Book Review – Imperiofobia y leyenda negra


Imperiofobia y leyenda negra: Roma, Rusia, Estados Unidos y el Imperio español is a tremendous eye-opening book. I originally read this book during the Covid lockdowns two years ago, and now having re-read it again, I must say it’s a must read book to understand current world politics, by understand our history.

This book goes into deep detail regarding the common characteristics of empires but more importantly, on the difference between them. Like differences of imperialism vs imperial and of the different types of empires, ie what makes them good and bad.

The book covers many empires, from the Roman, Ottoman, French, British, Spanish, Russian, and USA empires. The most fascinating thing about this book is related to the rivalries between empires, hence the need to create a “black legend” against it. The most glaring being about the Spanish Empire. Which was the main reason why I decided to read this book, as it’s one of the books that I constantly see being mentioned among other fellow hispanists as a must read because it does a brilliant job debugging the “black legend” of the Spanish Empire. A “black legend”, being a series of arguments created by the Anglo Protestant world, whose main objective was (and still is) to demonstrate inferiority of the Hispanic and Catholic world. The author of this book, María Elvira Roca Barea does not hold any punches, she does a brilliant job calling out the complete bullshit created by Anglo Protestant world against the Hispanic and general Latin world in order to justify their existence as new reformed religious entities. It’s so blatant and obvious that it reminded me of a talk I saw of Dr. Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach regarding the blatant falsehoods she has to deal when working with US Universities regarding Hispanic history, of which she believes comes from the racism that stems from the Spanish “black legend”.

To conclude this book also mentions the USA and Russian empires and the “black legend” among them, which is quite important to understand the current state of world politics, ie War in Ukraine. It’s absolutely fascinating to see the parallels between these two empires and how they’re both similar to the British and Spanish Empire respectively. Where for greater part of a century the British set the goal to fully balkanized the Spanish Empire in the Americas, is identical to the United States’ goal of balkanizing The Russian Federation into many distinctive petty states. Will history repeat itself? We only have to look back at history to understand.

Ironically, this is one of those books that I really hope one day gets an English translation. So people can learn about the “black legends” and histories of the worlds different empires, from a well researched academic scholar.

Book Review – A History of Medieval Spain

Joseph F. O’Callaghan is arguably my favorite non-hispanic reconquista scholar, as his works on this subject are second to none. In this book, A History of Medieval Spain, Joseph F. O’Callaghan goes into incredibly detail on the history of Spain from both the Christian and Muslim sides, in a comprehensive way. This is a scholarly research book, so some people may find it a bit boring and dry when it comes to subjects like civil society, economy, and government, and the ongoing cultural shifting happening throughout medieval Spain.

I would first recommend people to read his book Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain. Since its a much easier and shorter read (and highly entertaining), also that book is only just an overview, this book goes into way more detail. Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain just scratches an itch, while A History of Medieval Spain, goes full guns blazing.

This is a fairly large book. With its timeline starting with Roman Hispania, albeit brief, to the Visigoth Kingdom. In fact, I was surprised to see how much content was included about the Visigoths!

Of the many books I’ve read about medieval Spain, I have to say this is the absolute definitive book for anyone wanting about the incredible history of the reconquista.

Book Review – The Latin Chronicle of the Kings of Castile

The Latin Chronicle of the Kings of Castile, is one of favorite books about medieval Spain (I’ve already gone back and re-read this book multiple times). In a weird comparison, this book felt very much like reading The Silmarillion (history told by the perspective of the Elves). I find these types of books to be extremely immersive, I feel almost as I’m in the world where these history annals are being described to us. Little have I imaged a few years back, that primary sources are now turning out to be my favorite pieces of literature to read!

From it’s original Latin source, this book would be called the “Latin Chronicle of the Kingdom of Castile”, the book starts from the reign of the first autonomous count of Castile, Count Fernán González, all the way to the reign of the king Fernando III of Leon-Castile. Although the bulk of this book is focused mainly focused around the events during reigns of Alfonso IX of León (1187-1230), Alfonso VIII of Castile (1158-1214), and Fernando III of Castile and Leon (1217-1252). This era is undoubtedly the turning point during the reconquest of Moorish Spain. Personally this is favorite era during the request 1157-1248 (After the death of Alfonso VII of Leon-Castile, all the way to conquest of Seville by Fernando II of Leon-Castile).

