Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fire Fire Fire

When I got here, the air quality was bad. Observe:

That's El Obelisco in the background. See it? It's right...there. People were walking around with masks on, shirts over their face, etc. During this period, I would wake up in the morning and think that my apartment was on fire.

Impressive, no? At the time, people were speculating that it was part of the Campos' (farmers) strike. I also recently read it was part of some volcano or something. So I don't really know why it was so bad. But it was quite bad.

I kept thinking to myself, "Buenos Aires. Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. I guess that's not meant too literally." But no, there are indeed plenty of blue skies here, even in this seemingly eternal winter. I'm tired of 60 degree weather!

These pictures were saved a long time ago, and I don't remember where from. Fortunately they both appear to have identifiers on them, so I'm going to assume I slip through on fair use.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Picture dump

This is some greenspace in Chacaritas. Chris, this was near y'all's place... it's the park on Cordoba.

I'm standing at a Shell (you can see upper right) on Cordoba Ave, and for some reason I liked the look of this intersection. Girls want boyfriends that have skills. I do not have photography skills.

I don't know if you can see how many people are packed into that subway car, but this isn't even peak time. This picture is only like the Diet Coke of semi-packed.

Apparently that flash don't work so well inside subway stations.

This is inside the Scalabrini Ortiz subte station. I'll take some other pictures, but these little newstands are everywhere in Buenos Aires. Every block or two, sometimes more. [Edit: This probably isn't the case in the poorer barrios, or in the suburbs. In fact, I can't recally seeing many in the suburbs.] They basically have every publication known to man in there, as far as I can tell. The selection is impressive. Plus the big Guia-T, which i still need to buy. [The Guia-T is the map for the colectivos, which is BsAs very impressive bus system.]

So, I ordered a brownie and it came out with a tiny little spoon, which is why we took a picture of me eating a brownie with a spoon. Portenos apparently hate to ever touch their food. A friend tells me that he only touches his food when he's eating empanadas in his house. Otherwise, it's knife and fork. Personally, I refuse to use knife and fork on pizza, even though pizza here is ridiculous and basically requires knife and fork.

A few blocks from me, there is this little place that apparently rents Santa gnomes for parties. I don't really get it, but hey... I took 2 pictures to make sure that you could see the blue one. Who wants a blue Santa lawn gnome? And who uses a lawn gnome without a yard, since not too many people have lawns in Capital.

I guess this is like a mini firestation. When the door is down, I would never know that it is a fire station. This is in Hollywood.


For those of you with Wii experience, what games do I need to buy for the Wii?

I don't really care about the Wii so much, I'm mostly just buying it to have friends over here, as the Wii is pretty rare.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where I live now

Emily always tells me I need more pictures, so I took some late this afternoon of my new place. Since I've been living here almost 2 months, I guess it's not so new.

This is where I spend most of my time, and where I am right now. Note that desktop, courtesy of Mr. Fuqua. Also note those champagne flutes for 2. What what?

This is the view out my window from my computer.

This is the view out my bedroom window from lying down in bed.

Not really sure why I took a picture of this corner.

Apparently late afternoon makes taking pictures tricky. This is upstairs in our living room, looking out towards Avenida Cabildo.

This is our living room looking the other way. To the left you can see the stairs to take you toward the terrace. I'm leaning against the countertop, which you can just barely see in the left bottom corner. Over there is the kitchen, 2nd bathroom, and front door.

I live on the line between Belgrano and Palermo. I'm not exactly sure which it is, but it's more Belgrano. However, this view from out our living room window is all technically Palermo.

I'm not sure why I decided to take a picture of the street from 8 stories up. I'm not exactly known for my photography skills.

I like this view of the Catholic church off in the background. I have a tendency to gaze out the window at this steeple whenever I am in the living room....which isn't that often.

Now, the reason to live here: our third level, the rooftop terrace. Here's our table with parrilla (grill) in the background.

The terrace from another angle. We don't currently have the reclining chairs out, since it's winterish. Even though it's sometimes a little chilly with the wind, I've been coming up here and reading Anna Karenina in the sun recently. Very relaxing.

"You are becoming an Argentine"

I've had a few different Argentine friends tell me I am becoming an Argentine whenever I do something that is a stereotype of Argentines.

