It begins…

This summer (we’re now into autumn), we have been plagued for the first time by incredibly annoying acoustic pollution. Maybe as a kid, you loved hearing the piercing electronic truncated version of Für Elise, because it meant the ice cream truck was coming! Which maybe it did, once a day.

But not all day long, every day. Which is what the apparently-otherwise-respectable-in-terms-of-service gas company Acodike has been doing. When I wrote to complain, they responded that they can’t turn down the volume, because otherwise customers complain that they don’t hear it.

To which I responded, you have not been here the last eight goddam years, so how many customers, seriously, complained about not hearing something that didn’t exist?

End of conversation, needless to say. (I have a bit of a track record when it comes to ending correspondence using logic. A certain attorney in British Columbia comes to mind, but that’s another story.)

So fast forward, and the first deployment of anti-Akodike stickers has begun.

Sticker on trash container, Atlántida, Uruguay

Shut up, Acodike. It’s 2018. We have telephones.

Alas, these are just laser-printed paper labels. They won’t last long. I’ve got some high school kids, equally annoyed by this 1980s-era “marketing,” who may help post these. I say “may” because I delivered them to a couple houses  but not directly to the kids. Ya veremos. We will see.

This label stock is not sold in Uruguay, as far as I can find. I spent $30 to order 100 sheets @10/sheet, plus $7.95 shipping to Gripper, a Miami-Uruguay delivery service, and another $30+ to Gripper to get them here. And promptly trashed a couple sheets learning how to get them to print properly.

But it fits the characteristics of projects I like, such as freelance mentoring of at-risk adolescents in North Carolina, and adopting a bright and funny, but seriously socially disadvantaged 12 year old boy, also in North Carolina:

  1. I (we in the latter case) can maybe pull this off;
  2. If I/we don’t try to do it, nobody else will, and;
  3. It’s worth doing, even if it doesn’t end as you hoped (because it probably won’t, but that doesn’t mean you failed).

FWIW, the 12 year old boy is now cooking at Applebee’s in Prescott, Arizona, and has been awarded MVP (Most Valuable Player) status numerous times, and is training to be an instructor. I’ve lost contact with the others, but that’s OK: I didn’t want be a hero. Helping them navigate a little was enough. As far as I know, they are all doing well.

 

 

Creepy FaceSpook

I am no fan of Facebook, but have been on there a while. In 2013, with the release of my wife’s first memoir, of her rather incredible experiences in Cyprus and Europe, we engaged “social media experts” who lectured us about “branding,” and, for the first time since 1999, I used my real name online. On Facebook.

That lasted about a year. I came to my senses, and my Facebook name has since  been constantly changing, and ridiculously so. Moredecai Grammerhell Thorpewallow Strathpeffer? Sounds good to me!

So Sure, Facebook remembers my real name, but even so, what just happened is creepy. Too creepy.

People You May Know yesterday: two I do know. Two I didn’t know were on Facebook. Two who have no mutual friends on Facebook. And two with whom I have virtually no electronic contact.

Also two I rarely see in person, but have, both, in the last two weeks. One, Chuck: I needed to contact him a month ago (didn’t even know he was in Uruguay), but had neither email address or phone number. The other, Burkhard, from Namibia. I do have his phone number and email, but aside from lunch together a month ago, my physical visit to his house a week ago, have had no electronic contact.

No phone number, no emails, and certainly no Facebook Messenger or mutual friends

And yet: people you might know, according to FaceSpook.

OK, let me read your mind: Blah blah blah.

I understand. But this:

Chuck’s last Facebook post was in 2014.

Burkhard’s was in 2012.

Not friends on Facebook, no mutual contacts on Facebook, neither posting in the last three years, and no contact other than physical visits, and two utterly inactive Facebook accounts suddenly flagged as “People you might know” – ?

I’m outta here.

The Muscle Up

I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.

Christopher McDougall’s journey begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters—an artist, a shepherd, and a poet—abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps across the island that birthed Herakles and Odysseus, and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world. 

His search takes us scrambling over rooftops with a Parkour crew in London, foraging for greens with a ballerina in Brooklyn, tossing heavy pieces of driftwood on a Brazilian beach with the creator of MovNat—and, finally, to our own backyards. Natural Born Heroes will inspire readers to unleash the extraordinary potential of the human body and climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to heroic feats.

Parkour has been on my radar for a while. Not that, pushing mid-60s, I’m not going to be jumping walls and climbing buildings any time soon, but the basic moves seem very practical, especially rolling after dropping a distance (as opposed to tearing your knees apart). It also inspired me to start doing pull-ups again. One of the first things I did when we moved here was install a pull-up bar. It’s been mostly idle.

dailytodo.org
Yes, it has been a while. My lack of activity recorded on dailytodo.org

Not the case 15 years ago in North Carolina, where it hung poolside outside my office door. At one point one of my son’s teenage friends was over and I did 14 in a row for him. Starting out now a few weeks ago, it was three. Now it’s six. And maybe if I keep up at this rate, in six months I’ll be able to do the Parkour essential, but *wow* difficult muscle up: where you grab the bar and end above it, with your arms straight below you. It’s how you can get over a high wall.

muscle up diagram from Wikipedia
By Fomenka – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Which brings me to Leo.

I met Leo at a Uruguay Phyle meeting in Punta del Este several years ago. Doug Casey was the guest speaker. When I met Leo, I realized I’d seen him in a dream the night before. Kind of weird. As Doug was going on about the irrelevance of environmental awareness, Leo asked him, “So you’re saying ‘Fuck the rain forest’?” “Yeah, fuck the rain forest,” was his reply. Charming guy, that Doug.

But anyway. Fast forward a few years, and a couple guys who build small isopanel houses come by to give an estimate on replacing our casita roof. Leo is one of them. He apparently doesn’t remember me. No big deal. He wants to get a closer look at the roof, from the wall that separates us from our neighbors. I offer to get a ladder I have close by, but in a split second Leo has pulled himself up, and is standing on the top of the wall.

The wall is over 7′ (2.1 m) high.

Impressive feat, but hey, the guy was probably 30 years younger than me.

I had no idea exactly how impressive that was. Now I do, and I know what that move is called, and I get curious about Leo. Does he still do Parkour regularly?

If I ever had his email, that’s long gone, but fortunately he has an uncommon name, and it’s easy to find him online. Fascinating history: born in Holland, school in England, Lamborghini and Ferrari mechanic in Florida, bought a boat and sailed the Caribbean before moving to Uruguay and having a couple of children, the second of whom died very early on of heart complications.

But what happened next, I just learned today.

I’m still shocked.

 

 

The grand niece

I met my 4 month-old grand niece this week in Connecticut!

Though I can profess no knowledge of babies, nor child raising under age 11 for that matter, Mckenzie is a great baby.

As I traveled to meet her, though, I thought it weird that I could not remember ever having held a baby. Had I ever? My niece Amanda answered authoritatively…

… with a photo of me holding her 32 years ago (I’m holding that picture in the first photo).

 

No respect

I have not much effort lately to pick up the trash the fishermen leave behind on the beach. Today, walking barefoot, a clear piece of fishing line caught my eye. For some reason, I bent to pick it up. It wasn’t very long. Only then did I see what my unconscious eye had already spotted.

fishhook

This is why I have almost no respect for those cerdos humanos who fish on the beach.