Wednesday, 31 December 2008

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Looking back on 2008 I can't really complain. In fact it was was a bloody great year. I hiked the 'W' Circuit in Chile. I rode buses thru Central America. I explored the glitz and TITS of Uruguay. My poker face paid off in Puerto Madryn. I experienced Latin American culture and cuisine and then some. I survived Argentinian bureaucracy at it's finest and lived to tell the tale. I'm happy to have this somewhat public diary to share and recollect the series of events of the past year.

I'm not much into New Years resolutions but 2009 promises to be a even bigger adventure. Be forewarned a potentially life changing series of events shall slowly but surely start to unfold towards the end of January. Could be good, could be bad, but alas that's what makes it an adventure.

If you're so inclined you can follow that adventure right here.

Wishing you all a healthy, prosperous and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tags: ..HAPPY NEW YEAR Buenos Aires Argentina..

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Monday, 29 December 2008

Love Hotels aka Telos in Buenos Aires

I can't believe it was almost a year ago (where the hell does the time go?) since I wrote this post about Love Hotels aka Telos which is worth a look if you didn't see it. I think I was mildly amusing and creative back then - what the hell happened?

I was reminded of it today because I saw a car driving around pulling a trailer with a big advert for one of these 'pay by the hour' hotels. Only arg$40 pesos for a 2 hour shagfest! (less than u$d12)

Before I arrived here I'd only seen places like these on TV movies which were usually pretty grotty and associated with prostitution. Here however, it's commonplace as 'kids' often live at home until they're married or shacked up with their better half. This can mean a 30+ year old 'kid' living with the parents and dating a possible Mr/Mrs Right needs a bit of privacy. So off they toddle to the Telo (love hotel) for some nookie.

You have a variety of rooms classes/prices to choose from.

Although the front entrance is frequently shielded by trees for privacy, they are not the seedy equivalent of the establishments you've seen on TV. For the most part, they are clean and well maintained, although there is a tendancy for the decor to be 70's pink porn style from floor to door to wall to ceiling to the champagne - all pink? If you pay a little extra you can stay longer and get breakfast in bed - pink tea and toast anyone?

Check 'em out yourself and let the lovefest begin!

Tags: .Love hotels, Transitorios (temporary hotels) aka Telos in Buenos Aires..
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Saturday, 27 December 2008

Santa Baby

I've had a little too much of Xmas cheer (aka booze) recently and hence I have not had the time, energy or coherence for visiting or commenting on blogs I read regularly. I have not been writing on my own blog for the same reason. I blame Santa. The white bearded one left me nothing as usual - Santa baby - You miserable bastard! - You haven't given me jack shit since 1975.

So what if I found out you were a
charlatan back then and exposed you to one and all. I know there's a recession n' all that jazz but even a lump of coal is worth something these days and you didn't even leave that in my stocking which I washed specifically for the purpose you slimey North Polean piece of shit. I hope your elves start a revolution and eat you and I hope Mrs Claus sees you for the chimney sweeping toe rag that you really are.

P.S. Dear Santa, I might be persuaded to change my mind if you give me an unlocked iphone (just maybe)

Update: Dec 28th 3pm - hmmm.. re-reading this late night rant, I guess I was being a little too hard on poor old Santa :-((

P.P.S. I gave the ol' blog a bit of a face lift (still tweaking) - let me know what you think? - (poll top left)

Tags: ..Santa Baby, Ertha Kitt, iphone, christamas, xmas..

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Danger! Blogging can damage your health

I've heard of bloggers with writers block who have anxiety attacks over the pressure of feeling they HAVE to write a blog post. Still more suffer from stress, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and depression all related to their compulsion to blog.

Direct physical injuries are rare although RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is a problem for quite a few. Alas, I fear I myself have become the latest casualty. I use a IBM Thinkpad T23 which is 8 years old. It has a red trackball mouse in the centre of the keyboard.

Photo: IBM Thinkpad Trackball Mouse Finger Injury

You use your index finger to move the mouse pointer around the screen. Recently, I noticed it seemed as if I needed to apply considerably more pressure to the trackball to move the mouse pointer. After a long 'hands online' session, I would have a Kirk Douglas-esque dimple on my index fingertip.

I started to notice a slight discomfort in the
joints at the knuckles in my index finger about a month ago. That discomfort has grown to a pain requiring me to try and navigate using my other digits but with similar painful results and less coordination (you'd be surprised how tricky left handed trackballing is)

I did some googling and apparently this 'injury' is quite common so I think I'm going to have to either quit blogging or revert to a traditional mouse. The former seems a bit drastic and the latter so 'like totally' 1990's. What the hell am I gonna do?

Photo: Traditional Mouse
Tags: .Blogging can damage your health, RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), death by blogging, ..

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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Fernet Branca and Coke

I had a bit of a late one last night as my sister-in-law and some friends threw a joint party. OK, I can see you now envisioning cigarette papers and a pungent recogniseable smokey aroma but alas no, it was "joint" as in collective, for their 30th birthdays which are in the same week.

