeed, it has declared that the right to travel is "a virtually unconditional personal right." The United States has also signed treaties guaranteeing freedom of travel. So if these regulations do go into effect, you can expect a lengthy court battle, both nationally and internationally.

Think this can't happen? Think againit's ALREADY happening. Earlier this year, HSA forbade airlines from transporting an 18-year-old native-born U.S. citizen, back to the United States. The prohibition lasted nearly six months until it was finally lifted a few weeks ago.
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are two countries in recent history that didn't allow their citizens to travel abroad without permission. If these regulations go into effect, you can add the United States to this list.

For more information on this proposed regulation, see

-by Mark Nestmann, Wealth Preservation & Tax Consultant and President of The Nestmann Group

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sports agent accused of paying for smuggling of Cuban players into Florida

Sports agent accused of paying for smuggling of Cuban players into Florida

By Vanessa Blum
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A California sports agent known for representing Cuban baseball players paid to have five prospects from Cuba smuggled to the United States in 2004, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.Gustavo "Gus" Dominguez, of Chatsworth, is accused in a 52-count indictment of financing fast-boat trips across the Florida Straits so he could profit from representing the players.

The Cubans were apprehended on their first attempt to reach the United States. In August 2004, they made it to Florida and were driven to California, where Dominguez paid for their apartment, meals and clothing, prosecutors said.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I just want to say THANKS to the head of my fan club in Australia. He's a great guy, someone who has supported me through a difficult moment, and whose kindness and compassion I will forever cherish. Despite his own personal hardship, he takes the time to ring me from down under, and try to cheer me up. That's class, and it reinforces my belief in the kindheartedness of Aussie's in general.

Many of you have written asking for an update on the situation with Yuliet. I really appreciate your support, and I wish I had better news. As it stands, however, there is no update, other than to say Yuliet is in Cuba. Beyond that exists only speculation.

I am always struck by the novelty of's published interviews with European cycling stars who were passing through difficult times, whether in or out-of-competition. Most of these interviews are lifted from publications like La Gazzetta dello Sport, or recorded in European press conferences before being translated into english. Thus, the riders were typically speaking in their native tounges. I think the #1 english word that appears in this reports is "tranquil."

For example, Basso says: "I remain prudent and tranquil and will keep counting on my team to protect me."

Cunego says, "For my first time, I continue to be a little nervous but I am trying to remain tranquil."

Salvodelli says, " "I did not panick when a slipped behind. I was tranquil in the most difficult moments of the stage..."

In Spanish, they say "tranquilo," in Italian "calma."

It's a state of mind, and I'm not there right now. I'm 31 years old right now. I rode my first full european season this year. The last time I touched a bike was 23 July, and I sold all of my equipment because I wanted to support my wife financially. For a variety of reasons, it is unlikely that I will return to full-time competition in 2007 and I am not finishing my career on my own terms.

That's the way of this universe, however, and whilst bitter, it is a pill that eventually I have to swallow. Right now I feel like your dog, when you're trying to give him his medicine and he's having none of it. Before I officially announce my retirement, however (if that is the ultimate course of action), I'd like to pen one more diary for, in which I share with the up-and-coming riders of this generation the salient lessons learned in 10+ years of elite biking . I think Lesson #1 would be to maintain an identity outside of our sport, so that if an abrupt transition befalls you too, you're capable of seamlessly moving into your post-cycling life. I most decidely have not had an easy transition during the last three months, and it's made me realize the utter necessity of maintaing strong ties with family, friends and colleagues outside of the comeptitive world. This is not to say that elite riders who are not making thousands and thousands of dollars as competitive athletes should not be 100% focused on their sport. Rather, it's simply a view from the trenches, that one day the circus tears down the big top, and prepare yourself for a life less glamorous, or at least your own personal moment that is less-than-tranquil.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why is Uruguay Great? Because of its people...

Estimado Joe.-
Gracias por vuestra atenta nota!.- Eres siempre bienvenido a Minas!!
Sin dudas que el vivir en una ciudad grande es muy stressante, sin embargo en ciudades pequeñas o paìses pequeños como el Uruguay la vida es màs tranquila, segura y saludable.-
Nuestro Departamento de Lavalleja tiejne bellezas naturales que son inigualables y los que viven en èl tienen una caracterìstica muy particular y es que son muy hospitalarios.-
Tu lo habràs comprobado con la Flìa. Castro quienes son excelentes personas.-
Te paso nuestra WEB, asi puedes estar enterado frecuentemente de lo que pasa por aquì.-

Te saluda muy cordialmente y estamos a tus gratas òrdenes.-
Ademar Rubi
Director de Turismo de Lavalleja

When I retire with my first $8 million, it will be to Uruguay.
"Beware of hubris. For it is the single vulnerable point in your armor. After arrogance, obsession ranks second as a common flaw. Each of us should strive for our best, but maintain balance and moderation as well. Disproportionate ambition is a tremendous liability, and it often leads us to do crazy things in our determination to dominate others."

This then, would seem to indicate the necessity of moderation in my approach to being reunited with Yuliet?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sociedad Southron

I lived in Minas, Uruguay with my teammate Gerardo Castro and his family during the Uruguayan summers of 2002-3 and 2003-4. The time I spent in Lavalleja (the Uruguayan "department" in which Minas is located) was some of the happiest of my life, and I remember it fondly.

Since returning from Italy, I've corresponded somewhat irregularly with The Southron, a very interesting American ex-pat living in Montevideo. I wrote about my experiences in Uruguay several times for my diary on The Southron, however, writes a kick-ass blog from Uruguay - - that he updates regularly, and he is leading the rapid organization of the english-speaking ex-pat community there.

