Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tin-foil Hat Time!!!!

As some of you may know, Paulson, formerly the head of Goldman Sachs was named Treasury Secretary this summer.

FuBarrio stupdily bet that gasoline wouldn't go down by as much as it did.

FuBarrio found this posting online. FuBarrio likes to think he was "snookered", rather than just admitting to being stupid. So, this explanation fits his world view of why he lost his ass(ets) on bets that gasoline prices wouldn't tank:

As most of you folks who drive a car are more than aware, over the past six weeks we’ve all been on the receiving end of welcome reprieve in the price of gas at the pumps. In fact, a good many commodity prices have moderated somewhat over the course of the summer. While I “welcome” cheaper gas just as much as the next guy, I also like to get my head around the reason[s] for precipitous price movements – particularly in prices of commodities that have such a profound influence in my life. After all, it’s often said that knowledge is empowering, isn’t it?

Well, if you happen to be a “Commodities Bull” - last week [Thursday, September 21, 2006] the Wall Street Journal ran an inauspicious article in “Section C” titled, Some Investors Lose Their Zest For Commodities. With the article being “buried” in Section C and the fact that the newsy bit received zero TV time – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you all missed it.

One person who did not “miss it” was Bill King – he of the King Report fame. Not only did Mr. King “not miss it,” he quickly understood the implications of the content of the article, namely that, Goldman Sachs [on July 12] tweaked the composition of their “benchmark” Goldman Sachs Commodity Index [GSCI].

Not A Big Deal, Right? For those of you who might figure a little “tweaking” of an index is not such a big thing, you might want to consider this; “The Pimco fund has a rival in Oppenheimer Real Asset Fund (QRAAX), which doesn’t use commodity swaps and is therefore unaffected by the SEC ruling. It tracks the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, which is much more volatile than Pimco’s benchmark.” Or this, “It is public knowledge that PGGM and ABP, two of the largest pension funds in the world, are benchmarked to commodities via a passive allocation to the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, with ABP between 2-4% and PGGM 4%. Since ABP manages $155bn and PGGM $50bn,….” So let’s just say “a little tweak” in the composition of the much watched and followed Goldman Sachs Commodity Index can [and does] have a profound influence on the composition of funds and institutional money that is tracking it.

The Tweak… So here is what Goldman Sachs did to the GSCI, Prior to Goldman's revision of the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index in July, unleaded gas accounted for 8.45% (dollar weighting) of the GSCI. Now unleaded gas is only 2.30%.

So What’s Wrong With This? As Bill King points out, “Goldman's changes probably induced arbs, commercial hedgers, and other traders to sell September and October unleaded gasoline future contracts to avoid possible (settlement, delivery, etc.) problems. September futures expired in August; October contracts expire September 29. So unleaded gasoline prices collapsed in August and September.” I would like to “restate” what Mr. King said: What this means folks, is that hedge funds and institutional money that “TRACKS THE INDEX” were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted GSCI.

And if anyone hasn’t noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse…just in time for November’s Mid Term Elections! So don’t be fooled into believing that potential energy shortages have “magically been solved.” In all likelihood – much of the recent decline in the price of gasoline we have all “welcomed” has been the result of paper tricks being played on what amounts to a wealthy flock of sheep. But in the meantime, filler up! Rob Kirby, Sept. 25, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More "non-news" you can use

This just in :) : housing is finally going down in the US!

Seriously, I thought this was the oldest story on the planet. But after talking to a few people who live in areas where housing price changes have traditionally been more moderate, I found some people who didn't realize this was happening....or worse, figured it wouldn't happen in their neck of the woods.....

While plenty of well known and respected economists debate the degree of the slowdown, I think it will be a very difficult time for either home values or the dollar or both- everywhere.


Because the seeds of this bubble -- ridiculously loose credit standards, coupled with low interest rates -- are not regional phenomenae. Both are/were national, if not worldwide, drivers, meaning too much debt was chasing too few goods.

NATIONWIDE, median home prices have gotten WAY AHEAD of incomes. The median home in the US is selling at 3.7X the median US income. In some "hotter" areas, it's much, much higher. The historical average is 2.8X the median income.

(note: --if you are thinking about buying, waiting for the price drop to move in DO NOT BUY until the median price to median income is AT LEAST back to the historical average in your area. The reality is, the price will probably "overshoot" on the way down. Don't try to catch a falling chainsaw....while it is still running....while blindfolded.....between your legs!!! )

Why is 2.8X the historical standard? Well, much beyond 3X and a reasonable person would start to doubt the borrowers ability to repay the loan. However, as many of you know, the banks have gotten more and more creative with their financial engineering in an attempt to keep the ponzi scheme alive. While enumerating the multitude of products that allow buyers to lower their monthly and down payments would be interesting, the biggest reason has been the "securitization" of the loans. By "securitizing" the loan, they sell the debt to someone else, take down a HEFTY fee for doing the paperwork, and move on....

If you don't have to worry about being repaid personally (or your company) it all becomes a giant game/puzzle for the loan broker to figure out how to get you to qualify for the loan to get you into the house of your nightmares. Here is an interesting story out of the bay area, as the media is FINALLY starting to report on this.

Unfortunately, the ramifications will not be felt only by those participating/benefitting from "liars loans". Undoubtedly, the backlash will mean *overly restrictive lending practices*.

Newly self-employed will probably not have "stated income" loans as an option in the future.
Comps will crash for newly purchased homes once bkruptcies, foreclosures, and short-sales begin. A family needing to move for work or another valid reason will be stuck upside down in a loan valued more than their house.
Empty, or half-finished housing developments will forever scar the neighborhoods of people who were responsible with their debt, and the housing debacle will have ramifications unforeseen to this point.

In the end, perhaps we shouldn't worry:

-perhaps these are the ravings of another chicken little
-perhaps people will abandon living outside of their means, relinquish the McMansion in favor of something that doesn't take as many resources to maintain, OR start living in their McMansions with a larger portion of their extended family or families. That would probably be good for the social fabric, imo...although it would certainly create "new" stresses people are unfamiliar with.
-perhaps, sane lending practices will return without a gross overadjustment, which could make it difficult for some deserving people to get credit.
-perhaps the dollar will just adjust downward gradually, letting debt ridden citizens, and the govt, pay back its bloated debt with cheaper paper.

In the end, however, probably just more of the same....
-"woe's me", innocents, taken in by greedy corrupt system in the press.
- lawyers filing class actions against everyone (and their mother).
- politicians cracking down with an overly heavy hand after much grandstanding and chest thumping. government bailouts for everyone with tax monies collected from those that were actually responsible.
- carpetbaggers (realtors and mortgage brokers) moving on to the next bubble-de-jour.