They hired out a salon and a DJ, as is common here and it was BYOB so I brought some wine. I ended up switching to what many consider to be the national drink here called Fernet which is typically mixed with coke (as in cola) .

Fernet is produced in Italy and was originally sold as a medicine. It is still marketed as containing 40 herbs and spices (more than KFC?) including myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, saffron and rhubarb? (huh? ....rhubarb is neither a herb or a spice?)

Fernet Branca

It has a distinctly bitter taste and the viscosity and colour of cough syrup but considering it's home remedy and medicinal properties include the treatment of menstrual and gastrointestinal discomfort, cholera and hangovers, sure it must be good for ya!

As with most nocturnal events here the party didn't start until late (midnight) and when we were going home it was into the morning light at 6:30am - Argh!

Needless to say I have been full of energy today since I crawled from the bed to the couch at the crack of mid afternoon. I must go out now and get myself something for a detox. Ah! - I know. A bottle of Fernet should do the trick. Thus an endless vicious cycle continues!

Tags: ..Fernet Branca and Coke, Coca Cola, hangover cure..

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Attack of the Killer Snails

There's a well known bit of rivalry between city and rural folk in Ireland. I myself hail from the 'big smoke' aka Dublin city but both my parents are from the country (County Mayo and Westmeath). Dubliners are referred to as 'Jackeens' by rural folk and we call rural folk 'Culchies'. Both are derogatory terms with little actual meaning.

As a city slicker, I thoroughly enjoyed the childhood summer vacations in my Mums neck of the woods (Lecanvey, Murrisk, County Mayo). People often think of a city as dangerous but the countryside is not without it's own dangers, especially for a child from the city.

The most terrifying experience I remember as a wee lad of about 8 years old, was with snails and slugs. I was walking thru a wet field when I suddenly became aware of the huge amount of slugs and snails all around me. I froze dead in my tracks and I felt like I was completely surrounded by the slimy monsters. To me it seemed like they were slowly and collectively advancing upon me, to eat me or worse. I stood there for a good ten minutes screaming at the top of my lungs before someone rescued me.

Killer Snails

It's true in hindsight, they didn't advance very far in that ten minutes and I also seem to remember a good deal of ridicule about the whole affair afterward but at the time I practically sh!t my pants!

Tell me now - What were/are YOU afraid of?

Tags: ..Attack of the Killer Snails..

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Sunday, 14 December 2008

High School Reunion - 25 Years Later

I was never very fond of school. I think I gave that fact away on my very first day at school when after my mum dropped me off, I proceeded to kick the head teacher hard on the shin. She gave me a wide berth after that and I her.

I tried very hard in primary school to be the best and actually came top of my class in my final year. The teacher had promised a big end of year prize to whichever student won the most gold stars for homework and in class activities. It turned out to be a sham as he gave nought! - I felt betrayed and was seriously pissed off! I had spent countless hours (with parental encouragement) trying to be number one but was rewarded with feck all! - Just as well I wasn't a goth and didn't have access to a gun or ..well you know where I'm going with this - right?

I entered secondary (high) school with little enthusiasm. My first year grade results were absolutely catastrophic. I struggled to get a 'C' grade and had numerous 'E' and 'F' grades. My parents were horrified. They struggled to figure out what had gone wrong.

Big Sis was a straight 'A' student. Big Bro was a bit of a delinquent but also smart as a brass button. Then the disaster arrived. WTF happened? Was I the prodigy of the milkman? Parents and siblings had dark hair but I had blonde hair and blue eyes. Perhaps I was the spawn of the devil? Searches for '666' came up fruitless and besides the devil is smart by all accounts and the milk man turned out to be gay, so I guess I was just missing a gene for studying.

My parents made sure I spent a minimum of 3 hours a night "studying" but this turned into a battleships and card playing marathon with my older 'delinquent' brother (who obviously led me further astray).

After dropping out of an electronics course in my first year at college and seeing the reality of my brightest future as a supermarket dogsbody - I finally managed to re-enroll and scrape thru a basic accountancy course and graduate to the real world (the dole or London was my oyster!)

I had a steady girlfriend who I dreamed about every night - shame she was an imaginary friend aka figment of my imagination - spot the connection with the last post?

My old flame!

I've lost touch with most school / college friends but have just heard they are trying to organize a 25 years on - high school reunion in September 2009. I hope I can make it.

How was your school / college experience?
Still friends with your class mates?
Been to a reunion? - Give me the gossip!

Tags: .High School Reunion - 25 Years Later..

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Thursday, 11 December 2008

I have a dream

Since I was a child, I've always had a vivid imagination. I know I have dreams but I rarely remember them. I envy the people who remember all their dreams. I remember as a teen having a dream that I could freeze people in their tracks by just pointing at them and when I awoke I was SO disappointed it wasn't reality.

