Sunday, August 30, 2009

My One Orange Bowl

“Do you love me?”

“I do enjoy spending time with you.”

That isn’t the exact words used, but it is a rough summary of the conversation. And I don’t think she was that surprised by my response, because there was a small pile of my things already sitting on her kitchen counter.

This was last summer. I had only been to her place a handful of times, but I had managed to leave a book, a deck of cards, and a large orange plastic salad bowl. We didn’t exactly call off the relationship at that time, but we agreed to continue in a diminished capacity. We also agreed that when I left I would take the salad bowl.

I left. I walked home on a pleasant summer night carrying my book, deck of cards, and large orange plastic salad bowl. I hit Capitol Avenue, my street. My house: three blocks to the right. The bar: four blocks to the left. It was a Sunday night. Probably not many people were out. I could even sit in the bar and read my book. After all I was already carrying it. I went left.

I got to the bar and calmly sat my orange bowl inside on the floor to the right of the door. The place was mostly empty, but I noticed two girls sitting at the bar. The one closest to me looked like she might be cute. (She was; they both were.) And it wasn’t like I was seeing anyone. I went to the adjacent spot to order my drink.

Her response was favorable and the three of us began chatting. Soon I found myself sitting at a table outside with two attractive single young women. The girls were fun, friendly, witty, loud, and crass. They made me seem like a person that was timid and reserved. (I know many of you find that hard to believe, but you haven’t met these girls.) I was feeling content and mellow that evening and just accepted my role for the night.

The conversation went well enough we decided to continue the evening to a location that had some music playing. I started to leave the bar with the girls, but then had to tell them, “Wait. My bowl.”

How am I supposed to explain that? Two cute girls I just met at a bar. After a couple drinks I’m about to leave with them in their car and I stop to grab a large orange salad bowl. In hindsight I think if I had just told them the whole truth they would have actually been impressed. I’m certain they were not intimidated. But I was feeling content and mellow. I retrieved the orange bowl from the floor of the bar. I had to say something.

“What? I always take it with me when I go out.”

Thought of the Week

Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Just a Couch

I haven't seen American Beauty since I watched in the theatre with Craig and Rebecca. This is the scene I remember most.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Price of Laundry

Cold weather. Warm clothes and snow-skiing attire. Two-week vacation. One large duffle bag. I planned on doing laundry once during the trip. I packed accordingly.

My first week we had a washer at the house, but no dryer. I was told I would have to buy my own detergent if I wanted to wash my clothes. Hanging all my clothes from a line, in the winter, just seemed like a major operation. After some deliberation I decided I would just wait until I got to the hotel and do a load of laundry there. It was a nice hotel; maybe they even have free laundry service.

I arrived at the hotel on Saturday afternoon with a bag full of mostly dirty clothes. I went to the front desk to ask them about laundry service. He made a quick call and then told me that regular service didn’t resume until Monday and if I wanted my clothes washed immediately it would cost 50% more. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, so he explained.

“For example if a shirt costs 4000 to wash normally, now it would be 6000.”

What? 6000? I understood 50% more. I do teach math for a living. What I didn’t understand was the example. 6000 pesos (approximately $12.00) to wash a shirt? One shirt. Maybe that was just a hypothetical example. 4000 is a nice easy number for the mathematical computations. I requested the regular service.

Minutes later a guy arrived at my hotel room. I showed him a bag of laundry and asked him how much to wash the whole load. He explained that I would have to pay for each piece seperately. Really? I can’t just do a load of laundry. I didn’t even ask him the price at that point. If I have to pay to wash each pair of underwear individually I’m not sure I want to know the price. I refused the service and cordially sent the guy away, but I wanted to say, “You agree this is ridiculous right? How much for you to take it home and wash the load at your place?”

I looked up the prices.

Shirts: 4,000. Under Shirts: 2,200. Underwear: 2,000. Socks: 1,700. Pants: 3,500.

Four bucks to wash a pair of underwear? Are you kidding? I just washed and dried a whole load for $2.25. Let’s assume after the week I had 7 shirts, 7 pairs of boxers, 6 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shorts, and 2 pair of pants. That total for the hotel would be 52,000 Chilean pesos. Using the hotel’s conversion rate, it comes to 104 U.S. dollars for me to do one load of laundry. (And I wouldn’t even consider it a large load.) That’s almost what I spent for my first week of lodging.

We switched hotels to the Marriott, an even nicer hotel (with significantly more expensive laundry prices). Now, after a couple more days of trying to wear my clothes that were “less dirty,” I decided to take action.

I used the bathtub.

