According to our calculations it had been 12 years since we had this kind of attendance. So, for the first time in 12 years the whole bunch was together; brothers, sisters in law, nephews, nieces...
It has been fun. I know I haven't been very active on this blog lately, but there are some things on the forge. Stay tuned. (yes, yes, some are on Social Media)
I guess it is unavoidable to do some sort of balance at this time of year. Disclaimer: I am a ranter; a natural cynic and an acid critic. I simply can't avoid it.
To make things a little bit lighter I'll start with the highlights. Look at it like the little pats nurses give you on the arm just before they insert the needle.
My personal life has no dark spots. After 6 years together with Luciana I have no complaints whatsoever. Sure enough there are some minor arguments. Most of them have to do with me spending too much time in front of my PCs. But she accepts that and, if you can talk her into it, she'll even state my passion for what I do is one of the things she likes about me.
Professionally it was a tough year. The first semester plainly sucked. I won't get into details, but the overall situation was stressing and frustrating. Why did I hang on? Two reasons: I never leave things half finished and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
There's too much people I'd have to thank for the opportunity I was given on the second semester of 2007. You know who you are, and you know I'm thankful.
The projects I've been involved with lately and (more importantly) the people I work with make every single office day worth every second spent working. I had to adapt to a lot of things, and my transition was very smooth thanks to the support I got and the trust placed in me. I love what I do and feel great doing it.
The not so bright things about the year that's about to die have one thing in common: they are variables which are absolutely beyond my control. Frequent readers of this blog should know exactly where I'm heading.
Inflation has been a major concern. There's no way my employer (or any employer) can keep up with a 40% increase in life cost (particularly i the government keeps twisting the numbers). I have talked about it in the past, so I won't repeat myself.
I'll elaborate on the personal side effects, though. We've been wanting to give the leap; try to buy a house/apartment, or maybe buy a car (either choice). So we started saving money since we got out of debt from our marriage. As we save towards a target, the target moves further away. As an example: the cheapest car we can buy was 8,900 U$D last year. Now it is worth 13,000 U$D (46% increase, once again my estimate of the inflation proves to be more accurate than the government's figures).
Argentina is an odd country. Real estate is more expensive today than it was in 2001, when our wages were paid in dollars. Another example: an 80GB classic iPod is now worth 249 U$D in the US. Take your wildest guess on how much it would cost you here. You probably missed. It is worth 570 U$D. Sure enough shipping is more expensive to Argentina, and there's a 50% tax on all electronics. I'd "understand" a 400 U$D price tag. The funny part is that we are dumb enough to pay for them because they are "cool".
I have a single new year resolution. I'll keep that to myself. If you read between lines you'll know what that is.
Overloaded with mental takeovers from multiple sources I got to this Christmas with quite a lack of Christmas spirit. Last Friday, when leaving the office I felt as if it could have been any other Friday; on the train back home I amused myself thinking that the next Monday was Christmas eve. I hadn't bought a single present and I had a tree at home only thanks to the relentless pushing done by my wife to set it up.
It all changed on Sunday, when we headed to my brother's house. My mom had arrived from Bariloche on Sunday, so the family was starting to gather. That is what insufflated the Christmas spirit in me: the Family.
Sure enough, as with all families, there are some quirks But, all in all, it is great to see the bunch after so long.
Yesterday (December 25th) we completed 3/4 of the brotherhood with the arrival of Bernie from the US. We might get the "poker" in a couple of weeks if I can make it to Bariloche in time.
Next weekend off we go to Junin to spend new Year with Luciana's relatives. I don't know how much work I will get done during this next three days (and I have a lot to do), but its good to feel all "Christmasy".
2 weeks to end the end-o'-year marathon, and feelin' good!
I set up my brother with a blog last March. He didn't pay much attention to it till now.
He has just made a great post (with excellent Pictures) on Argentine Dinner ("Criollo"). English-only speakers will have to live with just the pictures for this one.
Christian is an Excellent Chef, working at a top-notch restaurant in Bariloche, my hometown. I think he has a great potential for an exquisite Blog, let's hope he keeps it up.
As you can see I'm trying to pass on the passion for blogging.
I'm cozy at home enjoying the last hours of a Sunday when I notice a lost call on my Skype. My brother, only a couple of minutes ago.
So I call. He's on a parking lot in Reno (my Bro is General Manager in Optimization & Control Technology for GE Energy near Tahoe), with his Mac (no comments) connected to WWAN, waiting for his wife to get back from someplace. We chat a while doing some catching up. Then his wife comes in, I talk to her while my brother drives through Reno; thus I'm not only talking to them but also learning how the streets in a City in Nevada looks like.
