Tuesday, November 29, 2005

San Rafeal, Argentina

Right now it is about 10:15 in the PM. I am having a tough time getting used to the hours that are kept in both Chile and Argentina. Basically, breakfast is coffee/tea and bread with butter and jam. Not a very 'get your day started' mammy-jammy type breakfast that I would like. It is true that I did not eat eggs and bacon every day in the states. However, once in a while I would like to eat them here. I am on vacation after all. This breaking of the nights fast usually occurs between 9:00 and 10:00. This is well after the sun has been up and shining, when I would like to be up and about. Both businesses and eateries just don't open before 9:00AM.

At or around noonish I start to get hungry for my next meal. See, I don't have enough fat in my belly to keep it quiet for longer than that. Lunch places start to open at 12:30. High noon is pushing it to find a good joint open. It is much better typically to be on the front end of lunch though rather than the tail. Earlier in the lunch period the pasta in the soups is not over done. Lunch is usually a good and bountiful affair. In fast food and food court type restaurants one can usually get beer as the combo drink. Something I have not seen too much before. So, lunch is good.

After lunch, ciesta takes place. This is where I usually find that the things I want to do or see are closed. Most places don't bother with putting up posted hours or a small polite sign informing the public as to when they will return. In their defense, it is hot in the afternoon. No hotter than Atlanta in the summer (it's a dry heat here) but I would like to be resting too sometimes.

Once ciesta is over, the shops start to open but the restaurants are not serving dinner yet. They serve 'onset'. I don't know if this is truely what it is called because understanding Argentine spanish is very difficult. But this meal between meals is like breakfast again-- tea/coffee usually with bread of cake. After this tide me over meal, dinner is usually served at or around 10:30. The culture is to stay up way late (way past my bed time) and go to sleep on a reasonably full belly. Again, this is not my preferance. I like to go to sleep not starving but not full either. Then at breakfast, break my fast. But, that is not how its done here. And my pussy hurts because of it.

As I said, the spanish is very different. I have not too much trouble getting people to understand me but I have a hell of a time understanding them. From simple things like how are you (Que tal) and where are you from/going/visiting to other things like how much and what time. That and the people here are really friendly so that they will launch into a story or conversation and I feel I am lost at about word three. But with each day I learn a little more and I have great confidence in using the language. I am able to make myself understood, which is the key.

Hope all is well.

Mario Kart DS: NDS: 100%: November 27th 2005
Shadow of the Colossus: PS2: October ?? 2005
Ultimate Spider-Man: PS2: September ?? 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mendoza, Chile

Arrived yesterday. Santiago is done. Did not meet up with David. Had a little shuttle bus to take us from Santiago, across the border, and into Mendoza. 7hrs. Saw some ski lifts that had no snow underneath them. Very odd I thought.

Alls well.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Santiago, Chile

Greetings from the capitol. Shannon and I will leave in two days for Mendoza, Argentina. We are going to some vineyards tomorrow for wine tasting. Mmmm... wine. We are also firming up plans for the rest of our weeks. I should know sometime soon about my return date.

I went to the House of Pablo Neruda which was interesting. He has collected many works over the course of his life from his travels. The house is stylized like a ship and filled with knic-knacks. Very interesting and some fantastic views of the sea. I am familiar with the house of Pablo Neruda.

Hope all is well.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Welcome from the bandwidth vacant Robot Factory. Actually I'm in zor's room, but them's the breaks when you have no internet. I'm not sure what issue is going on between our provider and Jeremy, but it sucks and I want to kill someone. Trying to go through a work week without being able to update a blog or check my email at home is a new kind of hassle I don't need.

Speaking of things that are a hassle, let's talk about Battlefront 2, and why it sucks on XBox live. Look, I'm not a huge user of Live. Since my XBox doesn't play nicely with any others, the only chance I get to play live is when I go to a friend's house. Since my house is know as the "video game mecca" most of my friends are lagging behind . . . and then there is Rich.

Mike and I went to Rich's place for a while to play some games and watch a football game. We wanted to play Battlefront 2, a game that we absolutely loved in the local multiplayer and co-op modes. Well, it sucks on live. We just couldn't find a server that didn't have some sort of lag issue. There weren't that many players, and for the most part the game was either broken or not fun. All in all, it fucking sucked.

