October 2006


I had a good friend of mine to dinner last Sunday. We met at university, while I studied Music he was studying social communication, it is to him I owe having read some Kant and Heidegger. I guess it was time for me to pay back.

He currently works for the Argentine Airport Authority (Policía de Seguridad Aeroportuaria) searching for it’s public perception, terrorist news, smuggling and everything that might be of interest. I felt compelled to ask how he achieved this.

So, he tells me: I usually go to major newspapers pages and start reading around.

Panic.

Shock.

WHAT?

I had to ask if he had ever heard of data feeds. Luckily for me he had; this made the following rant easier for me. I brought the ThinkPad to the table and started to show him around sites like technorati and the like. I helped him to set up various searches and feeds into google’s personalized homepage (http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en) so he can access all of them from anywhere (he told me they switch computers at his workplace). Now he has some nice tabs set up there with all the usual searches and headlines from major newspapers in them.

He told me it was a major time saver, around 1 or 2 hours / day, and it only took me one hour to show him the “tricks”.

I can’t say I’m surprised that a government agency doesen’t train it’s people in such fashion.  But I have seen similar things on the private sector as well. I think I might start some tips & tricks blog in this regard some time.

I can’t help but wonder what new technologies I’m missing out that could save me some time every day.

Suggestions?

Advertisements

The odd thing about work is that most of the time you don’t get the chance to think about what you are actually doing. The good thing about vacation is that you can take a distance and see whats “wrong”. When working with fewer people than needed, and doing more things than I should; I usually find out that business as usual eat up the things I really want to do and the things I consider need to be done. It is the typical case of urgent beats important.

So how to cope with this? In an ideal world, I’d got a backup for part of the day to day work, so I could divert my attention to what I think needs to be thought. In the real world this is never going to happen.

The answer is priorities. My number one priority of course is what the company pays me for, my “real” job. That can’t change (unless my manager decides to switch my role). Then I have to choose from the gazillion things I want to get involved into and things I want to happen.

To make such choice there are several variables to take into account. First and foremost: is it useful? It makes no sense to waste time in something that brings no good. If something just isn’t worth the effort or no-one will “use it” you’re better off spending your time on more important stuff. The answer to this question might not be as easy as expected, since something that might look worthless can potentially set a base for further very cost-effective work.

Second question is: will it happen? I have a personal tendency to sort of radicalizing ideas, thus I have to be very careful with projects and ideas I want to boost, since they might not be very welcomed by the “corporate status-quo”. Two things must fall into place here. A) is the idea coherent with the overall direction of the company? B) can I market the idea well enough to those responsible? If the answer is “yes” to both, you’ve got a winner.

I’ve come to realize there’s no possible way to do everything that comes to mind. Try to cope with too many things and you’ll get none done. I like to call this the “nail” principle. Force applied into a smaller area is more effective (the same way that it’s easier to hammer a nail into a wall than it is to hammer a 10 x 10 steel plate into the same wall). It is quite difficult, since “ideas” are like children: they are hard to let go; but over time I’ve noticed I tend to like people who can discard their own thoughts and ideas fast when they realize they are not doable or not quite practical. On the other hand it is fundamental to stick to concepts you’re convinced will work and pursue them until they see the light of day. 

The important thing at the end of the day is to be sure you’re some steps closer to achieve the important goals, to take ideas to good ending, and that “everyday” to-dos don’t eat up all your time and creativity.

It finally happened. My family would say “against all odds”. See although I’ve spent the past 5 years dating Luciana, and almost 2 living with her, most people never regarded me as the “marrying type”. I guess I didn’t much regard myself as that before I met her. Ever since we’re together I knew it would eventually happen; but money was a sort of “excuse” we used not to do it. With some help from our families (mainly Luciana’s uncle) and a big debt we went along. Now we’re over with it and we both can’t believe how fast it passed.

As I posted here, you get to marry twice in Argentina, so Friday was the “legal” day. Mainly Family and closest friends. Lesson learnt: the logistics of getting married 260 km from the Capital are not that easy. To start with we spent the month previous to the wedding booking hotels and stuff for a lot of people. Then on Friday morning two of my brothers were driving from Buenos Aires (Bernie, who arrived from the US on Thursday and Alex who had spent his week traveling to Belice, Bariloche and Chile). The fact that there was a huge storm didn’t help much, neither did my nephew who felt sick so they had stop to car to clean up. So we had to go to the Judge and ask him to wait for a little while until everyone arrived. He did and we are grateful for it (although I’m not so sure the couple who was getting married after us appreciated this as much as me and my family did!).

The ceremony was quite nice, we were all almost joking at the time with things like “sit the groom over there so he can’t escape” or Luciana’s uncle saying “and all of this for them to last only a couple of months”. Short, funny and humorous.

After that we went to a restaurant we had booked for the occasion and had some lunch. In retrospective it was the only quality time I had to spend with mi family who travled from all around. I guess you can’t do it all.

Then we all helped Christian (3rd Brother) to do the souvenirs we would give people the next day (little tomato Jam jars); had some pizza for dinner and headed for the hotel with Luciana (before that day we were staying at my in-laws’).

The storm that unfolded that same night was of epic proportions. Wind felt like a hurricane and it rained as if Noah should have to undust his old boat once again. Besides that we had a good night’s rest, until Luciana woke up and remembered we hadn’t done the table’s list (you know where everyone would sit). So we went to fetch the ThinkPad and did this, then took Lu to the hairdressers (all this happened by 7:30). Some time during the morning and almost miraculously, south wind started blowing and blew away the clouds.

After I got the darn list thing printed I had to take it to the ball room (which had to be after 9am, places don’t open that early). So I did. All that was left for me to do was to take a shower and get into my suit. Which I did while on the cell phone giving instructions to different people on how to get to the hotels, church and so on.

