Archive for the ‘Random Rambling’ Category

Birdwatching in Bolivia

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Birdwatching. What a boring activity. I can think of many better things to do with my limited time than to walk around looking for birds just to see them. Maybe if I’m out to photograph them so I can share what I see with others that’s time better spent, but even that doesn’t seem very appealing. Birds are hard to get on camera, and there’s many better things out there to photograph after all.

That’s what I thought about birdwatching before I came to Bolivia. And in a way that is probably still how I feel about going to look for birds in Canada or most other places I know. The birds there just don’t excite me. But there’s something about the birds here that makes them actually interesting.

They are big and small, plain and colorful, fast and slow, something for everybody. One of the (few) nice things about working out in the field was working close to nature, and being able to, at times, just sit and watch the birds do their thing. Driving to and from site, sometimes a bird or two would fly beside our car for a good 5-7 seconds (an eternity when watching birds in flight). Or they would fly right in front of our windshield for a couple of seconds, enough to get a good look at the dynamics of its flight.

Once, on one of the very last days of the job, I saw a bird chasing a pretty big dragonfly. It was an intense chase, with swerves and dives and going back and forth, in a way I could hardly believe the bird was fast and agile enough to keep up. The scene reminded me of an intense air combat scene from something like Top Gun or Star Wars or something like that. It was intense, like ‘wow’ intense. Yeah.

I was lucky enough to get some birds on camera, most of which were taken by this watering hole on the drive to site. They are not quite representative of all the different colors and types that were there, you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s nicer to be there and see the variety in real life. So what do you think, could you ever consider birds to be interesting, or have I been in the field too long with a desperate need of real life? :-)

Juanes

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

One of the nice things about living in a Spanish speaking country is getting to know all the Spanish music that is around. And there is a lot of it, all different genres, for everyone’s tastes. I have to share my knowledge about one artist in particular, whose songs are really nice to listen to, whether you know what he’s saying or not. That artist is a Colombian named Juanes. He has won many Latin Grammy Awards, has recorded songs with the likes of Black Eyed Peas and Nelly Furtado, and in 2005 was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Personally I think his best songs are when he performs by himself, but either way his stuff is really good. I’ve listened to his last two albums titled Mi Sangre (My Blood) and La Vida… Es un Ratico (Life… Is But A Moment), and even without understanding any of the songs they got a nice sound to them. Someday soon I’ll try and get some of his older stuff that made him famous.

Anyways, give a few of his songs a listen. I have posted below two of his most popular songs from his latest album. If you like what you hear then you can look for the full albums (don’t know if any stores in Canada would carry it, but iTunes has his albums for download).

Let me know what you think!

Gotas De Agua Dulce

Me Enamora

Field work in Bolivia

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Recently I put together some pictures from my field work here in Bolivia, describing what it’s like to be working on a gas pipeline river crossing project. Click on the picture below to link you to the photos, which will describe a bit how we do what we do, as well as the working conditions. Any questions let me know!

Happy (belated) 21st of September!!

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

What is the significance of wishing you a happy 21st of September, you may ask? Well, that is exactly the question I asked after I got a text message yesterday wishing me a good day, and it came up in a phone call with a friend as well. I got a bit of an explanation in Spanish over the phone but wanted to find out exactly for myself.

So, naturally I went to Wikipedia and found the article on September 21st. Unfortunately, that page wasn’t very helpful, it didn’t list the things that were mentioned to me, only the fact that it was the international day of peace. So I went on the Spanish Wikipedia page for 21 de septiembre instead, and that proved more useful. Depending on which Spanish-speaking country you live in, they celebrate different things on this day. For Bolivia it’s the following, and quite a line-up to be put all on one day:

First day of Spring (something definitely worth celebrating after that awful winter of +5 degree overnight lows, as well as all those cloudy days)
Student Day
Photographer Day
Doctor’s Day
Day of Love, or Love Day (whichever sounds better to you!)

So yeah, I am pretty sure there are enough things there to warrant the wishing of Happy 21st September! Then again, people in South America tend to find the smallest reason to be happy and wish each other all the best, and that makes this place so interesting.

Take care, and once again Happy 21st of September!

Bolivia is better, but more importantly, I am disabling emails from my blog!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Just an update on the things going on in Bolivia, I left things kinda open at the end of my last post, so I wanted to close off how they ended. I ended up going to the grocery store a day or two later, expecting it to be near empty of the most important food items like I had heard, but instead I found the store full of everything I could have wanted to buy! So instead of leaving with pictures of empty shelves I left with over $100 worth of groceries! (I still wanted to stock up.)

