Sunday, October 29, 2006

"CIrcuses" - fuBarrio style....

When I first saw "Bowling for Columbine" it really resonated with me. It said a lot of things....while I didn't agree with all of them, the underlying message of the movie (my takeaway, at least) was "don't live in fear".

The movie was able to encapsulate and communicate some things that had been bothering me about the US for quite some time but had been unable to succintly articulate.

The link below is to a documentary -- online -- that will never get the play of a Michael Moore documentary, but nonetheless has resonated with me in a powerful way.

The first half is about the IRS. The second half is about the Fed. I know, boring subjects, huh? But this guy does a great job of making it entertaining and thought provoking -- to say the least.

Will you watch it? Or will u find something else to fill your time? Will and Grace reruns are on tonight after all. :)

Anyone with the fortitude to sit through the documentary, fwd me some comments.

ciao for now,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Drilling down

As you can see from my profile picture to the right, a couple years of unemployment (read: no dental insurance) has left me with what my friends might refer to as a "jacked up grill".

So, as a public service to our readers, and those that get close enough to smell my doggy breath, I decided to visit a dentist here in Montevideo.

Now, visiting a dentist in the US, for me, as well as some others probably, is about one of the scariest things one can do....Just slightly scarier than milking a cobra, or flossing a great white.

One of my friends here recommended his dentist, so I decided to pay her a visit.

One more for the "you know you're old" file: you know you're old when ur dentist is obviously younger than you are!

Natali began the examination and asked all the typical "dentist" questions:

"how many times a day do you brush?
"do you have milkbones between meals?"
"how often do you floss?"
"do you eat hard or canned dog chow?"
"have you been catching frisbees in your teeth lately?"

I already knew that I had THREE cavities rotting away from a visit to a dentist in Concord California a couple of months ago. That dentist had quoted me 1200 to get my teeth fixed....on accident she had quoted me 1100, but once she realized I didn't have insurance (no bargaining power) she gave me the uninsured price of 1200.

I of course pointed out that that was absurd and that she'd get the money faster and with less paperwork from me, so i deserved a better price. She obliged by knocking down the price 10%.

My initial inspection visit with Natali was free -- and she found 4 cavaties (apparently I'd grown another -- I really gotta stop sleeping with that sugar cane mouthguard in!)

I decided to get a cleaning, 4 fillings done and Golden Lotus is getting a couple of fillings done too.

Natali quoted me $40/filling (composite) -- Golden Lotus is going for a "bulk discount" (how sad, huh?)

I had the worst of my cavaties done that day. It was an old USMC filling that another cavity had grown next to/under. She had very gentle hands and I'd have to say that her level of care was on par with or better than any I've had in the States.

(dog) ciao for now,

p.s. i couldn't get the pictures of geant (the post below) to upload to the blog for some reason...but you didn't miss much...just go to any old walmart and multiply by 2x

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We visited the U.S. today :)

ok, so it wasn't really the states....but it may as well have been.

we've been looking for a yoga mat for golden lotus, and although we see yoga studios, our lack of local knowledge and a yellow pages has us looking everywhere for a yoga mat sold seperately so GL can do yoga at the house.

i'd heard of a place called "Geant" and could have sworn I saw it not to far from our home, so I jumped in a cab and told him "Geant" -- the cabbie understands me (i think) and begins driving off in a direction that doesn't seem quite right -- i ask him to drive along the water instead and he assures me that he will and starts heading in the opposite direction from where i thought it was (????)

so, now i start doubting that i know where this place is, but decide to just be patient and see -- it turns out this place is way-the-hell-and-gone TM into the suburbs. yeesh -- about 10 minutes into the ride i yell through the bullet proof glass to ask him where we are going and he explains

turns out it was a *beautiful* day -- 30-31 degrees C, or > 87 degrees for you americanos! strong breezes whipped in off the water to cool down your skin. so, the ride was pretty nice -- once i got over the anxiety of not knowing whether the cabbie had decided to drive us to Brazil and see if we could pay the fare.

Once we arrived it was like a little slice of americana (barf!) or should i say china, inc. low, low, low everyday prices!!! alas no yoga mat, but nearly everything else in the world. I guess this is like a Wal*Mart (the ones with the grocery stores attached -- except I've never been in one with a grocery).

I tried to get a "depth of field shot" of *some* of the width of the store, but the camera couldn't really do it justice.

This place was *really* big. The front of the store, which didn't even run the whole width, had 58 cash registers/check out aisles (?!?!)

The front had a parking lot more fit for a stadium.