What will it be? precious metals? bullets? bottled water? fed printing presses?....or tickets to South America? :)

ciao for now,

Monday, September 25, 2006

Are You Ready for some Futbol???

Nothing seems more "American" than a crisp fall air and a game of pickup football. These "Americans" would agree...

Of course, to be technically correct, they are South Americans, the game is "futbol" (soccer) and I guess it's crisp Spring air this time of year.

I got invited to go play some futbol with some Uruguayos. I was so amped to join in on the national passtime I managed to supress my horror at hearing the game would begin at 7. I was incredibly relieved later to find out that the game was actually being played at 7 PM...not AM as I had feared.

I was further relieved to hear that it would be played on a miniaturized version of a field (less running!) and the game would only last an hour vs. the more typical 1.5 hours....

As it turns out, i was being invited to participate in a game of "cincos" -- five on five -- often played (as in this case) on rugged aritificial turf with miniaturized goals and a mini-field. Although I'd never played "cincos" a friend had told me just a week before that he was constructing a "cincos" field in Costa Rica complete with walls, roof (for weather I imagine), lights, etc. Apparently, it's all the rage. As you might imagine, it's easier to get together 10 people to play, than the traditional 22, and people pay to 'rent' the fields by the hour.

I blame my ignorance of cincos to the fact that I haven't played soccer in YEARS, and to the fact that the US just isn't as "into" the sport as they are south of the border (and elsewhere).

When we arrived at the field, from the condition of the "turf" it was clear that it was getting a LOT of use, and it had likely been in use for some number of years. The "turf" wasn't astroturf, but basically, that green plastic fake grass crap that people put on their patios(or used in bad Easter displays in stores) in the 70's glued to the concrete subfloor.....slide tackles are a no-no, and falling down is discouraged as my still noticeable limp (days after) will attest.

This field had neither roof, nor walls, but lights. The fields are down by the water -- which is probably a nice feature on a warmer night. That night, my lungs were no match for the cold air. Luckily, we took turns playing "keeper" and right about the time I was about to pass out and take a "header" into the plastic turf it was my turn in goal.

It is a really good way to meet a bunch of locals, and even better if you have any kind of fitness or ball skills. All in all, it was a ton of fun, and I fully intend on trying to get in shape and "represent" for the US on the off chance I'm "reinvited" -- as soon as I can walk again.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kiss of Death

Shortly after arriving in Montevideo, FuBarrio came down with a brief cold, and a few weeks later, even Golden Lotus was suffering from flu-like symptoms.

The reason this is worth noting is that because of FuBarrio's hermit like tendencies, gruff exterior, scowling demeanor, pessimism, crumudgeon-ism, third person self-referencing tirades, and general dislikaility usually keep him well insulated from from the populace at large, and by extention, communicable disesases.

(side note: Of course, the sad tragedy in all of this is that FuBarrio's Uni-Bomberesque facade is merely a defensive mask....All those who have actually gotten to know FuBarrio (both of you) realize that deep down FuBarrio craves the respect, admiration, idoliz --- uh, i mean, admiration of his fellow man.)

However, FuBarrio was attempting to turn over a new leaf in his new home. He promised to leave the house more than once every 8 weeks, and to try to adopt some of the local customs. While some of the local customs, like enjoying 3 hour italian lunches laden with nice argentine and uruguayan reds were easy to come by, others were a little more difficult to get used to.

I know, you're thinking, "what in the world could FuBarrio not adjust to? After all, he has already cut back to no more than three twinkies per day, and has only broken that self imposed limit twice since last week....both times during very volatile days in the market! He's a obviously a veritable chameleon."

It's the kissing.

Uruguayans, and I imagine Argentines, when greating each other (even people you don't know but are meeting for the first time) kiss each other cheek to cheek. FuBarrio, sensing his personal space being invaded, immediately grew his beard out to Grizzly Adams-esque no avail. These Montevideans are very dedicated to their customs! Neither a beard that would make ZZ top jealous, nor a bathing frequency not seen since 15th century France, seemed to make any difference. Never once did anyone shy away from the obligatory kiss (?!?!)

OK...not a real kiss, but a cheek to cheek "air kiss" a la Hollywood....except only on one side, and not just with fellow star-lettes. Basically, everyone does this. Girls are expected to "kiss" everyone -- with both other girls and guys. And, with some of the younger generation, guys kiss guys....yikes! :)

Guys my age apparently, can just get away with kissing the females. When meeting ones real estate agent, when meeting her assistants, when meeting, greeting or saying goodbye to ones cleaning lady, neighbors, waitresses u get to know, the woman who sold me dsl when i went in to sign the contract, all constitute obvious times to exchange a kiss apparently.

So....did all this kissing contribute to our illnesses??? Have Uruguayos' frequent cheek to cheek interludes increased the countrymen's resistance to communicable diseases??? FuBarrio cannot be sure without more medical evidence.

All this aside however, FuBarrio has found a much more awkward problem associated with all this kissing. Not known for social graces, he has been trying to look suave while kissing total strangers at times.....(remember FuBarrio secretly wants to be loved). However, when kissing a stranger, where does one put their hands????

In FuBarrio's very limited North American experience, if you're going to try to kiss someone -- even an air kiss Zsa Zsa style -- you're probably going to be hugging them first -- or just done hugging them....viola...awkward hand problem solved!

Au contrair (to keep with the frenchy theme)...Apparently, that would be a lot more forward of an approach in Uruguay -- and one best not attempted with the woman who just had you sign your dsl contract -- who's to know? :)

Seriously though, what exactly to do with the hands??? I found them falling awkwardly around the waist of women 30 years my hand didn't slip and touch her butt did it???'s the skinny...which i'm sure has seemed perfectly obvious to all of you more cosmopolitan readers....I think I've figured it out:

Reach out with right hand, palm down and cup their right hand....not exactly like a shake....but, with fingers looked. Next, pull them toward you....if necessary, it's a nice touch to cup under the "shake" with your left hand, but're not really shaking in the North American sense of the word....just steadying yourself and drawing a vector on that space about 1/4 to the outside of this stranger's right cheek.

Next, move in, always to the left, usually without actually touching them and do a Hollywood "air kiss"..... and remember, unlike Costa Rica, and other locales u might be familiar with, only on one side here. After all, kissing guy friends on BOTH cheeks would be kinda gay! :)

ciao, xxx's, no ooo's (or did i get that backward?)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Return of 'Bread and Circuses'

FuBarrio's mood has lightened considerably the last week.

