Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Random pictures

I know I'm like a broken record, but my sister tells me she likes pictures, so I post more pictures. Even when they aren't very good.

This is my supermarket, Coto. Not sure what I was doing this day...I was going to the subway I think, and looked back to snap the picture.

I must have been going to Alto Palermo...yup, I was. Alto Palermo is one of the nicer shopping malls in BA. This is the food court, up on the top level (if I recall correctly). I went looking for Wii controllers and it was a fail.

There seems to be no Wiis in the country. I think I saw a Wii priced at something like 1k USD. yeah. wow. socialism is great.

Random street in Recoleta/Barrio Norte. By the way, what is Barrio Norte? Depending on who you talk to, it's the area between Palermo and Recoleta....or the area between Recoleta and Tribunales...or the northern part of Recoleta. It's a little like River Oaks, in that everyone claims to be in Barrio Norte, even if they live at Buffalo Speedway and Kirby.

Well, this was a great picture, wasn't it? It's Plaza Vicente Lopez. There's a fountain in the background, but my photography skillz are lacking.

Not sure, still the same area.

The other side of the plaza. By the way, Plaza Vicente Lopez is not in Vicente Lopez (which is technically a city and country immediately outside Capital Federal).

I made it to Republica. This is the inside.

This is my appetizer. Simple, but it worked pretty well. Note the book. Ten bonus points if you identify it. If it's not my favorite book of all time, it's close.

My main course was a Penne with dried tomatoes and basil. It was good, but I've more or less had it before for lunch here. It was good, but schmeh. This was the dessert. The cheesecake was a bit dry (too long in the fridge?), but those figs (?) were tasty.

Anyway, $13, ship it? I swear I'll never go to a restaurant again in the US because I'll get so angry at how expensive it is. This was no Sudestada for lunch -- even though Sudestada is appetizer, main course, and no dessert -- but man, it was good.

This is the little passageway where Republica is located. Inside that unique little passageway are a few restaurants. 3 are well regarded. Republica, Sirop, and Nectarine. Republica didn't blow me away. Went there for dinner tonight and had extraordinarily slow service. Food was good, but nothing amazing. I felt a little like Jenn did at Cafe Annie: is it really something I should be paying a premium for? Yeah, it's good. But where was the daring? In my two experiences at the restaurant, I literally heard English being spoken by every table. It wasn't all by native speakers, but it's quite obviously tourist dependent.

Especially after going to El Baqueano in San Telmo last week, I was so underwhelmed. El Baqueano was incredible. For the $120 peso tasting menu we had 7 courses with 7 paired wines (it's $165 for the premium wines). Everything was gourmet, everything had thought put into it. The meats were exotic, and while I'm generally skeptical of exotic meats (there's a reason we eat beef, chicken and pork), it was phenomenal. And you know how some meals get better and some get worse with age? El Baqueano continues to improve. Also, they change their tasting menu every day. I should probably be thankful that it's not near me, as I'd probably start eating there daily. The only negatives are that it's in San Telmo, which is not my area, as I said.

Look, I am bad at taking out photos, no? That wasn't something of a translation from Spanish to English of what I'd have said. Anyway, this is El Ateneo, which is a famous bookstore here inside of a former theater.

To be honest, I've been to Bookstop in Houston, over on West Alabama and Shepherd. And, schmeh, this reminds me alot of that. Although this picture is quite dark (and my stats say that almost none of you click the pictures) this is from the second floor of 4 floors. Despite being quite large, there aren't that many books. Despite many trips there with the intent to purchase, I am a failure. I don't know, buying books in a foreign language is hard.

Top of the theater/bookstore. That's a painting, if the picture was good.

Time for bed. Chau chicos.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chau, besos.

I guess in the process of fitting into the culture, a large step was taken today. I ended my first email or phone call with "un beso." It sounds pretty odd to me, but yes, the normal thing to end things here is by saying "a kiss."

I'm still pretty partial to "later," but what can I say?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My first mate (with my own set)

I finally got around to buying a mate set at the supermarket today. Presented in beautiful style on my bedroom floor, is the thermos, the yerba mate, the cup, and the straw.

Looking down at the open yerba bag. With the cup and straw inside. By the way, that straw cost me 40 pesos! I really don't understand how a metal straw can cost something equivalent to 40 dollars if I was in the US. Anyway, as I took this picture, the water was boiling upstairs. Then I poured it into the thermos.

So, after filling the cup 2/3 of the way up with yerba, you move it all to one side by tilting it. Then you fill it with near-boiling water on the empty side. I tried to get a picture of me doing this, but only succeeded in running out of battery power...and getting lots of pictures of my leg hair. I'll spare you those.

Action shot.

Edit: man, I have long eyelashes.

