Sunday, September 28, 2008

back in Quito

Well - half the dynamic duo is back, at least. I'm about to jump out into the fray and try to find some place showing the Skins/cowboys game. It's election day here - a referendum for the new constitution. I stumbled across the horrible realization that this wacky country implements a "ley seca" during elections - no drinking from noon Friday to noon Monday when there's a general election. Not just no selling booze in any establishment, but no personal consumption of alcohol during that time, even in the comfort of your own home. Who ever heard of a country doing something so puritanically controlling? That's crazy talk. I can't imagine what it would have been like trying to get through the Kerry/Bush election day without some liquid fortitude, or the chance to drown one's sorrows afterwards.
I can't tell if this is an example of extreme fascism or extreme communism, but it sucks.
I'm going to start a grass-roots movement for a referendum banning the ley seca.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back in the US of A

For those that aren't in the loop on these things, A and I are in DC for a while. What was originally planned as a quick trip to Baltimore and DC for a wedding, chocolate tasting event and a chance to see friends has slowly ballooned into a three week extravaganza, spanning multiple cities, across multiple weekends, involving a whole giant broadway show sized cast of friends and family. Should be a good time.
Since we won't have a bunch of pictures of exotic spots we're visiting (not counting some of the more "interesting" baltimore suburbs) I think I'll try and post some links on the site, in lieu of pictures of things you don't usually see at home.
If you're in the DC area - I hope I see you soon.

I'm a little worried about my poor fig tree, stuck all alone in Quito.

Friday, September 5, 2008


A posts a picture once a week or so on a photo blog site. It's one of those artistic photo (not those kind) sites where budding, amateur, professional and just plain curious photographers tend to congregate.
Each of her posts, individually, has more comments on that site than all of the comments on this blog, in its entirety. I don't know if that says more about the quality of her pictures or the suckiness of these posts.

TSA is a joke

As I prepare to fly the friendly skies once again today, I had a thought. TSA screens all checked bags (most times, you have to literally carry your bag over to the x-ray machine and "handlers" at check-in).
Why is it, then, that things still get stolen out of bags that are checked? Only two options come to mind:
1) TSA employees are stealing crap out of people's bags, which is a sad statement about the level of security and the type of people that are hired to "protect us" from evil-doers on planes.
2) The chain of security is broken after TSA inspects the bag (some random people are getting into bags after TSA inspects and before the baggage owner gets the bag), which is, on the whole, a lot scarier than the first option. Scary because it means that anyone can do anything to baggage getting on planes once it's been "checked" by security, and "things" can be added to baggage just as easily as they are taken out.
In a parallel thought to the above, how are bags lost in the new age of air travel? If bags are lost, it means that they are unaccounted for, which seems to be another indication that there's a break in the chain of security. You would think, for security's sake, that those who care about security wouldn't want random bags getting on planes they aren't supposed to be on, wouldn't you?
I get the feeling that the TSA's procedures are there to provide an annoyance to travelers, with the idea that annoyance and suffering is equated to a sense of security in placid passenger's minds. It doesn't work that way for me, but then I've never been accused of seeing the world the same way as everyone else.
I guess I should be prepared for strip search, this time around. I'll make sure to wear some clean underwear.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

micro climates in the city

Since I finally got my hands on the camera this afternoon, I took some shots of the city scape to try and highlight the micro climates around here. I don't know if this is going to come out in the pictures or not - if it doesn't, it's surely my fault.

First picture, facing North. Notice the clouds overhead (it's not raining around here yet) and, off in the distance past the airport, it's a bright and sunny day.

The next shot is towards the center of town and Pichincha (due West from the living room) - the hazy white stuff is pouring rain. Again, not raining up here yet.

Just a little strangeness.

missed shot

here's the latest update on the construction. The top's been capped and some netting has been set up (I don't know why).
I had the perfect picture this morning, but, once again, I couldn't find the #*$&)#&$ camera until hours later (it was in the other camera bag. Not the "other camera bag" - the other camera's bag, if that makes any sense).
Since I don't have the image to show you, I'll just have to paint the picture with words.
So, see the yellow thing-a-ma-bob up on the top floor? That's a little mini-crane that the construction workers are using to haul up cement blocks. This morning, there was a guy, standing on top of a barrel, right at the edge next to the crane, taking cement blocks from a one guy on the ledge and handing them up to a guy standing on the roof of the building. With another guy operating the crane, swinging the thing back and forth not 2 feet from this guy prancing around on the top of a barrel hanging over the edge of the building.
I guess "safety is priority #1" is universal.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

weekend update

We spent a lot of time on dirt roads this weekend. Started off going to our friends Andrew and Claire's property out near Mindo on Sunday (Saturday being the laze about and do little of anything day). They recently purchased about 25 hectares of land of undeveloped land about an hour and a half ride down a dirt road off the panamericana. They want to leave most of the land untouched and allow the cloud forest to continue to grow, but are planting some little baby cacao and lemon and a variety of other trees in a hectare or so of their land.
A hectare, by the way, is 10,000 meters squared, as I learned this weekend.
We walked around a bit, ate a picnic, and generally hung out in the country.
On Monday, we stopped by another friend of a friend's coffee farm closer to the city, but, again, about an hour drive down a dirt road. Tromped around in various fields of coffee, and sugar cane, and undeveloped land. It was amazing to see the difference in environment between the first place (largely undeveloped, with lots of forest and very, very wet) and the second area (largely developed, few trees, and very, very dry) considering that, despite the travel time between the two "tracts of land", they're really very close to each other. Made me worry about the future of our planet (not sure if it made me worry any more than usual, though). We had a chance to check out a nearby sugar cane mill, too, where they produce a sugar like substance - like a cross between brown sugar and molasses called panela (I think) - from the cane.
All in all, a good weekend. Maybe not the bbq heaven of a traditional labor day, but a good and relaxing time.

elections everywhere

The general election in the US (of A) is a big deal. We'll be following all the blowhard news coverage running up to the November election via the web and other media outlets, just like everyone else.
Down here in Ecuador, meanwhile, they're gearing up for a referendum on a new constitution, which kind of makes a little thing like electing a new president pale in comparison. The referendum is at the end of the month (September) and the things are already starting to get hectic. Buses full of the "Si" and "No" people fill the highways outside of the main cities, going from one demonstration to the other. Protesters are staking out their respective traffic circles and square across the city. The circle next to our house is full of the "No" people, waving flags, shouting out slogans, and generally causing traffic jams, massive amounts of honking for their position, massive amounts of honking (and gestures out the window) from people against their position, and massive amounts of honking from generally pissed off people stuck in traffic. This is repeated in every traffic circle around. There's huge gatherings in various parts of the city every night. Fireworks and loud music every other night (and, I assume, even more carousing and spectacle on the weekends, when we aren't here). Flat bed trucks full of police in full riot gear can be seen navigating through the city.
I'm thinking that the city's gearing up for some major chaos soon. Should be interesting.
I'd take pictures to provide evidence but I left the camera in the car, which Amanda took to work today.
More later.