Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Busy Day, Sun Came Out

We had to be at the language school at 8.  It had thundered a lot during the night.  Loudly.  So I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked.  But we learned from our first bus trip, and this time we asked people to help us get off at the right stop.  It’s hard when it’s dark and rainy.  But all went well.

Classes were great.  There were only three new people and they rated us at different levels, so we ended up with private lessons.  There are also two holidays this week, so we only get three days instead of five.  But they calculate the private lessons as worth more time than group lessons.  And mine were prefect for me.

We got our sim cards into working order and we now have What’s App, because lots of people don’t get actual talking on their phone - text and internet, and call people using What’s App.

We had a tour of San Martin Square - we were told he was the liberator of Argentina and Chile and handed the baton to Simon Bolivar in Peru.  How come we all know about Bolivar, but not Martin?  I don’t know.

Then we were able to see a doctor at the Deutsches Hospital, but he said he rather wait a few more days to take our her stitches.  They’re ok, but a few more days would be better.

And then I’ve been doing homework all evening.  Pictures are:

1. Statue of San Martin
2. Our first sunshine in Argentina (we got here Saturday, and I’m writing Tuesday night)
3. Milo, our host’s dog

Monday, June 17, 2019

Güemes Died, The Clouds Cried

Martín Miguel de Güemes (8 February 1785 – 17 June 1821) was a military leader and popular caudillo who defended northwestern Argentina from the Spanish during the Argentine War of Independence.

If you read the quote from Wikipedia  carefully, you might realize that today is the 198th anniversary of his death.  And it’s a national holiday in memory of his heroic fighting against the Spanish and British. (At least that’s how he’s portrayed here and now.  So our Spanish class doesn’t start til tomorrow. So we went off to do errands and some sightseeing.  
Our host went with us at the beginning because she was walking the dog.  First stop the emergency room to get J’s stitches out.  But they only do emergencies and it’s a holiday.  Fortunately our host was with us and will try to make an appointment tomorrow.  We went on and she went back with the dog.  

Claro - the kind of phone chip we have - was closed for the holiday, so we still don’t have cell service.  Then by subway to Plaza de Mayo.  Our first time in the SUBTE (subway) and we had to figure out how to tap our card to get thru the turnstile.  

Subway is easy, clean, and fast.  But that could be because it’s a holiday.  The train we returned on was brand new, or so it seemed.  People come down the aisle and put little packages on people’s laps - a bunch of pocket tissue packets one time, pens another - and once they’ve done the car they walk back to collect a fee or the item.  I didn’t notice anyone buying, but people were nicely handing them back.  

I had my big camera with me today.  I also have my old Powershot since I can’t download from my phone yet.  It’s nice to have a piece of equipment I’m completely familiar with and it’s much easier than dragging my big camera out of the bag in the rain.  I used it for one picture, inside the Cathedral.  

Subway and rain pictures first.

The Cabildo

The Cabildo de Buenos Aires was the site of Spain's colonial administration in the city. Originally constructed from adobe and thatch in 1580, the current building was constructed over the second half of the 18th century, witnessed the Argentine Revolution in 1810, and served as an important administrative building during the first century of Argentine independence. MuseumThe building now houses the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution, and displays original artefacts and documents as well as interactive exhibits on the Spanish colonial era, the British invasions of 1806 and 1807, and the early days of independence. The museum was renovated in 2016, and now includes access to the former jail and more historic documents.

And then the Cathedral.

And then the Rosario - where Evita Peron spoke to the people from the balcony.  (There were two different balconies, but this one is more in the middle.

But mostly it rained today.  

Winter starts in a few days, but I know it can’t get too cold because there are palm trees and banana trees all over.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

No Power, Then Powerful Art of Carlos Alonso

We had to decide when we got out of customs, between a bus into the downtown station and a cab.  In the end, the cabs were only about $33 into town and would take us directly to our home stay, that was arranged by the language school where we begin a week of Spanish lessons Tuesday.  (Monday is Argentina’s National Day, so no classes.). Our driver was friendly and spoke very little English and so I had to use my Spanish and we managed fine.  

My pictures on the way from the airport were on my iPhone and I still haven’t figured out how to get them to the iPad.  

We’re in an apartment on the 4th floor - very nice, and the host is great.  Her English is terrific, which isn’t good for our Spanish, but we are learning a lot about Argentina and Buenos Aires.  She has a couple of young men staying here too who are also going to the language school.

