Sunday, January 7, 2018

DISC Rose and Thorn

Encore repost from TUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2013

After posting this encore, I got a request from John Stockwell to tell the 'counterfeit $ scam' story listed under Worst Incident, so here goes. It was my last day in Buenos Aires and I learned there was a street market near the hotel. I walked the market, being mindful of security and pickpocket threat which is always a possibility. Typically, I will go slowly to one side of the market then the other, pausing to glance for anyone watching, then occasionally do a full stop against a wall to scan the whole scene. These are things you pick up living and working in hazard areas around the world.

At the end of the market there were several taxis and I chose one (did not go with anyone who chose me) and we headed back to the hotel. The cab pulls up 2 blocks from my hotel and points to the meter demanding the payment in local currency, of which I had none. My plan to was to pay via the concierge at the hotel and add it to my bill. It turned into quite a fuss with me saying 'go to the hotel' and him saying 'pay here' and neither understanding much of the other's english. Finally, I pull out my wallet and show him I only have a US $100 bill, which he quickly grabs. Before I could react (10-15 seconds max) he hands it back and kicks me out of the cab, I walk to the hotel and fly back stateside that night.

Back home, our yard guy shows up needing to be paid for several visits, about $100, so I pay him cash. He is back at the house in an hour saying, 'The $100 was counterfeit, the bank took it, and the FBI may be looking for you. Oh, and you still owe me $100.' Processing this shocking news, and paying him, I thought back to the cab incident in Argentina. The cabbie must have done a quick switch of my $100 bill, pro quality stuff. When I told this whole story to my daughter Sam, she said: 'It was worth $100 just for the story.'  I tend to agree.

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When my son David was in the Boy Scouts, the troop would often go camping or on a high adventure hiking trip.  We had the tradition of taking a few minutes after each long day to reflect on events.  Each boy was asked to name the day's rose (best thing) and thorn (bad thing).  With so many boys in tight quarters tempers were sure to flare.  These events were often the thorns and the reflection time gave the adult leaders a chance to talk it out with the group and then follow up with all the good things that happened.

In that vein, I humbly offer this list of roses and thorns from my year as DISC instructor for 2012.


Most amazing place:       Sugar loaf mountain (Rio)
Favorite place:           Narita, Japan
Most amazing building:    Galleria (Milan)
Most amazing event:       Earthquake (Milan)
Most traffic:             Moscow 
Least traffic:            Midland
Worst passport line:      5 hours (Saudi Arabia)
Best view:                Atop Sugarloaf (Rio)
Best food in general:     New Orleans
Best meal:                Dora(Buenos Aires)
Best vege food:           Le Grenier(Paris
Cleanest city:            Narita, Brisbane
Most crowded:             London
Best castle:              Dunnotar(Aberdeen)
Least crowded:            Stavanger 
Most graffiti:            Paris 
Most expensive hotel:     Moscow 
Most expensive taxi ride: Milan
Most expensive beer:      Stavanger 
Biggest airport:          Beijing
Smallest airport:         Midland
Best airport:             Brisbane
Largest class:            110 (Calgary)
Smallest class:           5 (Copenhagen)
Hottest:                  97F/36C (Midland)
Coldest:                  38F/3C (Stavanger in June)
                          31F/-1C (Istanbul in Dec)

Best pub:         Little Creatures Brew Pub (Perth)
                  Warwick Arms (London)
Best coincidence:         
                  Antiquarian book fair (London)
Worst incident: 
                  Slide problems at DISC 1 (Brisbane)
                  Counterfeit $ scam (Buenos Aires)
                  Missed flight (Villahermosa) 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Stockwell Retires

You may not know it, but today is epic. It is the last day for John Stockwell who is retiring out of the Colorado School of Mines after 42 years. John is an amazing guy that I have been lucky enough to call a friend since 1986. Mathematician, programmer, geophysicist, keeper of SeismicUnix; a multifaceted man who can just as easily discuss Pythagoras or python programming, always delivered with a zesty sense of humor. The photo is from the editors dinner at the 2015 SEG annual meeting in New Orleans where a very pleasant Presidential duty for me was to give the SEG wiki Champion award to John. Good luck after CSM John!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Disc 22 Buenos Aires (10 August)

Encore repost from THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012
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Buenos Aires is a wonderful place and the people are friendly beyond measure.  Special thanks need to go out to Gutavo Carstens who picked me up at the airport and coordinated a watch party for the Olympic basketball game between USA and Argentina.  Another big shout-out to the very kind Patricio (Patrick) Marshall who introduced me to the city, marked many interesting things on a city map, and urged me to go to the street market held each Sunday near San Telmo.  

The DISC was well-attenend and held in the stunning YPF office tower overlooking the city.  Thanks to all!

The Buenos Aires DISC 2012 class.  Bearded guys in the back: Gustavo (center) and Patrick (right)

About town

 If you come to Buenos Aires, and I hope you will, there is much to see and do. But I want to tell you about just one. It is a plea, a screaming rant of recommendation. It is the best meal I have ever had, and that is saying something. My wife makes meals 4 times a week that are better than anything most men ever taste. I've dined all over Spain, in Italy, France, and dozens of other countries. In short, I have had a lot of great meals. But the Buenos Aires restaurant Dora stands alone.

 I'm not a food critic, but I know what one should say about Dora. Not all of Buenos Aires is nice, not all of it safe. But step into Dora and feel a waft of the old times, where waiters watch patrons closely (but not obsessively) to anticipate what is needed next; real waiters who do it for a living and have for generations. No pretension, no haughty indifference, no demeaning glances. A pride in trade and work that the modern world has long forgotten. If this were all, there would be other contenders. But then comes the food. For starters I had grilled langostinos (thin rock lobsters) halved in a beautiful sauce. Then came the Cazuela Dora, a house special seafood stew with saffron rice on the side. It was a symphony, not the drippy rehash kind of symphony nodding to the real thing, or a quirky modern symphony that is little more than a jumble of noise aimed at glorifying the sad creatures who write and direct it. No this was an old school, honest symphony of taste. A fragment, a remnant of the guilded age when a symphony was a symphony and if you wrote one you had damn well better get it right or be out of a job. The food spilled over an ample plate, the wine, of course, was malbec, rich and full-bodied and lots of it. I ate until I could eat no more, then ate more. The waiter tried to clear the table a couple of times, but I would have nothing to do with it. I did not want the meal to end. Finally, reluctantly, regretfully, with remorse I let it go.

 I know what the food critic should say about Dora, but this is a tainted age of tiny multicolor pyramids parading as food on vast plates with artistic drizzles of sauce, a time when the chef is a reality TV star  and a lacky runs the kitchen. Yep, I know what the critic should say, but have no faith it will ever be said. Go to Buenos Aires, go to Dora, eat, live.