Angry neighbors

angry neighbors lost sunglassesYou complain about your neighbors, I do too. The man with the barking dog every time he steps out in the hallway, no matter what time it is. The wacky neighbor who gives me lessons on how I should be painting my door. The other bizarre woman who is always terrifying us with problems and the people who just don’t cooperate or pitch in.

I was happy to know my misery is in good company after seeing some real notes from charming tenants who live in the proximity of other human beingsangry neighbors loud drummer wifi.

But some are good Samaritans: you might have lost the sunglasses your neighbor’s found, good thing he’s willing to give them back. This might be a fun vecino to have.

Ever find it hard to come up with a name for your router? Not the guy annoyed by drums.

Speaking of routers, I had an open one until someone convinced me otherwise, I’d be losing speed.

If you check out the last note you will see that not all neighbors who steal your wi-fi are inconsiderate.

angry neighbors free wifi


Monkey Master Fable

In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master). Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees.

It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys:

“Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.”  The small monkey continued:

“Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?” Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like
the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

Source From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp

thiis story, originally titled “Rule by Tricks” is from Yu-li-zi  (1311-1375)
and has been translated by Sidney Tai, The translation was originally published in Nonviolent Sanctions:
News from the Albert Einstein Institution (Cambridge, Mass.),

Here’s a tip: you may want to check the spelling BEFORE you get the tattoo

You may or may not like tattoos but they have become mainstream in the last couple of decades. Not just sailors or gang members have them, you see them on models, secretaries and even politicians. But there is one aspect of this practice that is a pretty good rule of thumb: you may just want to check the spelling of words IN YOUR OWN F/%6# LANGUAGE if you are going to get a phrase branded in indelible ink on your only mortal coil.

Seriously, folks. I am not talking about checking the spelling on a cute Japanese symbol tattoo (oh yeah, they tell you it means “peace” but you don’t have a clue, do you? Which of your friends would know anyhow?).

Take this tattoo above: Life may be very beautiful, lady, but your tattoo sure is not.

Speaking of “your” , it should not be mistaken for “you’re”. But we all know there are no body spell checks. Not that they would use one anyway.

Regret is more easily applied to the things we don’t do in life. Well, not if you got this tatoo. The guy might regret “nohing” but I’ll go out on a limb and bet he did regret this tattoo.

That seems to be indelible ink that probably hurt a fair deal to get needled into the forearm. Did it hurt, dude? Nohing at all.

This young man wants nobody to “juge” him except God. But it is fairly safe to say that a lot of other people are jugding him. They judge he oughta hit them books. Does he trust his own judgement?

The proud sporters of these tattoos probably love ’em. Don’t care. Think they look really “ah-some”. I wish I could say that I think this one was on purpose.








A real tragedy. Using henna is a good alternative, they wash off in a couple of days. Once in Miami, being the cautious person that I am, I walked into a tattoo parlor and asked if they did impermanent tattoos. The man sneered and said – true story- “the only impermanent thing here is pain”.

I wouldn’t be too sure. Just ask the people who got these tattoos.

On a literary kick, David Sedaris: “When You Are Engulfed in Flames”

I know, I know, I just wrote a literary post on an author a week ago so to really shake things up …  I´ll do Sedaris in English. He might get a kick out of what that expression amounts to in innuendos – if he weren’t openly gay. And how wonderful that he is, since he gives us insight into what a monogamic, well educated couple, who sticks together through thick and thin, is like. One story in particular, goes deep into the subject of boredom vs faithfulness and what really counts in the end. Oh, I would love to have David and Hugh as close friends. They would be great candidates to visit Buenos Aires.

How I came across Sedaris is a long story, but to make it short I’ll just mention that I inherited two of his books. The previous owner had read them and needed to travel light so they became mine. Not bad. So I guess it’s fair to say we met half way.

Why did I like this book of essays so much? First and foremost because Sedaris is very funny in an intelligent way. After reading a few essays I smelled New Yorker magazine and I hit the nail on the head. Most of the essays in this book were published in that magazine first. What else? Polished, unpretentious, every day language.

Sedaris’ persona is that of the underdog. He is constantly underperforming in a world of alpha achievers.  In his nerdy, sometimes dark way he has what could be called “Seinfeldian” worries and is a bit self absorbed.  He has a very urban, sensitive, world citizen point of view which I find extremely appealing. He is always deeper than what you read on the surface.

My favorite stories include the essay called “Solution to Saturday’s puzzle” – a delight worth reading over – and “That’s Amore” from when Sedaris lived in New York. The last and longest essay, “The Smoking Section”,  is a gem to read for anyone who has quit smoking (as is the case of yours truly).  The first part is much better than the other two, with Sedaris still the nicotine addict. He breaks down smokers into categories depending on the brand they light up and delivers memorable sentences such as ” One should never loan money to a Marlboro menthol smoker, though you could usually count on a regular Marlboro person to pay you back”.

What a delicious experience to be engulfed in David Sedaris.

The Conceptual Logic of the English Language and the Chaotic Freedom of Spanish

      I have a very wacky and politically incorrect theory about languages. I think the language in which you primarily think shapes your mind. And I believe it’s not the same to have a mind that works in English as one that functions in Spanish. What I am suggesting is that the inner workings of the mind have a concrete external representation. They have a flow that orders or perhaps disorders the mind.

