The 9s of Uruguay

We’re getting closer to being (mini) farm owners. As we left the escribana‘s office, she handed me this:

Any ideas?

U$S 1.967 – or to Americans, $1,967, the balance I need to pay in the next few days. To locals here, $1,967 means pesos, or a little over a hundred bucks. Hence the U$S. It can get confusing in a store when you see price tags in two currencies – not both together, rather one or the other.

But the thing I marvel at is the ‘P’ for ‘9.’ I don’t know how they’re taught, but sometimes they get it right, and as often as not it’s backward. Sometimes both on the same paper.

The whistling postman

What does it mean, in February, when you hear someone whistling Christmas carols or Happy Birthday To You?

It means the postman, on his motorbike, is nearby. I thought of this just now because on a mobile loudspeaker somewhere nearby someone is playing Christmas carols: Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry…

Death on the Ruta

A friend of my son works in a filling station on a busy intersection of the Ruta Interbalnearia.

Yesterday he was a little shaken, having seen a man struck by a speeding car and killed.

The more I thought about it, the more confused I was. I have nearly hit pedestrians in the same intersection, when they step into the road without looking at either the light, nor to see if vehicles are approaching. The question is, how can you be hit by a car there if you’re paying any attention? Even if the light says ‘walk,’ don’t you still check for traffic?

Apparently not in Uruguay.

Fresh bread

The beep of a motorbike horn and the bread guy’s here, bringing two loaves of home-baked whole wheat bread as he does every Wednesday. After the first month of buying his bread we found we still had a loaf of store-bought ‘whole wheat’ bread – it wasn’t even moldy.

While locals and foreigners alike moan about the excessive government bureaucracy and anti-business climate in Uruguay, the bread guy shows the free market at its best. In the United States, no doubt he’d run the risk of arrest and imprisonment, ‘for the protection of the citizens.’

Go figure

A couple came by our house last night. We’d never met them before. They’ve been vacationing here for two weeks. They’re opening a restaurant in March. They invited us for the opening. Their restaurant is in Rosario, 700 km from here.
36 Million people live in Argentina, over 15 million of them in Buenos Aires province. A million live in Rosario. We’ve been to Rosario before, but only for an hour-long bus tour dinner stop.
The only other in-country Argentinians we know both live in Rosario. One is their business partner Susana, who we know from Mexico. The other is Keri, who we met years ago in Buenos Aires – through friends in Hawaii. 
We’ll probably go.

Data zen

Before we left the U.S. in a pickup truck, I scanned my letters to my parents from the 70s and 80s, carefully saved by my mother, and got rid of a small pile of paper. A few months ago, I turned those megabytes of scans into one 86 kb text file (and for the first time actually read the letters again – some useful insights).

Tracking book production for the last several years, I have accumulated 14.7 megabytes of documents. All jobs are complete, and paid for, and I realized I only care to preserve four bits of data: date, quantity, item, supplier. Which fits in a text file of 3,653 bytes.

Instead of five or six minutes, I can’t even blink in the time it takes to back up that information to a server halfway around the world.

Back to the future: text files.

When thinking fails

I spend an afternoon learning, at a business that deals in renewable energy installations: solar, wind, sunflower biofuel, deep and shallow earth climate control, 10:1 efficient LED lighting. New ideas. Stimulating.

My mind boggles, wanders, speculates, contemplates the most energy-hogging device we own. How much solar and wind energy, I wonder, would it take to power our electric clothes drier?