Monday, June 29, 2009

Not A Military Coup But Pretty CRAZY!!!!!

From the New York Times so its not just important here!!!:
"BUENOS AIRESNéstor Kirchner, the former president and head of the governing Peronist Party, conceded defeat early Monday in critical congressional elections that became a referendum on his leadership and that of his wife, the current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner."
The opposition, a very wealthy man who spent millions of his own dollars on his campaign named De Naveraz, won with something like a two point lead. While I don't pretend to know anything but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Argentine politics, I know that defeating Kirchner is kinda a REALLY big deal for all of those Argentines who hate the Kirchner political machine. Well now the Kirchners have lost their majority in the Congress and we'll see what happens. The biggest effect will be on Christina Kirchner's re-election in 2011. I'll stop before I sound like I'm pretending to know what I'm talking about, but this is pretty exciting!!!!! Just read the article and leave it to the professionals to explain it a little better.
Also, if you dare, an article from Argentine newspaper Clarin for a Castillano take on the story.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Entrepeneurship and The Last Weekend In June

This weekend I was finally back to my old self and no longer felt tired no matter how much I slept. I didn't jinx myself with a crazy weekend but it was a busy one nonetheless. On Friday night Josh and I headed to Provincia. A common mistake among foreigners is to mistakenly call the city we live in Buenos Aires. We actually live in Capital Federal which is in the province of Buenos Aires. Everywhere outside of Capital is called Provincia de Beunos Aires and can be easily translated as the suburbs. To narrow it down for you we headed to Quilmes, the home pueblo de Ulises y Santi, for a birthday party. Gigi, a friend of Uli's from his old job has a lover who manages a swanky bar in town. We took colectivo 22 all the way there for free food and good music. The beers weren't free but they were delicious.

from the left: Josh, a friend of Gigi, Gigi, Uli

sitting with our jackets because it was cold in there!!!!

awesome chocolate mouse cake = too much for my tummy

Saturday I slept in and Josh and I spent the morning going food shopping and eating a delicious salad and too much Dulce de Leche. MORE IMPORTANTLY!!!!! we found out there is a new Frutigran flavor!!!!!!!!!!! Chocolate chip, soy and oatmeal team up for the tastiest Frutigan yet. I'm obsessed. I repeat, obsessed.

An old favorite, but avena (oatmeal) and pasas (raisins) does not compare to the new and improved but not yet documented on the internet avena, soya y chips de chocolate!!!

After I sufficiently stuffed myself with carbs and salad I headed to Frisbee alone and played all afternoon. It was cold and I played well, and then later poorly but I still had a good time. I also felt better about how many churipans I ate that night. Ok, I ate too many, but at least I did get exercise before I clogged my arteries with two and half of them. Saturday night we were supposed to have a Cadillacs churipan dinner but it was a party fail and I never sent out an invitation and only Nick and our new friend Alex showed up. Santi also had invited people from work so there was no fewer people than normal in our house and we drank beer, ate churipan and spoke in a mix of Spanish and English all night. The music wasn't too loud and the strobe light was only on for a little. It was a great night.
This morning I woke up early (11:30) and cleaned the house while I waited for the house to wake up. Erin came over for brunch and we made Shakshuka again as well as French Toast and fruit salad.

Shakshuka cooking on the stove

Nick came over as we were getting ready to eat to watch a disappointed US v. Brazil final and Erin and I headed out to sell Banana Bread.

I've been thinking for some time now that I would like to sell food at a market or an event because I always see people doing it and it would be a fun way to make some extra pesos. Banana bread seemed to me the perfect thing because I'm guaranteed to be the only one out there selling it and its dirt cheap to make.

Two kilos of very ripe bananas: A$R 4
Two eggs: A$R 0.80
Flour: less than A$R 3
Baking soda: less than A$R 1
Salt, Vanilla, Butter and Sugar: less than A$R 1
This photo: Priceless

Yes we went out in these hats and our sign reads: Banana Bread Casera (homeade) de Los Estados Unidos

We sold two pieces for five or six pesos and one for three or four depending on the client and spend about two hours walking up and down Defensa. Today is a big election for the Congress and voting in Argentina is obligatory. Because of this the fair was relatively empty, yet in two hours we sold all but two pieces of bread and made a profit of A$R 50!!!! Of course we already spent almost all of it on earrings on the way home, but what fun to see something you want and to buy it. A sensation as foreign to me as my feelings about this weekend when it arrived (explanation in previous post). The downside to our light schedule of course being that we are pretty broke and we were exhilarated by our purchases as we headed back to our warm house for some maté and discussed how much fun we had talking to all the vendors, tourists, old men and the abundance of creepy vendors who said that while they weren't interested in our banana bread but in us. I wonder how much we could have sold some besos for. Probably a lot more than our banana bread. Let's not find out.... In the end it was an enjoyable two hours and much market research was accomplished and next week should be even more successful. A few things we will do for sure are to begin earlier (many people had already eaten a lot of food) and to make more banana bread so we can make the squares bigger. Also, targeting old men worked really well, and I think the hats really helped. One man also criticized our packaging, but I though paper towels added to the whole homemade aspect.

Uli was wearing all of his scarves when we returned

I finally bought a feather earring!!!!! Bit by bit I will fit in here!!!!!! This photo is dedicated to Jessica who inspired me to shop around for a feather earring for months until I bought this one today.
Now we are hanging out at home and everyone is making gnocchi. I think I'll go help.
Tomorrow I begin hanging out with Erin as much as possible seeing as I received the shocking news last night that she is leaving me in a week, but more on that to come.
I can't believe its almost July!!!!!!