His once deeply furrowed brow has lightened to a mildly-pleasant arch....The sun is shining, birds are chirping, glorious spring is in the air. Unleaded is under 2.50 a gallon, and with any luck, in the near future mere mortals may consider international travel as a possibility without first leveraging another HELOC outa the ol' homestead.

However, all this pales in comparison to the profound importance of the return of the almighty "bread and circuses"TM (twinkies and cable t.v.) :)

OK...Well, to be honest, we still have neither here in Montevideo. However, GL made a brilliant find called 'medialunas' or "half-moons" to the linguistically challenged. These are basically croissants ( that spelled right?) but SOFT and with honey drizzled over the top....almost "spongecake" like in see where I'm going with this right?

In addition, I was able to listen to a radio broadcast of my Huskies' 2nd half collapse against the Sooners, AND I was able to watch 'Survivor' online (damn that show is stoopid -- why do i enjoy it so much?)

If I watch Survivor at the same time as eating a medialuna I almost don't even notice that they are missing the artificial whipped sugar-oil filling and assorted preservatives that keep the mental accuities of fuBarrio well lubricated while state-side.

Of course, all of this romantic opulence may have unintended side effects; like, bringing down an empire, and/or referring to oneself in the third person whilst enjoying serious waves of meglomania -- All in all, totally worth it!

Hail Caesar!, I mean "four more years!!!"

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our "barrio" (neighborhood)

The street we live on is relatively "busy" -- it is divided by a median in the front, and it is one of the main arterials for moving about Montevideo.

We aren't on the water, nor do we have a view. However, I noticed while on the upper terrace (aka roof), that we have what US RE agents would describe as a "peek-a-boo" view of the water :) -- I can almost read the sales writeup now! (if you still don't see it look to the right of the tip of the red chimney)
While walking back from a walk yesterday I snapped a photo of one a quaint street. They don't all look like this! But, a street that looks like this is not considered "rare" here either. The guy on the bike is delivering food (more than likely). Many, many nice restaurants deliver here.

Golden Lotus captured the shot below outside of a corner market. This is *very* common for the local corner store (very very small stores) to have fresh fruits and vegetables. a state-side 7-11, which averages about 3 times the size, you're lucky if you can find orange fanta for a fruit, and relish for your hotdog to make up your "veggie group". I guess they need all that floor space for the "hostess" aisle.

The ease (acceptability) of walking and the "euro" diet really seem to show up in the waistlines down here. There just aren't as many heavy-set people. I know, you're thinking "you mean diet and exercise play a role???". I guess my point is, it's not difficult to do here. It's just a natural part of the lifestyle. It's not some conscious (difficult) thing you have to do everyday. It just happens.

The guy with the horse is doing garbage collection. While I've seen some big trucks empting dumpsters, a majority of all the garbage collection is done daily by what seems like a large "fleet" of working horses.

Confucious say: 'forget glass house, Montevideo Rocks!'

Confucious, from Rodo Park, looking out over the "rambla" in Montevideo
GL and I took a couple of snap shots recently that I wanted to share with you all. The first is at the "base" of Rodo Park. Rodo park runs up from one of the waterfronts, and has several "carnival" areas, outdoor ampitheaters, playgrounds, sports facilities, walking paths, etc. I wrote about "Parque Rodo" previously, but I didn't bring my camera on the previous trip. This post, I've included some selected pictures of the walk to parque rodo and the park itself to give you a better "feel".

Friday, September 15, 2006

Good News...We're "Zombie Proof"!!!

storm shutters half-drawn on one of our back windows

Good News, everyone....Golden Lotus has informed me that our home is "zombie proof". :) Uh....those of you that know Golden Lotus well know that she was being as serious as someone can be when announcing such a feature.

Aside from having a heavy front door, living in a second floor flat, and possessing a flat roof with no exterior access (good for standing on top of and watching the masses of flesh eating undead staggering and limping through the streets of Montevideo I suppose) we have *storm shutters*.
Storm shutters seem to be a common feature of a lot of homes in Montevideo and are controlled by a pulley system inside the house. Lots of people pull them down at night. I like them because they help me sleep in a bit (until the neighbors noisily draw their's up each morning at 8ish). In addition, I have the fantasy that the storm shuttters help keep some heat in the house at night.

So, not to brag or anything, but ON TOP of being relatively safe from northern hemispherical thermo-nuclear war and the resulting fallout -- now I find out that we are "zombie proof". I bet you're all green with envy.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More photos of Montevideo

Fotos of Montevideo

Ok. Golden Lotus is feeling a bit under the weather lately. I don't have too long to write, but I wanted to post some of the snap-shots we took in Montevideo.

I'll put some more "color" on these photos later, but for now, keep in mind that I wasn't really doing a good job of "chronicaling" things here because I was running out of space. The camera became my digital "notepad" and a lot of the shots are of "for rent" signs with phone numbers on them

In short, until I have more time to put some color on the photos, the sidewalk is outside our home. The animals, for the most part are from the fair, the trashed buildings are mostly in Ciudad vieja -- the side u usually don't get to see. and, the horse drawn garbage collection cart is in ciudad vieja or "centro" but you could see these anywhere in town.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gold now at 592.7 spot

ok....the odds of "catching the falling knife" and documenting it online are somewhere between slim and none.

so, if you weren't monitoring the blog this a.m. :) (yeah right!) fear not. there will be more chances to buy -- more than likely lower than the price in the title of this posting.

the "problem" becomes (for me) whether i take my 4-5% i got in a couple of hours and walk away until the "deadcat bounce" comes back to earth, or i avoid the transaction costs, etc and just sit. better problem to have than the alternative i assure you.

in general, for my entry into the mining shares and the gld this a.m., i would say, "take the 4% in the mining shares" and "let the GLD ride"....simply because while mining sharea offer addition leverage to the price of gold, u are also faced with "company risk" like when one of my holdings "GG" decided to bid for a competitor "GLG" and in my (and the markets') eyes overpay about 10 days ago...arg!

good luck. and, as always, the above does not constitute investment advice...yadi yadi back to your regularly scheduled programming -- north americans finding their way in south america.