At the start and the end of this process the idea seemed reasonable. It was that moment in the middle, when I was in the bathroom of a 5-star hotel ringing my clothes out by hand wondering if they would dry before I left Chile, that the idea seemed questionable. I hung them out across the shower bar the best I could and hoped they would dry in the hotel. I questioned what the maid thought when she serviced our room, but… she’s probably seen the laundry prices too.

The clothes were moved to our board room (yeah, we had a meeting room in our business sweet) to finish drying. The next day, with a little assistance from a hair dryer, I put on clean clothes.

Thought of the Week

Only a cynic knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Questionable Arrangement

Pedigree Ad

This is an actual advertisment we saw at the Metro
Station in Santiago.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Que Hora Es?

This video is a telenovela in Spanish. It is a must see. Below

I have included the links to the sequel, as well as the One

Semester of Spanish Love Song. Enjoy.

Que Hora Es; Part 2

One Semester of Spanish Love Song

My Photos from Chile

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lugares Diferentes

When I go to another country I want to experience the culture. I try to eat the typical food, drink the typical drinks, and understand their way of life. Having said that, I must admit it is nice to wash my hands with hot water during the winter. My first week in Chile I took Spanish classes and lived with a couple that taught at my school. Thanks to Sarah’s planning and generosity, the next week I stayed in a couple really nice hotels. Both were great experiences; neither was typical for me. The contrast between the two was evident.

Thought of the Week

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

I need to practice this one.

Position Just Opened

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Right now I´m at an internet cafe paying 450 pesos (a little less than a dollar) for 15 minutes, because my new hotel charges 5 bucks for 15 minutes on the computer. For some reason the nicer the hotel the more you have to pay for stuff.

I´ve been experiencing and writing, but may take some time to put stuff on to the computer. I have several stories I plan to share. So expect to see my first post Monday when I return to the United States.

Is it still summer in California?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Finish Line

I thought watching Walker Texas Ranger on TV was about as bad as it got. However, I just found something worse. Walker Texas Ranger dubbed in Spanish. I had no idea Chuck Norris could sound like that.

The show itself was as bad as ever. After some frantic behavior the viewers saw Chuck Norris in a race car, presumingly racing against drivers that actually did this regularly.

He put his helmet on as the race began and the blond came over and kissed him with fear in her eyes and love in her heart.


Then what seemed like about a 7-minute race ensued. I don´t know how someone could write a half-hour T.V. program and think it to be a good idea to have a 7-minute slow-motion finally with no dialouge, but it happened. And to the surprise of no one Walker Texas Ranger won the race, and the people were saved.

But it was close. Real Close. Oh, the suspense!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breaking Social Etiquette

At the airport, after midnight, in an enourmous line to get a boarding pass, I was growing impatient. Wearing jeans for the first time in weeks I stood there uncomfortable. I wanted to change but not lose my place in line, and all travelers know that leaving your bags unattended at the airport is one of the top five airport sins. I think it´s between trying to pass through the medal detector with your shoes on, and not flying first-class when you weigh over 300 pounds.

Despite the four young women speaking Spanish behind me, the American couple in front of me, and the rest of the line I took action. I pulled shorts out and laid them neatly on my bag, and took off my shoes. Then right there in line dropped my pants, and put on my shorts. I faced forward as I did to avoid eye contact with the women behind me. The four latinas didn´t say anything, but I have a feeling they were thinking, ¨Those shorts do look more comfortable.¨

Sometimes you have to be assertive in this world.

On the flight to Honduras I was wedged between two sleeping men. Unable to sleep as I had hoped I began watching the movie. I saw John Malkovich portray a washed-up magician fighting to hold unto a career already over. It was one of those movies like, The Weather Man, or more recently the animated Coroline, that when finished you just ask yourself, ¨Why?¨

The flight was was six and half hours long. I had no watch, but I figured with one movie down I still had over four hours to go. I was even more awake now, and desired to use the bathroom. But I was stuck. The man on the aisle was asleep and looked like the type of guy that didn´t plan to use the bathroom (or speak or move) the entire flight. I´m not totally sure he was a real person. I contemplated calling an attendant to help ask him to move, but instead I took action. Sitting there awake in frustration in a dark plane with everyone else asleep counting the seconds for over four hours was a torture I didn´t want to experience.

Without shoes on I reached over and presssed down on the zombie´s far armrest to test if it could support my weight without interferring with him. Then, on an airplane, I climbed over a complete stranger without waking him up. I went to the bathroom, pulled out my drugs, and climbed back into my seat. Again the man was unaware. With a feeling of accomplishment, a smile on my face, an empty bladder, and drug assistance eventually I too nodded off.

Sometimes you have to be assertive in this world.

Thought of the Week

If you have several odds and ends to do, and you finish all but one, what do you call it?