I also dreamt about being able to fly and awoke equally disappointed to be wingless. Another dream was a semi sleep walk at 8 years of age where I was 'found' crawling around the bedroom floor at 4am muttering "I've lost my marbles" repeatedly - FYI - I still haven't found them! - but regular readers here probably already figured that out.

As a teen, whenever I was in a situation of stress or conflict, I would replay the scenario in my head hundreds of times over and over with what I could or should have done or said. Of course in my head, I always got the upper hand every time, albeit after the fact. I would come up with the wittiest retort or the wisest answer or sufficient violence to overcome an adversary, but all unfortunately too late for the LIVE act.

These days I still rarely remember dreams but am told I still talk, toss and turn in my sleep constantly. I still daydream 'silly' illogical stuff. I often wonder how much of our personality is shaped by childhood experiences and how much is just pure DNA.

What do you dream about?
Ever lost your marbles?

Tags: .My Minds Eye, Argentina personality, dream, daydream, mood, children, ..

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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Irish Rover - Part 7 (almost over!)

....continued from Irish Rover Part 6 - Part of a series of posts recalling my wandering ways (Don't worry this series will be done soon - I just need to get it outta my system).

Living in New York was a bit of a challenge as a new arrival. It was exciting to see all the stuff you'd only seen on TV before like the Empire State building, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Park Avenue, but there was a cultural barrier to be overcome. Unlike London, Manhattan isn't that big and getting around is pretty easy via public transport but New Yorkers talk to each on public transport? WTF - I was used to the more conservative London tube approach ala - bury your head in a newspaper and above all never make eye contact. New Yorkers will strike up random conversations with strangers and make no attempt to conceal the fact they are leaning over your shoulder to read your newspaper .

I was only there a few weeks when I went to turn the page of the newspaper I was flicking thru on the subway and a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said "hold on buddy - I'm not done yet ...uh ok ... I'm done now - How 'bout those Yankees last night?"

I thought "Huh? - You talking to me? - I see 200 other people here so PLEASE say you're NOT talking to me?" - He was, and I abruptly informed him, I didn't watch baseball or any other weird US sports which immediately shut him up (no easy feat to quieten a yank let me tell you!) although he continued to mutter to himself what I presumed was abuse about my ignorance of US sport.

After a year in Queens, I moved to Manhattans upper east side. Now, finally, I was a true blue New Yorker! Everything you need is a few blocks away - 24 hour deli, pub, supermarket, laundry, cinema, restaurants, police station, subway, park etc. No wonder they're overweight! I used to have to walk 15 minutes to the supermarket in London with my arms dropping off with weight of the groceries. Everything is picked up and/or delivered in NY for minimal charge or effort including laundry, groceries and food. My favourite was the Mexican restaurant, that besides great food also delivered
GREAT frozen margaritas.

Bars in NY are open until 4am, so gone were the days of binge drinking as 11pm closing time approached and having to pay a club admission to have a few more drinks. Then there are the illegal but plentiful lock-in bars where you knock on an inconspicuous door and enter after 4am. The subway is open 24 hours which comes in handy assuming you can wake up at the correct stop and a max fare at the time of u$d1.50 lets you take subway all night long from A to B and back to A (been there - done that) .

Warning - Work sometimes interferes with and frowns upon these social activities but is also sometimes responsible for said activities and in some cases has been known to sponsor them

All cultural differences aside - Good bunch of peeps the New Yorkers! So much so, I ended up staying ten years, got US citizenship, got married and developed a beer gut. I've managed to hang on to those 3 things.

More (but not much) of this drivel to follow.....
Tags: .Irish Rover - Part 7 (almost over!)..

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Sunday, 7 December 2008

Seven personal things you don't know about me....

I'll tell you a secret!

....and maybe shouldn't....and probably you don't care but I'm going to tell you anyway!

I am the Dr Spock of logic (minus the pointy ears) and can come up with a plan to resolve a work issue or other peoples problems in nano seconds but am completely hopeless at hatching a plan to address the challenges life throws my way.

I am a classic last minute merchant and whatever is due tomorrow will always be started the day before tomorrow and hopefully be delayed until next week / month / year. Procrastination is my specialty, but I'm going to change all that tomorrow or the next day like this.

I have only been in one serious physical fight ever. I was 10 years old and it was with my best friend at the time. He started it for no apparent reason but I won. We remained friends but were never close afterward.

I am a self confessed gadget freak - Technology rocks my boat but I refuse to pay top $$$ for the latest gadget because I know it will be updated and 30% cheaper in 6 months. I can email, blog, twitter and work out my GPS location from my mobile phone but rarely carry my phone with me?

I still have a coveted VOIP (internet) '212' New York area code telephone number which is used about 3 times a month. I can't bring myself to part with it but it ends up being as cheap as Skype out calls.

I have somewhat inadvertently distanced myself from family and friends via my wandering ways. I have no contact with friends from primary school and minimal contact with high school friends and only 1 contact from college? I have many good acquaintances but only a small group of people I consider true friends, many of whom I don't see for years on end. Facebook is slowly changing that.