My "Busy" Week

A new record was reached this week. I worked 19 hours and I got paid for more that were canceled. Of course I was traveling around the city for many unpaid hours as well, but I started my new job (I am working for a man named Hernán) on Thursday. After teaching Javier at Kimberly Clark at 8 am in Puerto Madero I Subted (and walked) over to Belgrano for six hours of teaching in a row! After that I colectivoed over to Frisbee practice for my longest day in Buenos Aires yet. Friday I also worked all day and went to an orientation with ecolonias in between classes. I was out from 8 am till 5:45 and only arrived home that early because my student (my first private student that Mia found for me at DVF) went home sick.
For the first time in...a long time the weekend felt special, and sleeping in on Saturday was a treat and not just another day without much work. There was that feeling of a weekend being separate from the rest of the week. "Everybody's working for the weekend" was stuck in my head all of Thursday and Friday.

I know all my faithful readers are probably reading this at work and I know what you are sarcastically thinking: oh poor Julia, 19 hours of work!!!! Well think what you will but it was exhausting.
I also finished The Count of Monte Cristo!!!!!! It was one of the longest books I've ever read, but also one of the best. As I neared the end of all 1200 and something pages I never wanted it to end! I highly recommend it to everyone, especially as you guys in the Northern Hemisphere head to the playa (beach) this long but captivating read that is also incredible written (get the Penguin classics edition: excellent translation) will capture your imagination as it did mine. I actually would regret getting off the Subte or the bus as my seemingly shorter trip ended before I was ready to stop reading. I can't speak on this books behalf enough. READ IT.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Obligatory Note on Michael Jackson

Like the rest of the world, I was shocked by the sudden passing of Michael Jackson. I have always been fan of the man's music, whereas my views of him have ranged from reverence to the point of imitation, to disbelief and mockery, to a brand of indifferent pity. One of my first formal introductions to the King of Pop came courtesy of either the mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream or a "Best of Motown" CD featuring The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", which I listened to who knows how many times. I was instantly taken by the fact that this boy was the lead singer of a wildly successful band at the age of 11, not too much older than I was at the time. One thing confused me, though, and that was Jackson's transformation of appearance. My mother recalls that I asked her why Michael Jackson used to be a little black boy and now looked like an old white woman. Her answer, now, is irrelevant; what mattered was that even at an early age I realized there was something odd about him, but as like most children, I instantly forgave these misgivings and concentrated on what I liked: his music, and it was everywhere. Dangerous had just come out, "Black or White" was a smash hit, he performed during halftime of the Super Bowl, and we were singing "Heal The World" for my brother's 3rd grade graduation. I loved listening to Thriller on my Walkman, and even went through a (very) brief stage where I would don a single glove in an attempt to be more like him. Julia told me to never tell anyone that fact, but she's not the boss of me. As you can see, I've grown up quite a bit.

As I got older I came to appreciate the genius of his music and tried to ignore the eccentricity of his personality. Jacko became Wacko, his face became more emaciated and plastic looking and the accusations of child molestation appeared to be more legitamate, causing a new generation to come to know him as a crazed pedophile, the Peter Pan who violated his lost boys. The court of public opinion swayed decidedly against him, and not without merit, while the legal system acquitted him or any criminal charges. Talking heads and other personalities in the media, the same ones who are lauding his revolutionary legacy, absolutely skewered him. That, to me, is one of the most interesting elements of his death. Now that he's not around, everyone seems to have pardoned his sins. Obviously no one wants to spit on the memory of someone recently desceased, and we always try and remember the best about people after they die, but the level of post-mortem-idolization after years of brutally critical scrutiny remains hypocritical.

Amazing make-up or foreshadowing?

Another interesting point, which actually sets itself up for a (possibly weak) anaolgy, is his death coinciding with that of Farrah Fawcett, who had been ill for some time. She, too, was a good samaritan who did tons of work for charities and to fight cancer, but her passing has been completely overshadowed by the shock and awe of all that is Michael Jackson. This situation reminds me of how Mother Theresa and Princess Diana died within days of each other, and how the latter dominated the headlines even though both were global icons with similar goals. Granted, Fawcett's fame could never approach those of MJ, Princess Di, or Mother Theresa, and I understand how the media's market inscentives drive most of their decisions (read: Michael Jackson and Princess Di sell more news than Farrah Fawcett and Mother Theresa), but it's unfortunate when this kind of thing happens.

As I write this post, Michael Jackson fans have gathered here around the Obelisco here in Buenos Aires to celebrate his memory and collectively grieve his loss. There are speakers set up blaring his hits, with supporters, some dressed his likeness but all at the least wearing a shirt bearing his image, imitating his unmatched dance moves. Some are even crying. This same scene can be found all over the world, with millions mourning the loss of Michael Jackson across the world. My question is, who else's death inspires this same feeling of universally collective loss? How many global icons remain whose loss would touch people from all walks of life, all over the globe? We're not talking about superstars here, but rather über-super-mega-galactic stars who've been around long enough or done something so important that their deaths would resonate across the board. Here are some people who I thought would definitely make the list (in no particular order): Paul McCartney, Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Nelson Mandela, and Madonna. Pelé and Bill Gates might make the list, as well as Bono and Elton John, but besides those five I couldn't think of any locks, please enlighten me if I'm being ignorant. Either way, the list is now one name shorter. Good bye, MJ.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Earlier today I was putting down some fresh newspaper near (one of) Manzi's favorite bathroom spots when I saw a folded up piece of paper with my name on it sticking out from below her bed. I failed to recognize the handwriting, which isn't saying much since I can only recognize Julia's and (barely) Uli's, and could not remember ever seeing the paper before, so I picked it up. After scanning down the full page of chicken scratch to see who the letter was from, I was met not by a signature - or rather, a written signature - but by a firmly stamped paw print. Here is what I read:


Since you seem to have taken over the majority of fatherly duties since I arrived five weeks ago, I found it fitting to write you a letter on this Father's Day. You may not realize it, but I notice all that you've done for me and I appreciate it. Especially that time you laughed off the fact that I threw up on your lap. Or the time before that when I went number 1 on your lap. Basically, I appreciate you not holding my penchant for disposing of not-so-nice liquids on your lap.