Gold at $585 spot

while constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to lose all your money, i've recently stumbled into the precious metals market.

for those who have all of their assets in US dollars and US realestate, it might be a good time at investigating some "deworsification" :)

The Washington accord, which dictates to several of the big central banks, how much gold bullion they can, i mean "sell" into the market is ending its year on Sep 26. The recent rundown in gold, while certainly driven by seemingly benign inflation, low energy costs, and geopolitical tensions easing, is likely also influenced by some selling into that annual deadline.

as i'm typing this gold has fallen to the $585/oz range. it could go lower, certainly. I'm holding back some dry powder in anticipation of some tasty bargains later this month, however, i also added a little today.

while i think uranium miners or uranium participations (canadian) are probably a quicker way to lose all your money, gold is probably more suited as an "entry level" metals investor. how does one do this?

luckily, it is much easier now than ever before to lose your money in the precious metals market! :)

if you have a brokerage account (no futures account needed) you can play one of the many gold miners, gold mining stocks.

OR you can buy a "basket" of gold mining stocks by buying ticker GDX

If you'd prefer not to lose all your money when overcompensated boards and execs at goldmining company do something stupid with your money, you can play it more directly with the ticker "GLD" which is just a way to play gold bullion directly -- although you don't actually hold the bullion -- jus the certificates and u don't have to arrange for storage, etc directly.

So, what if you don't have a brokerage account?

"Luckily" there is another way to play! you can go to or one of the other "virtual" gold sites. these guys sell you gold for slightly over spot and hold the gold in their vaults (audited freqently). The storage/fees/margins are actually pretty competitive, since buying, selling, owning, storing, insuring, assaying, etc gold bullion is not the cheapest of transactions.

The time to do this research is now, not if/when gold flies upwards again. In a couple of days, perhaps, when everyone is screaming that the gold bull is dead would be a good time to be looking around.

disclaimer: none of the above consitutes investment advice, obviously. everyone's financial situation and risk tolerance levels are different. make your own investment decisions (which will almost certainly be more clear headed than my own), and consult a registered investment advisor if you decide to do anything.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Parque Rodo -- 70 Degrees and Sunny

The last couple of days have been gorgeous here in Montevideo.

The air is warm, the sun is shining, and light breezes come off the water to blow away any diesel exhaust (yuck!) that the city buses belch out as they pass by.

All in all, it is very similar to the Northern California coast in spring or autumn either outside of San Francisco, or before the fog starts rolling in later in the summer.

Yesterday we walked down the street from our home to Parque Rodo (Rodo Park). Rodo park is a pretty good sized park....It reminds me of a miniturized version of Golden Gate park in San Francisco.

It has a nice variety of trees including some very mature palms lining numerous walking paths around a man-made (looking) pond. In addition I saw wetlands, lots of birds, grasses, and walking paths in one section as it leads down toward the waterfront.

Further up towards the "main drag" it has some cafes, and a bunch of "carnival" type cheezy rides for the youngsters....but most of the "commercial" pay rides and such seem to be limited to a small area next to the main road.

In addition it has a LARGE playing area for kids between 1 and 9 or so with lots of the requisite jungle gyms, swing sets, slides, etc. The park has a museum, lots of monuments/fountains, a small "castle" that sits on the a portion of the pond, paddleboat rentals, a basketball court, and a few clay tennis courts that seemed to be getting good use. There were amphitheaters, old guys playing bocci ball (including a bocci court with raised seating (!?!?) like a mini stadium.

People were out enjoying the weather, walking the paths, playing in the playground (obviously), meditating in quiet spaces and relaxing.

While many of the homes (including ours) is a bit urban (it has no front or side yards), they do a very good job of utilizing free space here. In homes, roof-top terraces are common, as are interior courtyards. In the neighborhoods, parks and pedestrian walkways are well cared for. Trees line a majority of the streets in most of the neighborhoods, and to walk everywhere doesn't really feel strange here -- unlike the states where some neighborhoods don't even bother putting in a sidewalk.

ciao for now,

Saturday, September 09, 2006

GL's update on the fair

buenos dias! its saturday morning and fb is still sleeping of course, and i am sitting in the front room drinking el chana coffe (that i made with my new coffe maker fb bought yesterday for me). so far i have some sort of morning routine, have some toast with yummy dolce crema de leche and waiting for fb to get up, make him and i some healthy breakfast and then go back to sleep. nice routine huh? i am trying to get out more and explore the city, but sometimes i just want to stay in and spend time with fb (he says we spend time always, but he is usually pulling his hairs out watching the computer).

anyways, yesterday we went to the fair. i thought it was out of town and more in the country, but no just a few blocks away in another neighborhood. tita lucia picked us up around 9:30ish (did i mention she is really sweet) with her driving dude. of course thinking i would get sick as always i took two draminmines (spell check) and was just a litttle looppy.

we drove by prado which use to be an upscale neighborhood, with crazy big homes with elevators. it was about two streets worth of really awsome sight seeing.

when fb and i were back in california we checked out some internet site that had this one amazing home with all these vintage tiles and really nice dark woods. yupe, you guest it we saw the house and it was really amazing from the outside. the backyard of the house was the old gothic church that looked like something you'd see in a vampire movie (scary!). we found out that tia is the realter for that house and maybe some time in the future we could see it in side.

back to the fair, fb paid the tickets and it was i think like $3 americans per, we started our way into a large barn kinda building and saw really really really really really big bulls! wow! double wow! they were all neatly tied row by row in a small very small standing area (have no clue how to describe it) the cowboy dudes were brushing them and they looked at me and i freaked out! they did not look very happy they did not look very sad, just a blank look not knowing what is going on and why are all these people looking at us look.

i felt bad. really bad. i thought the fair was a show for dogs for some reason not a show for animals that may be eatten. of course i did not want to be rude so i tried to think about something else as we passed row by row to some animals that may be eatten the next day or hour. (not to offend people that do eat meat)

anyways, we visited another barn building and saw cows that were of different colors, brown and white, black and white, grayish, brownish, and baby cows. they looked a little more comfortable then the bulls their stalls were a little wider so they could at least lay down. we saw one trying to sleep, it was really cute. those cows were so so so so so so big, fb told me if i ever heard of a phrase as big as a cow, yes, and i never knew till yesterday what it meant ( i still think i am not clear on it, ha ha ha).

then we went into a barn with sheep! bah ah ah! wow! i've never seen sheen up close and personal before, they were a little scared of me or i think i was a little scarred of them. they look like some rap stars' girl friend with all that wool covered from head to toe! their stalls were a little bigger than the bulls also, but smaller then the cow's. they did not look very happy either. another stall had some sheep that were shaved with their babies cute! double cute!