Even though I'm a sort of anonymous (green Shrek like character) - I have become inexplicably drawn to publishing personal stuff like this to random strangers such as yourself! - why?

Now it's your turn - give me just one personal tit bit? - Go on spill it!
Tags: .Seven personal things secrets you don't know about me...

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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Warning - Violence Imminent

I have a series of rants to get off my chest so here goes.

The new dickwad neighbours in apartment upstairs - seem to be celebrating their new digs by playing some shit loud music and collectively jumping off the bed from a height onto the floor above our bedroom at 2am - I AM going to kick some fu(king Argie arse if it continues! - you have been warned!

We're going thru a heatwave here - thank jaezuz for AC - but every other day it rains and the temp drops 5 celcius and then the mozzies feast on me like a northside Dubliner on a kebab at 3am. I have more lumps on my back than a ski mogul slalom course - Blood sucking fiends!

Both my UK atm and credit card no longer work because my 'friendly' bank decided to 'upgrade' my cards and deactivate the old ones rendering the old cards invalid. They require me to be IN the UK to sign for the delivery of the replacements (no exceptions) - fuckwads!.

My US atm card charges me u$d3 per withdrawl and gives me a shitty exchange rate and limits my max to Arg$600 pesos (u$d200) per day - Gets tricky if you have a big ticket item - Wankers!

New dickwad neighbours in apartment upstairs still continuing their shit - WW3 hath arrived! - wish me luck!

Tags: ..Irish violence, argentina, bunos aires, war, WW3..

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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Maradona, Madonna, Boobs, Beef and Bombs

Here are a selection of REAL news headlines that have been making the headlines here recently and some that have even been suppressed.
  • Yahoo censors search results
Approximately 110 Argentinian celebrities have recruited a lawyer who has successfully managed thru a court order to get Yahoo in Argentina to suppress search results related to the elite 110 (and you thought only China did that!) e.g. search for 'Diego Maradona' on the Argentinian Yahoo and you get this <-click me for the translated version - More info here

"On the occasion of a judicial order asked for by deprived parts, we have been ourselves forced to temporarily suppress all or some of the results related to this one search."

  • Argentina switches to grain fed beef
The days of superior Argentine beef may be numbered since shortage of suitable grassy pastures is convincing farmers to adopt the 'bulk them up in an enclosed space' approach used in the US and Europe. Scary quote from this WSJ article.

"Each Argentine eats nearly 155 pounds of beef every year"

  • Free Boob jobs raffled at nightclubs
Nightclubs here have been struggling to gather sufficient female clientele so have decided drastic times call for drastic measures and have been raffling boob jobs to draw new punters. The government has finally stepped in to ban such measures - more here

"Local discos had been raffling the operations as a way to get more girls into the clubs. Last weekend Sunset, a popular club in the northern suburb Olivos, attracted more than 600 girls to such a raffle"

  • Madonna postpones concert in Buenos Aires
Her indoors was supposed to see Madonna in concert tonight but the Evita impersonators sound equipment has gone AWOL (at least that's the excuse) so the concert is now rescheduled to ??? - more here

"Madge doesn't look so hot these days and should cover up more"- Paddy in BA

  • Argentina halts trade with Iran
Apparently this is over the bombing here of a Jewish centre in 1994 that Argentina thinks Iran was responsible for - Bit of trivia for you - Her indoors was in BA for that bombing and we were both in New York for 9/11 and both in London for the 7/7 tube bombs - Jinx? - more here

- Any takers on creating one headline from the five stories?

Tags: ..News from Argentina, Madonna..

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Monday, 1 December 2008

Irish Rover - Part 6

....continued from Irish Rover Part 5 - Part of a series of posts recalling my wandering ways.

I had a great Xmas back in Ireland that year, reconnecting after 3 years with family and friends and Guinness (ah the Guinness and it's after effects!) but I needed to earn some cash and get the necessary paperwork together before I could avail of the lottery green card to get me into the USA. One of my closest friends lived in Liverpool, UK so I headed there in the new year. I figured the home of the Beatles would offer me ample opportunity for work so I could save some funds for the upcoming adventure.

I figured wrong! - 'Strawberry Fields Forever' it was NOT! - More like 'Penny Lane' - After 6 months I had to reluctantly admit defeat on the job search. With the exception of making some great friends and getting to explore the nearby amazing countryside, what a god awful depressing city it was (especially in Winter) - I hope and pray it's improved.

I have one vivid memory of two Liverpudlian lasses beating the holy crap out of each other, over an argument about who was next in the taxi queue. I think it scared me more because I knew they would have kicked the sh!t out of me given half a chance. Ruff-ruff working class city!

I moved down to London (again) and got a job as a temp in a US based bank within a week. It was another 6 months before I got all my paperwork in order that I finally got on a plane (on New Years day) to the USA. The Big Apple - New York City was to be my next home.

I found a tiny (very tiny) studio apartment in Forrest Hills, Queens and with a bit of luck the same US bank hired me in NY so I walked straight into a job. Well, walked straight is not quite true, as one of the worst snow storms on record hit the north east coast of the US that January so the walk was thru this little obstacle course.