We went out last night just to get our bearings - well, we were trying to go before it got dark, but with the clouds it was already pretty dark at 5pm - and to get a bus card - SUBE - and Argentine chips for our phones.  We got both, but still haven’t gotten the phone chips fully activated.  

This morning I didn’t wake up until 11am.  When I got to the bathroom, the light didn’t go on.  But there’s a window.  I didn’t think much about it.  But then our host told us that there was a power outage for all of Argentina and parts of Uruguay and southern Brazil.  For us, there wasn’t a big impact.  No internet.  But the stove is gas, so we could make breakfast.  It was raining, hard, then light, then hard again outside.  There was some thunder and lightening.  

But eventually we decided to go the Museum of Belle Arts - seemed like a good idea for a rainy day.  The collection includes many famous European artists.  Nothing spectacular that I notice.  There was a room of Rodin, and examples of different periods including Rembrandt to Modigliani.   There was one red room with a lot of pictures that was someone’s collection donated to the museum.  (1)

But then we found an exhibit of Argentine artist Carlos Alonso.  Wow!   What powerful stuff.   He was born in 1929 and studied in Argentina and Europe.  His work is full of allusions to other artists’ work and politics.  From Wikipedia, we learn, perhaps why:

“Alonso married the artist Ivonne Fauvety.[7] Following the coup of 1976, and the disappearance of his daughter Paloma (born 25 July 1956) the following year, Alonso went into exile in Italy, and in 1979, he moved to Madrid. He returned to Argentina two years later. The Bienal de Pintura Paloma Alonso. named in her honor, is a 1990 joint initiative of Alonso and Teresa Nachman“

Though there were already pieces from the 60s that were pretty edgy.  [Due to the troubles I’m having with blogger in my iPad, I’d doing this in Pages and will cut and paste it into blogger and see if that works better.  But I’m not going to try to mix pictures and text too much because that’s been problematic  on the iPad.]

(2) Sin Pan y Con Trabajo  [Without bread and with work](1968)

Alonso:  “One of the keys that explain the life of Van Gogh is that he (perhaps every painter) becomes the sine of a society. Van Gogh is the sign of something that is rotting and that a new world is born. What he creates is“ (3)

The Hospital (1974) (4)

The Palm  (1952) (5)

Anatomy Lesson 1979. (6)

“Carlos Alonso was inspired by Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicotlaes Tulp (1632) as the starting pint for the series dedicated to the death of Ernesto “Che” Gueverra.  In these works begun in 1969, the body of the recumbent Che also recalls the famous Christ of Andrea Mantegna, from the 15th century. [There are several paintings, only the one is shown.  Not this one.].   The scenes Alonso presented also gave hints of a torture table and the photographs of the dead Guevara that circulated at the time and that were the source of the series.What emerges out of the intermingling of the various images is a hybrid of meaning  between that figure of Christ and that of Guevera.  At the same time , Alonso sparks a second interchange:  that of the languages of the eras of Dr. Tulp and of Che.  Figures from the 17th century blend with those of the 20th century, rendered in the manner of pop art and advertising codes.”   From the exhibition description English version

We had pizza near the museum walked a bit, then took the bus back.  But in what was by then dark with the bus windows fogged up, we went past our stop.  Though I’m not sure we would have seen it under better conditions.  But we figured it out and got back ok.

[Sorry I can’t adjust the fonts either.]. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Crossing the Andes

Lima was under a heavy layer of clouds.  But there was a break going over this desert-like area of the coasts.  By this time we must have 30 or 40,000 feet.  That surf had to be pretty big to see it from the plane. The whole area here looked barren and it made me think of a story I read in a book about an early Peace Corps volunteer in a small village on the coast of Peru.  He related that stories about early Spanish ships trying to land on the coast but it was uninhabitable and the locals fought them off and said they must come from a terrible place if they wanted to land here.

br /> soon we were over just clouds and the captain announced that everyone needed to stay in their seats while we crossed the Andes. But we were over beautiful fluffy white cloud banks. Then we hit some openings in the clouds and I took these photos

br />br />br />br />br />br />br />br />br />br />br />
; [blogging on this iPad is a nightmare. The screen won’t scroll. It’s better I the html screen. But still awful]

Lima Airport

Overnight flight, crowded, but we got dinner and breakfast.