Ok, I have to go get ready for a party.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

You wouldn't see this in the US, now would you?

This is "that post" about boobs.

This is the picture I was originally talking about, that has been splashed around town for awhile...especially on the public transit. As an Argentine friend wryly remarked, "Only in Buenos Aires is breast cancer sexy."

And then, there's this new billboard now making the rounds:

Both these pictures were taken at different stations on the Suarez line yesterday.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Exploring the suburbs.

Friday, Andres and I decided to go explore. We had some technical difficulties getting started, but eventually met at the train station. After calling a friend in Moron, I realized (read: he pointed out) that we weren't taking the Moron line...we were taking the San Martin line. Ok. After sprinting to the train station, I came up with just enough time to hop on the train. We hop on the train, start talking...and then we hit the last stop before we know it. It's more than halfway through the county of San Martin.

We got off at the Suarez stop in the San Martin partido (county). First impression is that everything was closed. We walked a little bit, and then I stuck my hand out onto the street randomly and took a picture. It was this one. Andres said, "It'd be so typical if someone drove by and snatched the camera out of your hand."

Looking the other way. Underneath that bridge is the traintracks, and to the left is where the station is.

We stopped and I read all the ads at the inmobiliaria (real estate office). House for 45k? Maybe I am in the real estate market. Then we turned down the street and walked to see the residential area.

I took the picture above because I found it fascinating. Think about my vantage point, think about the sign, and then think about the road. Get it? The sign is completely invisible to any driver on the road. Maybe there's something I'm missing here....

The streets have no name...but does the church have no name? Well, that's why I took the picture, but afterwards Andres pointed out that there is indeed a name right underneath the overhang. Church of the New Apostle. I lose.

So...we walk by this house. Guy is pulling out of the driveway. I want to take a picture of the shoe on the roof (see picture). He's looking as us suspiciously, and so we sorta have to move on. We're not sure if he came back around to check on us again, but he clearly thought we were going to rob him. I have heard that Houston organized crime was infiltrating Buenos Aires, with people pulling out digital cameras in the light of day to use to ransack houses in the suburbs...

We wander around a little more. I finally find nice shoes I like to replace the shoes that I've wearing since like 1996...but of course, they are closed for siesta. Claro, this is not Capital. We start heading back to the train station, while talking about genetics...and everything is closed. So I took this picture. Really, everyone is one vacation, even more so than in Capital. Of like 7 shops in a row here, only the one is open.

We wander over to the over side of the tracks. Definitely didn't seem as well off. I took this picture because I thought it was amusing that what didn't seem to be terribly nice, yet had directv. Now if only Directv would put the playoff games on Sunday ticket (and Thanksgiving#!$@#%#$%^@)

Apparently certain phrases are universal. This is underneath the far side of the bridge from the 2nd picture.

Got back on the bridge train and took it to San Andres. Got off the train, and I snapped this pic. Apparently Rotary has some involvement (left side of picture). I think I'm just a sucker for carousels, although I feel like I see a carousel on every other corner here sometimes.

We stopped and hung out in this park for a little bit. Then we wandered back in this neighborhood and it was definitely a nice neighborhood around San Martin. We got ice cream (it was pretty underwhelming for both of us) and then realized we were both really tired.

As we approached the train station, I felt like walking to the next station. "C'mon, it can't be that far," I said. So we walked, which was nice.

After walking for awhile, we hit something I assume was a railway workers club. We had to go around it. There was this railroad line of dead railroad cars. I was fascinated by the one in the middle, because it seemed higher up than the others, also I liked the graffiti on the railway cars on the right. I've always admired graffiti art, what can I say? All that gang activity in Newark, what what?

We ended up walking all the way back to Capital. Then we took the train back. And man, I was something exhausted.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nivel de espanol

Since yesterday was my attempt to answer a question I get alot ("What do you do all day?"), I'll try and answer the other question y'all always ask me: how is your Spanish?

It's a long way from being good, that's what it is. On the other hand, it's been at a perfectly fine level for my everyday encounters for awhile. I can have a pretty basic conversatin fairly easily.

I'm doing better at understanding the Porteno accent, which is good. Things I need to work on: subjunctive, improving my verb vocab, conjugating verbs correctly, starting conversations, and not getting so nervous when I try to say something complicated to start a conversation.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Day in the Life

People often ask me if I can describe a typical day in my life. Well, not sure what's typical. Here's what I did today:

9:30am Wake up. Check email. I'm tired, so I go back to bed.

Noon Wake up again. Bum around, ponder where I'm going to move. Talk to Brendan on gchat. Do some work on web development that I am working on in Django. Again, I spend half my time frustrated beyond belief because I have no idea what's going on and because patience is not in my nature. Again wonder if this project is a pipedream...