New York Snow Blizzard 1

New York Snow Blizzard 2

This delicate little pasty Irish lad had never experienced anything quite like the cold in NY. My ears would freeze and actually hurt with the cold after a minute outside. My snot would freeze and block my breathing thru my nose. I was the proverbial brass monkey with his private bits in a freezer. But it was an exciting time and a new beginning. A new world to be explored and more adventures ahead. I figured I'd give it six months and see if I liked it. If not, sure there was always somewhere else to move on to.

Sorry but I'm afraid there's more of this drivel to follow....

Tags: ..Irish Rover ..

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Sunday, 30 November 2008

Passports with a Purpose

With the holiday season upon us it's easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of buying presents but it's also supposed to be about giving to those in need. The good folks over at Wanderlust and Lipstick came up with a great idea about tackling world poverty.

People who travel often gain more perspective about the world in general (not in a snobby - we're better than you way - but you see things first hand - things that make you reevaluate what's important).

Quite often, you see poverty, a lot of poverty. It's easy to distance yourself from poverty if you read about it in the newspaper or if it's on TV. Just click the channel and you can go from a famine in Ethiopia to watching really important stuff like Paris Hilton strike a pose at a nightclub or Britney shave her head or drop her kid again!. It's hard to ignore poverty if it's on your doorstep or on the side of the road as you take a bus

So the idea is for travel bloggers to help spread the word e.g. to those who travel vicariously thru their blogs. Click here and see how you can make a difference - buy a raffle ticket online for some great prizes and help make a difference to someones quality of life and don't forget to spread the word.

Tags: ..Passports with a Purpose..

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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Irish Rover - Part 5

....continued from Irish Rover Part 4 - Part of a series of posts recalling my wandering ways.

After my exodus from Oz I decided I'd catch a few highlights on the journey back to Ireland. First I spent 2 weeks in Thailand for some R&R and traveled on the cheapest bus from Bangkok to Phuket (non air conditioned - non reclining seats) which is highly recommended if you're into a 12 hour self inflicted S&M session. The locals traveled with all sorts of goods they bought or wanted to sell including massive refuse bags full of WTF and live chickens so there's not much room to spare.

It was a beautiful beach spot, but also very disturbing due to the number of local young girls who worked as prostitutes. I took a wrong turn one night and walked into what I thought was a nightclub. There were about a hundred girls behind a glass screen holding large white cards with a number. Quite a few old fat ugly tourists were drinking and chatting in a lounge and deciding which number they'd pick. Very seedy - not my scene - I exited stage left.

Next, I spent a week in Nepal and traveled a ridiculously dangerous and memorable hair pin bend road from Kathmandu to Chit Wan national park for a 4 day safari and a close up view of rhinos (not to be messed with), elephants (ditto) , crocodiles (ditto x 2) , monkeys and even a tiger (ditto x 3) - Absolutely amazing trip.

Next stop was India and the hustle and bustle of Delhi and on to Agra to see one of the 'seven wonders of the world' the Taj Mahal - spectacular! - an amazing structure that defies belief and beyond the descriptive abilities of this blogger. You need to see it to believe it!

Next stop London to catch up with old friends for a weekend and finally Dublin. The date was Dec 24th 1993.

I hadn't told anybody including the parents I was coming home for Xmas.
I hadn't seen them in almost 3 years so wanted it to be a big surprise. As I pulled up in a taxi, I started to imagine the wild reception I would get - Jumping, rejoicing, fireworks, beer! After I rang the front door bell - I could see the silhouette my Dad making his way to answer the door. I started to shuffle my feet in excitement. The door swung open and as he eyed me and then the taxi pulling away he said....

...."Yeah I thought it might be you alright - Gobshite - why are you wasting your money on taxis when I could've picked you up at the airport?"

Not quite the warm Irish welcome reception I was expecting - but good to be home nonetheless!

Tags: ..Irish welcome, Irish hospitality, Irish humour..

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Saturday, 22 November 2008

Irish in Buenos Aires

Irish Leprechauns really look like this (ok it was this photo or a midget in a green suit?)

Truth be told, I'm a bit of an intravert (not unsociable but I do shy away from the big get togethers) and I'm not a big social networker. I typically avoid the expat gatherings here. There's plenty of social activities with the in-laws to keep me busy and interacting.

A four hour lunch with verbal diarrhoea is par for the course with the in-laws. I went to a few expat gigs when we arrived but was put off by the whole experience. On the one hand, by the mix of immature frat boy dorks on their 6-12 month whirl wind tour and on the other hand by the Argie vultures looking for fresh expat meat to prey on. One individual was trying to sell me a Ferrari!

A few weeks ago I finally relented and attended an expat gathering once more. I bumped into a fellow Irishman who asked me "Are you Paddy in BA?" - Jaezuz - I'm famous I thought (for a moment)!