So maybe the problem was with live. I played BF2 locally and loved it. To test this Rich puts in Halo 2, which has the best live functionality ever. We were quickly able to get a game going, and we were continually outclassed, but it was still fun. Damn it was fun. I just don't get how one game uses live so well, and a game made more than a year later uses it so poorly. I though one of the things that Live was supposed to do it make it so that each company didn't have to handle their own online shit (like the PCs have to do . . . I wonder how that is going? Brad?). This was a good thing, right?! Well it turns out that is doesn't create equity amongst all the games. I don't get it. Maybe it is because I don't program for shit, so I don't understand the elegant balance of packets to be sent and recieved in order for a streamlined experience, but as a user of a few of these systems, I don't understand why other people don't just use the same idea as was successful a year ago.

Let's turn the page to another online system we got running at the same time. I took us a while to get it to work, but Nintendo WiFi seems to be the real deal. All of us had gotten Mario Kart DS, and were itching to play it across, as Rich puts it "the interweb." There were some issues we had (you can't add someone to your friends list unless you either get their # or you play locally with them), but in the end the setup was super simple. You make sure you can get some wireless access from your (or anyone else's) router, press go, set up the type of game you want (worldwide, rival, friend, regional) and away you go. NWC (what Nintendo is calling the Wifi Community) sets you up with 2 or 3 competitors and away you go. The track you play is based on a vote by the players, and you play a quick grand prix of four races. It was so simple that (if we didn't have the issues with a WEP protected router) you wouldn't have even known that we needed to do anything. I'll talk about the problems I have with the game, but right now Mario Kart DS is fucking awesome.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

La Serena, Chile

Not much new happening. Chile is still expensive. Went star gazing in the desert. It was quite nice. Chile has several things going for it that make it a good place to see the stars. They have laws which limit light pollution, deserts that have many clear nights out of the year, and big ass mountains that raise the veiwer to the thinner atmosphere. The southern hemisphere starfield is different than that in the north. There are a few cluster galaxies that one can see with the naked eye as well as the southern cross. All in all, having fun moving on.

I am currently reading the fire and ice series and would recommend it to others who like knights and such fantasy. It was quite entertaining. I have the next two books in the series waiting for me.

I look forward to a healthy crack addiction when I return to the video game mecca.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Antofagasta, Chile

Well, I have taken a tour of the highest Salt Flats in the world. They are pretty neet. I have seen some strange things that I have never before seen on planet Earth. I also have moved on to Chile from Bolivia. Things here are definately different. The hotel rooms are far more expensive for far less room. In Bolivia I was living like a king for three dollars and now I am a peasent in the backpackers quarters for about eight dollars. But they have good yogurt, workers rights, and the busses leave on time. Wow.

We went sandboarding in the driest desert in the world. We rented a mountain bike to get out there with the boards on my back. We hiked up the hills and gave sandboarding a fair shake. My verdict, I´ll stick with snow and skies, thanks. But it was a great experience. There were some instuctors who were taking another group and they were really good. Really good. I did not get going fast enough to really risk hurting myself. I did have a few good runs in the end. The biggest difference is the steepness of the mountain. There is a lot of friction between sand and the board. This same mountain with snow would have been a black probably and it was a little unnearving to look down something that steep. Very hard to take the first leap. But a very fun experience.

Hope all are well. Bitches.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Definitely not dead.

I bought Civ4 hoping to re-energize my waning gamebido (oh, it's a word alright). Haven't played it much solo but I've played the multiplayer with Ryan. It's not bad. I'm hoping to pour some hours into some solo games this weekend. Also of note. I am off next week. Vacationing as the grown-ups like to say. My original plans of going down to Mexico have been scrapped. Perhaps Alaska?? I've got my boombox.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Potosí, Bolivia

What would you say if I gave you a gift of ammonium nitrate, coca leaves, dynamite, and a fuse? Well, today I did a mine tour outside of Potosí. It was a very sureal tour where I felt like I was on the set of some movie. But the men working were not actors or tour plants. They really do work six to twelve hour days (usually six days a week) and get paid based on international market rates. They could make about 250 USD in a month if they were really lucky (ie, they struck a good vein). But it is more likely that they make about six dollars a day. 6 · 26 != 250. I digress. The tour invloved some crawling on hands and knees to get into tight spaces to see the goings on. The start is through the colonial section of the mine and the techniques have not changed a whole lot. There were some two inch air hoses running deep into the mine but those did not bring fresh air but powered some air tools. The tour was lead by a guy who had been a miner for seven years and then a tour guide for twenty. He had a lot to say about the conditions and the people. It was a group of miners who got the gifts. It was a great tour and I would probably never do it again. All I could think about was working in a sulphur pit when I saw these guys. A very worth while experience.