1:45 Decide I am hungry.

2 Arrive at lunch place after nice little saunter through my neighborhood. Go to Lobby, which is a change, as I think I've been to Sudestada three days in a row for lunch. Excellent salad, quite good pasta main course, very tasty brownie for dessert. Excellent food, really can't complain. Costs me $8 USD including my drink, but I get mildly tilted by how slow the service is for the entire restaurant. Really, when you have 2 levels and an outside, you need more than 2 waiters. I halve my tip in annoyance, and try to remember that I am an estadounidense (the ugliest word ever pronounced imo) in Argentina.

3:30 Get home. Check email, think about my investments, ponder some trades. On my walk home, I passed some condos being built...they are superswanky and in the perfect location. I think about buying one, and decide to go check it out soon...even though I have resolved not to buy real estate here. Go back to work on Django.

4:45 I want a massage, my life has been so stressful lately. Ha, who am I kidding, I just want a massage. Go to my masseuse. For the first time ever, she isn't there. I get some older woman who certainly didn't mail it in...but she wasn't deep tissue enough, my style of massage, nor was she nearly as pretty as my usual therapist.

6 Get back home. Django, django. Also listen to Shakira because I can count listening to Shakira as productive, as I am theoretically picking up Spanish.

7 Talk to Andrew and Will for a little over an hour. Definitely good friends. Will and I have very similar tastes in lots of things, from undergrad to law school to church. Not sure if there's anyone in my life that pushes my buttons better than Will. Andrew and I met pretty soon after I got to Rice. Don't think either of us realized at the time that we both have a very similar outlook on life -- very probabilistic, very analyzed -- but got around to it after college. If I want to assess odds on any nonlinear matter, I'd call him.

8pm A little django.

8:?? - 10ish Somewhere in here, I got lazy and took a nap. which is not good...

11 National championship. Watch online and talk to some people. Try to speak Spanish in my conversations online. Frequently give up and get lazy. Am somewhat productive in various things, ship a decent amount of money and EV.

2am Game is over, ship ship Florida. I <3 Urban Meyer's offensive schemes (check Smart Football if you want to know all about the latest and greatest in schemes) and I love Tim Tebow's intensity. Although I thought OU would beat them (though imo Texas Tech and UTexas were better than OU), Florida had some definite positive variance, Meyer may have outschemed and outadjusted and Tebow is Tebow. Also, keep in mind that American football is an incredibly high-variance game, although maybe not as much as soccer (though soccer is generally less variance in its champions...topic for another day.)

It's now 3am, and I have to go to bed. I've mostly written this post and bummed around for awhile.

Tomorrow Andres and I are supposed to go wander around Moron, which is a part of the city (suburbs, really) I've never been to. Strangely though, Moron is the hometown of the mother of a American girl I used to go out with. We will see if I get around to taking pictures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I am currently considering a winter move to Colombia. Probably to a beach town. Thoughts?

Not going to lie, as pretty as I think Portenas are, the average Colombiana that I have met here is at least her equal.


One of the fun things about living where I live now is that whenever a storm comes, I'm fairly convinced that the world is ending. I guess that's what happens when your windows rattle as much as I do, and you can look out at the top of a huge tree and watch it go from like half of your vision to zero percent to half again in the space of three seconds.

"Raindrops" keep falling on my head

So I was just wandering about my neighborhood, looking for photos that I need to illustrate two posts I want to write here. Sadly, I was only able to find one of them, so the breast advertisement post will just have to wait (how was that for a teaser...? probably anyone in BA knows exactly what I'm talking about though).

It took me awhile to find pictures for the other post...ahem, that'd be this one. That may be because everyone in this city is gone. Seriously, like half of the portenos I know are on vacation right now, and those that aren't seem to be planning their imminent vacation in the 2nd half of January. There are clubs that have shut down for the summer and moved to one of the beach towns, blah blah blah. Apparently it used to be even more so than it is now. But there are definitely less people in the street.

Anyway, walking around in Buenos Aires during the summer can make you occasionally feel lots of little raindrops. Funny, you think, it's not raining. Why do I feel raindrops? Let's take a look at two pictures, taken from the exact same spot, one looking down, and one looking up.

Walking along the sidewalk during the summertime, you normally see lots of puddles caused by air conditioners-- not today, of course, since I actually had a camera this time. That's because air conditioners here tend to be window units...with little hoses hanging off the side.

If you look, some of them actually had other ways of dealing with the condensed water byproduct. In fact, the entire puddle was caused by the air conditioner on the right, which has a little hose hanging down inbetween the unit and the building.

Now I recall reading somewhere that water produced as a byproduct is pure molecularly, so it's not a big deal, but I do still shudder a little when I get sprinkled and it's not raining.