At first I had my doubts about you, I admit, but you really earned your stripes in my book just one week after I took up residence in Casa Cochabamba. I'm not sure if you remember, but it was the night of Ulises's birthday party. You had put me in your (or, as I like to think of it, our) room after the masses had petted me, held me, and spoke to me in that stupid baby/doggy voices humans love to use to their heart's desire. I was clearly tired, but like so many who feel empowered to the point of invincibility by their youth, I defied your bedtime suggestions and re-immersed myself into the party. I was met by a chorus of cheers, triumphing my return to the crowded kitchen like Caeser coming home to Rome from the battle field. (And you thought I wasn't paying attention to Gladiator last night. Russell Crowe was a stud, but nothing compared to those dogs who mauled the barbarians at the beginning of the movie. Mmmhmmm, break me off a piece of that.) But soon after, the adrenaline wore off and I realized it was 4:30 and I needed to curl up in my bed of cloth and straw. I was staggering around the living room, barely dodging the guests who couldn't see me in the dark or from their height (of consumption). My systems were on the point of shutting down what I was suddenly whisked off my feet and found myself safely in your arms. You told me it was time to go back to bed, and I blinked once in agreement. Or I may have fallen right asleep. Either way, I closed my eyes and felt safe and I thank you for that feeling.

From then on, I've behind you 100%. Sure, I go to the bathroom all over the place, tend to bite everything in site, and bother both you and Julia while you're eating and sleeping, but give me a break, I'm a frickin' puppy. I know the existence of this letter may betray that statement, but you've got to remember I'm less that 100 days old and have yet to funny control the little voices in my head that tell me "go pee now!". It's nothing personal, I swear, I will get better. In due time, I will understand that biting and barking are not the right ways to get what I want and I promise the corners of beds, couches, and just about everything else will not always look like steaming plates of bife de lomo forever. I cannot, however, say the same about your shoes.

I like to think I make up for my imperfections with an over abundance of manufactured cuteness. That's right, "manufactured cuteness". Of course I can't help that my face is more adorable than the Olsen twins circa 1990, but beyond that, I've created this "cute" persona that brightens your day. Example A: you know how when I run or changing directions it looks as though I come from a long line of prancing deer or a bouncing bunnies because I'm buoyantly half running - half jumping? And you know how sometimes I'm doing it underneath the coffee table and bang my forehead on its edge? Yea, I'm doing that on purpose, even though it hurts, all because it elicits an "aw" from you. That's right, I alter my running motion, which often times leads to me smacking my forehead against hard wooden objects, just because you think it's adorable. I actually practice moving my front and back feet as pairs, not as individual parts, and in doing so run the risk of suffering multiple concussions and possibly permanent brain damage. happy Father's Day, I may not remember what day it is in 3 years, much less that I'm supposed to be celebrating something. Example B: when you pick me up and spin me around to bring us face-to-face and I start spitting out half barks which culminate in a gigantic yawn that always brings a smile to that big dumb face of yours, and usually an "aw", to boot. You think that's natural? Heck no. While you're at work all day I'm looking in the mirror practicing that look, perfecting that look, making it my Blue Steel meets Magnum meets the dumb but dreamy look that's always on Keanu Reaves's face, but better. Thank God Dan is always hanging out with his best friend Internet, or else he might expose me and ruin the trick. You eat that face up and I know it puts you in a good mood for at least three minutes. Furthermore, this example brings up something else I haven't even mentioned yet: you pick me up whenever you damn well please! I have no control over my own body! Do you know how annoying that is?! No, you wouldn't, because you're not a pint-sized puppy who has to succumb to your passing whim and allow myself to be lifted in the air so you can make you lick your nose or dance to whatever awful music is playing, even though I may have been on my way to do some quality ear scratching, or better yet, attack the kitty toy I inherited from Chimba. I grin my puppy-teeth and bear it because, well, you satisfy my passing whim to chase the broom while you sweep, encourage my couch-climbing endeavors, and let me sleep on your lap whenever I please. And I appreciate it.

I've heard in passing the what now seems to be "legend" of my conception: Ulises found my "real father" on the street, chased him for an hour because he resembled my mother, finally caught him, brought him to my mother, they lit some candles and put on a John Coltrane record, yada yada yada, a stork flew over Quilmes and dropped me off. I distinctly remember my mother, and miss her when I catch the remanents of her scent that remain on the cloth that pads my bed, but I never have, and imagine will never, meet my real father. For all I know he's still patrolling the same corner where Ulises found him however many months ago, but by now, he's irrelevant because I have you, and I have Julia, and Ulises, and Dan...oh yea, and Santiago, who all take care of me. I even had Brian for a little bit. I know it's not just you, however much you may claim/complain that it is, but one thing's for sure: if you weren't my father, I'd probably have written a much shorter, more direct letter than the rambling, aside-riddled essay I wrote instead. I guess it's something we have in common: we've got a lot to say (that's why I bark so much!).