Funny that, everytime they've said that, it's just one of my personality traits. Maybe I was naturally born more into the Argentine way of life. Except that I'm a mildly obsessive saver. But otherwise...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Dutch, and I don't speak German. Entendes?

A few times recently, I've had Argentines ask me if I'm German or they've tried to speak German to me. No me gusta.

As a Dutch girl recently said to my friend, "We don't really like the Germans. Plus they're all ugly." What what?

There's only 1 that counts here

Argentina has 5 medals right now. But the other night they won the only one they care about: soccer.

So, Thuy and I had both finished grinding for the night, so we took a taxi down to San Telmo, where we met up with some of her friends. We go into Club Museum*, but her friends don't want to go in, so we start leaving. The manager sees American girls leaving and quickly cuts us a deal. Too funny.

We go into the club and it's huge. Like you could probably fit 2 thousand in there. But everyone is sitting down at tables watching the game on the big screen. Well, ok. This is unlike any other club I've ever been to. Since she's awesome, Thuy tries to get us beers, but the bar is closed during the game. WTF? Seriously? Life in Argentina. At halftime, they whisk away all the tables and chairs, break out the music and lights and people start dancing. When the game resumes, they put the game back on, but leave the music on. Big mistake in Argentina. People start yelling and whistling until they put the announcers back on.

Argentina wins 1-0 on a di Maria breakaway goal, sprung by a Messi pass. Before I got here I was already convinced that Messi was the best player with the ball in the world, and now I think he's just the best player in the world but Argentines always seem to disagree with me. No se porque.

Much to my surprise, there was no singing or anything during the game. At the very end there was a very little bit of singing, but that was it. Once the game was over, it went to club mode fairly quickly. Except, oddly, after an hour, they had some sort of sexy fashion show. Pretty weird. 500-1k actually paying attention. Strange.

*Often times, when places want to be hip and trendy, they use English words. This always makes me cringe; not sure why, I think I feel guilty about American hegemony.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So, I was out in the suburbs tonight with a friend of mine eating dinner (Brazilian place called Comics, very good. $4 got me a decent hamburger and an excellent all you can eat salad bar with some crazy blended kiwi drink while listening to samba music. me gusta.) when he says to me:

"Evan, I have to say something serious to you....Your spanish is not improving."

Ouch. So the girl I was kinda dating is super-enthusiastic about everything, yesterday I asked her if my Spanish was improving, and she said "Si, si, but I couldn't understand anything you said today." So I guess it wasn't really a yes and I should resume taking classes so that I can speak Argentine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Random things open in my internet browser right now

1. Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb profile from The Times.

2. NYT on Nouriel Roubini.

3. Malcolm Gladwell on inventions and multiples. Note the publication date.

4. NYT Mag parses Obama on economic policy. I've realized that Obama is the ultimate Rorschach test, and the media establishment is trying really hard to convince themselves that he's a moderate.

5. Dan Goldstein paper on heuristics.

6. Blog by some venture guy in the Bay Area.

7. The last NYT mag article that Michael Lewis wrote (and whose book I eagerly await, even if I have to try and slog through it in Spanish) on cat bonds.

8. Times on Art DeVany and fitness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trip to Iguazu

Here we are taking the train on the first day to walk to La Garanta de Diablo (Devil's Throat), which is the largest elevation of the falls. We'd just gotten off the plane and made it to our hotel, when I, being the taskmaster, decided we had to gogogo! I included this picture because I look like I am going to sing. That's Hance on the left and Betty in the middle.

So, after we got off the train, you walk for like half a mile on bridges over the river. I took this picture as we arrived at Garganta. The falls really sneak up on you, because they are only about 20 yards behind us in this picture, but it's still pretty tranquil and quiet.

It's pretty much impossible to capture the power of Garganta. This is me with like 10% of Garganta behind me. The spray is just unbelievable; the power and the noise...

We had some beers on my balcony that night, and it's pretty crazy to hear the roar and see thin whisps of mist off in the distance as you fall asleep. This is the view from the hotel room. By the way, that's Brazil off to the left.