In other news, I went to the cine today. I saw Mr and Mrs Smith. It was not THX or Sony digital and one could tell. They had the ambient volume up so loud that the dialouge was hard to hear. The locals don´t care because they read the subtitles anyway. Oh, and the movie was 75 cents. Sweet.

I am glad to hear that Brad is not dead in a ditch. Yea Brad! Yeah, no dead Brad! It sounds like you are getting along just fine. And lets give another shout out to Martin also not being dead in a ditch (with mustard). Yeah Martin!

Went to the market, got some textiles. Woohoo weaving.

Um... thats about all I have to say on the subject.

Hope all yous guys are doing well.

Just to have this on the record. . . my soul still burns.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sweet. The blog is rather active. Apparently I need to check more than once a month.

Mark, glad to hear you haven't been kidnapped yet.

I too have been eyeing the new crop of game systems. I have no idea why, I never use my gamecube and I barely use my SP nowadays. My lack of interest in video games makes me sad because it's not as though I have a girlfriend, wife, or constructive hobby that I devote my time to.

To catch everyone up, it looks like I have two months of blogging to do. Perhaps some highlights will suffice. I'll start with the future and work my way backwards.

If you want the real quick version, here's my outline:

1. Accenture team in Frankfort is cool.
2. Going to see Matisyahu next week.
3. Went to Louisville/Pitt Thur. ESPN game and saw the moon, twice.
4. Ryan got a new v8 Mustang
5. Saw NIN in concert. Great show.
6. Ran through a lot of flowers south of Lexington, KY.
7. Went to the horse track, lost $20.
8. Chick from that date never called me back.

My Accenture buds up in Frankfort are pretty cool. They like to go out, get drunk, and do crazy stuff. As usual, I end up being the least crazy, since I usually drink much, much less than everyone else. Next week we're going into the big city (Louisville) to see Matisyahu. Should be fun. I've got some pictures from our halloween party we had that I should post up somewhere.

Went to the Louisville, Pittsburgh ESPN Thursday night game this past Thursday. C, A, R, D, S. Cards! I heard that a lot. The team's mascot is the Cardinal, if you didn't already know. They had a promising season ahead of them until they lost two games to "bad" teams, but everyone there seemed to be in high spirits. It was a good time. Nice stadium. Lots of ladies. Lots of ass. That's right, but only the dudes were the ones dropping trow(sp?). Two mooning incidents, one from the drunk guy who kept turning around to talk to the crowd. He ended up mooning the other team, though I doubt they were aware. The other showing was from the large gentleman in front of me. Dude was letting his pants slide, and then he started bending over to look for his lost souvineer beer cup. Ah, the hilarity of giant tighty whities creeping down.

Ryan got a new mustang (the car, not the animal) to replace his 2000 that got T-boned. This is his car, except with different rims and no side stripe, and the front stripe still has to be painted on, but it will be.

Saw Nine Inch Nails in concert two Thursday's ago at Philips Arena. That was a sweet show. If you enjoy NIN, I thought they sounded better. No crazy hijinks though, just good music, stagelighting, and a little policitical commentary in the form of a multimedia picture presentation. I was planning on going to see Depeche Mode play next weekend. Apparently that concert is today. Whoops. Maybe next time. I do like their new album. It's right up my alley of musical taste.

I recently went to Raven's Run nature sanctuary which is located a little south of Lexington KY. It was fun drive down some windy backroads that narrow down to one car width. This place is known for it's wildflowers, so there weren't any great scenic views - just a lot of trees, tall grass, and flowers. I had good trail run.

Before Raven's Run, I visited my first horse track, the prestigious Keeneland. I had never heard of it before but apparently it's well known. Keeneland is the whole deal, race track, training facility, stud farm, manure factory, anything with horses. My focus was on the racing, so me and my friend Elizabeth went to the track and got some seats. The grounds are very nice, very green, and have an "old-time" feel. This is the track where Seabiscuit was filmed. I bet on about half of the races. I'm not very good. I picked the winner once, and failed to nail down any other combo for any other race. All in all I was out $20 from betting.