So happy Father's Day to you and everyone else that has taken the spot of that flea-bag father of mine. I think I came out on top in the end, even if I have to manufacture my own cuteness from time to time. Hold on a second, is today Father's Day, or is it next week? S***, the f****** concussions have already started to take their toll, if I could remember half the things I've written I would take them back this instant. (Editors note: I have no idea where Manzi learned those words)

Your's Truly,

P.S. Don't be afraid to get some prints and frame these pictures!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Faltan Cosas

Falta is one of my favorite words that I have learned. You can use it in lots of contexts when things are lacking. For example. La pasta esta lista? (Is the pasta ready?) No, falta un poco (no its missing a little or it needs a little more time). When you ride the bus and are no where near your destination and you ask the bus driver if you are almost there he says, "No, falta mucho, voy a avisarte! (no, we are nowhere near there and I will let you know when we are there silly gringra!!)
Well, this weekend I missed my High School's fifth year reunion. While I wasn't upset about missing an open bar in New Brunswick and a bevy of awkward situations (OK maybe I missed it a little) it did get me thinking about all the things that are missing in my life. At this point I am missing my family a lot (this kind of missing is extrañar, nor faltar). While we skype a lot and their presence and certainly their advice and critisisms aren't missing from my life, I especially miss them on Friday nights. There are people missing from my life who I see on skype, but friendships aren't the same over the Internet. I miss my friends even though I've found some amazing ones down here. There is also a list of food missing from my stomach that I won't even get into, but I'll just say pickles. Oh pickles...I miss you.
However, at the same time my journey falta mucho. I have just begun to get to know this city, and I'm starting Spanish lessons tomorrow. There is so much to see in the continent, and so many more people to meet. So many more foods to try, and so many more words to learns. There is much music to be listened to, and I know there must be more beers to try. As Josh begins to confront life with his stack of LSAT books I am forced to think of a time when this journey will end no matter how much it faltas, and it scares me. However, the time has come to stop shouting back "Falta mucho!!!" when ever my parents ask me when I'm coming home. Like the asado we love here, you put it on the grill, it takes forever, and you think it needs more time and all of a sudden its done, juicy and delicious whether you are ready for it or not. You eat it, and it is no more. I love comparing life to parts of a cow even if its a stretch...but in all honesty it is time to stop this "bohemian attitude" as my dad loves to call it, and make sure I am making the most of everyday and that my life here is as full as possible while I can and to also think about my future. And yes, I'll be there at the ten year reunion, and I'm hoping its at least five times as awkward as the one I missed.

My Not As Fluey Weekend

I'm feeling much better, but as I'm sure most of you have experienced, my awful sickness is lingering in the form of a cough/cold. Now I get this cough/cold every winter, and it generally torments me with feeling not great but not bad enough to stay in bed for at least two months at a time. Well this time I'm trying to fight it with lemon ginger tea. Erin and Camilla both recommended it and its delicious so that helps. You simmer water and ginger for ten minutes and then add the juice of one lemon. You can steep a black tea bag in that mixture if you want or just enjoy a caffeine free yet rejuvenating beverage. I made it today for the first time and I'm not going to stop!
The weekend was nice and pretty relaxing. Friday night I went to dinner at Erin's. We made this chicken in white wine with vegetable medley over rice madness. It felt and tasted French and was pretty tasty too. It was an early dinner by Argentine standards and I was home by midnight. I decided to watch The Changeling and to my astonishment it was 2:30 when the movie ended. Damn they make these movies so long now adays!!
Saturday I played too much Ulitmate for a sick girl but not as much as I wanted to. We lost, but tons of people showed up and the onda was buena so we are on our way towards something that should hopefully be good.
Saturday night Dan had his birthday party which was loud but not too bad. I went to bed around 3:45 and actually fell asleep after four when amazing Jeremy got everyone to leave and go to a club in Boca. I slept till 12:30 (oops!) and was late for brunch at Erin's with Camilla. We made Shakshuka, a yummy Israeli egg dish, that Erin and I have been wanting to make together since the first few weeks we met. The brunch was 8 months in the making and worth it. We also made French Toast (Erin has maple syrup!!!!!!!) and Camilla made fruit salad. Afterwards we walked to Palermo Viejo and shopped. My long and uninspired search for boots came to a surprising end at Sibyl Vane. They are beautiful. Thank you parents. They are also half the price they would have been at a department store in the States if I know anything about quality, which I might not.
I returned home to an early dinner of leftovers and some Frontline watching with Dan and Josh. We went to bed early and ended a chill weekend with early snoozing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SPOILER ALERT! Camelot Camp Video

To check out the blog about Camelot camp check out this page :

But please, for your viewing pleasure watch this video now because its not often I get to add my creative talent to such productions:

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Binge Continues...Advertisement Watch

So here is one of those posts that I started a month ago but never got to finishing. But remember all that junk I wrote about my computer allowing me to attach items to emails/put photos on the blog? Yea, a bunch of bull****, I jinxed myself. I can still transfer photos from my phone/camera to my computer, but can't put them on the web. So once again, thanks to Julia for providing the means by which you all can see what I'm talking about. Also, one of them needed a little bit of time since the subject had just suffered a tragic loss and I found it inappropriate to write something at his expense, even though he will never read this blog - just out of respect. So if it seems a bit late to those of you living in Buenos Aires, remember I intended to write this a month ago, I swear.