I discovered that I need a connector between my phone and iPad to get my pictures.  I think I did that thru my laptop before, but it’s safe in LA.  Maybe there’s a way to connect electronically.  But I took my photos with my phone.  

We have to get in line.  More later.  Grey and rainy here.  Bye.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Going From One World To Another

We’re in the international terminal at LAX.  Before too long we walk down a corridor and through the door to the plane.  When we get out we’ll be in Lima International.  Then another door and another plane, and we’ll be in Buenos Aires.  Jets take a lot of the geography out of travel.  If we went through different doors we’d end up in Asia or Europe or Africa.  But the voyage would be similar.

When we get out of the airport we’ll be in a different world.  (Well, of course, it’s the same world, you know what I mean.).  We’ll be in a part of the world we’ve never visited.  We’re on the threshold.    Imagination and reality will soon merge.

And I checked after yesterday’s post.  Others have had the same problems I had trying to use blogger on an iPad.  So expect posts where pictures are not well integrated with the text.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Planes Overhead

[This is my first posting on my new iPad.  There are things here in blogger that don’t work quite right.  The page is too big for the screen and Command - doesn’t make it smaller.  If I use my fingers, I get all the open windows.  Weird things are happening.  I’m hoping it isn’t just really clumsy with blogspot, just different ways to do things that I have to figure out.  But I’m having trouble placing the pictures and text where I want things. So bear with me as I figure this out.  And anyone who’s figure this out, please give me some suggestions]

One of the factors that made leaving Anchorage during the summer for this trip, was the knowledge that the Anchorage airport would continue with construction on the North-South runway, diverting all flights to take off over Anchorage.  Last summer it was three months of constant noise.  This summer is scheduled from May to October.  

Fortunately, it hasn’t been as bad as last summer so far.  Planes took off on a flight line just south of our house, so we heard most of them.  Those heading south than veered in that direction, and those heading north veered over our house, some a little further east, a few just west.  The constant rumble and sometimes roar, was a serious annoyance.  

I was surprised - I should know better than to be surprised - by the vehemence of some online comments at Next Door and letters to the editor that made light of the noise and attacked the complainers as whiners.  After all, it’s your airport, they’d mock.  
Clearly these were folks who have trouble empathizing.  If it wasn’t a problem for them, anyone who complained was a weenie.  But what I wanted to know was whether they just lived where there was less jet noise, or they endured the same decibels as I did but it didn’t bother them.  

I also was curious about what kind of disturbance would start THEM whining.  Gun control laws?  Lack of alcohol?  Drivers going the speed limit?  Losing at anything?  

But this last week it seems the planes have been moving back to last summer’s pattern.  I was at a Community Council meeting at which Jim Szczesniak spoke briefly.  He’s the guy who worked at a high level at O’Hare until about 10 years ago when he took over his grandmother’s T-shirt company.  It seemed a strange career move that made me wonder why Alaska hired him to run the airport and whether this runway project is his ticket out of here.  In any case, he’s full speed ahead, people with noise problems be damned.  He did say that pilots this summer have been requested to fly slower until they reach - if I recall correctly - 4000 feet.  That was supposed to make things quieter.  And maybe accounted for the planes who flew farther east (than my house) before turning.  But it was at the pilots’ discretion.

Some of the pictures show that some planes are much further away, but others fly pretty much right above us.

I’ve realized though, in the last few nights that planes have been waking me at all hours of the night.  So if I’m going to miss a month summer in Alaska, this is a good summer to do it.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Packing And Last Minute Pre Trip Stuff

All the normal rushing around before a long trip.

Did we remember all the things we need to take?  Is it too much?  (We always try to keep everything down to two carryon rolling suitcases and two backpacks so we can always handle our own stuff.)

Meanwhile the guy who replaced our old front steps - great job - was gone for the winter by the time the railing was finished in October.  So he's back in town.  Was coming Monday night, but we had a funeral to attend.  Then yesterday morning, but never made it.  He just called, he's coming now.  (He's here! Yeah!)

And my wristwatch screen went blank last night with a tiny REM on the screen, which I assume means I should replace the battery.  I got the screws out this morning so I could see what kind of battery I need.  (Yes I bought a kit of tiny screw drivers long ago and it's occasionally useful.) But one screw escaped. [Recaptured!]

I'm excited.  As much as I like to have everything planned out, I know that lots of surprises will occur.  Good ones as well as minor (I hope) ones.