you know, somebody once told me that taking an animal's life away is the same as taking the life of a plant. well, no no no and no. a plants life does not share blood with us, nor does its heart beat and worry when possible danger approaches its young. a plant does not kick and make wailing sounds when you try to hurt it. it does not look back at you with eyes just like yours (color blind maybe or weirdly shaped, but still eyes) and is so scared it poops.

anyways, i lost my train of thought, i know some people might think darwinism, but hey i am for saving the animals and letting natural nature take its course not human nature. (not up for debates!) or maybe, yes if i am in the mood to put my debate hat on)

so, moving right along, we walked by a another street area and saw really really really really cute baby goats. brown and black stripped. ah, so cute i wanted to steal one and set it free or at least find its mommy. it really liked me cause it let me pet her or him and the other baby goats just played and played. this one was just born like eight days ago and it was so so so so cute and friendly so innocent to what danger he or she is entering into. anyways, i think they get really big when their older, but still really cute.

then we saw horsees, i dont think they eat horsees, i think they ride horsess. really really big horsees. one of them let me pet him or her. it was brown and covered with some sort of jacket thing. it was really friendly and i saw it close its eyes from time to time while i was petting its head. i want one!!!! or four!!!

id set it free and let it roam around a really big big big area and make sure no one goes there!

then as we were leaving we saw a really big black cow with a baby following along. ah, i had to stop and so did tia to admire its young. the mommy cow was not very happy with that so she was mooing alot and then i had to walk away, but the dude holding her leash thing said to go ahead and pet the baby i did not want to but fb said go so i slowly looked at the mommy cow and said its alright (she probably doesnt understand english) and then i showed her my hand and started to touch gently the head of the baby. the baby did not seem to mind, he, was so so so cute and so black ah, he looked at me and was like whats up? then a crowd came in and all hell broke loose, the mommy cow was like moo moo moo and the baby cow was trying to get away so we walked away. opps!

then we left. ah!!! cool i just saw the pony walker dude walk a bunch of cute brown and white ponies. i wonder if they are pets or what? we dont necessarily live in an area where there are big backyards we live like san franciscoish without the hills and with poop everywhere. so i wonder where they live? i'll have to ask the pony dude next time i see him (of course, in spangalish)

ciao ciao


ps i wonder if i should wake fb now, humm...

Anti-Apple Pie-ism in Montevideo

Although it's not rampant, for those first time visitors, you may notice a bit of pride in the Latin American identity coming out when you first arrive.

While in the past, this was limited to wearing funny looking cowboy hats when riding horses, and engaging in sultry dancing, it seems to be bleeding over into some other traditional Latin American activities:


While I don't feel threatened directly, Uruguay's pendulum has swung back to the "left" in recent years.

Chavez's cheap oil, Castro's recent illness, and what seems to be some pretty well organized political machine has completed what the US govt's follies in Latin America and *elsewhere* couldn't accomplish on their own.

I've seen lots of graffiti on the walls, luckily seemingly all authored by the same person that basically says, "yankee go home".

In addition, while hanging out in "old town" an organized march (few hundred?) strong came down the street chanting uninteligibly and carrying signs that read "down with Bush's genocidal war" (in spanish obviously).

While not really threatened, I decided not to tempt the restraint of a mob and fotojournalize since i was there with GL, and stuck out like a sore thumb and hailed a cab and leave.

That said, one on one and in small groups (all my other dealings), the Uruguayan people seem genuinely warm and gracious, eager to help--if not always capable due to language difficulties, and not into disturbing the tranquility of others the way some other locations south of the border seem to be. All in all, really good people so far.

I've never received a sideways glance when ohers find out we are American. So maybe they are capable of separating policies they disagree with with people that live with those same said policies....I dunno.

Interestingly, I feel a lot more threatened in some areas in the US due to the strong racial and socio-economic divides that we have....including both my last "hometown", and the town I grew up in. I'll dig up some "safety" stats to back up my "feelings" on this topic in a later post, for those interested/worried about safety in Latin America and Montevideo in particular.

ciao for now.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Apocalypse Never (?)

While not entirely related to living in Montevideo, this posting is a glimpse into the dark and tormented soul that is fuBarrio! For those that just want to know how things are going in Montevideo, skip over this post :)

For sometime now, I've been tormented by the feeling of an impending calamity (doom is too strong a word).

Those familiar with the life works of fuBarrio, could chalk this up to an overly pessimistic outlook on life in general. Those *really* familiar with fuBarrio could chalk this up to optimism (or arrogance) in presuming that fB could somehow predict, time, and AVOID said calamity. Those that don't know fB might be wondering why he keeps referring to himself in the third person and wondering what kind of self-absorbed meglo-maniac is this fB?

Ok. They're all correct.

I should preface this by saying that I am the same fuBarrio that did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prepare for y2K....other than fly to Vegas, and laughed at his mother when she suggested he buy duct tape to hermetically seal himself in a leaky 1930's home in case the bay area was hit with a chemical/biological weapon.

Then, why so worried???

It could be that the recent clean living and elimination of twinkies and "dancing with the stars" (no cable in our new home...rats!) from my daily routine has altered my brain chemistry....i dunno.

Certainly my media sources (Internet) seem to be a bit more fringe an apocalyptic in order to garner the necessary audience that isn't busy voting for the latest american idol competitor that winks at the camera with the greatest panache. However, this feeling of "unease" started creeping in before I moved here....and likely contributed mightily to my reasoning for abandoning the US (at least temporarily).

In fact, this feeling of unease started around 1999.

While the tech bubble bursting, has had a major impact on my life, it was before the tech bubble burst -- the reasoning for my move to CA from Seattle was the existance of more diverse employment opps than As early as 2002, I was articulating a very specific plan to save up a little money and take a break from the US.

So, early onset mid-life crisis leading to a hormonal inbalance? I don't know.

However, I see the signs everywhere of unsustainable activities all interrelated to some degree:


Since the 1990's, I've been complaining (to some that asked and others that didn't) that the US's imperialistic nature of basically being in EVERYONE's backyard was goin to lead to disaster. The all-volunteer fighting force, was turning the great couch potato nation into a band of armchair Corporals, and Monday morning Generals.

I'd often hear years later as the crap started to hit the fan, "we need to go over there and kick some raghead ass!"

Uh...No...You need to leave your family, put some cammies on, live in a tent and poop in the desert for a year or two for 1500/mo and be shot at. That might help you better define the word "need". It might also bring into sharper focus the term "cost of war"


While related to the previous, a lot of the heavy advocates for the fighting are:

1.) Too old to fight themselves,
2.) are financially secure enough that their loved ones don't have to fight, and/or
3.) direct beneficiaries of the RICICULOUS deficit spending that has been allowed to carry on in the name of "national security".