This brings me back to that last Saturday when Mark was in town and I had my Internet date. I thought the date was going pretty good: the conversation was good, I was getting some good eye contact, alcohol was being consumed, I was keeping the ambient temperature high, and we were out until 2am, and... then I was stonewalled at the apartment door. Didn't make it in and I didn't get a call back, after calling her twice the next week. Not enough alcohol apparently.


Friday, November 04, 2005

I'm not dead . . . yet. But as always I'm working on it.

Things around here are going well I guess. My students are complaining about having to learn stuff during my absence. They can be a bunch of whiny babies at times, and this is one of them. I'm looking forward to getting back to work next Wednesday. I started rehab today, which went well. I'm not looking forward to next Tuesday when I go back. I'm being worked on me by the same person that worked on me last time. She's pissed. Apparently she also knows Mikki somehow. Wierd.

I've gotten time to play a few games, and also hone my Illustrator skills the past few days. I'm pretty happy with the level of detail that my handouts for class have now a days. It sucks that I make all of them, however I think they look pretty good.

On the games front. Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game that is a wonderfully visceral experience. There is absolutely no plot explanation until the very end, where (if you watch) it is an emotional experience as you try to figure out what is right and what is wrong. I say this knowing full well that none of you (with the exception of Mike, who is already at it) will play the game. Regardless, it is good and you should think about it.

My quest for a new sport is on hold for the time being, as I try to get everything else in my life under control. I have an even newer attempt at getting my masters degree from the powers that be at Tech. It is the easiest path I have had at a long time, in that it requires no new classes, no more registration, only forms and petitions.

I have found myself reading more and more about the business and physchosis (jeff, tell me how I'm misusing that word) about videogames. For example, there was an interesting article about MMORPGs discussing how they will have to redo things in order to actually grow a user base rather than recycle it whenever a new game comes out.

One of the more interesting things that I've read is how the PS3 is in "trouble" and will "lose the war" with the Xbox 360 because it is going to cost more than the already beefy $400 price tag that the 360 has. The irony is that many of the articles that I have been reading have been referring to the "cheap" 360 price tag. Since when is $400 cheap for a fucking game machine. Mike, how much did you pay for your DS? Granted it was used, but who gives a fuck? It seems like the investment required to buy a new game machine warrants an addictive style of play only to validate the purchase. My only hope is the Nintendo will release their Revolution for a reasonable price ($200-$250? at the opener), so that other gaming companies realize that you don't have to drop half a thousand dollars in order to play fun games. Sigh.

I have more rants to make, but I will save them for another time. One thing I've noticed in my week at home, CNN and FOX News both have a wonderful slant to them. If you spend enough time watching each of them you can hear it. The FOX slant seems more obvious at first, but I think that is because of my own personal views. Regardless, it makes me happy that I get my news from John Stewart, who is making it up anyway. Out.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I'm sorry Mark. My blog posts are still in my head. Oh. Whats that? You havent mastered mind reading as part of your magical mystery spiritual quest tour through South America? Oh. I didnt know you sucked that bad. Sorry. I didnt know that. Really.

Anyway. I'm back in Plainview Texas. It is not the most happening place in the state country continent hemisphere or world. They might have the county though. Yeah, I'll give them the county. For example, last night, I went to Wendy's, noticed a GameStop. So I went in and checked out their games. But that wasnt enough. So get this. I went to WalMart. WalMart! But then I went back to GameStop! Whoa. In the end I bought a used DS from GameStop.

So exciting. I usually get insurance from the rental company, just because I never bothered to find out what my insurance policy covers. Had that happened this time, I probably would have ended up in a parking lot driving the car in circles as fast as I could. Then I probably would have gone out and stolen cones to make a slalom course. Then I probably would have ended up in the very jail I am working at! How ironic!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Corico, Bolivia

Just finished a nice trek through the mountains. Very cool waterfalls and other niceities. Hope all is well. I will be back in La Paz tomorrow to write a little more. Internet here is like a slirpie straw.

Ted, if you would like a scarf.. what color? Also, if you want an alpaca, are you willing to pay the shipping costs? They aint too expensive... just getting from here to there is a bit difficult. Alternatively, you could just buy him (or her) a plane ticket on Bolivian Air. That may be cheaper than trying to stuff the beast in a box.

I have not seen too many other posts from you slackers... hope noone in atlanta is dead in a ditch. Hope ATL is still there on the map.