I thought that I was the only 'Paddy' in BA, but he burst that bubble in double quick time and it soon transpired there's feckin'
loads of Paddys here.

Well obviously you can imagine my disgust. It's like Columbus being told that some gobshite Irish monk called Saint Brendan sailed from Ireland in a makeshift piece of crap boat and discovered America before Columbus did - as if!

On Saturday, I went the suburb of Acasusso (30 mins outside the centre) to infiltrate this close knit group of Paddys. The occasion was to watch Ireland kick Argentinas arse in rugby (always a nice spectacle). The Irish banter amongst us was flowing, as was the beer. I realised these people are potentially more Irish
(friendlier, wittier, Irisher) than I am.

Thankfully, I have a good lawyer and contacts in immigration. If all goes to plan, I'll have ALL of them deported in a few weeks. Finally, I WILL be the only 'Paddy in BA' (as it should be)

Tags: ..Irish in Buenos Aires..

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Altar Boy Anarchy

I was given a choice at ten years of age of either joining the boy scouts or becoming an altar boy. I figured I'd be buggered either way (OK - bad joke!) and I'm not sure exactly why (maybe a gentle bit of persuasion from my mother), but I made the decision to follow the holy path of righteousness.

The expression for a priest is that he "says" Mass (a service) and an altar boy "serves" Mass. So my duties involved "serving" Mass at 7:30am once a week and again on Sunday anywhere between 7:30am and 5pm. This duty was handed out like shift work at a supermarket and if you didn't show up for a good reason you had the potential to be damned to the fiery depths of hell or worse.

If you played your cards right you could get the 'golden cow' shift of serving at a wedding on Saturdays where the dizzy couple would leave an envelope with $$$ for all concerned i.e. an envelope for the priest, another for the altar boys (up to 5 punts = u$d10) and another for the sacristan etc.

The problem was, not everybody knew who the sacristan was or what he did. He is basically an admin assistant to the priest and does a fair chunk of the prep work for the wedding. Many times the dizzy happy couple would forget this poor shlep with the magic envelope.

After about 10 of these weddings, young inspector 'Paddy in BA' started to notice a similar pattern in the hand writing of the envelopes for the altar boys. Same handwriting for each one over several months - hmmmm.... same measly donation = 1 Irish punt = approx u$d2 compared to the 5 Irish punt norm.

In true 'Cluedo' style, I deduced that Mr Sacristan was switching the envelopes from the happy generous couple for his own less generous ones in the sacristy with a thieving conniving contempt for us altar boys.

I couldn't contain my disgust anymore. Did these people really think I was giving up half my Saturday for the the good of the holy church? - Hell No! = I wanted KA-CHING baby!

I left three of Mr Sacristans envelopes on the notice board in the changing rooms with the addition of....

p.s. how come the last three envelopes I got, have the same handwriting?"

As many of you are probably aware - Catholics don't take kindly to non conformers (think Spanish Inquisition) and so it came to pass that I was cast out of the holy order of the altar boys (no joke!)

Lucifer himself (with horns and tail) and I meet up for coffee on Tuesdays and Thursdays and reminisce about how - there but for the grace of god - the world was our oyster.

Tags: ..Altar Boy Anarchy..

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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Irish Rover - Part 4

Some of the folks that comment regularly here missed my
previous post - as there were RSS issues
one of my few serious posts ever :-( scroll down to the previous post or click here

....continued from Irish Rover - Part 3 - Part of a series of posts recalling my wandering ways.

Having worked like a dog for 12 months straight after arriving in Australia in 1991 (without a holiday), I had more money in the bank than at any other time in my life. I decided to chuck in my job so I could explore the vastness of Oz. I went backpacking up the east coast which was an amazing experience.

This pasty white Irishman had seen nothing quite like this before. White sand, turquoise water for mile after mile of coastline. The nightlife in the hostels was great with a diverse cross section of people from all over the world.

I stopped in a small undeveloped town called Mission Beach near the Great Barrier Reef and did the diving / snorkeling thing which was incredible. I ended up staying there for 2 months and worked in a hostel. For 2 hours work a day, I got free dinner and free accommodation in a dormitory. I went white water rafting, abseiling, skydiving, you name it I did it and of course I had the occasional wee tipple as you do.

I continued the journey and visited Darwin, Kakadu, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Adelaide, Melbourne and eventually back to Sydney. The trip took about 6 months in all but I've always regretted not making it to western Australia.

I rejoined the rat race and worked for another 9 months before TWO significant immigration issues had a major impact on my life.

First, a phone call from Australian immigration.

Hi Paddy,

We notice you've over stayed your visa ........

...long story for another day, but short story is I left Oz within 7 days (not a happy camper) but the alternative was a detention centre with Chinese boat people.

Second, a letter arrived from the US embassy.

Dear Paddy,

We are pleased to inform you that your application for a lottery visa to work in the USA has been randomly selected by our computer and if you complete the necessary prerequisites and paperwork you will have the opportunity to enter and work in the United States of America.