At the very least, these people seem to be people quite unaffected.

Da FED & "easy money"

Simultaneously, an ABSURD asset bubble has erupted in real-estate that has driven prices so far outside of historical norms in terms of Income to Housing...Rental prices vs. Buying...etc.

Initially, the FED's (and Japan's) easy money policies touched this off, and then was exascerbated by easy money lenders that would lend to a ham sandwich as long as they could package up the stack of crappy loans and "securitize" them -- sell them to other Institutions and foreign govt's.

The institutions were glad to get the debt at some reasonable default rate cuz they could borrow the money from Japan for effectively ZERO percent interest rate and loan it to the American gov't and stupid lenders, hedge the currency risk and pocket the difference FOR FREE. This led indirectly to an explosion in hedge funds, whose ramifications have yet to be fully understood I believe.

These newly wealthy foreign govt's looking for a way to "invest" their new dollars from selling disposable microwaves in walmart, were also willing to prop up the irresponsible consumer (refinancing, option ARMs, etc etc) and the US govt's staggering debt levels.

The Way Out

This one is not so clear.


1. nothing happens and I'm worried for nothing like the y2k nuts.
2. housing driven job market implodes on itself in a vicious cycle as housing moves lower, fewer loans, less opps for refi, etc. and we suffer Japanese style DEFLATION -- yikes., or
3. Inflation crops up and is accepted by the FED, et al. as a way to reduce the staggering demands of the consumer and governmental debt load.

number one seems like the best option.


Aren't these opposing forces? Isn't that like saying "it might go up and it might go down?"

Well yes. But, bear with me a minute. It's just a theory but...

Globalization of the workforce has had some consequences:

Some stuff seems really cheap to buy even for us poor service workers. For example, plastic crap bought from walmart, or computer programming time (from india).

Basically anything that can be MFG'd (overseas) or serviced (overseas) or grown and easily shipped from overseas is "cheap".

Ok, so what is expensive? (everything else! :) )

Energy and other natural resources (things that can't be mfg'ed) including unleaded fuel, a plumber's time, a hospital stay, a lawyer's time, a hotel room, HOUSING, an American education all seem to be soaring in price.

So, what is really going on fuBarrio?

Globalization, or the outsourcing of certain things has masked a dramatic DECLINE in the value of your AMERICAN DOLLAR SAVINGS.

Simultaneously, we've effective "outsourced" our savings!

We are printing and shipping dollars overseas for Chinese mfg goods, Indian services, and Middle Eastern energy.

This would all be well and good, but as India, and China (and to a lesser extent the middle east) all try to get what the US has in terms of "stuff", it is putting enormous strain on those things that CAN'T be manufactured, but CAN be shipped somewhere (besides the US)....Oil, Gas, Metals, etc.

Unfortunately, for historical and political reasons the US has built a society (if not so much an economy) that is EXTREMELY reliant on CHEAP ENERGY. If cheap energy cannot be obtained at a time when a housing led economy is in decline, there could be continued political pressures to do whatever the public perceives as necessary to obtain said energy "cheaply".

Of course, the public will often wrongly, in my opinion, perceive "resource wars" as an effective means of securing cheap supplies. However, the reality is more likely that the disrupted supplies, uncertainty, and energy spent in attempting to attain the energy likely turns it into a futile exercise....on top of being morally bankrupt and likely bloody.

In summary I perceive MAJOR social upheaval to a likely consequence, continued demonization of foreigners, with likely trade barriers exascerbating a US based ASSET DEFLATION, while doing nothing to diminish the asset inflation of those things in short supply that can be shipped (think oil, copper, etc).

Worst case scenario is that we are on a slippery slope towards WWIII --- However, I don't forsee that happening, UNLESS we fall into a DEPRESSION kind of situation and a new leader perceives entering into an erupting Middle Eastern/European conflict as a way out.

If it does happen, it wouldn't be until after we are bogged down in a DEPRESSION kind of situation for quite a few years, and some people may believe war is a way out. Unfortunately, the way out (economically) would more likely be the END of the war....not the beginning.

Luckily for Montevideo, they could likely escape thermonuclear war in the northern hemisphere, although their supply of bad television shows would be limited to Argentine game shows and Brazilian soaps :)

---And as we've seen from the last post, it's amazing what depths of despair the mind of one of the masses can reach without the circuses (cable t.v.) I don't even want to think about what happens if you cut off the bread!

Adios for now,

p.s. yes, of course, after noticing a definite hole in the local entertainment scene, i'm actively pursuing the lease of a windowless basement or poorly lit paneled den for the upcoming filming of a "creepy" public access show focusing on unprovable (yet simultaneously unrefutable!) conspiracy theories. i say, if they're going to take the "good" american cultural imperialism (like levi's and coke) they can take some of the "bad" too.

p.p.s. ok, for those that don't know me well enough to know that the p.s. was a was.

"Er....would u like a side of meat with that?"

The "animal exposition" was pretty much a county fair.

GL had misunderstood our host and it was actually IN montevideo. It was just in a different neighborhood "Prado".

"Prado" is a gorgeous old neighborhood. It was the original "upscale" residential neighborhood in Montevideo, and u can tell. The homes date back to the 30's and 40's when South America was blissfully neutral, selling their beef to the combatants in WWII, and clockin' mad cash.

So, what did we see???

Lots of cowboy gear in booths, some cheezy "country" booths where importers would show off their wares -- the CHINA area had a booth with adacious (hideous) toilets and bidaes (sp?) -- one of them was completely gold in collar (barf), LOTS OF COWS....OMG....LOTS of cows.

I now know the difference between a Jersey and a Holland. We've saw some beautiful horses, sheep, goats, etc.

Let's see....highlights you ask??

Highlights were probably the baby sheep, a jet black baby cow walking down the "street" with her mama (7 days old) and a "litter" (?) of baby dark brown and black goats -- 5 or 6 of 'em outside a shop selling goat cheese....cute and friendly little guys.

The weather was beautiful, and I'm hoping for a repeat tomorrow.

We returned home around 2:30 to see that I'd lost another small fortune in the market during my absence as "Valero" continued to tank mightily....oh least it looks like gasoline will be cheap for a while for all my American friends. Heaven forbid they have to sell their SUV's, carpool (gasp!), or actually slow down on the freeways! :)

All for now.

Shopping in Monte...