Although this book is just under 200 pages, it covers a lot of ground. With the different and complex layers of the political landscape in Medieval Spain, between Christian and Muslim states, the translator of this chronicle does an excellent job annotating the additional information needed to fully understand the concept that the medieval chronicler is portraying. Another interesting thing about this book is that it also describes the state of the world from the Castilian point of view. In it we read the state of the Albigensian Crusade, The Third and Fourth Crusades, to the capture the Holy Land, as well as the Crusade of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

It’s kind of interesting about author of this Chronicle (Bishop Juan of Osma or Bishop Domingo of Plasencia), did not included the entire history of Castile from its inception. Although they’re plague with biases and negative view towards the enemies of Castile, I love reading these type of primary sources because it gives us an astonishing insight toward the mindset of the person who wrote the chronicle. Written by cleric, the chronicle has lots of beautifully written phrases and quotes.

Book Review – Stop Wasting Time

Stop Wasting Time

Stop Wasting Time: End Procrastination in 5 Weeks with Proven Productivity Techniques is the type of book that I should’ve years ago. While indeed I read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (book review pending), this book takes a more practical approach rather than a motivational one. Not to say that I wasn’t motivated from this book, far from it. Instead this book is well structured into a five week program with useful techniques to get over the incredibly tough hurdle of procrastination.

This book starts by identifying what causes procrastination, and what type of procrastinator are you, and the different reasons why we procrastinate. I think we’ve all heard the phrase “I don’t have enough time to do this..”, practically as an excuse to not do such thing. Well, theirs a reason for such behavior and this book outlines the causes, and its solutions.

To get the most of of this book, you’ll have to follow along the exercises covered in it. The requirements are simple, just a notebook and the willingness to have a drastic lifestyle change. In my case since I’m a digital junkie, I used a slightly different approach to follow along, ie using a private Doku Wiki site and GitLab’s Project management features (awesome free tool that makes it really easy to create Kaban-style boards!)

At just under 200 pages, this book is one where you can easily re-read again, to keep your mind refreshed and in tracked. It’s not the silver bullet to end procrastination, but definitely a good resource to break that terrible habit!

Yet another HR friendly document


As I start to delve into the world of Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and being what it seems to be an IT certification hoarder, I’ve decided to take the beginner level AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam to start my Azure certification journey. The exam is equivalent to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and the cloud neutral certification CompTIA Cloud Essentials+, both of which I have. Since I’m completely new Azure, this served as a perfect starting point to start learning this awesome public cloud. I’ve recently started a new job that requires me to have extensive Azure skills, so I’ve been using the platform professionally for just under a month. The exam preparation was literally my introduction to Azure.

For the study material, Microsoft offers some really good self-paced training for the exam, free of charge. In addition, I also used the Udemy AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam Prep course. Given that the exam objectives are regarding the core Azure services at a high-level, I think these two training materials are more than sufficient for anyone who already knows another cloud platform like AWS, and wants to have the core foundational knowledge to be successful in Azure and pass the AZ-900 exam.

The exam itself was recently updated a few days ago, so I studied using the old exam objects. I did, however reviewed the changes and made sure I was completely familiar with the changes. Thus said, this has to be the most easiest IT certification exam that I’ve taking so far, it was also the shortest. I finished the exam in about 35 minutes!

This is just the beginning, my goal is to obtain the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate and Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate by the end of this year. Both of which will be much more difficult to obtain.

Guts, The Black Swordsman – Prime 1 Studios Statue

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Guts, The Black Swordsman Berserk has surpassed the Sauron Sideshow Premium Format as my favorite statue in my entire collection. Being my first 1/3 scale statue, can I see why people love this scale over any other. The majority of my collection consists of 1/6 and 1/4 scale statues, and this one completely towers over all pieces in my collection. It has such a massive presence in my room, it’s definitely the center piece in my collection!

Long sold out, I originally I eyed this statue back when it was still available at the Prime 1 Studio website. At that time, I opted to not buy it, and instead purchased the Threezero Guts Berserker Armor 1/6 figure. After watching many unboxing and reviews on YouTube, I later completely regretted my decision of not buying the 1/3 scale Guts, The Black Swordsman Berserk by Prime 1 Studios statue. So my hunt for this statue started. My biggest mistake of not purchasing the statue back when it was still available was just a start, I soon realized how I under looked the massive cult following Berserk has. This manifested itself in people asking for outrages prices for this statue. I was certainly not going to be paying what eBay sellers were asking, so this meant I was going to find this statue either by a local seller or by a Facebook statue collector group.