Sometimes by a stroke of luck, as one door closes, another opens and so it was in this case. be continued

Tags: ..Irish immigration, ..

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Saturday, 15 November 2008

What REALLY defines your happiness?

So I've been asking myself this question a lot recently.

The wiki definition for the 'Standard of Living' is the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people, and the way these goods and services are distributed within a population.

The wiki definition for 'Quality of life' is the degree of well-being felt by an individual or group of people.. It consists of two components: physical (e.g. health, diet) and psychological (e.g. stress, worry, pleasure) and other positive or negative emotional states.

In an ideal world you would have the best of both worlds but unfortunately the two are often at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Happiness and success are also potentially worlds apart.

When I was growing up the following rather simplified guidelines to achieving happiness and success applied:
  • Study hard in high school so you get enough points to get into a good College/Uni
  • Study hard to graduate from said good College/Uni so you can get a good job
  • Get a good secure job with prospects to advance so you can be 'successful'
  • Work hard and try and save as much as possible so you can eventually settle down
  • Get on the property ladder and keep climbing cos 'there's gold in them there hills'
  • The better you are at this, the bigger your house will be.
  • The bigger the house, the more cars, gadgets and toys for the kids.
To reach this nirvana for many people (not all) sometime looks like this.

Let me introduce the Sucker Family.

Mr Gaylord Sucker commutes 2 hours and works 10 hours a day in a high stress environment. Half the time, he makes it home in time to tuck the kids into bed, half the time he doesn't.
Missus Sucker works locally but juggles dropping the kids at expensive day care and running her own business. The kids are spoiled with all the clothes, toys, gadgets and everything and anything they need except enough attention from their exhausted parents.

The family spend 2 weeks in LottsaFunland each year but Mr S is constantly checking his Blackberry and is called away to conference calls 2 to 3 times a day. Mrs S has to check up on her business by phoning her liason for long conversations 3 times a day and checking on emails in the evening. The kids have a great time but the parents find it difficult to relax while juggling the work demands and keeping the kids happy.

15 years of this continues and seems to fly by and they move twice into bigger better homes. Mr S is now the proud owner of a top of the range blue BMW and Mrs S has an identical red one. Mr S is a bit burnt out but the kids still need to go thru college so he must persist. The kids have become a bit of a handful and ungratefully resent Mr and Mrs S's lack of quality time over the years. Rebellious outbursts are frequent. They rarely eat dinner together anymore and when they do get together, arguments typically ensue.

With the downturn in the global economy Mr S gets laid off but with a decent redundancy package there's no immediate need for alarm. Mr S starts to remember what it was like NOT to dread Monday mornings and wants to spend more time with kids, but they are now grown up and indifferent to his newly rekindled interest.

Mrs S's business also takes a nose dive and stress levels in the home rise as she is now the sole bread winner. Mrs S's mother visits but this only adds to the stress as she never got along with Mr S and they are not on civil terms. Mr and Mrs S wonder where the years went and how, even though they have all the material possessions anybody could want, they wonder why the family is not quite 'a Unit' and happiness has somehow eluded them.

Best case scenario - With a bit of luck they all live long and healthy but not necessarily happily ever after. Thankfully my own story is far removed from this nightmare, but it is something I have observed in friends and colleagues too many times.

Alternate case study - I've seen entire families here in Argentina (on or close to the poverty line) - grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren sitting around an Asado (BBQ) on the side of the road, who look more family functional, happier and healthier than the messed up wealthy family of 'The Suckers' above.

Being part of the rat race facilitates a certain standard of living but at what cost to your quality of life?

How do you define your 'REAL' Quality of Life and Standard of Living?
What REALLY makes you happy?
Yes - there's nobody else here - I am talking to YOU?!!

Tags: ..quality of life in Argentina, standard of living in Argentina,quality of life in Buenos Aires, standard of living in Buenos Aires..

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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

My maid refuses to wash my car..

Align Center
..What am I supposed to do?

As reported exclusively on a web forum here in Buenos Aires, a poor unfortunate expat woman is in a bit of a kerfuffle. Her maid has point blank refused to wash the family car and had the audacity to say it is not in her duties to do so. This is the forum link to the post in question.

BA Newcomers

You need to be signed up with the Yahoo group to see the post so I've given you a free guest pass below

id =
pw = washmycarbitch

The numerous responses on the forum go on to discuss in great detail what course of action this poor woman might be able to take against this horrendous rebellious maid. e.g.
  • Contact the local Maids Union and see if they could help persuade her to wash the car
  • Speak with the Minister for Employment to determine the labour law obligations
  • Pay the maid extra to wash the car - God forbid!
  • Damn the maid to hell and bring the car to a car wash - last resort!
  • Get off your frikkin' lard arse and wash your own car - BEE-ATCH - (suggested by an anonymous Irish expat)

Apparently the maid washed the car for many months before this current outburst of anarchy raised its ugly head and now it appears a revolution is imminent. All across Argentina, maids are uniting and refusing to mix cement, paint barns, shear sheep, lasso cows and other typical maid type stuff that they now consider to be outside of their duties.