By then it was time for me to go to the church, so I arrived early, too early. Not knowing exactly what one’s supposed to do until you get married I went to talk to the priest for a while. Bad news: the guy who was supposed to play the Organ was nowhere to be seen (or reached). The clock was ticking, people were entering the church… And the bride was about to arrive. Since I couldn’t see her I told my brother in law to go and tell her to go on a 10 minute car ride to delay her arrival.

Finally the Organist appeared, everyone was sitting, I was standing up front with my mom, and an Organ chord gave the signal for the doors to open. I had wished to see the bride entering, but the Photographer and Cameraman had a different idea, and stood in front of her, so I only got to see her once she passed half the way to me. Breathtaking. I can’t say much more about it. She was stunningly beautiful.

She walked to me, we hold hands, and then she was everything in the world to me. I don’t think I can remember a single thing the priest said (the fact that he didn’t speak very clearly didn’t help much). Then, almost before I noticed it was over. We were married.

Against what most people do in Argentina we married and partied in daytime. Luciana and I arrived around 1PM to the party and most people had been there for over 45 minutes. The thing was a blast. Too much to eat for everyone and too much to drink as well. Good music (from a party point of view) and people willing to dance and have fun. It was 10 hours long and it only ended because they had to clean up the place for a party next day.

We left for our hotel had a long bath and ate something (both Lu and I didn’t eat or drink much during the party). We could finally rest… for 6 hours.

Now its all over, and not even a week has passed. Married life has been very good for us so far.

So, married for a cpuple of days already… Everything looks great so far, and here are some pictures:

Marriage @ Flicr

I’ll write about the party and everything in a couple of days!

The odd thing about Argentina is that you get to get married twice. It has to be with the same person, but it’s twice anyway. How come? Well 1 marriage is for “the law” the other is “for god”. In other words, you have to get married both by a judge and by a priest, and they can’t go together.

By law you get to go to what we call “Civil Registry” which is a badly maintained governmental location, where some judge gets to marry you. It’s quite informal and usually only those intimate to the couple go (closest friends and family). This is Friday 13th for us.

With a serious Catholic preponderance the Church marriage is the most awaited and important. Besides the whole thing is much more impressive. You get to stand in a church, the doors open, the bride comes to you while people stare and “ohs” and “ahs” sound around her. The party comes after this. Everyone’s invited here since it’s quite more theatrical as well. This is Saturday 14th for us.

Yesterday we planned the “timing” for everything for this Saturday. It is like a ballet with entrances and exits, I hope I barely notice it; it’ll probably fly past me and I’ll notice everything after it’s over.

Still much to do. Some beverages issues to be solved and other similar stuff. That besides planning my backups for my vacation next week.

I’ll probably go off-line from today till Saturday or Monday and next week I’ll try to keep away from my PC, or I’ll really piss off my wife 😉 (although I know I’ll check how things are going every now and then).

So, I’m working all this week from Junin, some 260 KM away from the noice of Buenos Aires. It is good for a change. It’s quite impressive the very different rythm and pace this place has; it only took me about two hours to sort of unplug and relax quite more. I can still get my work done, but I’m more layed back.

What is it? Is it the distance from office? Thel lack of Noices? The traffic? The people actually not yelling and punching at their car horns like crazy? It’s all of the above and more. When you walk into a store at Buenos Aires you’re allways in a hurry and so are all other customers, if you don’t get an employee’s attention in a couple of seconds you start to get frustrated. Here you walk in, relaxedly chat with other people, wait whatever you have to wait… and this is just one of many examples I can think of.

I come myself from a town called Bariloche, a place located in the patagonian Andes. I was there untill I was 17. but returned for vacations every once in a while. It was quite layed back, but not as much since in the last years before I left a lot of people from the city moved there but forgot to left their attitudes behind.

What I still miss the most is Mountain-Biking. During my last high school years I became obsessed with it and started Racing. Two serious accidents (and their injuries) forced me to stay out of the tracks for 6 months and I could never quite recover. After that I moved to Buenos Aires, where there’s nothing that even resembles a hill, so no way to do anything in that sense.

In the past couple of years I’ve increasedly felt the lack of phisical activity. And there’s no sport I’m too fond of which I can perform in Buenos Aires (no Mountain Biking, Motocross, SnowBoard, Kite surfing or the like) and I’m not too good or too much of a fan of urban sports like tennis or even jogging.

All of this sets me thinking about what it is I want and “completes” my life. I really like my job, I like what I do and I like the prospects I have, but I couldn’t be doing it from anywhere else (at least in Argentina). On the other hand I feel a need to do some sport and get some adrenalin rushes, which I can’t quite get on the city.

Fresh air or job oportunities? Sports and adventure or smog  and pollution? Trying to survive on a small town (and probably get bored jobwise) or be challenged intelectually and pushed to the limits?

Such a dicotomy… I’ll try to get both 😉

So, next week’s Friday I’m getting married. By this time I was sort of expecting to be freaking out, screaming around in a nervous break down. Nothing could be further away from truth.

I must admit that about a month ago I had some sort of “panic attack” (not really) and had some doubts about it all. After all I have been living with my *to become* Wife for almost two years, so: what’s the point or difference about getting married?

Well, there is. And I mean besides the “legal” implications of it (no pre-marital arrangements here, thank you very much), which I don’t care about anyways. There’s a psychological change, a sort of increased responsibility that comes with marriage which I wondered if I was willing to take. Truth is I am.

I’m well aware that the road might become bumpy. It has been already in the past. It won’t be no fairy-tale, but everything’s easier when you can divide the burden amongst two.

Next Page »