I kept threatening to wake the girls up early, however I got sick due to the incompetence of the Sheraton (I strongly recommend that you do not stay at the Sheraton at Iguazu), so we only got out at like 10am. Still, it was a pretty, sunny though still somewhat chilly morning. This isn't Garganta, this is the other side.

Another picture of the non-Garganta falls from the Paseo Inferior trail that we did the second day. Betty took a spill and probably still has a bruise. We nearly got attacked by like 20 koates. Or at least Betty thought so. We took a trip to the island and then hung out on the beach that you can sorta see in the very bottom left of this picture. We did the trails up there, one of the view points is pretty fantastic. Then we did the boat ride where they take you under the falls, and you just get completely and thoroughly soaked even though you're only like 1/3 of the way under the falls and you don't stay in very long. The water was cold. We then went back to the beach, sunned for a bit and dried out our clothes. I ended up talking to some Crusaders from Tennessee. Pretty random. Finally we got dry, completed the trail and went back to our hotel. Ate lunch while watching the falls (basically the same view as from our hotel room, see above). I felt pretty sick and went to bed, while the girls went to dinner and got massages.

I was planning on waking the girls up to go watch the sun rise, but it was cloudy, so they got to sleep in. Here we are on the Paseo Superior, jumping. The Paseo Superior basically is bridges and viewing points that rim the falls that you can see above. Pretty neat.

So, none of the pictures so far have really captured the raw power, and the stunning number of rainbows. Maybe this offers the slightest glimpse.
There was so much spray (especially at Garganta). In fact, part of the reason that I'm not posting more of the pictures from Garganta is that there was too much spray to really see much on film.

Here's a kind of side shot

This is how close you were to the falls. Like 2 feet. See the bottom? I don't either.

I didn't take my camera on this trip, so these are all pictures by Betty. She has a better camera and wildly superior skills. She did a great job; it's ridiculously tough to capture the essence on film.

Movie reviews

Superbad -- The teenaged boy inside of me thought this was the funniest movie he'd seen in the last 10 years. Well, equal to Wedding Crashers.

Being John Malkovich -- So many people I respect think this movie is great, but I just didn't enjoy it. It didn't seem terribly memorable to me either.

A Life Less Ordinary -- I didn't see how this movie brought anything extraordinary to the table. Standard extortion caper turned lovestory. Ewan McGregor is a good actor though, the one saving grace.

28 Days Later -- I thought this movie was going to be stupid, but it was awesome. Hasn't post-apocalyptic been done? The early scenes did not encourage me, but it was a surprisingly exceptional movie. I think all Presbyterians should love Danny Boyle's movies, and he's definitely one of my favorite directors. It was weird seeing the villian of Red Eye and Batman Begins as the hero though.

Blue Velvet -- The movie kinda freaked me out towards the beginning, then bored me towards the end. Critics love this movie, to me it didn't really stand out.

Carlito's Way -- I hate to praise Sean Penn, but he was excellent. A little predictable, but still good. A little long though, when I didn't feel like there was much plot. Although after the Sopranos, I often seem to think this about mob movies. Definitely watching all the mob movies makes me appreciate even more of the nuances of the Sopranos though.

Crash -- Many trite threads tie together into a cliche. I only watched the first half of the movie, and maybe it improves, but I highly doubt it. "Dude, let's make a movie about racial stereotypes, and then we'll always go for The Obvious." If I recall correctly, this won Best Picture. That makes me laugh.

Thank You For Smoking -- Very entertaining. Cute and breezy; won't win any awards for its endurance, but enjoyable.

Catch Me If You Can -- I could pretty much write the same as above for this movie as well. I find Leonardo DiCaprio annoying, but he does pick some good movies.

Reservoir Dogs -- I don't appreciate Quentin Tarantino movies. There's alot of violence, but to no end. At least in something like the Sopranos it serves a purpose. Almost everything about this movie was predictable, and I'm the worst at predicting movies.

The Life Aquatic -- Definitely my least favorite Wes Anderson movie.

The Untouchables -- The whole movie I kept thinking, "what if they'd cast someone other than Kevin Costner as Elliott Ness?" It was good, but didn't quite seem deserving of how some people talk about it.