Similar thing with gas. Yes, there was a shortage and people were stocking up, causing an artificial rise in demand. But a few days into the ‘situation’ I went to a gas station, waited 15 minutes in a 15 car lineup, and then filled up no problem!

Oh, and the rumor that the military was being deployed in the city? Didn’t happen. And last weekend, we went out to some discos but they were not letting people in, and instead were closing early because there had been two deaths in the city due to some ‘problems’. Well, that turned out just to be another rumor also, there were no deaths. But that kind of shows the misinformation that floats around and makes things uncertain, and doesn’t allow people to make the right decisions.

Anyways, now the problems are all but over. Almost all the roadblocks have been lifted. My project at work is mobilizing to site (we were waiting for the roads to open. I will spend the next 4 weeks or so in the field, meaning all the perishable food that I stocked up on will probably go bad!) Politicians have decided to spend some time talking (though not before about 30 people died in a province quite far from us). Honestly I expect things to flare up again (there are already rumors of blockades being put back in place), but right now all is well.

Okay, that’s the update in Bolivia. Next thing I wanted to say is that this will be the last time anyone will receive an email when I make a post! I am disabling the automatic email notifier. Why you may ask? Well to be honest, when I had the automatic email notifier on, I felt like I had to write something REALLY REALLY RIDICULOUSLY GOOD for it to be worth you getting an email and heading over to read. So I am disabling it, but I will now feel more free to write small, insignificant little things that keep people in the loop of how life is different here, and what I’m doing or what is happening. BUT, for those that still want to be notified of when I update the blog (both of you), there is an option with an RSS Reader. I use and highly recommend Google Reader (anyone with a gmail account can easily set up a Reader account), and will give a brief description below of what exactly it is, and how it can make your web life easier! For those of you that regularly use an RSS reader just skip the next part (but not before adding my blog to your RSS feed!)

Anyways, an RSS reader allows you to have one place to go to see when your favorite sites have been updated. I use mine to get updates on some people’s blogs, as well as get news on Formula 1 happenings (www.formula1.com) and Digital Photography news (www.dpreview.com). Those are sites that cover my hobbies and I found myself going there on a regular basis, so now I use Reader to know when there is something there worth reading. See the screen below for a sample page from my reader, click to see it full size.

So what I do is whenever I am at work I have gmail open, and once every couple of days or so (or several times a day for those boring days) I click on the Reader link and it loads up Reader with the latest news. I can then read the headlines as well as the start of the article, and if I want to read on I just click the link. Really easy, really convenient. You can add whatever you want there, almost any site that updates with new information once in a while will have an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Of course, there are many other RSS readers out there, I just find the Gmail one most useful as I always have Gmail open. Anyways, consider trying it out if you haven’t yet. I will admit when someone first told me about these I was a little hesitant to set it up, but now I check it as often as my email.

If you need any help setting it up or adding my blog to your subscriptions, let me know!

What My Genes Say About Me

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Wow. I just read an article that blew my mind. It’s about the latest that can be done to have one’s DNA analyzed for health risks and other things. Amazing. Read here. If you only read the first page you will get the picture, but I couldn’t help but read the entire article.

I don’t know, maybe I have been behind the times, but I am amazed this can be done on a large scale and cheaply. I will seriously consider this, as I think many young people would.

Trans-Atlantic Blueberries

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

So the other day I am at my local supermarket here in Aberdeen, Scotland, and I go to buy (among other things) some blueberries (mmm…… blueberries…..). Here in the UK they always write where the fruit is from, and lo and behold, these blueberries happen to be from Canada! See below:

Trans-Atlantic Blueberries
Now I must say I never thought Canada would be known for exporting blueberries, I thought we just exported arctic ice and maple syrup. This, however, gives me one more reason to be proud to be Canadian, to have a little more sparkle in my eye when I say “my accent is not American, it is Canadian” when people here mistake me to be from “below the 49th”; it gives me the strength I need to endure here in this country with Haggis and deep-fried Mars bars; it keeps me warm at night and keeps the bad dreams away when I am all alone on an offshore platform in the middle of the ocean. I am all the more PROUD to be CANADIAN. I AM CANADIAN.

Umm, okay, end of beer commercial. But really, I miss Canada, can’t wait to be back and see you all there. Oh, and the blueberries were delicious.

Hello world!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Hey Everyone! This blog is a new addition to my site, I’m hoping to write things here regularly. I will also be updating my actual site and perhaps moving some of the content from there into this blog. In the meantime you can still see my site here. Enjoy!