These insubordinate, ungrateful heathens are already more than handsomely rewarded for their meager endeavours. Some earn as much as A$10 pesos (US$3.30) an hour, yet they seem determined to pick and choose what they want to do. They plot these schemes as the travel long distances to work, crammed like sardines in overcrowded buses from the far flung suburbs of the city .

Please help support this poor, poor expat woman by leaving a comment (anonymous if you like) on this blog which will be added to a petition to help force this evil uncooperative maid to wash the womans car like she should do. Without your support, more unfortunate expats like her will be driving around in filthy BMW's and that just doesn't seem right. Life can be so unfair!

Tags: .maid duties, Buenos Aires..

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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Noche de los Museos (Night of the Museums)

As promised, here is more of the cultural stuff going on in Buenos Aires - Noche de los Museos (Night of the Museums) Buenos Aires, Argentina

National Geographic recently mentioned this humble blogger not just once but twice for Free things to do in Buenos Aires

There maybe no such thing as a 'free lunch' but on Saturday, November 15th, 2008, most of the museums in Buenos Aires will be open from 7pm - 2am (yes am) for free. Add to this the free concerts of all varieties of music from classical to jazz to rock to tango. Public transport to get to the various venues is free. The whole thing finishes off with a kick ass open air party down by the docks in Puerto Madero with bands, DJ's, dancing and as is typical in this neck of the woods it goes till dawn and oh yeah, I forgot to mention - it's free. Click here for more details for free.
Tags: ..Free things to do in Buenos Aires, Noche de los Museos (Night of the Museums)..

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Friday, 7 November 2008

WAR - What is it good for?

Editors Note: If you're a little lost about what's going on in this post then you'll have to click the links to fully understand the gravity of the situation.

As many of you are no doubt aware from the official Maxi News outlet - the new 'Axis of Evil' aka K8 the GR8 has surfaced from the fiery depths of hell and arrived on our doorstep. Forget about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden (big girlie pussy with a beard that hides in a cave and wears a Nappy on his head) This she-devil is broadcasting her lies and evil filth 24/7 and must be apprehended at all cost.

Allow me to introduce to you Satans sister
- K8 the GR8.
The witch that put the '8' in fornica8e, she put the 'K' in Kocaine, she put the 'G' in tonic, and she donated 100 Euros to the dyslecix bad spellerz of the wurld - well .......ok....... in retrospect that wasn't so bad.

The time has come for you to take arms, take sides and unite for the good of the country. Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the crossroads of the future of Irish humanity and no it's not the Lisbon Treaty. The two questions you need to ask yourself are:

Whose side will you be on?
Whose round is it? = Mine's a double.

NEWSFLASH - This just in - Danger, warning , warning : Latest terror alert status has been raised to hairbrush

Editors Update 12 hours later: No more blog posts to be written late at night under the influence - no really I mean it this time.

Tags: .WAR - What is it good for?..

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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Postman Paddy

After I finished high school, I did a brief stint as a postman in Howth in north Dublin. I had to get up at 4:30am and cycle 30 minutes to the sorting office in Baldoyle (not always easy if you went to bed at 1:30am)

When I arrived, I'd have a continental Irish breakfast which was a cup of tea and a cigarette. Each postie was allocated certain roads and streets, so first you sorted the post into streets and then into house numbers in the specific order of your round. There was always a great bit of banter going on as numerous cups of tea and smokes were consumed and some poor postie would normally be the brunt of the jokes.

At about 8am, we'd head off in a van and get dropped off at our allotted spot to walk the route and deliver the mail. A dog may be 'mans best friend' but he's a postman's worst enemy.
There were some fierce and vicious K9's on my route. I soon developed some exceptional survival skills such as clamboring over 7 foot walls to escape the fangs of death. I don't know if it's the uniform or the whistling (it's mandatory in Ireland for the postman to whistle badly off key!) but most dogs HATE the postman.

One of the houses I delivered to had a bad ass German shepherd called Gnasher with a nasty disposition. Luckily he was contained behind a metal gate by the side of the house but as I passed the gate each day, he would be wait silently then suddenly go berserk and bark and snarl and push his face thru the gate with all the force he had. The first time he did it I nearly shit my pants as he caught me off guard.

My last day on the job I decided to get my revenge on Gnasher. I rolled up a newspaper and as he let loose with his torrent of K9 abuse I slapped him on the snout with the paper. Animal lovers - fear not - I didn't hit him that hard but the shock sent him yelping to the back of the house.

A few weeks later I heard thru the grapevine that the poor schlep that took over my route had a bit of misfortune on his very first day. Gnasher somehow got beyond the gate and sank his fangs into new posties butt cheeks requiring stitches and a tetanus injection.

Apparently his bite was worse than his bark.
Luckily, I didn't experience it first hand!

Tags: .dog, dog bite, postie, postman, postal, post office,postman paddy,..

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