Lately I've seen some very interesting advertisements around the city, two of which I found to be worth writing about. The first is an ad campaign pitting Fox's two most successful animated series, Family Guy and The Simpsons. It was not secret in the United States that the two shows had a mild feud going on, with The Simpsons passive-aggressively accusing Family Guy and it's creator, Seth McFarlane (my friend's father actually had McFarlane as a student and this friend even had this cell phone, so I of course left a message on his voicemail and obviously got no response, which doesn't surprise after listening to him on a podcast last month since he sounds like a total douche. But more on my thoughts on Family Guy later...), of ripping of their formula but doing so with little creativity. The Simpsons' Matt Groening was/is not alone in his sharp criticism, with South Park's creative geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone also taking shots at McFarlane and Co. in the press and on their own program (Cartoon Wars I & II), attacking the show's brand of humor, which blog reader Bristol and I (among many, many others) label as the "humor of the absurd". For those of you who don't watch Family Guy, it refers to the fact that many jokes delivered on the show have little or nothing to with the story line and that they tend to group disparate and non-related elements in a truly absurd fashion (i.e. Peter: Yea, that was weird, but not nearly as weird as that time Paul Simon gave me a speeding ticket [cut to scene where Paul Simon approaches Peter's car, singing to him that he was going 50 in a 35 to the tune of '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover']) . That's not to say that I don't laugh at Family Guy from time to time, or that I think people who like it are dense, but I often find myself smirking at how outrageous it is in its attempts to entertain its viewers. It gets kind of tiresome.

Now, it would be counter productive for Fox to play-up this quasi-rivalry (which both sides say has been squashed) since it's not in their best interests to make viewers choose sides in this beef. They want as many peope watching both shows as possible, not Family Guy fans tuning in only after The Simpsons ends, and vise-versa. But here? The Simpsons is one of the more ubiquitous shows and seems to be on at least one channel at any point in the day, while the FX affiliate down here broadcasts Family Guy. So without the same market forces in play, FX came out with an ad campaign smearing The Simpsons and its characters on many a billboard and bus stop across the city. I haven't determined whether or not it's a joke exploiting the rivalry coverage up north or an actual attempt to draw away Simpsons viewers, but true to form, it adopts a posture of absurd comedy. Here are the ads, with translations below them so you can see for yourself:

Best translation I could come up with is "Bart is a tool".

Lisa isn't a virgin anymore.

I only go to Springfield to go to the bathroom (No. 2)

Homer is a Family Gay.

Overall, not very clever, but feel free to disagree with me.

The second part of advertisement watch is a billboard along Avenida del Libertador promoting a boxing match that may or may not have already happened. I don't have a picture of it, but that's OK because even if I did it would be difficult to see the important portion of it: one of the boxer's nicknames. Whether it's a cool nickname (James "Lights Out" Toney, Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield, "Hands of Stone" Roberto Duran, just to name a few) or a popular catch phrase associated with his persona (think Muhammed Ali "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee"), boxers are known for employing some sort of moniker to build or enhance their image. It's no surprise that these boxers both had nicknames, and while I cannot remember both, one of them obviously jumped out at me. The boxer on the left of the billboard, a burly, intimidating figure with no fair and a menacing face, carried the nickname "The Mike Tyson of Abasto". Mike Tyson himself has a number of spectacular nicknames ("Iron" Mike Tyson, "Kid Dynamite", and "The Baddest Man on the Planet), but someone using his actual name as their nickname or calling card seems...problematic. To which Mike Tyson are they referring? The prodigious talent who in 1986 at the age of 20 became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion ever? Or the overwhelming favorite who lost his title to a 42-1 underdog? Or even worse, the man who is a convicted rapist? What about the guy who bit off another boxer's ear, or the one who tattooed his head and face, or the one who screamed he wanted to eat his opponent's children? As a boxer, do you really want to compare yourself to a volatile, mentally unstable, criminal personality his resume post-1990? Why associate yourself with a figure who is remembered more for their negative attributes and antics than their positive ones? It's like calling hearing someone labled as the "Bernie Madoff of investing". Personally, I feel bad for the guy. He got too rich too soon, had bad people chirping in his ears and claiming to have his best interest at heart, did time in prison, obviously has some chemical imbalances, lost an immense fortune and declared for bankruptcy, and just recently (reason for postponing the post) lost his daughter in a freak accident involving a treadmill. I get wanting to liken yourself to Mike Tyson in his prime (take a look at this, for instance) but by now his (near tragic) baggage more than overshadows his previous greatness (look at this) Maybe Argentinians only associate him his former self, the fiercesome boxer whose name struck fear into his opponents' hearts. But those of us who saw the downfall can't help but ridicule his insanity or pity his tragic descent from the top, not marvel at who he was. Surely, you would be hard pressed to find a young boxer wanting to adopt "Mike Tyson" as a nickname, no matter how funny his scene was in The Hangover. And no, I haven't seen it yet.

Which Mike Tyson do you think of?

The Trials and Tribulations of Josh and His Computer

I can't remember if I've extensively written about the temperamental nature of my computer, but in the words of Ben from Lost, she can be a "fickle bitch". She's been through a lot, seen three continents over the past four years, and served me more than admirably, but she's turned into an aged race horse staggering towards the finish line, almost begging to be retired. She doesn't run as fast as she used to, which I can live with, but she's given me other signals that it might be time for me to...move on. For example, shortly after I started using my external hard drive (whose disk stopped spinning, which coupled with the theft of my iPod left me with a music collection that was merely a semi-permeable membrane of what it used to be, especially given a story that comes later in this post), my computer decided to stop letting me transfer photos from my camera/iPhone, attach files to emails, or upload pictures already on my computer to the blog. When I would attempt the latter two, it would immediately quit the application and ask me if I wanted to send a complaint to Firefox, which proved to be as fruitless as trying to get an Argentine to be punctual. Two weeks ago, seemingly on a whim, she decided to let me resume these activities long ago abandoned, so now I can take pictures directly from my photographic devices, put them on computer, and use them in my blog posts without cluttering Julia's computer, having to deal with her menacing glares when she catches me using it, or the shrieks of displeasure when she realizes she's posted under my name since I was the last one on her computer to make a post (oh relationships!). Believe me, this is a good thing for me. But I'm not getting ahead of myself and fully expect the previous state of affairs to return once I start using my new external hard drive again, so here's to two weeks of normal computer usage.