It just amazes me that only 20 or 30 years ago you had to send a postal letter that could arrive anytime between a week and a month (if it ever made it at all).
With a family scattered all over the globe technology brings us together. Yet nothing compares to a good hug.
My beautiful wife just got her first Scientific Paper with her as first author approved on international immunopharmacology magazine.
Way to go girl!
I think I have mentioned before that my wife, Luciana is doing her doctorate at Biological Chemistry Faculty at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. What I don't think I ever mentioned is how she (and many others like her) struggle with a lousy budget, little or no materials and just some good old fashioned ideas.
I won't get into how her salary sucks, or that the government doesn't provide social security to them, I'll just stick to the "scientific" side of it.
Luciana works in a laboratory with two others scholars, a post doctorate (who started working this year) and their chief. All 5 have to run their investigations, send their material for review to specialized magazines, travel and do presentations with five thousand US dollars per year (to put things in perspective, I'll just say that the antibodies they use to run tests (their most commonly used material) costs around 300 USD / month, and that is just one of many things they need to try and run experiments). That's right 5000, for 5 investigators.
As expected this can prove to be very frustrating for her. I remember last year, they were left without funds for a couple of months and Luciana would come back every day with a grim look; it must suck to be full with ideas and not having the means to test them.
Since the situation in a lot of laboratories is quite similar (although I think Luciana's is particularly poor) what they usually do is go around and borrow stuff when left without, or when they need to use specific machinery they don't have. This carries out it's own load of issues, since one must wait for a turn to use such equipment, and I've even heard Luciana saying shes embarrassed of always having to beg for stuff they need.
All of this greatly detriments academic performance, since there's little chance to re-run tests and experiments to confirm or discard findings, not to mention the delays they face due to lack of means to accomplish things the way they are supposed to be done.
From my side I'll donate one of my old PCs, besides the fact Luciana will start taking my T60p to try and help alleviate the situation.
I realized I didn't tell much about our vacation in Uruguay, thus I thought I'd tell a write of a couple of anecdotes.
Our trip started a little bit bumpy, to put it some way. The first leg of the voyage was done by ferry, 4 hours from Buenos Aires to Colonia. The boat, Eladia Isabel, although a bit old and not too well maintained is somewhat nice. The only issue was that we had the privilege of travelling with 500+ Football (soccer) fans. They were going to watch a match at Montevideo the next day. Thus we had 4 hours of chanting, insulting and overheated temperaments, that ended up in a fight amongst a couple of guys. Interestingly neither those in charge at buquebus (the ferry company) or the port authorities did much to control the angry horde.
After getting off the ferry and into a bus for another 5 hours we arrived at La Paloma. With a beautiful day, little sleep and the usual beach excitement we drop our things at the hotel and headed towards the beach... at 1PM; had some lunch over there, watching the ocean, swam a little bit and got a little bit overexposed to the sun. I guess the excitement of going to the beach and everything made us a little bit irresponsible regarding skin care.
Days went on and off easily we walked a lot, the weather was great. Food was awesome (I don't think I ever had so much ocean-provided meals in my life).
It only rained one day; the day we decided to go to "Cabo Polonio", a sort of hippie-naturist reserve, only accessible through some 4WD trucks. We spent a couple of hours at the beach when I noticed a storm front quickly approaching us. One last dive into the waves, and I told Lu we'd better hurry up; I hadn't ended saying this when I felt the first drom on my back. 10 seconds later it was pouring.
If there is one thing Uruguay should work on is their public transportation. It sucks. Big time. Soaking wet, amidst the rain and a 30°F temperature drop we waited 3 hours for the bus back to la Paloma. I need to buy a car for next vacation.
The return was slow, and nice. We had a great time altogether, rested a lot, and I could prove to myself I can spend 8 days without my ThinkPads and cell phone.
After a week at Bariloche Luciana and I flew back to Buenos Aires on Saturday (two hour flight + usual two hour delay...). I don't know what to blame it on... but neither of us could sleep a single minute that night; probably due to weather and noise. Woke up at 5:30am too get to a Bus to Junin to spend New Year with Luciana's family. After lots of alcohol, a barbecued pig and chicken, some dance, and some fireworks went to bed at 7am to wake up at 10 and head back to Buenos Aires (did so alone, Luciana joins me tomorrow). 4 and a half hours in bus later I arrived to the City where the thermometer showed 111° F (44°C). I need some serious sleep!
Back at office tomorrow, will try to get some good night sleep in order not to mess things up too much.
I'm leaving tonight. Heading south to patagonia we'll spend Christmas and the following week in Bariloche. Although I am taking my good old ThinkPad with me I might not log on too much if I'm entertained.
Happy Holidays to all in case I don't post before Christmas.