This afternoon we head for LA,  Friday night for Argentina.  Still trying to get what I need from my laptop onto the new iPad. And figure out how to use the iPad.  It's Apple enough that it's no big surprises.

I keep updating notes for the house sitter as new issues arise.  Tried to get a library book back to the library last night, but their new automatic drop off system said something like 'waiting for sorter.'  Is that a human being?  After hours?

So that's why I don't have more.  But here are some presents from the garden.

First daisy bud opening yesterday.

The lilacs close.

And these little blue flowers whose name I once knew.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It May Only Be June 10, But It's Summer

The sun's been out most days.  Today it was something over 70.  And there's lots of flower blooming all over town.  But particularly amazing right now are the lilacs and mountain ash trees.

Less showy, but no less beautiful are the wild geraniums.  Here are two in our back yard.  (The picture above is downtown, NOT in our yard.)

Saw lots of people today and busy prepping for our trip.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Imagining And Accomplishing - A Chinese Video Offers A Great Metaphor Of What Citizens Climate Lobby Is Doing

It's amazing what some human beings can imagine, and then accomplish.  This video is short but it will lift your spirit.  And everyone needs a lot of spirit lifting these days.

But it's also depressing how so many get stuck with the routine, and refuse to use the imagination they were born with to do the things that need to be done - like fighting climate change.  And we're in a particularly difficult time where people focus on stopping things rather than making the world a better place.

Yesterday was the monthly Citizens Climate Lobby meeting and the speaker was Dr. Shi-Ling Hsu.  His book, The Case for a Carbon Tax:  Getting Past our Hang-ups to Effective Climate Policy pulls together all the issues to show why a carbon tax with dividend is the most effective and most likely single act people can take to slow down climate change.

It's a little pricey, but maybe you can find it in your library.  The author has his own eight page precis of the book online here.  I'm sure most of you will never read it, so here's my outline of Chapter 1 which pulls together all the key points:

