Vote 2020

As I dropped off my mail-in voting ballot earlier today, I was reminded why I stopped posting politics related content on this blog for the last four years; the primary reason being because it wasn’t healthy to my psyche. That is to say these last four years have been an absolute disgrace and a sad reality as to how low and divided we’ve fallen as a society.

Due to a project that I’ve been working these last few years, I’ve done quite of bit of research regarding some of histories fallen empires: Rome, Toltec, Tepaneca, Mexica, Purépecha, Inca, Spanish, Byzantine, and even the Ottoman Empire to some extend. Whether eventually history repeats itself and this becomes the beginning of the end. Theirs absolutely no doubt that these last four years have altered the shift of this country for future generations to come. With the immense wealth of examples of lack of basic logic and common sense, future historians are going to view 2016-2020 U.S. and say “Social discord and mass stupidity started it all”.

Book Review – The Magician’s Nephew

Technically Book 1 in chronological order of The Chronicles of Narnia, in The Magician’s Nephew we learn about the creation of Narnia itself and how it was marred by The Witch. Although the plot is different to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to me this prequel fit in perfectly. The creation story, like much of all of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is very simplistic (which is not a bad thing). It obviously can’t compare to Tolkien’s creation story described in Ainulindalë. Regardless, it’s still a beautiful story.

It’s no secret that C.S. Lewis’s works are heavily Christian based, this book is no exception. So being essentially the Genesis of Narnia, it is a very beautifully Christian themed novel.

It must be because C.S. Lewis’s books are primarily middle grade novels, I tend to found his works to be very comforting to read. I literally read this entire book in one sit-in. Where other books (short or long), I usually have to take a break to let my brain absorb what I’ve just read. Witch C.S. Lewis, this is not the case for me.

Book Review – Los mitos que nos dieron traumas

The Myths That Traumatized Us, is book that attempts to explain the idiosyncrasy and sociology of Mexicans. Rather than being presented in a direct dry political and historical standpoint, this book uses a comedic approach that I think it’s absolutely genius. The author makes it very clear and states multiple times that he could care less about what part of side of a political spectrum the reader falls on. Overall this was such an enjoyable read, I lost count of the times the times I was literally was laughing out loud multiple times (my family might even think I’m mad given that I read most of the book really late at night).

Mexicans, generally speaking have such a distorted view of their history. This book takes a logical and common sense approach on why that’s the case. The main myths this book covers are:

  • Pre-hispanic history
  • Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
  • Mexican Independence
  • Mexican Revolution

Perhaps the only thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was the comparison between Spain and England, (Catholicism vs Protestantism; Mexico vs USA) and their respective visual of a society, which I completely disagree with the author.

Sadly this book does’t have an English translation as of the time of this writing, but if you know Spanish then I would highly suggest reading this book. Specially if you need a good laugh for once.

Yet Another HR Friendly Document

About a year late, but completed nonetheless. The only resources I used to pass this certification exam were A Cloud Gurus’s AWS Certified Developer – Associate 2020 and Stephane Maarek’s Ultimate AWS Certified Developer Associate 2020 both of which I highly recommend. Specially Stephane Maarek’s course, all of his AWS training courses are extremely good.

This is the third AWS exam that I’ve taken, and I must say this has been the most difficult one yet. Mainly because it touches a lot of services that I don’t generally use on a daily basis like DynamoDB, API Gateway, and Cognito. Thus said, these are not extremely complex AWS services so learning them for the first time wasn’t too terrible.

My next goal is study and pass the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification exam to complete the trifecta Associate level certifications.

Book Review – Don Quixote

The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a very interesting book. Considered to be the very first modern novel written, I can see why this book is regarded as being one of the greatest stories to be ever written. I read John Ormsby’s 1885 translation that is available on the Project Gutenberg. This particular translation has an archaic style of language, which I’m a big fan of. As for some strange reason I love reading non modern texts; this explains why I love The Silmarillion so much, but I digress.

I really love how this story is presented. I believe this is one of the main reasons why this book considered a masterpiece. The story is narrated by a narrator that used different compilations of many works written of Don Quixote; where the book itself is in the story.

This book has a lot of themes that it covers. There were many times while reading this book that I felt almost like I was reading a philosophy novel rather than a satire of Chivalric Romance from the 16th century. The general synopsis of this novel is the story of an elderly man who reads so many chivalric romance novels that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry and serve the defenseless, under the name Don Quixote of la Mancha. The novel is essentially his adventures that he had throughout all of Spain, with the companionship of his trusty squire.

What made this book really enjoyable to me were not the underlying themes that it covers, but the setting of the story itself. I know medieval Spanish history fairly well, and this book being the Renaissance era, post medieval world. I knew exactly how the story fitted into the time that it took place. I feel what makes this novel so special is that it truly portrays Spain at the heart of the Renaissance era.

I read an English translation, so I’m planning on eventually reading its original Castilian version. Perhaps my only complain of this book is that is way too massive, they’re certain topics that I felt were overly repeated. While on the other side of things, this book introduced me to other related works that I’m planning on already reading For example Amadís de Gaula, since we’re constantly reminded how Don Quixote modeled himself after him.