Hey all,

I went shopping the other day a few blocks away from our rental home. I think the name of the shopping is punta cartes shopping mall. nice size, three floors and a grocery store in the lower level. Anyways, I only have a certain amount of money per month that fb allows to spend on what ever I want. I could save it or spend it how I choose, which if you all know fb that's a pretty sweet deal. I wanted to get a few things so I walked to the mall. Wow! Never thought I would say that I walked to the mall, everyone knows that living in California, specially the bay area walking a few blocks to a decent mall is not likely.

anyways, you would not believe the outrageous pricing here! shesh! Double shesh!!! I went in all the nice stores for girls my age and it was pretty empty. When id ask in Spanish if anyone spoke English id get smiles and nods "so, so". Later to find out NO would have been a little help. So, I checked out store to store to store. A non-leather bag cost $180 American dollars. I was shocked and almost wanted to crap in my pants, I mean the bag looked like something I could get for $10 bucks in some cheap clothing store in California. Now, all that knows me knows I will spend the money on good quality stuff if I really really want it, luies, guccis, sevens, bcbgs, citzens, sephora, and more. so, I guess my point is for someone that spends well, I could not dare to spend that much on crap! Plain old CRAP!!!! They don't even have a freaken sephora here!!!! shesh!!! opps, sorry venting.

alright, so I finally found a store more my pace as you can say, the clothes are really nice and the fabrics more or less is good (you just have to read the Spanish label to make sure your not buying something made in china or polyester). the two sales girls there looked and me with a sort of "what the heck, she must have money to spend here", look. cause they were shocked when i said that this store is pretty good pricing. normally a bcbg casual dress is like $168 Americans, there i bought one for i think mas o menos $50 or $40sih american dollars. the fabric is linen and the color is a dark red. made in Uruguay! i like that part!!! i dont want to come to a country and find freaken made in china if i want to buy made in china id go to the states and pay next to nothing for it.

okay, so as i handed the sales girl the money she was very very pleased to see american dollars and even showed me how pleased she was by inspecting it in front of my face. ha! did i forget to mention that there is no such thing as return here, you buy it thats it. no returns, so much for upscale shopping. at nord's you can return anything if you are not pleased with it and the sales girls wont even give it a second thought.

i know it sounds like i am comparing apples to papayas, but i sorta miss living back home and knowing where all the good deals are shopping wise for both food and clothing. our new aunt lucia said that none of the locals shop in punta caretes shopping mall unless they really have money. of course this was after i shopped there. how the heck do all the stores stay in buiness? ah i know, airy tourist like me.

next time we will go to the other shopping mall and i could see the prices and compare the quality. there is some kinda weekend market here where they sell stuff outside a park, sorta like a flea market (yuck), but this one is not like one its pretty cool (except for having to watch your back every so often just in case you get some pick pocketer). i think i will try to get fb to come with me tomorrow (thats asking for trouble cause then i wont be able to shop) oh well we will see.

ciao ciao

Pony-walkers Wanted

Looked out the window the other day to see a guy walking a bunch of ponies on leashes....kinda like a dog-walker in NYC or something. Of course this was down a rather urban street -- it's not like we live in the "rancho" or anything.

Golden Lotus managed to get a shot with the camera before it ran out of battery power (more on this later). I'll post it when able.

Tomorrow, in keeping with the domesticated animal theme, we will be attending an "animal exposition" somewhere outside of the city apparently. That sounds a lot more glamourous than "county fair", but i have a feeling that's what we're going to. "cuatro-hache", cotton candy, and copious amounts of fecal matter i'm sure. GL positively LOVES animals but sometimes seeing animals meant for slaughter or endentured servitude in a farm can get a little depressing....we'll see how it goes.

So back to the camera -- for all the times i've gone to asia with adapters/converters, etc., for some reason i didn't even think about it before we got here. I *guess* it's because mexico's power is like ours --- and everything south of the border is just mexico and stuff like mexico, right? :)

So, we get here, and the outlets are squirrely and of course everything is 220V. My laptop is equipped to handle it, but our camera and my razor cannot. since there is no radio shack here, and no one i speak with seems to have any idea where i might get a converter, i remain on the hunt.

As my favorite poster of all time states: "Sometimes your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others"' -- so don't come here with state side electrical devices without a converter, 220 capable electrical devices, or a better understandin of where to conseguir a convertador than me.

My posts have slowed down a bit, I've been a bit busy finding new and inventive ways to lose money in the markets.....Funny how losing money always seems to take more time and attention than making money when trading.



Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Microclimates in Montevideo


I was enticed once again (ok, really twice) to go check out the old town (ciudad vieja). The impetus was an email from intl' living that had a roving reporter visit (again) and deemed it balanced between chic and shabby. Pretty apt description.

Our first trip was Sunday. Oops. Dead. No one. Shut down. Everything.

Since the markets were closed for Labor Day, GL and I returned on Monday....and took the bus too for the first time here. We navigated our from busstop to busstop until we found one with a line that goes to old town from our home 'hood.

After some asking around of the locals we figured out what side of the street to get on (direction of the bus is important) and got on after about 3 minutes of waiting.

GL was dosed with dramamine and sea sick braclets ...lots of bobbing and weaving, swooping and slamming of brakes, etc. All in all, pretty typical big city bus stuff. Half way there a guy got on board and played everyone a song (and sang) on his guitar through a few stops. Pretty good. Pretty bohemian.

We arrived in ciudad vieja and went directly to the pedestrian walkway (where cars can't go). Lots of street side arts and crafts booths. windy and quite cold even though the sun poked out from time to time.

We walked the area all the way down to the waterfront market where we were accosted by about 15 different matre'd's trying to coax us into their restaurant (slow day?)