As luck would have it, someone was selling the statue on a Facebook statue collector group for a really good price. Buying from a Facebook statue group seller, you have to do your due diligence. Since unfortunately scammers are real problem. In my case, the seller was from California and his profile looked legit; a quick Google search I was able to confirmed that I was dealing with a real person and not a scammer. Also, the seller was including an option to pickup the statue. So given that the seller was in California, I choose the option to pickup the statue. Unfortunately I soon realized that my car was not big enough to fit the two massive boxes! This lead me to go for the shipping option. The seller was very quick informative and commutative, so just two days later I had the statue in house. Overall, I was extremely lucky that I buying from a trusted seller.

About the statue itself. It is my favorite piece in my collection! I have 442/600 Deluxe Edition. The statue comes with four head sculpts, each head sculpt has its own stand if you want to display them along side the statue or anywhere else.

Also the statues has two poses, one where Guts is holding the massive Dragon Slayer sword posed behind his back and the other where he is holding the Dragon Slayer sword in front of him. I opted with the latter display, however this is going to be one of the few occasions where I’m to be switching displays as both are equally good. In addition to the different head sculpts and sword display options, the statue comes with two variants of Puck that go on top of Gut’s left shoulder. For this display option I opted to not use it at all, mainly because just trying to put in the Puck into Gut’s shoulder, I was scared that I was going to break the statue! I like the cloth cloak that the statue comes with, however this makes it extremely difficult to insert Puck. Lastly, the base on this statue is extremely heavy!

The only negative thing I could find with this statue is that the Brand of Sacrifice is not bright red as it was shown in the prototype. I’m not a big fan of battery powered light-up features on statues, and this case is not the exception. I would’ve like that the Brand of Sacrifice to be bright red without the need of a light-up feature.

I can’t wait to receive my 1/3 Geralt of Rivia statue by Prime 1 Studio as both statues will pair beautifully and more importantly both will showcase two of my favorite protagonists in all of Fantasy.

Book Review – ¡Santiago y cierra, España!

¡Santiago y cierra, España! (St. James, Close, and Spain) is the third and final volume by
José Javier Esparza on the Reconquista. This book starts after the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. This particular era of the Reconquista (1212-1492) is really well documented, so I was surprised to see that this book was not as massive as the previous volume Book Review – Moros y Cristianos. This is my only negative view of this book, as it could’ve easily been another 1,000 page chunker, but it was barely half of that.

In this book we get to read about the epic crusades waged by James I of Aragon and Fernando III of Castile and Leon, the crusades to capture the straight of Gibraltar in the 14th century, and concluding with the crusades to conquer The Kingdom of Granada. If their is one era of the medieval Spain that I’m somewhat less knowledgeable in, is the 14th century (1300-1400). So to me this book was an introduction to that century, or terrible century since now I know why that century didn’t really made much progress in the expansion in the Iberia Peninsula. In addition, I learned the involvement and collateral damage The Hundred Year’s War caused in the Spanish realms.

The subtitle of this book “El nacimiento de una nacion” (The birth of a nation), is rather interesting since the latter portions of this book make the argument on why all Christian realms of Iberia Peninsula (including Portugal) end goal was unification.

To conclude, I must mention that the term “¡Santiago y cierra, España!” is originally a battle cry shouted by Spanish crusaders. Thus said, contemporary this phrase is also used (or high-jacked) by ultra far-right fascists in Spain. While I don’t know what are the author’s political beliefs, not once did I had an impression that these books were written with a biased political views associated with them. Of course theirs some nationalism associated, but this doesn’t affected how the historical events are presented to the reader.

If you want to learn about the epic events of what is known to history as the “Reconquista”, I would definitely highly recommend anyone to read this book series.

Book 1: La Gran aventura del reino de Asturias
Book 2: Moros y Cristianos
Book 3: ¡Santiago y cierra, España!

As the cliché phrase states “Something ends, something begins”, with this book the Reconquista ends, and new era begins and that is the “Age of Discovery”. Of which this had already manifested long before the fall of The Emirate of Granada, with the expansion of Portugal into Africa, and of The Crown of Aragon into the Mediterranean. Knowing how everything is interconnected gives me more appreciation to how fascinating history is.

Yet Another HR Friendly Document


Over a year late, but I finally managed to complete my AWS Associate level trifecta certifications by passing the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator exam this past Friday. I obtained the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification on November 2019 and the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification on September 2020. The Solutions Architect certification is by far the easiest of all three, while the SysOps Administrator is the most difficult of all three.