Book Review – Chronicles of the First Crusade

Chronicles of the First CrusadeThis is a very fascinating book. As the title suggest, this book is a collection of primary sources involved in the events known to history as The First Crusade. The chronicles are presented in a chronological order. With the bulk of the them coming from the crusaders themselves (or pilgrims as they called each other), with a much smaller portion belonging to Byzantine, Jewish, and Muslim sources.

It was very intriguing reading how the different factions of this conflict viewed each other. Mainly the problems between the Byzantines and the Latins. But perhaps the most striking was the Jewish component surrounding the events, and how it affected them.

I’m somewhat fairly knowledgeable of the history of the crusades, however reading these primary sources definitely gave me a much better understanding of the myths and legends surrounding The First Crusade. I don’t think the translations themselves were literal, since I found this book to be very easy to read and understand. Overall, this is an excellent book that gives you a full narrative of The First Crusade. It is an absolute must read for anyone interested in the history of the crusades.

Book Review – Warlords of Ancient Mexico

Warlords of Ancient MexicoThis book is awesome! Warlords of Ancient Mexico: How the Mayans and Aztecs Ruled for More Than a Thousand Years is a book that describes pre-hispanic warfare, why the city-state and kingdoms fought with each other and the politics surrounding them. Not giving any specific spoilers, religion and imperial expansion were the primary reasons. The book starts with the wars of the Teotihuacans with the Mayans, and ends with fall of the Mexica Empire.

I have a fairly good knowledge of how medieval European aristocratic ruling classes were structured. So it’s fascinating how incredibly similar medieval Europe and ancient Mesoamerica were. The privileges of being from a noble lineage is no different in Europe than in Mesoamerica. So much so, that it also contributed to military ranks. Drawing comparisons from a knight, and a certain native warrior, lordship and vassalage. In fact, the author includes many examples of major events in Mesoamerica compared to Europe. Like the fall of The Toltec Empire in the Mesoamerican world was almost equivalent to the fall of The Roman Empire in the European world, to name a few.

Mesoamerican warfare is the focal point of this book, but honestly if you’re just interested in learning about the vast amount of ancient kingdoms, then this book is definitely worth reading. Generally speaking, Mexicans have a distorted view of their pre-hispanic history (that’s another story for another day), so learning about the non-Aztec people was very enjoyable.

The only negative I have about this book is that it covers very little concerning the Maya world as it’s mainly focused on the Nahualt world in Central Mexico, though the Tarascan Empire is mentioned. After-all they were fierce foes of the Aztecs. I  would’ve love to read more about their unique and fascinating history.

Book Review: The Boy Crusaders

The Boy Crusaders
The Boy Crusaders: A Story of the Days of Louis IX by John G. Edgar is a historical fiction novel that takes place during The Seventh Crusade. The main protagonists of this story are two pious seventeen year old English squires that joined King Louis IX of France’s crusade to the Holyland.

This is a very well written and beautiful story. It is a tale of chivalry and friendship. The setting of this book and the events surrounding the story are for the most part historical accurate. Although there is one glaring significant event that does not lineup with the actual real life timeline, which is the Siege of Baghdad. As this happened years after The Seventh Crusade. This book does take into consideration some of the myths of the crusading era, for example there is an important (albeit similar) event that impacted the main story line, which involves the myth of The Children’s Crusade.

Overall, I want to say that this is a very uplifting story (which it is), but it’s hard not to feel sorrow given the end result of The Seventh Crusade. This book does an excellent job describing the failed military campaign.

Book Review – The History of the Crusades: Volume 1

The History of the Crusades: Vol 1

This is a really good on the crusades of the holyland. Considered to be one of the pioneered scholarly works on the crusades, this book does a great job describing these historic events. Written by Joseph Francois Michaud in French, and published in 1811, the English translation of this work on Project Gutenburg is absolutely fantastic. Although this book is technically a scholarly work, to me it didn’t really felt as such. It is very well articulated as it felt like it was being told as a story; good or bad, but captivating either way. Of the different books regarding the crusades in the Holyland, this book is by far the best that I’ve read thus far.

This first Volume, describes the events from Byzantium’s call for aid, to the events of the end of Third Crusade. One thing to keep in mind while reading this book is that some of the cities, battles and even some of the historical figures have different names. I’m not quite sure if this was a consequence of a direct literal translation to English. Regardless, a quick Google search will be necessary to help put into perspective which exactly what the author is describing.

Book Review – The Order of the Holy Sepulchre

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre: The History of the Catholic Order Established during the Crusades for the Promised LandThe Order of the Holy Sepulchre: The History of the Catholic Order Established during the Crusades for the Promised Land, is the second Charles River Editors book that I’ve read, and perhaps it might be my last. Much of the complaints mentioned for The Order of Santiago apply for this book as well.

This book is just an over simplified summary of the crusades in the holy land. It doesn’t really go into detail regarding the history The Order of the Holy Sepulchre from it’s inception to its current form. In fact it mentions the Order’s military role, which as far as I’m aware, unlike other religious orders; The Order Holy Sepulchre didn’t participated in the actual military campaigns. But rather as strict religious and chivalric order only. Whose only military duty was to guard to The Holy Sepulchre itself in Jerusalem, similar to the Citadel guards in The Lord of The Rings.

Given that Charles River Editors books are essentially available free of charge if you own a Kindle, I would not otherwise recommend reading them.