One part my computer, however, shall never function correctly. For nearly 2 years now - half my computer's life - it has had to be plugged in or else it shuts off. Essentially, it has no battery. Whether out of laziness, apathy, or some sort of logic, I figured it was not worth the price to replace the battery, even though it's an incredibly annoying situation. Last year my friend's dog chewed through my power cord, leaving me computer-less until faithful blog reader Danya gifted me her old power cord, saving me a lot of money since I'm unsure if they even make the power cord for my model anymore. Now this cord is on it's last legs, as fickle as ever, and the slightest jostle will interrupt whatever I'm doing since I have to restart my computer. Usually it's just an annoyance, but today it almost proved catastrophic. I was in the middle of uploading the new iPhone 3.0 software when I moved my computer from the couch to the coffee table when, you guessed it, the cord slipped the tiniest bit out of the port and shut off my computer. I looked at my iPhone only to see my worst nightmare: the same screen that appears when you turn on the phone for the first time. My fears were confirmed by the box in iTunes telling me that since I interrupted the installation process I had to restore my phone to factory settings, robbing me of what little music I had left and over 200 photos that were critical for preserving memories and illustrating future blog posts. All of the information (phone numbers, addresses, calendar items, etc) could be synced from my computer, and to my surprise the photos somehow didn't get erased, but the last remnants disappeared into oblivion. I'm left with less than 200 songs on my computer, which although fantastic for space, makes me somewhat depressed. I will end up having to steal all of Dan and Nick's music on to my hard drive in order to replenish my music collection, but sentimentally, it won't be the same. Yet, it may be a blessing in disguise, for it will give me the chance to be a bit more particular with my library while, at the same time, hopefully expanding my musical knowledge through suggestions from my mates (in the British sense). Either way, my collection is a blank slate waiting to be refilled, so I'm very open to suggestions.

Argentina's mid-term election: The glass empties for the Kirchners | The Economist

Argentina's mid-term election: The glass empties for the Kirchners | The Economist

Check out some coverage on the election I described in a previous post.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009


I, too, must apologize for my absence from blogosphere, but I have a good excuse...or two. First of all, I've been on nanny duty taking care of Julia and Manzi. Thankfully Julia's health has improved, and Manzi's penchant for taking care of her business everywhere but where I want her to has lessened, but the latter still needs a LOT of work. It's hard for me to stay mad at her when she gives me those big puppy eyes right after I scold her for taking a dump next to our bed - she's just so darn cute! (In case you were wondering, I am still talking about Manzi). Either way, she is the topic of a yet to be finished blog post that I started, oh, almost a month ago. Speaking of unfinished posts, I just recently got more artwork on another post I started a while back but did not want to put up without visual evidence of my claims, so hopfully I can get back to that one, too. But now that I've thrown myself back into LSAT studying, have gotten more and more into my book (War and Peace), and combined with my constant desire to remain aprised of issues pertaining to news, entertainment and sports, the time I can devote to sitting down and writing a good blog post has dwindled if I want to remain at least an outwardly social person. I feel like an addict who keeps telling those around him he can change but reverts to the old habit when I say that I'm going to try and write more. Just give me time, I have ideas for posts, it's just about me getting around to writing them. For now, know that all is well, I'm legal for another 3 months (Uruguay blog post coming!), and I'm happy. So until my next substantial posting, hope everyone has a great weekend and happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pacha/La Gripe

Many apologies for my long silence, but I have been in bed with the flu. I didn't want to worry any of you (Meme cough cough) so now that I'm feeling a little better I break my silence.
On Friday night I went to Pacha, one of the most famous night clubs in Buenos Aires. Bomba del Tiempo was playing there and Analia (Uli's friend) got us free tickets. Unfortunately that did not include cab fair. One long cab ride later, Analia, Erin and I arrived and of course headed straight for the baño. Erin and I immediately lost everyone but also instantly found our long lost Irish friend Des who we hadn't seen since Ted's birthday. We danced and danced and wondered where Bomba would be playing when all of a sudden: there they were! Right to out left! We weaved in and out of a few people, and there we were: front and center. They were amazing. The best I've ever seen, and we danced like there was no tomorrow. Well, I danced as best I could with my increasingly full bladder and eventually had to skip out to pee. Of course they finished as soon as I returned, but such is life. We continued to dance with random people and had a great time! We both hadn't been out dancing in ages and we made up for lost time. We finally met up with Dan and Analia again and soon found ourselves dancing around some members of Bomba! That was kinda cool. (Ok, feeling too much like a groupy now, I swear I'm not THAT into this group). Anyway, more dancing, more dancing, blah blah blah, more dancing. There was a lot of dancing. Around 5 am Erin decided to go home seeing as the music was too loud. I kissed her goodbye but soon realized the music had gotten louder and I couldn't take much more of it. Dan said he would go home with me in five minutes, but every time I said, "OK, ready to go?" He would say just three more minutes. I could see where this was going. Well, if Dan couldn't pull himself away to go home with me that wasn't going to stop me. I had to get out of there not to mention the fact that I had a 12 pm Skype date with my mom the next day. Oh, wait, that was almost in six hours. I really had to get out of there. So I left the club with not enough cab money and waited for the bus. It was pretty awful but I made it home alright. The loudest ringing I've ever heard in my own ears kept me up till seven and I finally fell asleep until 11. I woke up, ears still ringing and talked to my mom. Eventually we went to Frisbee, and against my better judgement I played a bit of pick up. I thought my coughing was from the second hand smoke from the club, but as the sun went down I started to get the chills. We began the longest ride home ever as I shivered next to Josh wishing for nothing more than my own bed in Colfax road and some of my mom's homemade chicken broth. Well, Josh did more than enough to make up for it. He made me some chicken soup and helped me to bed.
That night our roommates had a party. Well, I should say Stephania (who lived here before us) had her despedida here. While Dan thinks I'm being ridiculous, I thought the party was horrific. When I woke up shivering and had to pee I had to wait for the bathroom in a house full of strangers. Someone told me there was another bathroom. "I know you mthera*%&%$!! THis is my *&^(*&^ing house!!!!!" I wanted to shout. Instead I told him that I knew and that I lived here and was sleeping. He told me I looked cold and I told him it was because I had a fever. Not that it stopped him or any of the other 40 strangers in our house from making excessive noise until 4 o'clock in the morning (Santi had said everyone was going out by two). And maybe I am being a little ridiculous here because yes, the majority of the people who lived here attended the party and enjoyed the party. But when Josh got up at 3 (having been awake for an hour due to the noise) to ask them to turn the music down Santi was practically passed out on the couch and Dan said he had been checking noise levels to see if there were to loud but I guess thought they were acceptable. Maybe I'm turning into an old woman or maybe I'm simply turning into an adult who is tired of college style parties especially in my own home. Adding to all this of course is the fact that we've had stuff stolen (nothing this time) and that I was sick did not help my attitude toward the party, but the next day when Santi saw how sick I was and reacted as any friend would I thought, did you not notice last night that I needed a somewhat quiet night? That while you speakers were going full blast my head was killing me?
Anyway, I'm not thinking about moving, but it is tiring to live in a house of six where you are outnumbered about a lot: gender, smoking, ganas for wild parties, knowledge of the subjunctive...
Anyway, I left the house for the first time this morning since Saturday afternoon. I went across the street to the market (literally less than half a block away) and bought stuff so I could make Josh pancakes as a thank you for taking care of me. Well, that adventure was exhausting and I am now in bed resting until my meeting at four thirty about my new job that I am supposed to start tomorrow. I hope I can start tomorrow. My only symptoms left are fatigue and a killer ear infection and I would love to get started on my extra $1100 a month!!!! We'll see how I'm feeling though. Don't want to push it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Viernes - why did I wear heals?