You Don't Mess With The Zohan -- Emmanuelle Chiriqui is so cute. The jokes about Mel Gibson were funny, and more or less in the Jewish/Israel theme. But I really don't understand how Adam Sandler did classics like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore when he now comes out with this stuff.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More restaurant reviews

Pretend like you care, ok? I like my reviews. This could be massive.

Rio Alba -- we got a parillada (traditional Argentinean bbq that you will get if you go to an asado. If you are friends with an Argentinean and visit, you are destined to go to an asado, unless the portenos really don't like you). I didn't get enough to eat, but the food was good. I don't know; didn't stand out to me. However, given that I usually get steaks (bife de lomo or bife de chorizo) it's harder to compare. Not that I don't love asados; I do.

Federico -- Apparently all lunches downtown are expensive. I got sushi for the first time here. Hrm. I enjoyed it at the time, but when I processed it later, it wasn't really that good. Sometimes it takes me awhile to think about sushi; can't really explain why.

Una palabra -- went here for lunch a good while back. I remember the menu being much different, and was very disappointed at the menu when I saw it. But then both entrees and the appetizer were excellent. I got chicken because I was in the mood (got a problem with that, foodies?) and it was amazing. Everything on the plate worked together like a beautiful symphony. I highly recommend this place.

Cielito Lindo -- mexican place in soho. Call me a cheto (snob...sorta) but I just prefer my Texmex on Navigation Avenue. I got the huevos rancheros to be safe. Was decent. But I eat Mexican food like every day in Houston.

La Lunera -- I found this place to be extremely disappointing. It seemed like they claim close at things only to fail. At the time, there was nearly some judgment about all restaurants in Las Canitas. I ordered a steak jugoso (rare), and it came out well done for like a centimeter and then totally raw in the middle. Obviously the heat was way, way too high. So I sent it back, and I get back a steak that is totally well done. Um, yeah. Great. The steak was pretty good for a well-done steak, but not nearly as good as like Social Paraiso. My wineglass was too small, and they overcompensated by filling it to the brim. To the point where I couldn't swirl my wine for that first taste. My dessert (panqueques with apple flambeed in rum) was overrich, overdone, and not overwhelming. Oh, and since everything was almost there, but not quite, the waitress was cute too, except that she had one of those noxious cheek beautymark piercings that I detest (have I written about this here? so terrible!). In short, I would not go here again. I hope you had guessed that by now.

T-Bone. Great service. Good appetizer. Entree schmeh. Friend concurred that his entree was also schmeh. On the other hand, a different friend got the grilled vegetables and it looked fantastic. If I go back to T-Bone, I will get the grilled vegetables. I believe this is called irony.

Tonno -- upscale pizza place in Las Canitas. It did nothing for me, the only pizza I like here is Pizza Pet, which grows on me everytime I get it. My Porteno amigo liked it, but I think maybe he just said that because I picked the place. On the other hand...I think I really just like Porteno pizza very much. If isn't Margarita's, it isn't perfect.

Bar 6 -- Place in Soho. I got a wok which was very enjoyable but not memorable. That's about all there is that I remember about this place, except that it was packed with extranjeros (foreigners). Damn Yankees.

Capo -- I enjoyed this place in Soho, it was decent Italian food. The owner offered us several free drinks, which I appreciate. Free is fun. Still, this restaurant didn't quite stand out to me. Good, I'd go back there if someone suggested it, but I am unlikely to venture back without stimulus.

Montana Bistro -- Over in Caballito, this is just a great place. If this was in Palermo, it would be a regular stop for me like Aire or Sudestada. Definitely a possible date place in the future, if I'm willing to endure trying to talk to the date in a taxi before we get there. So, how are you, I don't speak Spanish, how are you? Are we there yet? Maybe the best service I've had in Buenos Aires (generally, I think Americans overcomplain about the restaurant service here). Appetizer swell, table bread warm and seemed to be homemade, entree fantastic. Ambience very nice. And relatively speaking, very well priced. The only reason that Montana isn't more expensive is because it's in Caballito. Highly recommended.

What would you do if you won 400k?

So my roommate and I were discussing what we'd do if we won the 400k prize we were semi-competing for (don't feel like explaining the backstory). I said, "that's life changing money." And he agreed. And then I thought about how my life would change if I won 400k. And I couldn't really come up with anything.