Chapter 1:  IntroductionGlobal Climate Change the dominant environmental issue of our time.
    Basic Dynamic and ImpactGreenhouse effect - GH gases like carbon dioxide trap the heat.  Balance disturbed by CO2 emissions since Industrial Revolution.
Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius reported build up of ‘carbonic acid’ in the earth’s atmosphere 1908 creating the possibility of earth growing warmer.  As Swede, he thought this was good.
But since at least 1970s people knew of possible dire consequences. Not just warmer weather, but heat waves and droughts, water shortages, more violent storms, rise in sea levels ‘jeopardizing trillions of dollars of real estate worldwide.”  Heating causes more heating as warm temperatures unlock methane from the frozen tundra “unleashing a GH twenty-five times more powerful than carbon dioxide.”
    Societal Impacts Political DilemmasIncreasing inequity as equatorial countries impacted harder, mostly less developed, less wealthy.  Northern, mostly more developed and wealthy have less impact.  Leakage problem:  If developed Northern nations cut back, price of oil drops, developing countries will snap it up and little gained.  Also, most of the problem caused by Northern developed countries which have used the most oil.  Developing countries believe the rich countries used their allotment already and now it’s poorer countries’ turn.  Thus the need for world wide cooperation.  But there’s resistance to a global response:
  1. China v. US  - Both, together, largest emitters - 40% of world’s CO2 emissions. in 2006 when China became the world’s biggest emitter.  China sees itself as developing country and wants to catch up with what the US has used already.  But they have engaged the climate change problem.  The US has contributed 240 gigatons into the atmosphere from 1950-present. US still uses 4X the carbon per person than China.  
  1. Rest of the world. (Even if China and US agree, saving is only 40%)
  1. Generously assuming that European Union would support bilateral US-China agreement, brings us to 55%, with 45% left over. India? 5%   Russia?  5%  Brazil?
  • The Big Question:  How will diverse nations come together to curtail emissions of GHes?  Burning carbon products and emitting CO2 is such a part of our economies, hard to imagine changing.  “ . . .most developed countries [are] taking some steps to address climate change..  Most developed countries seem to accept that their participation in an agreement to reduce emissions is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to bring about global cooperation in addressing climate change.
  • Alternative to do nothing without knowing if others will reciprocate = do nothing.  So developing countries could undo reduction efforts.  US doesn’t know its efforts will succeed, but does know if it does nothing the world “will hurtle toward an historic and frightening climatic experiment.”
  • Climate change poses security threat   - “poor countries left with nothing to lose by violence, and the sheer numbers of dispossessed could overwhelm the ability of rich countries to insulate themselves from climate-induced unrest.”  US Department of Defense is “developing policies and plans to manage the effects of climate change on its operating environment [and] missions.”
  • Imperative to act - what could work? - “Because of the leakage problem, global engagement with the reduction of GH is absolutely necessary, and almost every country, developed or not, has to be a party.  What can possibly be proposed, that could satisfy almost every country in the world” 
  • Purpose of the book: - explore the options and argue that a carbon tax is currently the most effective means of reducing emissions.  Tax is levied on emission of quantity of carbon dioxide.  
  • Basic level:  levied on fossil fuel, at some transaction point before combustion, basically a sales tax on the carbon content of fuel.  CO2 most abundant GH, regulating it the most important aspect of controlling GH.  CO2 is most long lived GH gas -  remaining in atmosphere 100 years after emission -  need to start now.
  • Book proposes a “carbon tax on fossil fuels, expanded to include a few other sources of GH emissions that can be monitored and measured with relative ease.”
  • Why right now?  - Politically difficult.  No perfect policy.  Some others more popular, but can’t stop climate change.  Tax would start out modest and gradually increase allowing less drastic adjustments. 
  • The longer we wait, the more difficult and disrupting it will be to fix things.  “Doing something modest now is vastly preferable to finding just the “right” GH policy.  
  • Not the only needed policy.   Other options also needed.  Carbon tax doesn’t preclude other options.  No jurisdictional conflicts between feds and states/provinces. No problem having carbon tax AND cap and trade.  No legal obstacles to carbon tax.  “More work  will certainly need to be done in addition to a carbon tax, but there is no first step more important, more effective, and more flexible than a carbon tax.”  
  • Carbon tax idea not novel,  - but all the arguments for it never collected together before.   Easy to cherry pick flaws of carbon tax, but real task to comprehensively compare carbon tax to other alternatives.  This book does that reducing the most important considerations down to ten arguments for a carbon tax and four against.
  • Explores psychological barriers to carbon tax - Reviews human cognitive bases when processing information and weighing different options, biases that are mutually reinforced by public opinion polls that ask questions that contain subtle but powerful bias against certain policies.    Economists’ assumptions that humans act rationally is false.  People’s bias against taxes causes misjudgments and misperceptions about policies.  Book applies research findings that come closest to answering ‘why people dislike the carbon tax as a way of addressing climate change.”
Chapter 2  describes “a typical carbon tax and three alternative policy instruments: a cap-and-trade program, “command-and-control” - type policies or standards and government subsidies.
Chapter 3 sets up ten considerations for choosing a policy to reduce GHes.
Chapter 4 explores challenges to carbon taxes including political barriers, including its perceived regressiveness and how to pay off industries that will be disadvantaged, such as the coal industry.
Chapter 5 addresses the psychology of carbon taxes.  Approaches thus far have hidden the real cost of mitigation.
Chapter  6:  Changing Political Fortunes?
Chapter  7:  Conclusions

Why do I write about  Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) so often?

Here's why.  CCL:
  1. Has the right objective
  2. Goes after that objective as efficiently and effectively as any organization I've ever seen
  3. Uses constituents from its local chapters (in 87% of all congressional districts) to lobby their members of congress to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act
  4. Focuses on building relationships with members of congress through respect and providing the best available information
  5. Embraces an inclusive approach that treats everyone as a human being and a potential ally
  6. Works with many other climate change groups
Studies show that people who believe that climate change is real, often have no idea of how they can meaningfully work to slow it down.  Well joining CCL is an easy and empowering way.

There are chapters throughout the US.  You can find your closest chapter here.  

And there are many chapters outside the United States.  You might find one near you here.

Like the guys dancing on the bar in the video, the founders and members of CCL have used their imaginations to come up with a viable idea and they are doing an heroic job to make it happen.

They need your help.  You don't have to join CCL to lobby your member of congress, but it doesn't cost anything to join.  And finding all the other people working for this goal is very gratifying.  And it's empowering.  Over 1500 volunteers are in Washington DC for the CCL annual conference and to lobby Congress.  

One of the resources I found most interesting and encouraging is a document with the statements of the many different religious and spiritual groups in the US on climate change.  Many people don't even know their group has taken a stand on this issue.