Slept in till around 10 this morning and putzed around the house till I left for my 1 o'clock make up class. I left in heals so I could wear my high wasted jeans so I could impress a new student that Mia found for me while she was shopping at DFV. My class went well (we are watching "Thank you for Smoking") and I headed over to Marina's office. Unfortunately she was at the doctor with her sick son, so I met with her husband, but we are going to have class once a week for an hour and a half for 30 pesos an hour. YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! My first private client!!!! After our meeting I jetted over to Erin's and had tea with her and Camilla. I'm not sure if you all remember Camilla. She was the vivacious, blond dreaded haired, tall English girl that took the TEFL course with me who headed back to England and then India many months ago. After a bout with nerve damage from to much meditating (not a joke) she is back in BA for about a year. It was so wonderful to be with her again!!! Her enthusiasm and positivity is catching, and we already are making plans to take Salsa classes and to sell baked goods on Sunday in the Market (I'm glad somebody is finally enthused by my money making scheme!) I'm going to make banana bread, they are going to make cookies, and we are going to go out for dinner with the profits.
By the time my feet made it home they were not happy campers and I renewed my vow to never wear heals here again.
Tonight we are having an asado that was originally going to be a small affair for Will's birthday, but then Josh invited two people, so I went ahead and invited Erin and Camilla, and Nick is back so of course he's coming. So my small dinner has turned into a big get together. Can it be any other way? Later tonight we might head over to the world famous Pacha for a night with Bomba del Tiempo. My friends can't get enough of this drumming group, not sure if you noticed. Tomorrow is pick up at Ciudad Universiteria and at night the despedida of an Italian girl who used to live here. Man the weekend fills up quickly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Welcome to Smurfsville

Bueno, when I left you last were were eating pancakes and putting kids on a bus. As they headed down the driveway we hopped into Fernando's car and Santiago dropped us off at a bus stop in Marciel where we waited for about an hour and a half for a bus to Santa Fe. Lucky for us Aidine had two liters of cerveza. Yea, that turned out to be stupid seeing as the bus to Santa Fe was two hours long and there was no bathroom. I almost burst. In Santa Fe we caught a bus to Reconquista and arrived at one am. Unbeknown to us, the teacher who organized the whole thing, was waiting for us with heaters. Ignorant to this fact we got into two taxis with all the luggage and headed for La Jacaranda.
A word about Jacaranda: Its a strange place built for religious retreats. Apparently the building is falling apart of sinking into the ground and no one can repair it. Therefore the stay is ten pesos a night. There is a communal kitchen, and no heating system. Lucky for us there was plenty of hot water.
When we couldn't find it in the dark I randomly called the teacher because Ana was the first one in the phonebook of the phone I had been given. She was pretty pissed that we didn't know she was waiting for us. Thanks Ecolonias. She sent the heaters in a taxi and we went to bed exhausted and slightly warmed by the heaters.

The outdoor hallways of Jacaranda

I woke up hot and slightly disoriented and found my way into the sunlight where Soyna was smoking. In the sun it was hot, and we spend the afternoon in the sun on blankets. Ana brought some food and with every one's help I cooked some pasta and we had a picnic!!!:
from the left: Sonya, Will, Fiachra

Aidine's cave

Will playing guitar on the roof at sunset

That night we headed into Reconquista to explore and to eat. The town was nice and small and in my opinion more European than Buenos Aires. The plaza was really pretty, and the church was a big presence. Fiachra grabbed a mass and we wondered around the streets that strangely lacked stray dogs. We picked Fiachra up from mass and headed to a restaurant for dinner, but stopped on the way to head to a small market (not run by Chinese people). There was a perfect cross section of a pig, and I had to document:
We weren't sure how much we could spend on dinner, because as usual no one tells us anything, so we had a cheap but good dinner followed by the cheapest ice cream ever. It was pretty good. I got a waffle cone with chocolate coating and nuts with two flavors for $3.50 (pesos). So loco!!