I'd go out and buy a nice steak* for dinner, but I do that on like 40% of nights anyway. So, schmeh. I thought that I wouldn't sweat the downswings, but I still would. Maybe I'd be more likely to buy a house when I returned to Houston in a few years. But I've pretty much decided not to buy a house until I get married. I love not having responsibility by renting; it's like outsourcing things I don't want to do. I guess my MBA would be paid for, but it's probably more that I wouldn't be tempted to take the fullride for MBA in order to go to a top 5ish program. Schmeh.

So yeah, I guess life might be slightly different down the road, but I can't say that winning 400k would really change my life or make me happier. Aside from the very temporary dopamine surge, by the time the money would matter at all, my brain would be pretty accustomed to it. Yeah, there'd be more stability down the road, and I am a junkie of avoiding risk whenever possible, but schmeh.

That felt pretty good to realize that I wouldn't change much, because it means I'm making good life decisions. I'd be the same guy, wear the same clothes, drive the same car, still live in Buenos Aires, still go get an MBA in a few years. I'd still plan to never put myself in a position to have to work in a job I despise for people who I don't respect. Hmm...guess I'd better avoid getting married. Doesn't seem to be a problem so far.

And of course, the last thing I'd ever do is talk about the fact that I'd won.

*and by nice, I mean phenomenal. I'm just used to it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

This little piece of internet real estate was recently found by someone searching for "how to start a big company in a third world country."

Made me laugh.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today is Alexander's 10th birthday. RIP, little guy. I miss you.

Friday, August 8, 2008

So good

I need to stop having transcendental lunch experiences at Sudestada, because it's making it hard for me to appreciate any other lunch ever again.

Of minor prophets and their prostitute wives

I ventured into Centro (downtown) today to have lunch with a friend. Good times. I didn't think our waitress was attractive at all when I first saw her, and then by the time we finished our meal (2.5 hours later; this is Argentina) I thought she was one of the most attractive girls I've seen here. Strange.

Afterwards, I wandered around downtown to check out 2 spas my Spanish professor told me would be good for getting a massage. The first one was a little expensive -- equal to what I'd pay in the US -- so I went to check out the second.

Well, that was strange. All I asked the girl at the front desk is whether I needed an appointment for a massage. She asks me, "Clasico o [ ]?" I have no idea what she's saying. Next thing I know I'm following her, and then being led into a dark room (the "relaxation room where you talk to the girls") where there were 2 very attractive girls in slinky black dresses. I'm not exactly sure, since my tourguide didn't speak English, but I'm pretty sure these were the masseuses.

So I don't know, maybe they weren't working girls, but I turned around and made for the door like LaDanian Tomlinson near the endzone. If they weren't prostitutes, they certainly made me feel like they were.

I am the gateway drug to marriage

With the news yesterday that an ex-gf is engaged, I think every girl I've ever dated is engaged or married. Of the 10 or so (depending on how you count, exactly, I suppose), I think almost all of them married pretty much the next guy they got in a relationship with. That's pretty crazy.

Moral of the story: Ladies, date me, and you will meet the man of your dreams...after we breakup.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Is it strange that...

So, there's a girl I have a crush* on who is a waitress at a restaurant I go to fairly frequently. I just think she's so cute. Meanwhile, none of my friends think she's cute. To me, she just has an incredible smile. Now if only I could get her to talk to me...although the trends are good.

* At least as much as one can have a crush on someone you've never really talked to.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dates in a foreign language

They aren't as hard as you might think. Because of the language gap, it's pretty easy to make conversation. Everything takes longer to discuss, as you try to make yourself understood and understand what the other person is saying. Plus you realize that humor and attraction are mostly non-verbal.

On the other hand, I was scared to death for awhile of trying to talk in Spanish for several hours, so maybe I probably was benefiting from low expectations.

Even amazing restaurants have off nights and off dishes

I ate at two of my favorite restaurants today, and was underwhelmed at both. I think it was a combination of having dishes that weren't as appealing to me, combined with maybe not the best night for the chef.

Of course, the high expectations that come from their being my favorite restaurants probably doesn't help.