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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