I could always swear that the way we drive in Buenos Aires and the way they drive in Washington had something to do with the language we speak. Then, many years ago,  I started reading Steven Pinker‘s book “The Language Instinct” where he totally debunks any such hypothesis. Academically, I would be subscribing to some aspects of what is known as  the Sapir-Whorf theory which was discredited but has now been somewhat reconsidered. But since I’m not planning to write any sort of linguistic treaty for the time being, I’ll go ahead and share what I have experienced.

You are, of course, not supposed to say that any language is better than another, that is politically incorrect, so all languages are equal. But some are more equal than others. Some languages, I think, aid in some aspects over others.

I love both Spanish and English for very different reasons. For example in Spanish you can say “Compré ayer un libro en El Ateneo” but you would never say that in English in the same order. “I bought yesterday a book at El Ateneo” sounds like Spanglish. English has these big chunks of meaning that you don’t separate. In the Latin based Spanish you can separate fragments much more. So English is – in my homemade theory – more logical, stricter. Spanish, on the other hand, is freer but also more chaotic in terms of mental flow.

If an English speaker is listening to someone speak, the minute the person says “I bought..” you expect to hear WHAT was bought, you don’t care where or when. In Spanish it is also more common to name the object after the verb “compré un libro” but this can be altered. O sea, es así pero no es tan así. You can be creative: “En El Ateneo compré ayer un libro” y queda perfecto. An English speaking person would have a fit if you say “At El Ateneo I bought yesterday a book”. Arggghhh!

My conclusion is this: I would rather drive in Washington but I would rather sit and have coffee with a lively group of friends in Buenos Aires where everyone is sitting very closely, talking loudly and making eye and body contact.

I wonder if Marta and Henry would agree.

Henry and Marta – Accents

Henry:   Hello Marta, is it really you? It’s been so long!

Marta:   Oh, don’t overdo it Henry, it’s been a month. And you know that, as much as I hate clichés, time flies.

Henry:   I missed you (blushes into a tomato red hue).

Marta:  (ignores the blushing) I really needed some time off and I figured I could use those mini-vacations spread throughout March; it’s nice to see you on a day off.

Henry:   I’ve had some trouble keeping up with the holidays lately.

Marta:    You are not alone, today is just a sandwich day.

Henry:   You look different. I think it’s your hair…

Marta:    Yes, I’ve had my hair curled.

Henry:   How would you say that in Spanish?

Marta:   Me hice los rulos.

Henry:   Mey izzei lous rulous?

Marta:   Very good, Henry. You need to work on your accent, though.

Henry:   I try, I really do but I’m afraid I’ve never had a very good ear. Certainly, not like you.

Marta:   Having a good ear is definitely a gift, I thank my lucky stars every day. They say a musical ear helps but it is more than that. I think it is some weird empathy that allows you to connect with the way people talk and then mimick it.

Henry:   Yes, some actors and actresses have that skill. Meryl Streep has it. Some actors definitely lack that ability. I remember I once saw Richard Gere playing a British doctor and, poor fellow, as much as he strived his British accent could only make you laugh.

Marta:   Yes, another actress who is very good with accents is Renée Zellweger. And so far, the only foreign actor who can do a decent porteñan accent in my opinion is Gael García Bernal.

Henry:   The Mexican actor? But their Spanish is quite different, isn’t it?

Marta:   Yes, very different, that’s why I thought he deserves even more credit. But today I wanted to share with you a rare jewel I found, Henry. She is a twenty five year old actress and she can do 21 English accents to perfection.

Henry:   That’s impossible!

Marta:  Listen to this and tell me if she is not amazing, I can’t even tell where she’s from! Her name is Amy Walker and on this video she does 21 accents.

Frequent Flyer Fury

For all the lucky campers who fly the friendly skies here is a brief list of annoyances that make flying so much fun.

*Passengers who boarded the plane before you did and merrily took your aisle seat, just because they figured you could take their aisle seat one row back. It never crossed their mind that you had a friend in the aisle seat on the same row.

* The snot snorting, throat clearing, wheezing walrus you suspect has some mild case of OCD. He has rushed to take the empty seat right next to you; and you thought you were lucky enough to have more room to yourself before the plane took off!

* People who plop their hand luggage up front, as soon as they are inside the plane, in the first overhead bin they see, even though they will be sitting in the back. They just screwed you by taking the bin over your seat.

* People travelling with small children who misbehave (yes, I have travelled with delightful children on rare occasions)

* People who dilly dally in the line in front of you when you are about to miss your flight.

* People who sing horribly catchy tunes you abhor. You just know you will not get that song out of your head for weeks.

* The huge gorilla sitting behind  you who never seems to notice he keeps kicking your seat.

* The cute guy who  is NOT sitting in your row, he’s 3 rows behind.

* Passengers whose motto seems to be “why talk when you can shout?”

*Annoying stewardesses who are happy to be mean.

* People who walk down the aisle in search of their seat with their large bags and huge purposes, swatting you as they pass.

* The passenger who is seated by the window and needs to get up every five minutes – so you need to get up as well.

* Your plane has been delayed, delayed, delayed … cancelled.

* ALL security checks

I’ve never understood why, with all the advances and improvements over the last decades, air travel remains fairly the same except for some perks in the front of the cabin. Bon voyage, everyone!

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