The next day we did Camelot day camp for kids with limited English. It was like banging my head against a wall. There were only 4o something of them though, so the groups were small and it wasn't physically exhausting.

Spelling Dragon for a photo scavenger hunt. I might as well have asked them to write an essay on the unification of Germany.

Will got his hair did during lunch

The kids had made awesome shields

Kick ass obstacle course. Only two kids got hurt!

Tug of war tired them out and hurt their hands, but they won lots of "crystals" to make up for the one's they had lost speaking Spanish

Getting ready for the banquet

The knighting ceremony got real with candles and medieval music. The kids loved it and so did the parents. It was pretty cool to meet the parents for the first time.

Aidine knights a chica for using crappy English all day.

Finally, the kids left and we got down to business. We had the fixin's for an asado and a gringo asado it was. We took tips from everyone we could and got the thing done. We had asado and vacio and veggies and of course churipan (sadly no chimichuri). I ate...well, let's just say I ate a lot. I also polished off the salad too, but after days of potatoes and ground beef in differing variations I felt like the red meat done me good.

More photos of the place

The second day of camp went really well. There were only 15 kids and spy camp is way cooler than Camelot. We actually had free time, and I almost took a nap as I waited wrapped in rope for the kids to find me as an end to their mission. Being held camptive in one's own bed is awesome. For dinner we made a quick pasta and then hopped on the bus back to Retiro. One sleeping pill, an alfahore, 15 minutes of awake time and eleven hours later we were pulling into Retiro and I was happy to be home.

Variety is the Spice of Life

In case you all have gotten a bit tired of our writing, here is an article from from the New York Times Travel Section that highlights a few restaurants right around the corner from us. And as they say, it is a beautiful area that I first viewed just last week while taking a stroll around San Telmo. Enjoy!

The Counselors of the Round Table

I'm back in Buenos Aires!! And there's lots of photos for you visually stimulated fellows out there. Where to begin. Right, OK, so we took the two buses you take to get to Marciel where were picked up by Santiago. We bought Lomito sandwiches with slightly moldy but yummy bread, and headed to Carcaraes, the hotel I had previously visited and would be spending my next three days. Here is the church part of Carcaraes:

A word about Carcaraes: its cold, the food is not good, and the staff is mean. Besides that the place is perfect for a camp. There are many places to hide things, obstacles to course, rolling hills, a bridge, statues, a tent, a camp fire ground, and a football pitch (hehe, I said pitch not field). Ideal for missions, ice breaking, general running around and tomfoolery.

So we ate our Lomitos, and of course the complaining started in right away: "The bread is moldy!" "Its cold!" My bed isn't comfortable!" The boxes aren't well organized!" Man those people can complain. I told them to stuff it and tried to go to bed early, but its tough when people aren't happy and can't deal with it cause they make a lot of noise. Truth is, it was freezing and there were no heaters till the second day, so I was happy to again be sharing the double bed. It is more comfortable, and I forced Tara (a nice Irish lass) into some spooning time that kept me warm. However, that morning people were very reluctant to get up, and more reluctant to end the warm snuggle sessions:

I have the pleasure of introducing Aidine and Will to the blog. Neither were happy about getting up but had different ways of showing it.

The kids showed up around one, and we had plenty of time to get things ready. The first thing they do when they get off the bus is go through customs. They get a passport, they get a stamp, they get their bags searched for Spanish paraphernalia, and often have things confiscated. For our personal amusement we sometimes plant a pink bikini top in a boys bag and confiscate it. I was on room duty (requested because it pains me to see these kids faces as I bag their new gel or shampoo), but here is what customs looks like:

from the left: Patrick (Irish), Fiachra (pernounced Feekra and very Irish), Aidine (Irish) and Joanna (British)

After customs they take an oath to speak only in English or Irish and then promptly break it about 20 second later.

Will had a bit of trouble getting the fire started with his limited resources, and all the Argentine guys had suggestions seeing as they are all little asadors in training. Finally we got it going and we sang. If I never hear Wonderwall again I'll be ok:

The second day we made an amazing Camelot video with the older kids that I will put on the blog as soon as it is on the Internet, but to keep you from too much suspense I'll give you the low down: Arthur pulls the sword out of the stone after countless (four) knights try before him and fail. He grows to be a man. He has a party and meets Guenevere after knighting his knights. He marries Guenevere, but as they step away from the church he looks lovingly at Lancelot and realizes that it's Lancelot he has loved all along. At the same time Lancelot and Guenevere fall in love. Then Arthur is called to battle to fight a witch, and Lancelot stays home with a cold. Him and Guenevere are caught canoodling by Arthur who remains hidden and cries out for Lancelot!!!!!! Later, in a jealous rage he tries to kill Guenevere so he can keep Lancelot all to himself, and Lancelot steps in front of her taking the mortal blow to his own stomach. Arthur cries out "I killed the only man I ever loved!!!!" as Lancelot reveals with his dieing breath that it was Merlin who he loved all along. Merlin shouts " I knew it!!!" and kills Arthur. With very few characters left, he and Guenevere skip into the sunset. Also we kept switching the Gueneveres, so as they run off the other Guenevere runs after shouting, "No!! I'm Guenevere!!!" Its going to win prizes. I just know it.
That night we had a banquet and every (well, almost everyone) dressed up:

Will and I were the King and Queen

Introducing Sonya (Australia) who was head of the Wenches!

The sky in Carcaraes is pretty

And of course, we had pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast. I had restraint and only ate four this time.