As far as the study material, I used Stephane Maarek’s Ultimate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022 and Neal Davis’ AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022 courses. Both courses, are a combined of almost 40 hours worth of training material. I come from a moderately heavy AWS background, so I think anyone with at least an intermediate to advance level experience working in AWS environment, really only just need these two great courses to pass the exam. Thus said, unlike the Solutions Architect Associate and Developer Associate, I feel this certification does require to have real world experience or at least substantial hands-on training before taking the test!

One thing about this certification in particular, although not in its entirely, but at least it’s finally using actual hands-on AWS labs scenarios, instead of the entire exam being the traditional question and answer test. I love this new hands-on approach, since in my point of view, its truly the only way it can solidify whether or not an exam candidate is competent sufficient to actually solve AWS related problems.

What’s next?
My AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification expires on November 2022, so my next goal is to obtain the more advanced AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional before the Associate level one expires.

Templar’s Reign Statue

Templar's Reign Statue

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Templar's Reign Statue

Given that Sideshow’s new policy of their rewards points expiring, last year I found myself with about $80 worth of credit available to use before it completely expired. At first, I thought about using my available credit by purchasing an art print. However somehow within the Sideshow website, I happened to stumbled across The Templar’s Reign statue by Quarantine Studio. I instantly became excited because I’m a big medieval history geek, in addition also the first thing that peaked my interest was the fact that it was listed as an 1:6 scale statue. I immediately thought this would be a perfect fit with my current 1:6 Elder Scrolls statue collection, and boy it sure does!

At just $280, I think it is an absolute bargain. You get three head sculpts: the traditional crusader knight helm, a regular un helmeted portrait, and lastly an undead version.

The statue itself has a very small footprint. The templar is leaping from what appears to be some sort of stone wall, with a sword raised on his right hand, while his left hand has a wooden shield. Next to him is a banner of St. George. The paint on the statue is really good. The blood splatter on the cloak and shield is done really well, which helps to tell a story.

Overall, I’m completely happy with my purchase, it far exceeded my expectations. The statue is soldout on Sideshow’s website, but it appears Quarantine Studio to be still be selling it on their website. https://quarantinestudio.com/product/templars-reign-prepainted-statue/
My statue is 50 out of 200 edition. While it’s a very short edition size I’m kind of hoping the statue sells well so that the studio can do more medieval based statues with their unique horror element to it.

Reconquista Timeline and GitHub Pages

Website URL: https://alpha01.github.io/reconquista-timeline/
GitHub Repository: https://github.com/alpha01/reconquista-timeline

I’m somewhat of a Hispanic history nerd, particularly the Reconquista Era. I’ve read about 20+ books on this subject, have three regular journal notebooks scattered with lots of different notes. I love book journaling, however this form of research and study does have it’s drawbacks. The main one, my notes are not easily “searchable” and more importantly if I lose my journal notebooks, I lose my notes! While I’m still going to continue to use my book journal, I’ve started to migrate my notes to a digital format as well.

As I continue to port my notes to word documents. I wanted to also create a simple easy to follow timeline. While theirs some Reconquista timelimes out there, I wanted to create one from scratch. Solely based on my notes and research. I immediately recalled a cool timeline web-based app called “Life”. I’ve used this app a few years ago, and was a big fan of its simplicity. Although the project hasn’t been updated in years, it’s not using any web frameworks. So decided to use this application for my Reconquista timeline. As stated, the app doesn’t use any web framework, so simple changes can be done using plain vanilla JavaScript and CSS.

Simple, well sort off. I’m not a Web Developer, nor would I claim to be one. Thus said, I’ve done plenty of back-end web development in my previous jobs, so depending on the stack, I feel confident tackling complex problems.
While in the past, I’ve considered switching careers from a Linux Systems Adminstrator / DevOps / SRE Engieer role towards a more developer only focused role rather than a hybrid. The primary reason why I didn’t pursued this career change has because of how incredible complex (and ugly) are front-end technologies. Just working with JavaScript alone adds fuel to my disdain towards disdain towards front-end development (I’m not going to mention NodeJS and npm!). For just about any front-end related work that I do, I always find myself “Googling” my way through a problem!

Since the application is fully static, this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out GitHub Pages for the first time. I must say, GitHub Pages is awesome. The setup is dead simple, simply select the branch in the configuration settings, and GitHub automatically adds the corresponding event Action to build and publish site. Funny enough, GitHub Pages uses Varnish which is what I also use on my webapps for HTTP accelerator/caching proxy features. Making changes are instantly, I haven’t noticed any stale caches. GitHub Pages is an awesome service, and it’s free! (only for public repos)