I also found a little piece of home -- pretty rare here -- in the imported wine aisle...Wente 1998 - about 13 bucks. Damn, that's cheap....although i'm not a big fan of 1998 :)

At the end of this adventure GL is famished and there is nothing to eat except fast-food in the geant food court. We go to McChundlies and she gets a fry and coke. Don't know if this picture captures it, adn this isn't a big enough sample size, but even their McChundlies seems to have better portion control....these fries haven't been eaten out of. That is how they were served to us...about half empty.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Oops...I promised some pictures

I tried to get a good pic or two of the lightening/thunder and downpour, but I didn't want to go out in it to get it! :) I wasn't *that* committed.

So, I pulled these shots out of the "archives" -- some pics of days with better weather here. The first, is a large park that was adjacent a large "free market" that runs every Saturday near our home....lots marginal quality clothing, but they do have some pretty high quality leather goods, and really nice fruit and veggie markets that run alongside.
The second pic is of some school kids at a public square in "ciudad vieja"(old town)....the third pic is also "ciudad vieja" -- i think that is a male prostitute there on the left-hand side of the pic....but i'm not sure. he looks like everyone else on the street!

A Few of My Favorite Things....

So far I've been pretty complementary regarding my Montevideo/South American experience. In fact, something triggered in me this weekend and I'm starting to feel like this place is my "home" -- maybe it was the awesome weather. Don't be too envious, the skies opened up this afternoon and soaked GL during her walk.

Since we are still "up in the air" regarding how long we'd like to eventually stay, I thought I'd list some things that Montevideo is "missing" that would make it "perfect". Obviously, not all of these things would be possible. Of course, the absence of some of these things are what makes it Montevideo.

I plan to look for "solutions" to some of these "issues" if we decide to stay for longer than 6 months. From this list, you can get a better idea of our lifestyle....most of you probably wouldn't even miss most of these things

Friends and Family -- duh. Of course, having a spare bdrm and an open door policy could help
CNBC --- "someday" maybe these guys will stream their broadcast on the web -- I'd gladly pay.
Cable and a DVR (easy fix if we stay long term).
Naked Cutletts -- Quorn-brand vegetarian food
Permanent Residency Status on my Visa
A part-time job w/ some income :) -- pay here is *really* low, so although this will offset some expenses it is mostly to get involved more in the community.
A MSFT "ergonomic" keyboard
A university that teaches undergrad science courses -- preferrably in English! :)
A barber I can trust -- my locks were shorn last month
A gym with free weights in my neighborhood -- I can't believe how much trouble we've had finding one that is still open -- weird.
A good volunteer job in the city -- more community involvement.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

A "Peak" into Our Future

Let's face it. Dire prognostications seldom play out the way the pessimists predict.


I theorize that as events unfold behaviours change and people adjust to the "new current" reality in ways that are nearly impossible to predict before the events unfold.

Recently, a perception that the world is entering (or soon will) enter a "peak" in its ability to produce crude oil -- especially the light sweet stuff that is easy to turn into gasoline -- has left the paneled basements of doomsayers and has started to get notice in more traditional media outlets. Regardless, I still find some not familiar with the concept, but in a nutshell it is this:

All oilfields follow a bell shaped curve in regards to production before they run out of oil. Even though we continue to deplete them, and we spend many billions on new sources, we are not finding enough new ones to replace what we are using. Several of the major oilfields are in decline and the only options that might possibly be left are very expensive due to location, geopolitics, weather, depth of sea, etc. The global oil resources, taken in aggregate are at or near the downside of the bell-curve slope. As the world continues to grow demand, price hikes will be the only thing that can constrain demand.

Enough of the primer. Are we going to "run out"? Is there a shortage?

As I like to say: there is a shortage of $20/barrel oil. there is no shortage of $80/barrel oil.

The sources of oil are very expensive to extract, and the bigger sources are all seemingly in difficult/expensive to extract form.

Here is a recording of an interview that offers more on this story, and how the recent "big find" in the gulf and falling prices effect the fundamentals behind the "peak oil" theory. The interviewer has already drunk the peak oil "kool aid", unfortunately, but Matthew Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Dessert" does a great job of breaking things down. He makes an especially interesting prediction that perhaps the "globalization" of the production of physical things in remote parts of the world is flawed because it assumes that: 1.) cheap labor will continue to be cheap, and 2.) transportation energy will continue to be a non-factor in regards to costs of getting stuff to market.

I know the recording is 40 minutes, but it's a lot easier than reading a big technical book on viscosity levels, and soil permeabilities, depletion rates, etc.

Enjoy!....and I promise a return to more stuff about Montevideo on Monday:

ciao for now,