Thursday, March 23, 2017

Taking a Walk in Cuenca
Clown Walking
"We laugh at sheep because sheep just follow the one in front. Ah, stupid sheep! We humans have out-sheeped the sheep because at least the sheep need a sheepdog to keep them in line. Humans keep each other in line. And they do it by ridiculing or condemning anyone who commits the crime -- because that's what it's become -- of being different." -David Icke
Split Sunet

A gringo is riding an elevator up in a condo building in Cuenca.
On the way up another gringo gets on.
The gringo on the elevator smiles with a welcoming, "Hola!"
 The gringo getting on humorously answers, "Hola! Como estas?"
"Muy buen," comes the answer, plus, "Esta buen dia para ti?"
 "Si," is the reply, then hopefully, "Habla inglés usted?"
This elicits a smile and the mournful answer, "Un poco, muy poco y lentamente."
 The two gringos have a laugh and the elevator doors open.
The gringo exiting offers, "Que tengas un buen dia!"
 In return there's an appreciative nod and wave.
And who says old gringos can't learn new tricks.
True story.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Where are we?

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are not possible."
—Lord Kelvin, 1895

"The most important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplemented by new discoveries is exceedingly remote."
—Albert Abraham Michelson, 1903

"Airplanes have no military value."
—Professor Marshal Foch, 1912

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
—IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, 1943

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
—Popular Mechanics, 1949

"It would appear that we have reached the limits of what is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in five years."
—John von Neumann, 1949

"There's no reason for individuals to have a computer in their home."
—Ken Olson, 1977

"640,000 bytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody."
—Bill Gates, 1981

"Long before the year 2000, the entire antiquated structure of college degrees, majors and credits will be a shambles."
—Alvin Toffler

"I predict the internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse."
Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, in InfoWorld magazine, December 1995.

"Rock and roll? It will be gone by June."
Variety magazine, 1955

"Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
Economist Irving Fisher in October 1929

"The Beatles have no future in show business.
We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished."
A Decca Records executive to the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, following an audition in 1962.

"Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop."
Time magazine, 1968.

"The coming of the wireless era will make war impossible, because it will make war ridiculous."
Guglielmo Marconi, pioneer of radio, writing in Technical World magazine, October 1912.

"We can close the books on infectious diseases."
Surgeon General of the United States William H. Stewart, speaking to the U.S. Congress in 1969.

"Ours has been the first [expedition] and doubtless to be the last to visit this profitless locality."
Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.

"Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
Dr. Dionysys Larder, science writer and academic, in 1828.

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923

"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere."
New York Times, 1936

"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad."
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication."
William Orton, president of Western Union, in 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell the company his invention

“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”
Charlie Chaplin in 1916, two years into his big-screen acting career.

"Y2K is a crisis without precedent in human history."
Byte magazine editor Edmund DeJesus, 1998

"Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput."
Baron Alan Sugar, English business magnate, media personality, politician and political adviser.

“Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” 

— Thomas Edison 1889

"Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles.  We stand on the threshold of rocket mail." 

— Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General. 1959

"There's just not that many videos I want to watch." 

— Steve Chen, CTO and co-founder of YouTube expressing concerns about his company’s long term viability. 2005

“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future.”
– President Barack Obama to Congress in 2009. Less than four years later, the GAO announced 'The Affordable Healthcare Act' could increase the federal deficit by $6.2 trillion over the next 75 years

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gavilán (Hawk) Holds Perfect Still Position in Cajas Sky
Look carefully near center of frame -- a hawk, silhouetted against the high white clouds, holds perfect position in the sky without a single flap of a wing. After observing the landscape below for a while, this master of the skies smoothly glides off. Recorded in the Cajas National Park in Ecuador.

The corn and quinoa are high in Cuenca.

corn stalks


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Drive in the Countryside
Just outside Cuenca is the beautiful countryside of Ecuador. Out in nature, it's easy to connect with the cycles of life. On this day, that cycle also included coming across a funeral procession.

Valley Beyond the Fog

Entrance to where?

Low clouds in the distance

View by the road

Which way to go?

Funeral Procession

The next valley

Horses in the field

A dog welcoming party

View from the driveway

A valley beyond the roof

Nothing but nature

Grassy slope

The life of a cow

Beyond the old fence

 Chicken run

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tienda Shelf

The people of Cuenca keep surprising me in the most awesome ways.

Many gringos have never been to Feria Libre, the largest mercado in the city.
For many the place is intimidating. For one thing, it's huge and easy to get lost in.
Also, there's no place in the city more steeped in local ambiance and filled with local people.
Everywhere you turn is a bustle of commerce - people, pushcarts, cars, dogs, trucks, whatever.

Everything under the sun is for sale. Things you don't recognize and things never seen before.
People come up to you with their wears in hand, asking if you'd like to buy.
Nothing has a price on it - you must know Spanish to make your way around.
Shoppers flow in interpenetrating streams every which way.
For tall gringos, it can be an extra-interesting obstacle course
since there are canopies and other kinds of sunshades held up by ropes to protect the vendors.
Those shades are often below 6 feet in height. Don't be looking at the aquacate and walk into a rope!

Added to this, many gringos fear the place as if to go there is to make oneself a target -
not only for price-gouging but for crime. I've always felt safe there, and as far as
price-gouging, if you know Spanish and don't act like you just got off the boat from Fresno,
you can negotiate appropriately -- especially since as a buyer you always have the power to walk away to another vendor. 
You can also stand back behind a local who's buying something and see what price they get --
the merchant is more on the hook to then offer you the same for the same thing.

True, a gringo will really stand out - simply because there are so few of them there.
Most times I walk all throughout the place without ever seeing another gringo.
But be realistic -- if you're a gringo, you stand out everywhere, even at Goza or Sunrise Cafe.
For many, the familiar US-style supermarket comforts of SuperMaxi are much preferred.
Granted, after one has shopped at Feria Libre, you feel like you've been on some sort of ride,
especially if you hit it on weekends or Wednesdays when vendors from outside the city and the coast travel in to set up shop.
They should have t-shirts -- "I've survived the Feria Libre ride!"
Fortunately for me, I really enjoy the ride.

But this post is really not about that.
It's really about the people of Cuenca.
And yes, they keep surprising me in the most awesome ways.
Today I finished my shopping and walked out of Feria Libre with a full backpack and another shoulder bag stuffed with fruits and vegetables and chicken -- and out of nowhere, a man, walking with another man on the sidewalk coming the other way from me, lit up with a big smile and raised his hand to get my attention. When I glanced at him coming my way, he smiled even broader and proudly, in obviously well-rehearsed English, called out to me..."Enjoy the city!"
The exchange was so genuine and friendly - typical of so many Cuencanos.
I smiled and gave him a thumbs up and to reciprocate called back to him 
in my best, rehearsed Spanish, "Gracias! Que tengas un buen dia!"

It only took a few moments in passing. 
It was nothing he had to do. He had nothing to try to sell me. 
There was no other agenda than to be friendly. 
It was an awesome surprise at the end of a busy shopping trip that brightened my day.
I call it a surprise, but the longer I live among the wonderful people of Cuenca, the less I'm finding I'm surprised. 
And that's a very good thing. "Que buena!"