Eventually we made our way back by the plaza zabala that the email from intl livng i'm attaching below refers to....i really like that place.....after visiting though i'mnot sure if i could live there.

it's up and coming and decidely less livable than the 'hood we're in now...there aren't a lot of trees out side of the parks and squares. and IT'S FREEZING there. it sits out on a point/peninsula. so does our 'hood, but we are back with a couple of blocks of homes/buildings to block the wind i guess.

anyways, by the time we got back "home" the sun was shining, birds were chirping the feeling was almost coming back to my face.

i dunno...maybe in summer that is a nice feature, but this time of the year it felt really harsh -- or maybe my california livin has softened me up to much.

int'l living email on montevideo's ciudad vieja attached below here:

Balanced on the Edge Between Chic and Shabby
International Living Postcards--your daily escape
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006Montevideo, Uruguay
Dear International Living Reader,
"Dos cappuccinos, por favor," I said to the grizzled man behind the bar, as I laid claim to a well-worn, wooden table for two next to the window. But before he went to work, the owner of the 8 Letras Café in Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja (old city) felt compelled to point a stubby finger across the bar at me and tell me in Italian-accented Spanish, "…it's strong espresso, hot milk, and foam…that's cappuccino here." No heavy whipped cream or chocolate sprinkles from this guy. "Make them doubles," I told him as we took our seats to watch the early morning crowd go by.
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Fausto took up station at his ancient, gleaming brass espresso machine and started to operate the hand pump to make the thick coffee. At the next table, a group of men who looked like they belonged on the movie set for Cannery Row chided him for missing his turn at dominoes and for failing to pour the next round of whiskeys. I figured they'd all be asleep by noon.
After putting the steaming brews in front of us, the amiable Fausto lumbered outside to arrange the now-obligatory cute little café tables and stripped umbrellas in front of his bar.
There was a time when this was a small neighborhood bar in a rundown neighborhood. But now the most recent phase of the famous pedestrian walkway project, Peatonal Sarandí, has plunged deep into the heart of the old city, bringing with it higher-end shops, boutiques, and cafés. A year ago when this phase opened, the brand-new tiles of the walkway were bordered by abandoned buildings and worn looking neighborhood stores, but now the predictable development is starting to take place, and the rents and property prices are increasing.
The 8 Letras Café sits at the very end of the latest phase of Sarandí--where it reverts back to small, one-way city street--and in many ways, symbolizes the current state of Ciudad Vieja itself: On the border between a run down city and a fashionable, trendy downtown venue, but not quite sure which side to come down on. Parts of Ciudad Vieja boast 5-star restaurants and fine hotels…parts are bohemian-trendy and obviously on the upswing…and parts are in a state of total deterioration.
Another example that typifies Old Town Montevideo is Plaza Zabala, the original central square from when Montevideo was founded. It's lush with mature sycamores, magnolias, and pines, which are alive with birdsong most of the day as the neighborhood residents sit peacefully in the sun; it's my favorite park in the city. On one side, it has beautifully elegant white buildings overlooking the park. But on another side there's an old wreck of a building recently bought by a group of Canadians for the purpose of remodeling. Yet another side has a building abandoned and in total disrepair. Just a block from the 8 Letras Café, this park also finds itself on the edge.
I viewed a refurbished apartment in one of the elegant buildings on Plaza Zabala. Its tall windows open onto the park, and its 14-foot ceilings provide a roomy feel, even though it's only a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment. The asking price is $60,000.
Another historic building being remodeled just at the end of Peatonal Sarandí has one- and two-bedroom lofts and condos. Everything is brand new, and the prices start at $43,000. Contact Inmobiliaria Ciudad Vieja, tel. + (598) 2 916 3230, for more details on either of these properties.
We also toured a large 2,400-square-foot, four-bedroom apartment in the Centro district, overlooking Plaza Fabini, Centro's nicest park. It's just a few blocks from the gates of the Old Town. The asking price is $90,000. It needs some cosmetic work, but it's the best buy I've seen in Montevideo for a while. Tel. + (598) 2 710 4700 for more information. Also on this plaza is a small, 775-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment for $49,000.
I enjoy Montevideo every time I visit, and never tire of the world-class fine dining, weekend flea markets, and quiet parks. Teatro Solis provides a venue for some of the world's best orchestras and theater, while street musicians play long into the night.
But don't come to Montevideo for the upscale restaurants and entertainment. Frankly, there aren't enough of these to keep you busy for very long. Come instead for the old neighborhoods and the local markets set up in the street…come for the 8 Letras Café and grizzled but amiable Fausto. These are what the heart of Ciudad Vieja is really about.
Lee HarrisonRoving Latin America Editor, International Living
P.S. Where is the next big thing in Montevideo? I've been told by a number of local residents that a plan has been approved to turn Calle Pérez Castillano into a pedestrian walkway like Peatonal Sarandí. This street is already home to a few art galleries, bookshops, and cafés, and would connect Sarandí to the famous waterfront market down at the port. You heard it here first.
Related articles:
- The Best Value For Your Second-home Dollar in Latin America Today.
- Punta del Este--a Serious Look at One of South America's Fastest Moving Property Markets.
- Water of 104 Degrees Year-round.

The smoking lamp is NOT lit

OK...I'm not sure if i mentioned this, or if i forgot to....BUT one of the most pleasant suprises to greet us when we arrived is that Uruguay is 100% "smoke free".

So, for those of you that have never been south of the border, or EU or Asia (heaven forbid), that might not seem so mindboggling. But, for a place steeped in old world charm and chock full of Spaniards and Italians -- in South America no less-- I prepared GL for the worst.

I warned her that eating out would likely mean consuming a pack or two worth of second hand smoke. It turns out this year Uruguay illegalized smoking in public places. While u may still see people smoking on the street , dog turds are still a lot more common hazard than the occasional waft of smoke from a passerby.

Interestingly, it seems Uruguay was about even or maybe just slightly behind the "progressive" state of WA, USA. in enforcing the ban.....definately one of those civil liberties that needed crushing....when they develop the ciggie that doesn't drift over to my table and stink up my clothes, the addicts can go right on killing themselves in my presence. Until then, keep it off my wave. :)


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Good day to stay in....

Lest u think that the whole experience is sunshine and strawberries, i was watching the news last night.

They were busy doing their level best to through a bunch of slurred Spanish "fastballs" past me, but I distinctly heard them say that a storm was coming to Montevideo and that winds over 100 km/h could be had....I swear I heard 150, but I think he was talking about elsewhere and that MV might see 100 km/h.

Anyways, what i couldn't catch was *when* exactly other than it was coming.

Well, I dropped the storm shades on the house last night and slept through everything, but the wind is still howling tonight at 1800....not sure if this is the front end, tail end, or middle :) anyways, some online site says that the wind is a "mere" 60 km/h. Not sure if that is accurate for the whole city, those are sustained or gusting speeds.

Oh well, suffice it to say the winds I've heard about are making a brief appearance.....nothing really more than a stormy day -- one similar to one you'd see in Seattle on a stormy Feb afternoon though....except that it's after 6 on a stormy day and not too dark yet.

My highspeed internet has been set up in the house.
We found a Japanese lady that delivers tofu to the house.
Every grocery store delivers here -- including one where u can shop online (remember ) :)

Pretty convenient for those without a car!

Golden Lotus is graciously making us some more vegetable soup as we ride out the storm