Uruguay is the one country that I would move to *right now* if I had the prospects of gainful employment there, and The Southron is doing a great job chronicling why it is such a great place. Granted, I hated Uruguay and all things Uruguayan after I was robbed of my rightful victory in the Vuelta a Uruguay in 2003, but I'm over that now.

Check out and get a taste for the American experience in Montevideo, and tell him I sent you.
Compassion and Responsibility for Action

An act of compassion is often an act that restores balance...The compassionate person tries to resolve problems by rebalancing. Sometimes the action required is gentle. Sometimes it must be violent. Those who are skillful at doing the right thing at the right time and in the right proportion are said to be superior among people: their actions are flawless and seamless.

To accept the importance of balance in our lives is to acknowledge consequences. Retribution follows wrongdoing. This does not happen because there is some karmic police agency ready to mete out punishment for the slightest infraction. Nor will the gods and devils pursue you for all your misdeeds.

There is retribution because when you do bad things, you create misery that remains attached to you in some way or another. Perhaps someone will come back to take out their resentment on you, or perhaps you will make some future mistake because of your shortsighted behaivor. Selfishness isolates you from others because you cease to care about even simple communication. Gradually your thinking will change, to the point that you cannot even convceive of what you are doing wrong, and so you will fall by your own folly. No one - except your own mind - is recording anyting. But that is devestating enough. "Divine justice" is the web of flaws that we wrap our lives in. There is no heaven, and there is no hell. There doesn't need to be. Our hubris is the quintessential form of retribution. We create our own suffering.

-Deng Ming-Dao


Did you know I'm Irish? Right, isn't everyone?! In this case it's true, however. My family comes from Achill Island, in the village of Pollagh, County Mayo. I have a passport to prove it.

If Yuliet is ever released from wherever it is that she is being held, and if we are ever reunited and have children, imagine this scenario: we're living in Uruguay as legal residents, our child is born there, it could possibly hold four nationalities: Irish and US by me, Cuban by Yuliet and Uruguayan by virtue of being born in Uruguay. I don't know if that works or not, but the kid would at least have three citizenships, if we decide to register it as a foreign-born Cuban. I have a friend who was born of US parents in Spain, and he tried to claim Spanish citizenship but told me that he ulimately couldn't. While the Spanish government would grant him citizenship as a result of his having been born in Glalicia or wherever it was, he said that the stipulation was that he renounce his US citizenship. I don't think so...

China Trains Horoscope - Gemini

Trains in China are divided into two different sections: soft seats and hard seats. "The soft seats are usually where you find the richer, stiffer, better-educated people," reports Charlotte Temple in DoubleTake magazine. "In the hard-seat section, it's like a little village. Everyone is eating watermelon seeds, playing games, leaning out windows to buy from the dumpling sellers." I bring this up, Gemini, because it's an apt metaphor for the choice you now face. As you travel on to the next phase of your life, the soft seats would provide the greatest comfort, but the most interesting and educational events would unfold in the hard seats.

We are all human with frailties, foibles, and insecurities. We each need to be appreciated for the uniqueness that makes us individual, and we need to be told that we are appreciated. Maintaining friendships requires effort and persistent expression, both in word and deed. Tell your friends often how much you appreciate them. Remember occasions that are important to them. Congratulate them upon their achievements. Most important of all, let them know that you are there for them whenever they need you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mike Fraysse

Someone who has been like a father to me since I first met him in 1995. He thought I was crazy to marry Yuliet, and he might yet be proven right, but I appreciate his unwavering, limitless support. Thanks, Mike!


"We all have short memories. We become preoccupied with our own interests and daily cares, and it’s easy to lose track of friends. There will always be times when you must choose between what you wish to do and what you must do. When you are faced with such decisions, make sure you always remember those true and loyal friends who were there when you needed them, and never, under any circumstances, abandon them. When you let down a friend who helped you when you needed it most, you will not only adversely affect the friendship; you will seriously damage your own self-respect. When you fail a friend, regardless of how heavy your own burdens may be, you also fail yourself. If you absolutely cannot do what good friends would like, find another way to make it up to them."

This is one that I'm going to remember with all of my heart as I move forward through this difficult moment. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive during a time that can only be described as FUBAR... KC, CB, Dave, Jeb, Mom, Jenn, etc., etc., thanks.

Until last week, it was 17 years since I last went to church or thought about God in any manner other than to say, "God damn." However, with the horror and pain of Yuliet's disappearance, well, you can imagine that I'm thinking about God a lot right now. I wanted to share this compassionate prayer that was said on behalf of Yuliet and me by a concerned friend...

"Father you are so strong and miraculous. You are the Creator of everything. You can do all Things, you are a Mountain mover. Father forgive us for our sins Lord. We all have sins that we are not proud of Lord just take all of our sins. Carry them for us Lord... Forgive us now. We thank you Jesus that you died for us so that we may be forgiven. We thank you Lord Jesus that you are always there, when we think you aren't. I thank you for listening to our prayer and forgiving us. Thank you for our life that we have. Thank you for the blessings of all we can do. Lord please be with Yuliet, please LORD bring her back to Joe safe and sound with open arms if it be your will. Please Lord give Yuliet and Joe your strength at this time Lord. I pray Lord that they know you as I do, a Loving Forgiving God that will always be there for us. Even in times like these. I pray all these things in your name... Amen"

So I really appreciated that prayer, and as I struggle to come to terms to what has happened to Yuliet and what it means for our futures, I will keep this close to my heart.